The Seven Sorrows Novena By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Day Five – The Fifth Sorrow Jesus Dies on the Cross
V/. O God +, come to my assistance R/. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Gloria Patri …
Reflection (St Alphonsus de Liguori)
Meditation: With John, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross. “A sword shall pierce thy soul,” Simeon told her. Truly her heart is pierced with sorrow. Her beloved Son is dying and she shares in His suffering. She does not ask God to take away this agony. She is His Mother, so close to Him that His pain is hers, too. And now He speaks from the Cross: “Woman, behold thy son.” Jesus give His Mother to John, and to us. For all eternity she is our Mother.
I grieve for thee O Mary, most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which thy generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by thy afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel. And this my special intention ……………………. (mention your intention) Amen
Ave Maria …
Prayer of St Alphonsus: O Mother, the most afflicted of all mothers, thy Son, then, is dead; thy Son so amiable and who loved thee so much! Weep, for thou hast reason to weep. Who can ever console thee? Nothing can console thee but the thought that Jesus, by His death, hath conquered hell, hath opened paradise which was closed to men and hath gained so many souls. From that throne of the Cross He was to reign over so many hearts, which, conquered by His love, would serve Him with love. Do not disdain, O my Mother, to keep me near to weep with thee, for I have more reason than thou to weep for the offences that I have committed against thy Son. O, Mother of mercy, I hope for pardon and my eternal salvation, first through the death of my Redeemer and then through the merits of thy dolors. Amen
Thought for the Day – 11 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“By means of the Incarnation, God comes to man so that man may return to God. God created man by an act of love to display and to diffuse, His infinite goodness. But this relationship of love was disrupted by sin. Love became fear, on the part of man and it became justice, on the part of God.
The love of God is infinite, however and cannot decrease. No sooner had man fallen, than God promised our first parents, that He Himself, would come to save them. As soon as man had lost the white robe of grace, the Lord mercifully promised that He would come to restore it. But how? He could have sent an angel to lead erring man back to the fold and to teach him the way of virtue, which leads to Heaven. That would have been a great act of love and mercy. But, an angel is a finite being, whereas, the love of God has no limit. For this reason, He was not satisfied to send an angel.
We can see, furthermore, another explanation of the great mystery of the Incarnation. God infinitely loved man, who was the work of His omnipotence. Precisely because He loved him, He wished to be loved by him in return. But because the spirit of man is united to matter, he does not see God, except through the works of His creation. He sees Him, as it were, “through a mirror in an obscure manner,” (1 Cor 13:12) and not face-to-face. He does not love God, therefore, as he would if he could see Him in all His beauty. He would need to see Him and to know Him better, before he could love Him more. So God made Himself small by becoming man. “Human wisdom often asks,” writes Bossuet, “why God came on earth.” To this I reply: “He came to be lobed by men.” “God was great,” writs St Bernard, “so great as to demand to be adored. Now He has become small, so that He may be better loved.” God became, like us, a child. “The goodness and kindness of God, our Saviour appeared,” (Titus 2:4) says St Paul. But Jesus was not satisfied merely to become like us, to enlighten us with His doctrine and to enrich us with the abundance of His graces and gifts. He also gave Himself to us by dying on the Cross and remaining with us in the Blessed Sacrament. How could we fail to return such love!?”
Quote/s of the Day 11 September – Friday of the Twenty Third week in Ordinary Time, Readings: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12, Luke 6:39-42 and the Memorial of Blessed Charles Spinola SJ (1564-1622) Priest, Martyr, Missionary to Japan
“A disciple is not above his teacher…”
“Let us then learn from the Cross of Jesus our proper way of living. Should I say ‘living’ or, instead, ‘dying’? Rather, both living and dying. Dying to the world, living for God. Dying to vices and living by the virtues. Dying to the flesh, but living in the spirit. Thus in the Cross of Christ, there is death and in the Cross of Christ there is life. The death of death is there and the life of life. The death of sins is there and the life of the virtues. The death of the flesh is there and the life of the spirit.”
St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)
Blessed Charles Spinola went underground, going by the foreshadowing alias “Joseph of the Cross”, a haunt of the shadows who was obliged to conceal himself from daylight because his foreign features were instantly recognisable. With the help of Nagasaki’s ample Christian community he eluded capture for an amazingly long time.
“For nearly two years and a half I have devoted myself to encourage and support the Christians of this country, not without great difficulty. Having no home, I pass secretly from house to house, to hear confessions and celebrate our holy mysteries by night. Most of my time I spend in utter solitude, deprived of all human converse and consolation, having only that which God gives to those who suffer for His love … However I am tolerably well and, though destitute of almost everything and taking but one scanty meal a day, I do not fall away. Does not this prove that “man liveth not by bread alone?”
-Letter of Spinola dated March 20, 1617
“Father, how sweet and delightful is it to suffer for Jesus Christ! I have learned this better by experience than I am able to express, especially since we are in these dungeons where we fast continually. The strength of my body fails me but my joy increases as I see death draw nearer. O what a happiness for me, if next Easter I shall sing the heavenly Alleluia in the company of the blessed!”
“Oh, if you had tasted the delights with which God fills the souls of those who serve Him and suffer for Him, how would you condemn all that the world can promise!”
“… God is to be served chiefly for Himself alone, for He is the fountain of all goodness and merits all our devotion, without any hope of reward.”
One Minute Reflection – 11 September – “Month of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary” – Friday of the Twenty Third week in Ordinary Time, Readings: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12, Luke 6:39-42
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly, to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” … Luke 6:42
REFLECTION – “The Lord in this passage warns us against rash and unjust judgement. He wants us to act with a heart that is single and intent on God alone. Because there are many things about which, it would be rash to pass judgement, since we do not know with what kind of a heart they are done. For the most part, those who readily judge and condemn, are those who love to find fault and to condemn rather than to reprove and correct – and this is the vice of pride or envy. (…)
So if, for instance, someone sins through anger, you would reprove him through hatred. There is as much difference between anger and hatred, as there is between a speck and a beam. For hatred is an inveterate anger which, in time, has come to such a pitch that it may aptly be called a beam. Even though you are angry with someone, you may nevertheless wish them to amend. But if you hate someone, you cannot wish them to change for the better (…) First rid yourself of hatred, and then you will immediately be able to correct the person you love.” … St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace – Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, 19,63
PRAYER – Lord God, in Your wisdom, You created us, in love. By Your providence, You rule us, in love. Penetrate our inmost being with the holy light of Your Son. Penetrate our hearts with the overwhelming love for Your love, so that we may weep in consolation. May the Light that is Jesus Christ our Lord, enlighten our hearts that we may see clearly the way we should tread. May the prayers of Your holy Angels, Martyrs, Saints and our Sorrowful Martyr Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our guiding inspiration. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever amen.
Our Morning Offering – 11 September – Friday of the Twenty Third week in Ordinary Time
Jesus, By this Saving Sign Prayer Before The Crucifix By St Vincent Strambi CP (1745-1824)
Jesus, by this saving sign, bless this listless soul of mine. Jesus, by Your feet nailed fast, mend the missteps of my past. Jesus, with Your riven hands, bend my will to love’s demands. Jesus, in Your Heart laid bare, warm my inner coldness there. Jesus, by Your thorn-crowned head, still my pride till it is dead. Jesus, by Your muted tongue, stay my words that hurt someone. Jesus, by Your tired eyes, open mine to faith’s surprise. Jesus, by Your fading breath, keep me faithful until death. Yes, Lord, by this saving sign, save this wayward soul of mine. Amen
Saint of the Day – 11 September – Blessed Charles Spinola SJ (1564-1622) Priest, Martyr, Missionary to Japan – born as Carlo Spinola in 1564 in Madrid, Spain and died by being slowly burned to death on 10 September 1622 at Nagasaki, Japan.
Charles Spinola was born in Madrid, Spain. His father, the Italian Count of Tassarolo, was tutor to Prince Rudolph, the Emperor’s son. After his early studies in Spain, Charles was sent to the Jesuit school in Nola, Italy where he lived with his uncle Philip Spinola, the Bishop of Nola. As a youth, Charles was so moved by the Martyrdom in India of Rudolph Acquaviva’s heroic example of love for God, that he too was determined to die for Christ and the faith. He entered the Society and became a novice at the Nola novitiate. In 1584 he went to Naples for his philosophy and after taking his vows, he was sent to Brera College in Milan where he completed his philosophy and his theology studies, though at the time his health was not too good. After his Ordination in 1594, he was assigned to give parish missions in Cremona although he had requested to go on foreign missions.
Two years later in 1596 Fr Spinola together with the Sicilian Jesuit, Jerome De Angelis, finally were assigned to the mission in Japan but it took him six years, eight ships and great patience to arrive in Nagasaki, Japan after overcoming shipwrecks, pirates and many unfortunate incidents along the way.
The first ship he took from Genoa struck a rock and was forced to return to Genoa. From Barcelona, he had to walk on foot across Spain and Portugal to reach Lisbon but there the ship met with a violent storm and its rudder was shattered. After five months, the ship was repaired in Brazil, they again set forth only to meet another storm and they found themselves drifted back to the Atlantic to its starting point. His second attempt was also unsuccessful and ended when English pirates captured the ship and took it to England and only managed to escape back to Lisbon after two years. It was only in 1600, when Fr Spinola set off on his third attempt did he reach Malacca, Malaya.
Eventually he reached Japan in 1602, after 6 years of attempts and he studied Japanese before going to Miyako (today’s Kyoto) where he was Novice Master at the Jesuit College and also teacher of mathematics and astronomy. He moved to Nagasaki seven years later to care for the temporal needs of the province. In 1614, the long period of peaceful relations with Shogan Iyeyasu ended, when the number of Christians in Japan had reached two million, causing the country leaders to become fearful that the Christians proposed a national threat and that their country might be taken over by Spain. This resulted in the Shogun’s decree banishing all foreign missionaries and forbidding Japanese Christians to harbour Priests or practice their religion.
Arising from this decree, about 100 Jesuits left Japan but some remained, including Fr Spinola and he eluded Priest-hunters for four years. Fr Spinola was captured together with Bro Ambrose Fernandes and their catechist, John Chogoku and were imprisoned for four years in a bird-like cage under harsh conditions.
We have the record of a letter from one Franciscan, Blessed Richard of St Anne, to his home Monastery in France:
“I have been for nearly a year in this wretched prison, where there are with me, nine religious of our order, eight Dominicans and six Jesuits. The others are native Christians who have helped us in our ministry. Some have been here for five years. Our food is a little rice and water. The road to martyrdom has been paved for us by more than 300 martyrs, all Japanese, on whom all kinds of tortures were inflicted. As for us survivors, we also are all doomed to death. We religious and those who have helped us, are to be burnt at a slow fire; the others will be beheaded… If my mother is still alive, I beg you to be so kind as to tell her of God’s mercy to me in allowing me to suffer and die for Him. I have no time left to write to her myself.”
In September 1622, the nine prisoners who had been caged together, were taken to Nagasaki and felt Martyrdom would soon be theirs. Before they left, Fr Spinola accepted the vows of his seven novices. On 9 September, the nine Jesuits together with twenty-four other prisoners at Suzuta, each with a rope round his neck and the Jesuits in their cassocks, were led to Martyrs’ Hill escorted by 400 soldiers. There they waited for another thirty-three prisoners from the city. When the 2 groups met, they embraced. Fr Spinola recognised Isabel Fernandez among them, the wife of Dominic Jorjes, who had sheltered Charles after he had Baptised her son, Ignatius, now a four-year-old. Isabel said “I brought him [Ignatius] with me to die for Christ before he is old enough to sin against Him.” The boy knelt for a blessing from Charles, witnessed the Martyrdom of his mother and was killed himself—all without crying out.
The religious, with exception of John Chugoku (being a lay person) were condemned to death by slow fire, the Christians and Chugoku were to be beheaded.
When fastened to his stake, Fr Spinola intoned the psalm, Praise the Lord, All You Nations and the martyrs joined in a song of thanksgiving to God. The fires were lit but the wood was so arranged to prolong the victims’ suffering. Fr Spinola died within half an hour as he was greatly weakened after four years of imprisonment. Fr Kimura, endured his martyrdom for three hours and was the last to die, during which time he remained immobile with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross.
The nine martyrs died on Martyrs’ Hill on 10 September 1622. When Pope Pius IX beatified the 205 Japanese Martyrs on 7 May 1867, Bro Ambrose Fernandes, who had died in prison, was also included.
Bl John Bathe St Leudinus of Toul St Matthew of Gravedona sul Lario St Paphnutius of Thebes St Patiens of Lyon Bl Peter Taaffe Bl Petrus Kawano St Protus of Rome St Regula of Zurich Bl Richard Overton St Sperandea St Theodora the Penitent Bl Thomas Bathe — Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed José María Segura Panadés • Blessed José Piquer Arnáu • Blessed Josep Pla Arasa • Blessed Lorenzo Villanueva Larrayoz