Thought for the Day – 17 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Storms of Life
“The Evangelist describes how Jesus got nto a boat one day, alog with His Apostles and and set out across the lake of Genesareth. Suddenly a great storm arose, so furious, that the waves covered the tiny vessel and threatened to submerge it. The Apostles were terrified and turned to Jesus but, He was asleep. They woke Him, crying out: “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He sat up and said to them: “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then, He rebuked the wind and the sea and immediately all was calm again. His followers were astonished. “What manner of man is this,” they asked one another, “that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:23-26; Mk 4:36-49; Lk 8:22-25).
We also are often subjected to the tempests of life. Sometimes, these storms, are purely interior, as when our lower impulses threaten to overcome our good resolutions and to submerge our purity of soul. In these serious crises, we should turn humbly and fervently to Jesus for help. Sometimes perhaps, Jesus will seem to be asleep and deaf to our anguished entreaties. But it is never so! He simply wishes to test us, as He tested His Apostles on the lake of Genesareth.
We must persevere. We must tell Him that we do not wish to lose His grace, that we do not wish to fall into sin but desire to go on loving Him. If our prayers are humble and insistent, we may rest assured, that after our moment of trial, Jesus Christ will speak to us. At the sound of His Voice, the tempest will be stilled and there will come, a great calm. Then, we shall experience the peace, which only God can give.
Quote/s of the Day – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 1-7, Psalm: Psalms 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19, Gospel: John 6: 16-21
“They saw Jesus, walking upon the sea and drawing nigh to the ship and they were afraid.”
And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
“What are you afraid of, you men of little faith? That He will not pardon your sins? But with His own hands He has nailed them to the cross. That you are used to soft living and your tastes are fastidious? But He knows the clay of which we are made (Gn 2:7). That a prolonged habit of sinning binds you like a chain? But the Lord loosens the shackles of prisoners. Or perhaps that angered by the enormity and frequency of your sins, He is slow to extend a helping hand? But where sin abounded, grace became superabundant (Rom 5,20). Are you worried about clothing and food and other bodily necessities s o that you hesitate to give up your possessions? But He knows that you need all these things (Mt 6,32). What more can you wish? What else is there to hold you back from the way of salvation? ”
St Bernard (1091-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church Commentary on the Song of Songs, Sermon 38
“Keep Jesus Christ as your dial, at all times, His Cross for mast, on which to hoist your resolutions, as a sail. Let your anchor be, profound trust in Him and set out early!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
“Then steer your ship with steady arm, Trust me and rest your soul. Your little boat I’ll keep from harm, I’ll guide it toward its goal. … Be ,therefore, steadfast, calm and true, Your God is at your side. Through storm and night He’ll see you through With conscience as your guide.”
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Edith Stein “At the Helm”
One Minute Reflection – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 6: 1-7, Psalm: Psalms 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19, Gospel: John 6: 16-21 and the meorial of St Pope Anicetus I (Died 168)
“It is I, be not afraid.”…John 6:20
REFLECTION – “Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal light and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me, and vanquish these evil beasts — the alluring desires of the flesh — so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command the winds and the tempests, say to the sea: “Be still” and to the north wind, “Do not blow” and there will be a great calm.
Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth, for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed down by the weight of sins and direct all my desires to heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.
Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love because You alone can satisfy him who loves You and without You, all things are worthless.” – Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471) – The Imitation of Christ – Book 3 Ch 23
PRAYER – Let us praise You Lord, with voice and mind and deed and since life itself is Your gift, may all we have and are, be Yours! May our Mother be with us and pray for us and listen, we pray, to the prayers of St Pope Anicetus as we ask his intercession. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, in union with You, one God for all eternity, amen.
Acts 6: 1-7 1 And in those days, the number of the disciples increasing, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, for that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve calling together the multitude of the disciples, said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look out among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying was liked by all the multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon, and Parmenas and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles; and they praying, imposed hands upon them. 7 And the word of the Lord increased; and the number of the disciples was multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly, a great multitude also of the priests obeyed the faith.
Gospel: John 6: 16-21 16 And when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea. 17 And when they had gone up into a ship, they went over the sea to Capharnaum; and it was now dark and Jesus was not come unto them. 18 And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 When they had rowed, therefore ,about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they saw Jesus, walking upon the sea and drawing nigh to the ship and they were afraid. 20 But he saith to them: It is I; be not afraid. 21 They were willing, therefore, to take him into the ship and presently the ship was at the land to which they were going.
Our Morning Offering – 17 April – “Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
Mary, I Beg You By St Anselm (1033-1109) Magnificent Doctor Marian Doctor
Mary, I beg you, by that grace through which the Lord is with you and you will to be with Him, let your mercy be with me. Let love for you always be with me, and the care for me be always with you. Let the cry of my need, as long as it persists, be with you, and the care of your goodness, as long as I need it, be with me. Let joy in your blessedness be always with me, and compassion for my wretchedness, where I need it, be with you. Amen
Saint of the Day – 17 April – Saint Pope Anicetus I (Died 168) the 12th Pope and Martyr Papacy 157-168. Anicetus actively opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism. (Some sources record St Anicetus as the 11th and others as the 12th Pope?). He welcomed St Polycarp of Smyrna to Rome to discuss the Easter controversy.
The Roman Martyrology states for today: “At Rome, St Anicetus, Pope and Martyr, who obtained the palm of martyrdom in the persecution of Marcus.”
St Anicetus, the twelfth Pope after St Peter, first saw the light of day in Syria, toward the end of the first century. He was carefully educated by his parents, and was gifted by God with great natural abilities, especially with a clear, penetrating mind. He made, by his untiring perseverance, such progress in all sciences that he was counted among the best scholars of his time. In addition to this, the life he led was so blameless, that he was a model of Christian perfection, to everyone.
The most shining of all his virtues, was his truly apostolic zeal in protecting and disseminating the true faith. Therefore, when Pius I. had ended his life by a glorious martyrdom, Anicetus was unanimously elected his successor amid great rejoicing. And in truth, the Church needed, at that period, a Pope as learned, zealous and holy as himself, as she was assailed and persecuted in all possible ways by divers heretics.
Valentinus and Marcion, two Heresiarchs, had already commenced to sow the poison of their corruption in Rome and even a wicked woman named Marcellina, who had adopted the teachings of Carpocrates, had already many followers. The saddest fact of all, however, was that the Catholics, themselves, became very indolent in the practice of their faith, and their conduct was not such as their religion required. This inspired the heretics with hope of being able to instill their spurious doctrines into their minds, as we know by experience that the surest road to apostasy from the true faith, is indifference and debased morals. (My note – this all sounds very familiar!)
St Anicetus, although he perceived all this with great pain, did not become disheartened. Calling on God for aid, he began earnestly to work. By daily sermons, by teaching and exhortation, he endeavoured to move the Catholics to more fervency in their religion, as well as to a reformation of their lives. The example of his own holy life gave the greatest force to his words. He lived like a Saint, and all his thoughts were directed to lead his flock to salvation. He was an enemy to even the most innocent amusement and found his only pleasure in prayer and in working for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. He employed the greater part of the night in devotional exercises and during the day, he was only found in Church, in the dwellings of the sick, or poor, or at home, occupied in study or prayer. He chastised his body by fasting and other penances. To his enemies he was kind and charitable; to the poor, liberal; while in danger and persecution he was fearless and strong.
This beautiful example of their Shepherd, was soon followed by the Catholics residing in Rome with such zeal, that, according to the testimony of Hegesippus, the historian, the whole City became a habitation of sanctity. This change in the morals of the people was the most efficacious means of preserving them in the true faith, as the best safeguard of faith is a pious and blameless life. As far as the heretics were concerned, who endeavoured to implant in the hearts of the Romans, the seeds of their false doctrines, the Holy Father had the greatest compassion on them on account of their lost souls. He left nothing untried to bring them to the knowledge of their error but he thought it prudent ,to banish those who remained inflexible from the City. st Polycarp, a disciple of St John, came to Rome at the time of Anicetus, to discuss several points with him, which were to be settled for the welfare of the faithful. All was happily concluded and Polycarp paid the greatest honours to the holy Pope, everywhere praising his saintly conduct.
For eight years had Anicetus governed the Church with wonderful wisdom and power, when during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius he was seized, and being inflexible in the confession of his faith, he was decapitated.
During his time as Pope, St Anicetus had to combat, in particular, the dangerous errors of gnosticism, Christ’s ancient enemy, already rampant in the days when Saint John the Apostle wrote his letters to the Churches of Asia. Saint Anicetus was visited in Rome by Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who desired to consult with him and, whom he in turn asked ,to celebrate the feast of Easter in the Church of Rome, as Saint Ireneus, Polycarp’s disciple, relates. They had not been able to find a solution to the question of a difference in the date of Easter in the Orient and the Occident, which Pope Saint Victor would later settle but remained close friends. Saint Anicetus’ vigilance protected his flock from the wiles of the false preachers Valentine and Marcion, who were attempting to corrupt the faith in the capital of the empire. – By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876.
The Liber Pontificalis states that St Anicetus was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.
Nossa Senhora da Arrábida / Our Lady of Arrábida, Portugal (16th Century) – 17 April:
The Shrine of Our Lady of Arrábida is popular with sailors and with all those who travel by water. It owes its beginnings to a miraculous occurrence during the 16th century. At some time during this century, an English merchant named Hildebrand, was standing off the entrance to the Tague River when a great storm caught his ship and immediately plunged him into the dangerous waters at the mouth of the river. The ship was in great danger and the merchant, being a pious Catholic, knelt before a picture of Our Lady which he always kept on board his ship. Soon after, he began praying a bright light was seen shining through the darkness and the ship came to rest in calm waters. When daylight came, it could be seen, that the vessel was safely anchored at the foot of a very steep wooded mountain. Hildebrand went back below decks to kneel before the illustration of Our Lady in thanksgiving, when he found that the picture was no longer there. Since it had been from that direction of the mountain that he had seen the light, the night before, Hildebrand went on land and climbed the steep trail to the top. There, on the very top of the mountain, amid the dense woods, was his picture of Our Lady, before which he had prayed in his hour of need. Greatly moved, Hildebrand finished his business as soon as possible, in England and returned to Portugal. He gave away his goods to the poor and settled down in a small hermitage at the top of the mountain, where the picture had indicated that Our Lady wished a Shrine to be. The Shrine is there today and still popular with the local peoples and all sailors, fisherman and those who travel by water. Numerous votive tablets surround the picture, testifying to miracles worked by Our Lady of Arrábida for those who come to her in need. Sailors going on a long voyage usually go for a farewell visit on departure and return to give thanks when they come home.
The Ancient Statue of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida is in the Chapel of the Convent.
It is a replica that is taken in procession and like the original, has a natural head of hair and a silver crown, a blue mantle over an embroidered dress bedecked with silver sequins. In one hand the Blessed Virgin carries the Baby Jesus who wears a similar crown to that of His Mother. In the other hand, Our Lady holds a silver scepter. Only half a meter tall, she has a profound physical and spiritual presence. The procession winds through several City streets, accompanied by a band, banners, and flags. A great crowd processes each year to pay homage to Senhora da Arrábida, or in thanksgiving for answered prayers and many climb the mountain barefoot.
There are fishermen who are going to fulfil vows made in moments when they feared that their vessels were sinking and women, accompanied by their children, who go in thanksgiving for their husbands and fathers, who came back safely through heavy storms. Still others speak of cures from serious illnesses or severe accidents and several miracles which are attributed to Our Lady of Arabida. Ave Maria!