Thought for the Day – 6 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Filial and Servile Fear
“We should not be afraid of God because He is our greatest benefactor and loves us infinitely. When we are lost, He searches for us as a loving father would search for a wandering son. Because they think only of the majesty and justice of God, some people keep themselves at a distance from Him, as Adam did, after he had sinned. They forget that the Lord told Adam, the sinner, of the coming of the pardoning Redeemer (Gen 3:9). Bossuet truly observes, that “after the curse which came upon men through sin, there has always remained in their hearts, a certain dread of the supernatural, which prevents them from approaching God with confidence.” Jansenism increased this fear, emphasising the justice and majesty of God, rather, than the infinite love of Jesus and the beauty of His teaching.
Some writers compare our souls with the divine majesty and justice, in order to stress our unworthiness but, they forget, that Jesus is “Meek and humble of heart,” that He forgave the penitent woman, the good thief and the adulteress and, had kind words for the lost sheep and the prodigal son. They never think of the wonderful words of the beloved disciple: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16).
This false fear of God, dries up our piety and lessens our trust in His mercy. It can lead to moroseness, to scrupulosity and to discouragement.
We should avoid this excessive fear which separates us from God. Even though we are sinful and unworthy, we should remember, that God is our loving Father, Who is always ready to help us and to grant us forgiveness. We should recall, moreover, that out of love for us, He did not spare His own Son, (Cf Rom 8:32) but gave Him to us for our redemption. If Jesus shed His blood and died for us, how can we doubt His love?”
Day Eighteen of our Lenten Journey – 6 March – Saturday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalms 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12, Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
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)
I will arise and go to my father and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” – Luke 15:18
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendour and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterward reign with Christ.
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.
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgement or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil. (Book 1 Ch 24:5-7)
Quote/s of the Day – 6 March – Saturday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalms 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12, Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
“Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him”
‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
“You do not know when your last day may come. You are an ingrate! Why not use the day, today, that God has given you to repent?”
“He who calls us, came here below, to give us the means of getting there. He chose the wood that would enable us to cross the sea – indeed, no-one can cross the ocean of this world, who is not borne by the Cross of Christ. Even the blind can cling to this Cross. If you can’t see where you are going very well, don’t let go of it, it will guide you by itself. ”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“A saint is not someone, who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly.”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor
“Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart, admire His bounty, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the foot of His Cross, adore His goodness, treat with Him of your salvation, give Him your whole soul – a thousand times in the day.”
One Minute Reflection – 6 March – Saturday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20, Psalms 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12, Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
“Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him” – Luke 15:22
REFLECTION – “How many there are who, through repentance, have been worthy to receive the love You hold for humankind. You justified the anguished publican and the weeping woman who was a sinner (Lk 18.14; 7,50) for, through a predetermined design, You foresee and grant pardon. Convert me also together with them, You, Who desire that all should be saved.
My soul was soiled as it put on the garment of its sins (Gn 3,21). O let me make fountains flow from my eyes that I may purify it by repentance. Clothe me with the shining robe worthy of Your wedding (Mt 22,12), You, Who desire that all should be saved…
O heavenly Father, have compassion for my cry as You did for the prodigal son, for I, too, am throwing myself at Your feet and crying aloud as he cried: “Father, I have sinned!” Do not reject me Your unworthy child, O my Saviour but cause Your angels to rejoice also on my behalf, O God of goodness You, Who desire that all should be saved.
For you have made me Your child and Your own heir through grace (Rm 8,17). Yet as for me, because I have offended You, am here a prisoner, an unhappy slave sold over to sin! Take pity on Your own image (Gn 1,26) and call it back from exile, O Saviour, You, Who desire that all should be saved…
Now is the time for repentance… The words of Paul urge me to persevere in prayer (Col 4,2) and await You. Therefore, with trust I pray, for I well know Your mercy, I know You come the first towards me and I am calling out for help. Should You delay, it is to give me the reward for perseverance, You, Who desire that all should be saved.
Grant me always to extol You and give You glory by leading a life that is pure. Grant that my deeds may be in accord with my words, that I may sing to You, Almighty… with pure prayer, Christ alone who desires that all should be saved.” – St Romanos Melodios (c 490-c 556) Monk, Composer of hymns, Poet – Hymn 55; SC 283
PRAYER – Almighty God, Whose sanctifying grace, even here on earth, brings us the gifts of heaven, guide us in this present life and lead us, in the footsteps of that Light the Christ, Whom You sent to lead us in His Light to the light of Your dwelling. May the prayers of all Your angels with the Blessed Virgin our Mother, St John the Baptist, St Joseph, Blessed Sylvester of Assisi and all the Saints strengthen and lighten our way. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 6 March – Saturday of the Second week of Lent and always a Marian day
O Jesus, Mary’s Son! By St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Doctor Angelicus, Doctor communis
Hail to Thee! True body sprung From the Virgin Mary’s womb! The same that on the cross was hung And bore for man the bitter doom. Thou Whose side was pierced and flowed Both with water and with blood. Suffer us to taste of Thee In our life’s last agony. O kind, O loving One! O Jesus, Mary’s Son! Amen
Saint of the Day – 6 March – Blessed Sylvester of Assisi OFM (Died 1240) Priest, Franciscan Frria. One of the first 4 followers of St Francis of Assisi and was the first Priest in the Franciscan Order.
Sylvester was a member of one of the noblest and wealthiest families of the City of Assisi, the Uncle of St Clare Of Assisi.
When St Francis embarked on his campaign to “rebuild My church” Sylvester sold Francis stones which were to be used to rebuild the little Church of St Damiano. When, a short while later, he saw Francis and Blessed Bernard of Quintavalle distributing Bernard’s wealth to the poor, Sylvester complained that he had been poorly paid for the stones and asked for more money.
Though Francis obliged, the handful of money he gave Sylvester later caused him to regret this spirit of greed he found in himself, his conscience rebuked him and he was filled with guilt. He sold all of his goods and gave the money to the poor and began a life of penance. Sylvester was Ordained a Priest and became a Canon of the Cathedral of San Rufino in Assisi.
Thereafter, he joined St Francis. Sylvester became a holy and prayerful man and a favourite of Francis. He was known in the Order for his strict observance of the life of poverty and contemplation. Together with his cousin, Clare, he later prayed for enlightenment to discern the will of God for Francis, when Francis sought advice on how he should best serve God. Should he go out to preach rather than by devoting himself solely to prayer?
Sylvester often accompanied Francis during his preaching tours. Once, in the city of Arezzo, it was claimed by the residents, that Sylvester’s preaching and prayers brought peace to the City, which was falling prey to hatred and violence amongst its citizens. In another City where civil war was raging, Sylvester was commanded by Francis to drive the devils out. At the City gate Sylvester cried out: “In the name of almighty God and by virtue of the command of His servant Francis, depart from here, all you evil spirits.” The devils departed and peace returned to the City.
St Bonaventure, in a special way, mentions the visions which Sylvester had concerning Francis.
Sylvester died in Assisi in 1240, surviving Francis by 14 year. He is one of Francis’ four original companions who are buried near his tomb in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.
Nossa Senhora da Nazaré/Our Lady of Nazareth, Pierre Noire, Portugal, (1150) – 6 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “This image was honoured at Nazareth in the time of the Apostles, if we may believe a writing which was found, by a hunter, attached to this image, in the year 1150.”
The Shrine of Our Lady of Nazareth, known in Portugal as Nossa Senhora da Nazare, is found in the village of Nazare on the Atlantic coast in Portugal. Indeed, the village is named after this miraculous statue of the Blessed Mother and the Christ Child, that was brought to the area many centuries ago. According to tradition, this miraculous image was carved by the hands of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Christ, while in the very presence of the Infant Jesus and the Mother of God. Later, the faces and hands of the images were painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. This remarkable image is still preserved in a Church where it can be viewed by anyone and the story surrounding it is a fascinating one. It is known that the statue of Our Lady of Nazareth came from the Holy Land where it was one of the oldest images ever venerated by Christians. It was saved from destruction at the hands of the iconoclasts sometime early in the 5th century by a Monk named Ciriaco, who gave the statue to Saint Jerome. Saint Jerome later gave it to Saint Augustine in Africa, to protect the statue by removing it from the Holy Land. Saint Augustine then gave it into the safekeeping of the Monastery of Cauliniana, near Merida, a Monastery on the Iberian Peninsula. When the Arabs invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the year 711, King Roderic met them with his Visigothic army at the battle of Guadalete, where he was soundly defeated. It is a fact of history, that the body of Roderic was never found upon the field of battle, although his horse was found and it is often assumed by historians, that Roderic died that day when he lost his kingdom. According to this legend, however, Roderic was not killed but survived the battle and disguised himself as a beggar as he travelled north. Alone and unknown, he made his way to the Monastery of Cauliniana where he sought shelter for the night. Going to Confession, he, of necessity, revealed his true identity to the friar, Frei Romano. As it turned out, the Monks were preparing to leave the Monastery in advance of the Arabs and so Frei Romano asked the King if he could accompany him in his travels. Roderic agreed and the friar took with him the statue of Our Lady of Nazareth and the relics of Saint Bras and Saint Bartholomew. They travelled together until they arrived at a place later named Monte de Saint Bartolomeu in November of the year 714. They made for themselves a hermitage with the friar living in a small cave at the edge of a cliff that overlooked the sea. He placed the image in a niche among the stones upon a pedestal of simple rocks. Roderic went a little ways off by himself to a hill where he also began to live the life of a hermit. After a year, though, King Roderic left the hermitage and nothing else is said of him in this legend. One wonders if he ever learned of his kinsman Pelayo, who had retreated into the mountains and continued to heroically defy the invaders. Before his death, Frei Romano hid the image in his small cave, where it remained undisturbed for some centuries until it was discovered by shepherds, who came there to venerate the statue. Inside that little, ancient sanctuary they had found the renowned and sacred image of Our Lady of Nazareth. Carved of wood, it was unlike any other statue of the Madonna they had ever seen, for it depicts the Blessed Virgin breastfeeding her Divine Child while seated upon a simple bench. When miracles began to frequently occur, it became a major pilgrimage site. Then, in the early morning of 14 September in the year 1182, the Mayor of Porto de Mos, Dom Fuas Roupinho, was hunting on his land when he observed a deer. Chasing it up a steep slope on horseback that misty morning, the fog became heavier all of a sudden. The deer, later suspected to be the devil in the guise of a deer, jumped off the edge of the hilltop into the empty void. Despite his efforts to stop his horse, the spirited mount was determined to follow after the deer. Helpless to save himself, the rider suddenly recognised that he was near the sacred grotto where he would often come to pray. Fuas Roupinho cried out to the Blessed Virgin, praying aloud: “Our Lady, Help Me!”
The horse stopped immediately, as if he were digging his hooves into the rocky cliff above the void. Suspended in an unnatural manner at the edge of the cliff, Fuas Rouphinho knew the drop to be over 100 meters and surely would mean his death if he had fallen. He was then able to back slowly away from the edge, looking down to see the evidence of the impossible and unimaginable – for there in the hard stone was the imprint of one of his horse’s hooves. One of those marks can still be seen in the native rock. Faus Rouphinho dismounted and went to the grotto to pray and give thanks, subsequently causing a chapel ‘Capela da Memoria,’ or ‘The Chapel of Remembrance,’ to be built very near the spot where his life had been miraculously saved. When the masons he had hired took apart the primitive altar in the cave, they found an ivory box of sorts that contained the relics of Saint Bras and Saint Bartholomew. There was also an ancient scroll that they carefully removed. Opening the scroll, they found that it explained the history of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Divine Child, now known as Our Lady of Nazareth, as outlined above. The church Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Nazare was later built on the hilltop overlooking Nazare by King Ferdinand I of Portugal in the year 1377. Its construction was necessary due to the large number of pilgrims who continued to come to venerate the image.
Over the years it was often rebuilt, or had additions made, especially in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The profusely decorated and gilded apse displays the statue of Nossa Senhora da Nazare in a lighted niche above the main altar, flanked by twisted columns. The first King of Portugal, Don Afonso Henriques, as well as the chief nobles of his court, were among the early pilgrims to the shrine. Many notable figures came to visit Our Lady of Nazareth throughout history, including Vasco de Gama, who came as a pilgrim before setting out for India and Pedro Alvares Cabral, who later discovered Brazil. St Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the East, went on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Nazareth before later leaving for Goa.
According to a plaque placed in the Chapel in 1623, the image was carved by Saint Joseph in Galilee when Jesus was a baby. Some decades later St Luke the Evangelist painted the faces and hands of the images. It remained in Nazareth until brought by the Greek Monk Ciriaco to the Iberian Peninsula. It is believed to be one of the oldest images venerated by Christians.
St Cyriacus of Trier St Cyril of Constantinople St Evagrius of Constantinople St Fridolin Vandreren of Säckingen Bl Guillermo Giraldi St Heliodorus the Martyr Bl Jordan of Pisa St Julian of Toledo St Kyneburga of Castor St Kyneswide of Castor St Marcian of Tortona Bl Ollegarius of Tarragona St Patrick of Malaga St Sananus Blessed Sylvester of Assisi OFM (Died 1240) Priest
St Tibba of Castor St Venustus of Milan — Martyrs of Amorium – 42 saints – Also known as Martyrs of Syria and Martyrs of Samarra A group of 42 Christian senior officials in the Byzantine empire who were captured by forces of the Abbasid Caliphate when the Muslim forces overran the city of Amorium, Phrygia in 838 and massacred or enslaved its population. The men were imprisoned in Samarra, the seat of the Caliphate, for seven years. Initially thought to be held for ransom due to their high position in the empire, all attempts to buy their freedom were declined. The Caliph repeatedly ordered them to convert to Islam and sent Islamic scholars to the prison to convince them; they refused until the Muslims finally gave up and killed them. Martyrs. We know the names and a little about seven of them: • Aetios • Bassoes • Constantine • Constantine Baboutzikos • Kallistos • Theodore Krateros • Theophilos but details about the rest have disappeared over time. However, a lack of information did not stop several legendary and increasingly over-blown “Acts” to be written for years afterward. One of the first biographers, a monk name Euodios, presented the entire affair as a judgement by God on the empire for its official policy of Iconoclasm. Deaths: • beheaded on 6 March 845 in Samarra (in modern Iraq) on the banks of the Euphrates river by Ethiopian slaves • the bodies were thrown into the river, but later recovered by local Christians and given proper burial.