Mother of the Church
Moments with Saint Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
“Mary is with us, among us, she protects and helps us, she leads us along a sure road.
More than once the Pope has heard the wistful cry of some souls – among those brothers of ours who, since the beginning of the sixteenth century, have been cut off from the unity of the Church – who exclaim with profound sadness: is it possible not to love one’s own mother?
And, yet, some of them have managed to forget her altogether, or at least to keep her at a distance … alas! in certain families, in which the mother, when advanced in years, is borne with, as a burden, instead of still being cherished with loving care.
We, however, by the grace of God, honour Mary as Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Catholic Church.
She, not only receives the homage of an exquisite art, which testifies to her in every place but the ever fervent, beautiful and profound veneration felt for one who never, for a moment, fails in her motherly care.
Let us always share in the sorrows of Mary, when we see her beside the Cross of Jesus.
Let us pour out our hearts to her in the saddest moments of our life, remembering the first announcement of God’s angel made to the most holy Virgin: “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Ghost,” which is like a synthesis of the whole story of the Incarnation of the Word and the Redemption brought by the Son of God, the glory, which, here below, is the beginning of the eternal glory of Paradise.”
Thought for the Day – 19 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary, a Light in the Darkness
“Let us imagine for a moment, that we have grown blind and are forever plunged in darkness. It is an unhappy thought. Never again to see those who are dear to us, never to see the light of the sun nor any of the splendour of the universe. We should feel as if were alone, for we should have to depend only on sounds and on the voices of others for communication with the external world. As St Augustine points out, however, in his commentary on the miracle of the man who had been blind from birth, we are all more or less blind in the supernatural order. The world is the image of God but, do we see His Presence in everything which surrounds us? Is it not more often the case that created things distract us and lead us to forget their Creator, because, we regard them as a means of satisfying our own comfort and our own ego? We should look on creatures as go-betweens which help us to ascend to God, the beginning and end of all creation.
Unfortunately, instead of climbing this mystical ladder which leads us to God, we often descend it. We forget God and become excessively wrapped up in worldly affairs. Sometimes matters may be even worse, not only do we forget God through our love of creatures but, we use them, to offend Him. God has given us eyes to admire His works and, as a result, to lead us to praise, thank and love Him. Instead, we often use this wonderful gift in order to commit sin. He has given us the gift of speech, the gift of hearing and other senses. But how do we employ them? The tongue is a marvellous invention but, as St James writes, “if anyone does not offend in the word, he is a perfect man, able also to lead round by the bridle, the whole body … With it we bless God the Father and, with it, we curse men, who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth, proceed blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren ought not to be so” (Js 3:2-10). What can be said of vision and of speech can be said of all the senses and faculties of body and soul. They are all God’s gifts and should, therefore, be used as means of bringing ourselves closer to Him. If creatures lead us away from God and cause us to forget Him, or if, worse still, they cause us to offend Him, then we are spiritually blind and far more unfortunate than those who have lost their natural vision.
Most Holy Mary, during your earthly pilgrimage, you never once lost sight of God. Grant that I may not be lost in the darkness of this world. Grant that I may not be ensnared by the passing charm and false beauty of these created things which surround me. Grant that I may see, in all things, the Presence and Beauty of God, so that I may always continue to advance, nearer and nearer to Him. Amen.”
Quote/s of the Day – 19 May – “Mary’s Month” – Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter and the Memorial of St Francisco Coll y Guitart OP (1812-1875) “The Apostle of Modern Times”
Praise of the Rosary From a sermon of St Francisco Coll
… Oh Rosary! You are a book, brief yes but that teaches the holiest and most sacred of our Religion. You are an ark, that conceals a very rich treasure worthy of all men seeking it with great eagerness. You are a gift from Heaven, that you reveal to us the elements of religion, the principles, the motives and the practice of all the virtues, you light us in charity and love towards that God Who so deigned to do and suffer for us. You wake up the drowsy, enflame the lukewarm, you push the lazy, you embrace the righteous, you convert sinners, you reduce or confuse heretics, you frighten the devil, you tremble to hell or, to put it better, you are a devotion that includes and contains all the devotions.”
“Is this not a work of God and admirable in our eyes? Yes, yes, it is the work of God and given to the world, by the merits of my Father Saint Dominic.”
St Francisco Coll (1812-1875)
“The Apostle of Modern Times”
One Minute Reflection – 19 May – “Mary’s Month” – Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter,Readings: Acts 16: 22-34, Psalms 138: 1-2, 2-3, 7-8, John 16: 5-11 and the Memorial of St Francisco Coll y Guitart OP (1812-1875) “The Apostle of Modern Times”
“It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” … John 16:7
REFLECTION – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] OCD (1891-1942) Martyr, Co-Patron of Europe
“Who are You, sweet light, that fills me
and illumines the darkness of my heart? (…)
Are You the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by You, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome
That crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit, God’s moulding hand! (…)
Are You the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself, the clear chimes of each and every being?
That joins together, the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in Your surging,
Holy Spirit, eternal jubilation!”
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, Your ways are not our ways, teach us to willingly agree to them, for You know which way we should go. Help us to say “yes” always to Your plan and to render ourselves, as a sacrament of Your divine love to all we meet. Fill us with the Your grace and Your Spirit, to make us Your tools, to bring glory to Your kingdom. Our Father, who art in heaven, may Your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Mary Mother of God, pray for us! St Francisco Coll, you who constantly sought to be a light of the beauty of God, pray for us! Through our Our Lord Jesus Christ with You, in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 19 May – “Mary’s Month” – Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Make Me Like Yourself, Mary My Mother By St Louis-Marie de Montfort (1673-1716)
My powerful Queen,
you are all mine, through your mercy,
and I am all yours.
Take away from me, all that may displease God
and cultivate in me, all that is pleasing to Him.
May the light of your faith,
dispel the darkness of my mind,
your deep humility,
take the place of my pride,
your continual sight of God,
fill my memory, with His presence.
May the first, of the love of your heart
inflame the lukewarmness, of my own heart.
May your virtues, take the place of my sins.
May your merits, be my enrichment
and make up for all
that is wanting in me, before God.
My beloved Mother,
grant that I may have, no other spirit but your spirit,
to know Jesus Christ and His Divine will
and to praise and glorify the Lord,
that I may love God, with burning love like yours.
Saint of the Day – 19 May – St Francisco Coll y Guitart OP (1812-1875) Spanish Priest of the Order of Preachers, (the Dominicans), Founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, Confessor, Evangeliser, Missionary Preacher, Apostle of Charity especially to needy children, his Order focusing on young girls especially, who were ignored at that time. He was appointed by the Holy See Apostolic Missionary and was known as “The Apostle of Modern Times.”St Francisco is commonly called St Francisco Coll. Born on 18 May 1812 in Gombrèny, Catalonia, Spain and died on 2 April 1875 (aged 62) at Vic, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. His Feast day today, is celebrated on the date of his Baptism, not on the day of his entry into eternal life, as is usual. Patronage – Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St John Paul II Beatified him on 29 April 1979. In his Homily for Fr Coll’s Beatification, the Pope described him as “a transmitter of faith, a sower of hope, a preacher of love, peace and reconciliation among those whom passions, war and hatred keep divided”, and “a real man of God”, a “man of prayer”,who made his Priestly and Religious identity a source of inspiration, with the words, “I am a religious” constantly on his lips.
St Francisco Coll y Guitart was born on 18 May 1812 in the small village of Gombreny, in the Diocese of Vic, Catalonia. He was the 10th and last child of a wool carder.
At the age of 10 he was sent to the Minor Seminary in Vic in 1823. He completed his studies in 1830 and that same year entered the Convent of the Order of Preachers in Gerona, founded only about 35 years after St Dominic de Guzman’s death. He made his solemn profession and received the Diaconate in 1831.
Contemporaries of Fr Coll testify that he always behaved as a man of God and led an exemplary life. In 1835 religious orders in Spain were forcibly suppressed and Friar Francisco Coll, was obliged to abandon his convent and become a secularised Dominican. He was, nevertheless, Ordained a Priest on 28 May 1836 despite the risks involved.
Indeed, in spite of being unable, because of the new anti-clerical laws, to live in his convent or to wear his habit, he remained a Dominican all his life in all that he was and all that he did. Soon after his Ordination Francisco offered his services to his Bishop and for 40 years exercised his ministry as an itinerant Missionary in the Parishes of northeast Spain.
Impelled by an irresistible force, he started to preach as a new apostle, “the Apostle of Modern Times.” Like the Founder of his Order, he received no stipend nor would he accept donations, he was a preacher of popular missions. He prayed for long hours, studied and dedicated a great deal of time to preparing sermons for preaching the missions.
For more than thirty years he exercised his Missionary apostolate, first in the Parish of Artés and Moyá and later as a Missionary in various Dioceses of Catalonia. His fame as a preacher grew rapidly and his word mobilised crowds. His main concern was to carry the Word of God in a cordial, simple and understandable way to the people, to achieve a true interior conversion. To carry out the ministry of preaching, he preferred teamwork as it was capable of creating the most abundant fruit. Hence, his belief in the efficacy of collaboration and thus began with giving spiritual exercises to the Priests in the region. Thereafter, he collaborated with these same Diocesan Priests and with Jesuits, Claretians, Augustinians and fellow Dominicans. With his friend, St Anthony Mary Claret, he assisted in the founding of the “Apostolic Fellowship” for Evangelisation in 1846.
He preached to cloistered nuns and prisoners, visited the sick and imparted Catechesis to children, always encouraging devotion to the Virgin Mary. His evangelising activity included a great dedication to the Sacrament of Penance, a prominent emphasis on the Eucharist and a constant insistence on prayer.
His complete trust in God and his apostolic zeal motivated him to gather a group of young women who had already chosen to follow Jesus’ call. In 1850 he was appointed Director of the Secular Order of Dominican Tertiaries, which enabled him to found the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Anunciata in 1856 to solve the problem of the Christian formation of girls, then considered inferior to boys.
Although the beginnings of Fr Coll’s Order were difficult because of the lack of financial means, to the point that the Bishop suggested to Father Coll to close the institute and dismiss the ladies. But thanks to the perseverance of the Founder and also to the help of some religious (like his friend St Anthony María Claret) they were able to make progress. Soon he had the invaluable collaboration of a young teacher, Rosa Santaeugenia (1831-1889), who was the first Prioress General of the Congregation. Despite the difficult beginnings, the Congregation had an extraordinary growth, reaching 50 communities the year of the death of its Founder. From the beginning, Father Coll inserted the new Institute in the Order of Preachers, of Saint Dominic de Guzmán. The first communities of the Dominican Sisters of the Anunciata were located in the rural areas of Catalonia, often obtaining religious places in the public schools. However, as a result of the socio-political situation – the September 1868 revolution – some sisters were forced to leave these schools and the foundation of small private schools was expanded, many of them in the vicinity of textile factories.
When Fr Coll died, according to the Congregation he founded, there were already 300 sisters and 50 communities dedicated to the Christian education of children, mainly girls. Today the Congregation has about 1,039 members in Europe, America, Africa and Asia.
The mission of the Congregation, since its foundation in 1856, is oriented especially towards education and evangelisation, being present in the integral formation of children and youth, parish activity, missionary activity and also in the world of health.
Its objective is to “Announce the message of salvation to all, especially to children and youth,” in large and small towns and form a definitive option for the most needy.
Fr Coll lost his sight and was cared for by the nuns of his Congregation. He died in Vic on 2 April 1875 at the age of 62. His body was exposed in the Chapel of his religious and they buried him in the local cemetery. His mortal remains were later translated to the Chapel of the Mother House. … Vatican.va
Blessed Coll was Canonised on 11 October 2009, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI. His words during the Canonisation homily:
“… Francisco Coll reached the hearts of others because he transmitted what he himself lived with passion within, what burned in his heart – the love of Christ , his surrender to Him. So that the seed of the Word of God found good land, Francisco founded the congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation, in order to give a comprehensive education to children and young people, so that they could discover the unfathomable wealth that is Christ, that faithful friend who never abandons us or who tires of being by our side, encouraging our hope with His Word of life …”