Thought for the Day – 7 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Devotion to the dead and the belief in a place of expiation and purification after death, can be traced back, not only to the early days of the Church but, even to the dawn of the human race. Although Luther denied the existence of Purgatory, he was compelled to acknowledge the existence of this ancient and universal belief, sanctioned by Tradition, by faith and by human reason. This belief was already present among pagan people, as is attested by the better-known writers of antiquity such as Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Virgil and, by ancient funeral inscriptions. Evidence of the belief among the Jews, is found in Sacred Scripture, where it is related that, after he had conquered the worshippers of Jamnia, Judas Machabaeus, collected twelve thousand drachmas of silver, in order to have sacrifices offered for the dead. It is a holy and wholesome thought, adds the text, to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins (2 Macc 12:46).
This is a very consoling doctrine. It is comforting to know, that one day we shall find a way of purifying ourselves of all trace of sin and imperfection and, that meanwhile, we can be spiritually united with our departed loved ones and can help them by our prayers.”
Quote/s of the Day – 7 February – The Memorial of Blessed Mary of Providence HHS (1825-1871) and the Holy Souls in Purgatory
“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice (Job 1:5), why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“One of the holiest works, one of the best exercises of piety, which we can practice in this world, is to offer sacrifices, alms and prayer for the dead.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“If it were but known how great is the power of the good Souls in Purgatory with the Heart of God and if we knew all the graces we can obtain through their intercession, they would not be so much forgotten. We must, therefore, pray much for them, that they may pray much for us.”
St John Vianney (1786-1859)
Blessed Mary of Providence HHS (1825-1871), friend of St John Vianney, was the Founder of Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls their objective is assisting theHoly Ssouls in Purgatory through their service to the needy of the world. She said:
“If one of our friends was imprisoned in a house on fire, how we should rush to her help. Then think how we should try to deliver the Souls in Purgatory.”
“Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up and the fever left her and she began to serve them.” – Mark 1:30-31
REFLECTION – “Can you imagine Jesus standing before your bed and you continue sleeping? It is absurd that you would remain in bed in His presence. Where is Jesus? He is already here, offering Himself to us. “In the middle,” He says, “among you He stands, whom you do not recognise.” “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” Faith beholds Jesus among us. If we are unable to seize His hand, let us prostrate ourselves at His feet. If we are unable to reach His head, let us wash His feet with our tears. Our repentance is the perfume of the Saviour. See how costly is the compassion of the Saviour. Our sins give off a terrible odour – they are rottenness! Nevertheless, if we repent of our sins, they will be transformed into perfume by the Lord. Therefore, let us ask the Lord to grasp our hand. “And at once,” he says, “the fever left her.” Immediately as her hand is grasped, the fever flees.” – St Jerome (343-420) Father and Doctor of the Church – Tractate on Mark‘s Gospel, 2
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 eyes see and our hearts have compassion, to all those who need us. May the intercession of our Holy Mother 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 – 7 February – Sexagesima Sunday
God, my God May I Always Abide in You By St John Damascene (675-749) Father and Doctor of the Church
God, my God, inextinguishable and invisible fire, You make Your angels flaming fire. Out of Your inexpressible love, You have given me Your divine Flesh as food and through this communion of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood, You receive me as a partaker of Your divinity. Permeate all my body and soul, all my bones and sinews. Consume my sins in fire. Enlighten my soul and illumine my mind. Sanctify my body and make Your abode in me, together with Your blessed Father and all-holy Spirit, that I may always abide in You, through the intercession of Your immaculate Mother and all Your saints. Amen
Saint of the Day – 7 February – Blessed Mary of Providence HHS (1825-1871) Religious Nun and Founder of the Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls on 19 January 1856, with the objective of assisting the Souls in Purgatory through their service to the needy of the world, friend of St John Vianney. Born as Eugénie Smet on 25 March 1825 at Lille, France and died on 7 February 1871 at Paris, France of breast cancer at the age of 45.
Eugénie Smet was born on 25 March 1825, the third of six children of Henri Édouard Joseph and Marie Pauline Joseph Taverne Smet in Lille, in the north of France. She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Lille, where she demonstrated a particular devotion to the Guardian Angels. Eugénie was a bright, lively child who was deeply in love with her faith from a young age.
She was filled with great concern for the souls in Purgatory since the image of the suffering in Purgatory smote her heart.
Slowly, she began to minister to the poor around her in her small French village of Loos. She asked her father for permission to take the fallen fruit from his orchard and give it to the hungry of the village.
The Catholic Church, formerly very influential in France before the revolutions, had become a remnant of its former self. The Church was rebuilding itself by reaching out to the poor and offering material, charitable assistance. Eugénie threw herself into this work of charity and into the sacramental life of the Church. She began to attend Mass daily and dedicated her life to God.
Interestingly, her greatest efforts of aid were directed to the poor who were not physically present in France. She assisted the Bishop in raising money for missions in China and she was convinced that the Holy Souls in Purgatory were in great need of prayers.
Eugénie felt the call to create a religious order that would dedicate itself solely to praying for these poor suffering souls. As she was praying with her head bowed down before our Blessed Lord in the Sacrament of His Love, the idea of an association of prayers and good works on behalf of the dead was rising distinctly before her eyes. But then, came the doubt – was it God who was inspiring her with thought or was it the result of her own fancy? In unhesitating faith she determined to ask Our Blessed Lord, by some unmistakable sign, to give a token of His Will. If you want me to begin this work my Lord, make at least one of my friends, think of something and let her speak to me about it as soon as I come out of Church. She slowly descended the long flight of steps of the Church to the village square, anxiously thinking over the prayer she had made. Her heart sank within her when she reached the bottom of the stairs and no-one had spoken to her. But just at that moment a young girl at her own age, a great dear friend of hers, came forward and said,
“Dear Eugenie, I am so glad to have met you. During Benediction I had an inspiration. I thought of offering to join you, in doing everything we can, during November, for the Souls in Purgatory. Have you indeed had that thought?”
As Eugénie prayed and sought the necessary permissions to create her order, she received great encouragement from St John Vianney, which she took as a sign to continue. Eugénie met with Abbé Largentier, a Priest in Paris who had started a small community dedicated to praying for Souls in Purgatory.
Eugénie was hopeful Abbé Largentier could help her begin a religious order of sisters to pray for Souls in Purgatory but Abbé Largentier insisted, that Eugénie’s order could only succeed by starting a school. Eugénie was dissatisfied with this and she prayed for direction. In 1856, she found a house in Paris that and she persuaded the owner to let the house to her, despite having no liquid assets. On 27 December 1857, Eugénie, with five of her first companions, pronounced her first religious vows. A Jesuit was appointed Chaplain and the Rule of St Ignatius was adapted. The congregation was dedicated to Our Lady of Providence and Eugénie took the name Mary of Providence and she became the Superior of the Community, The Helpers of the Holy Souls. The Helpers began to go out into the suffering community around them and prayed with and cared for the men and women in the inner City of Paris, who suffered from alcoholism, abandonment, and great physical and mental duress. The Helpers offered up their charity work for the Souls in Purgatory, thus hoping to alleviate two forms of suffering at once. Their rule was formally accepted in 1859.
Eugénie’s Order was bursting with new vocations and she opened several other houses. In 1867, a brave cohort of thirty sisters traveled to China to begin a house of Helpers there.
Eugénie died on 7 February 1871, in Paris. She is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery. Bl Mary of Providence, was Beatified in Rome on 26 May 1957 by Venerable Pope Pius XII. Her movement has spread throughout the world – now in 24 countries and continues to minister to the Souls in the Body of Christ—both those on earth and those who have departed this world.
Pope Pius XII summarised, in a homily, the essence of the message left by Sister Mary of Providence:
“Whoever acts thus, in a manner devoid of all personal interest and selfishness and consecrates himself to the universal work of redemption, will know, like Mary of Providence, the suffering and the travail but also, the invincible security, of those who are established on the strength of God Himself and await with humble confidence, the hour of endless triumph:
In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped, let me never be put to confusion (Psalm 70: 1).“
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time +2021 Sexagesima Sunday (Traditional Calendar) +2021
Sexagesima Sunday is the second Sunday before the start of Lent, which makes it the eighth Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, it was the second of the three Sundays (Septuagesima is the first and Quinquagesima is the third) of preparation for Lent. Sexagesima literally means “sixtieth,” though it falls only 56 days before Easter.
Nostra Signora delle Grazie, o Nostra Signora del Capo chino / Our Lady of Grace, or Our Lady of the Bowed Head, Rome (1610) – 7 February:
Among the many miraculous images of the Mother of God through which she deigns to grant her favours, there is one in the Monastery Church of the Carmelites in Vienna, entitled the Mother of Grace, or Our Lady of Grace, also known also as Our Lady of the Bowed Head. In 1610 a Carmelite, Dominic of Jesus-Mary, found, among the votaries of an old altar, in the Monastery Church of Maria della Scala in Rome an oil painting of the Mother of God, dust-covered and somewhat torn, which grieved him. Taking it into his hands, he shook the dust off it and kneeling down venerated it with great devotion. He had the picture renovated and placed it on the shelf in his cell, where he made it the object of his love and supplications, in favour of those, who came to him in their necessities and afflictions. One night while he was praying fervently before the picture, he noticed that some dust had settled on it. Having nothing but his course woollen handkerchief, he dusted it with that and apologised, “O pure and holiest Virgin, nothing in the whole world is worthy of touching your holy face but since I have nothing but this coarse handkerchief, deign to accept my goodwill.” To his great surprise, the face of the Mother of God appeared to take on life and smiling sweetly at him, she bowed her head, which, thereafter, remained inclined. Fearing he was under an illusion, Dominic became troubled but Mary assured him that his requests would be heard – he could ask of her with full confidence any favour he might desire. He fell upon his knees and offered himself entirely to the service of Jesus and Mary and asked for the deliverance of one of is benefactor’s souls in purgatory. Mary told him to offer several Masses and other good works – a short time after, when he was again praying before the image, Mary appeared to him bearing the soul of his benefactor to Heaven. Dominic begged that all who venerated Mary in this image of Our Lady of Grace might obtain all they requested. In reply the Virgin gave him this assurance:
“All those who devoutly venerate me in this picture and take refuge to me will have their request granted and I will obtain for them, many graces but especially, will I hear their prayers for the relief and deliverance of the Souls in Purgatory.” Dominic soon after placed the image into the church of Maria Della Scala so that more devotees of Mary could venerate it. Many wonderful favours were and are obtained by those who honoured and invoked Mary here. Reproductions were made of Our Lady of Grace and sent to different parts of the world. After the death of Dominic the original painting was lent to Prince Maximilian of Bavaria. He gave it to the discalced Carmelites in Munich in 1631; they gave it to Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria and his wife Eleanore. After Ferdinand’s death, Eleanore entered the Carmelite convent in Vienna and took the picture with her. During the succeeding years the image was transferred to various places. Today, it is in the Monastery Church of Vienna. On 27 September 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – the 300th anniversary of arrival in Vienna.