Second Thought for the Day – 12 January – The Memorial of St Benedict Biscop OSB (c 628-690)
“How Venerable Benedict Did Prophesy to His Monks the Time of His own Death.”
(St Gregory’s Dialogues, Book 2, Chapter 37)
In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples. In mentioning it to some who were with him in the Monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy. Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere, he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.
Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately, he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord, to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakend body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.
That day, two monks, one of them at the monastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation. They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights. From his monastery, it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven. And there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, “Do you know who passed this way?”
“No,” they replied.
“This,”he told them, “is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord’s beloved, when he went to heaven.”
Thus, while the brethren, who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent knew about it, through the sign he had promised them. His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.
Thought for the Day – 12 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Beggars of God
“Both in the natural and in the supernatural orer, we are in continual need of the help of God. We did not exist and God, in His infinite goodness, created us. It is He, Who preserves us in existence from day to day and from moment to moment. The act of conservation, is like a continuous creation. If God did not sustain us, we should return immediately to the dust from which we came: “Remember, man, that dust you are and unto dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).
We are continually dependent on our Lord and Creator for our existence and activity. If we remained always aware of this tremendous fact, we would never offend God. We would show Him a filial gratitude and humbly implore His assistance.
We are so poor and He is so rich. We are so weak and He is so strong. We are blind and He is the true Light, which illumines every man who comes into the world (Jn 1:9). Ask for God’s help with confidence, perseverance and resignation to His Holy Will. As St Augustine says, we are the beggars of God.”
Quote/s of the Day – 12 January – The Memorial of St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
“We should consider how much good our Lord did us, by His first coming and how much more He will do for us, by His second. This thought will help us, to have a great love for that first coming of His and a great longing for His return.”
“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. … It was fitting, that we, who had fallen because of a tree, might rise up because of a tree.”
“Faith is not even a virtue, unless it is expressed by love, nor is hope, unless it loves, what it hopes for.”
“When insults have no effect on us, when persecutions and penalties, have no terror for us, when prosperity or adversity, has no influence on us, when friend and foe, are viewed in the same light… do we not come close, to sharing, the serenity of God?”
“If I see him [my neighbour] in distress, whether it be on account of the austerity of the food. or because of work or the vigils – if, I say, I see that he is tormented in body and tempted in spirit, if I see him in such affliction, and…do not on occasion accommodate myself to the infirmities of the weak I am not running in the fragrance of Christ’s ointments but with the harshness of the pharisees.”
St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
One Minute Reflection – 12 January – Seventh day in the Octave of Epiphany, Readings: Hebrews 2:5-12, Psalms 8:2 and 5, 6-7, 8-9, Mark 1:21-28 and the Memorial of St Benedict Biscop OSB (c 628-690)
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” – Mark 1:25
REFLECTION – “Jesus rebuked the devil and said, ‘Be silent! Come out of him!’” Truth has no need of the Deceiver’s testimony. “I did not come to get the confirmation of your testimony but to cast you out of what I have created…, I have no need of the recognition of one whom I have vowed to destroy. Shut your mouth! Let your silence be My praise. I want no praise from your mouth, My praise is your torture, your punishment … Silence! and come out of this man!” It is as though He said: “Come out …, what are you doing in My house? It is I who want to enter in, so be silent and get out of the man, he being endowed with reason. Get out of the man! Leave the home prepared for Me! The Lord wants His house – vacate this man” …
See just how precious man’s soul is. This contradicts those who think that we human beings and animals have an identical soul and are animated by a same spirit. In another incident the devil is cast out of a single man and sent into two thousand pigs (Mt 8:32) – what is precious is saved, what is unclean is lost. “Come out of the man and get into the pigs…, go where you want, get along with you into the abyss. Leave the man, My private property, alone … I won’t allow you to possess the man, it would be an insult to Me if you were to make your home in him in My place. I took on a human body and dwell in man – the flesh you are possessing, is part of my own flesh – get out of this man!” – St Jerome (347-420) Father and Doctor of the Church – Homilies on Saint Mark’s Gospel, no. 2
PRAYER – King of heaven and earth, Lord God, rule over our hearts and bodies this day. Sanctify us and guide our every thought, word and deed, according to the commandments of Your law, so that now and forever, Your grace may free and save us. Sanctify our hearts, minds and actions with Your power, that all we are, may speak of Your Light. May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin our Mother and the ever-zealous St Benedict Biscop, bring us to peace and confidence. We make our prayer through Your Son, our Lord Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 12 January – Seventh day in the Octave of Epiphany and the Memorial of St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
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. Amen
Saint of the Day – 12 January – St Benedict Biscop OSB (c 628-690) (pronounced “bishop”) – Bishop and Abbot of Wearmouth, who introduced Stained Glass windows to England and raised the Venerable Saint Bede, Founder of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory (where he also founded the famous library) – he was known as a Bibliophile, Confessor, a man of great piety and learning. Born in c 628 in Northumbria, England as Benet Biscop and died on 12 January 690 of natural causes at Wearmouth, England. Patronages – English Benedictines, musicians, painters, Church libraries and librarians, Sunderland, England, St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Northumberland, England.
Benedict’s idea was to build a model Monastery for England, sharing his knowledge of the experience of the Church in Europe. It was the first Ecclesiastical building in Britain to be built in stone and the use of glass was a novelty for many in 7th-century England. It eventually possessed, what was a very large library for the time – several hundred volumes – and it was here, that Benedict’s student St Bede wrote his famous works. The library became world-famous and manuscripts that had been copied there became prized possessions throughout Europe, including especially the Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving manuscript of the complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate version.
Benet was born of the highest Anglo-Saxon nobility. He held office in the household of King Oswy (Oswiu) of Northumbria. But, after a journey to Rome, the first of his five such trips, when his was 25 (653) in the company of Saint Wilfrid, the saint renounced his inheritance and dedicated himself to God. He then spent his time in studying the Scriptures and prayer. Following a second visit to Rome with Oswy’s son Aldfrith in 666, he became a Monk in the Monastery of Saint-Honorat in Lerins near Cannes, France, taking the name Benedict. He remained there for two years strictly observing the rule.
His third pilgrimage to Rome in 669, coincided with the visit of Archbishop-elect Wighard of Canterbury, who died there, prior to his consecration. Saint Theodore was finally selected to replace Wighard as Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Saint Vitalian, ordered Benedict to accompany Theodore and Saint Adrian to England, as a Missionary, which he did in obedience. Theodore appointed Benedict Abbot of Sts Peter and Paul (now St Augustine’s) Monastery in Canterbury, where he remained for two years before returning to Northumbria. (He was succeeded as Abbot by Saint Adrian, whose feast day was yesterday and who held this position for 39 years.)
Thereafter, Saint Benedict travelled to and fro between Britain and Rome (beginning in 671), returning always with books and relics and bringing back with him craftsmen to build and enrich the Churches of Britain. This fourth journey was made, with the view of perfecting himself in the rules and practice of a monastic life, so he stayed a while in Rome and visited other Monasteries.
In 674, he was granted 70 hides of land by Oswy’s son, Egfrid, at the mouth of the river Wear (Wearmouth), where he built a great stone Church and Monastery dedicated to Saint Peter. He was the first to introduce glass into England, which he brought from France along with stone and other materials. His foreign masons, glaziers and carpenters taught their skill to the Anglo-Saxons. He spared no trouble or effort in seeking far and wide for all that would richly embellish his Romanesque church.
From his trip to Rome in 679, Benedict brought back Abbot John of Saint Martin’s, the precentor (Archcantor) from Saint Peter’s. This was a result of Benedict persuading Pope Saint Agatho that Abbot John would be able to instruct the English monks, so that the music and ceremonies at Wearmouth might follow exactly the Roman pattern. Upon his return to England, he held training classes in the use and practice of church music, liturgy and chants. (John also taught the English monks uncial script and wrote instructions on the Roman liturgy for them.)
But, chiefly, he brought books, for he was a passionate collector. His ambition was to establish a great library in his Wearmouth Monastery. He also imported pictures from Rome and Vienne, beautiful paintings and musical scores. Among these treasures imported from Rome were a series of paintings of Gospels scenes, of Our Lady and the Apostles and of incidents described in the Book of Revelation, to be set up in the church.
Benedict also devised his rule based on that of Saint Benedict and those of the 17 Monasteries he had visited. He doubtlessly organised the scriptorium in which was written the manuscript of the Bible which, his successor as Prior at Wearmouth, Saint Ceolfrid, took with him in 716 as a present to Pope Saint Gregory II – the very book was identified in the Biblioteca Laurentiana at Florence in 1887, the famous Codex Amiatinus. All this immeasurably enriched the early English Church.
Because his Monastery and Church at Wearmouth was so edifying, in 682 Egfrid gave him a further gift of forty hides of land, this time at Jarrow on the Tyne River. Here he established a second Monastery, six miles from St. Peter’s and dedicated it to Saint Paul (now called Jarrow) in 685, which became famous as a great centre of learning in the West and the home of Saint Bede. our Saint’s charge and spiritual son. Among its inmates were many Saxon thanes turned Monks, who ploughed and winnowed and worked at the forge, like the rest and at night, slept in the common dormitory, for rank and class had no place among them.
And because Benedict was busier than ever with all his enterprises and still governed both Abbeys, he handed over some of his authority. Benedict first took to help him at Wearmouth, his nephew, Saint Eosterwin, a noble like himself and then Saint Sigfrid. In Jarrow, he placed Saint Ceolfrid in charge. While Benedict still ruled the Abbeys as their Founder, he made these men the Abbots under his direction of the two foundations, so that the Monasteries would not be without leadership during his absences.
Benedict made his last voyage to Rome in 685, returning with even more books and sacred images and some fine silk cloaks of exceptional workmanship, which he exchanged with the King for three hides of land.
It was due to Benedict Biscop that so much material lay to hand for Bede and other scholars and that, a solid foundation was laid for the later glories of the English Church. After his death, the school at Jarrow alone, comprised 600 scholars, apart from the flow of constant visitors. It was also in large part due to him, that the Church of Northumbria turned from the old Celtic forms, to those of Rome. Out of his labours and travels came a rich and abundant harvest.
At the end of his life, Benedict suffered from a painful paralysis in his lower limbs. (It is interesting to note that Sigfrid was afflicted with the same paralysis about the same time.) Throughout his three-year confinement, he asked the Monks to come into his room to sing Psalms and he joined them when he could. His last exhortations to his Monks, before he died at age 62, were to continue his work, to preserve his great library, to follow the monastic Rule of Saint Benedict and, to elect an Abbot, based on his holiness and ability rather than his lineage. He said, he would rather the Monasteries be turned into wildernesses than to have his brother succeed him as Abbot.
Benedict’s biography was written by Saint Bede, who had been entrusted to his care at age seven and whose learning was made possible by the library Benedict collected at Jarrow. Bede, the historian, says that the civilisation and learning of the 8th century rested in the Monastery founded by Benedict.
Proof of a very early public cultus of Benedict Biscop comes from a sermon of Bede on him (Homily 17) for his feast but the cultus became more widespread only after the translation of his relics under Saint Ethelwold about 980. Saint Benedict’s relics are thought to rest at Thorney Abbey, although Glastonbury also claims some of them.
Our Lady of Conquest, Santa Fe, New Mexico – 12 January: In the North Chapel of the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Fe stands a little statue (scarcely three feet tall) of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus. It was skilfully carved by loving hands in Spain. Mary is clad in a richly embroidered dress, topped by a jewelled crown. Her regal countenance wears a serene, detached expression that is strangely impressive. This is Our Lady of Conquest, or La Conquistadora. The statue of Our Lady of Conquest came to the new world in the care of the Franciscan missionary Fray Alonso da Venevides. She was installed with great ceremony in a Church in Santa Fe. Over the ensuing decades, as often happens, the men living in the region did not practice their religion as they should. Mary appeared in a vision to a young girl, warning her that the colony would be overrun due to the loss of reverence for Priests and the Faith. In the year 1680 the local Indians rose up and attacked the Spanish. Twenty-one Priests were killed and the colonists completely driven out of the region. The statue was rescued from the burning Church and taken back to Mexico with the colonists who escaped the wrath of the Indians.
It was not until the year 1691 that Don Diego de Vargas was sent by the King of Spain to attempt the re-settlement of the city of Santa Fe. Like so many Spanish heroes who had accomplished seemingly impossible deeds during their lifetimes, he was as fervent a Catholic as he was a capable knight. Don Diego de Vargas carried with him the statue of Our Lady as he re-entered New Mexico. Although he had only a small force, he was able to peacefully negotiate a peace with the various Indian nations. He attributed his success to “the Sovereign Queen, Most Blessed Mary.” He is said to have vowed to build a chapel for her and hold a yearly procession if she would grant him a speedy and bloodless victory over the Indian, which she did. Upon reaching his goal, however, the Indians refused to allow the Spanish colonists to return to Santa Fe. The Spanish under Don Diego were few in number and they were forced to fight a numerically superior force. The colonists prayed the Rosary before the statue of the Blessed Virgin, as the men engaged the Indians in battle. The fighting lasted all day and it was not until evening when they reclaimed the city. Once again, Mary was credited for the victory and to show her sovereignty, Don Diego placed an officer’s baton in her hand. The Shrine symbolises a spirit of deep-rooted Faith and devotion, which characterised the “Conquistadores” of this land. There is still a great deal of devotion shown to Mary at the Cathedral of St Francis, which includes processions, fiestas and other celebrations. The statue was formally crowned by Cardinal Francis Spellman and in 1960 received a Papal Coronation.
St Martinian of Belozersk St Martin of León Bl Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung St Peter of Abessala Blessed Pierre-François Jamet (1762-1845) About Blessed Pierre-François: https://anastpaul.com/2020/01/12/saint-of-the-day-12-january-blessed-pierre-francois-jamet-1762-1845/ St Probus of Verona St Quinctus the Soldier St Satyrus St Tatiana of Rome St Tigrius St Victorian of Asana Bl Vincent da Cunha — Martyrs of Africa – 44 saints: A group of 44 Christian soldiers murdered together for their faith in Africa. The only details that survive are four of their names – Castulus, Modestus, Rogatus and Zoticus.
Martyrs of Ephesus – 42 saints: Forty-two monks martyred at a monastery in Ephesus (modern Turkey) during the persecutions of the Iconoclast Byzantine Emperor Constantine V. Their names have not come down to us. Martyred c 762.
Martyrs of Iona – 38 saints: Thirty-eight monks martyred in Iona, Ireland. Their names have not come down to us. They were Martyred in 750 at Iona, Ireland.