Thought for the Day – 23 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Christian Formation of Character
“St Francis de Sales writes thus, with his usual simplicity: “A way has been found of making bitter almonds sweet, by pucturing them at the base and squeezing out the juice. Why cannot we eject our evil inclinations in order to make ourselves better. There is nobody so good by nature, that a bad habit could not altogether corrupt him. Similarly, there is nobody so bad by nature, that he could not be trained in goodness by the grace of God and his own perseverance.” St Francis de Sales did not teach this in theory alone but, he put his advice into practice to an heroic degree in his own life. He was endowed by nature, with a vigorous, irascible and resentful disposition and he bacame an angel of gentleness and affability. From his youth, he was aware of the defects in his character. He himself, admitted, that he struggled against them for twenty two years with God’s help. He reached the point where he was able to remain silent when he was insulted and to refrain from defending himself, when he was slandered, for he had acquired an inward peace and a remarkable calmness of manner. This gentleness of character enabled him to convert over seventy thousand heretics, to win back hardened sinners to Jesus Christ and, to set countless souls on fire with the love of God. This is the man called “the Gentle Christ of Geneva” and “the Gentleman Saint!” We have a great deal to learn from him!
Day Fourteen of our Lenten Journey – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20,Psalms 50: 8-9,16-17, 21 and 23, Matthew 23:1-12
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)
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” … Matthew 23:12
WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart.
Meanwhile, we do wrong and then do worse in excusing it. At times, we are moved by passion and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes and overlook greater ones in ourselves.
We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us.
If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgement on others. The interior man, puts the care of himself before all other concerns and he who attends to himself carefully, does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself.
If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about you. … You will sweetly repose if your heart does not rebuke you. Rejoice at nothing but only your good deeds. Bad men have never a true joy, nor feel inner peace, for “there is no peace for the wicked” (Is 57:21). … He is easily calmed and contented whose conscience is clean. Praise makes you not more holy, nor insult more worthless.
What you are you are, what God knows of you, is all that can be said for you. If you will only look at what you truly are, you will not care what men say of you. “Man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). (Book 2 Ch 5)
Quote/s of the Day – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20,Psalms 50: 8-9,16-17, 21 and 23, Matthew 23:1-12
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
“My brothers, keep away from the beast of boasting and concern for one’s reputation, for these destroy and weaken, every good work.”
Bl Raymond of Capua (c 1330-1399)
“The one sole thing, in myself, in which I glory, is that I see in myself, nothing, in which I can glory.”
St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
“Humility is not just about self-mistrust but about the entrusting of ourselves to God. Distrusting ourselves and our own strength produces trust in God and from that trust, generosity of soul is born.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of Charity
“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all, how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”
St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
“There is more value in a little study of humility and, in a single act of it, than in all the knowledge in the world.”
St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of Prayer
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” … Matthew 23:12
REFLECTION – “Humility is a secret power the saints receive when they bring all their life’s ascetical practices to a successful conclusion. For indeed, this power is only bestowed on those who attain to the perfection of virtue through the strength of grace … It is the same power the blessed Apostles received in the form of fire. Our Saviour commanded them, in fact, not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the power from on high (Acts 2:3; 1:4). Here Jerusalem stands for virtue; the power is humility and the power from on high, is the Paraclete, in other words the Consoler Spirit.
Now this is exactly what Sacred Scripture had said – these mysteries are revealed to the humble (Lk 10:21). To the humble it is given to receive within themselves that Spirit of revelation that uncovers mysteries. That is why certain saints have said that humility is what brings the soul to fulfilment in divine contemplation. So let no-one start thinking they have attained complete humility because at some moment a thought of compunction came to them or because they shed a few tears …. But if someone has overcome every contrary spirit …, if he has overturned and subjected all the strongholds of the enemy and if he then feels that he has received that grace in which “the Spirit bears witness to our spirit” (Rom 8:16), in the Apostle Paul’s words, then there is the perfection of humility. Blessed are they who possess it. For they continually embrace the breast of Jesus (cf. Jn 13,25).” … St Isaac the Syrian of Nineveh (c 613-c 700) Bishop of Nineveh, Monk at Mosul – Ascetical discourses, 1st series, no 20
PRAYER – Almighty Father, look with favour on Your family and as You have given us Your Son as Master and Redeemer, grant that we may be strengthened by Your grace, to follow His teachings. May the prayers of St Chad be heard for ou needs. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 2 March – Tuesday of the Second week of Lent
Prayer for the Gift of Prayer By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
O Incarnate Word, You have given Your Blood and Your Life to confer on our prayers that power by which, according to Your promise, they obtain for us all that we ask. And we, O God, are so careless of our salvation, that we will not even ask You for the graces that we must have, if we should be saved! In prayer You have given us the key of all Your Divine treasures; and we, rather than pray, choose to remain in our misery. Alas! O Lord, enlighten us, and make us know the value of prayers, offered in Your name and by Your merits, in the eyes of Your Eternal Father. Amen
Saint of the Day – 2 March – Saint Chad (c 620-672) Bishop of Lichfield, Confessor, Abbot, Monk, known as the Apostle of Mercia. St Chad was a man of holy humility and mortification. He was an great carer of the poor and a man of zealous energy, visiting all in his massive Diocese on foot. Born in c 620 in Northumbria, England and died on 2 March 672 at Lichfield, England of natural causes after a brief illness, which is thought might have been the plague. Patronages – Birmingham, England, Archdiocese of, Lichfield, England, Diocese of. Also known as St Chad of Mercia, of Lichfield, Ceadda.
St Chad, or Ceadda, was the youngest of the four brothers – Cedd, Cynebil, Celin and Chad, all eminent Priests. Despite attempts to claim him as both a Scottish and an Irish saint, he was certainly an Angle, born of noble parents in Northumbria around 620. Bede tells us, that Chad, along with his elder brothers, was a pupil of St Aidan at his Lindisfarne school. The Bishop required the young men who studied with him, to spend much time in reading Holy Scripture and in learning, by heart, large portions of the Psalter, which they would require in their devotions. Upon the death of Aidan, in 651, the four young men went to Ireland to complete their training. The Emerald Isle was then full of men of learning and piety and Chad, there, made the acquaintance of Egbert, afterwards Abbot of Iona.
Meanwhile, Chad’s brother, Cedd, had returned to England and evangelised the East Saxons. In 658, at the request of King Aethelwald of Deira, he also established a Monastery at Lastingham in Yorkshire, standing just on the edge of the North York Moors. Though often absent, he frequently returned there from his London Diocese and, at a time of the 664 plague, he died there. Upon his death-bed, Cedd bequeathed the care of the Monastery to his brother, Chad, who was then still in Ireland.
On his return, Chad ruled the Lastingham Abbey with great care and prudence and received all who sought his hospitality with kindness and humility. However, he arrived in Northumbria during a period of religious change and political upheaval. Eventually, the heavily pro-Roman and, therefore to some factions, unpopular St Wilfred, was given the Northumbrian Bishopric which he transferred to York.
The following year, while St Wilfred was away, King Oswiu of Northumbria became impatient for some religious guidance in his kingdom and decided to send Chad to Kent to be Consecrated Bishop of the Northern Church. He was accompanied by the King’s Chaplain, Edhed, who was, some years afterwards, made Abbot of Ripon. However, upon their arrival in Canterbury, the two Priests found that Archbishop Deusdedit had died of the Plague. His successor, Wigheard, was journeying to Rome for his Consecration and Bishop Ithamar of Rochester was too close to death to be of any help. So they turned aside to Wessex where, at Dorchester-on-Thames, they were greeted by Bishop Wine. He was the only canonically ordained bishop available in England, yet the required ceremony demanded three. Wine therefore called upon two Welsh and/or Cornish Bishops to help him and Chad was duly Consecrated Bishop of York in Dorchester Cathedral.
Bishop Chad began, at once, to apply himself to the practice of humility, continence and study. He travelled about his new Diocese, not on horseback but after the manner of the Apostles, on foot, to preach the gospel in the towns and the open countryside, according to the example of both St Aidan and his late brother, Cedd. Wilfred returned to England in AD 666 and, finding himself, deposed, quietly retired to his Abbey at Ripon. He remained, however, an opponent of Chad who was constantly criticised for the manner of his appointment. Three years later, Theodore of Tarsus, a new Archbishop arrived in Canterbury from the Continent. Being naturally a staunch supporter of the Roman doctrine, he soon charged Chad with holding an uncanonical office. The northern prelate humbly replied that if this were true, he would willingly resign for he never thought himself worthy of the position and had only consented out of a sense of duty. Theodore was so moved, that he completed Chad’s ordination himself in the Roman manner. Though the latter still preferred to resign in favour of Wilfred and he thus retired to Lastingham. Though Chad was Bishop of York for so short a time, he left his mark on the affections of the people, for we find that at least one oratory was dedicated in his name at York Minster.
In 669, Bishop Jaruman of Mercia died and King Wulfhere asked Archbishop Theodore to send his people a new Christian leader. The primate did not wish to consecrate a fresh bishop, so he persuaded King Oswiu to release Chad from the Abbacy of Lastingham to be the new Mercian Bishop. Soon after his election, Chad set out for Repton in Derbyshire, where Diuma, the first Bishop of Mercia, had established his see. Theodore, knowing that it was Chad’s custom to travel on foot, bade him ride, whenever he had a long journey to perform. However, finding Chad unwilling to comply, the Archbishop was forced to lift him onto his horse, with his own hands and oblige him to ride.
Chad did not stay long at Repton but removed the centre of the Mercian See to Lichfield in Staffordshire. Whether this was through a desire for a more central position, or was influenced by a wish to do honour to a spot enriched with the blood of martyrs, is unknown. For Licetfield was then thought to translate as “Field of the Dead” where one thousand British Christians were said to have been butchered. Possibly also, he wished to be closer to the popular Royal Palace at Tamworth.
Chad’s new Diocese was not much less in extent than that of Northumbria. It comprised seventeen counties and stretched from the banks of the Severn to the shores of the North Sea. For the Dioceses of Worcester, Leicester, Lindsey and Hereford had still to be detached. Though such an area may be thought far beyond the power of one man to administer effectively, Chad apparently rose to the challenge. King Wulfhere gave him the land of fifty families upon which to build a Monastery, where the ancient Saxon Church still stands.
Chad built himself a small oratory beside Stowe Pool at Lichfield. It adjoined a large well and a small Church (St Chad’s), not far from his new Cathedral. He would immerse himself in the deep well every morning and meditate in the icy waters before setting out around his Diocese to care for the needy. When time allowed, Chad was also wont to pray and read with seven or eight other brethren in his cell. If it happened that there blew a strong gust of wind, when he was reading or doing anything else, he at once called upon the Lord for mercy. If it blew stronger, he, prostrating himself, prayed more earnestly. But if it proved a violent storm of wind or rain, or of thunder and lightning, he would pray and repeat Psalms in the Church until the weather became calm. He explained to his followers that the Lord moves the air, raises the winds, darts lightning and thunders from heaven to excite the inhabitants of the earth to fear him, to dispel their pride, vanquish their boldness and to put them in mind of their future judgement.
It was to Bishop Chad’s little cell that Prince Wulfade of Mercia happened to chase a handsome deer whilst out hunting one day. Struck by the words of the pious holyman, the Prince was converted and was Baptised in the Bishop’s well. His brother, Rufine, soon followed suit. Their father, King Wulfhere, had relapsed into Paganism and was furious at his sons. Having his mind further poisoned by their enemy – a thane named Werbode – he rode out and slew them both with his own hands. Immediately stung with remorse, however, the King fell ill and was counselled by his Queen to ask Chad to give him absolution. As a penance, the saint told him to build several abbeys and, amongst the number, he completed Peterborough Minster (Cathedral), which his brother had begun. He was converted to Christianity and, often afterwards, sought the Bishop’s advice.
After a rule of two and a half years, a deadly plague began to ravage the Midlands. Many of the Lichfield brethren were felled by the disease and it was not long before Bishop Chad’s time came near. This was heralded by a heavenly audition, witnessed by Owin, a Monk of great merit who had joined Chad at Lastingham from the entourage of St Etheldreda, whilst he worked outside the Bishop’s oratory. Chad immediately called upon him to gather the brethren, then praying in the Church, around him. He encouraged them to preserve the virtue of peace amongst themselves and follow his example in all things when he had gone. He explained to Owin that his death would come to pass within seven days and so it did.
Chad died on the 2nd March 672 and was first buried in St Mary’s Church at Lichfield. Like many Cathedrals of the time, however, there were many Churches in the Episcopal complex and when the Church of St Peter was completed, his bones were translated there. Frequent miraculous cures were attested in both places.
Though Chad’s episcopate was short, it was abundantly esteemed by the warm-hearted Mercians, for thirty-one Churches are dedicated in his honour, all in the midland counties, either in or near the ancient Diocese of Lichfield. His relics were translated to the present Cathedral, when it was rebuilt by Bishop Roger, in honour of the Blessed Virgin and St Chad. There, they reposed in a beautiful shrine erected by Bishop Walter Langton in his newly-built Lady Chapel from the early 14th century until the Reformation. Some of them were saved from destruction and are now on display in Birmingham Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Chad’s emblem is a branch, perhaps this was suggested by the Gospel of St John which speaks of the fruitful branches of the vine. This was formerly read on the Feast of Chad’s Translation, which was celebrated with great pomp at Lichfield every year. However, he is most easily recognised in art through his cradling a little church with three spires, Lichfield Cathedral.
Our Lady of Apparitions, Madrid, Spain (1449) – 2 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Apparitions, at Madrid, so called because, in the year 1449, the Blessed Virgin appeared during eight following days to a young woman named Yves and ordered her to build a Church in her honour, on the spot where she should find a Cross planted to Our Lady.”
Cubas de la Sagra is a municipality in Spain in the Province and autonomous community of Madrid. The approved apparitions of Our Lady in 1449 that occurred there, are now almost inexplicably unknown, barely mentioned in passing, or treated as a legend in some books, if even recognised as a point on some ancient map. It is true that the hosts of Napoleon looted and destroyed the Sanctuary and Monastery built there and that, the war in 1936 did not leave one stone upon another but, the memory of what happened there in 1449 must not be forgotten, at least by Catholics! In the year 1449, Cubas was only a village with a simple Church dedicated to Saint Andrew. The population of Cubas, however, lived quite forgetful of their duties to God and their sins were so many, that it seemed even to them, that the hand of God must be hovering over the land, ready to punish them. The Chronicles speak then of a young girl of 12, named Ines, (sometimes Yves or Agnes), who was but of humble birth. Still, there was something about her that made her different from other girls her age. She fasted, confessed regularly, and prayed daily the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Perhaps her deep faith and religiosity may explain what happened next. On Monday, 3 March 1449, Ines was tending pigs on the outskirts of town in a place called Cecilia, when at noon a woman appeared, a lady bright and beautiful dressed in cloth of gold. She was surrounded by ligh, and asked Ines what she was doing there. Ines stated that she was tending the pigs. The Lady then said that the people were no longer keeping the fasts and told Ines the necessity of fasting. The lady said that the people of Cubas must change their ways, confess and cease their debauchery and offences against God, or He would soon punish them. There would be a great pestilence that would come upon them from which many would die. Perhaps knowing the hardheartedness of the people, Ines asked if she, too, or her mother and father, would die of this pestilence. She was told only that it would be as God desired. The lady then disappeared. At first Ines did not tell anyone of the incident, for she thought no-one would believe what had happened. On Tuesday, 4 March, Ines was again tending the pigs, this time near the stream of Torrejon . At about the same time of day, at noon, just as the day before, the Lady reappeared. She asked Ines if she had told the people what she had been told to say but Ines answered that she dared not to, for she suspected that she would not be believed. The Lady then commanded Ines to warn the people and that if they did not believe, she would give her a sign. Ines asked the Lady who she was but she said she would not yet reply, before once again disappearing. Finally Ines decided to tell her father, Alfonso Martinez, who did not give any importance to the events recounted by his daughter but thought it a children’s story, a story invented in the imagination of a young girl. He told Ines to be quiet when she tried to tell anyone about the warning. On Friday, 7 March, Ines was keeping the pigs in New Prado, when the Lady reappeared again as before. She asked Ines if she had told what she had been commanded to say. Ines answered that she had told her mother and father and many others. The Lady told Ines to publish what she had said to all the people without any fear or trepidation. When Ines went home at the end of the day, she told her parents what had happened. Her father told her she was lying and to “shut up” but her mother encouraged Ines, saying, “Well, still, say it.” By Sunday, 9 March, word had spread. A Priest, Juan Gonzalez, with some other men, went to Ines’ home and talked to her parents. Afterwards, the Priest went to say Mass . Ines went out with the pigs, accompanied by her brother Juan, to a place called The Ciroleda. Ines’ father left them and went to Mass. The Ciroleda was a watery meadow that the pigs liked. Ines left her brother after a time, looking for one of the pigs that had slipped away and soon lost sight of her brother. All by herself, she knelt on the soft earth, asking the lady to return, even though she was afraid. The Lady appeared again as before, telling Ines to rise. “Lady, who are you?” Ines asked. “I am the Virgin Mary,” the lady answered and approaching Ines, took her right hand and squeezed her fingers and thumb together making some kind of a sign . She then told Ines to go to the Church and show the sign to the people as they left Mass. Ines told her brother to watch after the pigs and went to the Church, arriving just as Mass was finished. She was crying and went to kneel before the Altar of Mary. There, she told everyone what had happened. I cannot decipher what the sign was in Ines’ hand but whatever it was, the people examined her hand and many believed. The following day the Priest led the notables of the town and the faithful in a procession to the place of the last apparitions, carrying a wooden Cross. When they arrived, Ines walked forward alone with the Cross. The Virgin Mary herself took the Cross, telling Ines to have a Church built there in her honour. Th Cross was permanently placed where the Virgin, Our Lady of Apparitions, had been last seen and many miracles occurred there, including 11 people who were brought back to life . A Church was begun shortly after the apparitions of the Virgin were approved. It stood for nearly five centuries, when it was destroyed in the 1936 fire, caused during the Civil War. Many of the Nuns who were living in the Convent nearby, were martyred. In 1949 the reconstruction was completed in part by the Regiones Devastadas, who placed the current Cross in the same place where the first had been. According to tradition, Ines ended her life in the Monastery of Santa Maria de la Cruz after having children and being widowed. It is said that anyone who goes to visit the place, with faith, receives special graces and that miracles still occur there.
Bl Charles the Good St Cynibild of Laestingaeu Bl Engelmar Unzeitig St Felix of Treves St Fergna the White Bl Girolamo Carmelo di Savoia St Gistilian St Joavan of Brittany St John Maron St Jovinus the Martyr St Lorgius of Caesarea St Lucius of Caesarea St Luke Casali St Quintus the Thaumaturge St Slebhene St Troas St Willeic — Martyrs of Campania – Approximately 400 northern Italian Christians martyred for their faith by pagan Lombards. Their story was recorded by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who reports that they people spent their final days supporting each other with prayer. c579 in Camnpania, Italy.
Martyrs of Porto Romano – 4 saints – Group of Christians martyred in the persecution of Diocletian. The only other information that survives are the names of four of them – Heraclius, Januaria, Paul and Secondilla. c305 at Porto Romano at the mouth of the River Tiber, Rome.