Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Lectionary: 500

Worthy are you to receive the scroll
and break open its seals,
for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”



The question was raised, "“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to examine it."

John, the Seer of Patmos and author of Revelation, agonized during that long moment of uncertainty. There was a long silence in heaven and on earth as all creation waited for a Savior to appear. This was worse than waiting for the Cubs to win the World Series or the presidential election to be resolved. Finally, one of the elders whispered to the prophet what no one else could imagine, "The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”

He goes on to tell us of that magnificent heavenly liturgy when all the saints hailed Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the World. 

Somewhere during the 19th century, the apocalyptic spirit came to America. It had been spawned by the anxiety which erupted into the Civil War, but as a religious movement it persisted, giving birth to the fundamentalist movement which organized at Niagara Falls and set out to insinuate itself into every Christian Church. Only the Catholic Church, because of its deep faith in its educated priesthood, escaped the plague. 

The preachers would have been surprised to discover, had they taken an interest in history, that the mendicant movement of the 13th century was even more evangelistic and all the more apocalyptic. But the Franciscans, Dominicans, Crosiers and other groups prepared for the Coming of Christ by stripping themselves of worldly goods. In imitation of Jesus, they practiced seraphic poverty. 

The princess Elizabeth of Hungary was caught up in that movement. Married very young to a fond, devout husband she had several children by him even as she consulted with Franciscan friars how they should govern their little corner of Europe. She began to give away enormous amounts of money to the poor. 

When he husband died young she and her children were turned out of their palace. Homeless like Jesus, she surrendered her children to relatives and continued to pursue the Jesus' way of life. Still ministering to the poor despite her poverty and rigorous fasting, she died young. 

We don't hear much about that kind of eager preparation for the Lord's coming among today's apocalypticists. Intending to do good, many do very well by their books, tracts and television programs. 

Christians like Saint Elizabeth of Hungary are sent to the nations to remind them that a judge will come one day. He will separate the wicked from the just, the foolish from the wise, and deliver into his heavenly kingdom those who followed the Lamb on the road to Calvary. 


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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.