O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands, to implore your powerful intercession, to obtain from the gentle heart of Jesus all the help and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a holy death and the special grace I now implore: …………….. (Mention your request) O guardian of the Word Incarnate we feel animated with confidence, that your prayers on our behalf, will be graciously heard, before the throne of God. St Joseph, Patron of the Dying, 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 –17 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Two Paths to Heaven – Part Two
“If we have been unfortunate enough to have lost our Baptismal innocence by falling into sin, we should not be discouraged. God’s mercy opens another way for us, the way of penance. “I have come,” Jesus tells us,“to call sinners, not the just” (Mt 9:13).
Our Divine Redeemer, foresaw, in the Garden of Gethsemane ALL our sins and acts of ingratitude. Nevertheless, He offered Himself as a victim of expiation on our behalf and, shed His Precious Blood upon the Cross, for our redemption. How would it be possible for Him to refuse to forgive us? How could He not long to save us, in spite of our sins?
Let us recall the consoling parables of the prodigal son and the lost sheep. If we feel that we fall into the category of prodigal sons or lost sheep, then let us turn NOW to Jesus for forgiveness.”
Day Twenty nine of our Lenten Journey 17 March – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 49:8-15, Psalms 145:8-9,13-14, 17-18, John 5:17-30
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)
“ An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs, will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement.” – John 5:28-29
CHRIST: MY CHILD, do not let the labours, which you have taken up, for My sake, break you and do not let troubles, from whatever source, cast you down but in everything, let My promise strengthen and console you. I am able to reward you beyond all means and measure.
You will not labour here long, nor will you always be oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labour and trouble shall be no more. All that passes away with time is trivial.
What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to the Lord and then there shall be no day or night, as at present but perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace and safe repose. Then you will not say: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” nor will you cry: “Woe is me because my sojourn is prolonged.” For then death will be banished and there will be health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then, but blessed joy and sweet noble companionship.
If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven and the great glory wherein they now rejoice – they who were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were, unworthy of life itself – you would certainly humble yourself at once, to the very earth and seek to be subject to all, rather than to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days of this life but rather, be glad to suffer for God, considering it your greatest gain, to be counted as nothing among men.
Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In truth, the loss or gain of God’s kingdom, is up to you.
Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life but now they rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest. And they shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of My Father. (Book 3 Ch 47)
Quote/s of the Day – 17 March – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 49:8-15, Psalms 145:8-9,13-14, 17-18, John 5:17-30
“I tell you for certain, that everyone who hears my message and has faith in the one who sent me, has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life.”
“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?”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in His sight, is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received… but only what you have given – a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)
“Do now, what you wish to have done, when your moment comes to die.”
St Angela Merici (1474-1540)
“See, my children, to die well, we must live well; to live well, we must seriously examine ourselves, every evening think over what we have done during the day; at the end of each week, review what we have done during the week; at the end of each month, review what we have done during the month; at the end of the year, what we have done during the year. By this means, my children, we cannot fail to correct ourselves and to become fervent Christians in a short time. Then, when death comes, we are quite ready, we are happy to go to Heaven.”
“The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God” – John 5:25
REFLECTION – “[Christ speaks:] I became useless to those who knew Me not, because I shall hide Myself, from those who possessed Me not. And I will be with those who love Me. All my persecutors have died and they, who trusted in Me, sought Me because I am living! I arose and am with them and will speak by their mouths. For they have rejected those who persecute them and I threw over them, the yoke of My love. Like the arm of the bridegroom over the bride (cf Sg 2,6), so is My yoke over those who know Me. And as the bridal feast is spread out by the bridal pair’s home, So is My love, by those who believe in Me.
I was not rejected, although I was considered to be so and I did not perish, although they thought it of Me. Sheol saw Me and was shattered and Death ejected Me and many with Me. I have been vinegar and bitterness to it and I went down with iMt as far as its depth. Death was released because it was not able to endure My Face.
And I made a congregation of living, among his dead (1P 3,19; 4,6); and I spoke with them, by living lips; in order that My word may not fail. And those who had died ran toward Me and they cried out and said, “Son of God, have pity on us. And deal with us according to Your kindness and bring us out from the chains of darkness. And open for us, the door by which we may go forth to You, for we perceive, that our death does not approach You. May we also be saved with You because You are our Saviour.”
Then I heard their voice and placed their faith in My heart. And I placed My Name upon their forehead (Rv 14,1) because they are free and they are Mine.” – Odes of Solomon (Hebrew Christian text from the beginning of the 2nd century) N° 42
PRAYER – Lord God, You crown the merits of the saints and pardon sinners, when they repent. Forgive us our sins, now that we come before You, humbly confessing our guilt. Take our hand and lead us to our heavenly home. May St Patrick Your Saint, pray for us amidst the strife, he kew so well. Through Christ our Lord and Redeemer, with the Holy Spirit, God now and for all eternity, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 17 March – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Times and the Memorial of St Patrick (c 385-461)
Excerpt of the Lorica St Patrick (c 385-461)
I arise today Through God’s strength, to pilot me; God’s might, to uphold me, God’s wisdom, to guide me, God’s eye, to look before me, God’s ear, to hear me, God’s word, to speak for me, God’s hand, to guard me, God’s way, to lie before me, God’s shield, to protect me, God’s hosts, to save me From snares of the devil, From temptations of vices, From everyone who desires me ill, Afar and anear, Alone or in a mulitude. I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through a belief in the Threeness, Through a confession of the Oneness Of the Creator of creation, Amen
Saint of the Day – 17 March – Blessed Conrad of Bavaria O. Cist (c 1105-1126 or 1154) Cistercian Monk, Hermit, pilgrim, miracle-worker, Canon and Civil Lawyer. Born in c 1105 Veitsburg, Baden-Württemberg (in modern Germany) and died in either 1126 or 1154 at the Santa Maria ad Cryptam, a Benedictine Monastery in Molfetta, near Modugno, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – City and Diocese of Molfetta. Blessed Conrad has 3 Feast days – the liturgical feast falls on 9 February, the day of the translation. The day of his birth into Heaven is commemorated on 17 March. The transfer of the relics to the new Cathedral, is celebrated on the second Sunday of July. He is also known as Conrad di Baviera, Conrad of Clairvaux, Conrad of Molfetta, Conrad the Confessor, Corrado, Konrad.
There are different versions of the life of Conrad. The common elements are these below:
Conrad was born in Ravensburg, in Swabia, around 1105, son of the noble Henry IX of Welf known as the Black and Wulfilde of Saxony. Henry became Duke of Bavaria in 1120, succeeding his brother Guelph V. He was succeeded in 1126 by his first-born Henry X the Superb, while the second-born Guelph VI became Duke of Spoleto. The daughters Giuditta, Matilde and Wulfilde entered into important marriages and from Giuditta, Corrado’s elder sister, the Emperor Federico Barbarossa was born. Among the ancestors of Conrad we must include St Conrad of Constance (c 900-975).
Conrad, being the youngest son, he was educated in literary studies and was initiated by his parents to an Ecclesiastical career near Cologne with the intention of making him succeed Archbishop Federico, his paternal cousin. During this period, the young man adorned himself with such virtues as to be considered worthy of the highest honour, arousing admiration among the clergy and the people. He educated himself in higher studies and in ecclesiastical discipline, in Canon and Civil law in Cologne. But his soul was fervently listening to the preaching of Arnoldo, Cistercian Abbot of Morimond. He understood that his vocation was monastic and, in breach of the expectations of the family, he abandoned the honours of his own rank to embrace, while still a teenager, the severe rule of the Cistercian Order at Morimond.
Shortly after Arnoldo started an expedition to the Holy Land for the foundation of a Monastery, involving the Monks of Morimond and arousing the disapproval of St Bernard of Clairvaux, Master of the Order, who was convinced, that in that period, soldiers rather than Monks were needed in Palestine . In two epistles, one sent to the Canon Brunone of the counts of Berg and Altena and the other, sent to Pope Callixtus II, he sought support to prevent the expedition, since among the Monks involved, there was Conrad, the noble young man dragged away. from Cologne a few years ago with great scandal.
According to sources which favour a death in 1126, at the beginning of 1125, Arnoldo died suddenly and the enterprise failed. But Conrad continued the pilgrimage alone, attracted by the mystical charm of the land of Jesus. He crossed the Alps and, having reached Puglia, visited the Sanctuaries of St Michael Michele the Archangel and St Nicholas of Bari, obligatory stops for pilgrims heading to Palestine.
However, exhausted by the journey undertaken with makeshift means, he fell ill before embarking, and found refuge in the Benedictine community of St Maria in the countryside of Modugno, in the Diocese of Bari.
Conrad lived the last months of his short life in a cave adjacent to the Chapel, as a Hermit, praying, fasting and sleeping on the bare rock. He aroused great admiration in the locals, who immediately began to resort to his intercession.
He probably died in the winter between 1125 and 1126, just over twenty years old. Tradition fixes the day of death as 17 March. His body was interred in the Chapel of St Maria and the tomb became a pilgrimage destination.
Those in favour of a death in 1154, add extra years spent either as a Monk at Clairvaux or as a Hermit either in the Holy Land or IN the grotto at Modugno. According to some, Conrad accompanied King Conrad to the Holy Land in 1147 on the Second Crusade, returning in the same year but after some time in Clairvaux travelled back to the Holy Land in 1151 with Bernard’s permission to live as a Hermit; his return to Europe, is dated to 1153, caused by the news that Bernard had fallen ill.
His local cultus was confirmed on 7 April 1832 by his Beatification by Pope Gregory XVI .Nevertheless, he is commonly referred to as aSsaint. In the Cistercian Order his Feast is celebrated on 9 February. The Feast of Conrad is celebrated annually in Molfetta by a procession that carries the skull of the saint in a silver reliquary round the town.
Several times Blessed Conrad has manifested his powerful intercession. For example, in periods of drought, carrying the relic of his skull in procession often resulted in rain.
Famous is an episode of 1529 when, as the City was attacked by surprise at night, by the French troops of Count Caracciolo, the citizens felt called in their sleep by a warrior who was warning them of the imminent danger. They, having reached the walls, saw, surrounded by light, the Madonna of the Martyrs, Blessed Corrado, in whom they recognised the mysterious warrior and St Nicholas. The French army, terrified, fled.
Molfetta was immune through his intercession from many epidemics, including the plague of 1657 and out of gratitude, silver was collected to have a bust sculpted in which to keep his skull. Blessed Conrad has also been credited with the power to calm storms, floods and earthquakes. With the displacement of the episcopal seat, on 10 July 1785 the relics were transferred to the new Cathedral and the Old Cathedral, previously dedicated to the Assumption, was re-dedicated to him. In 1834 his own Mass was approved in Molefetta.
Since 1893 the body is kept in a silver and crystal Reliquary, moved in 1981 to the Chapel of Sts Peter and Paul of the Cathedral. In a safe there is the silver bust containing the skull and the reliquary of the third cervical vertebra, once brought to the bedside of the dying. Fragments of the bones are kept in the various Churches of the city. In Modugno tthe right thumb are preserved in the Cathedral and a bone fragment at the Sanctuary of St Maria ad Cryptam.
For centuries it was believed that Conrad died at an old age and, as such, he was represented with a white beard, cape and staff as a pilgrim. The sackcloth and skull often appear, symbols of self-mortification, and crown and sceptre abandoned on the ground, a sign of noble origins.
Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, or the Madonna of Ireland (1697) – 17 March:
During the difficult times of Oliver Cromwell, one of the bishops who was forced to leave Ireland, was Bishop Lynch, Bishop of Clonfert. He travelled about Europe and finally came to Hungary in 1654. He was kindly received by Bishop John Pusky, Bishop of Gyer and eventually became auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Gyer. Ten years later Bishop Lynch planned to return to his native land. Almighty God prevented this; during his dying hours he gave to the Bishop of Gyer, his only material treasure – the picture of the Madonna of Ireland. Soon after, as a memory of the Irish Bishop, the painting of Our Lady was hung on the wall of the Cathedral at Gyer. Years passed. On the Feast of Saint Patrick, while large numbers of the faithful were present in the Cathedral, an awe-inspiring event took place. A bloody sweat was observed to come over the figure of the Blessed Lady in the picture. Drops of blood fell onto the Infant Jesus; as the bleeding continued for three hours. Linen towels, which are still retained under glass at her Shrine, were used to wipe the blood from the blood-perspiring face. In the archives of the Cathedral of Gyer, there is a document written in 1697 on parchment, relating this event. It is signed, not only by the clergy and the laity who were present at the Mass but by the mayor and the councilmen, by the governor, Lutheran and Calvanist preachers, a Rabbi – over one hundred signatures represent eye-witnesses to the miracle. In 1874, Pope Pius IX granted a plenary indulgence on the feasts of Saint Patrick and the Assumption, before which Feasts public novenas are held. Below is the Shrine in Gyer Cathedral.
In 1913 Archbishop Schrembs of Toledo, visited Gyer in Hungary. He saw the beautiful painting and was deeply moved when told of the wonderful event. He requested a copy for the many Irish Catholics in his Diocese who would be happy to learn the history and to possess the picture of Our Lady of Ireland. The copy was placed face to face with the original and then given to Bishop Schrembs. On 23 August 1914, Archbishop Schrembs dedicated the new St Stephen’s Church in Toledo, Ohio. The Hungarian people had paid about 2/3 of the expenses of the building. The Bishop presented the Madonna to this church, saying:
“I am convinced that the picture will be treasured in a Hungarian Church just as much as it would be in an Irish one.”
Martyrs of Alexandria – Also known as Martyrs of Serapis: An unknown number of Christians who were martyred together by a mob of worshippers of the Graeco-Egyptian sun god Serapis. They were Martyred in c 392 in Alexandria, Egypt.