Saint of the Month: St. Mark Ji Tianxiang

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Watching EWTN’s daily Mass with my Mom, we learned about an unique Saint with a profound story and witness. My monthly NFP update involves drug reactions; therefore, I decided to chose a saint of the month that lived heroic virtue in the face of unthinkable odds. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang died a martyr and an active opium addict. How does an active drug addict barred from the sacraments become a canonized saint? Heroic virtue.

A once respectable Chinese Christian with resources and educational advantages during 19th century China, Ji’s successful medical career including caring for the poor pro bono. He was a leader in the Chinese Christian community- respected and admired. He developed a volatile, painful stomach ailment which he self-treated with the treatment of the period- opium. This approved medical treatment turned into a full-fledged addiction. His life circumstances deteriorated under the weight of his addiction.

Ji fought against his addiction. He attended confession regularly. The cultural mindset and misunderstanding of the 19th century that drug addiction was not a disease but rather a lack of will caused his confessor to doubt his intention to sin no more and his resolve to repent (without the resolve to sin no more & repent the confession is invalid.) Since he kept confessing the same sin, the priest doubted his resolve to do better. After a few years, Ji’s confessor instructed him not to return until he could fulfill the requirements for confession. Drug abuse is sinful behavior, but drug abuse also is a complex disease of the mind and body. A concept unknown in the 19th century.

Ji didn’t abandon his faith. He couldn’t remain sober, but he could still be present with Our Lord. For 30 years (yes, you read that right) . . . 30 years Ji went to Mass unable to receive the sacraments due to his opium addiction. For 30 years, he prayed for a martyr’s death for he believed in that way only could he be saved.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 broke out. Chinese nationalists known as the Boxers, or the Militia United in Righteousness, expelled missionaries and persecuted Christians across China. Thirty-two thousand Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were killed. Ji and many of his village’s Christians, including his son, 6 grandkids, and 2 daughter-in-laws, were rounded up by authorities based on their Christian belief. Even while waiting in prison for their execution, Ji couldn’t break his addiction. Still, he was granted a heroic sense of perseverance.

Once taken to their place of execution, he begged his captures to execute him last so none of his family members would die alone. He stood beside all nine members of his family as they were beheaded. He went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was canonized on October 1, 2000 by St. John Paul II.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the profound mystery of God’s mercy and how our sufferings can be turned into something profoundly good. His testimony to unwavering perseverance in his faith should kindle a fire in all our hearts. His witness brings hope to those suffering from addictions. May we all rely and believe in Christ’s mercy like St. Mark Ji.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us.

Feast Day: July 9th

 

 

 

 

Yes, Jesus, asked us to Love His Mother!

Mary Quote

I must mention Our Lady during the week of cultivating meekness and weeding out wrath. She provides an important and beautiful example of the profound strength of a meek heart.

Are you seeking intimacy with Christ? Who is a profound example of intimacy with Christ? Who should I turn to? Who should I model? Turn to Your Mother and the Mother of God- Our Lady.

“There is no danger of exaggerating. We an never hope to fathom this inexpressible mystery nor will we ever be able to give sufficient thanks to our Mother for bringing us into such intimacy with the Blessed Trinity.”- St. Josemaria Escriva

Mary the Mother of God became our Mother by the gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross moments before he died. The Mother of God became the Mother of All. So do Catholics worship Mary? No, but we do venerate Our Lady by the direction of Jesus Christ.

 “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” -John 9:26

Not only is Our Lady a wonderful mother, but a powerful intercessor who cares for her children- you and I. The Blessed Virgin Mary points to her Son Jesus Christ. She always directs God’s children towards Christ never towards herself. This is why Catholics use the phrase “To Christ Through Mary.” The veneration (not worship-we don’t worship Mary) of Mary heightens our personal relationship with Jesus Christ because we learn to love Christ as his Mother did. A relationship with Mary, the Mother of God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ allows us to more fully enter into relationship with Him. Entering into a loving relationship with his Mother who nurtured him, bore him and raised him provides insight into life and love- the human and the divine. God commanded us to honor our fathers and mothers including Jesus’ mother. A woman, who on the cross with his dying breaths, he gave to us as Our Mother. That is why a relationship with Mary is profound. She is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Souse of God the Holy Spirit! How awesome is that!

Our Lady, Mother of God, teach me to love Christ as you loved Him. Help me to love you more as to Love our Lord more deeply.  -Amen

 

Dentistry & Wonder Woman

What does dentistry and DC Comic’s Wonder Woman have in common? Apparently, me. For my holistic dentist, the sheer enjoyment of this epic comic turned cinematic film translated into a witty and insightful banter with his patient.

After completing the majority of my dental cleaning with my personable dental hygienist, my dentist ascertains my dental health and addresses any concerns. Thus far in life, my dental health remains wonderful. One less thing to worry about and remain grateful for. Upon entry into my little dental hygiene exam room, we exchanged jovial banter about how my outward appearance really provided cover for my alter ego. (As a disclaimer, my dentist and many of the dental hygienist are devout Christians.)

Strip away the thoughtful, sweet exterior clad in a cardigan and tasteful skirt and beneath would emerge a rapscalion and wildness. He turned to my dental hygienist inquiring, “have you seen any superhero outfits peeking out?” She laughed. He deeply pondered.

“No! Now I know! I know who you are. You’re Wonder Woman!”

I laughed puzzled. He proceeded to explain how Wonder Woman was part god part human. Similar to Superman or Clark Kent, she wore unassuming attire and glasses ( I wear glasses.) Then she transformed into a remarkable and striking heroine. Part humility. Part fearsome sight to behold. I believe my dentist captured something.

Many faithful, virtuous Christians or people in general are unassuming, behind the scenes, not flamboyant, and not flashy externally. Beneath the surface, however, lies a courage and humilty that transforms people, places, and lives. Yes, we have saints that led lives of heroic virtue in public or memorable manners. But we direly need everyday saints. The Wonder Women and Supermen that live everyday, mundane lives with superhuman or “heroic” virtue as their shield or cloak peeking out from under the everyday.

But my superhero outfit comes complete with privacy shorts.