Thought for the Day – 20 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary, the Source of Holiness
“God is the primary origin of all holiness. But, the Blessed Virgin gave us Jesus, Who is our Redeemer and the author of grace. For this reason, she may be called the source of grace, the divine aqueduct, as St Bernard puts it, through which, the supernatural life of grace is brought to us (In adv Domini, Serm 2, no 5). She was, moreover, full of grace and outstanding in holiness – as the Mother of God, she can obtain anything for us from her divine Son, because “it is the will of God that we receive everything through the hands of Mary” (St Bernard, In Nativ BMV, Serm, no 7). Thirdly, even by her example, she can be the source of sanctity for us. If we study her amazing humility, we shall learn to be humble, for our sinfulness gives us such good reason to humble ourselves. If we meditate on her spotless purity, we shall experience a great desire and love for this beautiful virtue and shall have recourse to her in every danger to save us from impurity. Then, let us reflect on her ardent love for God and for men. Her charity prompted her maternal heart to offer up, as a divine Victim, her Son nailed to the Cross. If we reflect on the nature of her charity, we also shall feel urged to love God above all things and to pray, work and make sacrifices for the salvation of our fellowmen. Let us have, always before our minds, the image of our heavenly Mother and we shall be inspired to seek perfection in all our actions.”
Quote/s of the Day – 20 May – “Mary’s Month” – Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11, Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11, John 17:20-26
“I am in my Father and you in me and I in you.”
“Your Beloved is such, that He will not accept what belongs to another — He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be enthroned therein, as King in His own right.”
Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
“By giving yourself to God, you not only receive Himself in exchange but, eternal life as well!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritatis
God, my God, May I Always Abide in You By St John Damascene (675-749)
God, my God, unextinguishable and invisible fire, You make Your angels flaming fire. Out of Your inexpressible love, You have given me Your divine Flesh as food and through this communion of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood, You receive me as a partaker of Your divinity. Permeate all my body and soul, all my bones and sinews. Consume my sins in fire. Enlighten my soul and illumine my mind. Sanctify my body and make Your abode in me together with Your blessed Father and all-holy Spirit, that I may always abide in You, through the intercession of Your immaculate Mother and all Your saints. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 20 May – “Mary’s Month” – Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11, Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11, John 17:20-26 and the Memorial of Blessed Columba of Rieti OP (1467- 1501)
“That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us. ” – John 17:21
REFLECTION – “The body of Christ’s Church, harmonious result of the coming together of His saints from the beginning of time, reaches its perfectly balanced and integral constitution, in the union of the children of God, the firstborn whose names are written in heaven ( cf Lk 10,20)… Our Saviour-God Himself shows us the indissoluble and indivisible character of union with Himself, when He says to the Apostles: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me; you in me and I in you” (Jn 10,38; 14,20). And He spells this out even more clearly by adding: “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be perfectly one.” And again: “That the love with which you have loved me may be in them and that I also may be in them”…
How marvellous this inexpressible condescension of the love God bears for us, He who is the friend of man! (Wsd 1,6). That which He is. by nature with regard to His Father, He grants us to be, by adoption and grace in His own regard… The glory given to the Son by the Father, the Son in His turn gives to us through divine grace. Even better: just as He is in the Father and the Father in Him, so will the Son of God be in us and we in the Son through grace, if we desire it. Having once become like us, through the flesh, He has made us sharers of His divinity and incorporates us all in Him. In addition, the divinity in which we participate by this communion, is not divisible into separate parts but, it necessarily follows, that we too, once we have become inseparable from it in truth, are inseparable from the one Spirit, making up one body with Christ. ” – St Symeon the New Theologian (c 949-1022), Greek Monk – Ethics 1, 6-8
PRAYER – God of mercy, You have filled us with the hope of resurrection by restoring man to his original dignity. May we who relive this mystery each year come to share it in perpetual love. May the Mother of Our Lord stand with us as we gaze upward to her Son and may the prayer of Bl essed Columba, be a support in our troubles. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
O Mother and Handmaid of God By St Methodius (c 815 – 885) (Brother of St Cyril)
Your name, O Mother of God, is replete with all graces and Divine blessings. You have contained Him, Who cannot be contained and nourished Him, Who nourishes all creatures. He Who fills heaven and earth and is the Lord of all, was pleased to be in need of you, for it was you who clothed Him with that flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, then, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice, because you have made Him a debtor who gives being to all creatures. We are all debtors to God but He is a debtor to you. That is why, O most holy Mother of God, you possess more goodness and greater charity, than all the other Saints and have freer access to God, than any of them, for you are His Mother. Be mindful of us, we beg you, in our miseries, for we celebrate your glories and know how great is your goodness. Amen
Saint of the Day – 20 May – Blessed Columba of Rieti OP (1467- 1501) religious Sister of the Third Order of St Dominic, Mystic, Apostle of the poor, renowned for her spiritual counsel, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and fantastic miracles were attributed to her. Born on 2 February 1467 at Rieti, Umbria, Italy as Angelella Guardagnoli and died on 20 May 1501 at Perugia, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Against sorcery, against temptation, Perugia, Italy. Also known as – Angelella Guardagnoli, Colomba of Rieti.
Columba was the daughter of a poor family in the Umbrian city of Rieti. When she was born, angels gathered around her house, singing and during her Baptism, a dove flew down to the font. From then on, no-one referred to her as Angelella but as Columba , which means “dove”.
From infancy Columba led a supernatural life. She strewed her little bed with thorns and from an old sieve ,plaited a hair-shirt. As a small girl, Columba learned to spin and sew, repairing the clothes of the local Dominican Friars. She was educated by Dominican nuns. The Holy Eucharist formed her one desire and almost her sole nourishment. Hunger, thirst, sleep and the other needs of nature, not only never tormented her but she lived unconscious of them.
As a teenager, she prayed to discern her vocation in life and received a vision of Christ on a Throne surrounded by Saints. She took this as a sign to dedicate herself to God and so, she made a private vow of chastity and spent her time in prayer. When it was revealed that her parents had arranged a marriage for her, she cut off her hair and sent it to her suitor as a way of letting him know, where her real interest lay.
Columba became a Dominican Tertiary at age 19. She was given to ecstasies, during one of which, her spirit toured the Holy Land. She was much sought after as a spiritual counselor. Citizens from the City of Narni, tried to kidnap her so she could be their miracle worker but she escaped.
Upon an interior prompting that she should leave Rieti, Columba wandered away, having no concept of where she was going. Along the way she was arrested in Foligno as a vagrant. The Bishop there ordered her to go to Perugia and to found a Third Order Convent, which she did but only against the strong objections of the citizens of Foligno and Rieti, who wanted her for their own needs.
She worked with the poor extensively in Perugia, so much so, that her sanctity reportedly incensed Lucrezia Borgia for years. At one point Borgia had even issued a complaint accusing Columba of practising magic. On the other hand, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia’s father, held Columba in high regard. He consulted her and she ordered him to repent of his sins.
If Columba’s reception of Holy Communion was delayed by but one hour, she fainted from exhaustion and her life seemed in danger. Her Confessor, fearing some delusion, asked her how she was able to live on the Blessed Sacrament alone. “When I receive this heavenly food,” she replied, “I feel so satisfied in soul and body that all desire for earthly food vanishes and I have a horror of it. I hope that before this year is over, God will give you a sign which will remove your doubts.” On Christmas-day, as this Priest finished his first Mass, he felt an unknown refreshment of soul. When he had said his third Mass, this heavenly love had reached such a height, that he felt it impossible to touch food and so remained fasting throughout the day. This was revealed to Columba, who said, “I rejoice, Father, that you have received my heavenly food and now know, by experience, how I can be satisfied by the Bread of angels alone!”
Columba spent eleven years as Prioress in Perugia, dying on 2 May 1501, at the age of 34. At the moment of her death, her friend and fellow Dominican Tertiary, Blessed Osanna of Mantua (1493-1565), saw Columba’s soul as a “radiance rising to heaven.”
The whole City attended her funeral, which was paid for by the City administrators.
She was Beatified on 25 February 1625 by Pope Urban VIII and her Feast day is celebrated within the Dominican Order on the anniversary of her death. As Patron of Perugia, she is highly venerated and Statues of her abound in the region.
Santa Maria delle Grazie / Holy Mary of the Graces in Stia, Arezzo, Italy (1428) – 20 May:
It was the year 1428 and Mona Giovanna one day, taking advantage of a moment of clear weather, left her cottage to dedicate herself to the work in the fields. Suddenly, she was surprised by a strong storm and, unable to return to her home, she found a refuge in a cavern covered with tree trunks, located above a white boulder. Having reached the shelter, Giovanna began to pray. Suddenly she was enveloped in a light of exceptional splendour and a celestial figure of a woman of extraordinary majesty and beauty appeared to her, placing her foot on the white boulder. Giovanna felt and understood that the Lady was the Mother of God. The Virgin spoke to her maternally saying:
“If the people want to remove many great punishments and misfortunes, they will, in my honour, build here, a Church in the place chosen by myrself and once it is built, that they pay homage and veneration to my Son and I, with constant prayers.
The place where Giovanna had taken refuge continued to shine with a very bright light, when a shepherd, Pietro Campodonico, approaching saw the miracle in person. Shortly after Giovanna repeated the narration to Messer Luca, Parish Priest of Stia, who was quick to believe her, knowing Giovanna’s goodness and simplicity. Immediately he went in procession with the Parishioners to the place where the miracle had happened. Feelings of religious piety awoke in all the people of the countryside, spreading not only in the nearby parishes but in the entire Casentino valley, up to the Cities of Arezzo, Florence and Siena. The construction of the Church, begun by the unanimous will of authority (including “Messer Luca lo Pievano” from Stia and Conte Neri from Porciano) and by the people, with the offerings and gifts left by the devotees. It was completed on 8 September 1432. In September 1474 a sudden fire totally destroyed the building with all the furnishings and images. The Church was immediately rebuilt, assisted by the offerings of the faithful. In 1490 the building was already rebuilt as we now see it – the Sanctuary was called from the beginning Santa Maria delle Grazie:.
On 20 May of each year the faithful of the neighbouring areas come in procession to celebrate the feast of the apparition. The Church is an elegant edifice of Florentine architecture, preceded by a portico on the left of the facade, a three-light sailed bell tower in sandstone. The interior consists of a single nave with a large presbytery. Two carved stone Altars lean against the side walls, of which the one on the left of the XV century is remarkable, finely carved. On the left wall there is an octagonal stone pulpit, supported by two shelves. The presbytery, a work of artistic value of the XVI century, square in shape, is framed in the façade by two pillars and a stone archivolt, decorated with raised foliage, finely worked and is enclosed inside by a stone cornice, decorated with a series of 30 enamelled terracotta cherub heads, interspersed with 5 coats of arms of the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital. In the pendentives are the cylindrical reliefs of the 4 Evangelists, also in glazed terracotta.
Both the reliefs and the glazed frieze are works of Robbian art, from Andrea’s workshop (1435-1528), to refer to the beginning of the XVII century. In the underlying rooms, in the shape of a rib, there are two large Robbians depicting the apparition of the Madonna to Blessed Giovanna and to the crib, on the right and left. Under the Robbiane school there is an inlaid wooden seat from the 15th century. In the centre of the presbytery, the high Altar, in worked marble, rises above the boulder where the Virgin appeared.
St Abercius Bl Albert of Bologna St Alexander of Edessa St Althryda St Anastasius of Brescia St Aquila of Egypt Bl Arnaldo Serra and Companions St Asterius of Edessa St Austregisilus of Bourges St Basilla of Rome St Baudelius of Nîmes St Codrato Blessed Columba of Rieti OP (1467- 1501) Mystic