Thought for the Day – 1 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Betrayal of Judas
“Ingratitude is a very cruel thing. It imprints a deep wound on the human heart and the heart of Jesus, was infinitely more sensitive than ours. He had raised Judas to the high rank of the Apostolate; He had made him one of His closest friends and had entrusted him with the secrets of His infinite love. Now Judas betrays Him for the wretched sum of thirty pieces of silver. Worse is to follow, however. While Jesus is praying and perspiring blood at the thought of the ingratitude of men and of the nearness of His passion and death, the Garden of Gethsemane becomes suddenly aglow with torches and reverberates with the shouting of the hired ruffians, whom Judas has brought with him to arrest Jesus. The treacherous Apostle comes forward. He embraces our divine Redeemer, hails Him as his Master and greets Him with a sacrilegious kiss upon the cheek. Jesus neither repulses nor rebukes him but, with a gesture of infinite mercy, He addresses him as a friend. “Friend,” He says, “for what purpose hast thou come?” (Mt 26:50). “Dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:28). If only Judas could have heeded this last appeal and begged for forgiveness at Jesus’ feet with tears of repentance! Jesus would certainly have taken him to His heart and returned his kiss with a kiss of pardon and divine friendship. Perhaps, we have also stood at times on the brink of sin and have been aware of a higher appeal to go back! But, have we heeded it? If ever we are in danger again, let us listen to this quiet voice which speaks to our conscience. Let us fall on our knees before Jesus and earnestly implore Him: “Be not silent, Lord, be not far from me!” (Ps 34:22). Let us ask Him to have pity on our weakness and to come to our assistance.”
“The masterpiece of Jesus Christ’s love for humanity is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is within our reach. We can all get close to Christ the guest and talk with Him and perceive the warmth of His word. The word! How it inflames the spirits! How will the word of Christ inflame them! We can all get to the altar when He immolates Himself and shouts at us: Look how much I have loved and loved you! And we can all sit at His table and eat the bread and drink the intoxicating wine of charity. “
Blessed Marcelo Spínola y Maestre (1835-1906) Cardinal-Priest
The Lamb That Was Slain, Has Delivered Us from Death
and has Given Us Life
Today we leave dear Thomas à Kempis and read instead a reflection by Saint Melito, Bishop of Sardis (Died c 180) Father of the Church, whose Feast day it is today.
“There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover – that mystery is Christ and to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
For the sake of suffering humanity He came down from heaven to earth, clothed Himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, He took the pain of fallen man upon Himself; He triumphed over the diseases of soul and body, that were its cause, and by His Spirit, which was incapable of dying, He dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.
He was led forth like a lamb; He was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as He had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; He freed us from our slavery to the devil, as He had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with His own Spirit and the members of our body, with His own Blood.
He is the One, Who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One, Who smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One, Who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be His own forever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.
It is He who endured every kind of suffering, in all those who foreshadowed Him. In Abel, He was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonoured in the prophets.
It is He who was made man of the Virgin, He who was hung on the tree; it is He who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute Lamb, the slain Lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of His was broken; in the earth His body knew no decay. He is the One, Who rose from the dead and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.”
Quote/s of the Day – 1 April – Maundy Thursday, Evening Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Gospel: John 13:1-15 and the Memorial of Saint Melito Bishop of Sardis (Died c 180) Early Church Father
“He loved them unto the end.”
“Born as a Son, led forth as a Lamb, sacrificed as a sheep, buried as a man, He rose from the dead as a God, for He was by nature God and man.
He is all things – He judges and so, He is Law. He teaches and so, He is Wisdom. He saves and so, He is Grace. He begets and so, He is Father. He is begotten,and so, He is Son. He suffers and so, He is Sacrifice. He is buried and so, He is Man. He rises again and so, He is God. This is Jesus Christ, to whom belongs glory for all ages.”
St Melito of Sardis (Died c 180) Bishop, Early Church Father
One Minute Reflection – 1 April – Maundy Thursday, Evening Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Readings: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-15
“Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, … he loved them unto the end.” – John 13:1
REFLECTION – “Be obedient to the death, following the example of the spotless Lamb who obeyed His Father even to a shameful death on the Cross. Reflect that He is the way and the rule you are to follow. Always hold Him present before the eyes of your spirit. See how obedient He is, this Word, this Utterance of God! He does not refuse to take up the burden of suffering laid on Him by His Father; to the contrary, He throws Himself into it, spurred on by His great desire. Isn’t this what He reveals during the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, when He says: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:15)? By “eat this Passover” He means, the accomplishment of the Father’s will and His desire. Seeing that scarcely any time lies before Him (He was already looking ahead to the end, when He would sacrifice His body for our sake), He rejoices, He is glad and joyfully says: “I have greatly desired.” Here is the Passover He is speaking about – that which consists in giving His own self as food, in laying down His own body in obedience to the Father.
Jesus had celebrated many another Passover with His disciples but never this one, O unspeakable, sweet and burning charity! You think neither of Your suffering nor of Your humiliating death – if You had thought of them, You would not have been so joyful, You would not have called it a Passover. The Word sees ,that it is He Himself Who has been chosen, He Himself Who has received all our humanity as His spouse. He has been asked to give us His own Blood so that God’s will might be accomplished in us, so that it might be His Blood that sanctifies us. This is, indeed, the sweet Passover, this Lamb without blemish accepts (cf. Ex 12:5) and it is with great love and great desire that He fulfils the Father’s will and wholly carries out His design. What unspeakably sweet love! …
That is why, my beloved, I beg you never to entertain the least dread and to place all your trust in the Blood of Christ Crucified … May all servile fear be banished from your spirits. You will say with Saint Paul …: “I can do all things through Christ crucified, since he is within me by desire and love and he strengthens me” (cf. Phil 4:13; Gal 2:20). Love, love, love! By His Blood, the gentle Lamb has made an unassailable rock of your soul.” – St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Dominican tertiary, Doctor of the Church, Co-patron of Europe – Letter 129
PRAYER – Love of You, with our whole heart, Lord God, is holiness. Increase then Your gifts of divine grace in us, so that, as in Your Son’s Death, You made us hope for what we believe, You may likewise, in His Resurrection, make us come to You, our final end. Listen we beg, to the prayers of Your holy ones and may the Blessed Mother walk along with us and keep our hand, ever in hers. Through Jesus Himself, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God with You, forever and ever, amen.
When Mary Weeps By Father Frederick M Lynk (1881-unknown)
When Mary weeps, her mother’s heart Is full to overflowing. When Mary weeps, pain’s piercing dart Stabs Him beyond all knowing, Who is by sinners Crucified, Blasphemed, forsaken and denied.
When Mary weeps, God’s holy wrath Is kindling cruel fires. When Mary weeps, poor mankind’s path Leads through war’s blood-soaked mires And makes all human mothers moan In love and pity for their own.
When Mary weeps, it’s time to pray To have our sins forgiven. When Mary weeps, each night and day By sorrow must be riven, Until His and her children will Once more seek peace on Calvary’s hill. When Mary weeps, we all must try To dry her tears of sorrow. When Mary weeps, we too must cry To glimpse a brighter morrow, When her Son’s name is recognised And all, in love adore the Christ. Amen
Saint of the Day – 1 April – Saint Mary of Egypt (c 344-c 421) Desert Mother, Penitent, Recluse, Born in c 344 in Egypt am died in c 421 in the desert near the River Jordan of natural causes. Also known as Maria Aegyptica, Maria Egiziaca. Patronages – Penitents, Chastity (warfare against the flesh; deliverance from carnal passions), demons (deliverance from), fever, skin diseases, reformed fallen women.
The primary source of information on Saint Mary of Egypt is the Vita written of her, around 100 years after her death, by St Sophronius, the Bishop of Jerusalem (634–638). Most of the information in this section is taken from this source. The complete Vita is available to read here (from an Orthodox Church source): https://stmaryofegypt.org/files/library/life.htm
Saint Mary, was born somewhere in the Province of Egypt. At the age of twelve she ran away from her parents to the City of Alexandria. Here she lived an extremely dissolute life. In her Vita, it states that she often refused the money offered for her sexual favours, as she was driven “by an insatiable and an irrepressible passion” and that she mainly lived by begging, supplemented by spinning flax.
After seventeen years of this lifestyle, she travelled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. She undertook the journey as a sort of “anti-pilgrimage,” stating, that she hoped to find, in the pilgrim crowds at Jerusalem, even more partners in her lust. She paid for her passage by offering sexual favours to other pilgrims and she continued her habitual lifestyle for a short time in Jerusalem.
Her Vita relates that when she tried to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the celebration, she was barred from doing so by an unseen force. Realising that this was because of her impurity, she was struck with remorse and upon seeing an icon of the Mother of God Blessed Virgin. outside the Church, she prayed for forgiveness and promised to give up the world. Then, she attempted again to enter the Church and this time, was permitted in.
After venerating the relic of the True Cross, she returned to the Icon to give thanks and heard a voice telling her, “If you cross the Jordan, you will find glorious rest.” She immediately went to the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist on the bank of the River Jordan, where she received absolution and afterwards, Holy Communion. The next morning, she crossed the Jordan and retired to the desert to live the rest of her life as a hermit in penitence. She took with her only three loaves of bread and once they were gone, lived only on what she could find in the wilderness.
Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to Saint Zosimas of Palestine (c 460-c 560), who encountered her in the desert. When he unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognisable as human. She asked St Zosimas to give her his mantle to cover her nakedness and then she narrated her life’s story to him.
She then asked him to meet her at the banks of the Jordan, on Holy Thursday of the following year and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water and received Holy Communion, asking him to meet her again in the desert the following Lent.
The next year, St Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, some twenty days’ journey from his Monastery and found her lying there dead. According to an inscription written in the sand next to her head, she had died on the very night he had given her the Blessed Sacrament and had been somehow miraculously transported to the place he found her. Her body was preserved incorrupt.
He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. On returning to the Monastery, he related her life story to the brethren and it was preserved among them, as oral tradition, until it was written down by St Sophronius.
There is disagreement among various sources regarding the dates of Saint Mary’s life. The dates given above correspond to those in the Catholic Encyclopedia. The Bollandists place her death in 421, or 530. The only clue given in her Vita, is the fact that the day of her repose was 1 April which was stated to be Holy Thursday, meaning ,that Easter fell on 4 April that year, 421.
St Mary’s relics lie in various Cathlic Churhes, the Italian Churches are named below- Rome, Naples, and Cremona in Italy and in Antwerp, Belgium. In Italy, Mary became associated with the Patronage of fallen women much like Mary Magdalene, to whom similar traits were associated. There are a number of Churches or Chapels dedicated to Saint Mary of Egypt, among which are:
Temple of Portunus (Santa Maria Egiziaca, Rome) Church of Santa Maria Egiziaca a Forcella, Naples Church of Santa Maria Egiziaca a Pizzofalcone, Naples Chapel in Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, commemorating the site of her conversion
Many literary works commemorate her within various formats, both fictional, stage and music.
Nostra Signora delle Lacrime / Our Lady of Tears, Sicily (1953) – 1 April:
Also known as the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse, this plaster hanging wall plaque depicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the style of the 1950’s. Like many others just like it, it was mass-produced in a factory in Tuscany and shipped to various locations throughout the world.
This particular plaque of Our Lady of Tears was purchased for a wedding gift for a couple who wed on 21 March 1953. The couple, Angelo and Antonian Iannuso, would later admit, that they were not devout but they liked the plaque and placed it on the wall over their bed. Antonian soon became pregnant but the happy couple learned, that the pregnancy caused Antonian to suffer from toxemia that resulted frequent convulsions and even temporary blindness.adly On the morning of 29 August, 1953, Antonian awoke to find that her sight had been restored. “I opened my eyes and stared at the image of the Madonna above the bedhead. To my great amazement, I saw that the effigy was weeping. I called my sister-in-law, Grazie and my aunt, Antonian Sgarlata, who came to my side, showing them the tears. At first they thought it was an hallucination due to my illness but when I insisted, they went close to the plaque and could esily see ,that tears were really falling from the eyes of the Madonna and, that some tears ran down her cheeks onto the bedhead. Taken by fright, they took it out the front door, calling the neighbours and they too confirmed the phenomenon…” The plaque of Our Lady of Tears was publicly displayed, convincing even the skeptics of the prodigy as many of the sick were miraculously healed of their ailments. Some of the tears were collected for scientific examination and the findings were as follows:
“…the liquid examined is shown to be made up of a watery solution of sodium chloride in which traces of protein and nuclei of a silver composition of excretiary, substances of the quanternary type, the same as found in the human secretions, used as a comparison during the analysis. “The appearance, the alkalinity and the composition, induce one to consider the liquid examined analogous to human tears.”
The tears stopped four days later at 11:40 am. On 17 October 1954, Pope Pius XII stated the following during a radio broadcast: “…we acknowledge the unanimous declaration of the Episcopal Conference held in Sicily, on the reality of that event. Will men understand the mysterious language of those tears?”
Blessed Abraham of Bulgaria Blessed Alexander of Sicily Saint Anastasio Blessed Antonius of Noto Saint Berhard of Amiens Blessed Bernhardin of Noto Saint Celsus of Armagh Saint Dodolinus of Vienne Blessed Gerard of Sassoferrato Saint Gilbert de Moray Blessed Giuseppe Girotti Blessed Hugh of Bonnevaux Saint Hugh of Grenoble Saint Jacoba of Rome Blessed John Bretton Saint Leucone of Troyes Saint Lodovico Pavoni FMI (1784-1849) His Lifestory: https://anastpaul.com/2020/04/01/saint-of-the-day-1-april-saint-lodovico-pavoni-fmi-1784-1849/
Blessed Marcelle Saint Mary of Egypt (c 344-c 421) Desert Mother, Penitent Saint Melito Bishop of Sardis (Died c 180) Early Church Father Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2019/04/01/saint-of-the-day-1-april-st-melito-died-c-180/ Blessed Nicolò of Noto Saint Prudentius of Atina Saint Tewdrig ap Teithfallt Saint Theodora of Rome Saint Valery of Leucone Saint Venantius of Spalato Blessed Vinebault Blessed Zofia Czeska-Maciejowska — Apostles of Picardy: Saint Caidoc Saint Fricor
Martyrs of Dalmatia and Istria – 9 saints: A group of Christians martyrs who died at various locations in Dalamtia and Istria (in modern Croatia, whose relics were later taken to Rome, Italy, and who are remembered together. We know the names Anastasio, Antiochiano, Asterius, Gaiano, Mauro, Paoliniano, Septimius, Telio and Venantius. Died • on the Adriatic coast of modern Croatia • relics translated to Rome, Italy
Martyrs of Thessalonica – 6 saints: A group of Christians martyred. We know nothing about them but the names Alexander, Dionysius, Ingenianus, Panterus, Parthenius and Saturninus. Died Thessalonica, Greece, date unknown
Martyred Sisters of Thessalonica: Saint Agape Saint Chionia
Martyred in Alexandria: Saint Stephen Saint Victor
Martyred in Armenia: Saint Irenaeus Saint Quintian
Martyred in Heraclea: Saint Castus Saint Victor
Martyred in the Mexican Revolution Blessed Anacleto González Flores Blessed Jorge Vargas González Blessed Luis Padilla Gómez Blessed Ramón Vargas González