As we prepare for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we ask her to intercede for all our needs. After her humble and hidden life on this earth, Our Lady had a greater role after the death of Our Lord as Queen and Mother of the Catholic Church. She underwent all kinds of suffering, anguish and humiliations on earth. It is fitting that Our Lord glorified her through her Assumption. Our world and in particular, South Africa under the Patronage of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, is at a very serious crossroads, with crises and difficulties on many fronts… Let us share this Novena that many may solemnly pray, begging the merciful intercession of Our Lady on her Country and on our world
Daily Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Thou has destroyed the power of death and given the hope of eternal life, for body and soul. Thou granted Thy Mother a special place in Thy glory and did not allow decay to touch her body. As we rejoice in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant us renewed confidence in the victory of life over death. Amen.
DAY 1 Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in thy triumphant Assumption into Heaven where the Angels and Saints acclaim thee as Queen of Heaven and earth. We join them in praising thee and bless the Lord . Who raised thee above all creatures. With them we honour thee. We are confident that thou do watch over our daily lives and we ask that thou shall intercede for us now in this, our special need, ……………………………. (Mention your request) We are comforted by our faith in the coming resurrection and we look to thee for thy help, prayers and comfort. After this earthly life, show unto us, the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O kind, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. O Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.
Thought for the Day – 6 August – The Memorial of St Sixtus II (Died 258) Pope and Marty
St Sixtus II was Consecrated Bishop of the Church of Rome in 257. The following year, while celebrating the sacred liturgy over the tomb of a Martyr in the cemetery or Catacombs of Saint Callistus, he was arrested by soldiers carrying out the edict of the Emperor Valerian. On the same day, 6 August, he was put to death along with his Deacons and buried in the same cemetary. This excerpt from a letter by Saint Cyprian, the North African Bishop of Carthage who was later Martyred in the same persecution, appears in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for the liturgical Memorial of St Sixtus. May these words of St Cyprian give us the strength we need in our times, when all is darkness!
St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200 – c 258) Bishop and Martyr, Father of the Church
Courage – Put on Christ!
“Dear brother, the reason why I could not write to you immediately was, that all the clergy were embroiled in the heat of the conflict. They could not possibly leave, all of them having prepared themselves for divine and heavenly glory. But now, the messengers have come back, those whom I sent to the City to find out and report the truth of whatever decrees had been made about us – for people have been imagining all sorts of different possibilities. Here, then, is the truth:
Valerian sent a rescript to the Senate, saying that Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons should all receive immediate punishment; that Senators, Knights, and other men of importance, should lose their rank and their property and if they still persisted in being Christians, they should lose their heads and that Matrons should be deprived of their property and be sent into exile. Members of Caesar’s own household, whether they had confessed their faith before or were only confessing it now, should be deprived of their property, bound in chains and sent as slaves to his estates.
To this command, Valerian attached a copy of the letters which he had sent to the Governors of the various Provinces about us and we daily await the arrival of these letters, bracing ourselves, each according to the strength of his faith, for the suffering that is to be endured, and looking forward to the help and mercy of the Lord and the crown of eternal life.
You should know, however, that Sixtus was Martyred in the cemetery on the sixth of August and four deacons with him. Moreover, the prefects in the City are daily pushing forward this persecution and anyone who is presented to them is martyred and all his property confiscated by the state.
I beg you to make these things known to the rest of our colleagues, so that through their encouragement, the whole brotherhood may be strengthened and made ready for the spiritual conflict – so that, each one of us, may think less of death and more of immortality – so that, everyone, dedicated to the Lord, with full faith and total courage, may rejoice in this confession and not fear it, for they know, that the soldiers of God and Christ ,are not destroyed, but crowned. Dearest brother, always fare well in the Lord!”
Quote/s of the Day – 6 August – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – Readings: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97: 1-2, 5-6, 9; Peter 1: 16-19; Mark 9: 2-10
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him..”
“It is before those who go UP that Jesus is transfigured and not to those BELOW. When He is transfigured, His Face shines as the sun, that He may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light..”
Origen (c 185-253) Father of the Church
“At His Transfiguration Christ showed His disciples, the splendour of His beauty, to which He will shape and colour those who are His: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of His glory.’”
St Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 6 August – “Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”- Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – Readings: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97: 1-2, 5-6, 9; Peter 1: 16-19; Mark 9: 2-10
“His face shone like the sun” – (Matthew 17:2)
REFLECTION – “What was surprising about Jesus’ Face becoming like the sun since He Himself is the Sun? He is indeed the Sun but a Sun hidden behind a cloud. Now, for a moment, the cloud dispersed and He shone out. What is this cloud that dispersed? It was not so much the flesh but the weakness of the flesh that disappeared for a moment.
This is the cloud spoken of by the prophet: “See, the Lord will ride on a swift cloud” (Is 19:1) -the cloud, the flesh that covers His divinity; swift, because this flesh bears not a trace of evil in itself, a cloud concealing the divine splendour; swift, because it is to rise up to the eternal splendour. This is the cloud of which it is written in the Song of Songs: “I was seated in the shadow of him for whom my soul longs” (cf. Sg 3:2). It is a swift cloud because this is the flesh of “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29) and, once these have been removed, the world is carried up to heavenly heights, divested of the weight of all its sins.
The sun concealed by this flesh is not that “which rises for good and bad alike” (Mt 5:45) but “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 3:20), which rises only for those who fear God. Veiled, normally, by the cloud of the flesh, this light that “enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9) shines out today in all its brilliance. Today it gives glory to this same flesh, it displays itself deified to the Apostles ,so that they, the Apostles, might make it known to the world.” – Peter the Venerable (1092-1156) Abbot of Cluny – Sermon 1 for the Transfiguration
PRAYER – Father, at the Transfiguration in glory of Your only-begotten Son, You confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness to Jesus of the prophets Moses and Elijah. You foreshadowed what we shall be when You bring our sonship to its perfection. Grant that by listening to the voice of Jesus, we may become heirs with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God forever and may Mary, our tender and caring Mother, help us to be bright rays of the saving light of her Son Jesus. Amen
Saint of the Day – 6 August – Saint Sixtus II (Died 258) Pope and Martyr , Philosopher. 25th Pope from St Peter. Papal Ascension 30 August 257. Of Greek origin unknown birth date died by being beheaded on 6 August 258 in a cemetery on the Appian Way, Rome. He was Martyred along with seven deacons, (St Lawrence of Rome a few days later) during the persecutions of Christianity by Emperor Valerian. This is the St Sixtus who is commemorated in the Roman Canon Eucharistic Prayer. Also known as – Xystus. Patronage – Bellegra, Italy.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Rome, on the Appian road, in the cemetery of Calistus, the birthday of the blessed Xystus II, Pope and Martyr, who received the crown of martyrdom in the persecution of Valerian by being put to the sword. Also, the holy Martyrs Felicissimus and Agapitus, Deacons of blessed Xystus; Januarius, Magnus, Vincent and Stephen, Subdeacons, all of whom were beheaded with him and buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus. With them suffered also, blessed Quartus, as is related by St Cyprian.”
Even as the storm of persecution created by Emperor Valerian raged against the Church, the Papal Throne was not vacant. Sixtus, a Greek, was elected to succeed Stephen. The Emperor’s decrees had ordered the Christians to take part in state religious ceremonies and forbade them to assemble in cemeteries. For nearly a year Sixtus managed to evade the authorities before he was gloriously martyred.
Valerian issued his second edict ordering the execution of Christian Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Sixtus had taken to holding Mass in the private cemetery of Praetextatus because, it was not watched as closely by the authorities, as was the cemetery of Calixtus. But, in early August of 258, while Sixtus was seated on his episcopal chair and surrounded by the brethren, the soldiers broke in arresting Sixtus and four Deacons who were in attendance.
After a formal judgement, Sixtus was led back to the very place where he had been arrested, to face execution. His chief Deacon St Lawrence, upon hearing the news, hastened to his side, desiring to die with his Bishop. Sixtus consoled his Deacon by telling him that he would follow in three days with even greater glory. The soldiers then placed Sixtus in his chair and swiftly beheaded him. True to the great Pope’s words, Lawrence was arrested three days later and executed the same day.
The remains of Sixtus were transferred by the Christian faithful to the Papal Crypt in the neighbouring cemetery of St Callistus. Behind his tomb was enshrined the bloodstained chair on which he had been beheaded.
The following inscription honouring Sixtus was placed on his tomb in the catacomb of Callixtus by Pope Damasus I:
“At the time when the sword pierced the bowels of the Mother, I, buried here, taught as Shepherd, the Word of God; when suddenly the soldiers rushed in and dragged me from the chair. The faithful offered their necks to the sword but as soon as the Shepherd saw the ones who wished to rob him of the palm (of martyrdom) he was the first to offer himself and his own head, not tolerating that the (pagan) frenzy should harm the others. Christ, who gives recompense, made manifest the Shepherd’s merit, preserving unharmed the flock.“
Nossa Senhora das Graças / Our Lady of Graces, Pesqueira, Pernambuco, Northeast, Brazil (1936) – 6 August :
On 6 August 1936, Maria da Luz Teixeira, 13, and Maria da Conceição, 16 (a poor girl living with the Teixeira family), were gathering castor beans on Guarda mountain in the Cimbres district, 15 miles from Pesqueira. There was a flash of light and then Maria da Conceição said, “Look, there’s an image that looks like Our Lady.” Maria da Luz saw it too, up on a rock. They ran home and told Maria da Luz’s parents. At her mother’s insistence, Artur Teixeira climbed the hill with the girls, who reached the spot long before he struggled up through the brush. He saw nothing unusual but, at his suggestion, the girls together asked the image, “Who are you?”“I am Grace.” They asked what she wanted. “I’ve come to warn of three punishments sent by God. Tell the people to pray much and do penance.”
After this the girls returned to the site daily, where they prayed with a growing crowd of pilgrims. On 9 August, the crowd demanded a sign; reluctantly, the girls asked for one. The next day, they found water flowing from the rock and two sets of footprints embedded in stone, one an adult’s and one a child’s. The apparition confirmed they belonged to her and her son. The Bishop conducted an investigation. Maria da Luz described Our Lady of Grace as “similar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Pesqueira Cathedral but her mantle is blue and her dress cream, with a belt. She has a little child in her left arm and both have very beautiful crowns on their heads.”
Eventually the Virgin told her that the people’s response had been sufficient to avert the three chastisements, sometimes identified as armed bandits (particularly the notorious Lampião, killed by police in 1938) and the coming of World War II or a Communist regime to Brazil. Maria da Conceição died young. In 1940, Maria da Luz joined the Religious of Christian Instruction, taking the name Sister Adélia. In her absence, pilgrims continued to visit the Shrine at the apparition site, where 296 carved stone steps lead to a Statue of Our Lady of Grace (as depicted on the Miraculous Medal, without the Child, not as the girls saw her) and to report miracles there. In 1966, the Vatican approved the apparitions. Sister Adélia has since participated in some events at the Shrine, including the anniversary pilgrimages of 1985 and 1986 and reported some new messages from Our Lady. As of 2010 she was still living, aged 87. Because the original site is located in the Xukuru Indian reservation, an area of constant conflict, the City and Diocese of Pesqueira have built a new Shrine to Our Lady of Grace, with a grotto and Chapel, on a Calvary Shrine hill closer to town.
Bl Gezelin of Schlebusch St Gislain of Luxemburg St Glisente of Brescia Bl Goderanno Bl Guillermo Sanz St Hardulf of Breedon
Bl Octavian of Savona St Pope Sixtus II (Died 258) Pope and Martyr
St Stephen of Cardeña Bl Tadeusz Dulny Bl William of Altavilla — Martyrs of Cardeña: Two hundred Benedictine monks at the Saint Peter of Cardegna monastery, Burgos, Spain who were martyred in the 8th century by invading Saracens. They were buried by local Christians in a nearby churchyard in Burgos, Spain and Beatified in 1603 by Pope Clement VIII (cultus confirmed).
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: 10 Beati • Blessed Alejandro Casare Menéndez • Blessed Andrés Soto Carrera • Blessed José González Ramos Campos • Blessed José María Recalde Magúregui • Blessed Juan Silverio Pérez Ruano • Blessed Saturnino Ortega Montealegre