08 February 2009

St. Josephine Bakhita

Today is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita who I think makes a good patron for those in prison. Originally from Sudan she was bought and sold as a slave and kept in captivity six times before finally joining a family that treated her with respect. There is a wonderful story that appeared last year in the bulletin of the Archdiocese of Atlanta - Office for Black Catholic Ministry detailing her life. There is also an inspiring story of a prisoner on death row who learned of her story and as a result turned his life around and now gives support to the Order that St. Josephine belonged to. That story can be read at Catholic News Service.

The inmate, Jeff Tiner, in an Oregon state prison, is a former white supremacist who wore swastika and ‘White pride’ tattoos. A Lay Canossian sent a letter to him. The inmate’s response to the encounter was his decision to become Catholic. He received the sacrament of Baptism in prison. He is currently providing great financial support to abused women and children in Sudan, the homeland of St. Bakhita. Mr. Tiner now works to relieve the suffering of Black Africans in his efforts to do God’s will.

Pope Benedict also remarked on her life in his encyclical Spe Salvi,

"Bakhita came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme [Master], before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father’s right hand.” Now she had “hope”—no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed,” no longer a slave, but a free child of God."

Pope Benedict XVI
from paragraph 3 of SPE SALVI (Saved by Hope),
His Holiness’ Encyclical Letter on Christian Hope
30 November 2007

Here are some thought of St. Bakhita in her own words.

I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!

I received the Sacrament of Baptism with such joy that only angels could describe…

O Lord, if I could fly to my people and tell them of your Goodness at the top of my voice: oh, how many souls would be won!

If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today…

The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone…we must be compassionate

I can truly say that it was a miracle I did not die, because the Lord has destined me for greater things…

Mary protected me even before I knew her!

When a person loves another dearly, he desires strongly to be close to the other: therefore, why be afraid to die? Death brings us to God!

No comments:


This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.