Thought for the Day – 26 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Commandments and the Desires of Jesus Christ
“One who loves is not content, merely, to do the will of the loved one, he tries to satisfy his every wish. If we really love Jesus, therefore, not only should we do His will perfectly but, we should also fulfil every desire of His heart. But what are the desires of Jesus? His first desire is the glory of His Father, which we must promote by every means in collaboration with Divine Grace. His second is our sanctification, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). “You, therefore, are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48).
In the third place, we should take part, as far as we can, in works of the Apostolate, for the triumph of the Church and of the Kingdom of God on earth. Are we doing all this? Perhaps, on the day of our death, we shall have to say: How much good I could have done and I neglected to do it! How much more I should have loved my God, yet I loved Him so little!”
Quote/s of the Day – 26 January – Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, Readings: 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5, Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 10, Mark 3:31-35
“Whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
“Even to the present time I have not stopped speaking to all men but many are deaf and obstinate in response. … He who possesses my words yet spurns them, earns his own judgement on the last day.”
Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471)
“My desire is not my way but Your way.”
St Cajetan (1480-1547)
“I trust in God and wish nothing else but His will.”
St Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski (1822-1895)
“It is pleasant to hear about Jesus; more pleasant to listen to Jesus Himself speaking … It is pleasant to think about Jesus; more pleasant to possess Him … It is pleasant to hear Jesus’ words; more pleasant to do His will …”
St Mary of Jesus Crucified (1846-1878)
“On the last day, we will not be asked if we accomplished great deeds, or been acclaimed by men, rather we will be asked if we followed His will, in the state and condition, to which we were called.”
“Here are my mother and my brethren! Whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother.”…Mark 3:34-35
REFLECTION – “He did not treat us as our sins deserved. For we are now sons of God. How do we show this? The only Son of God died for us, so that He might not remain alone. He who died as the only Son, did not want to remain as the only Son. For the only Son of God made many sons of God. He bought brothers for Himself by His blood, He made them welcome by being rejected, He ransomed them by being sold, He honoured them by being dishonoured, He gave them life by being put to death.” – St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace – An excerpt from his Sermon 171
PRAYER – Almighty God, You endowed Saints Timothy and Titus with power to preach Your Word. Grant that, living a life of integrity and holiness in this world, reaching out to teach the Gospel both by our lives and our words, we may, through their prayers, come to our true home in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Jesus, Like a Mother By St Anselm OSB (1033-1109) Doctor magnificus (Magnificent Doctor) Doctor Marianus (Marian Doctor)
Jesus, like a mother You gather Your people to Yourself. You are gentle with us, as a mother with her children. Often you weep over our sins and our pride, tenderly You draw us, from hatred and judgement. You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, in sickness You nurse us and with pure milk You feed us. Jesus, by Your dying, we are born to new life; by Your anguish and labour, we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through Your sweet goodness; through Your gentleness, we find comfort in fear. Your warmth, gives life to the dead, Your touch, makes sinners righteous. Lord Jesus, in Your mercy, heal us; in Your love and tenderness, remake us. In Your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness. For the beauty of heaven, may Your love prepare us. Amen
Saint of the Day – 26 January – Saint Paula of Rome (347-404) Widow, Foundress- early Desert Mother, Foundress of the Order of St Jerome (the Hieronymites), life-long friend and associate of St Jerome. Born on 5 May 347 at Rome, Italy and died in 404 at Bethlehem, of natural causes. Also known as Paula the Widow, Paulina, Pauline. Patronages – widows and Co-Patron with St Jerome of the Order of Saint Jerome.
Paula was a member of one of the richest senatorial families which claimed descent from Agamemnon. Paula was the daughter of Blesilla and Rogatus, from the great clan of the Furii Camilli.At the age of 16, Paula was married to the nobleman Toxotius, with whom she had four daughters, Blaesilla, Paulina, Eustochium, and Rufina and a son who was named after his father.
Paula was very virtuous as a married woman and with her husband, they became icons of Rome by their example. However, Paula had her flaws, particularly that of a certain love of worldly life, which was difficult to avoid due to her high social position. Information about Paula’s early life is recorded by Saint Jerome. In his Letter 108, he states that she had led a luxurious life and held a great status. She dressed in silks and had been carried about the city by her eunuch slaves. At first, Paula did not realise this secret tendency of her heart but the death of her husband, which occurred when she was 33 years old, opened her eyes. Through the influence of Saint Marcella and her group, Paula became an enthusiastic member of this semi-monastic group of women. In 382, she met Saint Jerome, who had come to Rome with Saint Epiphanius and Bishop St Paulinus of Antioch.
Blesila, the eldest daughter of Paula, died suddenly, which caused the pious widow immense suffering. Saint Jerome, who had just returned from Bethlehem, wrote her a letter of consolation, but, nevertheless, he rebuked her therein, for the excessive grief she manifested without thinking that her daughter had gone to receive the heavenly prize. Paulina, her second daughter, was married to Pamaquio and died seven years before her mother. Saint Eustochium , her third daughter, was her inseparable companion. Rufina died while still young. Toxotius, at first not a Christian but baptised in 385, married Laeta, daughter of the pagan priest Albinus. Of this marriage was born Paula the Younger, who in eventually joined Eustochium in the Holy Land and in 420 closed the eyes of St Jerome. These are the names which recur frequently in the letters of St Jerome, where they are inseparable from that of Paula.
A year after the death of her husband, Paula pursued a pilgrimage to tour all of the holy sites, travelling with large entourages of both men and women including her daughter Eustochium and Jerome himself. Paula could undertake this voyage, due to her widow status, which left her a significant fortune allowing her exemption from remarriage. Additionally, having had a male heir and two married daughters provided supplementary financial insurance. Her travels are documented by Jerome in his later writing addressed to Eustochium which discusses how Paula participated in the environments they toured. He discusses that Paula exemplified an intimate and emotional connection with the sights, experiencing visual vividness of biblical events at each locale. Concluding her journey, Paula decided to remain in Bethlehem to develop a Monastery and spiritual retreat with Jerome.
Once settled in Bethlehem, Paula and Jerome built a double Monastery including one for Paula and her Nuns and another for Jerome and his Monks. The addition of a roadside hostel was also constructed to serve as an economic source to fund the Monasteries. This development took three years to complete and was primarily sourced by Paula who, during this time of construction, lived at another double Monastery called Mount Olives.
It is in Jerome’s writing’s, in a letter to Eustochium, that provide the most insight on Paula’s life during her years of service at the Monastery. She is noted as maintaining her ascetic devotion through intensive studies of the Old and New Testaments, often under the guidance of Jerome. With this, she also practiced a strict fasting regimen, abstinence and pursued a penitent lifestyle “to preserve a singular attachment to God” as stated by Jerome. While practising this life of isolation, Paula still continued to interact with local clergy and Bishops and maintained devout attention to teaching the nuns under her care. Jerome’s letter from 404, moreover, indicates Saint Paula’s first-hand connection with relics from Christ’s passion, “she was shown the pillar of the church which supports the colonnade and which was stained with the Lord’s blood. He is said to have been tied to it when he was scourged.”
Jerome made explicit in his letter how Paula, through these practices, became a recognised figure in the Christian community. At one point, while travelling to Nitria, she was earnestly received by renowned Monks from Egypt and once her death arrived on 26 January 404, her funeral was noted as having a significant portion of the Palestine population arrive in her honour. A year after her passing, Paula was recognised by the Church as a Saint, with feast day on 26 January.
St Jerome grieved over her death but knowing how innocently she had lived, he was sure she was already in Paradise. “O dear Saint Paula,” he prayed, “help me now by your prayers and do not forget me, who taught you to live for God and Heaven. Your faith and your piety, have already placed you in the bosom of God and I know, He cannot now refuse to hear you. Oh, then, my child, pray, pray for me.”
Paula helped Jerome in his translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. The work was done at her suggestion and she provided the reference works necessary for the undertaking. Being versed in Hebrew, she edited Jerome’s manuscripts. She and her daughter Eustochium copied the work for circulation.
An anecdote told of Jerome, of twelfth-century origin, tells that Roman clergy hostile to Jerome planned to have him expelled from the city by planting a woman’s robe next to his bed. When Jerome awoke in the middle of the night to attend the service of matins, he absentmindedly put on the female robes. He was thus accused of having had a woman in his bed. This story acknowledges, while at the same time discrediting as a malicious slander, Jerome’s relationship with women, such as he is presumed to have had with Paula.
Palladius, a contemporary of Jerome, believed that Paula was hindered by Jerome: “For though she was able to surpass all, having great abilities, he hindered her by his jealousy, having induced her to serve his own plan.”
When Jerome died in early 420, he was buried beneath the north aisle of the Church of the Nativity, near the graves of Paula and Eustochium and tradition tells us that St Paula the Younger attended him in his last hours and when he lost his speech, she made the Sign of the Cross on his lips.
Our Lady of Atocha/Our Lady of Long Fields, Madrid, Spain (1261) – 26 January:
For a long time part of Madrid was nothing but a field of matreeds (tules) particularly in the district of Atocha. Here is a shrine to Our Lady of Atocha, a Spanish contraction for “Theotokos”, meaning “Mother of God,” or a simplification of “Antiocha” which, in the 12th Century under this title, was already ancient and beloved. Today the statue stands in a business centre, a dark little Madonna with an enigmatic smile on her face. Nobody knows where she came from but everyone, from gold-braided officer, to the ragged street urchins, pay her the most polite respect and give her most unqualified love. Our Lady of Atocha was in Madrid when there was only a field of reeds and a hermitage. The Moor and the Moslem came – they respected her and left her alone. When Toledo was sacked in 1170, she remained there calm and accessible, watching over her children. In 1525 Charles V brought her his bride and asked her blessing upon their marriage; Don Juan of Austria, departing for the Battle of Lepanto, knelt at her feet and pledged his sword to her; after his victory, he sent in thanksgiving, his sword to her along with the captured Moorish banners. Despite all these trappings of the high and wealthy, she still remains Our Lady of all the people, beloved of kings and farmers, such as St Isidore. Our Lady of Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine: there is not a Spaniard of public importance for a thousand years who would not kneel to ask her help. Her gowns are made from the bridal gowns of queens; yet no shrine better demonstrates how little it matters where we rank in the world, or what we do for a living. One of her supplicants asks her for victory for his armies, one for rain for his thirsty fields; Our Lady of Atocha answers all, impartially and lovingly.
In the year 1554 the Spanish Missionaries brought Our Lady of Atocha to Mexico with them. She was brought to a sanctuary called The Santuario De Plateros, which is a church about 30 minutes from the small town of Fresnillo. There were many miracles that occurred after the arrival of the famous statue. After the first miracle was reported, the Infant of Atocha was separated from the rest of the statue. He was seated instead by Himself in a splendid crystal niche on the main altar, and He can still be seen there today. In His left hand He holds a jug, which for centuries was used by pilgrims to carry their liquids for drinking. In His right hand is a small basket of food. The face of the Infant is dark and bright. He has long curls and wears a small hat trimmed with gold and feathers on the side. His clothing is velvet, with exquisite embroidering and has the initials JHS. Finally, on his feet he wears solid gold sandals. The Holy Infant is so small and attractive He is like a magnet to everyone. He is actually a figure of admiration to the faithful. He grants them the favours they ask for and gives grace instantly. He usually works during the night visiting the sick and the poor, therefore, He is also known as The Night Walking Infant of Atocha. It is not unusual to see HIs little chair empty while He is out on a mission. In the morning when He returns the sisters dust off His sandals after His all night journeys. Pilgrimages are daily occurrences at the Santuario De Plateros. Thousands of pilgrims go to the Santuario on their knees, singing and praying. The pilgrims come for miles away on foot carrying flowers. The children come also and the little infants are carried in the mother’s shawl. It is impossible to count the testimonials that cover the walls. Pictures, wheel chairs, crutches, braids of hair, have been brought in by those who received miraculous cures. All testimonials are framed with a picture of The Little Infant of Atocha, a picture of the moment of the miracle and they also indicate time, date and place.
St Alphonsus of Astorga St Ansurius of Orense St Athanasius of Sorrento St Conan of Iona Bl Eystein Erlandsön Bl José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero Bl Marie de la Dive veuve du Verdier de la Sorinière Bl Michaël Kozal St Paula of Rome (347-404) Widow, Foundress St Theofrid of Corbie St Theogenes of Hippo St Tortgith of Barking — Martyred Family of Constantinople: Saint Mary and Saint Xenophon were married and the parents of Saint John and Saint Arcadius. Theirs was a wealthy family of Senatorial rank in 5th century imperial Constantinople, but were known as a Christians who lived simple lives. To give their sons a good education, Xenophon and Mary sent them to university in Beirut, Phoenicia. However, their ship wrecked, there was no communication from them, and the couple assumed, naturally, that the young men had died at sea. In reality, John and Arcadius had survived and decided that instead of continuing to Beirut, they were going to follow a calling to religious life and became monks, eventually living in a monastery in Jerusalem. Years later, Mary and Xenophon made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem – where they encountered their sons. Grateful to have their family re-united and taking it as a sign, Xenophon and Mary gave up their positions in society in Constantinople, and lived the rest of their lives as a monk and anchoress in Jerusalem. A few years later, the entire family was martyred together. They were martyred in 5th century Jerusalem. St Xenophon St Mary St John St Arcadius