Today, 24 Aug 2012, is the feast day of St Bartholomew, the Apostle that Jesus chose to share His public life with, to join to His priesthood, and to send out to the world as a witness to His resurrection and ascension. Ever since His martyrdom in Greater Armenia, St Bartholomew has been close to Jesus in Heaven, interceding for the members of the Body of Christ on earth.
As you would have read from earlier blog-posts, St Bartholomew is my patron Saint for 2012, and the first time I have been given an Apostle for a patron. Obviously the reliable information about St Bartholomew is scarce; early written references to him are few, but the references in private revelation are rather consistent and we can infer quite a lot from looking at the lives of the Saints who had great devotion to him.
Just like Simon Peter was called Bar Jonah in the Gospel : son of Jonah, so the Church has seen that Nathaniel and Bartholomew : son of Tolmai or Tholmai, are one and the same person. Early sources agree that Bartholomew went east of Jerusalem to preach the Gospel, probably going through Arabia, Persia, Lycaonia and similar places before reaching Greater Armenia. Flayed alive and then beheaded is the way he entered eternity to be with Jesus, which is why he is the patron Saint of those who work with leather and other animal skins and of those with nervous and neurological problems.
“Bartholomew spoke quietly to Me, ‘They have been praying a long time. I wish I was with them, but it was my turn to prepare the meal,’ he said, sadly. ‘You pray when you work for others,’ I explained. ‘What do You mean Lord? Cooking doesn’t seem like a prayer to me,’ Bartholomew asked. ‘In your work, whatever it is, if you offer the work to God and do it for God, then it becomes a prayer of action. See in everything you do that it is done because you love God and want to please Him… then everything is a prayer. See, as you live this life, that every breath is a gift from God, and so every time you take a breath you are accepting God’s gift within. Then use that gift for His glory in every action you do, from the smallest to the largest. See the way God’s gift to you is used to help others by your service to them in His name, then every act of servitude becomes a prayer. Life itself can become a never-ending prayer to God, when you make the effort to do everything for God in thanks for the gift of life He has given you. Never see anything you do as unimportant or inconsequential to God, for even the smallest task can be made a prayer, and then even the smallest task becomes important,’ I answered. ‘Even so, Lord, it would be good to be praying with them,’ said Bartholomew, as he looked over to the others. ‘My friend, understand it is because of your sacrifice to prepare the meal, they have the freedom to pray. See that what you are doing is giving your friends the opportunity of spending time trying to come closer to God, and that your denying yourself for them is a prayer in itself, ‘ I replied. ‘It’s true, isn’t it? If I wasn’t cooking, others would have to do it, and so they couldn’t pray. I didn’t think of that,’ he said. ‘See then what a special prayer your work is, a prayer that helps another come closer to God,’ I stated. ‘Cooking, a prayer!’ Maybe I should cook more often,’ smiled Bartholomew, as he continued preparing the meal. A few moments later the others started to gather around the fire. They all looked happy after their prayers. (and here follows some conversation around the campfire, not totally relevant to this story) …’Anyway, I think it is time we all said a prayer before we eat,’ said Bartholomew, for the fish was nearly ready. After we prayed, we sat to eat, when Bartholomew asked out loud, ‘Lord, can eating be a prayer?’ ‘Everything can be, if you show you appreciate God’s love in everything, and offer Him your love in return,’ I said. ‘What, even sleeping?’ he asked. ‘Yes, even sleeping,’ I said, smiling, thinking of the amount of prayer Bartholomew would be doing in the future as he slept.”
There is still more to come - especially what I have learned from looking at the Saints with great devotion to St Bartholomew – but it will have to wait until later…. Thank you for your patience. There are at least 12 Saints either named after St Bartholomew or who took his name in religion which have been written about in this blog during the last 9 months, so it could take quite some time.
St Bartholomew, Apostle of Jesus, pray for us.