Our Morning Offering – 4 April – Saturday of the Fifth week of Lent, Year C “Marian Saturdays”
Mother of Sorrows, of Love, of Mercy By Fr Lawrence Lovasik SVD (1913-1986)
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs,
accept the sincere homage of my childlike love.
Into your heart, pierced by so many sorrows,
welcome my poor soul.
Receive it as the companion of your sorrows
at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus
died for the redemption of the world.
Sorrowful Virgin, with you,
I will gladly suffer all the trials,
misunderstandings and pains
which it shall please our Lord to send me.
I offer them all to you in memory of your sorrows,
so that every thought of my mind
and every beat of my heart,
may be an act of compassion and of love for you.
Loving Mother, have pity on me,
reconcile me to your Divine Son Jesus,
keep me in His grace and assist me
in my last agony,
so that I may be able to meet you in heaven
and sing your glories.
Mary, most sorrowful Mother of Christians,
pray for us.
Mother of love, of sorrow
and of mercy, pray for us!
Saint of the Day – 4 April – St Isidore of Seville (c 560-636) Father & Doctor of the Church, Creator of the first encyclopedia – often called “The Last Scholar of the Ancient World” and “The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages.” His most well known patronage is of computers and the internet (though not officially so_ – his full story with Patronages is here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/saint-of-the-day-4-april-st-isidore-of-seville-father-and-doctor-of-the-church/ but today we will follow his life with Pope Benedict XVI during his Catechetical audiences on the Doctors of the Church. This was given at St Peter’s on Wednesday, 18 June 2008.
He was a younger brother of St Leander (c 534-c 600) memorial 13 March, Archbishop of Seville and a great friend of St Pope Gregory the Great. Pointing this out is important, because it enables us, to bear in mind, a cultural and spiritual approach, that is indispensable for understanding Isidore’s personality. Indeed, he owed much to Leander, an exacting, studious and austere person who created around his younger brother a family context, marked by the ascetic requirements proper to a monk and from the work pace demanded, by a serious dedication to study. Furthermore, Leander was concerned to have the wherewithal to confront the political and social situation of that time – in those decades in fact, the Visigoths, barbarians and Arians, had invaded the Iberian Peninsula and taken possession of territories that belonged to the Roman Empire. It was essential to regain them for the Roman world and for Catholicism. Leander and Isidore’s home was furnished with a library richly endowed with classical, pagan and Christian works. Isidore, who felt simultaneously attracted to both, was, therefore, taught under the responsibility of his elder brother, to develop a very strong discipline, in devoting himself to study with discretion and discernment.
Thus, a calm and open atmosphere prevailed in the episcopal residence in Seville. We can deduce this from Isidore’s cultural and spiritual interests, as they emerge from his works themselves, which include an encyclopaedic knowledge of pagan classical culture and a thorough knowledge of Christian culture. This explains the eclecticism characteristic of Isidore’s literary opus, who glided with the greatest of ease from Martial to Augustine, or from Cicero to Gregory the Great. The inner strife that the young Isidore had to contend with, having succeeded his brother Leander on the episcopal throne of Seville in 599, was by no means unimportant. The impression of excessive voluntarism that strikes one, on reading the works of this great author, considered to be the last of the Christian Fathers of antiquity, may, perhaps, actually be due to this constant struggle with himself. A few years after his death in 636, the Council of Toledo in 653 described him as “an illustrious teacher of our time and the glory of the Catholic Church.”
Isidore was, without a doubt, a man of accentuated dialectic antitheses. Moreover, he experienced a permanent inner conflict in his personal life, similar to that which Gregory the Great and St Augustine had experienced earlier, between a desire for solitud, to dedicate himself solely to meditation on the word of God and, the demands of charity to his brethren, for whose salvation, as Bishop, he felt responsible. He wrote, for example, with regard to Church leaders: “The man responsible for a Church (vir ecclesiasticus) must on the one hand allow himself to be crucified to the world, with the mortification of his flesh and, on the other, accept the decision of the ecclesiastical order – when it comes from God’s will – to devote himself humbly to government, even if he does not wish to”(Sententiarum liber III, 33, 1: PL 83, col 705 B). Just a paragraph later he adds: “Men of God, (sancti viri), do not in fact desire to dedicate themselves to things of the world and groan when by some mysterious design of God they are charged with certain responsibilities…. They do their utmost to avoid them bu,t accept what they would like to shun and do what they would have preferred to avoid. Indeed, they enter into the secrecy of the heart and seek there to understand what God’s mysterious will is asking of them. And when they realise that they must submit to God’s plans, they bend their hearts to the yoke of the divine decision” (Sententiarum liber III, 33, 3: PL 83, coll. 705-706).
To understand Isidore better, it is first of all, necessary, to recall the complexity of the political situations in his time to which I have already referred – during the years of his boyhood he was obliged to experience the bitterness of exile. He was, nevertheless, pervaded with apostolic enthusiasm. He experienced the rapture of contributing to the formation of a people, that was at last, rediscovering its unity, both political and religious, with the providential conversion of Hermenegild, the heir to the Visigoth throne, from Arianism to the Catholic faith. Yet we must not underestimate the enormous difficulty of coming to grips with such very serious problems as were the relations with heretics and with the Jews. There was a whole series of problems which appear very concrete to us today too, especially if we consider what is happening in certain region, in which we seem almost to be witnessing the recurrence of situations, very similar to those, that existed on the Iberian Peninsular, in that sixth century. The wealth of cultural knowledge that Isidore had assimilated, enabled him to constantly compare the Christian newness with the Greco-Roman cultural heritage, however, rather than the precious gift of synthesis, it would seem that he possessed the gift of collatio, that is, of collecting, which he expressed in an extraordinary personal erudition, although it was not always ordered as might have been desired.
In any case, his nagging worry not to overlook anything, that human experience had produced, in the history of his homeland and of the whole world, is admirable. Isidore did not want to lose anything that man had acquired, in the epochs of antiquity, regardless of whether they had been pagan, Jewish or Christian. Hence, it should not come as a surprise if, in pursuing this goal, he did not always manage to filter the knowledge he possessed sufficiently, in the purifying waters of the Christian faith as he would have wished. The point is, however, that in Isidore’s intentions, the proposals he made, were always in tune with the Catholic faith, which he staunchly upheld. In the discussion of the various theological problems, he showed, that he perceived their complexity and often astutely suggested solutions, that summarise and express, the complete Christian truth. This has enabled believers through the ages and to our times, to profit, with gratitude, from his definitions. A significant example of this is offered by Isidore’s teaching on the relations between active and contemplative life. He wrote: “Those who seek to attain repose in contemplation must first train in the stadium of active life and then, free from the dross of sin, they will be able to display that pure heart which alone makes the vision of God possible”(Differentiarum Lib. II, 34, 133: PL 83, col 91A). Nonetheless, the realism of a true pastor, convinced him of the risk the faithful run, of reducing themselves to one dimension. He therefore added: “The middle way, consisting of both of these forms of life, normally turns out to be more useful in resolving those tensions, which are often aggravated, by the choice of a single way of life and are instead better tempered, by an alternation of the two forms” (op. cit. 134; ibid., col 91B).
Isidore sought in Christ’s example the definitive confirmation of a just orientation of life and said: “The Saviour Jesus offers us the example of active life, when during the day He devoted Himself to working signs and miracles in the town but, He showed the contemplative life, when He withdrew to the mountain and spent the night in prayer”(op. cit. 134: ibid.). In the light of this example of the divine Teacher, Isidore can conclude with this precise moral teaching: “Therefore let the servant of God, imitating Christ, dedicate himself to contemplation without denying himself active life. Behaving otherwise, would not be right. Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbour with action. It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other”(op. cit., 135; ibid. col 91C). I consider that this is the synthesis of a life that seeks contemplation of God, dialogue with God in prayer and in the reading of Sacred Scripture, as well as action at the service of the human community and of our neighbour. This synthesis, is the lesson that the great Bishop of Seville has bequeathed to us, Christians of today, called to witness to Christ at the beginning of a new millennium. Amen … Vatican.va
Prayer for the Intercession of St Isidore before accessing the Internet
Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thy image
and bade us to seek after all that is good,
true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person
of Thy only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore,
Bishop and Doctor,
during our journeys through the internet,
we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience,
all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord.
Orátio ante colligatiónem in interrete:
*Omnípotens aetérne Deus,
qui secúndum imáginem Tuam nos plasmásti
et omnia bona, vera, et pulchra,
praesértim in divína persóna Unigéniti Fílii Tui
Dómini nostri Iesu Chrísti, quaérere iussísti,
ut, per intercessiónem Sancti Isidóri, Epíscopi et Doctóris,
in peregrinatiónibus per interrete,
et manus oculísque ad quae Tibi sunt plácita intendámus
et omnes quos convenímus cum caritáte ac patiéntia accipiámus.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Thought for the Day – 3 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“St Ambrose describes virtue, as a slow martyrdom.
In this sense, we must all be martyrs.
There is only one difference.
The Martyrs of the Church shed their blood and gave up their lives for Jesus, within one hour or one day and gained their reward immediately.
Our martyrdom, on the other hand, will be prolonged.
It will last all our lives and will end only when we accept death with resignation from the hands of God.
Ours is the martyrdom of virtue.
Let us clearly understand, that solid Christian virtue is a slow and continual martyrdom, which will end with death.
It is not a flower, which springs up spontaneously in the garden of the soul.
It is like a seed which is thrown on the damp earth and must die there slowly, so that it can generate young shoots, which will produce the ears of corn. “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (Jn 12:24-25).
It is necessary, then, to descend into the mire of humility and to remain there until we die.
Only after we have died to ourselves, shall we rise again in God (Cf ibid).
After the death of our lower instincts and vices, we shall find a new life.”
Quote of the Day – 3 April – The Memorial of St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
May I Love You More Dearly St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
Thanks be to You, my Lord Jesus Christ For all the benefits You have given me, For all the pains and insults You have borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother, May I know You more clearly, Love You more dearly, Follow You more nearly. Amen
St Richard recited this prayer on his deathbed, surrounded by the clergy of the diocese. The words were transcribed, in Latin, by his confessor Ralph Bocking, a Dominican friar and were eventually published in the Acta Sanctorum, an encyclopedic text in 68 folio volumes of documents examining the lives of Christian saints. The British Library copy, contains what is believed to be Bockings transcription of the prayer:
Gratias tibi ago, Domine Jesu Christe,
de omnibus beneficiis quae mihi praestitisti,
pro poenis et opprobriis, quae pro me pertulisti,
propter quae planctus ille lamentabilis vere tibi competebat.
Non est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.
Lenten Reflection – 3 April – Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18:2-7, John 10:31-42
“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”
“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” … John 10:37-38
Daily Meditation: Set us free.
“The Apostle teaches that Christ offered Himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. He is the true God and the true high priest who for our sake entered once for all into the holy of holies, taking with Him not the blood of bulls and goats but His own blood. This was foreshadowed by the high priest of old when each year he took blood and entered the holy of holies.
Christ is, therefore, the one who in Himself alone, embodied all that He knew to be necessary to achieve our redemption. He is at once Priest and Sacrifice, God and Temple. He is the Priest through whom we have been reconciled, the Sacrifice by which we have been reconciled, the Temple in which we have been reconciled, the God with whom we have been reconciled. He alone is Priest, Sacrifice and Temple because He is all these things as God, in the form of a Servant but He is not alone as God, for He is this with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of God.
Hold fast to this and never doubt it – the only-begotten Son, God the Word, becoming man offered Himself for us, to God, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. In the time of the Old Testament, patriarchs, prophets and priests sacrificed animals in His honour and in honour of the Father and the Holy Spirit, as well. Now in the time of the New Testament the Holy Catholic Church, throughout the world, never ceases to offer the Sacrifice of bread and wine, in faith and love, to Him and to the Father and the Holy Spirit, with whom He shares one Godhead.” … St Fulgentius of Ruspe (c 462 – 533) – An excerpt from his Treatise on Faith addressed to Peter
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies.
Thanks be to Christ the Lord,
who brought us life by is death on the cross.
With our whole heart let us askHhim:
By Your death raise us to life.
Teacher and Saviour,
You have shown us Your fidelity and made us a new creation by Your passion,
– keep us from falling again into sin.
Help us to deny ourselves today,
– and not deny those in need.
May we receive this day of penance as Your gift,
– and give it back to You through works of mercy.
Master our rebellious hearts,
– and teach us generosity. Closing Prayer:
Most forgiving Lord,
again and again You welcome me back into Your loving arms.
Grant me freedom from the heavy burdens of sin
that weigh me down
and keep me so far from You.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
“O Fountain of everlasting love, what shall I say of You? How can I forget You, Who have vouchsafed to remember me even after I was corrupted and lost?”
One Minute Reflection – 3 April – Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18:2-7, John 10:31-42
“Then they tried to seize him.” … John 10:39
REFLECTION – “If the Law calls them gods to whom the word of God came and scripture cannot be set aside,how can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” Yes indeed, if God has spoken to us so that we might be called ‘gods,’ how could the Word of God, the Word that is in God, not be God? If we have been made sharers in His nature and have become gods because God speaks to us, how could this Word, through which this gift comes to us, not be God? … As for you, you approach the Light and receive it and are counted among the children of God but if you draw back, you become dark and are counted among the children of darkness (cf. 1 Thes 5:5). …
“Believe the works, so that you may realise and understand, that the Father is in me and I in the Father.” The Son of God does not say “the Father is in me and I in the Father” in the same sense as we are able to do. In effect, if our thoughts are good, we are in God; if our lives are holy, God is in us. When we are sharers in His grace and enlightened by His light then we are in Him and He in us. But … recognise what is proper to the Lord and what is a gift made to His servant. What is proper to the Lord is His equality with the Father but the gift granted to His servant, is to participate in the Saviour.
“Then they tried to seize him.” If only they had seized Him! But by faith and intellect, not so as to mock and put him to death! At this very moment, as I speak to you …, all of us, both you and I, are wanting to seize Christ. To ‘seize’, what does that mean? You have ‘seized’ when you have understood. But Christ’s enemies were looking for something different. You have seized in order to possess but they wanted to seize Him in order to get rid of Him. And because this was how they wanted to seize Him, what does Jesus do? “He escaped from their power.” They were unable to seize Him because they did not have the hands of faith. … We truly seize Christ if our minds grasp the Word.” … St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church – Sermons on the Gospel of John, no 48, 9-11
PRAYER – Holy Father, our Father, help us to lay down the stones of hate and embrace Your Son who stands before us in need. Give us the hands of faith and minds to grasp the Word, teach us to see His Face in those who cry out to us. Teach us compassion and love. Mary, your Immaculate Heart is our school. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.