Thursday after Ash Wednesday – 15 February 2018
Deuteronomy 30: 15-30 – See, I set before you life or death, blessing or curse.
Luke 9: 22-25 – ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me’.
The readings today put the choice for God or against God in stark and dramatic terms. Choose God and follow His ways and you will be happy and live. Choose against God and you will destroy yourself. The Gospel echoes this in the warning that one can win the world but in the process, lose oneself.
We often hear of good and gifted people who were led to compromise their following of Christ. Something hooked them – whether wealth, prestige, sex or power and gradually led them to start making choices which increasingly led them away from their truest selves. When there are things in our lives which we don’t want others we respect to know about, that is often a clue that something is off-key!
Today we are invited to reflect on our choices. The decision to follow Christ and take up our cross each day is a challenging one and one which is gradually consolidated or undermined every day in each of our choices.
When I think over the last week of my life, does it reflect what I would hope someone would be able to say about me at my funeral?
Is there some area of my life which I feel compelled to keep a secret?
What one good daily action could I choose which could deepen my relationship with God and could manifest that “taking up my cross” each day? (excerpt Fr Nicholas King S.J. ‘The Long Journey to the Resurrection’)
O Holy Spirit of God, take me as Your disciple; guide me, illuminate me, sanctify me. Bind my hands, that they may do no evil; cover my eyes, that they may see it no more; sanctify my heart, that evil may not dwell within me. Be You my God; be You my guide. Wherever You lead me I will go; whatever You forbid me I will renounce; whatever You command me, in Your strength, I will do. Lead me, then, unto the fullness of Your truth. Amen Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1806-1892) ”Prayer a Day for Lent”
Thought for the Day – 15 February – The Memorial of St Claude de la Colombiere S.J. (1641-1682)
This is a special day for the Jesuits, who claim today’s saint as one of their own. It’s also a special day for people who have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—a devotion Claude de la Colombière promoted, along with his friend and spiritual companion, St Margaret Mary Alacoque. The emphasis on God’s love for all was an antidote to the rigorous moralism of the Jansenists, who were popular at the time.
Claude showed remarkable preaching skills long before his ordination in 1675. Two months later, he was made superior of a small Jesuit residence in Burgundy. It was there he first encountered Margaret Mary Alacoque. For many years after he served as her confessor.
As a fellow Jesuit and as a promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Claude must be very special to Pope Francis who has so beautifully emphasised the mercy of Jesus. The emphasis on God’s love and mercy are characteristic of both men.
“The past three centuries allow us to evalutate the importance of the message which was entrusted to Claude. In a period of contrasts between the fervour of some and the indifference or impiety of many, here is a devotion centred on the humility of Christ, on His presence, on His love of mercy and on forgiveness. Devotion to the Heart of Christ would be a source of balance and spiritual strengthening for Christian communities so often faced with increasing unbelief over the coming centuries. May the canonisation of Claude La Colombiere be for the whole Church an appeal to live the consecration to the Heart of Christ, a consecration which is a self-giving that allows the charity and mercy of Christ to inspire us, pardon us and lead us in His ardent desire to open the ways of truth and life to all our brothers and sisters!”…St Pope John Paul II, during the canonisation of Saint Claude (31 May 1992)
Quote/s of the Day – 15 February – The Memorial of St Claude de la Colombiere S.J. (1641-1682)
“May the Heart of Jesus Christ be our school! Let us make our abode there. Let us study its movements and attempt to conform ours to them. Yes, O Divine Jesus, I want to live there.”
“When the Holy Spirit is in a soul, He communicates Himself, in one way or another. We can say that He makes virtue contagious and turns a simple faithful into an apostle.”
“God is in the midst of us, or rather, we are in the midst of Him; wherever we are, He sees us and touches us, at prayer, at work, at table, at recreation.”
“God is more honoured by a single Mass than He could be by all the actions of angels and men together, however fervent and heroic they might be. Yet, how FEW hear Mass with the intention of giving God this sublime honour! How FEW think with joy on the glory a Mass gives to God. How FEW rejoice to possess the means of honouring Him as He deserves! . . . If we only knew the treasure we hold in our hands!”
St Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682)
“St Claude has been a dear friend of mine since I discovered his writings quite some years ago. . I count on his intercession. I turn to him when I feel my heart is tired and a little cold and distressed. This Saint of Hearts is a most willing guide leading us to the warmest Heart of Christ full of Mercy and Love.”
The Franciscan St John Wall O.F.M. (1620-1679) (Joachim of Saint Anne), who was martyred for the crime of being a Catholic priest near Redhill, Corcester, England on August 22nd, 1679, knew Saint Claude. After having spent a night in spiritual conversation with him, the soon–to–be martyr said,
“When I was in his presence I thought that I was dealing with Saint John returned to earth to rekindle that fire of love in the Heart of Christ.”
One Minute Reflection – 15 February – The Memorial of St Claude de la Colombiere S.J. (1641-1682)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you...1 Peter 1:3-4
REFLECTION – “Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other people will glorify You, by making visible the power of Your grace, by their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You, by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is boundless and that no sinner, no matter how great his offences, should have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more, by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon me.” … St Claude de la Colombiere
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, Your great mercy, gave us Your Son! Surely nothing can be a greater proof to us of Your unending love and mercy to Your lowly creatures, we who are dust. Through Him, who died and rose for us, You have shown us the way of true mercy. Grant us this day that by the intercession of St Claude, we may take up our crosses with Him, never leaving the love of His Sacred Heart, so that we may join Your holy saints in eternal life. Through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 15 February – The Memorial of St Claude de la Colombiere S.J. (1641-1682)
Lord, be the Centre of Our Hearts by St Claude de la Colombiere
O God, what will You do to conquer
the fearful hardness of our hearts?
Lord, You must give us new hearts,
tender hearts, sensitive hearts,
to replace hearts
that are made of marble and of bronze.
You must give us Your own Heart, Jesus.
Come, lovable Heart of Jesus.
Place Your Heart deep in the centre of our hearts
and enkindle in each heart a flame of love
as strong, as great, as the sum of all the reasons
that I have for loving You, my God.
O holy Heart of Jesus, dwell hidden in my heart,
so that I may live only in You and only for You,
so that, in the end,
I may live with You eternally in heaven, amen
Saint of the Day – 15 February – St Claude de la Colombiere S.J. (1641-1682) Religious Priest, Confessor, Patron of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ascetical Writer, Teacher, Preacher, Missionary. Patronages – Devotion to the Sacred Heart, toy-makers, turners. St Claude was a Jesuit priest and the confessor of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, the visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St Claude was born on 2 February 1641 at Saint-Symphorien d’Ozon, Rhône, France and he died on 15 February 1682 at Paray-le-Monial, Saône-et-Loire, France of hemoptysis (coughing up blood). He was Canonised on 31 May 1992 by St Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy.
CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIÈRE, third child of the notary Bertrand de la Colombière and Margaret Coindat, was born on 2nd February 1641 at St Symphorien d’Ozon in the Dauphine, southeastern France. After the family moved to Vienne, Claude began his early education there, completing his studies in rhetoric and philosophy in Lyon.
It was during this period that Claude first sensed his vocation to the religious life in the Society of Jesus. We know nothing of the motives which led to this decision. We do know, however, from one of his early notations, that he “had a terrible aversion for the life embraced”. This affirmation is not hard to understand by any who are familiar with the life of Claude, for he was very close to his family and friends and much inclined to the arts and literature and an active social life. On the other hand, he was not a person to be led primarily by his sentiments. At 17 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Avignon. In 1660 he moved from the Novitiate to the College, also in Avignon, where he pronounced his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. Afterwards he was professor of grammar and literature in the same school for another five years.
In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris for his studies in theology. Already noted for his tact, poise and dedication to the humanities, Claude was assigned by superiors in Paris the additional responsibility of tutoring the children of Louis XIV’s Munster of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert. His theological studies concluded and now a priest, Claude returned to Lyon. For a time he was teacher in the College, then full-time preacher and moderator of several Marian congregations.
Claude became noted for solid and serious sermons. They were ably directed at specific audiences and, faithful to their inspiration from the gospel, communicated to his listeners serenity and confidence in God. His published sermons produced and still produce significant spiritual fruits. Given the place and the short duration of his ministry, his sermons are surprisingly fresh in comparison with those of better-known orators.
The year 1674 was a decisive one for Claude, the year of his Third Probation at Maison Saint-Joseph in Lyon. During the customary month of the Exercises the Lord prepared him for the mission for which he had been chosen. His spiritual notes from this period allow one to follow step-by-step the battles and triumphs of the spirit, so extraordinarily attracted to everything human, yet so generous with God.
He took a vow to observe all the constitutions and rules of the Society of Jesus, a vow whose scope was not so much to bind him to a series of minute observances as to reproduce the sharp ideal of an apostle so richly described by St Ignatius. So magnificent did this ideal seem to Claude that he adopted it as his program of sanctity. That it was indeed an invitation from Christ himself is evidenced by the subsequent feeling of interior liberation Claude experienced, along with the broadened horizons of the apostolate he witnesses to in his spiritual diary.
On 2nd February 1675 he pronounced his solemn profession and was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Not a few people wondered at this assignment of a talented young Jesuit to such an out-of the-way place as Paray. The explanation seems to be in the superiors’ knowledge that there was in Paray an unpretentious religious of the Monastery of the Visitation, Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom the Lord was revealing the treasures of his Heart but who was overcome by anguish and uncertainty. She was waiting for the Lord to fulfil his promise and send her “my faithful servant and perfect friend” to help her realise the mission for which he had destined her: that of revealing to the world the unfathomable riches of his love.
After Father Colombière’s arrival and her first conversations with him, Margaret Mary opened her spirit to him and told him of the many communications she believed she had received from the Lord. He assured her he accepted their authenticity and urged her to put in writing everything in their regard and did all he could to orient and support her in carrying out the mission received. When, thanks to prayer and discernment, he became convinced that Christ wanted the spread of the devotion to his Heart, it is clear from Claude’s spiritual notes that he pledged himself to this cause without reserve. In these notes it is also clear that, even before he became Margaret Mary’s confessor, Claude’s fidelity to the directives of St Ignatius in the Exercises had brought him to the contemplation of the Heart of Christ as symbol of His love.
After a year and half in Paray, in 1676 Father La Colombière left for London. He had been appointed preacher to the Duchess of York – a very difficult and delicate assignment because of the conditions prevailing in England at the time. He took up residence in St James Palace in October. In addition to sermons in the palace chapel and unremitting spiritual direction both oral and written, Claude dedicated his time to giving thorough instruction to the many who sought reconciliation with the Church they had abandoned. And even if there were great dangers, he had the consolation of seeing many reconciled to it, so that after a year he said: “I could write a book about the mercy of God I’ve seen Him exercise since I arrived here!”
The intense pace of his work and the poor climate combined to undermine his health, and evidence of a serious pulmonary disease began to appear. Claude, however, made no changes in his work or life style. Of a sudden, at the end of 1678, he was calumniously accused and arrested in connection with the Titus Oates “papist plot”. After two days he was transferred to the severe King’s Bench Prison where he remained for three weeks in extremely poor conditions until his expulsion from England by royal decree. This suffering further weakened Claude’s health which, with ups and downs, deteriorated rapidly on his return to France.
During the summer of 1681 he returned to Paray, in very poor condition. On 15th February 1682, the first Sunday of Lent, towards evening Claude suffered the severe haemorrhage which ended his life.
On the 16th of June 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Claude de la Colombière, whose charism, according to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, was that of bringing souls to God along the gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us. (vatican.va)
It is said that the day after Claude’s death, Sister Margaret Mary received supernatural assurance that Claude needed no prayers, as he was in already heaven; he was enjoying the fullness of communio with the Trinity. Claude was considered a “dry” martyr, having suffered every abuse for the Christian faith except death. The life of Saint Claude was an example of being in correspondence with the Lord Himself –through the logic of Love– that he was known to be concrete example of mercy in the face of trials. Saint Claude’s life of holiness drew many of the Protestants to the Catholic Church. His was a trust that we must adopt: “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.”
May we learn from Saint Claude la Colombiere what it means to be in relationship with Jesus the Good Shepherd, true Divine Love.
St Agape of Terni
Bl Angelus de Scarpetti
St Berach of Kilbarry
St Claude de la Colombierre S.J. (1641-1682)
St Decorosus of Capua
St Druthmar of Corvey
St Eusebius of Asehia
St Farannan of Iona
St Faustus of Monte Cassino
St Joseph of Antioch
St Onesimus the Slave
St Quinidius of Vaison
St Severus of Abruzzi
Martyrs of Antioch: 5 saints
A group of Christians murdered together. We know the names of five of them – Agapev, Baralo, Isicio, Joseph and Zosimus.
Martyrs of Passae:
Martyrs of Prague – 14 beati – Franciscan Friars Minor martyred together by a mob led by Lutherans:
Franciscan Friars Minor martyred together by a mob led by Lutherans.
• Antonín of Prague
• Bartolomeo Dalmasoni
• Bedrich Bachstein
• Christoffel Zelt
• Didak Jan
• Emmanuel of Prague
• Gaspare Daverio
• Giovanni Bodeo
• Girolamo degli Arese
• Jakob of Prague
• Jan of Prague
• Juan Martínez
• Klemens of Prague
• Simon of Prague
They were martyred on
• Shrove Tuesday 15 February 1611 at the Church of Our Lady of the Snows in Prague, Czech Republic
• body dumped nearby but given Christian burial on 19 February 1611 in the monastery
• re-interred in the side chapel of the church in 1616
13 October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI
Martyrs of Sweden:
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Bl Pere Vallmitjana Abarca