Thought for the Day – 27 February– Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Death of our Saviour – Pray for your Enemies!
“In the midst of His sufferings, Jesus forgets Himself and pray for His executioners. “Father,” He pleaded, “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). Who were these people who crucified Him? We know well that they were not only the Jews but all of us. The prophet Isaiah, had foretold this. “He was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins … He was offered because it was his own will…” (Is 53:5-7). We are all the crucifiers of Jesus. Therefore, He willed to suffer and to die for all of us and when He was hanging on the Cross, He begged for forgiveness for us all. This should incite us to trust in God and to do repentance for our sins. We should be sorry for our sins because, they were the real cause of the voluntary death of Jesus. We should have confidence in Him, because, He prayed for us and forgave us when He was dying on the Cross and is ready to pardon us again, as long as we are sincerely repentant.
Let us consider how Jesus, even though He was derided and nailed to the Cross, prayed for and forgave His executioners. How do we normally behave? Perhaps we fly into anger at the first word of offence or act of misunderstanding, or perhaps we nourish secret feelings of hatred in our hearts for our brothers in Jesus Christ? Let us kneel before the Cross and tell Our Lord, that we wish to be meek and humble of heart, like Him. We wish to be quick to forgive and to live in peace and, even, if it is necessary, to do good to those who offend us, or at any rate, to pray fervently for them.”
Day Eleven of our Lenten Journey – 27 February – Saturday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Deuteronomy 26:16-19, Psalms 119:1-2, 4-5,7-8, Matthew 5:43-48
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In You is the source of life and in Your Light Lord, we see light Psalm 35(36)
“But I say to you, love your enemies” – Matthew 5:44
BE NOT troubled about those who are with you or against you but take care, that God be with you in everything you do. Keep your conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help. If you know how to suffer in silence, you will undoubtedly experience God’s help. He knows when and how to deliver you, therefore, place yourself in His hands, for it is a divine prerogative to help men and free them from all distress.
It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles himself because of his faults, he easily placates those about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him.
It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble, He turns and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation, He may raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble and with kind invitation, bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations because his trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until you look upon yourself as inferior to all others. (Book 2 Ch 2)
Quote/s of the Day – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) Father & Doctor of the Church and St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows CP (1838-1862)
“In the face of my darkness, You are light. In the face of my mortality, You are life.”
“The soul’s every movement is a reminder of God, the taking of a step, the extension of the right hand, the raising of the arm, with thanks for good works, with shame for bad, for familiar conversation and public addresses, in rational discourse, in works of success, in the fervour of virtue, day and night, we are guided by You in the useful movements for our spirit, asleep or awake … ”
Assist me by the wings of your prayers, O you who are called the Mother of the living, so that on my exit from this valley of tears I may be able to advance without torment, to the dwelling of life that has been prepared for us to lighten the end of a life burdened by my iniquity.
Healer of the sorrows of Eve, change my day of anguish into a feast of gladness. Be my Advocate, ask and supplicate. For as I believe in your inexpressible purity, so do I also believe in the good reception that is given to your word.
O you who are blessed among women, help me with your tears for I am in danger. Bend the knee to obtain my reconciliation, O Mother of God.
Be solicitous for me for I am miserable, O Tabernacle of the Most High. Hold out your hand to me as I fall, O heavenly Temple.
Glorify your Son in you, may He be pleased to operate Divinely in me the miracle of forgiveness and mercy. Handmaid and Mother of God, may your honour be exalted by me and may my salvation be manifested, through you. Amen.
St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) Father & Doctor of the Church
“I will attempt, day by day, to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own”
“Do not bestow your love on the world!”
“Love Mary!… She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand, to accompany you on the trip to eternity.”
(From a letter to his brother).
St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862)
“But I say to you, love your enemies” – Matthew 5:44
REFLECTION – “One of you will say: “I’m not able to love my enemies at all.” All through Holy Scripture God has said to you that you can and do you answer Him that, to the contrary, you can’t? Now think about it – who are we to believe? God or you? Since He who is Truth itself cannot lie, let human weakness leave off its futile excuses forthwith! He who is just, cannot demand something impossible and He who is merciful, will not condemn someone for something that person could not avoid. So why these evasions then? There is no-one who knows better, what we are capable of, than He who has given us the ability. Such numbers of men, women, children, tender young girls, have borne flames, fire, sword and the wild beasts for Christ’s sake, without flinching and we, do we say that we cannot bear the insults of unintelligent persons?…
Indeed, if only the good are to be loved, what are we to say of the action of our God, of whom it is written: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son?”(Jn 3,16). For what good deeds are they, that the world had done, for God to love it so? Christ our Lord, found us all to be not only evil but even dead, on account of original sin and yet… “he loved us and handed himself over for us” (Eph 5,2). In so acting He loved even those who did not love Him, as the Apostle Paul also says: “Christ died for the guilty” (Rm 5,6). And in his inexpressible mercy, He gave this example to all humankind, saying: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11,29).” – St Caesarius of Arles (470-543) Bishop and Monk – Sermons to the people, no 37
PRAYER – Almighty God, to whom this world, with all it’s goodness and beauty belongs, give us grace joyfully, to begin this day for Christ Your Son, in Him and with Him and to fill it, with an active love for all Your children, even those who may not like or who do us harm. Help us to love as You do, so that we may become like You. St Gabriel Posenti, you who spread your charity abundantly in your short life and continue to do so now from Heaven, pray for us. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 27 February – Saturday of the First week of Lent, the Memorial of St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862) and a Marian Saturday
O Mother of Sorrows, Stand by Me in My Last Agony By St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862)
O Mother of Sorrows, by the anguish and love with which thou did stand at the Cross of Jesus, stand by me in my last agony. To thy maternal heart I commend the last three hours of my life. Offer these hours to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our dearest Lord, in atonement for my sins. Offer to the Eternal Father the most precious blood of Jesus, mingled with your tears on Calvary, that I may obtain the grace of receiving Holy Communion with the most perfect love and contrition before my death and that I may breathe forth my soul in the adorable presence of Jesus. Dearest Mother, when the moment of my death has at last come, present me as your child to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive me for having offended Him, for I knew not what I did. Beg Him to receive me into His kingdom of glory to be united with Him forever. Amen
Saint of the Day – 27 February – St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows CP (1838-1862) Passionist Religious and student preparing for the Priesthood. Born as Francisco Giuseppe Vincenzo Possenti on 1 March 1838 at Assisi, Italy and died on 27 February 1862, just before his 24th birthday, at Abruzzi, Italy of tuberculosis. Gabriel was known for his great devotion to the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary. He is also known as Francesco Possenti, Francis Possenti, Gabriel of the Blessed Virgin, Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, Gabriel Possenti, Gabriel Marie Possenti, Gabriele dell’Addolorata. Patronages – Students, youth, seminarians, novices, clerics, Catholic Action, Abruzzi, Italy.
Francisco Possenti was born in Assisi on 1 March 1838, the eleventh child of thirteen children, to Sante Possenti and Agnes Frisciotti. The family were then resident in the town of Assisi where Sante worked for the local government. Francisco was Baptised on the day of his birth, in the same font in which Saint Francis of Assisi and St Clare had been Baptised and he was named after St Francis.
The first year of his life was spent away from his family with a nursing woman who cared for him because his mother was unable. In 1841 Sante, his father, moved the family to Spoleto where he was appointed Magistrate. In that same year, the youngest Possenti child died at just six months old; Francis’ nine-year old sister, Adele, soon followed. Just days later, his heartbroken mother was too called to eternal life. Francis had lost his mother at just 4 years old.
Tragedy continued to plague the family during his youth. In 1846 Francis’ brother, Paul, was killed in the Italian war with Austria. Another brother, Lawrence, later took his own life. Such events, however, did not rob Francis of his spirit and cheerfulness. During his formative years, Francis attended the school of the Christian brothers and then the Jesuit college in Spoleto. He was lively, intelligent and popular at school. At sixteen, he suffered a life-threatening illness. Praying for a cure, Francis promised to become a religious. With recovery, however, Francis quickly forgot his promise. But God’s call would not be denied and Francis soon turned his heart to the Congregation of the Passionists.
Sante Possenti was less than pleased with his teenage son’s decision. Determined to show Francis the joys of a secular life of theatre and society parties, Sante continued to hope Francis would find pleasure in a social life. But the young man was not to be dissuaded. Immediately after completion of his schooling, accompanied by his brother Aloysius, a Dominican friar, Francis set out for the novitiate of the Passionists at Morrovalle. During their journey they visited several relatives who had been enlisted by Sante to encourage Francis to return to Spoleto but this was to no avail. He arrived at the novitiate on 19 September1856. In the novitiate, he cultivated a great love for Christ Crucified.
Francis received the Passionist habit on 21 September 1856, which that year, was the Feast of the Sorrowful Mother. He was given the name: Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. Gabriel proved an excellent student and his excellence in academic life was only outdone by the great progress he was making in his spiritual life. At the same time Gabriel began to display the first symptoms of tuberculosis. The news did not worry Gabriel who was, in fact, joyful; he had prayed for a slow death so as to be able to prepare himself spiritually. Throughout his illness he remained cheerful and kept up all his usual practices. He was a source of great edification and inspiration to his fellow students, who later, would seek to spend time with him at his deathbed. Gabriel had proved himself an exemplary religious and a perfect follower of the Passionist Rule, being especially devoted to the Virgin Mary. A year later he took his vows. His monastic life preparing for the Priesthood, made Gabriel a secluded, non-public figure. His writings reflect his close relationship with God and His mother.
These were difficult and tumultuous times in Italy. The new Italian government issued decrees closing religious Orders in certain Provinces of the Papal States. The new Passionist province of Pieta, to which Gabriel belonged, was in the centre of this chaos. By 1860, the Passionists had ceased apostolic work due to the growing threats surrounding the community. During this period, various Italian Provinces were overrun by soldiers, who robbed and terrorised the towns with little mercy.
The people of Isola would always remember him as “their Gabriel.” Struck with tuberculosis at the age of 23, Gabriel died on 27 February 1862, before his Ordination to the Priesthood. His fidelity to prayer, joyfulness of spirit and habitual mortifications, stand out in his otherwise ordinary life. Pope Benedict XV Canonised Gabriel on13 May 1920 and declared him a patron of Catholic youth. His patronage is also invoked by the Church for students, seminarians, novices and clerics. Thousands of divine favours are attributed to his intercession with Christ Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother Mary.
Gabriel was buried o the day of his death. His companion in the novitiate, Blessed Bernard Mary of Jesus (1831-1911), exclaimed:
“Tears come to my eyes and I am filled with shame for having been so far from the virtues that he attained in such a short time.”
Millions of pilgrims visit St Gabriel’s Shrine in Isola del Gran Sasso d’Italia near Teramo each year, to venerate St Gabriel at his burial place and to visit the monastic house in which he lived out his final years. There is an ongoing tradition every March, when thousands of high school students, from the Abruzzo and the Marche regions of Italy, visit his Tomb 100 days before their expected graduation day and pray to him in order to achieve success in their final examinisations. Every two years, from mid-July to the beginning of October, the Italian Staurós ONLUS foundation hosts at St Gabriel’s Sanctuar,y a celebrated exposition of contemporary religious arts. With an average of 2 million visitors per year, this is one of the 15 most visited Sanctuaries in the world.
Many miracles have been attributed to the Saint’s intercession; Saint Gemma Galgani proclaimed, that it was St Gabriel, who had cured her of a dangerous illness and led her to a Passionist vocation.
Nostra Signora della Luce / Our Lady of Light, Palermo, Italy, (18th Century) – 27 February:
Early in the 18th century, a Jesuit, Father John Genovesi, lived in Palermo, Italy. At the beginning of his missionary career, he placed the souls over which he would have charge, under the protection of the Blessed Mother, deciding to take with him, to each of his missions, an image of Mary. Not knowing which image of Our Lady to use, he consulted a pious visionary telling her to ask Our Lady what she desired. One day as this lady knelt in prayer, she beheld approaching her, the Queen of Heaven, surrounded by pomp, majesty and glory, surpassing anything else she had ever beheld in any of her visions. A torrent of light was shed from the body of the Virgin which was so clear, that in comparison with it, the sun seemed obscure. Yet, these rays were not painful to the sigh; but seemed rather, directed to the heart, which they instantly penetrated and filled with sweetness. A group of Seraphs hovering in the air were suspended over their Empress and held a triple crown. The virginal body was clothed in a flowing robe, whiter than the snow and more brilliant than the sun. A belt inlaid with precious stones encircled Mary’s beautiful form and from her graceful shoulders, hung a mantle of azure hue. Countless angels surrounded their Queen but, what most enchanted the contemplative soul, was the untold sweetness and grace and benignity shown in the motherly face of Mary. She radiated clemency and love. Our Lady told the pious woman, that she wished to be represented as she was now under the title of Most Holy Mother of Light, repeating the words three times. The Jesuit hired labourers to begin the work on the picture of Our Lady of Light, however, neither the pious lady, nor the priest, were able to direct it and the result was that after completion, it did not answer Our Lady’s orders. Our Lady directed the woman to look at the image and seeing the mistake, she again betook herself to prayer and asked Mary to help her. Mary appeared again, commanding the woman to supervise the work, giving directions, while Mary would aid in an invisible manner. Pleased by the finished work, Mary appeared over it and blessed it with the Sign of the Cross. This wonderful treasure is now in the City of Mexico in the Cathedral of Leon, formerly known as the Jesuit Church. The back of the picture bears the authenticity and four signatures, including that of Father Genovesi, SJ. The painting was transferred from Palermo, Sicily in 1702 and placed on the Altar in Leon in 1732. The people of Leon have an innate devotion and great tenderness toward the Mother of God. In 1849 they solemnly promised before the picture to make Our Lady of Light the patroness of Leon. This promise was confirmed by Pope Pius IX; Leo XIII authenticated the crowning of the image of Our Lady of Light in 1902.
St Abundius of Rome St Alexander of Rome St Alnoth St Anne Line St Antigonus of Rome St Baldomerus of Saint Just St Basilios of Constantinople St Comgan St Emmanuel of Cremona St Fortunatus of Rome St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows/Gabriel Possenti CP (1838-1862) Passionist Religious
St Herefrith of Lindsey St Honorina St John of Gorze Bl Josep Tous Soler St Luke of Messina Bl Maria Caridad Brader Bl Mark Barkworth St Procopius of Decapolis Bl Roger Filcock St Thalilaeus Bl William Richardson — Martyrs of Alexandria: – Besas of Alexandria Cronion Eunus Julian of Alexandria