Novena to St Francis de Sales Day One – 15 January
There is no clock, no matter how good it may be, that doesn’t need resetting and rewinding twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. In addition, at least once a year it must be taken apart to remove the dirt clogging it, straighten out bent parts and repair those worn out. In like manner, every morning and evening, a person who really takes care of his heart, must rewind it for God’s service by means of certain practices of piety. At least once a year he must take it apart and examine every piece in detail; that is, every affection and passion, in order to repair, whatever defects there may be.(INT. Part 5, Ch. 1; O. III, p. 340)
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,
(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 – 15 January – The Memorial of Bl Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) Martyr
Excerpt from “A Daughter Remembers”
by Marianne Gross Reichartz
“On 15 January 1945 Roland Freisler announced the death sentence. Quote from the process report. “Modest in nature, near the proclamation of judgement, weeping.” After the verdict my parents could see each other again and say goodbye for this life.
In a farewell letter to his family, my father writes:
“Especially you, dear mother, I still have to thank you. When we said goodbye a few days ago for this life, I returned to the cell, I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for your Christian strength and faith. Yes, mother, through your brave farewell You have poured a bright light on my last days of life, the conclusion of our heartfelt love could not be more beautiful and happy than it has become through your strong-minded behaviour. “
On 23 January 1945, my father was executed in Berlin Plötzensee.
After the end of the war, my mother’s great task was to continue on her own what she and her husband had dreamed up for their family. My brother Klaus returned from Russia three years after the end of the war. My mother now had to raise her seven children alone and we were not simple children. Since we had received no official death message, my mother did not receive any pension. We rented the parental bedroom to guests. All children wrote addresses for the newspaper advertisement of the first Cologne newspaper, for 2 Pfennig per letter. We girls sewed rubber panties on behalf of a small company created in the backyard. While the widow Freisler already put in their considerable pension every month, my mother had to fight for her pension for years under degrading circumstances.
But never has this strong and upright woman criticised her husband’s path, never felt betrayed or abandoned. All the good that happened to us, she attributed to my father. When friends and good people helped us with food and money during the hunger period after the war and when they helped us children with their schooling and job search, the mother called them “tools of the father.”“The father helps us again,” she always said then.
As young people we often and gladly discussed after the end of the war. For too long the mouth had been banned. A popular topic was: Can a father of seven children go so far? Her answer: “He would have died internally if he could not have lived his life and his faith and that would have been as much a death to him as bodily death.” The memorial days of her husband (the anniversary of the death on 23 January and 20 July), the many initiations and naming ceremony, she celebrated with strength and dignity.
When the name of my Father is proclaimed in St Peter’s Square on 7 October 2001, at the Beatification of Nikolaus Gross, I am not only proud of my father, then, I am proud of my parents!”
You have given the Blessed Nikolaus Gross
the strength to be a Christian in family, work and society
and to give his life
in resistance to the evil forces of his time.
We ask you –
Strengthen us also in faith,
so that we may recognise
Your mission for our lives
and fill it with courage and perseverance,
through Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives in the unity of the Holy Spirit
with You and reigns for all eternity.
Quote/s of the Day – 15 January – The Memorial of Bl Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) Martyr
“If we do not risk our life today, how do we then, want one day, to justify ourselves before God and our people?”
“…One must obey God more than men”. If something is demanded of us that goes against God or the Faith, then, not only, may we but we must, refuse obedience (towards men).”
“Sometimes, my heart becomes heavy and the task appears insoluble if I measure my own human imperfection and inadequacy against the greatness of the obligation and the weight of the responsibility.
If a generation must pay the highest price, death, for its short life, we look for the answer in ourselves in vain. We find it only in Him in whose hand we are safe in life and in death. We never know what problems are waiting to test the power and strength of our souls…. Man’s ways lie in obscurity.
But even darkness is not without light. Hope and faith, which always hasten ahead of us, already have a presentiment of the breaking of a new dawn. If we know, that the best thing in us, the soul, is immortal, then we also know, that we shall meet each other again”.
Bl Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) Martyr
“With the clear insight that the Nazi ideology was incompatible with Christian faith, he courageously took up his pen to plead for the dignity of human beings. Nikolaus loved his wife and children very much. However, the inner bond with his own family never allowed him to pull back from confessing Christ and His Church. It was clear to him, “If we do not risk our life today, how then do we want to justify ourselves one day before God and our people?”. For this conviction he submitted to being hanged, so that heaven itself might be opened to him. In the Blessed Martyr Nikolaus Gross was accomplished what the prophet foretold “The just man will live on account of his faith” (Hb 1,4).
St Pope John Paul at the Beatification of Blessed Nikolaus Gross, 7 October 2001
One Minute Reflection – 15 January – Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time – Today’s Gospel: Mark 1:21-28 and The Feast of Our Lady of Banneux & Memorial of Bl Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) Martyr
And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” …Mark 1:27
REFLECTION – “The power of Jesus confirms the authority of His teaching. He does not just speak with words but He takes action. In this way, He manifests God’s plan with words and with the power of His deeds. A teacher and a friend, who shows us the path and takes care of us, especially when we are in need.”…Pope Francis – Angelus, 28 January 2018
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. Sanctify our hearts, minds and actions with Your power, that all we are may speak of Your Light. May the prayers of our Mother of Banneux and Blessed Nikolaus Gross, who so diligently followed You in the darkness around him, bring us to peace and confidence. We make our prayer through Your Son, our Lord Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 15 January – Tuesday of the First week in Ordinary Time
Virgin Full of Goodness Mother of Mercy By St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Virgin full of goodness,
Mother of mercy,
I entrust to you my body and my soul,
my thoughts and my actions,
my life and my death.
come to my aid
and deliver me from the snares of the devil.
Obtain for me the grace of loving
my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
with a true and perfect love,
and after him,
of loving you with all my heart
and above all things.
Saint of the Day – 15 January – Blessed Nikolaus Gross – (1898-1945) Martyr, layman, father of seven children, union activist, newspaper editor, apostle of charity. Born on 30 September 1898 at Niederwenigern, Ruhr region, Germany and died by execution on 23 January 1945 at the Berlin-Plotzensee, Germany prison. He was Beatified on 7 October 2001 by St Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy.
Nikolaus Gross was born on 30 September 1898 of a colliery blacksmith in Niederwenigern, near the city of Essen and attended the local Catholic school from 1905-12. He then worked initially in a plate rolling mill, then as a grinder and later as a face-worker in a coal mine. He worked underground for five years.
In his limited spare time, he continued his higher education. In 1917, he joined the Christian Miners’ Trade Union. In 1918 he joined the Centre Party (the Catholic political party). In 1919 he joined the St Anthony’s Miners Association (Antonius Knappenverein KAB) in Niederwenigern. It was the major Catholic union for the Catholic miners and a major Catholic voice. At the age of 22 he became secretary for young people in the union. A year later he became assistant editor of the union newspaper Bergknappe (“The Miner”). His work with the union took him around Germany until he finally settled in Bottrop in the Ruhr Valley, in what is now the Diocese of Essen.
In the meantime, he married Elizabeth Koch from Niederwenigern. They had seven children in the course of their happy marriage. He loved his family above everything and was an exemplary father in his responsibility for their education and upbringing in the faith. Gross did not withdraw into the shell of family life. He remained attuned to the great social problems, precisely in his responsibility for his family. Work and social obligations were the place in which he realised his Christian mission. In his doctrine of faith written in 1943 he wrote: “The majority of great achievements come into being through the daily performance of one’s duties in the little things of everyday routine. Our special love here is always for the poor and the sick”.
At the beginning of 1927, he became assistant editor of the Westdeutsche Arbeiterzeitung (West German Workers’ Newspaper), the organ of the St Anthony’s Miners’ Association (KAB) and soon became its editor-in-chief. Here he was able to give Catholic workers guidance on social and labour questions. In the course of time, it became clear to him that the political challenges contained a moral claim and that the social problems cannot be solved without spiritual efforts.
The editor became a messenger who bore witness to his faith here too. When he moved in this capacity to the Ketteler House in Cologne, in 1929, he already had a clear opinion about approaching Nazism . Starting out from Bishop Ketteler’s main idea that a reform of the conditions in society can only be achieved by a reform in attitude, he saw in the Nazis’ success in society: “political immaturity” and “a lack of discernment”. Already at that time he called the Nazis “mortal enemies of the present state”. As editor of the organ of the KAB, on 14 September 1930, he wrote: “As Catholic workers we reject Nazism not only for political and economic reasons but decisively also, resolutely and clearly, on account of our religious and cultural attitude”.
Already a few months after Hitler’s seizure of power, the leader of the German Labour Front, Robert Ley, called the KAB’s Westdeutsche Arbeiterzeitung “hostile to the state”. In the following period, Gross attempted to save the newspaper from destruction without making concessions on its content. From then on he knew how to write between the lines. In November 1938 came the final ban on the workers’ newspaper which, in the meantime, had been renamed Kettelerwacht (Ketteler’s Watch).
Gross, who had to work very hard for his education was no great orator. But he spoke convincingly, warm-heartedly and with power of persuasion. The fact that Nikolaus Gross joined the resistance in Germany resulted from his Catholic religious conviction. For him the key was “that one must obey God more than men”.“If something is demanded of us that goes against God or the Faith, then not only may we but we must, refuse obedience (towards men)” Thus wrote Nikolaus Gross in 1943 in his doctrine of faith. It was becoming ever clearer to him that Germany had reached this state under the Hitler regime.
Gross set down his joint thoughts in two writings which later fell into the hands of the Gestapo: The Great Tasks and Is Germany Lost? They were to contribute towards his execution.
In 1940, Gross had to endure interrogations and house searches. After the ban on the association’s newspaper, he published a series of small pamphlets which were intended to help strengthen the critical force of faith and Gospel values among workers. We find an answer for the reasons which motivated someone like Nikolaus Gross in the memoirs of the well-known, workers’ chaplain, Msgr Caspar Schulte of Paderborn. There we read: “In my many conversations, especially with Nikolaus Gross and the association’s head, Otto Müller, I got to know and admire these men’s moral greatness. They did not stumble into death. They went their way also prepared to bear a painful death for the sake of freedom. I said to Nikolaus Gross on the day before the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July 1944: “Mr Gross, remember that you have seven children. I have no family for which I am responsible. It’s a matter of your life’. To which Gross made a really great statement to me: “If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?'”.
In 1943, Gross wrote in a booklet, what was almost a prophecy: “Sometimes, my heart becomes heavy and the task appears insoluble if I measure my own human imperfection and inadequacy against the greatness of the obligation and the weight of the responsibility. If a generation must pay the highest price, death, for its short life, we look for the answer in ourselves in vain. We find it only in Him in whose hand we are safe in life and in death. We never know what problems are waiting to test the power and strength of our souls…. Man’s ways lie in obscurity. But even darkness is not without light. Hope and faith, which always hasten ahead of us, already have a presentiment of the breaking of a new dawn. If we know that the best thing in us, the soul, is immortal, then we also know that we shall meet each other again”. What a testimony to a sense of responsibility, feeling for reality and assurance of faith! For Gross, trust in God was the foundation on which he did not falter. During the years of the war he formed a network of resistance to the Nazi’s and he was often the courier between the centres of resistance. He was well informed of the plot to assassinate Hitler, even though he took no part in its preparation and execution.
After the abortive assassination attempt on 20 July 1944, events came thick and fast. Gross, who was not himself involved in the preparation and execution of the plot, was arrested towards noon at his home on 12 August 1944 and taken first to the prison in Ravensbrück and then to the penitentiary in Berlin-Tegel. His wife, Elisabeth, came to Berlin twice to visit him . She reported clear signs of torture on his hand and arms. His letters from the prison and the witness of the chaplain, Fr Peter Buchholz, give impressive evidence that constant prayer was the source of strength in his difficult and, in the end, hopeless position. In every letter he never failed to request constant prayer from his wife and his children, just as he himself also prayed for his family each day.
On 15 January 1945, the death sentence was pronounced by the chairman of People’s Court, Roland Freisler. His final remark in the court record and the real reason for the sentence: “He swam along in treason and consequently had to drown in it!”.He was hanged in Berlin-Plotzensee on 23 January 1945. The Nazis did not make any martyrs. They did not allow the hanged man to have a grave. For the followers of falsehood and hatred there was only brutal destruction. His ashes were scattered across a sewage farm.
But the testimony to truth and faith is not to be obliterated! It lives on in those who have gone before us as a shining example. The prison chaplain, Fr Peter Buchholz, who blessed the condemned man on his final walk, reported afterwards: “Gross bowed his head silently during the blessing. His face already seemed illuminated by the glory into which he was getting ready to enter”.
He was Beatified on 7 October 2001 by St Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy.
There is a museum dedicated to Nikolaus Gross in Niederwenigern. In 1948 a street in Cologne was named in his honour and streets were named after him in places such as Berlin and Essen amongst others. A chapel was dedicated to him on 10 October 2004 and a memorial stone in Gelsenkirchen-Buer on 26 October 2003.
Our Lady of Banneux, Belgium (under 2 Titles Our Lady of the Poor and Queen of Nations): Our Lady of Banneux, or Our Lady of the Poor, is the sobriquet given to the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Mariette Beco, an adolescent girl living in Banneux, province of Liège (Belgium). Between January 15 and March 2, 1933, Beco told her family and parish priest of seeing a Lady in white who declared herself to be the “Virgin of the Poor”, saying I come to relieve suffering and believe in me and I will believe in you. As Our Lady of Banneux she has two titles: Our Lady of the Poor and Queen of Nations.
Mariette Beco was twelve years old when she reported Marian apparitions in 1933 in Banneux, Belgium, a hamlet about 15 kilometres (10 mi) southeast of the city of Liège. In this case, the Lady in White reportedly declared she was the Virgin of the Poor and said: “Believe in me and I will believe in you.”
Prayer to Our Lady of Banneux Our Lady of the Poor and Queen of Nations
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
lead us to Jesus, Source of grace.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, save all nations.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, relieve the sick.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, alleviate suffering.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, pray for each one of us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we believe in you.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, believe in us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we will pray hard.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, bless us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
Mother of the Saviour,
Mother of God, we thank You.
Mary Virgin of the Poor,
You lead us to Jesus,
source of grace
and you come to alleviate our suffering.
We implore you with confidence,
help us to folow your Son with generosity
and to belong to Him unreservedly.
Help us to welcome the Holy Spirit
Who guides and sanctifies us.
Obtain us the grace to look like Jesus everyday
so that our life will glorify the Father
and contribute to the salvation of all.
St Alexander of Goma
Bl Angelus of Gualdo Tadini
St Arnold Janssen
St Blaithmaic of Iona
St Bonitus of Clermont
St Ceolwulf of Northumbria
St Emebert of Cambrai
St Ephysius of Sardinia
St Francis Ferdinand de Capillas
Bl Geoffrey of Peronne
Bl Giacomo Villa
St Habakkuk the Prophet
St Isidore of Scété
St Isidore the Egyptian
St Ita of Killeedy
St John Calabytes
St Lleudadd of Bardsey
St Macarius of Egypt
St Malard of Chartres
St Maximus of Nola Bl Nikolaus Gross – (1898-1945) Martyr
St Pansofius of Alexandria St Paul the Hermit (c 227-c 342)
Bl Peter of Castelnau
St Probus of Rieti
St Romedio of Nonsberg
St Secondina of Anagni
St Secundina of Rome
St Tarsicia of Rodez
Martyrs of Suances – 5 beati: A priest and four laymen in the archdiocese of Burgos, Spain who were martyred together in the Spanish Civil War.
• Blessed Donato Rodríguez García
• Blessed Emilio Huidobro Corrales
• Blessed Germán García y García
• Blessed Valentín Palencia Marquina
• Blessed Zacarías Cuesta Campo
They were martyred on
15 January 1937 near Suances, Cantabria, Spain
Venerated on 30 September 2015 by Pope Francis (decree of heroic virtues)
and Beatified on 23 April 2016 by Pope Francis. The beatification was celebrated in Burgos, Spain, presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato.