Thought for the Day – 30 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Depending Always on Jesus
“We must continue to trust in Jesus even when we have been guilty of imperfection or of sin. Sin, according to St Thomas Aquinas, is the denial of love and, therefore, of God, Who is charity. It places a distance between God and the soul. Precisely because of this, whenever we fall into sin or imperfection, we should return immediately to Jesus and ask Him to support us once more, in our weakness. There is no need to be afraid. It was for this purpose that He became man and suffered and died for love of us. We can be sure, that whenever we return to Him, in a spirit of repentance, He will receive us lovingly and will grant us forgiveness, He will support us with His omnipotent power, so that we may not fall again.
We must, as St Francis de Sales writes, lean on the arm of Jesus, as the child leans securely on the arm of it’s mother. “It matters little,” he adds, “where she walks, on a grassy plain or on a steep path surrounded by precipices.” She, is his mother and she carries him; that is enough to make him happy and content. We must trust Jesus in this way, relying always on His support in joy and in sorrow, in moments of trial and in moments of satisfaction, in life and in death. Let us not be afraid; Jesus is better and stronger than our earthly mother. If He guides and supports us, we can be sure of Heaven, no matter what happens!”
And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
“Come along then, every human family, full of sin as you are and receive the forgiveness of your sins. For I Myself, am your Forgiveness, I am the Passover of salvation, the Lamb slain for your sakes, your redemption, life and resurrection; I am your Light, your Salvation and your King. It is I, who lead you to the heights of heaven, I, who will raise you up; it is I, who will bring you to see the Father who is from all eternity; it is I, who will raise you up by My all-powerful Hand.”
St Melito of Sardis (Died c 180) Bishop, Apologist
“Christ first of all, Christ in the centre of the heart, in the centre of history and of the cosmos. Humanity needs Christ intensely because, He is our “measure.” There is no realm, that cannot be touched by His strength; there is no evil, that cannot find remedy in Him, there is no problem, that cannot be solved in Him. Either Christ or nothing!”
St John Leonardi (1541-1609)
“Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother–everything to you.”
St Paul of the Cross (1604-1775)
“Keep Jesus Christ as your dial, at all times, His Cross for mast, on which to hoist your resolutions, as a sail. Let your anchor be, profound trust in Him and set out early!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 30 January – Saturday of the Third week in Ordinary Time, Readings: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 1:69-70, 71-72,73-75, Mark 4:35-41 and the Memorial of Saint Bathilde (c 626–680) Queen
“And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4:39
REFLECTION – “Your heart is imperilled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate but, the joy of revenge, brings with it another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten His presence. Rouse Him, then; remember Him, let Him keep watch within you, pay heed to Him. … You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified He said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in His.
Rouse Him, then, call Him to mind. (To remember Him, is to recall His words; to remember Him, is to recall His commands.) Then, when He is awake within you, you will ask yourself, “Whatever kind of wretch am I to be thirsting for revenge? … He who said, ‘Give and it shall be given you; forgive and you will be forgiven,’ would indeed decline to acknowledge me. So I will curb my anger and restore peace to my heart.” Now all is calm again. Christ has rebuked the sea. … This is the moment to awaken Christ and let Him remind you of those words: “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him” Who is this whom the sea obeys? “It is he to whom the sea belongs, for he made it” (Ps 95:5); “all things were made through him” (Jn 1:3).
Try, then, to be more like the wind and the sea – obey the God who made you. The sea obeys Christ’s command and are you going to turn a deaf ear to it? … Words, actions, schemes, what are all these but a constant huffing and puffing, a refusal to be still at Christ’s command? When your heart is in a troubled state, do not let the waves overwhelm you.
If, since we are only human, the driving wind should stir up in us a tumult of emotions, let us not despair but awaken Christ, so that we may sail in quiet waters and reach at last our heavenly homeland.” – St Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo, Father and Doctor of Grace – Sermon 63
PRAYER – Waken us holy Lord, to Your presence in us, with us, now and forever. Open our eyes to see Your presence and our ears to hear Your voice. Teach us that You are always with us and Your presence is all we need to survive the storms and the winds of this world. For You, just You, are our rock and our foundation, our ship and our harbour. Grant that the prayers of St Bathilde and all Your saints may serve to remind us of Your love and power. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 30 January – Mary’s Saturday, as always
Into the Arms of Your Mercy By St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
Into the Arms of Your Mercy, O Mary, my Queen, I cast myself, into the arms of your mercy. I place my soul and body, in your blessed care and under your special protection from this world. I entrust to you, all my hopes and consolations, all my anguish and misery, my life and the end of my life. Through your most holy intercession and through your merits, grant that all my works may be directed and carried out, in accordance with your will and the will of your Divine Son. Amen
Saint of the Day – 30 January – Saint Bathilde (c 626–680) Queen, Regent, Widow and Mother, Religious, Apostle of the poor and of slaves, Social Reformer, pioneer in the abolition of Slavery, founder of Monasteries. Born in c 630 in England and died on 30 January 680 of natural causes. Other forms of her name are Bathilidis, Bathild, Batilda, Bathchilde and Bauteur. Patronage – children.
An Anglo-Saxon by birth, Bathilde was captured in 641 by Danish raiders and sold to Erchinoald, the Chief Officer of the Palace of Clovis II, King of the Franks. She quickly gained favour, for she had charm, beauty and a graceful and gentle nature. She also won the affection of her fellow-servants, for she would do them many kindnesses such as cleaning their shoes and mending their clothes and her bright and attractive disposition endeared her to them all.
The Officer, impressed by her fine qualities, wished to make her his wife but Bathilde, alarmed at the prospect, both by reason of her modesty and of her humble status, disguised herself in old and ragged clothes and hid herself away among the lower servants of the palace and he, not finding her in her usual place and thinking she had fled, married another woman.
Her next suitor, however, was none other than the King himself, for when she had discarded her old clothes and appeared again in her place, he noticed her grace and beauty and declared his love for her. Thus in 649, the 19-year-old slave girl Bathilde became Queen of France, amidst the applause of the Court and the Kingdom. She bore Clovis three sons – Clotaire III, Childeric II and Theodoric III–all of whom became Kings. On the death of Clovis (c 655-657), she was appointed Regent in the name of her eldest son, who was only five and ruled capably for eight years with Saint Eligius (feast day 1 December) as her Advisor.
She made a wonderful Queen and ruled wisely. Unlike many who rise suddenly to high place and fortune, she never forgot that she had been a slave and did all within her power to relieve those in captivity. We are told that “Queen Bathilde was the holiest and most devout of women; her pious munificence knew no bounds; remembering her own bondage, she set apart vast sums for the redemption of captives.” She helped promote Christianity by supporting the zeal of Saint Owen (feast day, 24 August), Saint Leodegar (feast day 2 October 2) and many other Bishops.
At that time, the poorer inhabitants of France, were often obliged to sell their children as slaves, to meet the crushing taxes imposed upon them. Bathilde reduced this taxation, forbade the purchase of Christian slaves and the sale of French subjects and declared, that any slave who set foot in France, would from that moment be free. Thus, this enlightened women earned the love of her people and was a pioneer in the abolition of slavery.
She also founded many Abbeys, such as Corbie, Saint-Denis and Chelles, which became civilised settlements in wild and remote areas, inhabited only by prowling wolves and other wild beasts. Under her guidance forests and waste land were reclaimed, cornland and pasture took their place and agriculture flourished. She built hospitals and sold her jewellery to supply the needy.
After her children were well established in their respective territories, Childeric IV in Austrasia and Thierry in Burgundy, she returned to her wish for a secluded life and retired to her own Royal Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, where she served the other nuns with humility and obeyed the Abbess like the least of the sisters. On entering the Abbey she laid down the insignia of royalty and desired to be the lowest in rank among the sisters. It was her pleasure to take her position after the novices and to serve the poor and infirm with her own hands. Prayer and manual toil occupied her time, nor did she wish any allusion made to the grandeur of her past position. In this manner she passed fifteen years of retirement. At the beginning of the year 680 she had a presentiment of the approach of death and made religious preparation for it.
She died at the Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, before she had reached her 50th birthday. Death touched her with a gentle hand; as she died, she said she saw a ladder reaching from the Altar to heaven and up this she climbed, in the company of angels.
Bathilde was buried in the Abbey of Chelles and was Canonised by Pope Nicholas I (820-867) Papacy 858-867.
Nostra Signora della Rosa / Our Lady of the Rose (Lucca, Italy) – 30 January:
History shows, that the rose is the favourite flower of Our Lady herself, the Madonna of the Rose. In her apparition at Guadeloupe, she made use of roses as a sign of her presence and even arranged them, with her own beautiful hands, in the tilma of Juan Diego. At La Salette she wore a profusion of roses in three garlands and had tiny roses around the rim of her slippers. She brought beautiful roses with her at Lourdes, Pontmain, Pellevoisin, Beauraing and Banneaux. To Sister Josefa Menendez she showed her immaculate heart encircled with little white roses. Truly, she could be called the Madonna of the Rose. In the City of Damascus, very familiar to Mary, hundreds of men and women earn their living by working with roses, from which they distil rosewater and extract attar and syrup of rose. These people carry the scent of roses with them, wherever they go. This is a lesson for us – let us become so saturated with the virtues of Mary, the Madonna of the Rose, that we carry their fragrance and attract other souls to our Divine Lord, through His Mother, the Mystical Rose, the Madonna of the Rose. Among the many feasts of Our Lady we find mentioned in an old Latin chronicle: “30 January, Our Lady of the Rose, at Lucca in Italy. Three roses were found in January in the arms of the Statue of Our Lady there.” Cardinal Newman says “Mary is the most beautiful flower ever seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory and Mary is the Queen of them all. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers and, therefore, is called the Rose, for the rose is called, of all flower, the most beautiful. But, moreover, she is the Mystical or Hidden Rose, for mystical means hidden.” In the stately college of King’s Chapel, in Cambridge, England, one of the most renowned universities, built by Henry VIII in memory of his father, there can be discerned, hidden in one of the Tudor rose-bosses on the walls, a small head of Our Lady which somehow escaped observation, at the despoliation of images at the Protestant Deformation. Brother John, a clever carver, was hired to carve all of the roses; knowing of the King’s quarrel with the Pope, he secretly carved a tiny head of Mary, half-hidden within the rose petals in the upper tier of decorations, saying, “There you remain, Our Lady of the Rose, even if wicked men try to drive you and your Son from this Church.” His words came true, when the place was stripped of every trace of Faith, the diminutive head of the Mother of God still remained. But a rose has thorns and so had the Mystical Rose – the sharpest for herself alone; so she could have compassion on our infirmities. Never did the breathE of evil spoil the splendour of this Mystical Rose; never did God’s lovely flower, the Madonna of the Rose, cease to give forth the sweet perfume of love and praise. “Mystical Rose, thou hast been hailed to shed they fragrance sweet, to flood our desert with thy perfume rare. We beg thee, daily kneeling at thy feet, let fall thy petals for our repose, shower upon us thy aroma, O thou Mystical Rose.”