Thought for the Day – 14 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Three Grades of Perfection – One and Two
“According to St Ignatius, there are three grades of perfection. The first consists in being ready to avoid mortal sin at all costs, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Circumstances may require us to be martyrs for the faith by being prepared to shed our blood, rather than deny Jesus. Circumstances may also require us to be martyrs for our Christian way of life, by being prepared to lose everything, health, fortune and friendship, rather than commit a mortal sin. We are all obliged to reach this first grade of perfection. If anyone refuses to recognise this, he is already in a state of mortal sin, insofar, as he is prepared to sin grievously, rather than make any real sacrifice. Such a man loves himself and his own comfort, more than he loves God.
The second grade of perfection, consists in a state of indifference to created things, to everything except God, whether it is to health or sickness, wealth or poverty, praise or blame, success or failure. All these things can be used equally well in the loving service of God and in the salvation of our souls. The first grade of perfection is based on the love of God. The second is founded on the love of God alone, so that we are indifferent to everything else, as long as we love, serve and give glory to God. We seek other things, only insofar, as they can help us to know and love God better. We avoid them, insofar, as they can keep us apart from Him.”
Quote/s of the Day – 14 February – Readings: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46, Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 11, 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, Mark 1:40-45
“You can make me clean”
“It is the greatest punishment to commit sin, though we may remain unpunished – it is the greatest honour and repose to live virtuously, though we may be punished.”
St John Chrysostom (345-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
“I have hidden My glory and, out of My great love for you, have freely made My richness poor. For you, I suffered hunger, thirst, fatigue. I roamed the mountains, ravines and valleys looking for you, my lost sheep. I took the name of Lamb, to bring you back, calling you with My shepherd’s voice. And I want to give My life for you, to tear you away from claws of the wolf. I bear everything so that you may cry out : “Blessed are You, the one who comes to call Adam.”
St Romanus the Melodist (c 490-c 556)
“But He still follows behind us and counsels us, that we have despised Him but He still does not cease to call us. We turn our backs on His face, so to speak, when we reject His words, when we trample His commandments underfoot but He who sees that we reject Him, still calls out to us by His commandments and waits for us by His patience, stands behind us and calls us back when we have turned away.”
St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Father & Doctor of the Church
Cast Upon Us a Look of Mercy By Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)
O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy, turn Your Face towards each of us as You did to Veronica, not that we may see it with our bodily eyes, for this we do not deserve but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering You, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength, the vigour necessary to sustain the combats of life. Amen
“… Recollect, that heavy Cross is the weight of our sins. As it fell upon His neck and shoulders, it came down with a shock. Alas! what a sudden, heavy weight have I laid upon Thee, O Jesus. … Ah! how great a misery is it that I have lifted up my hand against my God.”
REFLECTION – “You must never fail to trust in God, nor despair of His mercy. I should not like you to doubt, or despair of becoming better. For even if the devil were able to throw you down, from the heights of virtue, to the depths of wickedness, how much more, can God recall you to the summit of goodness. And, not just bring you back to the state you were in before your fall but He can make you much happier, than you seemed to be before. Do not lose heart, I beg you and do not close your eyes to the hope of good, for fear that what happens to people, who don’t love God, should happen to you. For it is not, the great number of one’s sins, that leads the soul to despair but disdain for God. As the Wise man says: “It is the characteristic of the impious to despair of salvation and hold it in contempt since they have fallen into the pit of sin” (cf. Prv 18,3 Vg).
Therefore, every thought that takes our hope away, follows on from a lack of faith, like a heavy stone around our neck, it forces us to be always looking downwards, to the earth and doesn’t allow us to raise our eyes to the Lord. But those with a brave heart and enlightened mind, know how to release their necks from this horrid weight. “Behold, as the eyes of servants are on the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress, so our eyes are on the Lord our God till he have pity on us” (Ps 123,2). – St Rabanus Maurus OSB (776-856) Archbishop, Monk, Abbot,Theologian, Poet – Three books dedicated to Bonosus, Bk 3, 4
PRAYER – To those who love You, Lord, You promise to come with Your Son and make Your home within them. If You will, You can make us clean, come then with Your purifying grace and make our hearts a place where You can dwell. May the prayers of intercession of Saints Cyril and Methodius, help us to reach our everlasting home with You. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 14 February – Saint Antoninus of Sorrento OSB (c 555-625) Abbot, Hermit, miracle-worker – born in c 555 in Campagna, Italy and died in 625 in Sorrento, Naples of natural causes. Patronages – Campagna and Sorento. Also known as – Antoninus of Campagna, Antoninus Cacciottolo, Antony the Abbot, Antonino, Anthony of Sorrento.
Antoninus was born at Campagna. He left his native town to become a monk at Monte Cassino. During that time, Italy was suffering from barbarian invasions and Antoninus was forced to leave this Monastery. Monte Cassino had been plundered by the Lombards and the Monks escaped to Rome to seek protection from Pope Pelagius II. Antoninus, however, headed for Campagna where he ended up at Castellammare di Stabia. Here Saint Catellus was the Bishop. Catellus, wishing to become a hermit, gave up his office as Bishop and entrusted Antoninus with the task of serving as the town’s Bishop. Catellus withdrew to Monte Aureo.
The desire to remain a Hermit himself, led Antoninus to convince Catellus to return to his see. Antoninus retired to Monte Aureo himself and lived in a natural grotto. However, Catellus again decided to withdraw to this mountain and dedicate himself only sporadically to the cares of his Diocese.
An apparition of Saint Michael is said to have convinced the two to construct the stone Church now known as Monte San Angelo. Subsequently, Catellus was accused of witchcraft by a Priest named Tibeius (Tibeio) of Stabia and was held captive at Rome until the new Pope released him. Catellus returned to Stabia and dedicated himself to expanding the church that he had helped found.
Inhabitants of Sorrento, meanwhile, convinced Antoninus to settle at Sorrento. Antoninus became an Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of San Agrippino, succeeding Boniface in this capacity.
A miracle attributed to Saint Antoninus states that he saved a young child from a whale after it had been swallowed up by this sea creature. The Sorrentini erected a Crypt and Basilica in honour of Antoninus. He saved the City from many dangers – a Moorish naval invasion; the revolt of the Sorrento leader Giovanni Grillo against Spanish domination; demonic possession; bubonic plague and cholera.
If you ask anyone from Sorrento what is celebrated on 14 February, do not be surprised at the answer! Forget Valentine’s Day, on this day all around the town of Sorrento, people celebrate the death of the Patron Saint of Sorrento, St Anthoninus Abbot, which occurred on the 14th of February, in 265.
Words are not enough to describe how much this local feast is truly felt! The celebration is preceded by a Novena beginning on 5 February with the tolling of Church bells, that advise the people of Sorrento, that the feast is soon to be and as a result, also the coming of spring.
On the eve of the feast, from the early morning hours, the prodigious silver statue of the Saint is exposed on the high altar of the Basilica of Sant’Antonino, ready to accommodate the flow of faithful who celebrate the entrance of the Saint to eternal life.
During the festival the statue is carried by sailors from Marina Piccola on their shoulders, throughout the main streets of Sorrento, by the Archbishop and by the civil and military authorities.
After the statue is brought around town, it is then carried to the Basilica where the Archbishop celebrates the Eucharist. The Basilica is indeed the true focus of the celebration, where locals come and “greet” the patron.
“Not inside, not outside the walls,” these were the last words of St Anthoninus about his burial and this explains the exact location of the Basilica which houses the mortal remains of the Saint, which is situated amongst the ancient town walls of Sorrento.
The most visited part of the Church is the Crypt, more commonly known as Succorpo, which houses the remains of St Anthoninus. It occupies the entire left side of the building and is placed at a lower level, accessible by two staircases. Once down below in the Crypt, the first thing that attracts the eye is the Altar, placed at the centre of theCrypt, around which a path leads the devotees to pay homage to the Saint.
Behind the same Altar, an oil lamp with silver foil is touched and followed by reciting prayers. This is nothing more than a story of a miracle healing of a Bishop of Sorrento. The Bishop was riding a mule and then thrown off and, therefore, fractured his leg. During that night, the Bishop dreamed about Sain tAntoninus taking an oil vial that had been blessed by the the Virgin Mary. The Bishop woke up with a cured leg.
The silver statue itself was a miracle – it seems that during the invasion of the Turks (1558) it was stolen and Sorrento, not having enough money to make another, had to accept the fact of it’s loss. It was on that occasion, that St Anthoninus appeared in flesh and blood to the sculptor, who reproduced him from his own image!
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time +2021 Quinquagesima Sunday (Traditional Calendar) +2021 – From Latin quinquagesimus meaning “fiftieth,” therefore, this is the period of fifty days before Easter. It begins with the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, called Dominica in Quinquagesima or Esto Mihi from the beginning of the Introit of the Mass; it is a Sunday of the second class and the colour the Mass and Office is violet.
Notre-Dame de Bourbourg /Our Lady of Bourbourg, Flanders (1383) – 14 February:
Jean Froissart, born in the 1330s, was a man devoted to literature. His famous Chronicles was aimed at a knightly and aristocratic audience and was devoted to “the honourable enterprises, noble adventures and deeds of arms, performed in the wars between England and France…to the end that brave men taking example from them may be encouraged in their well-doing.” His history is one of the most important sources for the first half of the Hundred Years’ War, and certain events of the era, such as the battles of Crecy and Poitiers and the English Peasant Revolt of 1381. He was also an eyewitness to the miracles of Our Lady of Bourbourg that occurred in the year 1383. “When the king of France came before Bourbourg there were never seen such fine men at arms nor such numbers as he had with him. The lords and their men were all drawn up, and eager for the attack. Those who had reconnoitred the place, said it could not hold out long. The Bretons, Burgundians, Normans, Germans and others, who knew there was much wealth in the place, which, if taken by storm, would probably fall to their share, began to skirmish with the infantry at the barriers, without waiting for orders from the constable or marshals of the army. This skirmish increased so much that the French set fire to the town by means of fire-arrows and cannons, so that such a flame and smoke came from the houses of Bourbourg as might have been seen forty leagues off. Many gallant deeds were done and the assailants leaped cheerfully into the mud of the ditches above the knees when they engaged with the English at the palisade and barriers. The garrison defended themselves handsomely, indeed, they had need of their exertions, for they knew not on which side to turn themselves. They were attacked on all part and the houses of the town were blazing with fire, which more confounded the English than anything else. This, however, did not throw them off their guard, nor cause them to quit their posts. Sir Matthew Redman and Sir Nicholas Drayton, with their men, in the centre of the town, endeavoured to check the progress of the fire but it was such a dry season, that the smallest spark set the houses in flames. It is certain, that if the attack had begun earlier, or had not the night come on soon, the town must have been taken by storm but the approach of night put an end to it. On the attack ceasing, the French retired to their quarters, to attend the sick and bury the dead. They said that on the morrow they would renew the attac, and it should be irresistible. The English were employed in repairing the palisades which had been broken, in putting all things in a good state and in extinguishing the fires in the town. They were in a most perilous situation, being surrounded on all sides, without means of escaping by flight. The Duke of Brittany, who was on the opposite side of the town to the King, entered into negotiations with the English, aware of the peril they were in. He advised them to surrender the town, on their lives and fortunes being spared. This they were very willing to do and they entreated the Duke, through love of God and in honour of his gentility, to undertake the business. The King of France replied, that, in God’s name, he would willingly agree to a treaty. The English had been much renowned for gallantry and deeds of arms and it was settled that the English should depart from Bourbourg and Gravelines and carry away with them as much of their wealth as they could. Several of the Bretons, French, Normans and Burgundians were much vexed at this treaty, for they thought of partaking of the spoils but the King and his council had ordered it otherwise. The whole of Tuesday they employed in shoeing their horses and in packing up all their wealth, of which they had much and in making preparations for their departure. On the Wednesday morning they loaded their baggage-horses and began their march, passing through the army with passports from the King. The Bretons were much exasperated when they saw them so loaded, waiting at Calais for a favourable wind to return to England. The King of France and all the lords of his army, with their attendants, entered Bourbourg on Thursday morning. The Bretons began to plunder it, without exception, even the Church of St John. In that Church a pillager stood upon an Altar with the intent of forcing out a precious stone that was in the crown of an image of Our Lady. As he reached to steal the stone, the image suddenly turned about and the pillager in his fright, fell from the Altar and was instantly struck dead. This is a certain truth, for many persons were witnesses of it. Shortly afterwards, another pillager came with a similar intent of robbing the image but all the bells began a peal without anyone touching them, for no-one could have rung them, the bell-ropes being drawn up and fastened. On account of these miracles, the Church was visited by large crowds. The King made a handsome present to the Church, as did all the lords, so that the amount of their gifts was upwards of three thousand francs.” __
Martyrs of Terni: Three Christians who gave proper burial to Saint Valentine of Terni. Martyred in the persecutions of Aurelius. 273 in Terni, Italy – Apollonius, Ephebus, Proculus.
Martyrs of Alexandria: A group of Christians murdered in various ways for their faith in Alexandria, Egypt. We know the names and a few details about 16 of them – Agatho, Agatone, Ammonio, Ammonius, Antonius, Bassiano, Bassianus, Cirione, Cyrio, Dionysius, Dionysius, Lucio, Moses, Moses, Proto and Tonione.