Thought for the Day – 17 February – Ash Wednesday – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“It is necessary, that our resolutions should be accompanied by the grace of God. We should pray fervently and make firm decisions. We must pray for divine grace but, it depends on our own will to ensure, that God’s grace produces results in us. This is the only way in which we can become perfect.
We are assured of this by St Paul and by all the Saints. “I can do all things in him who strengthens me,” wrote the Apostle of the Gentiles (Phil 4:13). “By the grace of God, I am what I am and his grace in me has not been fruitless – in fact, I have laboured more than any of them, yet, not I but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor 15:10).
So, let us go forward. Be determined. Work hard. Above all, pray humbly and fervently for the grace of God, without which, we can do nothing that is good!”
Ash Wednesday – 17 February- Day One of our Lenten Journey
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
In Your Light Lord, we see light
“HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” (John 8:12) says the Lord. By these words of Christ, we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ. (Book 1, Ch 1:1)
DISCIPLE: IT IS the mark of a perfect man, Lord, never to let his mind relax in attention to heavenly things and to pass through many cares as though he had none; not as an indolent man does but, having by the certain prerogative of a free mind, no disorderly affection for any created being.
Keep me, I beg You, most merciful God, from the cares of this life, lest I be too much entangled in them. Keep me from many necessities of the body, lest I be ensnared by pleasure. Keep me from all darkness of mind, lest I be broken by troubles and overcome. I do not ask deliverance from those things, which worldly vanity desires so eagerly but, from those miseries which, by the common curse of humankind, oppress the soul of Your servant, in punishment and keep him from entering into the liberty of spirit as often as he would.
My God, Sweetness beyond words, make bitter all the carnal comfort that draws me from love of the eternal and lures me to its evil self, by the sight of some delightful good in the present. Let it not overcome me, my God. Let not flesh and blood conquer me. Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me, nor the devil trip me by his craftiness. Give me courage to resist, patience to endure and constancy to persevere. Give me the soothing unction of Your spirit, rather than all the consolations of the world and in place of carnal love, infuse into me the love of Your Name.
Behold, eating, drinking, clothing and other necessities that sustain the body are burdensome to the fervent soul. Grant me the grace to use such comforts temperately and not to become entangled in too great a desire for them. It is not lawful to cast them aside completely, for nature must be sustained but Your holy law forbids us to demand superfluous things and things that are simply for pleasure, else the flesh would rebel against the spirit. In these matters, I beg, let Your hand guide and direct me, so that I may not overstep the law in any way. (Book 3 Ch 26:1-4)
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.”
“He need not fear anything, nor be ashamed of anything, who bears the Sign of the Cross on his brow.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in His sight, is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received… but only what you have given – a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
“Fasting, when rightly practised, lifts the mind to God and mortifies the flesh. It makes virtue easy to attain and increases our merits.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” – Matthew 6:6
REFLECTION – “Going to your room, is returning to your heart. Blest are they who rejoice at returning to their heart and who find nothing bad there…
They are greatly to be pitied who, returning home, have to fear they will be chased away because of bitter fights with their family. But how much unhappier are they, who do not dare return to their own conscience, for fear of being chased away by remorse for their sins. If you want to return to your heart with pleasure, purify it. “Blest are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” (Mt 5,8) Remove from your heart the stains of covetousness, the spots of miserliness, the ulcer of superstition, remove the sacrilege, the evil thoughts, the hatred. I’m not only speaking of those things against your friends but even of those against your enemies. Remove them all, then return to your heart and you will be happy.” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father & Doctor of the Church – 2nd Discourse on Psalm 33, <8; PL 36,312
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, just as the Seven Holy Founders, were chosen to be messengers of Your love and forgiveness, grant we pray, that by their prayers, we too may bcome bearers of Your gracious love. Holy Father, You have given Yourself to us in the Face of Your Divine Son. You have given Him to us to be our food and our portion. You have consoled us with His presence on the Altar of Offering and washed us with His blood, day by day, You have sacrificed Him to save us. We pray for the assistance of our holy Mother, during our journey to the eternal glory of the kingdom. Through Jesus our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 17 February – Ash Wednesday 2021
You Alone are my All and Every Good By Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
O Lord, my God, You are my all and every good. And what am I, that I should presume to address You? I am the poorest of Your servants and a wretched worm, far more poor and worthless, than I, can ever realise or express. Yet, Lord, remember that I am nothing, I have nothing and can do nothing. You alone are good, just and holy, You can do all things, fill all things, bestow all things, leaving only the wicked empty-handed. Remember Your mercies, Lord and fill my heart with Your grace, since it is Your will, that none of Your works, should be worthless. How can I endure this life of sorrows, unless You strengthen me with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your face from me, do not delay Your coming, nor withdraw Your consolation from me, lest my soul become like a waterless desert. Teach me, O Lord, to do Your will, teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your sight, for You are my wisdom, Who know me truly and who knew me before the world was made and before I had my being. Amen
Saint of the Day – 17 February – Saint Fintan of Clonenagh (c 524 – 603) Abbot, disciple of St Columba of Iona (521-597), Hermit in Clonenagh, Leix, Ireland. When disciples gathered around his hermitage he became their Abbot. A miracle-worker, Fintan was granted the gifts of prophecy and miracles. He also performed very austere penances. Known as the “Father of the Irish Monks.” Patronage – County Laois.
Saint Fintan was born in Leinster about 52, the son of Christians. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, Co Tipperary under the Abbot Columba and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule. Fintan spent his early years in Carlow before making his own foundation in Clonenagh, Co Laois. His disciples included St Colmán of Oughaval, St Comgall of Bangor, and St Aengus the Culdee. He has been compared by the Irish annalists to St Benedict and is styled “Father of the Irish Monks.” Though he is sometimes confused with Saint Fintán or Munnu, Abbot of Taghmon, they are distinct.
Fintan gave his Monks very strict rules not to consume any animal products. The community did not have even one cow and so they had neither milk nor butter. The Monks complained they couldn’t do hard work on so meagre a diet. A deputation of local clergy headed by Canice of Aghaboe came to urge him to improve it. He agreed for his Monks but he elected to keep to the strict diet himself. Fintan was reported to have lived on only “bread of woody barley and clayey water of clay.”
An ancient biography of St Fintan is extant, as well as that of his brother St Finlugh and it was published by Fr Colgan, the great hagiographer. It is thought that they were brought up in Co Limerick but little is known of their early lives. There are different accounts of their father, some naming him Pippan, others calling him Diman, who was a descendant of an Ulster King. Their mother was called, Aliuna (or Ailgend, daughter of Lenin) and was also of noble birth.
There is an account of an irreligious King who ordered his men to bar St Fintan from visiting him. However, a mighty tempest arose immediately and mature crops blazed with fire, thus blinding the men, who, thereafter, asked forgiveness of the saint. St Fintan blessed some water and after applying it to their eyes, their sight was restored and they bound themselves and their people to his service, including that King. This is one of several instances in the Lives of the Irish Saints, whereby individuals, families and even whole clans bound themselves and their posterity, to the service and support of a particular Saint. These services are not always defined precisely but would appear to include giving tribute in money or kind, for building and maintenance of Churches, Monasteries and Schools.
St Fintan is said to have been trained under St Comgal at Bangor, Co Down. While there, he is credited with many miracles: e.g. he miraculously gained a copy of the Gospels, which were extremely valuable in those days, when attacking pirates were overcome as a sudden storm uprooted a large tree and destroyed their ships with it. St Fintan recovered the Gospels from the pirates who had stolen them elsewhere.
During Springtime a leper asked for bread but the Monastery did not have any flour. St Fintan caused the corn seed to grow fully immediately, so that the bread could be made. He also exorcised demons. He caused a mill to grind for three days without the use of the usual water power.
St Fintan left Bangor and attempted to settle near a hill called Cabhair but an angel appeared to him and instructed him otherwise. However, in order that St Fintan should be honoured in that place, a bell miraculously came there through the air. It was called Dubh-labhar, meaning Black-toller and it and St Fintan, were venerated there, ever since.
St Fintan was known for his extraordinary sanctity. Peace, compassion and piety were enthroned in his heart. He maintained a heavenly serenity and equanimity of temper. He ministered to his guests and his brethren. He had no guile, no condemnation for anyone and was never angry or disturbed, he returned no evil for evil and he had no grief in any calamity.
He flourished in the second half of the 6th century and that most of his missionary work was confined to the Southern half of the country. He founded his Monastery and School at Dunbleisque, now Doon, Co Limerick, which the Lord had designated for his habitation. There is a Holy Well to his memory, where pilgrims still arrive and where miracles are still attested to but the exact site of his Monastery in nowadays uncertain.
Knowing his end awas pproaching, St Fintan assembled his Monks and named Fintan Maeldubh as his successor. He died on 17 February 603.
St Fintan’s Tree, Clonenagh – This tree, an acer pseudoplatanus, was planted in the late 18th or early 19th century at the site of the Early Christian monastic site of Clonenagh. The tree is dedicated to St Fintan and it became custom to insert coins into the tree, from which the tree suffered and was believed to be dead until the tree started to recover with some new shoots.
Our Lady of Constantinople, Bari, Turkey (566) – 17 February:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Constantinople, formerly the synagogue of the Jews, which was converted into a Church of the Blessed Virgin by the Emperor Justin the Younger, in the year 566.” The remains of the great Byzantine Church of Sainte-Marie-du-Rosaire, called Notre-Dame de Constantinople, which is encumbered by later wild constructions and debris of all kinds, are scarcely representative of what this important sanctuary had once been. In the 1930’s, Paul Schatzmann, a Swiss archaeologist, had made important discoveries here, supplemented by another archaeologist, Stephan Westphalen, a German, in the 1990’s. We do not know much about the Byzantine past of the building, we only know for certain, that the Church was transferred to the Dominicans in 1475 and it took the name of Our Lady of Constantinople and later, that of Saint Mary of the Rosary. In 1640 Our Lady of Constantinople was converted into a mosque in the name of Kemankes, then Odalar camii. Much of the substructure had been rebuilt before the fire of 1919, which led to its eventual abandonment. Despite the painstaking searches conducted by the two archaeologists, it is not easy to have a very clear idea of the scale of the building and its dependencies. However, the proximity of the mosque Kasim Aga, which also has Byzantine structures and the Aetius (Ipek Bodrumu) suggest that the Church belonged to a large monastery, whose name remains unknown. From the point of view of the two archaeologists, the foundations of the Church date from the seventh century but the final form of the Church was given after the fire of 1203. After the reconstruction and expansion of the Church in the thirteenth century, the foundations of the old Church were used as a mausoleum, while two slightly asymmetrical chapels were added in the apse. Part of the old Church was filled to construct the new Church with the Greek cross plan. Nothing suggests that the substructure of the second building was originally a funerary chapel, as its primary function was to provide a basis for a monumental Church. It appears the sub-structure was gradually used for tombs of the faithful. In the upper part, there are paintings of the life of the Blessed Virgin dating from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Fragments of frescoes have been discovered on several walls. In the small central chamber of the crypt, a crowned Virgin surrounded by angels suggests that a Marian relic may have once been enshrined here.
__ Seven Founders of Servants of Mary (Optional Memorial) • St Alexis Falconieri (c (1200–1310) One of the Seven Founders of the Servites • St Bartholomew degli Amidei • St Benedict dell’Antella • St Buonfiglio Monaldi • St Gherardino Sostegni • St Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni • St John Buonagiunta Monetti
St Alexis Falconieri – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS (13th century –1310) His Life: https://anastpaul.com/2020/02/17/saint-of-the-day-17-february-saint-alexis-falconieri-13th-century-1310/ St Antoni Leszczewicz St Bartholomew degli Amidei – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St Benedict dell’Antella – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St Benedict of Cagliari St Buonfiglio Monaldi – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St Bonosus of Trier Bl Constabilis of Cava St Donatus the Martyr Bl Elisabetta Sanna St Evermod of Ratzeburg St Faustinus the Martyr St Finan of Iona St Fintan of Clonenagh (c 524 – 603) Abbot, “Father of the Irish Monks” St Flavian of Constantinople St Fortchern of Trim St Gherardino Sostegni – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St Guevrock St Habet-Deus St Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St John Buonagiunta Monetti – SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS St Julian of Caesarea St Loman of Trim Blessed Luke Belludi (c 1200- c 1285) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2019/02/17/saint-of-the-day-17-february-blessed-luke-belludi-ofm-c-1200-c-1285/ St Lupiano Bl Martí Tarrés Puigpelat St Mesrop the Teacher St Petrus Yu Chong-nyul St Polychronius of Babylon St Romulus the Martyr St Secundian the Martyr St Silvinus of Auchy St Theodulus of Caesarea Bl William Richardson