Second Thoughts for the Day – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”…Jeremiah 1:4–5
As linked with the Gospel episode of Jesus’ proclaiming the Word of God in Nazareth and the people’s response, it is fair to ponder, all gifts given by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to build-up the Body of Christ, the Church. Through Baptism, Confirmation and the Most Holy Eucharist, all have been “set apart” and “appointed” for particular missions throughout our lives, beginning with the call ‘to be holy.’
This quote by Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), is written and speaks of you and me:
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—
I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next.
…I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good,
I shall do His work,
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His Commandments.
…Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am.
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
…He does nothing in vain.
…He knows what He is about.
Thought for the Day – 3 February – The Memorial of Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865)
The “Apostle of the North” had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did.
History records what people do, rather than what they are. Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.
Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines. Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in His own way, He is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.
Sunday Reflection – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“May we be Worthy”
“He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27].
All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offence of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to His body and blood and they sin now, against their Lord, more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord”
St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200- c 258) Bishop and Martyr, Father of the Church (The Lapsed 15–16 [written in 251])
One Minute Reflection – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 4:21–30 and The Memorial of St Blaise – Martyr (Died c 316) and St Ansgar (801-865)
And they rose up and put him out of the city and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away….Luke 4:29-30
REFLECTION – “A doctor came amongst us to restore us to health – our Lord Jesus Christ. He discovered blindness in our hearts and promised the light that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and has not entered the heart of man” (1Cor 2:9).
The humility of Jesus Christ is the cure for your pride. Don’t scorn what will bring you healing, be humble, you for whom God humbled Himself. Indeed, He knew that the medicine of humility would cure you, He who well understood your sickness and knew how to cure it. While you were unable to run to the doctor’s house, the doctor in person came to your house… He is coming, He wants to help you, He knows what you need.
God has come with humility precisely in order that man might imitate Him. If He had remained above you, how would you have been able to imitate Him? And, without imitating Him, how could you be healed? He came with humility because He knew the nature of the remedy He had to administer – a little bitter, it is true but healing. And do you continue to scorn Him? He who holds out the cup to you and you say: “But what sort of God is this God of mine? He was born, suffered, was covered with spittle, crowned with thorns, nailed on the cross!” O miserable soul! You see the doctor’s humility and not the cancer of your pride. That is why humility displeases you…
It often happens that mentally ill people end up by beating their doctor. When that happens, the unfortunate doctor is not only not distressed by the one who beat him but attempts to treat him… As for our doctor, He did not fear being killed by sick people afflicted with madness, He turned His own death into their remedy. Indeed, He died and rose again.”…St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Lord our God, make us love You above all things and all our fellow-men, with a love that is worthy of You. May we look to Your Divine Son in love and imitation. Holy Father, You sent St Ansgar, Monk and Bishop, to bring the light of Christ to many nations of Northern Europe. Through his prayer give us grace to live always in the light of Your truth. Grant too, that by the prayers of St Blaise, we too may be granted the grace to follow Your only Son, no matter our sufferings, to You, in our heavenly home. We make our prayer, through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever amen.
Our Morning Offering – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
The Bread of Angels By St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Doctor of the Church
Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus,
my inmost soul with the most joyous
and healthful wound of Your love,
and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity,
that my soul may ever languish and melt
with entire love and longing for You,
may yearn for You and for Your courts,
may long to be dissolved and to be with You.
Grant that my soul may hunger after You,
the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls,
our daily and supersubstantial bread,
having all sweetness and savour
and every delightful taste.
May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon You,
Whom the angels desire to look upon,
and may my inmost soul
be filled with the sweetness of Your savour;
may it ever thirst for You,
the fountain of life,
the fountain of widsom and knowledge,
the fountain of eternal light,
the torrent of pleasure,
the fulness of the house of God;
may it ever compass You,
seek You, find You, run to You,
come up to You, meditate on You, speak of You
and do all for the praise and glory of Your name,
with humility and discretion,
with love and delight,
with ease and affection,
with perseverence to the end
and be You alone ever my hope,
my entire confidence, my riches, my delight,
my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility,
my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment,
my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion,
my possession, my treasure;
in Whom may my mind and my heart
be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably.
Saint of the Day – 3 February – Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865) “Apostle of the North”, Bishop, Monk, Mystic, Missionary, Preacher, Miracle-worker, Apostle of Charity Ascetic. Patronages – Denmark, Scandinavia, Sweden, Bremen, Germany, diocese of Hamburg, Germany, archdiocese of. He is also known as Anskar or Anschar. St Ansgarwas the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen – a northern part of the Kingdom of the East Franks. The See of Hamburg was designated a mission to bring Christianity to Northern Europe and Ansgar became known as the “Apostle of the North”. He was born in 801 at Amiens, Picardy, France and died on 3 February 865 at Bremen, Germany.
Ansgar was the son of a noble Frankish family, born near Amiens. After his mother’s early death, Ansgar was brought up in Corbie Abbey and was educated at the Benedictine monastery in Picardy. According to the Vita Ansgarii – The Life of Ansgar, when the little boy learned in a vision that his mother was in the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his careless attitude toward spiritual matters changed to seriousness. His pupil, successor and eventual biographer St Rimbert (830–888) considered the visions, of which this was the first, to be the main motivation of the saint’s life.
Ansgar was a product of the phase of Christianisation of Saxony (present day Northern Germany) begun by Charlemagne and continued by his son and successor, Louis the Pious. A group of monks including Ansgar were sent back to Jutland with the baptised exiled king Harald Klak. Ansgar returned two years later and was one of a number of missionaries sent to found the abbey of Corvey in Westphalia and there became a teacher and preacher. Then in 829 in response to a request from the Swedish king Björn at Hauge for a mission to the Swedes, Louis the Pious appointed Ansgar missionary. With an assistant, the friar Witmar, he preached and made converts for six months at Birka, on Lake Mälaren. They organised a small congregation there with the king’s steward, Hergeir and Mor Frideborg as its most prominent members. In 831 he returned to Louis’ court at Worms and was appointed to the Archbishopric of Hamburg. This was a new archbishopric with a see formed from those of Bremen and Verden, plus the right to send missions into all the northern lands and to consecrate bishops for them. He was given the mission of evangelising Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The King of Sweden decided to cast lots as to whether the Christian missionaries should be admitted into his kingdom. Ansgar recommended the issue to the care of God, and the lot was favourable.
Ansgar was consecrated in November 831 and, the arrangements having been at once approved by Pope Gregory IV, he went to Rome to receive the pallium directly from the hands of the pope and to be named legate for the northern lands. This commission had previously been bestowed upon Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims but the jurisdiction was divided by agreement, with Ebbo retaining Sweden for himself. For a time Ansgar devoted himself to the needs of his own diocese, which was still missionary territory with but a few churches. He founded a monastery and a school in Hamburg.
After Louis died in 840, his empire was divided and Ansgar lost the abbey of Turholt, which had been given as an endowment for his work. Then in 845, the Danes unexpectedly raided Hamburg, destroying all the church’s treasures and books and leaving the entire diocese beyond repair. Ansgar now had neither see, nor revenue. Many of his helpers deserted him but the new king, Louis the German, came to his aid. After failing to recover Turholt for him, in 847 he awarded him the vacant diocese of Bremen, where he took up residence in 848. However, since Hamburg had been an archbishopric, the sees of Bremen and Hamburg were combined for him. This presented canonical difficulties and also aroused the anger of the Bishop of Cologne, to whom Bremen had been suffragan but after prolonged negotiations, Pope Nicholas I approved the union of the two dioceses in 864.
Through all this political turmoil, Ansgar continued his mission to the northern lands. The Danish civil war compelled him to establish good relations with two kings, Horik the Elder and his son, Horik II. Both assisted him until his death. He was able to secure recognition of Christianity as a tolerated religion and permission to build a church in Sleswick. He did not forget the Swedish mission and spent two years there in person (848–850), at the critical moment when a pagan reaction was threatened, which he succeeded in averting. In 854, Ansgar returned to Sweden when king Olof ruled in Birka. According to Rimbert, he was well disposed to Christianity.
Ansgar wore a rough hair shirt, lived on bread and water and showed great charity to the poor. Being the first missionary in Sweden and the organiser of the hierarchy in the Nordic countries, he was declared Patron of Scandinavia. Ansgar was buried in Bremen in 865.
His life story was written by his successor as archbishop, Rimbert, in The Life of Ansgar – Vita Ansgarii.
His Relics are located in Hamburg on two places – St. Mary’s Cathedral and St Ansgar’s and St Bernard’s Church.
The Life of Ansgar aims above all to demonstrate Ansgar’s sanctity. It is speaks of St Ansgar’s visions, which, encouraged and assisted Ansgar’s remarkable missionary feats.
Through the course of this work, St Ansgar repeatedly embarked on a new stage in his career following a vision. His studies and ensuing devotion to the ascetic life of a monk were inspired by a vision of his mother in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When the Swedish people were left without a priest for some time, he begged King Horik to help him with this problem. St Ansgar was convinced he was commanded by heaven to undertake this mission and was influenced by a vision he received when he was concerned about the journey, in which he met a man who reassured him of his purpose and informed him of a prophet that he would meet, the Abbot Adalard, who would instruct him in what was to happen. In the vision, he searched for and found Adalard, who commanded, “Islands, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples”, which Ansgar interpreted as God’s will that he go to the Scandinavian countries as “most of that country consisted of islands and also, when ‘I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’ was added, since the end of the world in the north was in Swedish territory”. Saint Adalard of Corbie (c 751-827), was the cousin of Charlemagne.
There are Statues dedicated to him in Hamburg, Copenhagen, Ribe as well as a stone cross at Birka. A crater on the Moon, Ansgarius, has been named for him.