Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes – DAY FOUR– 5 February (we Pray the Novena for our own intentions and for the sick, the infirm within our own communities but also for all those throughout the world who suffer, especially those who have no-one to pray for them in preparation for the Wold Day of the Sick on 11 February.)
O Immaculate Queen of Heaven,
we your wayward, erring children,
join our unworthy prayers of praise and thanksgiving
to those of the angels and saints and of your own-
that the One, Holy, and Undivided Trinity may be glorified
in heaven and on earth.
Our Lady of Lourdes,
as you looked down with love and mercy upon Bernadette
as she prayed her rosary in the grotto,
look down now, we beseech you,
with love and mercy upon us.
From the abundance of graces granted you by your Divine Son,
sweet Mother of God,
give to each of us all that your motherly heart sees we need
and at this moment look with special favour
on the grace we seek in this novena.
……………………………..(make your request)
O Brilliant star of purity,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
glorious in your assumption,
triumphant in your coronation,
show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God,
Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother,
be our comfort, hope, strength and consolation. Amen.
In adoring the Blessed Sacrament, our hearts are enlarged and our minds receive the truth
In Lourdes, most miracles take place during the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Medjugorje is no different. Although so much power and grace radiate from the Blessed Sacrament during heartfelt and worthy Adoration, in the end this is not about getting “something”.
The Curé d’Ars referred to a parishioner who said that during Adoration, “I look at Him. And He looks at me.” It is about two people in love with each other – a creature and its God. The deeper our hunger, the more He gives us; indeed, He gives us this hunger for Him.
What does one do during Adoration? What do lovers do when they gaze with love at each other? We need silence first of all. When Pope Benedict XVI led Adoration in Hyde Park, about 80,000 young people kept silence with the Pope – to the consternation of media broadcasters. Silence apparently does not make for good television. Television requires continuous chatter. Adoration requires silence.
Secondly, Adoration requires attentiveness. It is heart-breaking to see couples sitting opposite each other in restaurants, both gazing avidly at their smartphone screens instead of each other. It doesn’t take much to see who or what dominates that relationship. We attend to that which we prize foremost. In Adoration we attend to the Lord.
And thirdly, Adoration needs receptivity. In our silence and attentiveness, we receive from God. We are stripped of the illusion that we can do God any favours. He longs to lavish Himself on us. Sitit sitiri, He thirsts to be thirsted for; He longs to be longed for. He will guide us and teach us but only if we let Him. In Adoration we receive from God the truth about God and about ourselves.
In my own experience it is powerful. Jesus waits for us with eager longing. And He longs to lavish Himself on us. It’s like a tower made of champagne glasses and when the top glass is filled it overflows and fills the glasses below. In Adoration, when we are open to receive, God enlarges our hearts to love and that love overflows to others, just like the champagne tower.
Sometimes people experience little change, often because of unconfessed sin or hiding ourselves from the Lord. If we are closed, if we keep our hurts and everything about us hidden from the Lord, then very little can change. Then Adoration will be experienced as a burden to be endured or avoided. But when we are open to the Lord, it is very powerful. God has so many graces He wants to give us and He leads and guides us in prayer through Adoration. Sometimes we keep vigil with the Lord during Adoration, and make acts of reparation and love – because the world needs this so much.
JRR Tolkien once said he did not return to fidelity to the Lord by being chased by Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven but through hunger for the Blessed Sacrament, as one starving for love. In a letter to his middle son during World War II (the context of the letter is marriage and sex), he wrote:
“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity and the true way of all your loves on earth… by the taste of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships… take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.”
Get to the Tabernacle and let Heaven fall on you…for this is what is called “the totally Catholic devotion” (those who are Catholic to their roots, in their blood, whose way of life, whose food is being Catholic – in the words of St Edmund Campion – ‘To be a Catholic is my only glory.”) – we become what we love!
Partially taken from Fr Leon Pereira OP’s post. He is chaplain to the English-speaking pilgrims in Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Thought for the Day – 5 February – The Memorial of St Agatha (c 231- c 251)
Female saints were numerous in the early Church and the cruelties these saints suffered for their faith encouraged many others to go to their martyrdom. These early witnesses to the faith became the great Christian heroes and heroines and their zeal did a great deal to cement and establish the faith. Many. like St Agatha, suffered centuries ago but their memory is kept fresh, as if they had died yesterday. As is common in the story of man, we learn not from our past, persecutions against Christians seems to constantly rear it’s ugly head – now we suffer too and our women are under a great attack in the modern world. Let us call on Agatha to be with us, to pray for us all and in particular to pray that all Christian women, may protect their purity and chastity.
St Agatha, pray for us!
The incorrupt body of St Agatha was transferred to Constantinople in the 11th century and then returned to Catania. The body is now preserved in different reliquaries. “The arms, legs, and breasts are preserved in a glass case in an incorrupt condition, although rather dried and dark after more than 17 centuries. The skull and principal relics are at Catania, enclosed in an effigy on which rests a costly jeweled crown. The reliquary consists of the figure of the Saint from the head to the waist and is situated in an upright position. The figure is entirely covered with precious gems, rings, bracelets, pins, chains, and jeweled flowers and crosses…”
One Minute Reflection – 5 February – The Memorial of St Agatha (c 231- c 251)
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong…1 Corinthians 1:27
REFLECTION – “My fellow Christians, our annual celebration of a martyr’s feast has brought us together. Agatha achieved renown in the early Church for her noble victory. For her, Christ’s death was recent, His blood was still moist. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ. Agatha, the name of our saint, means “good.” She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. Agatha, her goodness coincides with her name and her way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. Agatha, her mere name wins all men over to her company. She teaches them by her example, to hasten with her to the true Good, God alone.” – from a homily on Saint Agatha by Saint Methodius of Sicily (c 788-c 847)
PRAYER – Lord God, let St Agatha, who became precious in Your sight through her pure life and valiant martyrdom, plead for our forgiveness. For, with joy and rejoicing, as though to a feast, St Agatha, went to prison and offered her sufferings to You, with many prayers. Through Jesus Christ, Your divine Son, in unity with the Spirit, one God forever. St Agatha, pray for us, amen.
Gracious and Holy Father,
give us the wisdom
to discover You,
to understand You,
to seek after You,
to wait for You,
eyes to behold You,
to meditate upon You,
and a life
to proclaim You,
through the power
of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord.
Saint of the Day – 5 February – St Agatha (c 231- c 251) Virgin and Martyr. St Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily and she was martyred in approximately 251 at Catania, Sicily by being rolled on coals. She is one of seven women, who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Patronages – against breast cancer, against breast disease, against earthquakes, against eruptions of Mount Etna, against fire, against natural disasters, against sterility, against volcanic eruptions, of bell-founders, fire prevention, jewelers, martyrs, nurses, rape victims, single laywomen, torture victims, wet-nurses, Malta, San Marino, 64 cities. Attributes – breasts on a dish, crown of flowers, embers, knife, loaves of bread on a dish, pincers, shears, tongs, veil, virgin martyr wearing a veil and bearing her severed breasts on a silver platter, martyr’s palmleaf.
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius (250–253) in Catania, Sicily, for her determined profession of faith. Her written legend comprises “straightforward accounts of interrogation, torture, resistance and triumph which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature”. Although the martyrdom of Saint Agatha is authenticated and her veneration as a saint had spread beyond her native place even in antiquity, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death.
According to Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend of c 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God, fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel. The madam finding her intractable, Quintianus sent for her, argued, threatened and finally had her put in prison. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers.
After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion, Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha died in prison, according to the Legenda Aurea in “the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome.”
Saint Agatha is a patron saint of Malta, where in 1551 her intercession through a reported apparition to a Benedictine nun is said to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion. Agatha is the patron saint of bell-founders because of the shape of her severed breasts and also of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients. She is claimed as the patroness of Palermo. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
Agatha is buried at the Badia di Sant’Agata, Catania. She is listed in the late 6th-century Martyrologium Hieronymianum associated with Jerome and the Synaxarion, the calendar of the church of Carthage, ca. 530.
Two early churches were dedicated to her in Rome, notably the Church of Sant’Agata dei Goti in Via Mazzarino, a titular church with apse mosaics of c 460 and traces of a fresco cycle, overpainted by Gismondo Cerrini in 1630. Agatha is also depicted in the mosaics of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, where she appears, richly dressed, in the procession of female martyrs along the north wall.
Basques have a tradition of gathering on Saint Agatha’s Eve (Basque: Santa Ageda bezpera) and going round the village. Homeowners can choose to hear a song about her life, accompanied by the beats of their walking sticks on the floor or a prayer for the household’s deceased. After that, the homeowner donates food to the chorus. This song has varying lyrics according to the local tradition and the Basque language.
An annual festival to commemorate the life of Saint Agatha takes place in Catania, Sicily, from February 3 to 5. The festival culminates in a great all-night procession through the city for which hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents turn out.
St Agatha’s Tower is a former Knight’s stronghold located in the north west of Malta. The seventeenth-century tower served as a military base during both World Wars and was used as a radar station by the Maltese army.
St Adelaide of Guelders
St Agatha Hildegard of Carinthia
St Agricola of Tongres
St Albinus of Brixen
St Anthony of Athens
St Avitus of Vienne
St Buo of Ireland
St Calamanda of Calaf
St Dominica of Shapwick
Bl Elisabetta Canori Mora
St Fingen of Metz
Bl Françoise Mézière
St Gabriel de Duisco
St Genuinus of Sabion
St Isidore of Alexandria
St Jesús Méndez-Montoya
Bl John Morosini
St Kichi Franciscus
St Luca di Demenna
St Modestus of Carinthia
Bl Primo Andrés Lanas
St Saba the Younger
St Vodoaldus of Soissons
Martyrs of Pontus: An unknown number of Christians who were tortured and martyred in assorted painful ways in the region of Pontus (in modern Turkey) during the persecutions of Maximian.