Thought for the Day – 16 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A
“Faith teaches us, that the soul which is in the state of grace and has expiated all the temporal punishments due to it’s sins, goes immediately to Heaven when it is separated from the body.
There, the soul enjoys eternal happiness. It sees God, face-to-face. It sees Him without any intervention of created things but, as He is, in Himself, in the Unity and Trinity of His infinte perfections.
In this beatific vision, the intellect remains completely satisfied, because, in God, there is every truth, beauty and goodness.
The will abandons itself entirely to the will of God, desiring nothing else and loving nothing else but God alone.
There springs from this abandonment, a love which satisfies every desire, an inexpressible joy and a boundless peace.
The happy soul will see the Blessed Virgin, too and she will smile upon it with maternal tenderness.
It will see the Angels and Saints gathered around the King of Kings and the Queen of Heaven, singing their praises.
St Paul, who was taken up to the third Heaven, tells us, that it is impossible to imagine or to describe, the unknown joys which are experienced there.
In comparison with the eternal happiness of Heaven, the poor pleasures of this world are empty shadows.
We cannot imagine the happiness of those, who have gained Heaven, by their good lives upon earth.
The concept of Heaven is so beautiful and immense, that it caused the Saints to desire death as a means of going there.
They welcomed suffering, too, because it brought them nearer to their goal.”
Quote/s of the Day – 16 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A
“Christ is among us, His heart like a rose, expanding within us.”
“God’s will for you is to serve Him, in His way, as He chooses, now. It is only a want of humility. to think of extreme vocations, like being a nun or a nurse, while you try to by-pass your present obvious vocation . . . Today, you have to use what you have today and do not look beyond it.”
Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)
Caryll Houselander (29 September 1901 – 12 October 1954) was an English lay Roman Catholic ecclesiastical artist, mystic, popular religious writer and poet.
One Minute Reflection – 16 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 1 Samuel 4:1-11, Psalm 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25, Mark 1:40-45 and the Memorial of Blessed Gonzalo de Amarante OP (1187-1259)
And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”… Mark 1:40
REFLECTION – “It is possible to see leprosy as a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart that can distance us from God. It is not, in fact, the physical disease of leprosy that separates us from God, as the ancient norms supposed but sin, spiritual and moral evil. The sins that we commit distance us from God and, if we do not humbly confess them, trusting in divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has a strong symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is the Servant of the Lord who “has borne our griefs / and carried our sorrows” (Is 53: 4). In His Passion He will become as a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God, He will do all this out of love, to obtain for us reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Crucified and Risen Christ purifies us through His minister, with His infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers and sisters, makes us a gift of His love, His joy and His peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary whom God preserved from every stain of sin so that she may help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life must be rediscovered today.”… Pope Benedict XVI – Angelus 15 February 2009
PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, we make our prayer to You at morning, noon and evening. Dispel from our hearts, the darkness of sin and bring us to the true light, Christ Your Son. Grant that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Bl Gonzalo de Amarante, we may deny ourselves and love You above all things. Through Jesus, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 16 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A
Behold me, O Sweet Lord, Behold me! By St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)
Behold me, O sweet Lord, behold me!
For I hope that in Your loving kindness,
O Most Merciful One,
You will behold me
either as a loving physician to heal,
a kind teacher to correct,
or an indulgent father to pardon…
confident in Your sweet powerful mercy
and most merciful power,
I ask in virtue of Your sweet Name
and of the mystery of Your sacred humanity,
that, mindful of Your kindness
and unmindful of my ingratitude,
You forgive me my sins
and heal the languors of my soul.
Saint of the Day – 16 January – Blessed Gonzalo de Amarante OP (1187-1259), Dominican Priest, Hermit, Marian Devotee – born as Gonçalo de Amarante in 1187 at Vizella, diocese of Braga, Portugal and died on 10 January 1259 of natural causes. His memorial is celebrated on 10 January by the Dominicans. Patronages – Amarante, Itapissuma, Cajari, Matinha, Viana. He became a Dominican friar and hermit after his return from a long pilgrimage that took him to both Rome and to Jerusalem. He was noted as a wonderworker through whom miracles occurred and he was known for his solitude and silence in reflection, in order to better achieve communication with God.
Gonzalo de Amarante was a true son of the Middle Ages, a man right out of the pages of the ‘Golden Legend.’ His whole life reads like a mural from the wall of a church–full of marvellous things and done up in brilliant colours.
In his boyhood Gonzalo gave wonderful indications of his holiness. As he was being carried to the baptismal font as an infant, he fixed his eyes on the church’s crucifix with a look of extraordinary love. While still young, he was consecrated to study for the Church and received his training in the household of the Archbishop of Braga. After his Ordination he was given charge of a wealthy parish, an assignment that should have made him very happy. Gonzalo was not as interested in choice parishes as some of his companion – he went to his favourite Madonna shrine and begged Our Lady to help him administer this office fairly.
There was no complaint with Gonzalo’s governance of the parish of Saint Pelagius. He was penitential himself but indulgent with everyone else. Revenues that he might have used for himself were used for the poor and the sick. The parish, in fact, was doing very well when he turned it over to his nephew, whom he had carefully tutored, before making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Gonzalo would have remained his entire life in the Holy Land but after 14 years his Archbishop commanded him to return to Portugal. Upon his arrival, he was horrified to see that his nephew had not been the good shepherd that he had promised to be, the money left for the poor had gone to purchase a fine stable of thoroughbred horses and a pack of fine hounds. The nephew had told everyone that his old uncle was dead and he had been appointed pastor in his place by an unsuspecting Archbishop. When the uncle appeared on the scene, a bit ragged and, of course, older but very much alive, the nephew was not happy to see him. Gonzalo seems to have been surprised as well as pained.
The ungrateful nephew settled the matter by turning the dogs on his inconvenient uncle. They would have torn him to pieces but the servants called them off and allowed the ragged pilgrim to escape. Gonzalo decided then, that he had withstood enough parish life and went out into the hills to a place called Amarante. Here he found a cave and other necessities for an eremitical life and lived in peace for several years, spending his time building a little chapel to the Blessed Virgin. He preached to those who came to him and soon there was a steady stream of pilgrims seeking out his retreat.
Happy as he was, Gonzalo felt that this was not his sole mission in life and he prayed to Our Lady to help him to discern his real vocation. She appeared to him one night as he prayed and told him to enter the order that had the custom of beginning the office with “Ave Maria gratia plena.” She told him that this order was very dear to her and under her special protection. Gonzalo set out to learn what order she meant and eventually came to the convent of the Dominicans. Here was the end of the quest and he asked for the habit.
Blessed Peter Gonzales was the Prior and he gave the habit to the new aspirant. After Gonsalvo had gone through his novitiate, he was sent back to Amarante, with a companion, to begin a regular house of the order. The people of the neighbourhood quickly spread the news that the hermit was back. They flocked to hear him preach and begged him to heal their sick.
One of the miracles of Blessed Gonzalo concerns the building of a bridge across a swift river that barred many people from reaching the hermitage in wintertime. It was not a good place to build a bridge but Gonsalvo set about it and followed the heavenly directions he had received. Once, during the building of the bridge, he went out collecting and a man, who wanted to brush him off painlessly, sent him away with a note for his wife.
Gonzalo took the note to the man’s wife and she laughed when she read it . “Give him as much gold as will balance with the note I send you,” said the message. Gonzalo told her he thought she ought to obey her husband, so she got out the scales and put the paper in one balance. Then she put a tiny coin in the other balance and another and another–the paper still outweighed her gold–and she kept adding. There was a sizeable pile of coins before the balance with the paper in it swung upwards.
When workers who helped briefly with his bridge building ran out of wine, Gonzalo prayed, smacked a rock with a stick, it split open and wine poured out. When the workers ran out of food, Gonzalo went to the water, called out and fish jumped onto the river bank to feed them.
Gonzalo died on 10 January 1259, after prophesying the day of his death and promising his friends that he would still be able to help them after death. Pilgrimages began soon and a series of miracles indicated that this holy man was indeed the saint he was believed to be. Forty years after his death he appeared to several people who were apprehensively watching a flood on the river. The water had arisen to a dangerous level, just below the bridge, when they saw a tree floating towards the bridge and Gonzalo was balancing capably on its rolling balk. The friar carefully guided the tree under the bridge, preserving the bridge from damage and then disappeared (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Dominicans are noted for their ability to preach. Sermons are their speciality. Yet even among them, Gonzalo must have stood out. During a homily, in which he wanted to show the horror of exclusion from the Church, he ‘excommunicated’ a basket of bread, the loaves immediately became black, rotted and inedible. When he removed the ‘excommunication’ a few minutes later, the bread became fresh and wholesome again.
He was Beatified on 16 September 1561, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Papal States by Pope Pius IV. But Pope Julius III had on 24 April 1551 allowed for public worship in his honour in Portugal though did not allow his Beatification at that time. Pope Clement X – after the Beatification – extended his public worship with a Mass and Divine Office to Portugal and the entire Dominican order.
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