Thought for the Day – 19 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Faith and Charity
“Faith is a wonderful thing. As has been said, it is a supernatural gift from God, which we should keep alive by prayer. Faith alone is not enough, however. It is the foundation, on which we must build the structure of our Christian life. It is especially necessary for it to be united to the flame of charity. “Without love,” says St Augustine, “there is only the faith, which the devil has” (De Caritate 10) because, as St James explains, “the devil also believes and trembles” (Js 2:19). We, however, should believe and love. We must combine faith with charity towards God and towards our neighbour. Our faith should be active. As St Paul says, it should work under the influence of charity (Gal 5:6). Without charity and good works, faith is a lifeless thing.
If we really believe, we should love God above all things, even more than we love ourselves and, we should be ready to make any sacrifice for Him, even the sacrifice of our lives.
Faith should induce us to think constantly of God and charity should urge us to do everytig for His sake, rather than for any lesser purpose. If we lack this kind of charity, we cannot claim to be sincere Christians.”
Quote/s of the Day – 19 April – Monday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 8-15, Psalm: Psalms 119: 23-24, 26-27, 29-30, Gospel: John 6: 22-29
“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.”
“He Himself will help us and lead us to what He has promised.”
St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church
“You first loved us so that we might love You— not because You needed our love but because, we could not be what You created us to be, except by loving You.”
William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148)
“For God, … does not work in those who refuse to place all their confidence and hope in Him alone. But He does impart the fullness of His love upon those who possess a deep faith and hope; for them He does great things.”
St Jerome Emiliani (1486-1537)
“As for me, my God, I am so convinced, that You watch over those who hope in You and, that one cannot lack for anything, when one expects everything from You, that I have resolved, to live in future, without any anxiety and to unload all my worries onto You …”
St Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682)
Lord, May Your kingdom Come Into My Heart By Fr Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751)
Lord, may Your kingdom come into my heart to sanctify me, nourish me and purify me. How insignificant is the passing moment, to the eye without faith! But how important each moment is, to the eye enlightened by faith! How can we deem insignificant anything which has been caused by You? Every moment and every event is guided by You and so contains Your infinite greatness. So, Lord, I glorify You in everything that happens to me. In whatever manner You make me live and die, I am content. Events please me for their own sake, regardless of their consequences because Your action lies behind them. Everything is heaven to me because all my moments, manifest Your love. Amen
“You leave the land just as it is when you depart; you do not carry anything away. Our first aim is to go to God, we are not on earth for anything but this!”
One Minute Reflection – 19 April – Monday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 8-15, Psalm: Psalms 119: 23-24, 26-27, 29-30, Gospel: John 6: 22-29 and the Memorial of Bl Conrad of Ascoli OFM (1234-1289)
“This is the work of God, that you believe in him, whom he hath sent.” – John 6:29
REFLECTION – “The senses are full of curiosity – faith is content to know nothing, it… longs to pass its life motionless before the Tabernacle. The senses love riches and honour – faith holds them in horror… “Blessed are the poor” (Mt 5,3). She adores the poverty and lowliness with which Jesus covered His life, as though with a garment, that He never cast off… The senses take fright at that which they call danger, at all that might mean pain or death – but faith is afraid of nothing, it knows nothing can happen to it but what is the will of God: “I have counted every hair of your head” (Mt 10,30) and whatever God wishes, will always be for its good. “All that happens is for the good of my elect” (Rm 8,28). Thus in everything that may happen, sorrow or joy, health or sickness, life or death, it is content and fears nothing. The senses are anxious about the future and ask how we shall live tomorrow but faith feels no anxiety…
Thus faith illumines everything with a new light, different to the life of the senses, more brilliant, of another kind. Whoever lives by faith, has a soul full of new thoughts, new tastes, new impressions; new horizons open up, marvellous horizons, lit with a new light and with a divine beauty, surrounded with new truths of which the world is not aware. Thus, whoever believes, begins a new life opposed to that of the world, whose acts seem like madness. The world is in the darkness of night, the person of faith is in full light – this light-filled path on which we walk, is not manifest to others. It seems to them, that we want to walk like a madman, in emptiness.” – Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) Hermit and Missionary in the Sahara – Retreat Notes, Nazareth, Nov. 1897
PRAYER – King of heaven and earth, Lord God, rule over our hearts and bodies this day. Sanctify us and guide our every thought, word and deed, according to the commandments of Your law, so that now and forever, Your grace may free and save us. Let us walk in Your ways and be your lights and thus, by our lives, help others to follow You. Grant that the prayers of our blessed Mother, the Mother of Jesus Your Son and Blessed Conrad of Ascoli, who always lived for You alone, may help us, as we work through each day to reach our heavenly home. Through Jesus the Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Acts 6: 8-15 8 And Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Now there arosesome of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians and of the Alexandrians and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. 0 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke. 11 Then they suborned men to say, they had heard him speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the ancients and the scribes and running together, they took him and brought him to the council. 13 And they set up false witnesses, who said: This man ceaseth not to speak words against the holy place and the law. 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and shall change the traditions which Moses delivered unto us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking on him, saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel.
Gospel: John 6: 22-29 22 The next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was no other ship there but one and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples but, that his disciples were gone away alone. 23 But other ships came in from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where they had eaten the bread, the Lord giving thanks. 24 When herefore he multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus. 25 And when they had found him, on the other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither? 26 Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth but for that which endures unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed. 28 They said, therefore, unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.
Our Morning Offering – 19 April – Monday of the Third Week of Easter
Your Will Alone By St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Angelic Doctor of the Church
Oversee, O my God, my life, that I may do what You ask of me; allow me to see and permit me to do whatever is fitting and profitable to my soul. Lead me not, O Lord my God, into excessive wealth or want, lest I put my trust in riches, or despair in misery. Let me take no joy or sorrow, save in what would lead me to You or from You. Let me delight only in pleasing You and fear only displeasing You. O Lord, let all passing things seem worthless to me and let everything eternal, become my treasure. May I despise any joy apart from You and seek nothing that is without You. Make carrying the burdens for You my relaxation, O Lord and rest without You, itself a burden. Amen
Saint of the Day – 19 April – Blessed Conrad of Ascoli OFM (1234-1289) Franciscn Friar Missionary. Evangeliser, Pentent, zealous Preacher, Cardinal-elect. Blessed Conrad had a great devotion to the Most Holy Trinity and the Bleased Vrgin Mary. Born in 1234 in Ascoli, Italy and died on 19 April 1289 as in Ascli of natural causes aged 55.
At Ascoli in the district of Ancona, Conrad was born of the noble Migliano family in the year 1234. It was marvellous how the small child practised mortifications and self-denial in all things as saints would do. It is recorded, that even as an infant he took his mother’s milk only once on fast days. It was discovered that even as a small boy he possessed the gift of prophecy. Sometimes, for instance, he would go on his knees before a companion named Jerome and he always tendered him great respect. When he was asked for the reason, he said: “I have seen the keys of heaven in his hands.” Jerome later became a Pope, known to us as Nicholas IV.
The two companions formed an intimate friendship. They vied with each other in their application to study but still more, in the practice of virtue. Together with Girolamo (Jerome) Masci, he became a Franciscan Friar in the Convent of Ascoli. United by a close friendship, Corrado and Girolamo devoted themselves with ardour to the piety and austerity of the Franciscan life, following the narrow path of Christian perfection.
From Ascoli they were both sent to Assisi and then to Perugia to complete their studies. They earned the title of “readers” of sacred knowledge and then from Perugia to Rome, where they taught theology and fruitfully preached the Word of God to the people.
Wisdom and humility, austerity of life and zeal for the salvation of souls are the personality traits of the young Corrado. A very humble man, he shunned any reason for personal prestige by living as a true friar minor.
From his friend Girolamo, who became General of the Franciscan Order, he obtained permission to leave for Africa to announce the Word of salvation. At the cost of great efforts and pilgrimages he evangelised Libya and Cyrenaica. In preaching, he always adapted, with due discernment, his speeches to the intelligence of his listeners. God blessed the simplicity of the religious scholar. His word went straight to the hearts of the listeners.
The privileged object of his proclamation was the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Trinity: it drew everyone to worship God. He accompanied the proclamation of the Word with a harsh and penitent lifestyle. He was strict with himself and indulgent with others. He tenderly loved the Mother of the Lord and the memory and meditation of the Lord Jesus, Crucified love, never fell from his mind.
Pope Nicholas III sent Fra Girolamo Masci as legate to the King of France to induce him to more peaceful sentiments, he wanted Brother Corrado as his companion who, reluctantly, had to leave Africa. When Fra Girolamo saw this close friend arrive in Paris covered in a very poor dress and barefoot, moved by compassion and veneration, he exclaimed “This man is more than Jonah!”.
Once the peace between France and Spain was restored, the two friars returned to Rome, where, in 1278, Fra Girolamo was awarded the dignity of Cardinal. Conrad, after two years of preaching and residing in Rome, was sent to Paris to teach theology, proving himself to be an eminent teacher.
In 1288 Girolamo Masci ascended the Papal throne with the name of Nicholas IV; he called Brother Conrad to him to avail himself of his enlightened advice. To the rumours of his imminent Cardinalate that spread in the Parisian environment, he replied, in his farewell address, exhorting everyone to love above all the Christian virtue of humility and concealment.
Exhausted by the long and uncomfortable journey, he died in Ascoli on 19 April 1289. Nicholas IV deeply mourned and, confirming the intention he had had, to make him a Cardinal, ordered a solemn mausoleum to be erected on his tomb. His remains, buried in the primitive convent, were then transferred in May 1371 to the Church of San Francesco.
Among the Christian virtues practised by Blessed Corrado, a characteristic was that of penance. He wore a very crude habit, walked barefoot, rested for only a few hours on a hard table, fasted on bread and water four days a week.
He had placed the Holy Trinity at the soul of his apostolate, thanks to which, he obtained miracles of all kinds.
Credited legends had flourished, while he was still alive, around his holiness. The popular cult, attributed to him from time immemorial in the Marche and in the various Families of the Minoritic Order, was approved by Pope Pius VI on 30 August 1783.
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica / Our Lady of Lyons, France (1643) – 19 April:
In about the year 150 Saint Pothinus, the Apostle of Gaul and first Bishop of Lyon, is said to have enshrined a picture of Our Lady in an underground chapel which is now beneath the Church of Saint Nazaire, or Nizier, in Lyons where many Christians suffered death in the Old Forum on the Hill of Blood. According to tradition, there was once a temple to Attis on the site, whose followers precipitated a persecution against the Christians in about the year 177. Later, in the 5th century, a Basilica was built on the site and the remains of many Christian martyrs from that persecution were buried there, as well as the Bishops of Lyon. The Church takes its name from Nicetius of Lyon, who was the 28th Bishop there in the 6th century, due to the numerous miracles that occurred there after his burial. In 1168 the Canons of the Cathedral started building a larger Church over the Shrine. In thanksgiving for the cure of his son by this Saint, King Louis VII of France made a pilgrimage to Lyons, where he had an ex-veto tablet set up before the Shrine of Our Lady. In 1466 King Louis XI founded a daily Mass in perpetuity, to be followed always by the Salve Regina, solemnly sung. In the year 1638, King Louis XIII consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Already, vast pilgrimages came to seek Mary’s aid, especially in time of famine and plague.
In 1643, the bubonic plague swept across Europe. The people of Lyon dedicated their city to Our Lady and consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fourviere, pledging to make a solemn procession on 8 September of each year in thanksgiving for the end of the epidemic. Instantly, all traces of the plague vanished and, until 1792, twenty-five Masses were said daily in thanksgiving. The annual procession continues even to this day, with the participation of the Mayor of Lyons or one of his representatives. On that day, the people make a present to the Virgin of a seven-pound candle and a gold coin.
During the years of the French Revolution the Sanctuary was profaned and the Church used as a warehouse. Sometimes pilgrims would still come to visit the Shrine at night under peril of their lives. In 1805, Pope Pius VII himself presided at the opening or re-opening of the Shrine. Shortly before the battle of Waterloo, the Shrine was threatened with destruction when Napoleon wanted the hillside fortified. The Marshall was given the order to demolish the Shrine but he refused to do so. Because the City was spared many vicissitudes during the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the people of Lyons decided to show their gratitude by adding a tall Tower to the Church surmounted by a great bronze figure of Our Lady. The inauguration of the renovated Church and Tower was scheduled for 8 September 1852 but the date was moved to 8 December because of heavy flooding. Even then, the festivities and fireworks planned for the celebration had to be cancelled due to heavy rains. The citizens of Lyons, undismayed, put lanterns on their windowsills as a sign of their devotion. This episode is the origin of the street illuminations now observed on 8 December and has become part of the annual tradition. On this day, the faithful put candles or lanterns in their windows and make the pilgrimage up the hill to the Basilica by candlelight or flashlight, called the Fête des Lumieres, or the “festival of lights.” The Virgin is also credited with saving the City from a Cholera epidemic in 1832 and from Prussian invasion in 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces, having taken Paris, were progressing south toward Lyon. Their pause and inexplicable retreat were attributed by the Church to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, a vast Basilica to Our Lady was built next to the old Shrine, which remained almost untouched. The crypt of Saint Pothinus, under the choir of the Church of St. Nazaire, was completely destroyed in 1884.
St Alphege of Winchester (c 953–1012) ArchBishop and Martyr
St Martha of Persia Bl Ramon Llach-Candell St Rufus of Melitene St Vincent of Collioure — Martyrs of Carthage – 17 saints: A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than the names – Aristo, Basso, Credula, Donato, Ereda, Eremio, Fermo, Fortunata, Fortunio, Frutto, Julia, Mappalicus, Martial, Paul, Venusto, Victorinus and Victor. Died in the year 250 in prison in Carthage, North Africa (modern Tunis, Tunisia).
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica / Our Lady of Lyons, France (1643) – 19 April:
In about the year 150 AD, Saint Pothinus, the Apostle of Gaul and first bishop of Lyon, is said to have enshrined a picture of Our Lady in an underground chapel which is now beneath the church of Saint Nazaire, or Nizier, in Lyons where many Christians suffered death in the Old Forum on the Hill of Blood. According to tradition, there was once a temple to Attis on the site, whose followers precipitated a persecution against the Christians in about the year 177 AD. Later, in the 5th century, a basilica was built on the site, and the remains of many Christian martyrs from that persecution were buried there, as well as the bishops of Lyon. The church takes its name from Nicetius of Lyon, who was the 28th bishop there in the 6th century, due to the numerous miracles that occurred there after his burial. In 1168 the Canons of the Cathedral started building a larger church over the shrine. In thanksgiving for the cure of his son by this Saint, King Louis VII of France made a pilgrimage to Lyons, where he had an ex-veto tablet set up before the shrine of Our Lady. In 1466 King Louis XI founded a daily Mass in perpetuity, to be followed always by the Salve Regina, solemnly sung. In the year 1638, King Louis XIII consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Already, vast pilgrimages came to seek Mary’s aid, especially in time of famine and plague. In 1643, the bubonic plague swept across Europe. The people of Lyon dedicated their city to Our Lady and consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fourviere, pledging to make a solemn procession on September 8th of each year in thanksgiving for the end of the epidemic. Instantly, all traces of the plague vanished and, until 1792, twenty-five Masses were said daily in thanksgiving. The annual procession continues even to this day, with the participation of the mayor of Lyons or one of his representatives. On that day, the people make a present to the Virgin of a seven-pound candle and a gold coin. During the years of the French Revolution the sanctuary was profaned and the church used as a warehouse. Sometimes pilgrims would still come to visit the shrine at night under peril of their lives. In 1805, Pope Pius VII himself presided at the opening or re-opening of the shrine. Shortly before the battle of Waterloo, the shrine was threatened with destruction when Napoleon wanted the hillside fortified. The Marshall was given the order to demolish the shrine, but he refused to do so. Because the city was spared many vicissitudes during the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the people of Lyons decided to show their gratitude by adding a tall tower to the church surmounted by a great bronze figure of Our Lady. The inauguration of the renovated church and tower was scheduled for September 8, 1852, but the date was moved to December 8th because of heavy flooding. Even then, the festivities and fireworks planned for the celebration had to be cancelled due to heavy rains. The citizens of Lyons, undismayed, put lanterns on their windowsills as a sign of their devotion. This episode is the origin of the street illuminations now observed on December 8th, and has become part of the annual tradition. On this day, the faithful put candles or lanterns in their windows and make the pilgrimage up the hill to the basilica by candlelight or flashlight, called the Fête des Lumieres, or the “festival of lights.” The Virgin is also credited with saving the city from a Cholera epidemic in 1832 and from Prussian invasion in 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces, having taken Paris, were progressing south toward Lyon. Their pause and inexplicable retreat were attributed by the Church to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, a vast basilica to Our Lady was built next to the old shrine, which remained almost untouched. The crypt of Saint Pothinus, under the choir of the church of St. Nazaire, was completely destroyed in 1884.
St Alphege of Winchester (c 953–1012) ArchBishop and Martyr
St Martha of Persia Bl Ramon Llach-Candell St Rufus of Melitene St Vincent of Collioure — Martyrs of Carthage – 17 saints: A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than the names – Aristo, Basso, Credula, Donato, Ereda, Eremio, Fermo, Fortunata, Fortunio, Frutto, Julia, Mappalicus, Martial, Paul, Venusto, Victorinus and Victor. Died in the year 250 in prison in Carthage, North Africa (modern Tunis, Tunisia).
Thought for the Day – 18 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Life of Fervour
“To pray is to love,” wrote St Augustine. The man who loves God, prays continually and with fervour, whereas the man who has little love for his Creator, prays rarely and apathetically. Prayer does not consist primarily in verbal expression but in the elevation of the mind to God in adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and supplication. Love should be the inspiration of our communication with God, for where there is no love, there can be no prayer.
Jesus tells us that we “must always pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1). We may be working, talking, eating or sleeping but, whatever we are doing, the love of God, can transform it into a prayer. This is so, if we are engaged in our work but have offered it to God in advance. If we are in trouble, our sufferings will be pleasing to God. If we are walking about, everything will speak to us of God and cause us to make acts of gratitude and of love. We shall have dealings with men of the world but they will perceive and appreciate, that we are spiritually united to God. We shall sleep because sleep is necessary but, what appears to be hours of fruitless inactivity, will be dedicated to our Creator. Fervour in prayer and in action, should be the constant ideal of the good Christian, because, it makes his entire life pleasing to God.”
Quote/s of the Day – 18 April – The Third Suday of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19,salm: Psalms 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9 (7a), Second: First John 2: 1-5a Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48
“It is I, mMself.”
“Elizabeth says: ‘Blessed are you because you have believed.’ You also are blessed, because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes, both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges His works.”
St Ambrose of Milan (340-397) Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
“Have faith and the One you cannot see, is with you.”
“The Lord is near do not be anxious about anything.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Jesus is happy to come with us, as Truth is happy to be spoken, as Life to be lived, as Light to be lit, as Love is to be loved, as Joy to be given, as Peace to be spread.”
St Francis of Assisi (1181/2–1226)
“Only by faith is He known to be present… He removed His visible presence and left but a memorial of Himself. He vanished from sight, that He might be present in the Sacrament and in order to connect His visible presence with His presence invisible … ”
One Minute Reflection – 18 April – The Third Suday of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19,salm: Psalms 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9 (7a), Second: First John 2: 1-5a Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48
“It is I, myself. Touch me and see” – Luke 24:39
REFLECTION – “How was the Lord’s body, which could come in to the disciples through closed doors after the Resurrection, a real one? We must be certain that if a divine work is understood by reason it is not wonderful, nor does our faith have any merit, when human reason provides a proof. We have to consider these works of our Redeemer, which can in no way be understood of themselves, in the light of other works of His, so that His more miraculous deeds, may provoke faith in the miraculous. For the Lord’s Body, which made its entrance to the disciples through closed doors, was the same as that, which issued before the eyes of men from the Virgin’s closed womb at his birth. Is it surprising if He who was now going to live forever, made His entrance through closed doors after His Resurrection, Who on His coming in order to die, made His appearance from the unopened womb of the Virgin?
But because the faith of those who beheld it, wavered concerning the Body they could see, He showed them at once, His Hands and His Side, offering them the Body which He brought in through the closed doors to touch. … Now, it cannot be otherwise then, that what is touched is corruptible and what is not corruptible cannot be touched. But, in a wonderful and incomprehensible way, our Redeemer, after His Resurrection, manifested a Body that was incorruptible and touchable. By showing us that it is incorruptible, He would urge us on toward our reward, and by offering it as touchable, He would dispose us towards faith, He manifested Himself as both incorruptible and touchable to truly show us, that His Body after His Resurrection, was of the same nature as ours but of a different sort of glory. Alleluia!” – St Gregory the Great (540-604) Pope, Father, Doctor of the Church – Homilies on the Gospels, no.26
PRAYER – Lord God, grant Your people constant joy in the renewed vigour of their souls. They rejoice because You have restored them to the glory of Your adopted children, let them look forward gladly to the certain hope of the resurrection. May the prayers of our Blessed Mother, be our succour amidst the storms of this mortal life. We make our prayer through our Resurrected Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen, alleluia!
Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19 13 The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. 15 But the author of life you killed, whom God hath raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses 17 And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
First John 2: 1-5a 1 My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He who saith that he knoweth him and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5 But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected.
Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48 35 And they told what things were done in the way and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread. 36 Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them and saith to them: Peace be to you. it is I, fear not. 37 But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them: Why are you troubled and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; touch and se -: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. 40 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet. 41 But while they yet believed not and wondered for joy, he said: Have you any thing to eat? 44 And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them: Thus it is written and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: 47 And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 42 And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish and a honeycomb. 43 And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them.
Our Morning Offering – 18 April – The Third Suday of Easter
My Lord, I am Unworthy! Prayer before Holy Communion By St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Seraphic Doctor of the Church
My Lord, Who are You and who am I, that I should dare to take You into my body and soul? A thousand years of penance and tears would not be sufficient to make me worthy to receive so royal a Sacrament even once! How much more am I unworthy of it, who fall into sin daily, I, the incorrigible, who approach You so often without due preparation! Nevertheless, Your mercy infinitely surpasses my unworthiness. Therefore, I make bold to receive this Sacrament, trusting in Your love. Amen
Saint of the Day – 18 April – Blessed Idesbald of Our Lady of the Dunes O.Cist (c 1095-1167) Cistercian Priest and Abbot of Ten Duinen Abbey, Our Lady of the Dunes from 1155 until his death, Widower. Born in c 1095 in Flanders, Belgium and died in 1167 of natural causes. Patronages – against fever, against rheumatism, against gout, sailors, shrimp fishers, polder farmers, Flemnish nobility, Sint-Idesbald, Belgium.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Bruges in Flanders, in today’s Belgium, Blessed Idesbaldo, Abbot, who, soon became a widower and exercised for another thirty years, duties in the palace of the Counts, entered the Monastery of Dune at a mature age, which he held holy, as the third Abbot for twelve years.”
As a youth Idesbald was a Courtier and Page to the Count of Flanders. It is believed that he proceeded from the noble family of Van der Gracht, lords of Moorsel.
He had married but was widowed shortly thereafter. In 1135 he was Ordained a Priest and Canon at Veurne, Belgium. In 1150, after 15 years of pastoral service, Idesbald became a Cistercian Monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Dunes serving as Abbot with a great reputation for holinessm from 1155 to his death in 1167.
Idesbald was buried in the Abbey in a lead coffin. In 1577, a confederacy of Dutch protestants, plundered the Abbey, and the Monks transported Idesbald’s relics to an outlying Monastic property at Bogaerde.On 13 November 1623, his coffin was opened in the presence of several witnesses so that the relics could be inspected and authenticated – Idesbald’s body was found to be incorrupt. For many days, his body was exposed for the veneration of the faithful, who came en masse, including well known Spanish ecclesiatics as well as the Papal Nuncio many miracles took place on that occasion and his cult was extended more and more.
Again, in 1796, Idesbald’s body was transported to safety from Bruges where he was, to save him from the French Revolutionary troops and finally, in 1830 he was placed in the Chapel associated with the Abbey of Our Lady of the Potteries at the Abbey, where he still is today.
His cult was approved in 1894 by decree of the Diocese of Bruges. On 23 June 1894, Pope Leo XIII confirmed his cultus by an official Beatification.
Basilica della Santa Casa / The Basilica of Our Lady of Loreto erected (1586) – 18 April:
The Basilica of Loreto, one of the finest in Italy, has been adorned, according to their taste, by the Popes, who have often come there on a pilgrimage like the faithful. Three gates of chased bronze give entrance into the holy temple, in the centre of which, arises the Santa Casa in its clothing of white marble, adorned with magnificent bas-reliefs, designed by Bramante and executed by Sansovino, Sangallo and Bandinelli.
La Sala Del Tesoro no longer displays enough riches to pay the ransom of all Italy but it has still received, in our days, very magnificent gifts of princes and Popes. Among these pious gifts we observe a gold Monstrance, enriched with diamonds, a Chalice and a Thurible, offered by the Emperor Napoleon to the Madonna; an enameled Chalice, set with rubies and aqua marinas, offered, in 1819, by Prince Eugene Beauharnais; another Chalice, adorned with brilliants, by the Princess of Bavaria, his spouse; a large Crucifix of gold and diamonds and a Crown of amethysts, rubies and diamonds, offered in 1816, by the King and Queen of Spain, at the time of their pilgrimage to Loreto; a nosegay of diamonds, offered, in 1815, by Maria Louisa, sister of the King of Spain, Queen of Etruria and Duchess of Lucca; an immense heart of very fine gold, with a precious stone in the centre, suspended from a chain of emeralds and amethysts, the gift of the Emperor of Austria to the Madonna. It would be impossible to enumerate the precious stones and rich offerings of all kinds given by Princes and Kings, under the simple title of dono de una pia persona, in the register containing the names of benefactors to the Santa Casa. Cathedral of Loreto. The miraculous statue of the Madonna is nearly 85 centimetres high; it is carved in cedar wood, covered with magnificent drapery and placed on an Altar glittering with precious stones. We are assured that the niche which it occupies is covered with plates of gold. A number of lamps, of massive silver, burn before it.
The beautiful litany of Our Lady of Loreto was the votive offering with which a celebrated Florentine composer, of the early years of the eighteenth century, repaid a miracle of the Blessed Virgin. This composer, whose name was Barroni, all at once lost his hearing, like Beethoven; after having exhausted the succour of art without success, he invoked that of Mary and set out on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loreto. There, he was cured, after praying with faith and, in his gratitude to the Holy Madonna, he composed, by inspiration, in her praise, a chorus, which, under the title of Litanie della Santa Casa, was performed for the first time on 15 August 1737. This litany was repeated every year afterwards for the Feast of the Madonna; Rossini, happening to pass by Our Lady of Loreto, was struck with the charm of this composition and is said to have introduced it into his Tancredi (Gazette Musicale). The front area of the Church was constructed during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus V in 1586 and it was he, who founded the Order of Knights of Loreto, who were a company of Knights especially devoted to defend the shores of the Italian Mediterranean against the incursions of barbarians. The Popes have delighted to testify their respect for Mary, by making her miraculous Sanctuary of Loreto the object of their devout solicitude. Pope Pius V offered to the Santa Casa, two silver Statues of Saints Peter and Paul; he did still better, by diverting from its natural channel, a river, the waters of which, sluggish and in great measure stagnant, sent up the most unwholesome exhalations to the top of the hill, where a small Town has been formed, under the shadow of the magnificent Church of Mary. Pope Benedict XIV, embellished this Sanctuary with truly persevering generosity, where Pius VII, having recovered his liberty, came to kneel, before his entrance into Rome and where he left, as a memorial of his visit, a superb gold Chalice, with this inscription: “Pius VII, Sovereign Pontiff, restored to liberty on the day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and coming from France to Rome, left at Loretto, this monument of his devotion and gratitude.” His holiness Gregory XVI also made a pilgrimage to Loreto.
Thought for the Day – 17 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Storms of Life
“The Evangelist describes how Jesus got nto a boat one day, alog with His Apostles and and set out across the lake of Genesareth. Suddenly a great storm arose, so furious, that the waves covered the tiny vessel and threatened to submerge it. The Apostles were terrified and turned to Jesus but, He was asleep. They woke Him, crying out: “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He sat up and said to them: “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then, He rebuked the wind and the sea and immediately all was calm again. His followers were astonished. “What manner of man is this,” they asked one another, “that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:23-26; Mk 4:36-49; Lk 8:22-25).
We also are often subjected to the tempests of life. Sometimes, these storms, are purely interior, as when our lower impulses threaten to overcome our good resolutions and to submerge our purity of soul. In these serious crises, we should turn humbly and fervently to Jesus for help. Sometimes perhaps, Jesus will seem to be asleep and deaf to our anguished entreaties. But it is never so! He simply wishes to test us, as He tested His Apostles on the lake of Genesareth.
We must persevere. We must tell Him that we do not wish to lose His grace, that we do not wish to fall into sin but desire to go on loving Him. If our prayers are humble and insistent, we may rest assured, that after our moment of trial, Jesus Christ will speak to us. At the sound of His Voice, the tempest will be stilled and there will come, a great calm. Then, we shall experience the peace, which only God can give.
Quote/s of the Day – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 1-7, Psalm: Psalms 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19, Gospel: John 6: 16-21
“They saw Jesus, walking upon the sea and drawing nigh to the ship and they were afraid.”
And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
“What are you afraid of, you men of little faith? That He will not pardon your sins? But with His own hands He has nailed them to the cross. That you are used to soft living and your tastes are fastidious? But He knows the clay of which we are made (Gn 2:7). That a prolonged habit of sinning binds you like a chain? But the Lord loosens the shackles of prisoners. Or perhaps that angered by the enormity and frequency of your sins, He is slow to extend a helping hand? But where sin abounded, grace became superabundant (Rom 5,20). Are you worried about clothing and food and other bodily necessities s o that you hesitate to give up your possessions? But He knows that you need all these things (Mt 6,32). What more can you wish? What else is there to hold you back from the way of salvation? ”
St Bernard (1091-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church Commentary on the Song of Songs, Sermon 38
“Keep Jesus Christ as your dial, at all times, His Cross for mast, on which to hoist your resolutions, as a sail. Let your anchor be, profound trust in Him and set out early!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
“Then steer your ship with steady arm, Trust me and rest your soul. Your little boat I’ll keep from harm, I’ll guide it toward its goal. … Be ,therefore, steadfast, calm and true, Your God is at your side. Through storm and night He’ll see you through With conscience as your guide.”
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Edith Stein “At the Helm”
One Minute Reflection – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 1-7, Psalm: Psalms 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19, Gospel: John 6: 16-21 and the meorial of St Pope Anicetus I (Died 168)
“It is I, be not afraid.”…John 6:20
REFLECTION – “Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal light and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me, and vanquish these evil beasts — the alluring desires of the flesh — so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command the winds and the tempests, say to the sea: “Be still” and to the north wind, “Do not blow” and there will be a great calm.
Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth, for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed down by the weight of sins and direct all my desires to heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.
Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love because You alone can satisfy him who loves You and without You, all things are worthless.” – Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471) – The Imitation of Christ – Book 3 Ch 23
PRAYER – Let us praise You Lord, with voice and mind and deed and since life itself is Your gift, may all we have and are, be Yours! May our Mother be with us and pray for us and listen, we pray, to the prayers of St Pope Anicetus as we ask his intercession. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, in union with You, one God for all eternity, amen.
Acts 6: 1-7 1 And in those days, the number of the disciples increasing, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, for that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve calling together the multitude of the disciples, said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look out among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying was liked by all the multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon, and Parmenas and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles; and they praying, imposed hands upon them. 7 And the word of the Lord increased; and the number of the disciples was multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly, a great multitude also of the priests obeyed the faith.
Gospel: John 6: 16-21 16 And when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea. 17 And when they had gone up into a ship, they went over the sea to Capharnaum; and it was now dark and Jesus was not come unto them. 18 And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 When they had rowed, therefore ,about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they saw Jesus, walking upon the sea and drawing nigh to the ship and they were afraid. 20 But he saith to them: It is I; be not afraid. 21 They were willing, therefore, to take him into the ship and presently the ship was at the land to which they were going.
Our Morning Offering – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
Mary, I Beg You By St Anselm (1033-1109) Magnificent Doctor Marian Doctor
Mary, I beg you, by that grace through which the Lord is with you and you will to be with Him, let your mercy be with me. Let love for you always be with me, and the care for me be always with you. Let the cry of my need, as long as it persists, be with you, and the care of your goodness, as long as I need it, be with me. Let joy in your blessedness be always with me, and compassion for my wretchedness, where I need it, be with you. Amen
Saint of the Day – 17 April – Saint Pope Anicetus I (Died 168) the 12th Pope and Martyr Papacy 157-168. Anicetus actively opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism. (Some sources record St Anicetus as the 11th and others as the 12th Pope?). He welcomed St Polycarp of Smyrna to Rome to discuss the Easter controversy.
The Roman Martyrology states for today: “At Rome, St Anicetus, Pope and Martyr, who obtained the palm of martyrdom in the persecution of Marcus.”
St Anicetus, the twelfth Pope after St Peter, first saw the light of day in Syria, toward the end of the first century. He was carefully educated by his parents, and was gifted by God with great natural abilities, especially with a clear, penetrating mind. He made, by his untiring perseverance, such progress in all sciences that he was counted among the best scholars of his time. In addition to this, the life he led was so blameless, that he was a model of Christian perfection, to everyone.
The most shining of all his virtues, was his truly apostolic zeal in protecting and disseminating the true faith. Therefore, when Pius I. had ended his life by a glorious martyrdom, Anicetus was unanimously elected his successor amid great rejoicing. And in truth, the Church needed, at that period, a Pope as learned, zealous and holy as himself, as she was assailed and persecuted in all possible ways by divers heretics.
Valentinus and Marcion, two Heresiarchs, had already commenced to sow the poison of their corruption in Rome and even a wicked woman named Marcellina, who had adopted the teachings of Carpocrates, had already many followers. The saddest fact of all, however, was that the Catholics, themselves, became very indolent in the practice of their faith, and their conduct was not such as their religion required. This inspired the heretics with hope of being able to instill their spurious doctrines into their minds, as we know by experience that the surest road to apostasy from the true faith, is indifference and debased morals. (My note – this all sounds very familiar!)
St Anicetus, although he perceived all this with great pain, did not become disheartened. Calling on God for aid, he began earnestly to work. By daily sermons, by teaching and exhortation, he endeavoured to move the Catholics to more fervency in their religion, as well as to a reformation of their lives. The example of his own holy life gave the greatest force to his words. He lived like a Saint, and all his thoughts were directed to lead his flock to salvation. He was an enemy to even the most innocent amusement and found his only pleasure in prayer and in working for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. He employed the greater part of the night in devotional exercises and during the day, he was only found in Church, in the dwellings of the sick, or poor, or at home, occupied in study or prayer. He chastised his body by fasting and other penances. To his enemies he was kind and charitable; to the poor, liberal; while in danger and persecution he was fearless and strong.
This beautiful example of their Shepherd, was soon followed by the Catholics residing in Rome with such zeal, that, according to the testimony of Hegesippus, the historian, the whole City became a habitation of sanctity. This change in the morals of the people was the most efficacious means of preserving them in the true faith, as the best safeguard of faith is a pious and blameless life. As far as the heretics were concerned, who endeavoured to implant in the hearts of the Romans, the seeds of their false doctrines, the Holy Father had the greatest compassion on them on account of their lost souls. He left nothing untried to bring them to the knowledge of their error but he thought it prudent ,to banish those who remained inflexible from the City. st Polycarp, a disciple of St John, came to Rome at the time of Anicetus, to discuss several points with him, which were to be settled for the welfare of the faithful. All was happily concluded and Polycarp paid the greatest honours to the holy Pope, everywhere praising his saintly conduct.
For eight years had Anicetus governed the Church with wonderful wisdom and power, when during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius he was seized, and being inflexible in the confession of his faith, he was decapitated.
During his time as Pope, St Anicetus had to combat, in particular, the dangerous errors of gnosticism, Christ’s ancient enemy, already rampant in the days when Saint John the Apostle wrote his letters to the Churches of Asia. Saint Anicetus was visited in Rome by Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who desired to consult with him and, whom he in turn asked ,to celebrate the feast of Easter in the Church of Rome, as Saint Ireneus, Polycarp’s disciple, relates. They had not been able to find a solution to the question of a difference in the date of Easter in the Orient and the Occident, which Pope Saint Victor would later settle but remained close friends. Saint Anicetus’ vigilance protected his flock from the wiles of the false preachers Valentine and Marcion, who were attempting to corrupt the faith in the capital of the empire. – By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876.
The Liber Pontificalis states that St Anicetus was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.
Nossa Senhora da Arrábida / Our Lady of Arrábida, Portugal (16th Century) – 17 April:
The Shrine of Our Lady of Arrábida is popular with sailors and with all those who travel by water. It owes its beginnings to a miraculous occurrence during the 16th century. At some time during this century, an English merchant named Hildebrand, was standing off the entrance to the Tague River when a great storm caught his ship and immediately plunged him into the dangerous waters at the mouth of the river. The ship was in great danger and the merchant, being a pious Catholic, knelt before a picture of Our Lady which he always kept on board his ship. Soon after, he began praying a bright light was seen shining through the darkness and the ship came to rest in calm waters. When daylight came, it could be seen, that the vessel was safely anchored at the foot of a very steep wooded mountain. Hildebrand went back below decks to kneel before the illustration of Our Lady in thanksgiving, when he found that the picture was no longer there. Since it had been from that direction of the mountain that he had seen the light, the night before, Hildebrand went on land and climbed the steep trail to the top. There, on the very top of the mountain, amid the dense woods, was his picture of Our Lady, before which he had prayed in his hour of need. Greatly moved, Hildebrand finished his business as soon as possible, in England and returned to Portugal. He gave away his goods to the poor and settled down in a small hermitage at the top of the mountain, where the picture had indicated that Our Lady wished a Shrine to be. The Shrine is there today and still popular with the local peoples and all sailors, fisherman and those who travel by water. Numerous votive tablets surround the picture, testifying to miracles worked by Our Lady of Arrábida for those who come to her in need. Sailors going on a long voyage usually go for a farewell visit on departure and return to give thanks when they come home.
The Ancient Statue of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida is in the Chapel of the Convent.
It is a replica that is taken in procession and like the original, has a natural head of hair and a silver crown, a blue mantle over an embroidered dress bedecked with silver sequins. In one hand the Blessed Virgin carries the Baby Jesus who wears a similar crown to that of His Mother. In the other hand, Our Lady holds a silver scepter. Only half a meter tall, she has a profound physical and spiritual presence. The procession winds through several City streets, accompanied by a band, banners, and flags. A great crowd processes each year to pay homage to Senhora da Arrábida, or in thanksgiving for answered prayers and many climb the mountain barefoot.
There are fishermen who are going to fulfil vows made in moments when they feared that their vessels were sinking and women, accompanied by their children, who go in thanksgiving for their husbands and fathers, who came back safely through heavy storms. Still others speak of cures from serious illnesses or severe accidents and several miracles which are attributed to Our Lady of Arabida. Ave Maria!
Thought for the Day – 16 April– “Month of the Blessed Sacrament” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“St Therese of the Child Jesus truly claimed, that one Holy Communion, made with perfect dispositions, was enough to produce a saint! When we receive Holy Communion properly, we are transformed into Jesus and, therefore, we become holy. We live, no longer as ourselves but, we live in Jesus. Not alone are we purified of all our imperfections but, we are emptied of ourselves in order to receive Jesus into ourselves. Jesus becomes the dominant thought in our minds and the central desire of our hearts.
Holy Commuion, therefore, should be a supernatural miracle which causes us to live the life of Jesus.
This is the reason why the early Christians gathered daily at the Eucharistic table. They felt the need of achieving, everyday, the transformation of their souls into Jesus. They hungered for Jesus, they burned with love for Him, they were one in heart and in soul.
Let us examine ourselves and see if our communions have anything like this effect on us. “Let a man prove himself,” says St Paul “and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup, for he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement to himself ” (1 Cor 2:28-29).
We should examine ourselves before Holy Communion and make an act of sorrow for our sins and imperfections. Then we shall be able to approach Jesus with love and confidence. We need not be afraid, for it is He Who invites us. It is He Who desires to be united with us in order to make us like Himself.
Let us go to Him, with repentance, with humility and with love. Then He will make us holy.”
Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Friday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 5: 34-42, Psalm: Psalms 27: 1, 4, 13-14, Gospel: John 6: 1-15 and the Month of the Blessed Sacrament
“And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them”
“O precious and wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness!”
St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
“Let your door stand open to receive Him, unlock your soul to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“If Christ did not want to dismiss the Jews without food in the desert, for fear that they would collapse on the way, it was to teach us, that it is dangerous to try to get to Heaven, without the Bread of Heaven.”
St Jerome (343-420) Father and Doctor of the Church
“O you sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? … Behold – daily He humbles Himself as when from heaven’s royal throne He came down into the womb of the Virgin. Daily, He Himself, comes to us with like humility; daily He descends from the bosom of the Father, upon the altar, in the hands of the priest.”
One Minute Reflection – 16 April – Friday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 5: 34-42, Psalm: Psalms 27: 1, 4, 13-14, Gospel: John 6: 1-15
“They gathered up and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves” – John 6:13
REFLECTION – “In the twinkling of an eye the Lord multiplied a little bread. What human beings do in ten months of work, His ten fingers do in an instant … Nevertheless, He didn’t measure this miracle by its power but, according to the hunger of those who were there. If the miracle had been measured by its power, it would be impossible to evaluate it; measured according to the hunger of those thousands of people, the miracle went beyond the twelve baskets. Among artisans, their power is inferior to the customers’ desire; they cannot do everything that is asked of them. Contrary to them, what God accomplishes goes beyond all desire …
When they had been satiated, like the Israelites in past times through the prayer of Moses, they cried out: “This is undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” They were referring to the words of Moses: “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you.” Not just any prophet, but “a prophet like me” (Dt 18:15), Who will satiate you with bread in the desert. Like me, He walked on the sea, He appeared in the luminous cloud (Mt 17:5), He freed His people. He handed Mary over to John just like Moses handed over his flock to Joshua … But the bread of Moses was not perfect, it was only given to the Israelites. Because He wanted to show, that His gift is superior to that of Moses and the call to the nations still more perfect, our Lord said: “If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever,” for the bread from God “has come down from heaven” and is given to the whole world (Jn 6:51).” – St Ephrem (306-373) Deacon in Syria, Father & Doctor of the Church – Diatessaron, 12, 4-5, 11
PRAYER – Stay with us Lord Jesus, be our companion on our way. In Your mercy enflame our hearts and raise our hope, so that, in union with our brethren, we may share with each other Your food of life. Listen to the prayers of your Angels and Saints and as we entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary, may she open our hearts to compassion. Through Your grace with God our Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever amen.
Acts 5: 34-42 34 But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while. 35 And he said to them: Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do, as touching these men. 36 For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; who was slain and all that believed him were scattered and brought to nothing. 37 After this man, rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling and drew away the people after him – he also perished and all, even as many as consented to him, were dispersed. 38 And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men and let them alone; for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to nought; 39 but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they consented to him. 40 And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus and they dismissed them. 41 And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day they ceased not in the temple and from house to house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus.
Gospel: John 6: 1-15 1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him because they saw the miracles which he did on them, that were diseased. 3 Jesus, therefore, went up into a mountain and there he sat with his disciples. 4 Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. 5 When Jesus, therefore, had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to try him. for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: 9 there is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are these among so many? 10 Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. 12 And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. 13 They gathered up, therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. 14 Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world. 15 Jesus, therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.
Our Morning Offering – 16 April – Friday of the Second Week of Easter
I Will Put Myself In Your Hands By St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
O my God, I will put myself without reserve ,into Your hands. Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort. Your presence or the hiding of Your Countenance, all is good, if it comes from You. You are Wisdom and You are Love – what can I desire more. Amen
Saint of the Day – 16 April – Blessed Joachim Piccolomini of Siena OSM (1258–1305) Lay brother Friar of the Tertiaries of the Order of the Servants of Mary (the Servites), Apostle of charity of the sick, devotee of the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. Born in 1258 at Siena, Italy and died on Good Friday, 16 April 1306 at Siena, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – against epilepsy. Additional Memorial – 4 February (Servites). Also known as – Gioacchino Piccolomini, Joachim of Siena.
Joachim Piccolomini was born into a ancient and noble family of Siena, Italy. A pious youth, he was especially noted for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His greatest childhood pleasure was to pray the Ave Maria before an image of the Blessed Lady of Sorrows. He was also known from an early age to exhibit extreme sensitivity to the plight of the poor. He gave them his own clothes and spent his pocket money on almsgiving. One day when Joachim urged his father to increase his aid to the distressed, his father argued that prudence ought to moderate his liberality. Otherwise, he would reduce his whole family to poverty. Joachim is said to have replied, “You have taught me that an alms is given to Jesus Christ, in the persons of the poor. Can we refuse Him anything? And what is the advantage of riches but that they be employed in purchasing treasures in heaven?” Hearing these sentiments, his father wept for joy.
Joachim joined the Servites as a lay-brother at the age of fourteen, becoming a spiritual student of Saint Philip Benizi, one of the seven Holy Founders. By all reports, he was a perfect model of virtue; it was not unusual to find him at midnight, praying, while the rest of the house slept and on Saturdays, Joachim abstained from all food in honour of the Seven Dolours of the Virgin. His fervour grew, yet instilled in him an extraordinary humility. Joachim was urged by his brothers to study and be ordained a Priest but he felt he was unworthy, and wanted nothing grander than to be an Altar Server. It would appear that his whole life was an attempt to hide himself from the eyes of others and live in obscurity. In fact, he had become so well-respected and widely known for his sanctity that he requested that he be transferred to Arezzo. The move aroused such a stir of complaints in Siena that he was ordered to return.
According to the legend Joachim reportedly died when he was unable to console an epileptic with words, so he begged God that he might take the illness upon himself. He died of epilepsy in 1305.
One account of Joachim’s hagiography has the Blessed Virgin appearing to him at important times in his life, such as in his adolescence, when she urged him to join the Servites. The second time, she appeared with two crowns in her hands; one of rubies to reward him for his compassion in her sorrows and the other of pearls, in recompense for his virginity, which he had vowed in her honour.
Shortly before his death, the account continues, she once more appeared. Joachim begged her that he would die on the same day on which Jesus Christ had died. The Virgin immediately gratified him, saying, “It is well, prepare thyself; for tomorrow, Good Friday, thou shalt die suddenly as thou desirest—tomorrow thou shalt be with me in heaven.” So, during the singing of the Passion according to Saint John, at the words “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, His Mother” (John 19:25), Joachim fell into his last struggles of death and at the words “He bowed down his head and expired” (John 19:30), Joachim died. The whole Church was filled with an extraordinary light and a sweet-smelling perfume.
Blessed Joachim Piccolomini was Beatified by Pope Paul V on 21 March 1609. He is commonly depicted as a Servite holding a book and a flower and is venerated especially in Arezzo and Siena.
A little note of interest concerning the family of our saint – the Church has elected 2 Piccolomini Popes Pius II and Pius III and another relative of Siena, is also a Blessed – Ascanio Piccolomini (1628-1671).
Nostra Signora delle Vittorie / Our Lady of Victories in the Church of St Mark, Vienna (1683) – 16 April:
In the year 1683 a formidable army of well over 100,000 Turks invaded Austria and laid siege to Vienna for the second time. The City was strategically located in Europe and the Ottoman Turks had been pressing further and further into Christendom over the preceding centuries. If they could take Vienna, it would open up all of Europe to them. Unfortunately, all of Europe was not united against the invader. The differing Protestant sects hated their Catholic neighbours more than they feared the Turk, and stood by, doing nothing as the Catholics fought alone to save Europe. In fact, the Ottoman Empire had been supporting the Protestants, and encouraged them to revolt and rebel against their lawful government, which weakened Christendom and obviously played into the hands of the Turks. It went so far that they actually promised their Protestant dupes that they would be given the “Kingdom of Vienna” if they should help defeat them. Suffering under an intense siege, Vienna was on the point of surrendering to the enemy. The people were filled with fear and anxiety, for had this happened, the Turks would easily have invaded the rest of Europe,and filled it with blood and strife. From all parts of the Catholic world prayers were offered to the Queen of Heaven, that she intercede and avert this disaster. Our Lady, Consoler of the Afflicted, did not fail her people. The pious and valiant Catholic King of Poland, John Sobieski, with an army seemingly inadequate to the need, bravely marched against the enemy anyway. Even though his army was tiny in comparison to the multitudes that awaited him, there was no-one else who could come to the aid of Vienna. When John Sobieski came in sight of the Turkish camp, before beginning battle, he ordered Holy Mass to be celebrated, at which he himself served, then he begged the celebrant to bless the whole army.
Full of confidence in the help of Mary Most Holy, Our Lady of Victories, King John Sobieski manfully threw his forces into the conflict. Initiating what would be the largest cavalry charge in history, King John led his now legendary Winged Hussars into the face of the enemy like a host of avenging angels, disrupting the enemy formations and breaking their lines. The enemy, though far more numerous, turned and fled, while the King’s army were masters of the field. The rejoicing of Christians was great at this news and from all Christendom ,fervent prayers were offered to the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Victories, in thanksgiving for her protection.
Pope Innocent XI, reigning at the time, placed all his trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary. He had vowed to institute a feast in her honour, if she would liberate the Church from this terrible danger. In fulfilment of this vow, he extended to the whole Catholic world, the Solemnity of the Holy Name of Mary, which had up to that time, only been observed in particular countries. The famous image of Our Lady of Victories is the one which Emperor John Zimiarnes and John Commenus, carried in a triumphal procession after having besieged the enemy. The image is now borne in procession at Vienna to beg Our Lady’s intercession for various needs.
St Herveus of Tours Blessed Joachim Piccolomini of Siena OSM (1258–1305)Tertiary Servite Lay Friar St Lambert of Saragossa St Lambert of Saragossa St Magnus of Orkney St Turibius of Astorga St Vaise St William Gnoffi — Martyrs of Avrillé – 26 beati: – A group of lay people who were executed together for their faith during the anti-Christian persecutions of the French Revolution. They were martyred on 16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France. • Blessed Anne Maugrain • Blessed François Micheneau veuve Gillot • Blessed François Suhard veuve Ménard • Blessed Jean Ménard • Blessed Jeanne Gourdon veuve Moreau • Blessed Jeanne Leduc épouse Paquier • Blessed Jeanne Onillon veuve Onillon • Blessed Jeanne Thomas veuve Delaunay • Blessed Madeleine Cady épouse Desvignes • Blessed Madeleine Sallé épouse Havard • Blessed Marguerite Robin • Blessed Marie Forestier • Blessed Marie Gingueneau veuve Coiffard • Blessed Marie Lardeux • Blessed Marie Piou épouse Supiot • Blessed Marie Rechard • Blessed Marie Roger veuve Chartier • Blessed Marie-Genevieve Poulain de la Forestrie • Blessed Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie • Blessed Perrine Bourigault • Blessed Perrine Laurent • Blessed Perrine Pottier épouse Turpault • Blessed Pierre Delépine • Blessed Renée Bourgeais veuve Juret • Blessed Renée Rigault épouse Papin • Blessed Renée Sechet veuve Davy 16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France – Beatified: 19 February 1984 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy
Martyrs of Corinth – 9 saints: A group of nine Christians who were tortured and martyred together in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than three of their names – Callistus, Charisius and Leonide. They were thrown into the sea at Corinth, Greece c250.
Martyrs of Saragossa: Group of eighteen martyrs murdered in 304 in Saragossa, Spain in the persecutions of Diocletian and the prefect Dacean. We know little more than the names – Apodemus, Caecilian, Caius, Crementius, Engratia, Eventius, Felix, Fronto, Gaius, Julia, Lambert, Lupercus, Martial, Optatus, Primitivus, Publius, Quintilian, Saturnius (4 men of this name), Succesus and Urban. Their graves re-discovered in 1389 in the crypt under the church of San Encrazia in Saragossa.
Thought for the Day – 15 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
What the Holy Spirit Requires of Us
“The Holy Spirit, coming into our souls, asks us to do four things, in particular.
(1) To keep far from us everything which could be displeasing to God. This means that we must avoid sin, which is hateful to God and brings about the death of the soul. When the sin is grave, it destroys charity in us; when it is venial sin, it diminishes our fervour and capacity for good action. We have become the temples of the Holy Spirit. Let us do our best, therefore, to keep ourselves pure and free from every stain of sin. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30).
(2) To avoid contamination by the spirit of the world, which is repugnant to the Spirit of God. The world is selfish and we should be on fire with love for God and for our neighbour. The world is vain and proud and we should love obscurity, recollection and humility. The world looks for happiness in honour, wealth and pleasure in the passing goods of this life. We, on the other hand, should seek our happiness in eternal and heavenly values because God alone can satisfy our hearts and make us happy.
(3) Too avoid affections which are too human and sensual. Only the clean of heart can see and enjoy God. All the objects and all the people of this world, should form for us, a ladder which leads to God.
(4) To seek the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in recollection and in prayer.
We should listen for His voice within us, inspiring and advising us. We should do, obediently, whatever He desires, no matter what sacrifices this may entail.”
Quote/s of the Day – 15 April – Thursday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 5:27-33, Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-20, John 3:31-36
“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you and will be in you.”
“Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctor of the Church
“I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit. The story of the Church is a long story, filled with the wonders of the Holy Spirit. Why should we think that God’s imagination and love might be exhausted?”
One Minute Reflection – 215April – Thursday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 5:27-33, Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-20, John 3:31-36
“ For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God, for God doth not give the Spirit by measure. … but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.” … John 3:34,36
REFLECTION – “How can someone with little or no faith be made to realise that an ant grows wings, a caterpillar turns into a butterfly and many other strange and unexpected things happen in nature, so that in this way he shakes off the sickness of unbelief and despair, himself acquires wings and buds in spiritual knowledge like a tree? “I am He,” God says, “who makes the dry tree flourish; I give life to dry bones” (cf. Ezek 17:24; 37:1-14). (…) Sometimes our soul grows despondent at the huge swarm of its sins and temptations, and says: “Our hope is gone and we are lost” (Ezek 37:11 LXX). Yet God, who does not despair of our salvation, says to us: “You shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezek 37:6). To the soul that doubts how it can ever give birth to Christ through great acts of holiness, these words are said: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you” (Lk 1:35). Where the Holy Spirit is present do not expect anymore the sequence and laws of nature and habit. The Holy Spirit, Whom we worship, is all-powerful and, in an astonishing way, He brings into existence what does not as yet exist within us. The intellect, which was previously defeated, He now makes victorious. For the Paraclete, Who in compassion, comes upon us from above, “is higher than all” (Jn 3:31) and He raises us above all natural impulses.” … St John of Karpathos (7th century) Bishop, Monk
PRAYER – Lord God, whose name is holy and whose mercy is proclaimed in every generation, send forth Your Spirit into our hearts and grant that, faithfully pondering on all that is holy, we may ever live in the splendour of Your presence. Listen we beseech You, to the prayers we request from the Blessed Virgin Mary and all Your Angels and Saints, that we may ever entreat the Holy Spirit to grant us His light. We make our prayer through Christ, Your Son our Lord and Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever amen.
Acts 5: 27-33 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying: Commanding we commanded you, that you should not teach in this name and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and you have a mind to bring the blood of this man upon us. 29 But Peter and the apostles answering, said: We ought to obey God, rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging him upon a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things and the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to all that obey him. 33 When they had heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they thought to put them to death.
Gospel: John 3: 31-36 31 He that cometh from above, is above all. He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh. He that cometh from heaven, is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God, for God doth not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loveth the Son: and he hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Saint of the Day – 15 April – Saint Abbondio of Como (Died c 564) the Fourth Bishop of Como, Italy, Confessor, Theologian, Papal Legate. Patronage – The City ad the Diocese of Como. He is also known as – Abundius, Acoitius, Agontius, Habundius. Additional memorial – the Diocese of Como celebrates it on 31 August. Abbondio is one of those to whom the authorship of the Te Deum is attributed.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Como, Saint Abbondio, Bishop, who was sent to Constantinople by Pope Saint Leo the Great and zealously defended the right faith.”
Abbondio, Bishop of Como, a City that still preserves his remains in the Basilica dedicated to him and honours him as their Patron.
A tradition says that Abbondio was Greek, from Thessalonica (now Thessaloniki) but his name is so frankly Latin, which makes it doubtful. Instead, it appears that Abbondio knew the Greek language well, a rare case in the Western Church at the time. The time and place of his birth are, therefore, uncertain and the first certain date of his biography is 17 November 440 – on that day, Abbondio, former assistant of Bishop St Amanzio in Como, received Episcopal Consecration, as his successor.
But he could not immediately dedicate himself to the Diocese, for St Pope Leo I the Great (the one of the meeting with Attila) needed him for a task that was anything but peaceful. St Leo wanted him to go to Constantinople, as Papal Legate, to the Emperor Theodosius II.
There Abbondio’s mission was to re-establish unity in the faith in a lasting way, after the long doctrinal conflict aroused by the Bishop Nestorius and the Superior General Eutiche. These were two eminent figures of Eastern Christianity, both however, in opposition to the Doctrines of the Church of Rome and of the Councils, on the theme of the two natures – human and divine – in the person of Christ.
Emperor Theodosius II also died in 440 and Abbondio found his successor, Marcian in Constantinople. To him, as to the Bishops, clergy, Monks and faithful, Abbondio, forcefully reaffirms the Catholic Doctrine on the two natures in Christ, as it was explained by Pope Leo in a letter which Abbondio carried and which was addressed to the Emperor.
He completed the mission by having the Papal document accepted by all the Bishops of the East. Abbondio was happifully welcomed home in Rome by Pope Leo in 451, after the peaceful and complete success of his mission.
After a similar mission at the Council of Milan in 452, he was finally able to occupy his See and be the full-time Bishop of Como. For Appondio, this meant becoming a missionary, proclaiming the Gospel in the mountain regions, in the Lugano area and in other country areas not yet fully Christianised. The Diplomat and theologian became an itinerant preacher in his great pastoral zeal to reach all the people of his Diocese.
Appondio died on an Easter Sunday, says a text of the time, immediately after having offered Holy Mass and preached. But the year of death is not known with certainty, indicated by some in 469, by others in 488 or 499.
The Romanesque Basilica of Sant’Abbondio at Como, consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II, is dedicated to him and his relics are conserved beneath its principal Altar, see below.
The Sant’Abbondio Basilica is found outside Como’s ancient City walls near via Regina, the ancient road along the hillside that traces Lake Como’s western shore. Built between 1050 and 1085, on the site where a paleo-Christian dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul had stood. The Basilica was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II, travelling through Como on his way to the Council of Clermond Ferrand, where he announced the beginning of the First Crusade.
The Sant’Abbondio Basilica unwinds across five naves, which are spaced out by grand pilasters and granite columns. In the central aisle there are gravestones of the Bishops of Como. Next to the main Altar we find a Statue of Sant’Abbondio, attributed to Tommaso Rodari at the end of the 15th century – see the first image above. The pictorial cycle in the basilica’s choir loft is noteworthy and the frescoes of the Birth and the Passion of Jesus were realised in the 14th century by an unknown Lombardy painter. To the sides of the entrance portal, we can admire two splendid 17th century canvases one which is Giovan Battista Recchi’s St. Abbondio with a Child, see below.
Kieff on the banks of the Dneiper River was the first resting place of this famous image of Mary. Here, according to legend, the Apostle Saint Andrew had once stopped on his way from Constantinople to Rome. Waking in the morning to the sights of the heights of Kieff, he was moved to prophecy:
“See those hills? On those hills shall shine hereafter, the grace of God.”
However, it was nearly 1,000 years, 1010, to be exact, before the Russian Prince Vladimir was baptised at Kieff with all his people and the teachings of the Gospel began to go out from the heights, which had so impressed the Apostle. The Prince sent to Kherson for a picture of Our Lady which was, according to legend, painted by Constantine and according to another, commissioned by him, which seems more likely. The Prince endowed the Monastery in Petchersk to house the famous painting and here it remained until the fifteenth century. In 1467 Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow, built the Church of the Assumption in the Kremlin as a memorial of his marriage. As a crowning jewel of his new Church, he asked for the famous image of Kieff. This aged City was both grieved and frightened at the demand. The people rose in protest; they did not want to lose their dearest treasure. Then the Blessed Virgin appeared in sleep to the Prince and told him to give up the painting because, she would personally ensure, that it was replaced. He gave it to the agents of the Duke of Moscow on the following morning and returned to his Church to find that another painting, exactly like it, had mysteriously appeared in the place of the one he had returned. Kieff and Moscow were still disputing vigorously up to fifty years ago, the 400-year old customary disagreement over which City had the original picture of Our Lady of Kieff and which City had the one placed there by the Blessed Mother. There are thousands of copies now spread all over the world.
Mercedarian Martyrs of Africa: A group of Mercedarian monks sailing to Africa as on a mission to redeem capture Christians. Captured by Moors, they were tortured and executed for their faith. Martyrs. 1393