Thought for the Day – 5 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“A little solitude is necessry for everone but, “it is dangerous to concentrate our attention too much o ourselves if, having discovered our own weakness, we do not raise our thoughts towards God to implore His mercy” (Mariano Cordovani OP, Breviario Spirituale p 14). It is disastrous, if solitude leads to laziness or to futile mental rambling. Solitude should be active and fervent. It should be an ascent towards God. It should help us to form the habit of continual conversation with God, so that nothing can break our union with Him. A man who only prays when he is on his knees, prays very little. The Gospel says that we ought always to pray. Solitude of the heart, enables us to obey this precept. “Of what us is the solitude of the body,” asks St Gregory the Great, “without the solitude of the heart?” (Moralia, Bk XXX, Xh 52).
If we wish to have this spiritual solitude which will keep us close to God, our hearts must be detached from worldly affairs. “If a glass vase is filled with earth,” writes St Alphonsus, “the light of the sun cannot penetrate it. Similarly, the divine light cannot penetrate a heart which is preoccupied with the love of pleasure and of honours”(Al Divino Servizio, III, 2).
Let us love solitude then. Let us look for it whenever it is possible but, above all, let us keep our hearts free from earthly attachments and united to God.”
Quote/s of the Day – 6 February – Readings: Hebrews 13:15-17, 20-21, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6, Mark 6:30-34
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”
“The supreme goal to which the monk tends, the summit of the perfection of his heart, is indeed the union of his heart with his Lord.”
St John Cassian (c 360-435) Monk, Father of the Church
“O Hermitage, only those who know you, who rest sweetly in your arms, can tell of your grandeur and chant your praises. As for me, I only know this and affirm it in all sincerity – Whoever forces himself with perseverance to enter more and more into the desire to love You, will finally enter Your mystery and, at the same time, the mystery of God.”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072) Benedictine Monk Doctor of the Church
“What benefits What divine exultation The solitude and silence of the desert Hold in store for those who love it!”
St Bruno (c 1030-1101)
“Until I was alone I never really lived. Until I was alone, I was not with myself. Until I was alone, I never drew near to my creator.”
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” … Mark 6:31
REFLECTION – “If you wish to come and find Me, seek me aside. As Mark says: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile. People were coming and going in great numbers and they had no opportunity even to eat.” (Mk 6:31). Alas, such are the passions of the flesh and the turmoil of thoughts coming and going in our hearts that we have no time to eat the food of everlasting sweetness, nor perceive the taste of interior contemplation. That is why our Lord says: “Come away” from the noisy crowd “to a deserted place,” to solitude of mind and heart, “and rest awhile.”For truly, as the book of Revelation says: “There will be silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rv 8:1); and in the Psalm: “Who will give me wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest” (Ps 54:7 LXX). But let us listen to what the prophet Hosea says: “I will seduce her and lead her into the wilderness and I will speak to her heart” (cf. Hos 2:16 Vg). These three expressions: seduce, lead into the wilderness, speak to her heart, represent the three stages of the spiritual life – the beginning, development and perfection. The Lord seduces the beginner when He enlightens him with His grace so that he may grow and progress from virtue to virtue. Then he leads him aside from the din of the vices and disordered thoughts, into peace of spirit. Finally, once guided to perfection, God speaks to his heart. Then the soul experiences the sweetness of divine inspiration and can surrender totally to joy of spirit. What depth of devotion, of wonderment and happiness in his heart! By devotion, he is raised above himself, through wonder, he is led above himself, through happiness, he is transported out of himself.” … St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) Doctor of the Church – Sermon for the feast of Saint John the Evangelist
PRAYER – All-powerful, eternal God, splendour of true light and never-ending day, let our striving for Your kingdom not fall short through selfishness or fear, may the universe be alive with the Spirit and our homes be the pledge of the world redeemed. May our hearts be eternally longing for that time alone with You, our one true Love. May our worldly duties be such that they never impede our progress in devotion and may the intercession of our Holy Mother, St Amand and all the saints, be a strength and a comfort. Through Jesus, our compassionate and loving Redeemer, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 6 February – “Month of the Holy Family” and a Marian Saturday
Blessed are You, O Mary! By St Jacob of Sarug (c 451-521) Syrian Bishop and Monk
Blessed are you, O Mary and blessed is your holy soul, for your beatitude surpasses that of all the Blessed. Blessed are you who have borne, embraced and caressed as a Baby, the One who upholds the ages with His secret word. Blessed are you, from whom the Saviour appeared on this exile earth, subjugating the seducer and bringing peace to the world. Blessed are you, whose pure mouth touched the lips of the One, whom the Seraphim look upon in His splendour. Blessed are you, who have nourished, with your pure milk the source, from whom the living obtain life and light. Blessed are you, because the whole universe resounds with your memory and the Angels and human beings, celebrate your feast. Daughter of the poor, you became the Mother of the King of kings. You gave to the poor world the riches that can make it live. You are the bark, laden with the goodness and the treasures of the Father, Who sent His riches once again, into our empty home. Blessed are you, O Mary! Amen
Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Amand of Maastricht (c 584-c 679) Bishop of Tongeren-Maastricht and one of the great Missionaries of Flanders (Belgium), Monk, Abbot, Papal Missionary Bishop and Advisor, miracle-worker, Founder of numerous Monasteries which became known for their hospitality to pilgrims. Born c 584 at Poitou, France and died in c 679 in the Monastery at Elnone-en-Pevele (modern Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), France. Patronages – against diseases of cattle, against fever, against paralysis, against rheumatism, against seizures against skin diseases, against vision problems, Boy Scouts, bar staff, barkeepers, bartenders, brewers, grocers, hotel keepers, innkeepers, merchants, pharmacists, druggists, vinegar makers, vine growers, vintners, wine merchants, 4 cities. Also known as the Apostle of Belgium, Apostle of Flanders, Amand of Elnone, Amand of France, Amandus, Amantius, Amatius.
The chief source of details of his life is the Vita Sancti Amandi, an eighth-century text attributed to Beaudemond. The vita was expanded by Philippe, Abbot of Aumône. According to this biography, Amand was born in Lower Poitou. He was of noble birth but at the age of twenty, he became a monk, against the wishes of his family. His father threatened to disinherit him if he did not return home but our Saint chose rather to ensure his riches in the heavenly kingdom. From there Amandus went to Bourges and became a pupil of Bishop Austregisilus. There he lived in solitude in a cell for fifteen years, living on no more than bread and water.
Amand’s fervent disciple, St Humbert of Maroilles (died c 682), was of a noble family and trained as a Monk in Laon. However, upon the death of his parents, he returned to his estates to settle some inheritance issues and found fine food, servants and various conveniences, sufficiently distracting, that he gave up any thought of the monastic life, until one day Amand took him on a pilgrimage to Rome. Humbert became his disciple and companion.
After the pilgrimage to Rome, Amand was made a Missionary Bishop in France in 628, without a fixed Diocese. At the request of Clotaire II, he evangelised the pagan inhabitants of Ghent, later extending his field of operations to all of Flanders. Initially, he had little success, suffering persecution and undergoing great hardships. However, after performing a miracle (bringing back to life a hanged criminal), the attitude of the people changed and he made many converts. He founded a Monastery at Elnon where he served as Abbot for four years. He returned to France in 630.
Amand was a close friend of St Adalbard of Ostrevent (died c 652), whom he advised on the founding Marchiennes Abbey. Amand angered Dagobert I by attempting to have the King amend his life. In spite of the intervention of Saint Acarius, Amand was expelled from the kingdom and went to Gascony.
Later Dagobert asked him to return and tutor the heir to the throne. Amand however declined. In 633, Amand founded two Monasteries in Ghent; one at Blandinberg and the other named for St Bavo, who gave his estate for its foundation. His next missionary task was among the Slavic people of the Danube valley in present-day Slovakia but this was unsuccessful. Amand went to Rome and reported to the Pope. While returning to France, Amand calmed a storm at sea. In 639, he built an Abbey near Tournay.
From 647 till 650, Amand briefly served as Bishop of Maastricht. The Pope gave him some advice on how to deal with disobedient clerics and warned him about the Monothelite heresy, at that time prevalent in the East. Amand was commissioned by the Pope to organise Church Councils, in Neustria and Austrasia, in order to pass on the various decrees from Rome. The Bishops asked Amand to report and transmit the proceedings of the Church Councils to the Pope. He resigned the See of Maastricht to St Remaclus, to resume his missionary work.
Around this time, Amand established contact with the family of Pepin of Landen and helped St Gertrude of Nivelles OSB (died 659) and her mother, St Itta (died 652), establish the famous Monastery of Nivelles. Amand was now 70 years old but at this time, the inhabitants of the Basque country asked him to return to their country to evangelise, although 30 years earlier he had preached there in vain. Returning home, he founded several more Monasteries in present-day Belgium, with the help of King Dagobert.
Amand died in Elnone Abbey (later Saint-Amand Abbey, in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near Tournai) at the age of ninety. The Vita of St Aldegonde recounts, that on the day of his death, St Aldegonde was shown a vision of the great Missionary Saint, ascending to heaven. This account did much to further the cult of Amand.
St Amand was known for his hospitality and is, therefore, the Patron Saint of all who produce beer, brewers, innkeepers and bartenders. He is also the Patron of vine growers, vintners and merchants. St Amand is greatly venerated in Belgium, in particular.
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “This Virgin, in high veneration in that country, began to work miracles in the year 1444.” Saint Peter’s Church, or Sint-Pieterskerk, is the oldest Church in Leuven, Belgium, having been founded in about 986. The first Church burned to the ground but the present Gothic style Church was begun in 1425. The Church suffered severe damage during both world wars, as in 1914 the roof and nave were burned and in 1944 the north aisle suffered bomb damage. The Church of Saint Peter, is the home of Our Lady of Louvain, or the Virgin of Louvain, a statue of the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Son also called the Sedes Sapientiae, or Seat of Wisdom. The Virgin of Louvain is a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary carved by Nicolaas De Bruyne in 1442. It was a larger facsimile of an earlier statue dating from the 13th century. That statue was completely destroyed during the Second World War and not by the Fascists or Nazis but instead, by allied bombs. It is a replica of Bruyne’s famous statue that is currently on display in the church.
Sedes Sapientiae is a specific title for the statue of Our Lady of Louvain but it is also a type of Christian iconography of the Blessed Mother, which depicts the Blessed Virgin seated upon a throne with the Christ Child in her lap. This type of representation of the Blessed Mother became, especially popular, early in the 13th century and, the throne she sits upon, usually has some depiction of lions and the Blessed Virgin’s feet are usually shown resting upon a stool and for good reason. The “Seat of Wisdom” is a title of Mary that many Catholics will recognise from the Litany of Loreto. It was no less a luminary than Saint Peter Damian, who in the 11th century said of the Blessed Virgin Mary that she “is herself that wondrous throne referred to in the Book of Kings.” In this, he was alluding to Solomon’s throne, the throne of the King renowned throughout history, for his wisdom. His throne was of ivory overlaid with the finest gold. “It had six steps and the top of the throne was round behind and there were two hands on either side, holding the seat and two lions stood, one at each hand. And twelve little lions stood upon the six steps on the one side and on the other: there was no such work made in any kingdom.” (Third Book of Kings, Chapter 10: 18-20). She is descended from the noble lineage of David. As the Mother of God, the “Seat of Wisdom,” the vessel of the Incarnation, who carried and gave birth to the second person of the Blessed Trinity, she, herself is, in a certain sense, the throne upon which the Son of God reigns. This symbol, the Sedes Sapientiae, has become the seal for the Catholic University of Leuven. It bears the motto: “Universitas Catholica Lovaniensis. Sedes Sapientiae,” which is Latin for Catholic University of Leuven. Seat of Wisdom.”
St Gerald of Ostia St Gonsalo Garcia OFM St Guarinus St Guethenoc St Hildegund St Ina of Wessex St Jacut St Liminius of Auvergne Bl Mary Teresa Bonzel St Mateo Correa-Magallanes St Maximus of Aurvergne St Mel of Ardagh St Melchu of Armagh St Mun of Lough Ree St Relindis of Eyck St Revocata St Saturninus St Tanco of Werden St Theophilus St Theophilus the Lawyer St Vaast of Arras St Victorinus of Auvergne — Martyrs of Emesa: St Luke the Deacon St Mucius the Lector St Silvanus of Emesa