Thought for the Day – 22 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Divided Heart
“Even if your heart has not become the property of the devil and retains a horror of mortal sin, it is still possible, that you have not given it completely to God. Your heart is divided. Part of it belongs to God and part of it to the world. You are distracted by your own self-love and earthly desires. A heart which is divided in its affections between God and the world, is dazzled by everything around it and tends to forget God, more and more.
We protest that we belong entirely to God but, in practice, we are so absorbed by work, ambition and pleasure, that we neglect God.
A man who is torn between love of God and love of the world is like Cain who, unlike Abel, did not offer God, the best part of his flock but kept this for himself and offered God whatever he had rejected. God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but had no regard for that of Cain, who finally became a murderer and was cursed by his Creator.
Do we offer God the leavings of life while we keep the best part of it for our selves? Do we think of ourselves nearly all the time and give very little thought to God? This is not the way in which God has dealt with us. Not only has He created us but, He loves us with an everlasting love. He came down to earth and lived as our fellow man. He redeemed us by His Precious Blood and gave Himself to us as our food!
Why are we not willing to give ourselves to Him forever in return? Gratitude demands that we should do so. God, moeover, is our supreme and only good.
Quote/s of the Day – 22 April – Thursday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 8:26-40, Responsorial Psalm 66(65):8-9.16-17.20, John 6:44-51
“Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.”
“Consider, I ask you, what a great effort it was not to neglect reading even while on a journey and, especially, while seated in a chariot. Let this be heeded by those people who do not even deign to do it at home but rather think reading the Scriptures is a waste of time …”
“Jesus, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will. Open the eyes of my mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings. Speak to me the hidden and secret things of Your wisdom. Enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of Your knowledge, not only to cherish those things that are written but to do them. Amen”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
O Lord, You have given us Your word for a light to shine upon our path, grant us so to meditate on that word and follow its teaching, that we may find in it, the light that shines more and more until the perfect day. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 22 April – Thursday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 8:26-40, Responsorial Psalm 66(65):8-9.16-17.20, John 6:44-51
“The bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world.” – John 6:51
REFLECTION – “They are wholly mistaken who reject God’s plan for His creation, deny the salvation of the flesh and scoff at the idea of its regeneration, asserting that it cannot put on an imperishable nature. If the flesh is not saved, then the Lord did not redeem us with His Blood, the Chalice of the Eucharist is not a share in His Blood and the Bread which we break is not a share in His Body (1Cor 10,16). For… the human substance, which the Word of God truly became, redeems us with His Blood…
Since we are His members (1Cor 6,15) and are nourished by His creation… He declared, that the Chalice of His creation is His own Blood, from which He augments our own blood and He affirmed, that the Bread of His creation is His own Body from which He gives growth to our being.
So, when the mixed chalice and the baked loaf receive the word of God and when the Eucharistic elements become the Body and Blood of Christ, which brings growth and sustenance to our bodily frame, how can it be maintained that our flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life?
For our flesh feeds on the Lord’s Body and Blood and is His member. So Saint Paul writes: “We are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones” (Eph 5,30; Gn 2,23). He is not speaking about some spiritual and invisible man…: he is speaking of the anatomy of a real man, consisting of flesh, nerves and bones. It is this that is nourished by His Chalice, the Chalice of His Blood and gains growth from the Bread which is His Body… In the same way, our bodies are nourished by the after being buried in the earth and… rise again in due season, when the word of God confers resurrection upon them “for the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2,11).” – St Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202) Bishop, Theologian and Martyr Against the heresies, V, 2, 2
PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, in Your Word, You shed the light of Your glory on the peoples who are living in the shadow of death. By Your Word, You teach us all things and ‘draw’ us in the way of hope and love. For Your Word is Truth and Your Word became flesh and filled our world with the Sun of Justice, Your Son, He who is the Sun and the Truth. May our steps be guided by His Mother, Our Blessed Lady, as we follow in the footsteps of Your Word and be a protection in our trials by the Bread of Life. Through Christ, our Lord Jesus, with You in union with the Holy Spirit, now and forever, amen.
Acts 8: 26-40 26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise, go towards the south, to the way that goeth down from Jerusalem into Gaza:=, this is desert. 27 And rising up, he went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, of great authority under Candace the Queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge over all her treasures, had come to Jerusalem to adore. 28 And he was returning, sitting in his chariot, and reading Isaias the prophet. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip: Go near and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understand what thou readest? 31 Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 And the place of the scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and like a lamb without voice before his shearer, so openeth he not his mouth. 33 In humility his judgEment was taken away. His generation who shall declare, for his life shall be taken from the earth? 34 And the eunuch answering Philip, said: I beseech thee, of whom doth the prophet speak this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip, opening his mouth and beginning at this scripture, preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water and the eunuch said: See, here is water, what doth hinder me from being baptised? 37 And Philip said: If thou believe with all thy heart, thou may. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch:and he baptised him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip and the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found in Azotus and passing through, he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Gospel: John 6: 44-51 44 No man can come to me, except the Father, who has sent me, draw him and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Everyone that has heard of the Father and has learned, cometh to me. 46 Not that any man has seen the Father but he who is of God, he has seen the Father. 47 Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believes in me, hath everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the desert and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.
Our Morning Offering – 22 April – Thursay of the Third Week of Easter
As today is the Memorial of St Leonides, Martyr for Christ, Origen’s Father, let us pray his son’s words:
May the Lord Jesus Touch Our Eyes By Origen (c 185-253) Father of the Church
May the Lord Jesus touch our eyes, as He did those of the blind. Then we shall begin to see in visible things those which are invisible. May He open our eyes to gaze, not on present realities but on the blessings to come. May He open the eyes of our heart, to contemplate God in Spirit, through Jesus Christ the Lord, to Whom belong, all power and glory, through all eternity. Amen
Saint of the Day – 22 April – Saint Leonides Adamantius of Alexandria (Died 202) Martyr – Layman – Father of Origen (Adamantius), Husband and Father, Philosopher, Rhetorician, a great scholar. Died by beheading in 202 at Alexandria, Egypt. Patronage – large families. Also known as Leonidas.
The Emperor Severus, in the year 202, during the tenth of his reign, raised a bloody persecution, which filled the whole empire with martyrs but especially in Egypt. One renowned Martyr, whose triumph ennobled and edified the City of Alexandria, was Leonides, father of the great Origen.
Leonides was a Christian philosopher learned in both the profane and sacred sciences. He had seven sons whom he raised with abundant care. The eldest son, Origen, took after his father with a love for learning and piety. Leonides loved his children with paternal affection, seeing each as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
When the persecution raged at Alexandria under Lætus, the Governor of Egypt, Leonides was cast into prison. Origen, who was then only seventeen, burned with fearless zeal for the Gospel but was spared martyrdom for some divine design which he could discern at the time.
Cautioned and impelled by his mother toward temperance and courage, rather than recklessness, Origen cared for his family and his mother’s well-being. He then wrote to his father in very moving terms, strongly exhorting him to look on the crown that was offered him with courage and joy, adding this clause, “Take heed, sir, that for our sakes you do not change your mind.”
Leonides was accordingly beheaded for the faith in 202. His estates and goods were confiscated and his widow was left with seven children to maintain in the poorest condition imaginable. Divine Providence was both her comfort and support andthe Lord worked great signs through her family and children. The extant works of Origen inspired Christian Science and formed Christian thought and doctrine ever since and still does.
The Roman Martyrology for oday states: ” At Alexandria, the birthday of the holy and learned Martyr, Saint Leonides, who suffered under Severus.”
Notre-Dames de Betharam / Our Lady of Betharam, France (1503) – 22 April:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Betharam, in the Diocese of Lescar, in the Province of Bearn. This image was found, in the year 1503, by some shepherds, who, seeing an extraordinary light on the spot where the High Altar of the Chapel now stands, came up to it and found there, an image of Our Lady, for which they had a Chapel built immediately.”
More commonly known as the Sanctuary of Betharram, it is located only 15 kilometers from the more famous Marian Shrine at Lourdes. It used to be a very popular pilgrimage destination, as according to Saint Vincent de Paul, Betharram was once the second most popular place of pilgrimage in France. The river Gave, beside which the Shrine is located, is the same river whose waters flow past Lourdes.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Betharam is famous for may miracles but three have reached international fame. According to tradition, one day in 1503 there were some shepherds leading their flocks along the bank of the river Gave when they suddenly observed an extremely bright light coming from the rocks. When they drew nearer, they found a beautiful Statue of the Blessed Virgin. Learning of the incident, the people in the nearby village of Lestelle, decided to construct a Chapel to house the Statue. Due to space limitations, the Chapel was initially planned for the opposite bank from where the Statue had been found. Once the Statue was placed there, however, they found that it would always return on its own, to the other side of the river ,where it had originally been found. The faithful then understood that the Blessed Virgin desired that the Chapel should be built where the Statue had been found and so it happened. The next miracles occurred in the year 1616 when some peasants from the village of Montaut were returning home from the fields at the end of the day. A storm suddenly developed, with fierce winds that threatened Betharram. In fact, the labourers saw that there was a cyclone in the storm that beat against the great wooden Cross that had been erected on the top of the hill. The Cross fell but then was encircled by a radiant aura of dazzling light before raising itself to its former position. The third miracle is the one after which the Shrine is named. Apparently a young girl fell head first into the Gave when trying to pluck a flower along the bank. The water runs fast and deep in this area and the girl was on the verge of drowning, when she cried aloud to Our Lady of Betharam of the nearby Shrine. The Blessed Virgin appeared standing on the bank holding the Divine Infant, who held a branch which He extended to rescue the girl. She offered a golden branch to the Shrine as an ex-voto offering. A beautiful branch is ‘Betharram’ in the local dialect and has became the name of the Shrine.
There were many other miracles, as at one point between the years 1620 and 1642, there were 82 documented miracles involving the blind who received their sight, the paralysed who regained the use of the limbs and those instantly cured of cancer, among other miracles.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous frequently visited the Shrine of Betharram. In fact, the rosary beads that Bernadette used when praying with the Blessed Virgin during the first apparition at Lourdes had come from the Betharram Shrine and the priest to whom she was sent after the apparitions, was Saint Michel Garicoïts (1797-1863) the Priest of Betharram. He it was who alone believed Bernadette’s accounts of the apparitions at Lourdes. He was Canonised in 1947. About St Michel Garicoits here: https://anastpaul.com/2019/05/14/saint-of-the-day-14-may-saint-michel-garicoits-1797-1863/
The Cross that the winds could not destroy was finally destroyed by the folly of man during the French Revolution. The property was unlawfully confiscated and the Chaplains expelled. Saint Pope Pius X was known to be devoted to Our Lady of Betharam. He offered her two magnificent golden crowns made up of branches woven together. The prayer accompanying the inscription stated: “May the Son and His Mother accept our gifts and by appeasing our hopes and desires, may they keep for us, one day, the crown of glory which none can tarnish.”
Martyrs of Persia: Bishops, priests, deacons and laity who were martyred in Persia and celebrated together. Several of them have their stories related in the Acta of Saints Abdon and Sennen. • Abdiesus the Deacon • Abrosimus • Aceptismas of Hnaita • Aithilahas of Persia • Azadanes the Deacon • Azades the Eunuch • Bicor • Chrysotelus of Persia • Helimenas of Persia • James of Persia • Joseph of Persia • Lucas of Persia • Mareas • Milles of Persia • Mucius of Persia • Parmenius of Persia • Tarbula of Persia