Novena to St Paul in preparation for the Feast of The Conversion of St Paul on 25 January
Day TWO – 17 January
Saul of Tarsus, the “Pharisee, a son of Pharisees” (Acts 23:6) had often prayed in the Psalms “You have said, ‘seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek’…Bow your heavens, O Lord and come down!….Flash forth the lightening …Stretch forth your hand from on high, rescue me and deliver me.” (Ps 27:8-9; 144:5,6,7).
And that is EXACTLY what happened when Saul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus!
LET US PRAY:
Glorious St Paul,
your conversion is a powerful witness to the world
that God loves us and does not give up on us,
no matter how far we stray.
May every circumstance of my life be an occasion
to change my way of thinking,
to renounce self-will and
to surrender myself to the wisdom
and tenderness of Jesus Christ
who is acting to make me His saint.
Pray that I may love God’s will and providence for me.
In this confidence, I entrust to you, St Paul,
these, my intentions
(mention your request)
Announcing the NOVENA to Blessed BENEDICT DASWA – Memorial 1 February
Begins 23 January
We are encouraging people in all the Dioceses of Southern Africa (SACBC region) to pray for the favours and graces they need during the nine days prior to the Feast on 1 February. This novena will commence on 23 January and conclude on 31 January. We also invite people to make three acts of kindness each day of the Novena in remembrance of the three acts of charity which Blessed Benedict performed the day he was martyred.
The NOVENA PRAYER in various languages
The Novena Prayer in various languages for opening or downloading:
Novena to St Francis de Sales
Day Three – 17 January
“I desire very little and what I do desire I desire very little; I have hardly any desires but if I were to begin my life all over again I would want to have none at all … Ask for nothing, refuse nothing; we must simply abandon ourselves into the hands of Providence, without nourishing any other desire but to do whatever God wills. St Paul practised this act of absolute abandonment at the very moment of his conversion. When he was deprived of his sight, he immediately said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” [cf. Act 22:10] From that moment on he put himself completely at God’s disposal. All our perfection consists precisely in the practical application of this principle. ”(St Francis de Sales Spiritual Treatises XXI, O. VI, pp. 383-384)
O blessed Francis de Sales,
who on earth did excel in a life of virtue,
especially in the love of God and neighbour,
I earnestly ask you to take me under your compassionate care and protection.
Obtain for me conversion of mind and heart.
Grant that all people, especially …………………….
(names of those whom you wish to include)
may experience the depth of God’s redeeming and healing love.
Teach me to fix my eyes on the things of heaven even as I walk each day
with my feet planted firmly on the earth.
Help me, through the practice of virtue and the pursuit of devotion,
to avoid anything that would otherwise cause me to stumble
in my attempt to follow Christ and to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit.
Encouraged by your prayers and example,
help me to live fully my sacred dignity
with the hope of experiencing my sacred destiny: eternal life with God.
Receive also this particular need or concern that I now lift up in prayer.
………………………………………. (mention your particular need).
O God, for the salvation of all, You desired that St Francis de Sales—
preacher, missionary, confessor, bishop and founder—
should befriend many along the road to salvation.
Mercifully grant that we,
infused with the humility and gentleness of his charity,
guided by his wisdom and sharing in his spirit may experience eternal life.
Thought for the Day – 17 January – The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
In an age that smiles and jeers at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a “rat race,” one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony’s hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God’s good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.
Our most powerful protection IS the Sign of the Cross.
“Let us not then be ashamed
to confess the Crucified.
BE THE CROSS OUR SEAL,
made with boldness by our fingers,
on our brow and in everything,
over the bread we eat and the cups we drink,
in our comings in and goings out,
before our sleep,
when we lie down
and when we awake,
when we are in the way
and when we are still.
Great is that preservative,
it is without price,
for the poor’s sake,
for the sick,
since also its’ grace is from God.
It is the Sign of the faithful
and the dread of evils –
for He has triumphed over them in it,
having made a shew of them openly –
for when they see the Cross,
they are reminded of the Crucified;
they are afraid of Him,
Who hath bruised the heads of the dragon.
Despise not the Seal
because of the freeness of the Gift,
but for this,
rather honour thy Benefactor!”
St Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387) Father & Doctor of the Church
“The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the devil. Thus the Church wishes not only, that we have it continually in front of our minds, to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and, above all, when we are tempted.”
Quote/s of the Day – 17 January – The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
“The illusions of this world soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.”
“The days are coming when men will go mad; and, when they meet a man who has kept his senses, they will rise up against him, saying, “You are mad, because you are not like us.”
“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”
“Reject pride and consider everyone more righteous than yourself.”
St Anthony Abbot
St Anthony told his monks: For the presence, either of the good or evil, by the help of God, can easily be distinguished. The vision of the holy ones, is not fraught with distraction: ‘For they will not strive, nor cry, nor shall anyone hear their voice’ (Matthew 12:19; Isaiah 42:2). But it comes quietly and gently. that an immediate joy, gladness and courage, arise in the soul. For the Lord, who is our joy, is with them and the power of God the Father.
One Minute Reflection – 17 January – The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
What can a man offer in exchange for his very life?……..Matthew 16:26
REFLECTION – “Everything of this world is sold at its price or exchanged for another equivalently priced. But the promise of life eternal is purchased at a bargain price!”……St Anthony Abbot
PRAYER – Lord of all, help me to be willing to pay the price of receiving eternal life. Let me offer myself to You in all that I do and say each day. Lord, grant that through the intercession of St Anthony Abbot, we may deny ourselves, abandon ourselves to Your divine will and love You above all things. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God with You forever amen.
Morning Prayer By St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church “Doctor of Prayer”
Lord, grant that I may always
to be guided by You,
always follow Your plans,
and perfectly accomplish
Your Holy Will.
Grant that in all things,
great and small,
today and all the days of my life,
I may do whatever You require of me.
Help me respond
to the slightest prompting of Your Grace,
so that I may be Your trustworthy
instrument for Your honour.
May Your Will be done in time
and in eternity by me,
and through me.
Saint of the Day – 17 January – St Anthony Abbot (c 251-356) Monk and Hermit. Also known as: Anthony of Egypt• Anthony of the Desert• Anthony the Great• Anthony the Hermit• Father of Western Monasticism. Patronages – against eczema, epileptics; against epilepsy, against ergotism, against pestilence, against skin diseases, against skin rashes, of amputees, anchorites, animals, basket makers and weavers, brushmakers, butchers, cemetery workers, domestic animals, farmers, gravediggers, graveyards, hermits, hogs, pigs, swine, monks, relief from pestilence, swineherds, Hospitallers, Tempio-Ampurias, Italy, diocese of 9 cities. Attributes – bell, pig, book, Tau cross, Tau cross with bell pendant.
The biography of Anthony’s life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness (about ad 270), which seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St Anthony in Western art and literature. St Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were referred to as St Anthony’s fire.
Anthony was born in Egypt in 250. At age 20, when his parents died, Anthony made sure his younger sister’s education could be completed in a community of holy women. He then sold all his possessions and left for a life of solitude in the desert. There an elderly hermit taught him about prayer and penance. For 20 years, he lived in isolation. Anthony wanted to know God deeply. He did penance by taking only bread and water once a day at sunset. The devil appeared to him in terrible shapes to tempt him. But Anthony had great confidence in God. Anthony’s unusual life did not make him harsh but radiant with God’s love and compassion.
Stories of Anthony’s holiness spread and people came to learn from him how to become holy. Some admirers wanted to stay, so Anthony—at age 54—founded a type of monastery consisting of hermitages near one another. Anthony wrote a rule that guided the monks. Later when Anthony heard of the persecutions of the Christians, he wanted to die a martyr. At 60, he left the desert to minister to the Christians in prisons, fearlessly exposing himself to danger. He came to realise that a person can die daily for Christ by serving him in ordinary ways with great love.
So he returned to the desert to his life of prayer and penance. His life of solitude was again interrupted, however, when at age 88 he had a vision in which he saw the harm Arian followers were doing to the Church by denying the divinity of Christ. Anthony left for Alexandria to preach against this heresy. At age 90, another vision sent Anthony searching the desert for Saint Paul, the first hermit. These two holy men met and spoke of the wonders of God. Anthony is said to have died peacefully in a cave at age 105.
The life of Anthony will remind many people of St Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, “Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor” (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony’s life was spent in solitude. At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again like Francis, he had great fear of “stately buildings and well-laden tables.” Like Francis and of course, many saints, Anthony too desired martyrdom.
Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross (which St Francis adopted), a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for “the book of nature” over the printed word.
Our Lady of Pontmain: During the Franco-Prussian War, German troops approached the town of Pontmain, France and the villagers there prayed for protection. On the evening of 17 January 1871, Mary appeared in the sky for several minutes over the town. She wore a dark blue dress covered in stars, carried a crucifix and below her were the words Pray please. God will hear you soon. My son lets Himself be touched. That night the German army was ordered to withdraw and an armistice ending the war was signed eleven days later on 28 January. Approval of diocesan bishop.
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St Achillas of Sketis
St Amoes of Sketis
St Antony of Rome
Bl Euphemia Domitilla
Bl Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch
St Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo
St John of Rome
Bl Joseph of Freising
St Julian Sabas the Elder
St Marcellus of Die
St Merulus of Rome
Bl Rosalina of Villeneuve
St Sabinus of Piacenza
St Sulpicius of Bourges
Martyrs of Langres: Eleusippus, Leonilla, Meleusippus, Speusippus