The Watchful Guardian of the Family
Moments with Saint Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
“The family is a most precious gift.
Founded by divine decree on the differing and complementary characteristics of the husband and wife, it finds in the wife, a watchful guardian.
We beg women, therefore, to love the family, understood as the natural setting for the growth of the human personality and the God-given shelter in which the passions of life are soothed and sweetened, the stirrings of unruly desires are stilled and the influence of evil example opposed.
This sanctuary is threatened by so many insidious attacks.
Propaganda, at times unrestrained, makes use of the formidable power of the press, entertainments and of amusements, to scatter the fatal seeds of corruption, especially among our young people.
The family must defend itself and the women must play their part in this struggle, courageously, with a sense of their responsibility, never wearied of watching and correcting and teaching the difference between good and evil.
When necessary, they must avail themselves of the protection offered by the laws of the State.
The Gospel … records the words of an unknown woman …. “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that suckled you!” (Lk 11:28).
These words very rightly referred to Mary but the same might be said of all mothers, if their children, on the hard, rough ways of this life, know how to bear themselves like true Christians, in accordance with the teachings they have received.
May all mothers, turn to her, the Mother of God, as their model and guide!”
Thought for the Day – 4 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary, the Mother of God
“The near-infinite greatness of Mary, flows from the fact, that she is the Mother of God. The Eternal Word of the Father, consubstantial with Him in nature and equal to Him in majesty, willed to become man in order to set us free from the slavery of sin and to regain Heaven for us. He became man in the chaste womb of the Virgin Mary. He took a human body and soul and was born of her, as the God-Man. For this reason, there is attributed to His Divine Person, the title of Son of Mary and to Mary, the title of Mother of God.
There is a relationship between Mary and each of the three Divine Persons, for she is the daughter of God the Father, the spouse of the Holy Spirit by whose power the Word became incarnate in her and the mother of the Word made Man. She is, moreover, in the words of Dante, the “termine fisso di eterno consiglio” (Paradiso 33:1-3). In other words, she is the centre of the eternal plan which God established for the redemption of the human race. It was God’s eternal design to reunite creation to the Uncreated, by means of Mary. She became the mother of the Eternal Word, in whom the divine and human natures were indissolubly united. He redeemed us by His infinite merits but, in this work of redemption, He employed the co-operation of His holy Mother. All the graces, privileges and virtues of Mary, flow from this great mystery of her divine Motherhood. As befitted the future Mother of God, she was conceived free from the stain of original sin and full of grace. Her mortal life was a continuous ascent towards the highest peak of sanctity. When she died, she was assumed body and soul into Heaven, where she was crowned in glory, as Queen of Angels and Queen of Saints. When we consider the sublime nobility of Our Lady, we should be moved to love and venerate her. This love and veneration does not subtract in the slightest from God’s glory, because, she is the Mother of God. In fact, it is a great advantage to us, to imitate her and to call on her to intercede for us.”
Quote/s of the Day – 4 May – Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4, John 10:11-18
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me….”
“He [ Jesus] is our clothing, that for love wraps us and winds us, embraces us and totally encloses us, hanging about us in tender love.”
Blessed Julian of Norwich (c 1342-c 1430)
God beholds me individually, whoever I am.
He “calls you by your name”.
He sees me and understands me, as He made me. He knows what is in me, all my own peculiar feelings and thoughts, my dispositions and likings, my strength and my weakness. He views me in my day of rejoicing and my day of sorrow. He sympathises in my hopes and my temptations. He interests Himself in all my anxieties and remembrances, all the risings and fallings of my spirit. He has numbered the very hairs of my head and the cubits of my stature. He compasses me round and bears me in His arms. He takes me up and sets me down. He notes my very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon my hands and my feet. He hears my voice, the beating of my heart and my very breathing. I do not love my self better than He loves me. I cannot shrink from pain more than He dislikes my bearing it and if He puts it on me, it is as I will put it on myself, if I am wise, for a greater good afterwards…
St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“I am not alone. Jesus dwells within me. Whatever is pure, simple and innocent in me comes from Him. With His love, I can love and give myself to others. With His eyes, I can see God’s face, with His ears, I can hear God’s voice, with His heart, I can speak to God’s heart. I know that, alone, I cannot see, hear or touch God in the world. But God in me, the living Christ in me, can see, hear and touch God in the world and, all that is Christ’s in me is fully my own. His simplicity, His purity, His innocence, are my very own because they are truly given to me, to be claimed, as my most personal possessions. That is what Paul means when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ, yet, I live, no longer I but Christ, lives in me.”
One Minute Reflection– 4 May – ‘Mary’s Month’ -Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4, John 10:11-18 and the Memorial of Blessed Tommaso da Olera
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” … John 10:11
REFLECTION – “How great was this devoted shepherd’s solicitous care for the lost sheep and how great His mercy, the Good Shepherd Himself indicates with an affectionate metaphor in the parable of the shepherd and the hundredth sheep that was lost, sought with much care and finally found and joyfully brought back on His shoulders. He openly declares the same thing in an express statement when He says: “The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep” (Jn 10:11). In Him is truly fulfilled the prophecy: “Like a shepherd he will feed his flock” (Is 40:11).
In order to do this He endured toil, anxiety and lack of food, He travelled through towns and villages preaching the kingdom of God in the midst of many dangers and the plotting of the Pharisees and He passed the nights in watchful prayer. Fearless of the murmuring and scandal of the Pharisees, He was affable to the publicans, saying that He had come into the world for the sake of those who are sick (Mt 9:12). He also extended fatherly affection to the repentant, showing them the open bosom of divine mercy.
As witness to this, I call upon and summon Matthew, Zacchaeus, the sinful woman who prostrated herself at His feet and the woman taken in adultery. Like Matthew, therefore, follow this most devoted shepherd; like Zacchaeus receive Him with hospitality; like the sinful woman anoint Him with ointment and wash His feet with your tears, wipe them with your hair and caress them with your kisses, so that finally, with the woman presented to Him for judgement, you may deserve to hear the sentence of forgiveness: “Has no one condemned you? Neither will I condemn you. Go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:10-11).” … St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Seraphic Doctor – The Tree of Life
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, You have rescued Your faithful from enslavement to sin, by Your Son’s self-abasement. You have raised up the world through His suffering. Fill us now with holy joy at His rising and triumph. Let us hear His voice and follow Him to everlasting life. Blessed Tommaso da Olera, you truly became a shepherd to the lowly and might, pray for us! Our Lady Mother of our God, stay with us on our way. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 4 May – ‘Mary’ Month’ -Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
O Lady, I Call upon You By St Bernard (1090-1153) Doctor of the Church
Run, hasten, O Lady,
and in your mercy help your sinful servant,
who calls upon you,
and deliver him from the hands of the enemy.
Who will not sigh to you?
We sigh with love and grief,
for we are oppressed on every side.
How can we do otherwise than sigh to you,
O solace of the miserable,
refuge of outcasts,
ransom of captives?
We are certain that when you see our miseries,
your compassion will hasten to relieve us.
O our sovereign Lady and our Advocate,
commend us to your Son.
Grant, O blessed one,
by the grace which you have merited,
that He, who through you,
was graciously pleased to become a partaker
of our infirmity and misery,
may also, through your intercession,
make us partakers, of His happiness and glory.
Saint of the Day – 4 May – Blessed Tommaso da Olera OFM Cap (1563-1631) Lay Brother of the the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Spiritual Advisor, Confessor, Apostle of Charity, Writer, Mystic, Penitent and Ascetic. He was born Tommaso Acerbis in 1563 in Olera, Bergamo, Milan and died on 3 May 1631 in Innsbruck, Austria. Blessed Tommaso lived as a Franciscan porter and alms-seeker and as a religious who provided Spiritual advice and consolation to many nobility that included Leopold V and his wife.
Of the time of his birth at the end 1563 in Olera, a small village at the mouth of the Serio river and of his childhood, we do not know much. The child of peasants and shepherds, until age seventeen he was a peasant and shepherd himself, helping his parents in their work. Illiterate because the small village lacked schools, he wanted to become a Capuchin Friar and was received on 12 September 1580 at the friary of Santa Croce di Cittadella in Verona, becoming a lay friar of the Province of Venice. There he sought and obtained, although a lay friar, to learn to read and write. Living in the school and the choir with great intensity, his remarkable qualities and above all his virtues came to light during the three years of formation.
Tommaso flourished in his vocation and advanced quickly in the spiritual life. He made his religious profession on 5 July 1584 and was charged with the delicate and essential service of alms-seeking in Verona. He carried this out until 1605 when he was transferred to Vicenza with the same assignment. There he remained until 1612 before being in Rovereto from 1613 to 1617. The humble friar’s daily tasks included washing pots, collecting alms and visiting the sick but he also joyfully shared the Gospel with everyone he met. His reputation for holiness spread quickly and in 1619 Archduke Leopold V of Austria requested Tommaso’s assistance in confronting the spread of Lutheranism. Barely literate, Tommaso avoided disputation. Instead, with great success, he simply witnessed to Christ’s impassioned love for His Church. At the time Austria was the ‘bridgehead’ for the Catholic reform and above all the ‘Catholic reconquest’ of the German lands.
Obedience and humility made him the ‘begging brother’ for almost fifty years, love for souls made him a ‘tireless apostle’ in proclaiming the Gospel. With everyone, believer or not, he spoke of the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. He taught the faith to all, the little and the great. He asked everyone, the great and the humble, to commit themselves to love. A true apostle, many “were astounded and it seemed humanly impossible that a simple lay friar should speak, as he spoke, in such an elevated way about God.” His commitment was a fire of love. “Everywhere he spoke of the things of God with such spirit and devotion that everyone was put in awe and wonder.” At the same time, he invited and urged peacemaking and forgiveness, he visited and comforted the sick, he listened to and encouraged the poor; reading consciences, he denounced evil and facilitated conversions. In order to obtain from God what he envisaged for those he met, he stayed awake at night in prayer, scourging his body, imposing fasts and austerities on himself for the salvation of others.
Br Thomas was also a promoter of vocations to consecrated life. In Vicenza he sponsored the erection of the Monastery of the Capuchin Poor Clares, built at Porta Nuova in 1612-13. At Rovereto he sought from the commissioners of the city a Poor Clare monastery, which was then built in 1642. There he met and guided the thirteen-year old Bernardina Floriani, who would become the mystic Venerable Giovanna Maria della Croce.
In Tyrol he was the spiritual guide of the poor of the Inn Valley, catechist and promoter and defender of the Tridentine decrees for a true Catholic reform.
From 1617 he was friend and spiritual director to the scientist Ippolito Guarinoni of Hall,
Court Physician in Innsbruck. There are also many letters written to the Archduchesses Maria Cristina of Habsburg and Eleonora, sister of Leopold V, as there were also many personal encounters with them. Br Thomas was Spiritual Guide to Leopold and to his wife Claudia de’ Medici, with frequent meetings at the palace and many letters.
To all he taught that “high wisdom of love” that “one learns from the precious wounds of Christ,” urging them to take refuge in “happiness in suffering.” He also counselled Archbishop Paris von Lodron, Prince of Salzburg and Spiritual Director of Emperor Ferdinand II, staying at his side during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). During his stay in Vienna (1620-1621), Br Thomas assisted the conversion to the Catholic faith of Eva Maria Rettinger, widow of George Fleicher, count of Lerchenberg, who then entered Nonnberg Abbey as a Benedictine nun and became Abbess. Still at Vienna, in 1620, he drafted the “moral concepts against the heretics,” published posthumously in Fire of Love.Here the source from which his writing was drawn is revealed: “I have never read a syllable of books but I strive to read the suffering Christ.”
Despite the studies completed with fervour and diligence during the years of the novitiate in Verona, his Italian remained elementary and ungrammatical. And yet, his writings reveal a surprising spiritual profundity and doctrinal exactness. A fellow friar, Ilarione from Mantova, noted in this regard: “I saw him many times after communion retire to his cell and write meditational pieces on the life and passion of the Lord and, having sometimes read me these spiritual works of his after having written them, he confidently affirmed [….] that he could not himself understand how he could have put those things on paper.” This book was among St Pope John XXIII’s favourite spiritual works, speaking of Bl Tommaso as“a saint and a true master of the spirit” and the Pontiff had portions of it read to him on his death bed. St Pope Paul VI also spoke of him with high esteem.
Love for Our Lady in his writings recognises, among other things, her Immaculate Conception (Dogma 1854) and Assumption (Dogma 1950), hundreds of years before these Dogmas were promulgated. He made pilgrimage to the Holy House of Loreto three times (1623, 1625, 1629), recalling that “arriving at the that Holy House, I seemed to be in paradise.”
To his friend Ippolito Guarinoni, he pointed out a location near Hall, at the Volders bridge on the Inn river, such that a church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception should be built there. In 1620 the foundations were laid and, many criticisms and difficulties having been overcome, the church was completed in 1654. It was the first church on German-speaking land dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St Charles Borromeo. Even today it is considered an Austrian national monument.
Many who were present at his death, which came on 3 May 1631, considered it a ‘death of love.’ He was buried on Sunday, 5 May in the crypt of the chapel of Our Lady in the Capuchin church in Innsbruck.
It took another 356 years before St Pope John Paul II proclaimed the friar Venerable in 1987. Pope Benedict XVI authorised Tommaso’s Beatification in 2012 and the Beatification Mass was finally celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato on behalf of Pope Francis in 2013.
St Judas Cyriacus
Bl Ladislas of Gielniów
St Luca da Toro
Bl Margareta Kratz
Bl Michal Giedroyc
St Nepotian of Altino
Bl Paolino Bigazzini
St Paulinus of Cologne
St Paulinus of Senigallia
St Pelagia of Tarsus
St Porphyrius of Camerino Rino
St Richard Reynolds
St Robert Lawrence
St Silvanus of Gaza Bl Tommaso da Olera OFM Cap (1563-1631)
Carthusian Martyrs: A group of Carthusian monks who were hanged, drawn and quartered between 19 June 1535 and 20 September 1537 for refusing to acknowledge the English royalty as head of the Church:
• Blessed Humphrey Middlemore
• Blessed James Walworth
• Blessed John Davy
• Blessed John Rochester
• Blessed Richard Bere
• Blessed Robert Salt
• Blessed Sebastian Newdigate
• Blessed Thomas Green
• Blessed Thomas Johnson
• Blessed Thomas Redyng
• Blessed Thomas Scryven
• Blessed Walter Pierson
• Blessed William Exmew
• Blessed William Greenwood
• Blessed William Horne
• Saint Augustine Webster
• Saint John Houghton
• Saint Robert Lawrence
Martyrs of Cirta: Also known as
• Martyrs of Cirtha
• Martyrs of Tzirta
A group of clergy and laity martyred together in Cirta, Numidia (in modern Tunisia) in the persecutions of Valerian. They were – Agapius, Antonia, Emilian, Secundinus and Tertula, along with a woman and her twin children whose names have not come down to us.
Martyrs of England: 85 English, Scottish and Welsh Catholics who were martyred during the persecutions by Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are commemorated together on 22 November.
• Blessed Alexander Blake • Blessed Alexander Crow • Blessed Antony Page • Blessed Arthur Bell • Blessed Charles Meehan • Blessed Christopher Robinson • Blessed Christopher Wharton • Blessed Edmund Duke • Blessed Edmund Sykes • Blessed Edward Bamber • Blessed Edward Burden • Blessed Edward Osbaldeston • Blessed Edward Thwing • Blessed Francis Ingleby • Blessed George Beesley • Blessed George Douglas • Blessed George Errington • Blessed George Haydock • Blessed George Nichols • Blessed Henry Heath • Blessed Henry Webley • Blessed Hugh Taylor • Blessed Humphrey Pritchard • Blessed John Adams • Blessed John Bretton • Blessed John Fingley • Blessed John Hambley • Blessed John Hogg • Blessed John Lowe • Blessed John Norton • Blessed John Sandys • Blessed John Sugar • Blessed John Talbot • Blessed John Thules • Blessed John Woodcock • Blessed Joseph Lambton • Blessed Marmaduke Bowes • Blessed Matthew Flathers • Blessed Montfort Scott • Blessed Nicholas Garlick • Blessed Nicholas Horner • Blessed Nicholas Postgate • Blessed Nicholas Woodfen • Blessed Peter Snow • Blessed Ralph Grimston • Blessed Richard Flower • Blessed Richard Hill • Blessed Richard Holiday • Blessed Richard Sergeant • Blessed Richard Simpson • Blessed Richard Yaxley • Blessed Robert Bickerdike • Blessed Robert Dibdale • Blessed Robert Drury • Blessed Robert Grissold • Blessed Robert Hardesty • Blessed Robert Ludlam • Blessed Robert Middleton • Blessed Robert Nutter • Blessed Robert Sutton • Blessed Robert Sutton • Blessed Robert Thorpe • Blessed Roger Cadwallador • Blessed Roger Filcock • Blessed Roger Wrenno • Blessed Stephen Rowsham • Blessed Thomas Atkinson • Blessed Thomas Belson • Blessed Thomas Bullaker • Blessed Thomas Hunt • Blessed Thomas Palaser • Blessed Thomas Pilcher • Blessed Thomas Pormort • Blessed Thomas Sprott • Blessed Thomas Watkinson • Blessed Thomas Whitaker • Blessed Thurstan Hunt • Blessed William Carter • Blessed William Davies • Blessed William Gibson • Blessed William Knight • Blessed William Lampley • Blessed William Pike • Blessed William Southerne • Blessed William Spenser • Blessed William Thomson •
They were Beatified on 22 November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
Martyrs of Novellara: A bishop and several his flock who were martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian and whose relics were kept and enshrined together. We know nothing else about them but the names – Apollo, Bono, Cassiano, Castoro, Damiano, Dionisio, Leonida, Lucilla, Poliano, Tecla, Teodora and Vespasiano. They were Martyred on 26 March 303. Their relics were enshrined in the parish of Saint Stephen in Novellara, Italy in 1603.