“But thanks be to God,who always leads us in triumph in Christ..”
2 Corinthians 2:14
Holy Mass will be offered on Thursday 14 March for:
Anne Marie Hennigan
“Get used to lifting your heart to God,
in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day.
Because He gives you this and that.
Because you have been despised.
Because you haven’t what you need
or because you have.
Because He made His Mother so beautiful,
His Mother who is also your Mother.
Because He created the sun and the moon
and this animal and that plant.
Because He made that man eloquent
and you He left tongue-tied …
Thank Him for everything,
because everything is good.”
Lenten Thoughts – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday
“The enormity of the fact that Christ has, on our behalf, already taken the most extreme punishment upon Himself, should move us, not to leave Him isolated.
It should also inspire us to rejoice that another has taken our place in representing sin before God – for not to rejoice at that, would be a further enormity.
Instead of leaving Him alone, we should be moved to enter into His suffering for us, doing together with Him, what little we can do, to atone for the world’s sin!”
Thought for the Day – 9 March – the Memorial of St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463)
When Margarita, Catherine’s greatest friend in the Court, became engaged, she invited Catherine to stay with her but Catherine felt called to the religious life and at the age of 14, she joined a Franciscan community. During this time she suffered a spiritual crisis but she had a vision of the Real Presence in the Eucharist that brought her consolation. Spiritual visions consoled and disturbed her at various times in her life, which we know from her work, The Seven Spiritual Weapons.
Catherine artistic heart led her into many pursuits, playing the viola, painting religious pictures (including one of St Ursula that hangs today in a gallery in Venice), copying out and illuminating her breviary (now on display at Oxford), and writing spiritual guides and poetry. She is now the Patron of artists.
Many today might think that her life was a wasted one, when she could’ve been a ‘celebrity’ artist. Appreciating Catherine’s life in a Poor Clare monastery may be hard for us. “It seems like such a waste,” we may be tempted to say.
But Catherine, through prayer, penance and charity to her sisters, drew close to God and He consoled that creative heart in so many ways, for He is the goal of all hearts. Our goal is the same as hers, even if our paths are different.
Quote of the Day – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday and the Memorial of St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463)
“Whoever wishes to carry the cross for His sake, must take up the proper weapons for the contest, especially those mentioned here. First, diligence; second, distrust of self; third, confidence in God; fourth, remembrance of His Passion; fifth, mindfulness of one’s own death; sixth, remembrance of God’s glory; seventh, the injunctions of Sacred Scripture following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert.”
Lenten Reflection – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday “Come back to Me, with All your Heart” – Today’s Gospel : Luke 5:27-32 – The Calling of Matthew
“Leaving everything behind, the man got up and followed him” …Luke 5:28
Above the monastery some planes are cutting through the sky at tremendous speed. The noise of the engines frightens the birds, who take shelter in the cypresses of our cemetery. In front of the convent and crossing the land, is a tarred road along which lorries and carloads of tourists, for whom the sight of the monastery has no interest, run at all hours. One of the principal Spanish railways also runs through the fields of the monastery… People tell you that all this is freedom… But the man who reflects a little will see how deluded the world is in the midst of what he calls freedom…
Where, then, is true freedom? It is in the heart of one who loves nothing more than God. It is in the heart of one who is attached neither to spirit nor to matter but only to God. It is in that soul which is not subject to the “I” of egoism, which soars above its own thoughts, feelings, suffering and enjoyment. Freedom resides in the soul whose one reason for existence is God, whose life is God and nothing else but God.
The human spirit is small, impoverished, subject to a thousand changes of mood, ups and downs, depressions, disillusionments, etc and the body, to so much weakness. Freedom, then, is in God and the soul which truly, in soaring above everything, makes her abode in Him, can say that she enjoys freedom, to the extent that is possible for one still in the world to do so.”
Saint Raphael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938) Spanish Trappist monk
(Spiritual writings, 15/12/1936 (trans. ‘To know how to wait’, Mairin Mitchell)
Daily Meditation: A Saturday of Lent
and more on “True Fasting.”
Each of the Saturdays of Lent are more upbeat and “lighter” in tone.
We are preparing for Sunday.
Our reading from Isaiah 58 continues,
as does our self-examination
regarding what true fasting is for us this Lent.
What patterns will I change?
God, heavenly Father,
look upon me and hear my prayer
during this holy Season of Lent.
Help me to discipline my body
and be renewed in spirit.
Without You, I can do nothing.
By Your Holy Spirit, help me to know what is right
and to be eager to do Your will.
Teach me to find new life through penance.
Keep me from sin and help me to live by Your commandments.
God of love, bring me back to You.
Father, our source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand,
guide and lead me in Your gentle mercy.
Let me be aware of
the many ways you reach out to help me today
and let me stand in awe of the power
that You use in such loving ways.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
“Christ is the artist, tenderly wiping away all the grime of sin that disfigures the human face and restoring God’s image to its full beauty.”
St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–C 395) Father of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Today’s Gospel : Luke 5:27-32 – The Calling of Matthew
“Leaving everything behind, the man got up and followed him”...Luke 5:28
REFLECTION – “Th exploiter Levi, changes his ways and becomes Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist, the bearer of the Good News. His entire life-story proclaims that God is for the wrongdoer, inviting him to change. Paul changed his ways, so did Augustine, so did Jerome. So can you! Ignatius the soldier, becomes Ignatius the saint, the founder of the Jesuits. What will you be? What will you do? For YOU are called too!”…Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDB
“Because the healing power of God, knows no infirmity that cannot be healed and this, must give us confidence and open our heart to the Lord, that He may come and heal us.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 13 April 2016
PRAYER – Come my all-powerful, ever-living God, look with compassion on our frailty and for our protection, stretch out to us Your strong right hand. Grant that by the prayers of Mary, our Mother and all your angels and saints we may change our ways, leave everything behind, proclaim the glory of Your kingdom and come safely home to You. St Catherine of Bologna and St Frances of Rome, pray for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday and always a Marian Saturday
Traditional Lenten Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows
O most holy Virgin,
Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ
by the overwhelming grief you experienced
when you witnessed the martyrdom,
and death of your divine Son,
look upon me with eyes of compassion
and awaken in my heart,
a tender commiseration for those sufferings,
as well as a sincere detestation of my sins,
in order that being disengaged from all
undue affection for the passing joys of this earth,
I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem
and that henceforward,
all my thoughts and all my actions,
may be directed towards
this one most desirable goal –
the honour, glory and love
of our divine Lord Jesus
and to you, the holy
and immaculate Mother of God.
In this prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows, we call to mind the pain endured both by Christ on the Cross and by Mary as she watched her Son being crucified. In reciting the prayer, we ask for the grace to join in that sorrow, so that we may awaken to what is truly important—not the passing joys of this life but the lasting joy of eternal life in Heaven.
Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463) – aged 49 – Religious Poor Clare nun – born on 8 September 1413 at Bologna, Italy as Caterina dei Vigri and died on 9 March 1453 at Bologna, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Bologna, Against temptations, Artists, Liberal arts.
Catherine came from an upper class family, the daughter of Benvenuta Mammolini of Bologna and Giovanni Vigri, a Ferrarese notary. She was raised at Niccolo III’s court as a lady-in-waiting to his wife Parisina d’Este (d. 1425) and became lifelong friends with his natural daughter Margherita d’Este (d. 1478). During this time, she received some education in reading, writing, music, playing the viola, and had access to illuminated manuscripts in the d’Este Court library.
In 1426, after Niccolo III’s execution of Parisina d’Este for infidelity, Caterina left court and joined a lay community of beguines living a semi-religious life and following the Augustinian rule. In 1431 the beguine house was converted into the Observant Poor Clare convent of Corpus Domini, which grew from 12 women in 1431 to 144 women by the end of the century. Sister Caterina lived at Corpus Domini, Ferrara most of her life from 1431 to 1456, serving as Mistress of Novices.
She was a model of piety and experienced miracles and several visions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, Thomas Becket and St Joseph, as well as future events, such as the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
She wrote a number of religious treatises, lauds, sermons and copied and illustrated her own breviary (see on the right).
In 1455 the Franciscans and the governors of Bologna requested that she become abbess of a new convent, which was to be established under the name of Corpus Domini in Bologna. She left Ferrara in July 1456 with 12 sisters to start the new community and remained abbess there until her death on 9 March 1463. Caterina was buried in the convent graveyard but after eighteen days, a sweet smell emanated from the grave and the incorrupt body was exhumed. It was eventually relocated to a chapel where it remains on display, dressed in her religious habit, seated upright behind glass. A contemporary Poor Clare, Sister Illuminata Bembo, wrote her biography in 1469. A strong local Bolognese cult of Caterina Vigri developed and she became a Beata in the 1520s, but was not Canonised until 1712 by Pope Clement XI.
Catherine’s best known text is Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare (Le Sette Armi Spirituali), which she appears to have first written in 1438 and then rewritten and augmented between 1450 and 1456. Although she probably taught similar ideas, she kept the written version hidden until she neared death and then handed it to her confessor with instructions to send a copy to the Poor Clares at Ferrara. Part of this book describes at length her visions both of God and of Satan. The treatise was circulated in manuscript form through a network of Poor Clare convents. It was first printed in 1475 and went through 21 later editions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including being translated in Latin, French, Portuguese, English, Spanish and German. It therefore played an important role in the dissemination of late medieval vernacular mysticism in the early modern period.
In addition, she wrote lauds, short religious treatises and letters, as well as a 5000-line Latin poem called the Rosarium Metricum, the I Dodici Giardini and I Sermoni. These were discovered around 2000 and described by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi – as “now revealed in their surprising beauty. We can ascertain that she was not undeserving of her renown as a highly cultivated person. We are now in a position to meditate on a veritable monument of theology which, after the Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons, is made up of distinct and autonomous parts – The Twelve Gardens, a mystical work of her youth, Rosarium, a Latin poem on the life of Jesus and The Sermons, copies of Catherine’s words to her religious sisters.”
St Catherine represents the rare phenomenon of a fifteenth-century nun-artist whose artworks are preserved in her personal breviary. She meditated while she copied the scriptural text, adding about 1000 prayer rubrics and drew initials with bust-portraits of saints, paying special attention to images of Saints Clare and Francis. Besides multiple images of Christ and the infant swaddled Christ Child, she depicted other saints, including Thomas Becket, Jerome, Paul, Anthony of Padua, Mary Magdalene, her name saint Catherine of Alexandria. Her self-taught style incorporated motifs from needlework and devotional prints. Some saints’ images, interwoven with text and rubrics, display an idiosyncratic, inventive iconography.
Other panel paintings and manuscripts attributed to her include the Madonna and Child (nicknamed the Madonna del Pomo) in the Cappella della Santa, a possible portrait or self-portrait (?) in the autograph copy of the Sette Armi Spirituali, a Redeemer and another Madonna and Child in her chapel.
A drawing of a Man of Sorrows or Resurrected Christ found in a miscellany of lauds has also been attributed to her. St Catherine is significant as a woman artist who articulated an aesthetic philosophy. She explained that although it took precious time, the purpose of her religious art was “to increase devotion for herself and others”.