Lenten Reflection – 20 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Year C
Each of us must enter on eternity
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“Each of us must come to the evening of life. Each of us must enter on eternity. Each of us must come to that quiet, awful time, when we will appear before the Lord of the vineyard and answer for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad. That, my dear brethren, you will have to undergo. … It will be the dread moment of expectation when your fate for eternity is in the balance and when you are about to be sent forth as the companion of either saints or devils, without possibility of change. There can be no change, there can be no reversal. As that judgement decides it, so it will be forever and ever. Such is the particular judgement. … when we find ourselves by ourselves, one by one, in His presence and have brought before us most vividly all the thoughts, words and deeds of this past life. Who will be able to bear the sight of himself?
And yet we shall be obliged steadily to confront ourselves and to see ourselves. In this life we shrink from knowing our real selves. We do not like to know how sinful we are. We love those who prophesy smooth things to us and we are angry with those who tell us of our faults.
But on that day, not one fault only but all the secret, as well as evident, defects of our character will be clearly brought out. We shall see what we feared to see here and much more. And then, when the full sight of ourselves comes to us, who will not wish that he had known more of himself here, rather than leaving it for the inevitable day to reveal it all to him! …………………….We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.”
Thought for the Day – 20 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Year C and the Memorial of St Martin of Braga (c 520–580)
St Gregory of Tours (538-594) declared St Martin to be the greatest scholar of his age. His writings included a guide to the Christian life, a description of superstitious peasant customs, a set of moral maxims and a version of the sayings of the Egyptian fathers. Listen to Martin’s voice in the following selection from his little essay on vanity:
“A person desires nothing more than to be praised, nor is there a single thing that he would consider it more agreeable to receive than someone’s admiration for him as a person of renown… For those who have usurped the things above, all that is left, so it seems to me, is the things below…Everyone everywhere strives to spread his own fame and, therefore, the cure for such vanity is most difficult, because it mingles not only with vices but also with virtues…For when he rejoices in other people’s praises his joy is followed by exalted triumph and his triumph, in turn, by pretentiousness and overestimation of himself…This is that deadly vice of which the Lord spoke in the gospel thus to the Jews: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory which is from the only God?” (see John 5:44).”
Martin of Braga served the Christians of Galicia for nearly a quarter of a century. He died at his monastery at Dumium in 579. He is the true gospel-bearer that carries it, in his hands, in his mouth and in his heart. A person does not carry it in his heart that does not love it with all his soul.
Lenten Reflection – 20 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Year C
“Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom”...Matthew 20:21
Basil of Seleucia (Died c 468) Bishop Sermon 24
Would you like to know the faith of this woman? Well, just think at the time she does such a request…The cross was ready, the Passion immanent, the crowd of enemies already in place. The Teacher talks about His death and the disciples are worried, even before the Passion they tremble at the simple mention of it, what they hear startles them, they are overcome by agitation and fear. At that very moment this mother leaves the group of the apostles and comes to request the kingdom and a throne for her sons.
What did you say, woman? You hear Him talking about the cross and you ask for a throne? It is a matter of the Passion and you wish for the Kingdom? In that case, leave the disciples with all their fears and worries of danger. But how could you think of asking such dignity? Out of all that has been said or done, what makes you think about the kingdom?
I see – she says – the Passion but I foresee the Resurrection. I see the cross set up and I contemplate the open skies. I see the nails but I also see the throne… I heard the Lord himself say: “you shall likewise take your places on twelve thrones” (Mt 19:28). I see the future with the eyes of faith.
This woman anticipates – it seems to me – the words of the good criminal. He, on the cross, made this prayer: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Even before the cross she made the kingdom an object of her supplication… What a desire plunged in the vision of the future! What time hid, faith revealed.
Daily Meditation: Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.
Jesus is telling us about His Passion, Death and Resurrection – for us.
Too often we are fighting over which of us is the greatest.
To take this journey with Him, is to take a journey
that draws us to be with Him in it and like Him:
a servant of love for others.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
“The importance of Humility” (Extract from a Sermon on St Philip Neri)
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“But I would beg for you this privilege, that the public world might never know you for praise or for blame, that you should do a good deal of hard work in your generation and prosecute many useful labours and effect a number of religious purposes and send many souls to heaven and take men by surprise, how much you were really doing, when they happened to come near enough to see it but that by the world you should be overlooked, that you should not be known out of your place, that you should work for God alone, with a pure heart and single eye, without the distractions of human applause and should make Him your sole hope and His eternal heaven your sole aim and have your reward, not partly here but fully and entirely, hereafter.”
(The Mission of St Philip Neri, Sermons Preached on Various Occaions.)
God of Love,
through this Lenten journey,
purify my desires to serve You.
Free me from any temptations to judge others,
to place myself above others.
Please let me surrender even my impatience with others,
that with Your love and Your grace,
I might be less and less absorbed with myself,
and more and more full of the desire
to follow You, in laying down my life
according to Your example.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
One Minute Reflection – 20 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Gospel: Matthew 20:17–28
“…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”…Matthew 20:28
REFLECTION – “Resolute and obedient and nothing else! It was like this until the very end. The Lord enters in patience… He enters in patience. It is not only an example of a journey of suffering and dying on the Cross but also of a journey of patience.
He was unaccompanied in this decision because no-one understood the mystery of Jesus, the loneliness of Jesus on His journey towards Jerusalem, alone!
It was like this to the end.
Let us think, then, of the abandonment by the disciples, of Peter’s betrayal… alone!
How often have I tried to do so many things and have not looked to Him, who did all this for me? You entered in patience – the patient man, the patient God – who, with such patience, bears by sins, my failings?
And talk to Jesus like this. He is determined to always to go ahead. And thank Him. Let us take a little time today, a few minutes – five, ten, fifteen – perhaps before the Crucifix, or with the imagination, to ‘see’ Jesus walking resolutely towards Jerusalem and ask for the grace to have the courage to follow Him closely.”…Pope Francis – Santa Marta, 3 October 2017
PRAYER – Lord, You go before us! In patience, in total love and self-giving, alone! And we know You not and abandon You! Holy Father, grant us Your grace that we may see, understand and walk with Your Son, right behind Him, holding tightly to the hem of His robe, that we may learn to suffer and love as He does. Kindly listen Father God, to the prayers on our behalf, of St Josef Bilczewski, who always walked with Your Son. We make our prayer through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, our Christ who with the Holy Spirit, is God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 20 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent
Almighty Father, Enter our Hearts By St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
Almighty Father, enter our hearts
and so fill us with Your love,
that, forsaking all evil desires,
we may embrace You our only good.
Show unto us, for Your mercies’ sake,
O Lord our God, what You are unto us.
Say unto our souls, I am your salvation.
So speak that we may hear.
Our hearts are before You;
open our ears,
let us hasten after Your voice
and take hold of You.
Hide not Your face from us,
we beseech You, O Lord.
Enlarge the narrowness of our souls,
that You may enter in.
Repair the ruinous mansions,
that You may dwell there.
Hear us, O Heavenly Father,
for the sake of Your only Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
Saint of the Day – 20 March – St Jósef Bilczewski (1860-1923) Aged 62 – Archbishop of Lviv, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, Marian devotion, the poor, the homeless, the needy, refugees, Social Reformer and Evangelist, Apostle of Catechesis both of the laity and of priests, Peace-maker. Patronages – Archdiocese of Lviv, Teachers, Wilamowice, Beggars, Homeless people.
Archbishop JOSEPH BILCZEWSKI was born on 26 April 1860 in Wilamowice near Kęty, in the present day Diocese of Bielsko Żywiec, then part of the Diocese of Krakow. Having finished elementary school at Wilamowic and Kęty, he attended high school at Wadowice receiving his diploma in 1880.
On 6 July 1884 he was ordained a priest in Krakow by Cardinal Albino Dunajewski. In 1886 he received a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Vienna. Following advanced studies in Rome and Paris he passed the qualifying exam at the Jaghellonic University of Krakow. The following year he became professor of Dogmatic Theology at the John Casimir University of Leopoli. He also served as Dean of Theology for a period of time prior to becoming Rector of the University. During his tenure at the University, he was appreciated as a professor by his students and also enjoyed the friendship and respect of his colleagues. He arduously dedicated himself to scientific work and, despite his young age, acquired a reputation as a learned man.
His extraordinary intellectual and relational abilities were recognised by Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, who presented Monsignor Joseph to the Holy Father as a candidate for the vacant Metropolitan See of Leopoli. The Holy Father, Leo XIII responded positively to the Emperor’s proposal and on 17 December 1900 he named the forty year old Monsignor Joseph Bilczewski, Archbishop of Leopoli of the Latin Rite.
Given the complex social, economic, ethnic and religious situation, care for the large diocese required of the Bishop a deep commitment and called for great moral commitment, strong confidence in God and a faith enlivened by a continual contact in prayer with God.
Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski became known for his abundant goodness of heart, understanding, humility, piety, commitment to hard work and pastoral zeal which sprung from his immense love for God and neighbour.
Upon taking possession of the Archdiocese of Leopoli he spelled out very clearly his pastoral plan which can be summed up in his motto “totally sacrifice oneself for the Holy Church”.Among other things he pointed out the need for the development of devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and frequent reception of Holy Communion.
A particular form of pastoral action of Archbishop Bilczewski were the pastoral letters and appeals addressed to the priests and the faithful of the Archdiocese. In them he spoke of the problems of faith and morals of the time as well as of the most pressing issues of the social sphere. He also explained devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart in them and the importance of religious and moral formation of children and youth in the family and in school. Above all, he took great care to cultivate many holy priestly vocations. He saw the priest as first and foremost a teacher of faith and an instrument of Christ, a father for the rich as well as for the poor. Taking the place of Christ on Earth, the priest was to be the minister of the Sacraments and for this reason his whole heart had to be dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist, in order to be able to nourish the people of God with the body of Christ.
He often exhorted the priests to adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament. In his pastoral letter devoted to the Eucharist he invited the priests to participate in the priestly associations – The Association for Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Association of Aid to Poor Catholic Churches, whose goal was to rejuvenate the zeal of the priests themselves. He also dedicated a great deal of care to the preparation of children and to full participation in the Mass, desiring that every Catechesis would lead children and youth to the Eucharist.
Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski promoted the construction of churches and chapels, schools and day-care centres. He developed teaching to help enable the growth in the instruction of the faithful. He materially and spiritually helped the more important works which were springing up in his Archdiocese. His holy life, filled with prayer, work and works of mercy, led to his meriting great appreciation and respect on the part of those of various faiths, rites and nationalities present in the Archdiocese. No religious or nationalistic conflicts arose during the tenure of his pastoral work. He was a proponent of unity, harmony and peace. On social issues he always stood on the side of the people and of the poor. He taught that the base of social life had to be justice made perfect by Christian love.
During the First World War, when souls were overtaken with hate and a lack of appreciation of the other, he pointed out to the people the infinite love of God, capable of forgiving every type of sin and offence. He reminded them of the need to observe the commandments of God and particularly that of brotherly love. Sensitive to the social questions regarding the family and youth, he courageously proposed solutions to problems based on the love of God and of neighbour. During his 23 years of pastoral service he changed the face of the Archdiocese of Leopoli Only his death, on 20 March 1923 could end his vast and far-sighted pastoral action.
He was prepared for death and accepted it with peace and submission as a sign of God’s will, which he always considered sacred.
He left this world having enjoyed a universal recognition of holiness. Wanting to rest among those for whom he was always father and protector, in accord with his desires, he was buried in Leopoli in the cemetery of Janów, known as the cemetery of the poor. Thanks to the efforts of the Archdiocese of Leopoli the process for his beatification and canonisation was initiated. The first step was concluded on 17 December 1997 with the declaration of the life of heroic virtue of Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski by The Holy Father, St Pope John Paul II. In June 2001, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognised as miraculous the fact of the rapid lasting and unexplainable “quo ad modum” healing through the intercession of Archbishop Bilczewski of the third degree burns of Marcin Gawlik, a nine year old boy, thus opening the way for his beatification. The Beatification took place in the Diocese of Leopoli on 26 June 2001 during St Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Visit to the Ukraine…Vatican.va
One final miracle was required for sainthood. St John Paul II approved a second healing on 20 December 2004. Cardinal Angelo Sodano formalised the date on 24 February 2005 at a consistory, representing the then very ill St John Paul II who died a month later. The new Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Canonisation in Saint Peter’s Square on 23 October 2005.