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)
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 – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time and The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint 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. He saw the world completely covered with snares and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.
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.”
At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. “The mule kicking over the altar” denied the divinity of Christ.
Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, 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. Anthony died in solitude at age 105.
In an age that smiles 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.
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.
Quote/s of the Day – 17 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time and The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
Speaking of: The Sign of the Cross
“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.”
St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
“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; without toil, 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 and Doctor
“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.”
St John Vianney (1786-1859)
“The cross is the badge that shows who we are – our speaking, thinking, looking, working, we are under the sign of the cross, that is, the love of Jesus, to the end.”
“Making the sign of the cross when we wake up, before meals, before a danger, to defend against evil, at night before sleep means to tell ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to be.”
3 Things to Know about the Cross – Fr Mike Schmitz
One Minute Reflection – 17 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time – Gospel Mark 1:40–45 and the Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”…Mark 1:40
REFLECTION – “It is possible to see leprosy as a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart that can distance us from God. It is not in fact the physical disease of leprosy that separates us from God, as the ancient norms supposed but sin, spiritual and moral evil. The sins that we commit distance us from God and, if we do not humbly confess them, trusting in divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has a strong symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is the Servant of the Lord who “has borne our griefs / and carried our sorrows” (Is 53: 4). In His Passion He will become as a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God, He will do all this out of love, to obtain for us reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Crucified and Risen Christ purifies us through His ministers with His infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers and makes us a gift of His love, His joy and His peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary whom God preserved from every stain of sin so that she may help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life must be rediscovered today.”…Pope Benedict XVI – Angelus 15 February 2009
PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, we make our prayer to You at morning, noon and evening. Dispel from our hearts, the darkness of sin and bring us to the true light, Christ Your Son. Grant that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Anthony Abbot, we may deny ourselves and love You above all things. Through Jesus, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 17 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time – Gospel Mark 1:40–45
And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”...Mark 1:40
I Return to You (Act of Supplication and Contrition to the Holy Trinity)
Father of mercy,
like the prodigal son,
I return to You and say:
“I have sinned against You
and am no longer worthy
to be called Your Son.”
Saviour of the World,
I pray with the repentant thief
to whom You promised paradise –
“Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom.”
Holy Spirit, fountain of love,
I call on You with trust,
“Purify my heart
and help me to walk
as a child of light.”
Saint of the Day – 17 January – Blessed Rosalina of Villeneuve O.Cart. (1263–1329) – Religious Nun of the Carthusaian Order, Mystic, Apostle of Charity – born in 1267 in a castle at Villeneuve, France and died on 17 January 1329. Her body is incorrupt.
Rosalina belonged to the noble Southern French family of the ‘de Villeneuve’, which still exists today. She was born in 1263. When the Bishop of Fréjus gave her the sacrament of confirmation in 1270 in the chapel of the family castle, a supernatural light seemed to envelope the child. At a very young age she made a private vow of virginity.
She loved more than anything else to take care of the poor, distributing generously from the family provisions, which alarmed the servants of the castle. Once, after having filled her skirt with bread, Rosalina was on her way to the poor grouped together at the doors of the castle. She was suddenly stopped by her father who asked her what she was carrying. She answered: “These are the roses I just finished picking.” Extending her skirt, she showed the said roses to the astonished eyes of her father. It is to recall this miracle that Rosalina is often represented in portraits with her skirt full of roses.
When she was sixteen years old she wanted to become a Carthusian nun. She knew their life from the Charterhouse of la Celle-Roubaud close by, where her aunt Jeanne de Villeneuve was Prioress. Since that House had no novitiate, it was at Saint André de Ramires that she entered and then she moved to the chief Charterhouse for women, Bertaud, not far from the city of Gap, in the French Alps. She made profession there in 1280.
Her aunt at Celle Roubaud was getting on in age, so after a few years the Superior General of our Order permitted Rosalina to go to that House to help her aunt. In 1288 she received virginal consecration at the hands of the Bishop of Fréjus. It is told that this grace put her into a state of ecstasy which lasted the whole day. Although she assisted in the choir and followed all the activities of the community, her soul was united with the Lord. She was known for her inclination towards asceticism. For example, she reduced her sleep and lived only on bread the days when she went to communion. Prayer was for her most important in Carthusian life. Each night she used to spend long hours in prayer, thus obtaining special graces for the Order, her family and town and for the entire Church.
Owing to her purity of heart God granted her the gift of reading what is in other people’s heart. At the death of her aunt in 1300 the Superior General appointed Rosaline as Prioress. She held that office for twenty-nine years. It was during this time that her friend, the Bishop of Fréjus, became Pope as John XXII.
She died at the age of sixty-six with a great renown for holiness. Immediately, there were miracles – blind received their sight and sick were cured. Five years after her death, in 1334, Pope John ordered to open her tomb. Her body was found entirely incorrupt and it is still so today. In 1602 it was transferred from the crypt to a newly built chapel. In 1851 Blessed Pius IX authorised her feast for the diocese of Fréjus and in 1857 for the Carthusian Order. Today, the Carthusians celebrate her memory on 6 July and her feast is a solemnity for the nuns of the Order.
Lord God, for love of You, Saint Rosalina trampled underfoot the flattering allurements of the world, that she might adhere only to You. Help us to follow her example and, turning away from things of earth, find our joy in sharing Your heavenly gifts.
Deus, pro cuius amore, beata Rossolina mundi sibi blandientis calcavit illecebras ut tibi unice adhaereret : tribue nobis ex eius imitatione terrena despicere, et caelestium donorum semper participatione gaudere
text from from the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration.