Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The Cloak Cutter

St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (11 November)
Called the Holy Man of Tours (317-397), Martin wasn't actually from Tours. He was from Hungary. It was there that he encountered Christians, and through them Christ, and by that encounter became a Christian himself. His parents weren't thrilled, but weren't especially upset either. As long as Martin followed the "right" course in life, he could be whatever religion he wished, for all his father cared. The son of a Roman legion officer, Martin was by law automatically conscripted into the Roman Army and travelled with it throughout Germany and France. That was, as far as Martin's father was concerned, exactly the right path - with Caesar's legions to wherever they led.

Not so with Martin. He wanted nothing more than to follow Christ wherever he lead. As a point of family honor and obedience, he would not abandon his post as a soldier though he had a strong dislike for soldiering. He was big and strong, and a good soldier, and though he made no secret of disliking his trade, he won the respect of his brothers-in-arms. He won their respect so much so that they tolerated his eccentricities: how he cared for and served his slave, how he constantly gave to the poor, refrained from indulging in rape and looting, how he even cut his own warm officer's cloak in half to clothe a freezing old beggar. After a number of years, when his service was complete, he settled down in France for what he hoped would be a life of quiet contemplation.

No such luck for Martin, though. His wisdom and gentleness won him a reputation in the countryside around Tours, France, and people began to seek him out, and eventually to take up residences near his once-quiet hermitage. His reputation spread even to the Bishop of Tours, who asked him to accept ordination as a priest. Martin obeyed only when the bishop insisted. When the bishop died, by popular acclaim the Christian faithful of Tours chose him to be the next bishop. The clergy of the area were amazed, but felt they had no choice other than to accept their demand.

As Bishop of Tours, Martin expanded the sort of work he has undertaken as a priest. He mobilized the faithful to care for the poor in very effective ways. The countryside around Tours was still very poorly evangelized and catechized, and when Martin could find no priests in Tours willing to go out to the styx to teach the people, he shamed into it them by going himself. He was rumored to sleep little and eat less, so determined was he to reach every soul and to share so completely with the poor. Rumors spread that not only was there a holy bishop in Tours, but a miracleworker as well. Dozens of people reported healings at his touch or by his prayer, and even the resurrection of some deceased people was reported.

St. Martin of Tours was completely devoted to doing God's will and nothing else. When he was elderly yet busy as ever, our Lord appeared to him and told him to prepare himself to pass into the next life. Martin immediately stopped all his activities and told Jesus that he was ready to go that instant.

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