Genesis 9:8-15, Psalms 25:4-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:12-15
Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Psalm 25:4 – Make me to know thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths
Lent is a kind of desert. A time set apart to pray with greater focus and intensity.
A time to fast from what distracts us from what is most important – that good news!
When the outside noise is quietened, we are more in touch with the inner pulls that are going on inside of us.
It is not always a comfortable space to be!
We are used to be anaesthetised to the tugs of the Holy Spirit calling us to something new, something more and often we struggle to be free from the attachment to things, we would prefer them staying just as they are, thank you.
But now we seek to emerge, like Jesus, from our desert time of Lent, strengthened and renewed.
We have a new energy and courage to respond to whatever God is asking of us in this moment of our lives.
Part of that time is to spend true moments, as Jesus did, listening to the Father. We must create some desert space.
Is there a time we can safeguard each day for prayer?
Can we reduce the clutter of too much external stimulation from TV, social media, so that we can tune into what God is saying, what the Holy Spirit is wanting us to notice?
Be sure to find that “desert time and space” each day. What are those inner concerns, questions, worries with which the Spirit is driving you into that desert this Lent? Imagine yourself with Jesus in the desert. Enter into conversation with Him.
Fr Nicholas King SJ – Long Journey to the Resurrection
Christus.Behold a matter that is deeply displeasing to Me, namely, how few there are who recognise the value of time, the time that I lend to men for doing penance, for increasing the grace given them, for acquiring heavenly glory. Lo, the acceptable yet irrevocable time, passes and no one is considering it in his heart; the days of salvation are slipping by and no one makes the occasion of their flight a reason for using well what can never return.
But you, as far as you are able, flee the things of time, such as acquaintanceship, speech-making and occupations of small profit and because the days are evil, redeem the time that should be given rather to Me and to your soul than to others. Is My proposition hard and difficult? Observe how much time is given up to the body for food and sleep, to conversation, banquets and the rest, so that you cannot give ever so small a portion to God, to your soul, to eternity! Alas, how prodigal men are of time when it is a question of serving vanity, how sparing of it when it is a case of occupying themselves with His business to whom all time is owed.
Make me to know thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths…Psalm 25:4
Keep me, O God, from pettiness. Let us be large in thought, word and deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face without self-pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgement and always generous. Let us take time for all things. Make us grow calm, serene, gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses and make us straight-forward and unafraid. Grant that we may realise that it is the little things in life that create differences; that in the big things we are all as one. And, O Lord God, Let us not forget to be kind. Amen
Sunday Reflection – 18 February – The First Sunday of Lent Year B
Beyond the daily life of the believer, the Eucharist extends its action to the whole cosmos.
As Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “When He (Christ) says through the priest “This is my body”, His words go well beyond the piece of bread over which they are pronounced: they effect the birth of the whole Mystical Body. Beyond the transubstantiated Host, the priestly action extends to the cosmos itself.”
Every Eucharist is a “Mass on the world.”
This vision inspired a prayer of Teilhard de Chardin that we can make our own, each time we participate in the Mass and even when we cannot participate:
“On the altar of the whole earth I offer You, Lord, the work and the toil of the world…. All that will grow in the world in the course of this day, all that will decline in it and all that will die in it… Receive, Lord, this total Host that Creation presents to You, drawn and moved by You, at the dawn of a new day.”
Fr Raneiro Cantalamessa OFM (Preacher to the Papal Household) “This is My Body”
Thought for the Day – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)
One of the greatest Christian artists is Giovanni Fiesole, better known to the world as Blessed Fra Angelico, the “Angelic Brother.” Fra Angelico is a patron saint for Catholic artists. His style of painting beautifully bridges the iconographic and gothic traditions. Giorgio Vasari, author of “Lives of the Artists,” referred to Angelico as a “rare and perfect talent.”
Very little of his writings have survived the centuries but one phrase still resonates, more than 400 years after his death. “He who does Christ’s work, must stay with Christ always.”
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Galatians said something similar. “I live; yet now, it is not I, but truly Christ, who lives in me. And though I live now in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and who delivered himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
What does it mean when Paul tells us it is no longer he who lives but Christ who lives in him? What does it mean to stay with Christ always?
In Paul’s time it was believed that the only way to have a right relationship with God was to follow the law, the Ten Commandments and all the thousands of rules that derive from them. But Paul rejected this idea and preached that the only road to justification, to having that right relationship with God, is through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” and stay out of trouble. If that is all we do then we are trying to achieve heaven by our own merits. God wants more from us than that. God invites us into a relationship of friends and family, a relationship of love. This type of relationship is a living, dynamic one. To love Christ and to want to be near Him is to be crucified with Him.
It means standing up for the Truth even when it is unpopular. It means finding time to pray. It means that we stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus. And it means that when we fail, we humbly confess our sins as we would apologise to a friend we have hurt, so that that relationship can be restored. It means that we must reflect Christ to the whole world, so that when people look at us they do not see us, they see Christ.
For the Artist this means we must deeply consider our vocation, St John Paul described it as a vocation of beauty. Do we work to bring beauty to the world? Do we use our gifts to lift peoples hearts and minds to God? Does our work reflect His splendour and bring hope and joy to our brothers and sisters? This does not mean that every artist must confine themselves to religious art but it does mean that we may be called to sacrifice lucrative opportunities. or turn away from work that does not suit our vocation. But in the end that is what it means to live for Christ and not for ourselves. (Deacon Lawrence Klimecki – Speaker, Writer, Artist)
One Minute Reflection – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)
Well done you are an industrious and reliable servant…… Come share your master’s joy…………Matthew 25:21
REFLECTION – “In God’s house we must try to accept whatever job he gives us – cook, kitchen boy, waiter, stable boy or baker. For we know that our reward depends not on the job itself but on the faithfulness with which we serve God.”… Pope John Paul I
“Fra Angelico’s painting was the fruit of the great harmony between a holy life and the creative power with which he had been endowed.”… St Pope John Paul II
PRAYER – O God, in Your providence You inspired blessed Fra Angelico to portray the beauty and sweetness of heaven. By his prayers and the example of his virtues, grant that we may manifest this splendour to our brothers and sisters. Blessed Angelico, pray for us! Through Christ our Lord, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 18 February – The First Sunday of Lent, Year B
Act of Oblation before Holy Mass
we offer You the sacrifice
wherein your Son Jesus
offered Himself upon the Cross
and which He now renews upon this altar.
We adore You and render to You
that honour which is Your due,
acknowledging Your dominion over all things
and our absolute dependence on You.
You are our first beginning and our last end;
we give You thanks for countless benefits received;
we ask You to forgive our sins
and to offer You worthy satisfaction for the same.
Finally to implore Your grace and mercy
for all of us who will offer this sacrifice today,
for all those who are in tribulation and distress,
for all of us sinners,
for the whole world and for the souls in purgatory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Saint of the Day – 18 February – Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455) Born in 1387 in Vicchio di Mugello near Florence, Italy as Guido di Pietro – he died on 18 February 1455 in the Dominican convent in Rome, Italy of natural causes. He was known to contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole) and Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John). In modern Italian he is called il Beato Angelico (Blessed Angelic One); the common English name Fra Angelico means the “Angelic friar”. In 1982, Pope John Paul II proclaimed his beatification in recognition of the holiness of his life, thereby making the title of “Blessed” official. Fiesole is sometimes misinterpreted as being part of his formal name but it was merely the name of the town where he took his vows as a Dominican friar and was used by contemporaries to separate him from others who were also known as Fra Giovanni. He is listed in the Roman Martyrology as Beatus Ioannes Faesulanus, cognomento Angelicus—”Blessed Giovanni of Fiesole, surnamed ‘the Angelic’ “. Patron of Catholic Artists.
Fra Angelico was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having “a rare and perfect talent”.
Early life, 1395–1436
Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro at Rupecanina in the Tuscan area of Mugello near Fiesole towards the end of the 14th century. Nothing is known of his parents. He was baptised Guido or Guidolino. The earliest recorded document concerning Fra Angelico dates from 17 October 1417 when he joined a religious confraternity or guild at the Carmine Church, still under the name of Guido di Pietro. This record reveals that he was already a painter, a fact that is subsequently confirmed by two records of payment to Guido di Pietro in January and February 1418 for work done in the church of Santo Stefano del Ponte. The first record of Angelico as a friar dates from 1423, when he is first referred to as Fra Giovanni (Friar John), following the custom of those entering one of the older religious orders of taking a new name. He was a member of the local community at Fiesole, not far from Florence, of the Dominican Order; one of the medieval Orders belonging to a category known as mendicant Orders because they generally lived not from the income of estates but from begging or donations. Fra, a contraction of frater (Latin for ‘brother’), is a conventional title for a mendicant friar.
According to Vasari, Fra Angelico initially received training as an illuminator, possibly working with his older brother Benedetto who was also a Dominican and an illuminator. The former Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence, now a state museum, holds several manuscripts that are thought to be entirely or partly by his hand. The painter Lorenzo Monaco may have contributed to his art training and the influence of the Sienese school is discernible in his work. He had several important charges in the convents he lived in but this did not limit his art, which very soon became famous. According to Vasari, the first paintings of this artist were an altarpiece and a painted screen for the Charterhouse (Carthusian monastery) of Florence; none such exist there now.
From 1408 to 1418, Fra Angelico was at the Dominican friary of Cortona, where he painted frescoes, now mostly destroyed, in the Dominican Church and may have been assistant to Gherardo Starnina or a follower of his. Between 1418 and 1436 he was at the convent of Fiesole, where he also executed a number of frescoes for the church and the Altarpiece, which was deteriorated but has since been restored. A predella of the Altarpiece remains intact and is conserved in the National Gallery, London, and is a great example of Fra Angelico’s ability. It shows Christ in Glory surrounded by more than 250 figures, including beatified Dominicans.
San Marco, Florence, 1436–1445
In 1436, Fra Angelico was one of a number of the friars from Fiesole who moved to the newly built convent or friary of San Marco in Florence. This was an important move which put him in the centre of artistic activity of the region and brought about the patronage of one of the wealthiest and most powerful members of the city’s governing authority, or “Signoria” (namely Cosimo de’ Medici), who had a cell reserved for himself at the friary in order that he might retreat from the world.
It was, according to Vasari, at Cosimo’s urging that Fra Angelico set about the task of decorating the convent, including the magnificent fresco of the Chapter House, the often-reproduced Annunciation at the top of the stairs leading to the cells, the Maesta (or Coronation of the Madonna) with Saints (cell 9) and the many other devotional frescoes, of smaller format but remarkable luminous quality, depicting aspects of the Life of Christ that adorn the walls of each cell.
In 1439 Fra Angelico completed one of his most famous works, the San Marco Altarpiece at Florence. The result was unusual for its time. Images of the enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by saints were common, but they usually depicted a setting that was clearly heaven-like, in which saints and angels hovered about as divine presences rather than people. But in this instance, the saints stand squarely within the space, grouped in a natural way as if they were able to converse about the shared experience of witnessing the Virgin in glory. Paintings such as this, known as Sacred Conversations, were to become the major commissions of Giovanni Bellini, Perugino and Raphael.
The Vatican, 1445–1455
In 1445 Pope Eugene IV summoned him to Rome to paint the frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at St Peter’s, later demolished by Pope Paul III. Vasari claims that at this time Fra Angelico was offered the Archbishopric of Florence by Pope Nicholas V and that he refused it, recommending another friar for the position. The story seems possible and even likely. However, if Vasari’s date is correct, then the pope must have been Eugene IV and not Nicholas, who was elected Pope only on 6 March 1447. Moreover, the archbishop in 1446–1459 was the Dominican Antoninus of Florence (Antonio Pierozzi), canonised by Pope Adrian VI in 1523. In 1447 Fra Angelico was in Orvieto with his pupil, Benozzo Gozzoli, executing works for the Cathedral. Among his other pupils were Zanobi Strozzi.
From 1447 to 1449 Fra Angelico was back at the Vatican, designing the frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel for Nicholas V. The scenes from the lives of the two martyred deacons of the Early Christian Church, St Stephen and St Lawrence may have been executed wholly or in part by assistants. The small chapel, with its brightly frescoed walls and gold leaf decorations gives the impression of a jewel box. From 1449 until 1452, Fra Angelico returned to his old convent of Fiesole, where he was the Prior.
Death and beatification
In 1455, Fra Angelico died while staying at a Dominican convent in Rome, perhaps on an order to work on Pope Nicholas’ chapel. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
When singing my praise, don’t liken my talents to those of Apelles. Say, rather, that, in the name of Christ, I gave all I had to the poor.
The deeds that count on Earth are not the ones that count in Heaven.
I, Giovanni, am the flower of Tuscany. — Translation of epitaph
The English writer and critic William Michael Rossetti wrote of the friar:
“From various accounts of Fra Angelico’s life, it is possible to gain some sense of why he was deserving of canonisation. He led the devout and ascetic life of a Dominican friar and never rose above that rank; he followed the dictates of the order in caring for the poor; he was always good-humoured. All of his many paintings were of divine subjects and it seems that he never altered or retouched them, perhaps from a religious conviction that, because his paintings were divinely inspired, they should retain their original form. He was wont to say that he who illustrates the acts of Christ should be with Christ. It is averred that he never handled a brush without fervent prayer and he wept when he painted a Crucifixion. The Last Judgement and the Annunciation were two of the subjects he most frequently treated.”
Pope John Paul II beatified Fra Angelico on 3 October 1982 and in 1984 declared him patron of Catholic artists.
“Angelico was reported to say “He who does Christ’s work must stay with Christ always”. This motto earned him the epithet “Blessed Angelico” because of the perfect integrity of his life and the almost divine beauty of the images he painted, to a superlative extent those of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”— St Pope John Paul II
St Angilbert of Centula
St Colman of Lindisfarne
St Constance of Vercelli
St Esuperia of Vercelli
Bl John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)
St Gertrude Caterina Comensoli
St Helladius of Toledo
St Ioannes Chen Xianheng
St Ioannes Zhang Tianshen
St Jean-François-Régis Clet
St Jean-Pierre Néel
Bl Jerzy Kaszyra
Bl John Pibush – one of the Martyrs of Douai
St Leo of Patera
St Martinus Wu Xuesheng
Bl Matthew Malaventino
St Paregorius of Patara
St Sadoth of Seleucia
St Tarasius of Constantinople
Bl William Harrington
Martyrs of North Africa – 7 saints: Group of Christians who were martyred together, date unknown. We know nothing else but seven of their names – Classicus, Fructulus, Lucius, Maximus, Rutulus, Secundinus and Silvanus.
They were born and martyred in North Africa.
Martyrs of Rome – 5 saints: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know nothing else but their names – Alexander, Claudius, Cutias, Maximus and Praepedigna. They were martyred in 295 in Rome, Italy.