April 9 – St. Mary of Egypt & St. John the Almoner
ST. MARY OF EGYPT
At the tender age of twelve, Mary left her father’s house that she might sin without restraint, and for seventeen years she lived in shame at Alexandria. Then she accompanied a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and entangled many in grievous sin. She was in that city on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and went with the crowd to the church which contained the precious wood. The rest entered and adored; but Mary was invisibly held back. In that instant her misery and pollution burst upon her. Turning to the Immaculate Mother, whose picture faced her in the porch, she vowed thenceforth to do penance if she might enter and stand like Magdalen beside the Cross. Then she entered in. As she knelt before Our Lady on leaving the church, a voice came to her which said, “Pass over Jordan, and thou shalt find rest.” She went into the wilderness, and there, in 420, forty-seven years after, the Abbot Zosimus met her. She told him that for seventeen years the old songs and scenes had haunted her; ever since, she had had perfect peace. At her request he brought her on Holy Thursday the sacred body of Christ. She bade him return again after a year, and this time he found her corpse upon the sand, with an inscription sayings “Bury here the body of Mary the sinner.”
Reflection.—Blessed John Colombini was converted to God by reading St. Mary’s life. Let us, too, learn from her not to be content with confessing and lamenting our sins, but to fly from what leads us to commit them.
ST. JOHN THE ALMONER
ST. John was married, but when his wife and two children died he considered it a call from God to lead a perfect life. He began to give away all he possessed in alms, and became known throughout the East as the Almoner. He was appointed Patriarch of Alexandria; but before he would take possession of his see he told his servants to go over the town and bring him a list of his lords—meaning the poor. They brought word that there were seventy-five hundred of them, and these he undertook to feed every day. On Wednesday and Friday in every week he sat on a bench before the church, to hear the complaints of the needy and aggrieved; nor would he permit his servants to taste food until their wrongs were redressed. The fear of death was ever before him, and he never spoke an idle word. He turned those out of church whom he saw talking, and forbade all detractors to enter his house. He left seventy churches in Alexandria, where he had found but seven. A merchant received from St. John five pounds weight of gold to buy merchandise. Having suffered shipwreck and lost all, he had again recourse to John, who said, “Some of your merchandise was ill-gotten,” and gave him ten pounds more; but the next voyage he lost ship as well as goods. John then said, “The ship was wrongfully acquired. Take fifteen pounds of gold, buy corn with it, and put it on one of my ships.” This time the merchant was carried by the winds without his own knowledge to England, where there was a famine; and he sold the corn for its weight in tin, and on his return he found the tin changed to finest silver. St. John died in Cyprus, his native place, about the year 619.
Reflection.—What sacrifices can we make for the poor which will seem enough, when we reflect that mercy to them is our only means of repaying Jesus Christ, Who sacrificed His life for us?
Taken from the “Pictorial Lives of the Saints: with Reflections for Everyday in the year