Meditations for Each Day with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
I plan, in 2020, to use Cardinal Bacci’s Daily Meditations in my usual ‘Thought for the Day’.
From the Introduction to his book:
“The frenetic pace of modern life presents a host of challenges for the Catholic who wishes to grow in sanctity. Distracted by the pressures of modernity, it often leaves him little room for making a profound and serious study of the state of his interior life.
The Catholic Faith is not only to be believed but applied to our everyday life and as St James has said, “faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself” (Js 2:14).
An excellent means of helping a soul interiorise the principles of the Faith and to dispose the soul to greater acts of love of God, is through daily meditation. This brings us to the present book, written by Antonio Cardinal Bacci, who was one of the most renowned Latinists of the 20th century.
[These Meditations] will aid the reader in exploring the depths of the Catholic Faith and, if understood and prayerfully read, hopefully will help him persevere in virtue, as Cardinal Bacci states: “The masters of the spiritual life assure us that without the practice of meditation, it is almost impossible for the just man to persevere in virtue, or for the tepid to become fervent, or for the sinner to be converted.” (Med 2 Jan)
What sources does Cardinal Bacci use to compose his reflections? As a classicist, he approaches the great sources of the ancient world …. he shows his great familiarity with the wisdom of the Church Fathers, especially through the works of St Augustine. His constant guide is St Thomas Aquinas, whose penetrating reason illuminated by Divine Revelation, probes the profound beauty and mystery of Catholicism. The Imitation of Christ is another cherished companion, indicating that Cardinal Bacci has made it’s teachings an integrated part of his life. Of course, the words of Sacred Scripture, spill out on almost every page, giving life to St Jerome’s words, who said, that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of biographical information about Cardinal Bacci in English.
Antonio Cardinal Bacci was born in Giugnola, Italy and was Ordained a Priest in 1909, becoming a faculty member and rector of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Florence between 1910 and 1922. Due to his reputation as a Latinist – already at such a young age – during the latter part of 1922, he was chosen to work for the Secretariate of the Vatican State. Made an honourary Chamberlain for Pope Pius XI the following year, he soon earned the great trust and respect of the then Secretary for Briefs, Msgr Nicola Sebastiani. In this role he composed letters and Pontifical documents in Latin “with pose and prudence … weighing and adjusting thoughts and expressions even to the smallest shades of meaning.” When Msgr Sebastiani died, Cardinal Bacci took over the Secretariate for Briefs. During this time he published an Italian-Latin dictionary.
In 1960, St Pope John XXIII made him a Cardinal Deacon and consecrated him as titular Archbishop of Colonia de Cappadocia two years later. He participated in all the sessions of Vatican II and made an impassioned address to the Council on the use of Latin.
In 1971, he died of a stroke in his Vatican apartment, after having spent nearly 50 years, in direct service to 4 Popes.
“In writing these pages, I have desired, to do a little good, … first of all for myself and secondly for those who may wish to read and reflect upon them. I hoped to accomplish something for myself, in that I wrote down these short daily meditations, in order to be able to remember them more easily and to be able to turn to them whenever the opportunity should arise. Then, on the advice of enlightened friends, I decided to publish them in the hope that they might prove useful to others.
It was my intention to produce an edifying, rather than, an erudite work. This explains the simple style and the repetition of certain ideas. I have found it convenient to return to these ideas at regular intervals, in order to impress them more deeply on the mind and heart of the reader.
There are many well-written books of meditation but they are either too long and, therefore, inaccessible to many classes of people, who complain that they have not time to read them, or they are written in an antiquated style, which is not acceptable today. The result is, that many persons, including some who are genuinely holy, never make a meditation at all and this, is a very great loss.
I have done my best to be concise and, at the same time, to offer an abundance of ideas, in the hope that the reader … may derive from them, material for useful reflections and for profitable resolutions.
May God and the Blessed Virgin bless my labour so that it may be the source of good, for many souls, amen.” … Antonio Cardinal Bacci