Thought for the Day – 18 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“The interior mortification of self-love and of our sensual inclinations is not enough. Bodily mortifiation is also necessary. St Paul provides the reason. “the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Gal 5:17)
Original sin disturbed the perfect harmony which existed between man’s body and soul. “I see another law in my members,” said the Apostle Paul, “warring against the law of my mind” (2 Cor 12:7).
There is no such struggle between the flesh and the spirit in brute animals, which are concerned only with the satisfaction of their sensible appetites. It is because he is endowed with reason and an immortal soul, that man experiences this conflict. The result is, that either the soul is conquered and becomes the slave of man’s lower instincts, or, the soul is victorious and uses the body as a instrument of virtue.
We can see from this, how necessary it is to mortify our bodies, so that they will not rebel against the mastery of the soul. Our body will be either the faithful servant, or the relentless tyrant of the soul!
What penances do I perform? When do I fast? Little or never, perhaps? If so, it is not surprising that my body rebels and causes me to fall into sin. We must follow the example of Jesus and the Saints in this matter, if we wish to remain in the state of grace.”
Quote/s of the Day – 18 January – Monday of the Second week in Ordinary Time, Year A – Readings: Hebrews 5:1-10,Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4, Mark 2:18-22
The Spiritual Power of Fasting
“The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast in that day.”
“… Now is the time in this life of suffering, when we journey apart from Him. … So let us fast and pray now because, we are in the days of childbirth!”
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself!”
St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo Father and Doctor of Grace
“Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy – A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.”
St Peter Chrysologus (400-450) Bishop of Ravenna, Father & Doctor of the Church
“Let my fasting be based on temperance, my soul in a state of grace, my intention solely to please God, then my efforts will ring true, fit to enlarge my store of charity.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Bishop of Geneva OFM, Cap. Doctor Caritatis
“The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast in that day.” … Mark 2:20
REFLECTION – “The bridegroom is with them Beneath the apple tree, (cf Ct 8:5) there I took you for My own, there I offered you My hand, and restored you, where your mother was corrupted In this high state of spiritual marriage the Bridegroom reveals His wonderful secrets to the soul, as to His faithful consort, with remarkable ease and frequency, for true and perfect love knows not how to keep anything hidden from the beloved. He mainly communicates to her sweet mysteries of His Incarnation and the ways of the redemption of humankind, one of the loftiest of His works and thus more delightful to the soul. Even though He communicates many other mysteries to her, the Bridegroom in the … mentions only the Incarnation as the most important. … The Bridegroom explains to the soul … His admirable plan in redeeming and espousing her to Himself through the very means by which human nature was corrupted and ruined, telling her, that as human nature was ruined through Adam and corrupted by means of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Paradise, so on the tree of the Cross, it was redeemed and restored when He gave it there, through His passion and death, the hand of His favour and mercy and broke down the barriers between God and humans that were built up through original sin. Thus He says: “Beneath the apple tree,” that is: beneath the favour of the tree of the Cross where the Son of God redeemed human nature and consequently espoused it to Himself and then, espoused each soul, by giving it through the Cross grace and pledges for this espousal.” – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) Carmelite, Doctor of the Church – The Spiritual Canticle B, Stanza 23, 1-3
PRAYER – Almighty God, ruler and creator of all things in heaven and on earth, listen favourably to the prayer of Your people. Through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us His life to lead us to You and made us His own body in His Church, grant us the grace of always listening for His word and following His deeds in all that we are and all that we do. May we too follow His teachings in our Holy Mother Church, for she is His and we are hers. May the prayers of our Mater Ecclesiae, the Blessed Virgin, intercede for us. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 18 January – Blessed Andrés Grego de Peschiera OP (1400-1485) Priest and Friar of the Order of Preachers, Confessor, Missionary, miracle-worker, known as “the Apostle of the Valtelline,”“Father of the poor.” Born in 1400 in Peschiera del Garda, Italy and died on 18 January 1485 in the Dominican convent at Morbegno, Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy of natural causes. Roman Martyrology – In the convent of Morbegno near the Italian Alps, Blessed Andrew Grego of Peschiera, a priest of the Order of Preachers, who for a long time walked all over the region, where he lived austerely with the poor and tried to reconcile everyone fraternally (1485). Also known as – Andrés Gregho, Andrés of Peschiera, Andrew… Patronages – Peschiera and Valtelline, Italy.
Born early 15th Century in Peschiera, Italy. As a child, Andrés lived on the southern shore of Lake Garda, in northern Italy. His training for a life of heroic sanctity began early, with voluntary penances and unquestioning obedience to his father. Andrés’ first desire was to be a hermit, an ambition that was met with ridicule from his brothers. Failing to realise this hope, he made for himself a severe schedule of prayer and penance and, in his own house, lived the life of one wholly given to God. He was remarkable for his prayer, abstinence, charity for the poor and obedience to his father. Blessed Andrés, as a child, always fasted on only bread and water during the whole of Lent.
After the death of his father, it became increasingly difficult to carry out his plan, so he resolved to enter the cloister. Although his brothers had persecuted him without mercy, he knelt and humbly begged their prayers and forgiveness for having annoyed them. Then he gave them the only possession he had, a walking stick. This stick, thrown carelessly in a corner by the brothers, was forgotten until, long afterwards, it bloomed with flowers, like the legendary rod of Saint Joseph in token of Andrés’ holiness.
The 15-year old received the Dominican habit at Brescia and then was sent to San Marco in Florence. This convent was then at its peak of glory, stamped with the saintly personalities of Saint Antoninus and the Blessed Lawrence of Riprafratta, Constantius and Antony della Chiesa. Andrés soul caught the fire of their apostolic zeal and set forth on his mission in the mountains of northern Italy.
Heresy and poverty had combined to draw almost this entire region from the Church. It was a country of great physical difficulties and, in his travels in the Alps, he risked death from snowstorms and avalanches as often as from the daggers of the heretics. Nevertheless, he travelled tirelessly, preaching, teaching and building–for his entire lifetime (45 years). He worked tirelessly and without fear in the area preaching against heresy and founding many orphanages and refuges for the poor. He caused several churches and monasteries to be erected and was so loved by the poor that he was given the popular title, “Father of the poor.”
He would retire from time to time to these convents for periods of prayer and spiritual refreshment, so that he could return with renewed courage and zeal to the difficult apostolate. He was known as “the Apostle of the Valtelline” because of the district he evangelised.
Andrés performed many miracles. Probably his greatest miracle was his preaching, which produced such fruits in the face of great obstacles. At one time, when he was preaching to the people, the heretics presented him with a book in which they had written down their beliefs. He told them to open the book and see for themselves what their teachings amounted to. They did so and a large viper emerged from the book.
Andrés had a tender devotion to the Passion of Our Lord and in the ancient pictures of him (none of which appear to be electronically available today) Blessed Andrés is usually pictured with a Crucifix. There is also historical accounts that Blessed Andrew is pictured, at the Chapel in Peschiera dedicated to him, near a Crucifix, from which issues a light that is directed at Andrés’ heart. This is said to refer to some miraculous favour that was granted to Blessed Andrés while he was contemplating Our Lord’s passion. Tradition also tells that on Fridays, Andrés wore a crown of sharp thorns which he concealed under the hood of his habit.
Blessed Andrés died on 18 January 1485 among his Dominican brethren at the priory of Morbegno, Valtellina, Italy. So many miracles were reported to have occurred at his tomb, that Blessed Andrew’s mortal remains were moved twice to allow better access for pilgrims. Blessed Andrés was Beatified (cultus confirmed) by Pope Pius VII in on 26 September 1820.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst adorn Blessed Andrés, Thy Confessor, with the apostolic spirit, grant us, in imitation of him, so to benefit others, both by word and example, as to reap abundant fruit. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen
Notre-Dame de Dijon / Our Lady of Dijon (1513) – 18 January:
In the fifth century, the Abbey of St Etienne of Dijon had a regular chapter which observed the Rule of St Augustine; it was given over to the secular canons and later, Pope Clement XI made the Church the Cathedral of Dijon. The image of Our Lady of Dijon in Burgundy was formerly named the “Black Virgin” and “Our Lady of Good Hope.” In the year 1513, Mary miraculously delivered the city of Dijon, the ancient city of the Dukes of Burgundy, from the hands of the Swiss. The German and Swiss forces coming against them totalled 45,000 men and although Dijon was well stocked for a siege, they only had perhaps 6,000 defenders. There were plenty of arrows but little gunpowder and most of the French cannon needed repairs. The invading force was so sure of success, that they there were columns of empty wagons pulled behind the army to bring back the loot they expected to take from the French towns and monasteries. The Monastery at Beze was not spared, as even dead Monks were dug up in search of treasure. The army arrived on 8 September the solemnity of Our Lady’s Nativity. There were so many men, that the defenders saw nothing but a vast sea of shining armour, wherever they gazed. The Swiss opened up with heavy cannon fire the next day, yet there were surprisingly few fatalities. When breeches were made in the walls and the enemy attacked, they were repulsed with heavy loss of life. On Sunday, 11 September, a procession was organised after Mass. The “Black Virgin” was carried through the streets as the French prayed to the Mother of God, to spare them from their deadly enemies. The following day a treaty was signed and the conflict ended unexpectedly. In thanksgiving for this favour, she was titled Our Lady of Dijon, and general procession to her shrine is made every year.
During the French Revolution the Church suffered the outrage of being transformed into a forage storage house. Afterward, in atonement to Our Lady for this insult, the faithful of France rebuilt the Shrine and pleaded, that the Holy See grant numerous relics and valuable keepsakes to be placed there. Our Blessed Mother responded to the generosity and love of the people by granting favours and cures and extending her God-given miraculous power over the people. In 1944 the German army occupied the city of Dijon. The people turned to Mary, praying: “Holy Virgin, Compassionate Mother, you who protected our knights of old and who delivered our city from enemy attack, you maintained our ancestors in their times of trouble…Our Lady of Good Hope, pray for us.” On 11 September, the Nazi army unexpectedly left Dijon.