Thought for the Day – 18 February – A Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Hour of Trial
“Everybody, even a Saint, has his hour of trial. God wants it this way. so that if we are victorious with the help of His grace, we can receive our reward. “One who enters a contest is not crowned unless he has competed according to the rules” (Cf 2 Tim 2:5). Even the Angels were put on trial and those haughty spirits who rebelled against God, were damned forever.
Our first parents were placed on trial and because they disobeyed God’s command, were deprived of their supernatural gifts and exiled from their earthly paradise. Even Jesus willed to endure His hour of trial in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the Sanhedrin, before the judgement seat of Pilate and on Mount Calvary. He desired to be tried in this way, in order to teach us how to be victorious.
Our trials are of various kinds, some of which recur frequently during our lives. They may be physical, such as suffering, disease, disgrace or poverty. They may be moral trials, which affect mainly the heart – the neglect of those whom we love, calumny, misunderstanding, or malice. There are also spiritual trials, such as discouraging lapses into sin, or aridity of soul when it seems that the Heavenly Father has abandoned us as He abandoned Jesus in His last agony on the Cross.
How should we behave when we are tried? Jesus showed us the way, when He took upon Himself, the sins of all mankind and His passion began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even before He ascended Mount Calvary and was nailed to the Cross, He experienced here all the agony and terror of His redemptive mission. Prostrate with suffering, He prayed three times: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will but as thou willest” (Cf Mt 26:39-42). When we are tried, we should fervently repeat this prayer of complete resignation to the will of God.”
Day Two of our Lenten Journey – 18 February – Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6, Luke 9:22-25
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
In Your Light Lord, we see light
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” – Luke 9:23
To many the word seems harsh; “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus”… (Mt 16:24) Why do you fear then to take up the cross, the way that leads to the kingdom? In the cross you are saved, revived, protected. In the cross you are showered with sweetness from on high, your mind is strengthened, your spirit rejoiced. In the cross is virtue’s sum and perfect holiness. In the cross alone, is the hope of life eternal, the soul’s salvation. So take up your cross and follow Jesus and you will enter eternal life… For if you die with Him, you shall also likewise live with Him. If you are His companion in punishment, so shall you be in glory.
Everything is founded on the cross… There is no other way to life, nor to true inner peace… Walk where you will, seek what you will, you will find neither a loftier way above, nor a safer way below but only the way of the Holy Cross.
Plan as you will, arrange as you see fit; all you will ever find is suffering, you cannot help but bear and so you will always find the cross. You will either have bodily pain or mental and spiritual affliction. Now God will leave you, again your fellow will provoke you and what is more, you will often weigh heavy on yourself. There is neither remedy to free you, nor comfort to ease you… For God will have you learn to endure affliction with total submission to Himself and become more humble… You must endure with patience everywhere, if you would be at peace within and earn the lasting crown. (Book II, Ch 12:1,2,3-4)
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” – Luke 9:23
REFLECTION – “What joy to live in the Cross of Christ! Who could complain of suffering? Only the insensate man who does not adore the Passion of Christ, the Cross of Christ, the Heart of Christ, can in his own griefs, give way to despair… How good it is to live united with the Cross of Christ. Christ Jesus… teach me that truth, which consists in rejoicing in scorn, injury, degradation; teach me to suffer with that humble, silent joy of the saints; teach me to be gentle towards those who don’t love me or who despise me; teach me that truth, which from the mound of Calvary You reveal to the whole world. But I know: a very gentle voice within me explains it all; I feel something in me which comes from You and which I don’t know how to put into words; so much mystery is revealed that man cannot apprehend it. I, Lord, in my way, do understand it. It is love. In that is everything. I know it, Lord, nothing more is needed, nothing more, it is love! Who shall describe the love of Christ? Let men, creatures and all things, keep silent, so that we may hear in the stillness, the whisperings of love, meek, patient, immense, infinite, which from the Cross, Jesus offers us with His arms open. The world, mad, doesn’t listen.” – St Raphael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938) a Spanish Trappist Monk – Spiritual writings 07/04/1938
PRAYER – God of mercy, teach us to live as You have ordained. Help us to follow Your commandments with courage and steadfast devotion. Let our Saviour be our Master, help us to learn from Him, the ways of prayer in silence, the ways of love. Fill us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that we may learn. Grant blessed Trinity, that by the prayers of St Theotonius, we may grow in holiness. Through Jesus our Lord, in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 18 February – Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Jesus, Pierce My Soul with Your Love By St Bonaventure OFM (1221-1274) The Seraphic Doctor
Jesus, pierce my soul with Your love so that I may always long for You alone, the fulfilment of the soul’s deepest desires. May my heart always hunger and feed on You, my soul thirst for You, the source of life, wisdom, knowledge, light and all the riches of God. May I always seek and find You, think about You, speak about You and do everything for Your honour and glory. Be always my hope, my peace, my refuge and my help, in whom my heart is rooted, so that I may never be separated from You. Amen
Saint of the Day – 18 February – Saint Theotinius OSC (1082-1162) Priest of the Canons Regular, Reformer of religious life in Portugal, Royal Counsellor, Apostle of the poor, Founder of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, now known as “The Crosiers,” abbreviation OSC..Theotinius had a great devotion to the Passion, the Blessed Virgin and to Holy Souls in Purgatory and instituted a regular Friday devotion. He is the first Portuguese Saint. Born in 1086 at Gonfeo, Spain and died in 1162 of natural causes. Patronages – the Cities of Viseu and Valença, Portugal.
Born in 1082 into a wealthy and pious family in northern Portugal. His parents, Oveco and Eugenia were both wealthy and pious. He was called “Theotonius,” a Greek name meaning ‘godly.’ His uncle Dom Crescónio, Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery near Tuy, was his first teacher. When Dom Crescónio became Bishop of Coimbra in 1092, he brought the ten-year-old Theotonius with him and entrusted his further education to the care of a young seminarian, Tello.
After the death of Bishop Crescónio in 1098, Theotonius went to Viseu, where his Uncle named Teodorico was Prior of the Cathedral Chapter of Santa Maria. During his time of preparation for the priesthood, Theotonius progressed through the minor ecclesiastic orders with great diligence and piety. The first of these was that of porter, with the responsibility to open the Church and Sacristy and ring the bell. After serving a period of time as a Lector, he became an Exorcist. One of the chief duties of Exorcists was to take part in the Baptismal Exorcism of Catechumens. Completing his term as an Acolyte, Theotonius was ordained a Sub-deacon. Holy Orders were conferred upon him sometime before the year 1109, by the Bishop of Coimbra. The young Priest was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter of Viseu – though not without reluctance – which was a college of clerics who served as Advisors to the Bishop.
The Countess Teresa of Portugal (referred to by Pope Paschal II in 1116 as “Queen,” a title that remained from that time onwards) and her husband, Henry of Burgundy, with the consent of the clergy and at the urging of the people, often sought to appoint Theotonius as Bishop of Coimbra but he always refused.
In an effort to dissuade the Queen from her intentions, Theotonius resigned his office as Prior of the Cathedral Chapter and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After he returned to Portugal, he resumed his work as a Priest and Chapter member in Viseu but refused to take up again the office of Prior.
Theotonius was a trusted advisor of Portugal’s first King, Afonso Henriques (ruled 1139-85). The King attributed his success at the Battle of Ourique to the prayers of Theotonius, who was thus able to persuade the King to release Mozarabic Christians captured during forays into land held by the Moors.
Although his counsel was sought by Afonso Henriques, Theotonius did not hesitate to reprove the King or Queen if he thought them in the wrong. Theotonius was fearless in rebuking sinful behaviour, in public or in private. In one instance, the now widowed Queen was attending Holy Mass celebrated by Theotonius. She was accompanied by the Galician nobleman Fernando Pérez de Traba and the nature of their scandalous relationship had become well-known. Theotonius’ sermon, though not naming them, was clearly directed at their conduct.
On another occasion, Theotonius was about to begin Holy Mass when the Queen had a message sent asking him to say the Mass quickly. He replied simply that there was another Queen in heaven, far more noble, for whom he ought to say the Mass with the greatest reverence and devotion. If the Queen did not wish to stay, she was free to leave but he would not rush – Theotonius was ever insistent on the exact and reverent recitation of holy prayers.
Theotonius left his Parish with a large number of pilgrims and set out once more to Jerusalem. His experience in the Holy Land resulted in both an increased devotion to the Passion and an intention to found a religious order following the Augustinian Rule. Theotonius helped to found the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross in Coimbra. Archdeacon Tello (his former tutor), purchased the site of the Monastery. The construction gained the backing of the Infante and Bernardo, Bishop of Coimbra. Work began on the Monastery of the Holy Cross and of the Blessed Mary Mother of God, on 28 June 1131. On 22 February 1132, the Monastery was completed and the community took the habit and rule of Saint Augustine. It opened with 72 members, with Theotonius as Prior.
Theotonius’s priestly life was distinguished by a great love for the poor and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for whom he offered Mass every Friday. The Mass was followed by a procession to the cemetery and large sums were donated to the Priest but Theotonius distributed the money to the poor.
Theotonius retired from his pastoral office of Prior, after 30 years of service. He then became a Hermit in solitude. He kept with him through his old age a shepherd’s staff which St Bernard, the first Abbot of Clairvaux, had sent to him as a present when he heard of his sanctity. On Saturday, 18 February 1162, Theotonius died at the age of 80. The entire city of Coimbra showed their admiration and grief for him. King Afonso I of Portugal, Queen Teresa’s son and the first King of Portugal, who was a good friend of Theotonius’ was taken by such grief, that he said of him, “His soul will be in Heaven before his body is in the tomb.”
During his life, St Theotonius was known for his humility and piety. His cultus was approved and he was Canonised by Pope Benedict XIV. His feast day is 18 February. Portugal issued postal stamps with the image of St. Theotonius that circulated from July 1958 to October 1961.
The Royal Confraternity of Saint Theotonius, founded on 2 November 2000, under the Royal protection of Dom Miguel de Bragança, Duke of Viseu, Infante of Portugal, is a secular organisation of the faithful with common ends, a group of men willingly desiring to defend the origins and Christian values, maintain and honour the spirit of and remember and promote, devotion to Saint Theotonius.
Notre-Dame de Laon / Our Lady of Laon, Rheims, France (500), founded by St Remigius – 18 February:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “The Shrine or Chapel of Our Lady of Laon was erected into a Cathedral and founded by Saint Remigius, Archbishop of Rheims, about the year 500, where he consecrated as his first Bishop Saint Geneband, his nephew. Miracles were wrought there and, among others, we read that in the year 1395, there was seen on the steeple, the picture of a Crucifix, the wounds of which bled.” The present Cathedral located in Laon, Picardy, France, the Laon Cathedral, or Notre-Dame de Laon, was begun in about 1155 and completed in 1235. It was built on the foundation of an earlier Cathedral that was consecrated in the year 800 but burned to the ground in the year 1111 during an uprising, and was, therefore, not the same Cathedral founded by Saint Remigius. The people of Laon took pride in their Cathedral and tried to make it rival the great shrine of Chartres. They did not succeed but the result is the sum of an emotion, clear and strong as love and much stronger than logic and clearer; the charm of the Laon cathedral lies in its unstable balance; which without doubt Our Lady accepted in love as it was meant by her devoted children. It was one of the first Cathedrals constructed in the new Gothic style.
One other unusual aspect of the Cathedral, is that there are sixteen carved bullocks carved in stone like gargoyles. There is a tradition that once when some of the stone was being hauled up the slope for use in the construction of the Church, at one point, the animals hauling the wagon could go no further under the strain of the load. A huge ox appeared at that moment and assisted them in moving the load up into position but then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
Much of the stained-glass is original and, as at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, there is a beautiful rose window dating from the 13th century. It depicts the Blessed Virgin seated on a throne with her Divine Child between Saint John the Baptist and the prophet Isaiah. The interior of the Cathedral was finished with white stone, it is considerably brighter than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
St Gertrude Caterina Comensoli St Helladius of Toledo St Ioannes Chen Xianheng St Ioannes Zhang Tianshen St Jean-François-Régis Clet St Jean-Pierre Néel Bl Jerzy Kaszyra Bl John Pibush – one of the Martyrs of Douai St Leo of Patera St Martinus Wu Xuesheng Bl Matthew Malaventino St Paregorius of Patara St Sadoth of Seleucia St Simeon St Tarasius of Constantinople St Theotonius (1082-1162) Priest Bl William Harrington — Martyrs of North Africa – 7 saints: Group of Christians who were martyred together, date unknown. We know nothing else but seven of their names – Classicus, Fructulus, Lucius, Maximus, Rutulus, Secundinus and Silvanus. They were born and martyred in North Africa.
Martyrs of Rome – 5 saints: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know nothing else but their names – Alexander, Claudius, Cutias, Maximus and Praepedigna. They were martyred in 295 in Rome, Italy.