Shrove Tuesday! Ash Wednesday! And St. Robert Southwell, pray for us!

February 17, 2015

Welcome to Shrove Tuesday! Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! We bury the Alleluia and don’t bring it forth again until Easter. On Ash Wednesday, you can invite someone to not have dinner with you! Tomorrow, there is a tweetfest of pictures of ashes on foreheads – use #ashtag if you tweet your picture.

On Saturday, February 21st, we remember St. Robert Southwell. Robert lived in England during the persecution of the Church. He seems an appropriate saint for us to petition for intercession, especially for our Brothers and Sisters throughout the world facing torture and death because they refuse to deny Christ. 

When he was 15, Robert was sent to France to study. He knew by the time he was 17 that he was meant to become a Jesuit, so he walked from Paris to Rome to join the Society of Jesus.  After his ordination, he asked to return to his native country, so he was sent back to England and given the charge of getting candidates for the priesthood out o fthe country so they could be trained abroad.  Robert also was responsible for finding safe places for those priests returning to England.  Because of his work, he was on the most wanted list of the priest-hunters, led by Richard Topcliffe.

Betrayed by a young girl who was being pressured by the priest-hunters, Robert surrendered to Topcliffe, who tortured him 10 times over the space of four days. Robert refused to give up any names, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for two and a half years without a trial. He was finally tried for treason, found guilty and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.

As he stood on the cart at Tyburn, after praying for the Queen, he said: “I acknowledge that I am a priest (I thank God most highly for it), and of the Society of Jesus. I commend into the hands of Almighty God my poor country, desiring him for his infinite mercy’s sake to reduce it to such perfect insights, knowledge and understanding of the truth that they may learn to praise and glorify God, and gain their soul’s health and eternal salvation.”

Robert died at the age of 33. He was canonized asone of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

St. Robert Southwell, pray for our country! And pray for us!

Here is an unattributed prayer for Ash Wednesday:

Gracious God, today begins a period of inner reflection and examination.The days stretch before me and invite me inward to that silent, holy space that holds your Spirit. This special time beckons me to see my life through Christ's eyes and the truth and reality of your love incarnate. Give me the grace to enter the space of these days with anticipation of our meeting. And, when I open my soul to your presence, let your loving kindness flow over me and seep into the pockets of my heart. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen

Tags: Ash Wednesday, St. Robert Southwell, feast day

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