ST. JOSEPHINE BAHKITA, VIRGIN
St. Josephine (c. 1869-1947) was born in western Sudan, in the village of Olgossa and belonged to the prestigious Daju people. Sometime between the age of seven to nine, she was kidnapped by slave traders. It is said that the trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name; she took one given to her by the slavers, bakhita, Arabic for lucky. Cruelty accompanied her till in 1883 Bakhita was bought by the Italian Vice Consul. She converted in 1890 and in 1893 entered the novitiate of the Canossian Sisters at Schio, where she lived a saintly life for 42 years.
From a sermon by St Augustine
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God
Let not the contest be declined, if the reward be loved; and let the mind be enkindled to an eager execution of the work, by the setting forth of the reward. What we desire, and wish for, and seek, will be hereafter; but what we are ordered to do for the sake of that which will be hereafter, must be now.
Begin now, then, to recall to mind the divine sayings, and the precepts and rewards of the Gospel. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven shall be thine hereafter; be poor in spirit now. Wouldest thou that the kingdom of heaven should be thine hereafter? Look well to thyself whose thou art now. Be poor in spirit. You ask me, perhaps, “What is to be poor in spirit?” No one who is puffed up is poor in spirit; therefore he that is lowly is poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven is exalted; but “he who humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Mark what follows: “Blessed,” saith He, “are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Thou wishest to possess the earth now; take heed lest thou be possessed by it. If thou be meek, thou wilt possess it; if ungentle, thou wilt be possessed by it. And when thou hearest of the proposed reward, do not, in order that thou mayest possess the earth, unfold the lap of covetousness, whereby thou wouldest at present possess the earth, to the exclusion even of thy neighbour by whatever means; let no such imagination deceive thee. Then wilt thou truly possess the earth, when thou dost cleave to Him who made heaven and earth. For this is to be meek, not to resist thy God, that in that thou doest well He may be well-pleasing to thee, not thou to thyself; and in that thou sufferest ill justly, He may not be unpleasing to thee, but thou to thyself. For no small matter is it that thou shalt be well-pleasing to Him, when thou art displeased with thyself; whereas if thou art well-pleased with thine own self, thou wilt be displeasing to Him.
Let us come to the fourth work and its reward, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Dost thou desire to be filled? Whereby? If the flesh long for fullness, after digestion thou wilt suffer hunger again. So He saith, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” If the remedy which is applied to a wound heal it, there is no more pain; but that which is applied against hunger, food that is, is so applied as to give relief only for a little while. For when the fullness is past, hunger returns. This remedy of fullness is applied day by day, yet the wound of weakness is not healed. Let us therefore “hunger and thirst after righteousness, that we may be filled” with that righteousness after which we now hunger and thirst. For filled we shall be with that for which we hunger and thirst. Let our inner man then hunger and thirst, for it hath its own proper meat and drink. “I,” saith He, “am the Bread which came down from heaven.” Here is the bread of the hungry; long also for the drink of the thirsty, “For with Thee is the well of life.”
Mark what comes next: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is the end of our love; an end whereby we are perfected, and not consumed. For there is an end of food, and an end of agarment; of food when it is consumed by the eating; of a garment when it is perfected in the weaving. Both the one and the other have an end; but the one is an end of consumption, the other of perfection. Whatsoever we now do, whatsoever we now do well, whatsoever we now strive for, or are in laudable sort eager for, or blamelessly desire, when we come to the vision of God, we shall require no more. For what need he seek for, with whom God is present? or what shall suffice him, whom God sufficeth not? We wish to see God, we seek, we kindle with desire to see Him. Who doth not? But mark what is said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Provide thyself then with that whereby thou mayest see Him. For (to speak after the flesh) how with weak eyes desirest thou the rising of the sun? Let the eye be sound, and that light will be a rejoicing, if it be not sound, it will be but a torment. For it is not permitted with a heart impure to see that which is seen only by the pure heart. Thou wilt be repelled, driven back from it, and wilt not see it.
℟. Shoulder my yoke,says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.* For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
℣. Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.* For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ, grant, we pray, that by her example we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified, remaining steadfast in charity and prompt to show compassion. Through our Lord