聖方濟.沙雷St. Francis de Sales
聖人出生於一五六七年，一五九三年晉鐸，來到沙伯來(Thonon-les-Bains )傳教，意欲感化非天主教的基督徒。艱苦了三年，仍沒有人歸化。但聖人異常耐心。人們不願來聽他講道, 他便編撰了一些宗教傳單, 親手抄寫, 並把它們放進屋門下。這些傳單後來被編為「公教辯証」一冊。
聖方濟的忍耐與和善，讓他的傳教工作，漸見端倪。父母們不願接近他, 他就接近兒童, 並與他們同樂同娛; 後來父母們見到他對兒童的良善, 便開始願意與他交談。
聖人給「聖母往見會」創辦人, 聖婦桑達爾Jane de Chantal, 寫道：「我一向主張, 誰懷着愛去宣講, 縱然他沒有說出任何爭議性的詞句, 他便能有效地戰勝異端徒。」
真福瑪利亞.嘉俾娜Blessed Maria Gabriella
嘉俾娜修女在徵得修院長上同意後，便鄭重地把生命作犧性奉獻給主。天主接納了她的奉獻：不消數月, 康健的她，突罹肺病。嘉俾娜一直為合一祈禱和受苦, 直至一九三九年四月二十三日病逝為止。當日是「善牧主日」。
January 18 to 25 is the Octave of Christian Unity. Before his passion, Jesus prayed to the Father that all his believers might be one (John 17:21). During these eight days, we pray that all Christians will eventually reach full communion with the Holy Father, the successor of Peter, so that there will be “one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16).
Recently, some Catholic blogs started calling our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, “The Pope of Christian Unity.” One prominent Catholic blogger, Father Tim Finigan, observed that “Pope Benedict has begun to 'walk the walk' rather than simply 'talk the talk' on ecumenism, providing for the real and concrete prospect of unity with those Anglicans who share our faith.” In this article, I would like to share with you the stories of two saints who worked and sacrificed for Christian Unity.
St. Francis de Sales
Born in 1567, St. Francis was ordained a priest in 1593. As a young priest, he started an expedition to Thonon-les-Bains, France, to convert non-Catholic Christians back to Catholicism. After three difficult years, there was not even one convert. But, St. Francis was an unusually patient man. He wrote out his leaflets, copied them by hand, and slipped them under the doors of the people who would not listen to him. These leaflets were later published in one volume called The Catholic Controversy.
St. Francis won the heart of the people gradually with his patience and kindness. The parents would not come to St. Francis, so he came to their children and played with them. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with their children, they started to talk to him.
Eventually more and more people came to St. Francis to listen to his sermons, and conversions became increasingly frequent. By the time he left Thonon-les-Bains, St. Francis had brought 40,000 people back to Catholicism.
Writing to St. Jane de Chantal, St. Francis remarked, “I have always said that whoever preaches with love is preaching effectively against the heretics, even though he does not say a single controversial word against them.”
Blessed Maria Gabriella
Born in 1914, Marie Gabriella was a girl of strong will. She was obstinate and rebellious, but with a strong sense of duty and loyalty. She obeyed grumblingly, but she was docile. She would say, “no,” and then go at once to her appointed task.
The sorrows caused by the death of her closest sister brought about a profound change in her life. At the age of 18, people noticed she became gentler. The spirit of prayer and of charity grew in her. At 21, she joined a Trappist monastery. When she became a professed religious, her attitude to God was, “now do what You will.”
In January 1938, shortly before the Octave of Christian Unity, the abbess of the monastery explained to the community the request for prayer and offering for the great cause of Christian Unity. Sister Marie Gabriella felt compelled to offer her young life for this cause.
After consultations with superiors, she made an act of self-offering to God. God accepted her offering. Up until this time she was in good health, but in a few months she had tuberculosis. Sister Marie Gabriella prayed and suffered for the cause of Christian Unity until her death on Good Shepherd Sunday, April 23, 1939.
Pope John Paul II beautified her on January 25, 1983. The Pope called her life “a sign from God” to the Church and a model of “the spiritual ecumenism that is the soul of the ecumenical movement.”
Like Blessed Marie Gabriella, let us pray and sacrifice for the cause of Christian Unity and, like St. Francis de Sales, let us treat other non-Catholic Christians with respect, love, and kindness.