Thought for the Day – 27 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Sacred Scripture has some very severe and terrible things to say to the rich. “Woe to you rich! for you are now having your comfort” (Lk 6:24). “Amen, I say to you, with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven. And further, I say to you, it is easier for a camel top pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23-24, CF Mk 10:24-25, Lk 18:24-25).
St James adds: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl over your miseries which will come upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are rusted and their rust will be a witness against you and will devour your flesh as fire does. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who reaped your fields, which have been kept back by you unjustly, cry out and their cry has entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have feasted upon earth and you have nourished your hearts on dissipation in the days of slaughter” (Js 5:1-5).
These passages are not concerned with the rich as such, for men like Abraham, Job and St Louis, the King of France, were wealthy. They are directed against those who have become absorbed in their wealth (Mk 10:24) and have grown deaf to the rightful promptings of justice and charity.
Nevertheless, it is not only the wealthy and unjust who should reflect seriously on these stern words but also, those who have more than they need in life and are never moved by compassion for their less fortunate fellowmen. Can we be counted amongst these?
Quote/s of the Day – 27 January – Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year A and the Memorial of Blessed George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927)
“My motto shall be: to seek God in all things, to do all things for the greater glory of God, to bring the Spirit of God into all things and to fill them with it. May God and His glory be the centre of my life, the axis of all my thoughts, feelings, desires and works.”
From the Journal of Blessed George, Archbishop. (I Part: St Petersburg 1910-1911)
“But you must never despair on account of your defects and failings. The weaker we feel ourselves to be, the more should we confide in God. He is our strength and salvation. Valiantly cry out in the words of St Paul: “I can do all things in him, who strengthens me.” And fight. God will not abandon you.”
From a letter to Miss Minetaite in Obeliai
“Moreover, we should find time everyday, or at least, every other day, for more serious reading. Without it, a man’s mind, becomes very shallow and vain.”
From a letter to Rev. Dvaranauskas in Pilypava
“We need patience, too. Once we start a task, trusting in God’s help, we should stubbornly bring it to its conclusion. If it is not a success, we will at least, have the consolation, that it is not our fault – we will perceive that it was not in God’s will.”
From a letter to Rev. Vaitkevičius in Częstochowa
“O Holy Church of God, true kingdom of Christ on earth, my dearest beloved!”
From the Journal of Blessed George, Archbishop. (I Part: St Petersburg 1910-1911)
One Minute Reflection – 27 January – Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year A – Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10, Psalm 89:20-22, 25-26, Mark 3:22-30 and the Memorial of Blessed George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927)
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”...Mark 3:22
REFLECTION – “It is characteristic of evildoers, stirred by envy, to shut their eyes as much as they can, to other people’s merits and when, overcome by the evidence, they cannot do so any longer, to depreciate or undervalue it. Thus, when the crowd rejoiced in devotion and marvelled at the sight of Christ’s works, the scribes and Pharisees either closed their eyes to what they knew to be true, or minimised what is great, or undervalued what is good. Once, for example, feigning ignorance, they said to Him who had worked so many wonderful signs: “What sign can you do that we may believe in you?” (Jn 6:30). In this case, unable to blatantly deny the facts, they wickedly depreciate them… and they devalue them by saying: “It is by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.”
Now this, dear brethren, is the blasphemy against the Spirit that binds all those he has seized with the bonds of an eternal sin. This is not to say that it would be impossible for the repentant to gain forgiveness for it all if they “produce fruit as evidence of their repentance” (Lk 3:8). The only thing is that, crushed beneath such a weight of malice, they lack the strength to aspire to that praiseworthy repentance worthy of forgiveness… Those who, perceiving the proofs of grace and the Holy Spirit at work in a brother…, are not afraid to undermine and calumniate and brashly ascribe to the evil spirit what they clearly know to be of the Holy Spirit, such as these have been so forsaken by this Spirit of grace, that they no longer even desire the repentance that would obtain pardon. They are completely in the dark, blinded by their own malice. Indeed, what could be more serious than to dare, out of envy for a brother one had been commanded to love as oneself (Mt 19:19), to blaspheme God’s goodness… and insult His majesty by wanting to discredit another?”…Isaac of Stella (c 1100-c.1171) O.Cist. Cistercian monk
PRAYER – Lord, our God, keep us free from envy of others, for this is a poison that can destroy all community and love. Help us to know that to each You have given gifts and all are Your wonder and made to honour You alone. Help us to appreciate our neighbour’s talents and understand that we are all one in the Mystical Body of Your Son. Grant that by the prayers of Bl George Matulaitis, we may grow in love and sanctity. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 27 January – Monday of the Third week in Ordinary Time, Year A and the Memorial of Blessed George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927)
Heavenly Father, Do with Me as You Will By Blessed George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927)
I kiss the hand of Your providence,
I entrust myself fully
and completely to Your guidance.
Heavenly Father, do with me as You will,
if it pleases You, O Lord,
to lead me along wondrous ways.
Behold Your servant!
Send me where You will!
Like a child I hasten to Your embrace, carry me.
If it pleases You to lead me,
along a road beset by adversity,
obstacles and difficulties,
I thank You very much.
I think that as I travel this road,
I will not lose my way
because it is the road
taken by my Redeemer Jesus Christ.
From the Journal of Blessed George, Archbishop. (I Part: St Petersburg 1910-1911)
Saint of the Day – 27 January – Blessed George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927) Archbishop of Vilnius from late 1918 until his resignation in 1925, Apostolic Nuncio in Lithuania, Founder of the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Handmaids of Jesus in the Eucharist, Professor, Spiritual Director – he served as the Superior-General of the Marian Fathers from 1911 until his death and is known as the “Renovator of The Marians.” Born as Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulevičius on 13 April 1871 at Lugine, Lithuania and died on 27 January 1927 of appendicitis at Kaunas, Lithuania. Patronages – Teachers, Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Handmaids of Jesus in the Eucharist. He worked in secret to revive the Marian Fathers after the Russian authorities suppressed all religious orders and he even relinquished his teaching position to better dedicate himself to that secret revival. He was a noted teacher and spiritual director who set up other branches of the order, in places such as Switzerland and the United States, far from Russian authorities.
George was born in the village Matulaitis Lithuanian Lugine on 13 April 1971, the last of the eight children of Andrew and Ursula Matulaitis. At age ten he was orphaned and his older brother, John, became his guardian. After after elementary school he was put to work in the countryside. At 18 years, in 1889, he followed the brother John Matulewicz to Poland, where the family name changed from Matulaitis in Matulewicz.
He completed his higher studies at the seminary in Kielce and then in Warsaw and finally at Roman Catholic University in Petersburg, where he was Ordained as a Priest on 20 November 1898. In June 1899 he became a Master in Theology, in December he enrolled at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, where in 1903 he obtained a degree in theology, with a brilliant thesis on which was published in Krakow.
He was posted immediately as a professor and held the chair of Latin and Literature in the Canon Law Seminar Kielce, from 1902-1904 and from 1907 to 1909 in Dogmatic Theology and Sociology at the Catholic Seminary in Petersburg.
In 1909 while he was still professor at the Theological Academy, 38 years old and with a promising career ahead of him, Matulaitis made a momentous decision. He decided to become a religious, to follow more closely in the footsteps of Christ. Having received permission from Rome, he made the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in a private chapel in Warsaw. At the same time, his close friend and fellow professor, Francis Būčys, was received into the novitiate. This was the beginning of the revival of the Marian Congregation. Closed down by the Russian government, it had only one surviving member. Matulaitis was convinced that God was leading him to resurrect this dying community and infuse it with new life.
The Marian Fathers were well known to him — they worked in his parish church at Marijampole in Lithuania. He had been baptised by one of their generals. Now he resolved to revive and prepare them for an apostolate in the modern world. He gave up lecturing on sociology and taught dogmatic theology instead. He began to rewrite the Constitutions and at the same time directed his two novices. In the fall of 1910 he began to keep a journal in which he recorded his thoughts, inspirations and resolutions.
In 1911 Matulaitis was elected superior general of the Marians and remained in this position until his death. He was also novice master since they were so few. That same summer the novitiate was transferred to Fribourg, Switzerland, for St Petersburg proved to be too dangerous – the Russian secret police had been conducting raids and searches for secret religious organisations. Under cover of the life of the University of Fribourg, Matulaitis hoped that the novitiate would be safer and grow more rapidly.
In 1913 he and two young Lithuanian Marians travelled to the United States to start a mission in Chicago. In 1915, unable to leave Poland because of the war, Matulaitis gathered the Polish Marians together at a monastery outside Warsaw. This was the beginning of the Polish province. During this period the Marians and several sisters cared for a number of war orphans. Matulaitis himself would often go into German-occupied Warsaw to beg for provisions for the children. He would often return in the evening sitting on a wagonload of coal or potatoes.
A number of interesting stories circulated in the area about the young priest and professor who was not afraid of the Germans. Once he went to a German official to ask for cots for the children. “You are a priest, you should trust in divine Providence. Why are you bothering me?!” barked the German.“That is true,” replied Matulaitis quietly “but Providence often works through good people.” Shamefaced, the German wrote out an order for the cots. However, the priest kept coming back. He was cursed at for being an infernal nuisance. Matulaitis humbly listened to the tirade, then said: “All that is for me but what do you have for the children?”
Serving the poor was a priority in all the religious communities that Matulaitis founded. In the spring of 1918 he went to Lithuania to restore the Marian monastery in Marijampole and to start a novitiate. In the fall of that same year he founded a Lithuanian community for women, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, popularly known as the Sisters of the Poor. Several years later he founded another religious community for women in Belorussia, the Servants of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. All these communities are still active.
Despite his own wishes to remain a simple religious, in the fall of 1918 George Matulaitis was appointed Bishop of Vilnius by Pope Benedict XV. He was consecrated in Lithuania, at the cathedral in Kaunas on 1 December and the installation ceremonies took place in the Vilnius cathedral on 8 December. He was not well known to the people of Vilnius and was very much aware of the difficulty of his mission. In his inaugural sermon he presented himself to his flock humbly and sincerely: “I stand before you a stranger and therefore, first of all, I ask one thing of you — to regard me as the servant of Christ who has been given you to show you the way to heaven and to guide you to eternal happiness. From now on, we shall live together as one big spiritual family of which I am to be the father and head, as we move forward along our wearisome spiritual journey.”
The years that followed were not easy for the new bishop – the territory of Vilnius in the three following years changed hands and was occupied by eight different governments, German, Russian Bolshevik, Polish, Lithuanian, all of whom called him to interrogation. Because of his refusal to take sides or to promote the interests of one political party or nation against another, Bishop Matulaitis was criticised, attacked and denigrated. Yet, he remained gracious and cordial even to those who publicly vented their antagonism or snubbed him personally. In some cases his goodness won them over.
In the summer of 1925 Matulaitis’ resignation from the diocese of Vilnius was accepted by Pope Pius XI, his personal friend and colleague. Poland had signed its Concordat with the Vatican and Vilnius was going to be made an archdiocese. Matulaitis was well aware that he had to withdraw. He quietly left Vilnius and went to Rome where he hoped to establish the Marian generalate and a house of studies. However, the pope made him titular Archbishop of Adulia and appointed him Apostolic Visitor to Lithuania.
In June he sailed to the United States to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago. He also visited 92 Lithuanian parishes and gave over 200 homilies and speeches. Everywhere he was welcomed with great enthusiasm. The railway car in which he was travelling was even painted violet in his honour! Back home, he began work on the Concordat between Lithuania and the Vatican. However, he did not live to see its completion. Blessed George, true apostle of his homeland of Lithuania, died after an appendix operation in Kaunas on 27 January 1927 at the age of 56.
Throngs of people came to mourn him, all the church bells of Kaunas pealed a final farewell. Every national group recognised the enormity of their loss for he had been a father to all. Thousands attended the funeral. He was buried in the crypt of Kaunas cathedral but the remains were transferred to his own parish church in Marijampole in 1934.
On 11 May 1982, the Congregation for the Saints issued a decree stating that during his lifetime Archbishop George practised virtues to a heroic degree. On 28 June 1987, the Holy Father, St John Paul II solemnly Beatified him at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
On the occasion of his Beatification, a special repository was made for the remains and an altar constructed. This has now become a National Shrine where Lithuanians and people from other countries come to pray.
Bl Antonio Mascaró Colomina
St Candida of Bañoles
St Carolina Santocanale
St Devota of Corsica
St Domitian of Melitene
St Emerius of Bañoles Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulewicz/George Matulaitis MIC (1871-1927)
Bl Gonzalo Diaz di Amarante
St Henry de Osso y Cervello
St John Maria Muzeyi
Bl John of Warneton
St Julian of Le Mans
St Julian of Sora
St Lupus of Châlons
Bl Manfredo Settala
St Marius of Bodon
Bl Michael Pini
St Natalis of Ulster
St Paul Josef Nardini
Bl Rosalie du Verdier de la Sorinière
St Theodoric of Orléans
St Pope Vitalian
Martyrs of North Africa – 30 saints: A group of 30 Christians martyred together by Arian Vandals. The only details to have survived are four of their names – Datius, Julian, Reatrus and Vincent. c 500 in North Africa.