Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. O most prudent Guardian of the Holy Family, protect our home. Pour forth from heaven. blessings on our family. Remain in our midst. Help us to live in love and harmony, in peace and joy. May the wholesome fear of God, strengthen us, that virtue may adorn our lives and lead us to heaven. To you this day we give the key to our dwelling place. Lock out all things that could do us harm. Lock our home and our loved ones, in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. And for this special grace we now implore you: ……………. (Mention your request) We humbly beg you to look graciously upon the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His blood and to aid us in our necessities with your power and strength. Guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel confident that your prayers on our behalf, will be graciously heard before the throne of God. St Joseph Most Loving Husband and Guardian, Pray for us! Amen
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Thought for the Day – 12 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Love of God
“God’s law is founded on love. We read in the Gospel how the Pharisees asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment of the Law. Jesus replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Mt 22:37-40).
If a man wants to know if he is living a good Christian life, therefore, all he has to do is ask himself if he loves God above everything and his neighbour as himself. If he lacks this love, he is not a true Christian – everything else is insignificant, if not useless. “Love God,” says St Augustine “and do what you will.” Why so? Because, if anyone loves God sincerely, he does not offend Him. Moreover, he serves Him diligently and promotes His honour and glory by every means in his power. Nor does he find it very difficult to do this. Love gives wings to his feet and pours enthusiasm and fervour into his heart. “He who loves does not feel tired,” says St Augustine. “Where there is love,” adds St Bernard, “there is no weariness but a gentle pleasure instead.”
Day Twenty Four of our Lenten Journey – 12 March – Friday of the Third Week of Lent, Readings: Hosea 14: 2-10, Psalms 81: 6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14 and 17, Mark 12:28-34
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)
“You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart” – Mark 12:30
When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard.
When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty. But if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.
[…] How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain if you desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole world? For what, without Jesus, can the world give you? Life without Him, is a relentless hell but living with Him, is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.
He who finds Jesus, finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him, loses more than the whole world. The man who lives without Jesus, is the poorest of the poor, whereas no-one is so rich, as the man who lives in His grace.
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus and great wisdom, to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful and Jesus will be with you. Be devout and calm and He will remain with you.
[…] You cannot live well without a friend and if Jesus be not your friend, above all else, you will be very sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly, if you trust or rejoice in any other.
Choose the opposition of the whole world, rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love.
Let all things be loved, for the sake of Jesus but Jesus, for His own sake.
[…] Never wish that anyone’s affection be centred in you, nor let yourself be taken up with the love of anyone but, let Jesus be in you and in every good man. Be pure and free within, unentangled with any creature.
You must bring to God, a clean and open heart, if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never attain this happiness, unless His grace prepares you and draws you on, so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him alone. When the grace of God comes to a man, he can do all things but when it leaves him, he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it were, to affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not become dejected or despair. On the contrary, he should calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus Christ.
For after winter comes summer, after night, the day and after the storm, a great calm. (Book 2 Ch 8)
Quote/s of the Day – 12 March – Friday of the Third Week of Lent, Readings: Hosea 14: 2-10, Psalms 81: 6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14 and 17, Mark 12:28-34
“You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart”
“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.”
“Remember God more often than you breathe!”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Father and Doctor of the Church
“You first loved us so that we might love You— not because You needed our love but because, we could not be what You created us to be, except by loving You.”
William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148)
“We become what we love and who we love, shapes what we become.”
St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
“He who wishes for anything but Christ, does not know what he wishes; he who asks for anything but Christ, does not know what he is asking; he who works and not for Christ, does not know what he is doing.”
St Philip Neri (1515-1595)
“Man is the perfection of the Universe. The spirit is the perfection of man. Love is the perfection of the spirit and charity, that of love. Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.”
“By giving yourself to God, you not only receive Himself in exchange but, eternal life as well!”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” – Mark 12:30
REFLECTION – “The great ones of the earth glorify themselves in possessing kingdoms and wealth. Jesus Christ finds all His happiness in ruling over our hearts. This is the sovereignty He desires and, that He decided to conquer, with His death on the cross: “Upon his shoulder dominion rests” (Is 9:5). Many interpreters understand, by these words, … the Cross our divine Redeemer bore on His shoulders. “This heavenly king,” Cornelius à Lapide remarks, “is a completely different master to the devil. The latter loads heavy burdens onto his slaves’ shoulders. Jesus, to the contrary, takes the full weight of His lordship on Himself, He embraces the Cross and wants to die on it, so as to reign over our hearts.” And Tertullian says that, whereas earthly monarchs “carry a sceptre in their hands and wear a crown on their heads as emblems of their power, Jesus Christ bore the Cross on His shoulders. And the Cross was the Throne, to which He ascended to establish His kingdom of love” … Let us then hasten to dedicate all our heart’s love to this God who, to win it, has sacrificed His blood, His life, His whole self. “If you knew the gift of God,” said Jesus to the Samaritan woman, “and who it is who says to you: ‘Give me to drink’” (Jn 4:10). That is to say: if you only knew how great is the grace you receive from God … Oh, if the soul only understood what an extraordinary grace God bestows on it, when He begs for its love in the words: “You shall love the Lord your God ….” Would not a subject who heard his lord say : “Love me” not be entranced? And could God not succeed in winning our hearts when He asks us for it with such great sweetness: “My son, give me your heart?” (Prv 23:26). However, God does not want this heart by halves, He wants the whole of it, without reserve. His commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart.” – – St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and Most Zealous Doctor of the Church – 6th Discourse for the Octave of Christmas
PRAYER – Lord Almighty God, You sanctify Your Church, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fulfil in us the words of Your Son that our love for You and Your children may be come to perfection. Grant that by the prayers of St Seraphina, we too may attain our heavenly home. Through Christ our Lord, in union with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 12 March – Frdiay of the Third Week of Lent
O Sweet Name of Jesus By Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
O sweet Name of Jesus, holy above all names in heaven and on earth and to which every knee, both of men and of angels in heaven, on earth and in hell bends. You are the Way of the just, the Glory of the saints, the Hope of those in need, the Balm of the sick, the Love of the devout and the Consolation of those that suffer. O, Jesus be to me a help and a protector so that Your Name may be blessed for all times. Amen
Saint of the Day – 12 March – Saint Seraphina (1238-1253) Virgin. Born as Fina dei Ciardi , in 1238 at San Geminiano, Tuscany, Italy and died on 12 March 1253 of natural causes, aged 15. Patronages – disabled people, spinners. Also known as Fina, Serafina. Saint Seraphina is celebrated in San Gimignano on both 12 March, the anniversary of her death and the first Sunday in August.
Fina dei Ciardi was born in San Gimignano in 1238. The Daughter of Cambio Ciardi and Imperiera, a declined noble family, she lived all her existence in a humble house located in the historic centre of the famous “city of beautiful towers” (today the small road on which her house stands takes her name). There is little record of the first ten years of her life and what information is available comes from legends narrated after her death. Some accounts note Seraphina’s strong devotion to the Virgin Mary and that she went out, only to hear Mass. She was also said to be extraordinarily kind.
In 1248, Seraphina’s life was changed by a serious illness, which began, progressively, to paralyse her (probably a form of tuberculous osteomyelitis). Her deep faith relieved her pain. She refused a bed and chose instead, to lie on a wooden pallet. According to her legend, during her long illness, her body became attached to the wood of the table, with worms and rats feeding on her rotting flesh. During her illness, she lost her father and later her mother died after a fall. In spite of her misfortunes and poverty, she thanked God and expressed a desire that her soul might separate from the body, in order to meet Jesus Christ.
In her reading, St Seraphina had heard of the great sufferings of St Gregory the Great and he became her special Patron. She prayed to him, drew strength from the sufferings that he had to endure and prayed, that he would obtain for her, the patience she needed to bear her own sufferings. She was now so weak and helpless, that it was clear to everyone she could not live very long.
Seraphina’s immense devotion was an example to all the citizens of San Gimignano, who frequently visited her. Visitors were surprised to receive words of encouragement from a desperately ill young girl who was resigned to the will of God. On 4 March 1253, after five years of sickness and pain, her nurses Beldia and Bonaventura, were waiting for her to die. Suddenly, Saint Gregory the Great appeared in Seraphina’s room and predicted, that she would die on the 12th of March .Seraphina died on the predicted date at the age of 15.
Miracles attributed to Seraphina are mentioned in stories, paintings, poems and in notary documents. The most important miracle of her life, was her vision of Saint Gregory, also because she died on Saint Gregory’s Feast day (12 March) as he predicted.
When Seraphina’s body was removed from the pallet that was her deathbed, onlookers saw white violets bloom from the wood and smelt a fresh, floral fragrance throughout her house. The violets grew on the walls of San Gimignano and still grow there today. For this reason, the townspeople call them “The Saint Seraphina violets.” The young girl’s body was brought to the Church and during the transfer, the crowd proclaimed “The Saint is dead!”
For several days, pilgrims went to the Church to venerate Seraphina’s remains and in the same period, there were many evidences of her intercessionary power. One was her nurse Beldia. The woman had a paralysed hand for the labour in supporting Fina’s head during her sickness. While she was near the body, the dead young girl cured Beldia’s hand. Legends say that, at the exact moment of Seraphina’s passing away, all the bells of San Gimignano rang without anyone touching them.
Many sick people who visited her grave during the following years were cured and some of these became some of Seraphina’s most fervent devotees.
Another legend tells that during a walk with two of her friends she heard another young girl, Smeralda, crying. Smeralda had broken a pitcher given her to fill with water from well. While she was entertained by other children, she forgot the pitcher on the ground which unfortunately rolled down and broke. Seraphina told her to arrange the pieces and put them under the water and the pitcher became whole and full of water.
Another anecdote about Seraphina’s miracles is the one of Cambio di Rustico, the Ciardi family’s neighbour. On one anniversary of Seraphina’s death, when the townsfolk had a holiday to remember her, Cambio went to cut wood and hurt his leg. Suffering, he asked forgiveness of Saint Seraphina and was very sorry for not having respected her memorial. His cut then miraculously disappeared.
Saint Fina is celebrated in San Gimignano on two separated days. Her first feast is on 12 March – the anniversary of her death – which has been a statutory holiday in the town since 1481. The second feast on the first Sunday of August, commemorates her miraculous intercession for the cessation of two incidents of the Plague, which had ravaged the town in 1479 and 1631.
On both days, her relics are carried in procession in order to bless the town. Her example of devotion has been handed down by the people of San Gimignano through her veneration, despite not being formally canonised by the Church. So, as written in some paintings dedicated to her, it would be correct to call her Blessed Fina. In fact, the official Patron saint of her town, is still Saint Gimignano.
The most important memorial produced in the memory of Saint Fina is the hospital which took her name and was built in 1255, thanks to donations given at her tomb. The hospital gave hospitality to old and poor people and pilgrims too. It became in the following century one of the best in Tuscany. In the hospital’s Chapel, the original oak wood table where Saint Seraphina lay for five years is preserved.
*A Shrine dedicated to Saint Seraphina is a Chapel (designed by Giuliano da Maiano in 1468 and consecrated in 1488) located inside the Church of San Gimignano where, inside theAaltar (built by the brother Benedetto da Maiano), her bones are kept. On the left and right walls of the Chapel there are two frescoes painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio – one shows the vision of Saint Gregory; the other shows the funeral where the violets in blossom on the towers are represented. We also see an angel ringing the bells, Beldia’s cured hand and the self-portrait of the painter and his brother-in-law Mainardi, who painted the Chapel’s ceiling. On the altar there is a bust with Saint Seraphina ’s relics inside.*
Inside the Civic Museum of San Gimignano there is a wood tabernacle (by Lorenzo di Niccolò 1402) depicting Saint Seraphina with the town on her lap, an icon of St Gregory and some of her anecdotes. Another image of Fina is in the nearby Sant’Agostino Church, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli. Other artists depicting the Saint’s life were Piero del Pollaiolo and Pier Francesco Fiorentino. In others small Churches in the countryside, further paintings of the Saint reside.
Our Lady of Miracles, St Maur des Fosses, France (1328) – 12 March;
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Miracles, in the cloister of Saint Maur des Fosses, near Paris. It is said that this image was found made, when the sculptor, named Rumold, was going to work at it in 1328.”
Saint-Maur-des-Fosses is a city that may be considered to be a suburb of Paris, France. There is a miraculous Statue of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Miracles, located in the Church of Saint Nicholas in the city. The Town owes its name to an Abbey that was founded by Queen Nanthild in the year 638 at Les Fosses, which means ‘the moats’ in French. The Abbey was called Sanctus Petrus Fossatensis and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as saints Peter and Paul. When the Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maur de Glanfeuil in western France fled from the Vikings in the year 868, Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles the Bald, asked them to settle at Sanctus Petrus Fossatensis. They did so, bringing with them their relic of Saint Maurus and introducing the rule of Saint Benedict to France in the 6th century. The Abbey, located in a loop of the Marne just before it joined the Seine, became an important pilgrimage site when the relics of Saint Maurus were found to be effective in curing those who suffered from gout and epilepsy. Due to this sudden popularity and, in recognition of it, the name of the Abbey was changed to, Saint-Maur-des-Fosses, or St Maurus of the Moats. In the drought year of 1137, all of Western Europe was without rain. The Monks of the Abbey led a procession of the relics of St. Maurus and, at the conclusion of Mass, there was a violent thunderstorm which brought rain to the region. As should not be surprising, the Abbey was seized during the French Revolution by the enthusiastic proponents of liberty, equality, and brotherhood. Anything of value was looted and the property then sold to speculators. After they were stripped of everything of value, the buildings that remained were demolished and the material used in other building projects, so that today nothing remains but a few vestiges that were collected for display in a museum. Fortunately, the Statue of Our Lady of Miracles miraculously survived. The Statue had been venerated since 1328 because of the miraculous circumstances of its creation and was saved by a locksmith named Hazar. It is now kept at the Church of Saint Nicholas (see below) in Saint Maur-des-Fosses.
St Maximilian of Thebeste St Mura McFeredach St Paul Aurelian St Peter the Deacon St Seraphina (1238-1253) Virgin St Theophanes the Chronographer — Martyrs of Nicomedia – 8 saints: Eleven Christians who were martyred in succession in a single incident during the persecutions of Diocletian. First there were the eight imprisoned Christians, Domna, Esmaragdus, Eugene, Hilary, Mardonius, Maximus, Mígdonus and Peter, about whom we know little more than their names. Each day for eight days one of them would be strangled to death in view of the others so that they would spend the night in dread, not knowing if they were next. Peter was the chamberlain or butler in the palace of Diocletian. When he was overheard complaining about this cruelty, he was exposed as a Christian, arrested, tortured and executed by having the flesh torn from his bones, salt and vinegar poured on the wounds and then being roasted to death over a slow fire. Gorgonio was an army officer and member of the staff in the house of emperor Diocletian, Doroteo was a staff clerk. They were each exposed as Christians when they were overhead objecting to the torture and murder of Peter. This led to their own arrest, torture and executions. Died in 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (in modern Turkey) Additional Memorial – 28 December as part of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia.