Thought for the Day – 4 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Riches and Poverty
“There is a striking contrast between the luxurious living of wealthy people who waste their money on pleasure and amusement and the abject poverty of those who are without food, clothing and shelter. This is in complete contradiction of the Gospel message which has proclaimed that we are all brothers.
Extravagance is always self-centred, whereas Christianity, is the creed of love. Sumptuous living cannot be justified by an appeal to the right to own property, for, it is a shameless betrayal of the Gospel spirit of fraternl charity. When St Thomas Aquinas is defending the right to private property, he adds at once: “In regard to the use of it, however, a man should not regard material goods as belonging entirely to himself but … should be ready to share them with others in their necessity” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 1 66, a 2). If such maxims, which derive their inspiration from the Gospel, were put into practice, there would be neither excessive wealth, nor excessive poverty, in the world today.
It is true, that there would still be poverty but, destitution would disappear.
Poverty is good, in that it makes us detached from worldly things and helps us to think more about the next life. But, destitution is really a social crime, for it is the result of human egoism and can breed hatred and spiritual degradation.
“Poverty,” writes Péguy, “is decent. It does not dress in rags … It’s dwelling is tidy, healthy and affords a welcome. It can have a change of linen once a week. It is not emaciated nor hungry… It is not good for anyone to live in easy circumstances; on the contrary, it is much better always to feel the goad of necessity…” (La guerre et la paix, p 338).
It was, in this sense, that Jesus blessed the poor and condemned the rich. He is referring to the poor man who has enough to supply his needs, is detached from worldly possessions, uses his poverty to assist him in his journey towards Heaven and, is happy or, at any rate, content. But He condemns the rich man who squanders his wealth on selfish amusement and is deaf to the entreaties of those in need.
After twenty centuries of Christianity, the violent contrast still exists in modern society. If we have any reason to reproach ourselves, let us try now, to make up for our deficiencies.
Day Sixteen of our Lenten Journey – 4 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalms 1: 1-2, 3, and 6, Luke 16: 19-31
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)
And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ … Luke 16:24
IN ALL things consider the end, how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgement in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgement when no man can be excused, or defended by another because each will have enough to do, to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him, than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the merciless will howl in their grief like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of friends but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them and he who now submits humbly to the judgement of men, will arise to pass judgement upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
If your life to this moment had been full of honours and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone. (Book 1 Ch 24:1-5,7)
Quote/s of the Day – 4 March – Thursday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalms 1: 1-2, 3, and 6, Luke 16: 19-31
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously everyday. And at his gate was laid, a poor man named Lazarus …”
“You, who think that you have a healthy hand, beware lest it is withered by greed or by sacrilege. Hold it out often. Hold it out to the poor person who begs you. Hold it out to help your neighbour, to give protection to a widow, to snatch from harm one whom you see subjected to unjust insult. Hold it out to God for your sins.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“… Let us be afraid, my beloved, lest we also see the poor and pass them by, lest instead of Lazarus, there be many to accuse us hereafter.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
“God resists the proud” whether they are covered with silk or with rags but “he gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6) whether or not, they have possessions in this world. God looks at what is within, it is there He assesses, there He examines.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“What sort of people are we? When God gives, we want to receive, when He asks, we refuse to give? When a poor man is hungry, Christ is in need, as He said Himself: “I was hungry and you gave me no food.” Take care not to despise the hardship of the poor, if you would hope, without fear, to have your sins forgiven… What He receives on earth, He returns in heaven.”
The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. … Luke 16:22-23
REFLECTION – By St Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173) Armenian Bishop – Jesus, Only Son of the Father, 624 f.
Like the rich man who loved a life of pleasure I, too, have loved pleasures that pass away With this animal body of mine, In the pleasures of that fool.
And from so many and such great blessings That You have so freely given me I have not paid back the tenth From Your own gifts.
But, out of everything under my roof, Gathered from earth and sky and sea, I believed Your numberless blessings To be my own possession.
Nothing of these have I given to the poor, Nor set anything aside for his needs: Neither food for the hungry Nor covering for the naked body,
Neither shelter for the homeless Nor abode for the foreign guest, Nor visit to the sick Nor even concern for the prisoner (cf. Mt 25:31 f.).
I was not saddened for the sorrow Of the one cast down by his burdens, Nor shared the joy of the joyful But burned with jealousy against him.
All of them were another Lazarus, (…) They lay outside at my gate; … Yet I, deaf to their appeal, Never gave them the crumbs from my table. …
The dogs of your Law outside Comforted them, at least with their tongues; Yet I, who listened to Your commandment, Wounded the one who bore Your likeness with my tongue (Mt 25:45). (…)
Yet only grant me repentance here below That I may make reparation for my sins, … That these tears may extinguish the blazing furnace With its burning flames. …
And, instead of acting like the merciless, Set merciful compassion within me, That, by showing mercy to the poor, I may obtain Your mercy.
PRAYER – Dear and Holy God, let us offer You all our daily struggles against sin and evil. Grant us the strength to resist all forms of idolatry, to seek only You and never to allow the material goods of this world to seduce us. Sustain us ever more with Your word and help us to find in it, the source of life. Grant that by the intercession of St Casimir we may grow in charity us during our life on earth. Grant this, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 4 March – Thursday of the Second week of Lent
O Lord and Master of My Life By Saint Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor of the Church
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, vain curiosity, lust for power and idle talk. But give to me, Thy servant, a spirit of soberness, humility, patience and love. O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to condemn my brother. For blessed art Thou to the ages of ages. Amen O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, cleanse me, a sinner. O God, my Creator, save me and for my many sins forgive me!
Saint of the Day – 4 March – Blessed Placida Viel SSC (1815—1877) Virgin, Religious Sister of the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy, which focused on the education of girls. Born Eulalie-Victoire Jacqueline Viel on 26 September 1815 at Quettehou, Normandy, France and died on 4 March 1877 at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, France of natural causes. She is also known as Eulalie Victoire Jacqueline Viel, Eulalie-Victoire Viel, Placide Viel .
Vittoria Eulalia Giacomina Vicl, the future second Superior General of the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy, was born in 1815 in the village of Val-Vacher in Normandy. Vittoria was the eighth of eleven children, (she was baptised just moments after her birth). Her family, formerly wealthy and respected throughout Quettehou, eventually degraded to the status of a small farmer. Vittoria, between five and twelve years of age, attended a girls’ school, then studied sewing for a year. She, therefore, received minimal education, which, however, being very devout, she was able to enrich by attending Catechism courses at the Parish of the town, where later she also taught. She made her First Communion before the mandated age because the Parish Priest believed she was mature and devout enough. At eighteen she was a tall, generous and cheerful girl but very shy.
Her father’s cousin, Maria, always considered as Vittoria’s Aunt, was first a disciple and then one of the first companions of St Marie-Madeline Postel (1756-1846) (16 July), of whose small community she had also been treasurer. Sr Marie-Madeline invited Vittoria to visit the group that had recently settled in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. Vittoria was immediately fascinated by the Superior and conceived the desire to share the extremely poor but obviously happy life of the nuns. In May 1833 she left home to join the community. She was greatly saddened by the separation from her father but was also overjoyed at her vocation.
In 1833, when Vittoria arrived, she found a community made up of fourteen professed and nine novices who lived in extreme poverty. She also found a saint of about eighty, from whom she absorbed her virtues, her knowledge and her charity. The postulant embraced her new life with great enthusiasm and received the novice habit in 1835 along with ten other young women and was given the name of Placida. She worked as an assistant cook until 1838, the year in which she made her Profession and in which she began a long series of ever new tasks.
Firstly, the Superior sent her back to school so that she could improve her level of education. The course of studies was supposed to last two years but Sr Placida completed it within three months and after obtaining her Diploma she even became a teacher at the college, was appointed head of the novices and also a councillor. Maria soon understood that the Mother Superior had decided to prepare that young girl for the highest responsibilities and her attempts to guide her niece towards the strictest religious observance turned into evident hostility. The Aunt did nothing but point out and underline Placida’s faults and seemed to want her to be removed from the Monastery of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. The Mother Superior, however, was adamant and even appointed Placida Assistant Superior and gave her the task of founding a new Convent.
One day, while the Bishop was expressing his concern for the future, to the elderly Foundress, Placida passed by and Mary Magdalene said: “It will be that twenty-four-year-old nun who will succeed me. God will tell you how to do it.” He then ordered Placida to go to Paris and raise the necessary funds to restore the Church. He told her to go to the Queen and the most important Ministers of the Government and to collect what was still needed, begging from door to door. For four years Placida carried out this task, committing herself and accepting the refusals, disdain and profound solitude, with a great spirit of obedience, humility and sacrifice.
In May 1846 she was recalled to Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte because the Superior was dying. St Mary Magdalene Postel died on 16 July 1846 . The General Chapter for the election of the new Superior was held in September of the same year and all but two votes were in favour of Placida, who felt completely unworthy and apologised on her knees. While her Aunt and the Chaplain, were of the opinion that the role of Superior belonged to the Aunt, the Bishop was adamant and validated the votes . A very strange period followed. Placida submitted to the Chapter her need to complete the task entrusted to her for the raising of funds and suggested that she postpone her taking Office for a year and keep only some functions in the interim. The Chapter agreed and entrusted the daily leadership of the community to her Aunt. However, that situation lasted ten years, years in which the Mother Superior, Placida, extended the range of her travels outside of Paris, always moving on foot and often spending the night outdoors.
She kept in correspondence with the members of the community and gave instructions for the assignment of tasks but her short stays at the Convent were rather sad. Maria had taken possession of the Superior’s rooms, while Placida was relegated to an attic; the Aunt humiliated the young Superior in front of the whole community, gave her orders, opened her post, made decisions together with the Chaplain and instructed her on what she should do.
Why was all this possible? Had Placida abdicated her role? Shouldn’t she have taken some more vigorous action towards Maria? In the end, her great sufferings paid off; forcing the Aunt into submission would have jeopardised the already fragile balance of the congregation, which the true Mother Superior knew she had to avoid at all costs.
Shortly after the Consecration of the Abbey Church, which had been completed with the vast funds Placida had raised, Maria died. Placida ran the Community for thirty more years and received Papal approval for the order in 1859 from Pope Pius IX. Her tenure as Mother Superior saw Sisters in the Order increase from 150 to more than 1000, as well as seeing an increase in the number of Convents. Placida’s ambition was to do for the students, the same, that St John the Baptist de La Salle had done for the boys.
Placida died on 4 March 1877 at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte after having been organising relief during the Franco-Prussian War. Placida was Beatified 6 May 1951 by Pope Pius XII.
The Roman Martyrology states – “In the Monastery of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Normandy in France, Blessed Placida (Eulalia) Viel, virgin, who distinguished herself in leading the Congregation of the Christian Schools of Mercy with commitment and humility.”
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde / Our Lady of the Guard , Marseille, France (1221) – 4 March:
Late one afternoon during the thirteenth century, a solitary French fisherman was fishing off the harbour of Marseille. Before he became aware of it, a terrific storm descended upon him. His boat tossed around like a shell and filled with water faster than he could bail it out. His rudder was lost. his mast snapped. Cutting himself free from the rigging with a knife, he had saved himself temporarily from certain drowning. Still, everything looked hopeless and he felt he could never get back to the harbour. The fisherman thought of the family he would never see again and cast a despairing look at the City, the huge rock standing like a sentinel or guard on the mountain which overlooked the City and harbour. Dimly through the gloom, he suddenly saw a solitary figure of a lady, dressed in white, standing firmly on the very top of the rock. She seemed to be extending her hand as if she would help him to the shelter and safety of the harbour. At once it came to him that the Lady so calmly defying the wind and rain could only be the Blessed Mother, so he prayed to her to help him. Almost immediately his boat ceased its wild tossing, righted itself and pushed by a friendly gust of wind, raced into the calm water of the harbour until it drove onto the shore at the very foot of the mountain. Stepping onto the shore, the fisherman fell to his knees and poured out his thanks to the Blessed Virgin and then hurried home to his worried family. The story of his rescue through the assistance of Our Lady, quickly spread throughout the port. It was remembered that other sailors, on numerous occasions during severe storms, had also seen the figure of the Lady on top of the rock. Always when she had appeared, the angry seas had calmed and their crafts had ridden safely into the shelter.
Soon everyone came to believe that the rock was the spot on which the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Guard, would appear whenever her help was desperately required. In thanksgiving to her the sailors of Marseille, in 1213-1218, erected a Chapel on top of the rock . In it they enshrined a lovely Statue of Our Lady. Around 1544, the Chapel was replaced by a large Church and the Statue transferred to it. Sometime during the French Revolution the Statue of Our Lady of Guard was destroyed but during the 1830’s a new Statue was dedicated. That Mary did not confine her help only to sailors was proved in the year 1832, when a severe epidemic of cholera struck Marseille, the people decided to appeal to Mary. Forming a procession, they climbed the mountain, removed the Statue from the Chapel, brought it down and solemnly carried it through the streets of the City. Almost immediately the epidemic waned and in a few days vanished. So they called Mary, Our Lady of Help – the sailors called her Our Lady of Mariners. Some years later, as the fame of the shrine on top of the mountain spread, more and more people made pilgrimages to venerate the Blessed Virgin. The shrine acquired still another name, a name more reflective of who Our Lady truly is for all who call upon her – Notre Dame de la Guarde – Our Lady of Guard, or Guardian.
In Marseilles today, the hill of Notre Dame de la Garde is topped by a beautiful Basilica, built in 1864, at an altitude of 550 feet. This commanding site, however, has been occupied by a Chapel since the year 1214. The interior has a multitude of sailors’ votive offerings and model ships are hung in all parts of it, as signs of thanksgiving for all the mariners who have been assisted by their heavenly mothe, the beautiful Stella Maris.. A golden statue of the Virgin and Child suitably dominates the City from its place on top of the western tower spire.
— St Adrian of May St Adrian of Nicomedia Bl Alexander Blake St Appian of Comacchio St Arcadius of Cyprus St Basinus of Trier Bl Christopher Bales St Felix of Rhuys St Gaius of Nicomedia Bl Humbert III of Savoy St Leonard of Avranches St Nestor the Martyr St Owen Bl Paolo of Brescia St Peter of Pappacarbone Blessed Placida Viel SSC (1815—1877) Virgin, Religious Sister Bl Rupert of Ottobeuren — Martyrs on the Appian Way – 900 saints – Group of 900 martyrs buried in the catacombs of Saint Callistus on the Appian Way, Rome, Italy.c260
Martyrs of Nicomedia – 20 saints – A group of 20 Christians murdered together for their faith. The only details about them to survive are three of their names – Archelaus, Cyrillos and Photius. Nicomedia, Bithynia (in modern Turkey)
Martyrs of the Crimea – 7 saints – A group of 4th century missionary bishops who evangelized in the Crimea and southern Russia, and we martyred for their work. We know little else beyond the names – Aetherius, Agathodorus, Basil, Elpidius, Ephrem, Eugene and Gapito.
Martyred by Communists: Bl Giovanni Fausti, Bl Gjelosh Lulashi, Bl Kolë Shllaku, Bl Zoltán Lajos Meszlényi
Martyred by Elizabeth I: Bl Alexander Blake, Bl Christopher Bales, Bl Nicholas Horner