Thought for the Day – 4 February – We are called to serve.

Thought for the Day – 4 February – The Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

We are called to serve.

Excerpt from the

Wednesday, 5 February 1986

“Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you” .

Saint John de Britto, whom we are remembering in today’s liturgical celebration, was born in Lisbon in 1647.   After entering the Society of Jesus he followed the footsteps of Saint Francis Xavier to India where he chose to work for the humble and needy in what was then called the Madurai Mission.   His patient labours, selfless zeal and genuine love for the poor, won for him their confidence.   Like Jesus he was “a sign of contradiction” and his success created jealousy and opposition.   As a result, John de Britto died a martyr on 4 February 1693, bearing witness to Christ.

…Saint John de Britto’s life faithfully reflected the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for it was a life of service unto death.   Today it challenges all of us to continue with fresh vigour the Church’s role of loving service to humanity.   The immense and tender love of Jesus Christ for the poor and the downtrodden, for sinners and the suffering, remains a challenge for every Christian.   Christ’s unrelenting stand for truth is a compelling example.   Above all, the generosity shown in His suffering and death, as the culmination of His service to humanity and the supreme act of Redemption, is the example for us.    We are called to serve.

There can be no authentic Christian life without an effective love of our fellow human beings.   At the closing of the Vatican Council Pope Paul VI affirmed that ” if… in the face of every man, especially when this face is made transparent by his tears and suffering, we can and must, recognise the face of Christ … and in the face of Christ, we can and must, recognise, the face of our heavenly Father, … then our humanism becomes a Christianity and our Christianity becomes theocentric.   And thus we can also say – to know God, it is necessary, to know man.”if in the face of every man - st pope paul VI 4 feb 2019.jpg

Today we live at a time of history when peace and harmony between nations and races is constantly threatened.   Division and hatred, fear and frustration – these are among the counter-values of our day.   The message of love in Christ Jesus in urgently needed. Hence, the Church’s task of proclaiming the Gospel and of being at the service of society is supremely relevant in India today.   This task requires the active collaboration of all sectors of the ecclesial community, especially the laity.

…Through the testimony of your lives, through your words and deeds, the word of God is made known to the minds and hearts of others who seek Him, so that “they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory” – that “they may obtain salvation”!

Brothers and sisters, if we die with Christ, we shall live also with Him, “if we endure, we shall also reign with him” .

Christ – Shepherd, Prophet and Priest – has sealed our hearts with His call just as He touched the hearts of the apostles, the hearts of Saint Thomas, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint John de Britto.   May they intercede for the Church in India, for this beloved country and its people!

We will be happy if we remain faithful.   For He, Christ, is faithful – “He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself” .

Brothers and sisters, you are called to be living witnesses to Christ, living witnesses to God’s word, living witnesses to the saving message of love and mercy that Christ revealed to the world. Amen.

St John de Britto, Pray for Us!st john de britto no 2 pray for us 4 feb 2019.jpg


Quote/s of the Day – 4 February – Bl Rabanus Maurus, St Joseph of Leonissa & St John de Britto

Quote/s of the Day – 4 February – The Memorial of Blessed Rabanus Maurus OSB (776-856), St Joseph of Leonissa OFM CAP (1556-1612) and St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Creator, Spirit,
come from Your bright heavenly throne,
come take possession of our souls
and make them all Your own.
You who are called the Paraclete,
best gift of God above,
the living spring,
the vital fire,
sweet christ’ning and true love. . . .
O guide our minds with Your best light,
with love our hearts inflame
and with Your strength,
which ne’er decays,
confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our deadly foe,
true peace unto us bring
and through all perils lead us safe
beneath Your sacred wing.
Through You may we the Father know,
through You th’eternal Son
and You the Spirit of them both,
thrice-blessed Three in One. . . .

By Blessed Rabanus Maurus (776-856)veni-creator-spiritus-bl-rabanus-maurus-4-feb-2018.jpg

“Every Christian must be a living book
wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel.
This is what St Paul says to the Corinthians.
Our heart is the parchment; through my ministry
the Holy Spirit is the writer because
‘my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe’
(Psalm 45:1).”

St Joseph of Leonissa OFM CAP (1556-1612)every-christian-must-be-a-living-book-st-joseph-of-leonissa-4-feb-2018.jpg

“God, Who called me
from the world into religious life,
now calls me from Portugal to India….
Not to answer the vocation as I ought,
would be to provoke the justice of God.”

St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyrgod who called me - st john de britto - 4 feb 2019.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 4 February – Gospel: Mark 5:1–20

One Minute Reflection – 4 February – Monday of the Fourth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Mark 5:1–20 and the Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

“Go home to your friends and tell them, how much the Lord has done for you and how he has, had mercy on you.”…Mark 5:19

REFLECTION – “As the Son was sent by the Father, so He too sent the Apostles (Jn 20:21), saying:  “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.   And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”.(Mt 28:19)   The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth.(Acts 1:8)   Wherefore, she makes the words of the Apostle her own: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel” (1Cor 9:16) and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the infant churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelising.
For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part, that God’s plan may be fully realised, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world.   By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith.   She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ, so that through charity, they may grow up into full maturity in Christ.   Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man.
The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his state.   However, although all the faithful can baptise, the priest alone can complete the building up of the Body in the eucharistic sacrifice.   Thus are fulfilled the words of God, spoken through His prophet:  “From the rising of the sun until the going down thereof my name is great among the gentiles and in every place a clean oblation is sacrificed and offered up in my name”.(Mal 1:11)   In this way the Church both prays and labours in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.”… Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium”, #17 – Vatican Council IImark 5 19-go home to your friends - for the church is compelled -lumen gentium no 17 4 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Lord God and Father, who entrusted the earth to men, to till and care for it and made the sun to serve their needs, give us grace this day, to work faithfully for Your Glord and for our neighbours’ good.   As we follow the Way of Your Son, fill us with the Holy Spirit of faith, hope and love.   Almighty God, You made Saint John of Britto, an illustrious preacher of the gospel.   Through his prayers inflame us with love and with his zeal for souls that we may serve You alone.   St John of Britto, pray for us!   Through Jesus, our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, john de britto pray for us 4 feb 2019.jpg


Our Morning Offering – 4 February – the Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr – “Suscipe”

Our Morning Offering – 4 February – Monday of the Fourth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

By St Ignatius Loyla SJ (1491-1556)

Take, Lord and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To You, Lord, I return it.

Everything is Yours,
do with it what You will.
Give me only Your love
and Your grace,
that is enough for me.suscipe - st ignatius loyola - 20 oct 2018.jpg


Saint of the Day – 4 February – St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 4 February – St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) also known as Arul Anandar (his Indian title and name) – Martyr, Priest, Missionary, Confessor, Preacher – born João de Brito in Lisbon, Portugal on 1 March 1647 – martyred at Oriyur, Tamil Nadu, India on 11 February 1693 (aged 46).   Patronages – Portugal, Diocese of Sivagangai, jean de britto

King Pedro II of Portugal, when a child, had among his little pages a modest boy of rich and princely parents.   Much had John de Britto—for so was he called—to bear from his careless-living companions, to whom his holy life was a reproach.   A terrible illness made him turn for aid to St Francis Xavier, a Saint so well loved by the Portuguese and when, in answer to his prayers, he recovered, his mother vested him for a year in the dress worn in those days by the Jesuit Fathers.   From that time John’s heart burned to follow the example of the Apostle of the Indies   He gained his wish.

On 17 December 1662, he entered the novitiate of the Society at Lisbon and eleven years later, in spite of the most determined opposition of his family and of the court, he left all to go to convert the Hindus of Madura.   When Blessed John’s mother knew that her son was going to the Indies, she used all her influence to prevent him leaving his own country and persuaded the Papal Nuncio to interfere.   “God, Who called me from the world into religious life, now calls me from Portugal to India,” was the reply of the future martyr.   “Not to answer the vocation as I ought, would be to provoke the justice of God.   As long as I live, I shall never cease striving to gain a passage to India.”

He travelled to the missions of Madurai, in Southern India, present-day Tamil Nadu, in 1673 and preached the Christian religion in the region of the Maravar country.   He renamed himself, Arul Anandar in Tamil and for fourteen years he toiled, preaching, converting, baptising multitudes, at the cost of privations, hardships and persecutions. Feb+4+John+de+Britto+1

John at first hoped to win over members of both the higher and the lower castes to Christianity, and so he dressed and lived as an Indian ascetic.   He attracted so many members of the lowest caste to Christianity that members of the royalty of Madura saw John as a threat to the caste system.   They imprisoned and tortured him but then released him.   The Jesuits recalled him to Portugal in 1687 and worked as a missions procurator.  King Pedro III (his childhood friend who was now the King) wanted him to stay but in 1690 but after four years, he was allowed to return to Goa and went back to the same territory where he had once been held captive with 24 new missionaries.

The Madurai Mission was a bold attempt to establish an Indian Catholic Church that was relatively free of European cultural domination.   As such, Britto learned the native languages, went about dressed in yellow cotton and lived like the people he was seeking to convert – abstaining from every kind of animal food and from wine.   St John de Britto tried to teach the Catholic faith in categories and concepts that would make sense to the people he taught.   This method, proposed and practised by Fr Roberto de Nobili SJ (1577–1656) (an Italian Jesuit missionary to Southern India. He used a novel method of adaptation (accommodation) to preach Christianity, adopting many local customs of India which were, not contrary to Christianity) met with remarkable success.   Britto remained a strict vegan until the end of his life, rejecting meat, fish, eggs and alcohol and living only on legumes, fruits and herbs.Jean_de_Brito_(1647-1693)_2

Like St John the Baptist, he died a victim to the anger of a guilty woman, whom a convert king had put aside and, like the Precursor, he was beheaded after a painful imprisonment.   St John’s preaching had led to the conversion of a Marava prince who had several wives.  When Thadiyathevan, the prince, was required to dismiss all his wives but one, a serious problem arose.   One of the wives was a niece of the neighbouring king, who took up her quarrel and began a general persecution of Christians.   Britto and the catechists were taken and carried to the capital, Ramnad. Thence he was led to Oriyur, some 30 miles northward along the coast, where he was executed on 4 February jean de britto martyrdom

St John was Beatified by Pope Pius IX on 21 August 1853. He was Canonised by Pope Pius XII on 22 June 1947.

The stained glass below shows St John portrayed in the attire of an ascetic, with a gold flame at each side of his head, representing two miracles attributed to him during his lifetime.   The orange-red heart at the right knee and a black yin and yang symbol at the right ankle indicate his love for the people of all India.   He stands on greenery, under which is a black scroll weighted down by a scimitar.
The shield of the Society of Jesus consists of a blue circlet on a purple background on which the Jesuit logo, IHS is written above the three nails of the crucifixion of Jesus, surrounded by rays of light.   A circle around the shield contains the words “Society of Jesus” and the abbreviated motto of the Society, “A.M.D.G.” (“For the Greater Glory of God”).   The foundation date of the Society is jean de britto sj glass.jpg

The Red Sand of St John
This seashore sightseeing location is one of the most venerable pilgrim centres of Christians in the world, as it is the site of St John de Britto’s martyrdom.   It was at this place where the saint was beheaded in 1693.   The sand dune here was stained by the blood of the revered saint.   There is a shrine constructed in Portuguese style (see below) containing a statue of the saint, known locally as ‘Arul Anandar’ who had modestly offered his neck to the jean de britto church in the town where he was martyreddebritto.jpg

The “red sand dune” has become a pilgrimage site where many miracles have been granted.   Numerous incurable diseases have been cured by the application of the red sand on the respective body parts.   Couples are believed to have blessed with children on visiting the shrine and praying for St John’s intercession.   During festivities, pilgrims mainly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala participate irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.   Thus, together with Christians, Hindus and Muslims also come to worship at the shrine in thousands, to mark respect to a unique holy man who shed his life and blood at that spot.   The occasion appears to be more as a social gathering rather than a religious festival.   The auspicious ceremony is a rare opportunity for these simple people to bring gaiety and enthusiasm in their life.   The strong faith and enviable ability to combine pleasure and righteousness on a pilgrimage gives a divine atmosphere to the Oriyur feast.

Devotees from other dioceses and districts visit the shrine on specific dates.   In February, believers from Dindigul arrive while in June, they are from Karunguli and Nagapattinam.   During September more than 25,000 pilgrims visit the shrine for dedicating prayers and offerings.   In October, nearly thousands of pilgrims arrive from the neighbouring Sivagangai district and in December, visitors are from Madurai and Melur.   Throughout the year, thousands of pilgrims from Sakthikulangara, the only parish in Kerala, visit the St John de Britto shrine to seek the unique blessings.


Memorials of the Saints – 4 February

Bl Dionisio de Vilaregut
St Donatus of Fossombrone
St Eutychius of Rome
St Filoromus of Alexandria
St Firmus of Genoa
Bl Frederick of Hallum
St Gelasius of Fossombrone
St Geminus of Fossombrone
St Gilbert of Sempringham
St Isidore of Pelusium
St Jane of Valois O.Ann.M and TOSF(1464-1505)

St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

St John of Irenopolis
Bl John Speed
St Joseph of Leonissa OFM (Cap) (1556-1612)

St Liephard of Cambrai
St Magnus of Fossombrone
St Modan
St Nicholas Studites
St Nithard
St Obitius
St Phileas of Alexandria
Bl Rabanus Maurus
St Rembert
St Themoius
St Theophilus the Penitent
St Vincent of Troyes
St Vulgis of Lobbes

Jesuit Martyrs of Japan: A collective memorial of all members of the Jesuits who have died as martyrs for the faith in Japan.

Martyrs of Perga – 4 saints: A group of shepherds martyred in the persecutions of Decius. The only details we have about them are the names – Claudian, Conon, Diodorus and Papias. They were martyred in c 250 in Perga, Asia Minor (in modern Turkey).