Thought for the Day – 16 December – ‘He Loved us First’

Thought for the Day – 16 December – Monday of the Third Week of Advent, Year A, Readings: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17, Psalm 25:4-9, Matthew 21:23-27

“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” … Matthew 21:23

He Loved us First

William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148)

An excerpt from his On the Contemplation of God

Truly You alone are the Lord.   Your dominion is our salvation, for to serve You, is nothing else but to be saved by You!   O Lord, salvation is Your gift and Your blessing is upon Your people, what else is Your salvation but receiving from You the gift of loving You or being loved by You?   That, Lord, is why You willed, that the Son at Your right hand, the man whom You made strong for Yourself, should be called Jesus, that is to say, Saviour, for He will save His people from their sins and, there is no other, in whom there is salvation.   He taught us to love Him by first loving us, even to death on the cross.   By loving us and holding us so dear, He stirred us to love Him who had first loved us to the end.

And this is clearly the reason – You first loved us so that we might love You—not because You needed our love but because, we could not be what You created us to be, except by loving You.

In many ways and on various occasions You spoke to our fathers through the prophets. Now in these last days You have spoken to us in the Son, Your Word, by Him the heavens were established and all their powers came to be, by the breath of His mouth.

For You to speak thus in Your Son, was to bring out, in the light of day, how much and in what way You loved us, for You did not spare Your own Son but delivered Him up for us all.   He also loved us and gave himself up for us.

This, Lord, is Your Word to us, this is Your all-powerful message – while all things were in midnight silence (that is, were in the depths of error), He came from His royal throne, the stern Conqueror of error and the gentle Apostle of love.   Everything He did and everything He said on earth, even enduring the insults, the spitting, the buffeting—the cross and the grave—all of this, was actually You speaking to us in Your Son, appealing to us by Your love and stirring up our love for You.he came from his royal throne - william of saint thierry 16 dec 2019.jpg

You know that this disposition could not be forced on men’s hearts, my God, since You created them, it must rather be elicited.   And this, for the further reason, that there is no freedom, where there is compulsion and where freedom is lacking, so too is Righteousness.

You wanted us to love You, then, we, who could not with justice have been saved, had we not loved You, nor could we have loved You except by Your gift.   So, Lord, as the Apostle of Your Love tells us and, as we have already said, You first loved us – You are first to love all those who love You.

Thus we hold You dear by the affection You have implanted in us.   You are the one supremely good and ultimate goodness.   Your love is Your goodness, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son!   From the beginning of creation it was He who hovered over the waters—that is, over the wavering minds of men, offering Himself to all, drawing all things to Himself.   By His inspiration and holy breath, by keeping us from harm and providing for our needs, He unites God to us and us to God.your love is your goodness the holy spirit - william of theirry 16 dec 2019.jpg

William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148), was a twelfth century French Benedictine Abbot of Saint-Thierry, theologian and mystic who became a Cistercian monk and writer.
William wrote throughout all of his abbatial career as a Benedictine and his final years as a Cistercian monk.   His earliest works reflect a monk seeking God continually and investigating, the various and best ways of furthering the soul’s ascent to God in spiritual union, William’s ultimate goal.   When read chronologically, one can discern the development and evolution of William’s thought.
Besides his letters to St Bernard and others, William wrote several works – there were twenty two works by William (twenty one extant), all written in Latin between c 1121 and 1148.
William’s writings were widely read in the later Middle Ages.   However, they were frequently attributed to St Bernard of Clairvaux – a sign of their quality and also another reason for their continued popularity.   Only in the early twentieth century, did interest in William as a distinct writer, begin to develop again and was his name correctly attached to all of his own writings.

“At this Christmas, when Christ comes,
will He find a warm heart?
Mark the season of Advent,
by loving and serving others,
with God’s own love and concern.”

St Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
(Love-A Fruit Always in Season)

at this christmas, when he comes - st mother teresa 16 dec 2019.jpg


Quote of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels

Quote of the Day – 16 December – The Memorial of Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin”

“When you commit some infidelity,
do not be anxious
but with humility and confidence,
immediately turn to the Lord.
Do not flee from the Offended
but embrace Him as a lover
and ask for forgiveness.”

Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella (1661-1717)when you commit some infidelity do not be anxious but turn to the Offended -16 dec 2019 - bl mary of the angels fontanella.jpg


Advent Reflection – 16 December – He made of Him the Way

Advent Reflection – 16 December – Monday of the Third Week of Advent, Year A, Readings: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17, Psalm 25:4-9, Matthew 21:23-27

“The Lord is at hand, come, let us adore him.”

“We do not know.”   And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” … Matthew 21:27

REFLECTION – “In truth, brethren, what God promised seemed humanly unbelievable, that starting from this mortal state in which people are corruptible, despicable, weak, dust and ashes, they would become equal to God’s angels!   That is why God wasn’t satisfied with making a scriptural covenant for them, to believe but put forward a mediator as proof of His faith – no prince, no angel or archangel but His only Son.   In this way, He would point out and bestow through His own Son, the way by which He would lead us to the end promised to us.   Yet for God it was too small a thing that His Son should show us the way, He made of Him the Way (cf. Jn 14:6), the Way by which you would go under His direction, the Way you would follow…

How far we were from Him!   He who is so high and we so low!   We were sick, with no hope of healing.   A doctor was sent but the patient did not recognise Him, “for if they had known him they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor 2:8).   But the death of the doctor has been the cure of the patient, the doctor came to visit him and died to heal him.   He made those who believed in Him understand He was God and man, God who created us, man who recreated us.   The one was visible in Him, the other hidden and that which was hidden, far exceeded what was seen…   The patient has been healed by what was visible, that later he might be able to see in full.   God postponed this final vision by concealing it, He did not refuse it.” … St Augustine (354-430) Doctor of Grace – Discourses on the Psalms, Ps 110[109]advent monday of the third week 16 dec 2019 for god it was too small a thing - st augustine .jpg

MEDITATION – “Now is the time to say to Jesus:  “Lord, I have let myself be deceived;  in a thousand ways I have shunned Your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with You. I need you.   Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into Your redeeming embrace”. … Pope FrancisThe Joy of the Gospelnow-is-the-time-to-say-to-jesus-15-dec-2018-from-the-joy-of-the-gospel and 16 dec 2019.jpg

ADVENT ACTION – Let us go to Confession!   Lead your family to the door of God’s love and mercy.

PRAYER – “My beloved Redeemer, how much did it cost You to raise me from the ruin, which I brought on myself through my sins?   What can I do without Your grace?   I can do nothing but pray that You will help me but even this prayer comes from the merits of Your suffering and death!   O my Jesus, help me!” … St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most zealous Doctormy beloved redeemer - how much did it cost you - st alphonsus - christmas confession.jpg


Our Morning Offering – 16 December – Come, Holy Ghost, Who ever One

Our Morning Offering – 16 December – Monday of the Third week of Advent, Year A

Nunc, Sancte, nobis Spiritus
By St Ambrose (340-397)
Come, Holy Ghost, Who ever One
Trans St John Henry Newman (1801-1890) Trans 1836

Come, Holy Ghost, Who ever One
Art with the Father and the Son.
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls possess
With Thy full flood of holiness.

In will and deed, by heart and tongue,
With all our powers, Thy praise be sung.
And love light up our mortal frame,
Till others catch the living flame.

Almighty Father, hear our cry
Through Jesus Christ our Lord most high,
Who with the Holy Ghost and Thee
Doth live and reign eternallynunc sancte nobis spirtus come holy ghost who ever one - st ambrose st john henry newman 16 dec 2019.jpg

Come, Holy Ghost, Who Ever One is a translation from the original latin by St John Henry Newman of Nunc Sanc­te no­bis Spir­it­us by St Ambrose (340-397).   It was first published in Tracts for the Times (1836).   It is included in the Latin Breviary as the hymn sung during Terce, for it was at the 3rd hour (9AM) that the Holy Spirit defended upon the Apostles at Pentecost.


Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin,”

Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin,” Discalced Carmelite, Mystic, Stigmatist, Marian devotee and client of St Joseph, Prioress, Spiritual director – born as Marianna Fontanella on 7 January 1661 at Balderino, Italy and died on 16 December 1717 of natural causes at Turin, Iraly.   Also known as Maria degli Angeli, Maria Fontanella of the Angels.  Bl Mary studied with the Cistercians as a child and entered the Discalced Carmelites despite the protests of her mother and siblings – she soon became a noted abbess and prioress and in 1703 inaugurated a new convent she herself oversaw the establishment of and later, instigated the building of a beautiful Basilica in honour of the Blessed Virgin. 464px-bl Anna_Maria_Fontanella.jpg

Marianna Fontanella came into the world on January 7, 1661.   She was the youngest of 11 children born to Count Giovanni of Turin and his wife, Lady Maria Tana.   The mother had among her close relatives, the mother of St Aloysius de Gonzaga SJ (1568-1591), a youthful aristocrat who renounced a life of privilege to become a holy Jesuit.   The fact that there was an official Saint counted among her kin was undoubtedly a source of pride for the family but it wasn’t enough to impress Marianna to want to become one too.   It was related that this Blessed initially lived her early years in a manner typical of her high social status – she was well-educated, pampered and exposed to all sorts of social niceties and assemblies … and she enjoyed it all, especially the fancy outfits and the dances.

However, on one particular day, while still a young child, she sat in front of a mirror admiring herself when her own reflection vanished to be replaced by a vision – Christ appeared in the mirror, sadly staring back at her, battered and crowned with thorns.  The experience so shocked Marianna that it had the immediate effect of a lasting conversion.   From that moment on she shunned her elaborate wardrobe and jewellery and began exercising a devout mode of living despite her tender age.   In 1667 she schemed with a little brother to imitate the saints and to run off to live “in the desert” though, at the time they were meant to begin this journey, the two were so fast asleep that their plan was spoiled.

Due to her familial relationship with him, she adopted Saint Luigi Gonzaga as a model for personal holiness and made an effort to imitate the late saint’s example.   In 1673 as a 12-year-old, Marianna accompanied one of her sisters to the Cistercian Monastery in Saluzzo where the latter was entering into religious life.   Somehow, Marianna was able to persuade her parents to allow her to board with the nuns and she remained with them for over a year until her mother recalled her home due to the unexpected death of her father.   Back at the family villa, she resisted her family’s efforts to marry her off and she practised a regimen of prayer and self-mortification.   Apparently, while with the Cistercians, an earlier resolve she made to become a nun had strengthened but she was undecided as to which order to join.

After providentially meeting and speaking with a venerable Carmelite priest during one of the rare public exhibitions of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marianna applied with the local Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Santa Cristina.   Lady Maria reluctantly consented when it became clear that her daughter could not be dissuaded, so Marianna made her entrance into Carmel on 19 November 1675, she was 14-years-old and took the name Maria of the Angels.BL Maria_degli_Amgeli

The first year in the monastery was not easy for the aspiring nun.   The sweetness of spirit and the divine favours she had started to enjoy before entering, evaporated, leaving Sr Maria with a terrible dryness in her soul.   She clung desperately to her faith and, guided by a meticulous novice mistress, she managed to reach profession on 26 December 1676…  but the sense of separation from God – the “dark night of the soul” – continued to torment her for the next 15 years.   The devil aggravated the situation, via severe temptations and diabolic assaults.

Fortunately, the beleagured nun weathered her personal storm through the consistent practice of virtue, especially humility and obedience towards her superiors.   All that she suffered, served to purify her spirit, as Jesus was leading her on a singular path of extraordinary mystical union with Himself, as was proven later on.

By 1691 Sr Maria was finally free of the darkness and began experiencing supernatural lights with greater intensity.   Sublime visions of Christ and heavenly inhabitants resumed, along with other mystical gifts such as Prophecy, the Stigmata and the Fragrance of Sanctity.   It was reported that the beautiful scent that constantly surrounded her was so obvious, that the other nuns could track her whereabouts by following the aroma she left in her wake.   The Blessed, on her part, took to carrying small bundles of flowers and spices to try to disguise the heavenly scent but to no avail – it increased on feast days and during times when she was ill and unable to take precautions, to disguise the fragrance.   Even things she handled, were imbued with the delightful scent!Blessed-Mary-Fontanella-1.jpg

Noting her many virtues and fine example of Carmelite spirituality, the community elected Sr Maria to the post of novice mistress in 1691 then prioress in 1694.   Word soon spread outside of the monastery about the extraordinary prioress and people began seeking her counsel and prayers, including the reigning king of the region, Vittorio Amadeo II of the royal house of Savoy and other members of the nobility.   Vocations to the Carmel of St Cristina increased, which necessitated the founding of another monastery in nearby Moncalieri in 1703, with the encouragement from Blessed Sebastian Valfrè CO (1629-1710).   Sr Maria had hoped to transfer there, to be away from the centre of the limelight but the king explicitly forbade her to ever leave Turin, due to his dependence on her advice and his devotion to her.

A depiction of Bl Maria of the Angels interceding with Christ to spare
Turin from a chastisement of the dreaded plague.

Public esteem for the prioress reached a pinnacle in 1696 when the city was besieged by an invading army.   She publicly announced that the city would be saved if people turned to St Joseph, for help, which they did.   Turin was liberated and, in gratitude, St Joseph was proclaimed the Patron Saint of the city by the king.   Similarly, in 1706 when the French besieged the city, the citizens and royals turned to the intercession of their resident mystic – the nun invoked the Holy Virgin’s protection and the city’s army was again victorious.   At Sr Mary’s urging, a church – the great Basilica of the Superga (Superga is a Hill in Turin) – was built to commemorate the victory and to honour Our Lady.



Basilica of Superga bl mary of the angels.jpg
The beautiful Basilica of the Superga in Turin, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin,
and constructed under the prompting of Bl Maria of the Angels.   Below is a window of Bl Maria in the Basilica.

BL mary_of_the_angels__basilica_window_.jpg

Sr Maria of the Angels died peacefully in her monastery on 16 December 1717, after living a productive life of prayer, self-sacrifice and service to her beloved people.   She was 56-years-old at the time of her death and all of Turin mourned the passing of she, who had saved them from wars and even a plague in 1714.

At the instigation of King Vittorio, the holy nun’s Cause for Canonisation was started just a few years after the death of Sr Maria.   Pope Pius IX declared her a Blessed on 25 April 1865 but a second miracle has yet to be officially recognised for the prioress to reach sainthood.   Let us pray for her speedy Canonisation.BL MARY RELICS of Bl. Maria.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 16 December

St Adelaide of Burgundy (c 931-999) Holy Roman Empress
About St Adelaide:

St Adelard of Cysoing
St Ado of Vienne
Bl Adolphus of Tunis
Bl Arnaldo of Tunis
St Albina of Caesarea
St Ananias
St Azarias
St Bean of Lough Derg
St Beoc
Bl Clemente Marchisio
St Dominic Dosso
Bl Elizabeth of Saint Francis
Bl Filip Siphong Onphithakt
St Irenion
Bl James of Tunis
Bl Jaume Mases Boncompte
St Jean Wauthier
St Macarius of Collesano
Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717)
St Misael
St Nicholas Chrysoberges
Bl Raynald de Bar
Bl Sebastian Maggi OP (1414–1496)

Martyred Women of North-West Africa: A large group of women martyred in the persecutions of Hunneric, Arian King of the Vandals. 482 in North-West Africa.

Martyrs of Ravenna – (4 saints): A group of Christians martyred together. Four names and no other information has survived – Agricola, Concordius, Navalis and Valentine. c 305 at Ravenna, Italy.