Thought for the Day – 2 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Necessity of Meditation in Silence
“The masters of the spiritual life assure us, that without the practice of meditation, it is almost impossible for the just man to persevere in virtue, ot for the lukewarm and tepid, to become fervent, or for the sinner, to be converted! God, it is true, can work miracles. At times the grace of God can strike the sinner with the suddenness of a thunderbolt and convert him. But, it is the ordinary rule of the spiritual life, that meditation on the truths of eternity, especially on the Last Things, stirs up the soul and moves it, under the influence of Divine grace, to form good resolutions. Even though, the first fervour early diminishes, the daily repetition of this pious practice, revives and strengthens such good resolutions and causes them to be realised, in activities which are in accordance with Catholic teaching.
Sin and lukewarmness, cannot co-exist with the practice of daily mental prayer, if this is carried out as it should be. If we keep our hearts united to God and listen willingly and attentively to His Voice, we shall be able to effect, in ourselves, that total renovation of which St Paul speaks: “But be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which has been created according to God, in justice and holiness of truth” (Eph 4:23-24).”
Quote/s of the Day – 2 January – “Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus”
“And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ … ”
1 John 3:23
“Nothing so curbs the onset of anger, so allays the upsurge of pride. It cures the wound of envy, controls unbridled extravagance and quenches the flame of lust. It cools the thirst of covetousness and banishes the itch of unclean desire… For when I Name Jesus, I set before myself, a Man Who is meek and humble of heart, kind, prudent, chaste, merciful, flawlessly upright and holy in the eyes of all and this same Man is the all-powerful God Whose way of life heals me, Whose support is my strength.”
St Bernard (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
(Sermon 15 On the Song of Songs)
“Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savour of this Name, that God called us into His marvellous Light?”
St Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)
“If thou art bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary thee, if thou art trembling with fear, invoke the name of Jesus.”
One Minute Reflection – 2 January – “Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” – and the Feast of the Holy Name celebrated today (Feast 3 January), Readings: Epistle Acts 4:8-12, Psalm 105:47, Isa 63:16, Ps 144:21, Gospel Luke 2:21-24
“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus”…Luke 2:21
REFLECTION – “The Name stands as a complete summary and description of our Lord’s character and office and it is under this aspect that it has been regarded by thousands of Saints, whose hearts have melted at its mere sound. To them Jesus is their God, Jesus is their King, Jesus is their Redeemer, Jesus is their Mediator, Jesus is their Saviour, Jesus is their great Priest, Jesus is their Intercessor, Jesus is the Captain under Whom they fight, Jesus is the Leader Whom they follow, Jesus is their Teacher, Jesus is the Giver of their law, Jesus is the Spouse and Shepherd of their souls, Jesus is their Light, Jesus is their Life, Jesus is the Judge before Whom they rejoice to think, that they must one day stand, Jesus is their final and eternal Reward, for which alone they live.
But He is also to them the Mirror of all the most glorious and winning virtues. He is, and His Name tells them that He is, unbounded Charity, infinite Mercy, extremest Kindness, deepest Humility, most devoted Piety, transparent Simplicity, uttermost Poverty, Chastity without a stain. It is the prerogative of love to transform those who love into the likeness of Him Whom they love and as the mere name of one who is loved cannot sound in the ear or be thought of in the mind, without adding to the love which is already there, so the thought of the Holy Name and the mention of the Holy Name have a kind of sacramental power in the hearts of His Saints. The [name] seems to convey the grace which enables men to think like Him, to speak like Him, to act like Him, to sacrifice themselves like Him and to Him and for Him and along with Him, to make Him known to others, not by word only but also by reproduction of Him in themselves and to win all men to love Him.” – Fr Alban Goodier SJ (1869-1939) Archbishop – Excerpted from The Prince of Peace.
PRAYER – O God, who founded the salvation of the human race on the Incarnation of Your Word, give Your people the mercy they implore, so that all may know there is no other Name to be invoked but the Name of Your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Our Morning Offering – 2 January – “Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” and the Feast of the Holy Name celebrated today (Feast 3 January)
Jesu, Dulcis Memoria Prayer, Poem, Hymn By St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor Mellifluous Trans. Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)
Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far Thy face to see And in Thy presence rest. No voice can sing, no heart can frame, Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than Jesus’ Name, The Saviour of mankind. O hope of every contrite heart! 0 joy of all the meek! To those who fall, how kind Thou art! How good to those who seek! But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show The love of Jesus, what it is, None but His loved ones know. Jesus! our only hope be Thou, As Thou our prize shall be; In Thee be all our glory now, And through eternity. Amen
Jesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century prayer/hymn by St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluous. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the translation. Parts of this hymn are used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on 3 January.
Saint of the Day – 2 January – Saint Macarius the Younger of Alexandria (Died c 401) Priest, Monk, desert Hermit, Abbot, Ascetic, Poet, miracle-worker., Born in the early 4th century at Alexandria, Egypt and died in c 401 in Alexandria, Egypt of natural causes. Also known as – Macarius of Alexandria, Macarius the Alexandrian. Additional Memorials – 1 May on the Coptic Catholic calendar. Patronages – confectioners, cooks, pastry chefs.
Macarius was a Successful merchant in fruits, sweetmeats and pastries in Alexandria, Egypt. In 335, when he converted to Christianity, he gave up his business to become a Monk and Hermit in the Thebaid dara, in Upper Egypt. For a while he lived near to and was a friend of Saint Anthony the Abbot. He was exiled by heretic Arians with Saint Macarius the Elder and other Monks to an island in the Nile because of his orthodoxy but he was later allowed to return. In later life he travelled to Lower Egypt, and was Ordained and lived in a desert cell with other Monks. He wrote a constitution for the Monastery at Nitria named after him and some of its rules were adopted by Saint Jerome for his Monastery.
Amazing accounts were told of his practice of severe austerities, some of which reached the proportion of legend. For seven years he lived on raw vegetables dipped in water with a few crumbs of bread, moistened with drops of oil on feast days. He once spent 20 days and 20 nights without sleep, burnt by the sun in the day, frozen by bitter desert cold at night. “My mind dried up because of lack of sleep and I had a kind of delirium,” he admitted. “So I gave in to nature and returned to my cell.”
In 373, to obtain greater solitude and longing to attain unity with God, Macarius moved to the desert of Nitria in Lower Egypt. The journey was through a harsh land, and when Macarius was at the end of his strength, the devil appeared and asked, “Why not ask God for the food and strength to continue your journey?” Macarius answered, “The Lord is my strength and glory. Do not tempt a servant of God.” The devil then gave him a vision of a camel laden with food. Macarius was about to eat but suspecting a trap he instead prayed very fervently and the camel vanished.
He spent six months nearly naked in the marshes, beset constantly by vicious blood-sucking flies and mosquitoes, in the hope of destroying his last bit of sexual desire. The terrible conditions and attacking insects left him so deformed that when he returned to the Monks, they could recognise him only by his voice.
A young brother once offered Macarius some very fine grapes. The old fruit dealer was about to eat when he decided to send them to a brother who was ill. This brother passed them to one he considered more in need; that one did the same and on and on, until the grapes made the rounds of all the cells and finally returned to Macarius, who we imagine then ate them?
Macarius returned to Skete and began to work on his worst worldly excess – his love of travel. The devil appeared and suggested Macarius go to Rome and chase out the demons there. Torn between travelling for such a good cause but wishing to fight his vice, Macarius filled a large basket with sand, put it on his back and set out. When someone offered to help him, he said, “Leave me alone! I am punishing my tormenter. He wishes to lead me, old and weak as I am, on a distant and vain voyage.” He then returned to his cell, body broken with fatigue but cured of his temptation.
In old age Macarius journeyed to a Monastery where 1,400 Hermits lived under the rigid rule of Saint Pachomius. Macarius was refused admittance. “You are too old to survive the great rigour we impose here,” Pachomius told him. “One should be trained in it from childhood, or else one cannot stand it. Your health would fail and you would curse us for harming you.” Macarius then stood at the Abbey gate for seven days and nights – without sleep, without food, without saying a word. Finally, the Monks relented and he let him in. Macarius stood in a corner of the Monastery in complete silence, for all of Lent, living on a few cabbage leaves each Sunday “more to avoid ostentation, than from any real need.” The Monks became so jealous of this new brother that they took their complaint to Pachomius, who asked God for illumination. When he learned that the old man was Macarius, he went to him and said, “My brother, I thank you for the lesson you have given myself and my sons. It will prevent us boasting about our modest mortifications. You have edified us sufficiently. Return to your own Monastery and pray for us each day.“
St Macarius, Pray for us each day too, we beg you!
Nuestra Señora del Pilar / Our Lady of the Pillar (Zaragoza, Spain) (40) – 2 January, 12 October (originally 4 October), 15 August – (This Apparition it is considered the first Marian Apparition, and is unique because it happened while Mary was still living on Earth):
According to ancient Spanish history, on 2 January in the year 40, in the early days of Christianity, James the Greater, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, was preaching the Gospel in what was then the pagan land of Caesaraugusta (now Zaragoza), in the Roman Province of Hispania.
St James was disheartened with his mission, having made only a few converts. While he was praying by the banks of the Ebro River with some of his disciples, the Blessed Virgin Mary miraculously appeared before him atop a pillar accompanied by Angels. Mary assured James that the people would eventually be converted, becoming a stronghold of the Faith due to his efforts and their faith would be as strong as the pillar she was standing on. She gave him the pillar as a symbol and a wooden image of herself. James was also instructed to build a Chapel on the spot where she left the pillar which he did, making it the first Church in Spain.
It is generally believed, that Mary appeared to James through bilocation, as she was still living, either in Ephesus or Jerusalem, at the time of this event, as she is believed to have died three to fifteen years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. After establishing the church, James returned to Jerusalem with some of his disciples where he became a Martyr, beheaded in 44 under Herod Agrippa. His disciples returned his body to Spain. The pillar left by the Virgin Mary is presently enshrined in the same but larger Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It is believed to be the same pillar given and promised by Mary, in spite of numerous disasters that beset the Church. A fire in 1434 razed the Church that preceded the present Basilica Cathedral, see below.
The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary may or may not be the original. Some reports state that the original wooden image was destroyed when the Church burned down in 1434, contradicting other reports, that it is still the original Statue. The Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is made of wood and stands 39 centimetres tall while the 1.8 m pillar is made of jasper.quartz. The Statue depicts Mother Mary with the Child Jesus on her left arm, Who has a dove sitting on His left palm. Since the 16th century, the pillar is usually draped in a skirt-like cover called manto (in English: mantle). As a whole, it is protected by a bronze case and then another case of silver. The image was canonically crowned in 1905 during the reign of Pope Pius X. The crown was designed by the Marquis of Griñi, valued at 450,000 pesetas (£18,750, in1910). During the three Marian festivities of today, 15 August and 12 October, the faithful adorn the base of the Pillar and Statue with flowers – see below (both our Blessed Mother and St James would be thrilled by this display of such immense faith and piety!)
The apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar is a widely accepted sacred tradition. Popes from earliest times issued Papal Bulls attesting to the authenticity of the Shrine and the appearance of the Virgin Mary. Pope Calixtus III issued a Bull in 1456 encouraging pilgrimage to the Lady of the Pillar. It acknowledged the miracle of its foundation and the miracles that had taken place at the Spanish Shrine. It was also through this Bull that the name “Our Lady of the Pillar” was confirmed. So many contradictions had arisen concerning the miraculous origin of the Church that during the reign of Pope Innocent XIII , the Bishops of Spain appealed to the Holy See to settle the controversy. After careful investigation, the twelve Cardinals, in whose hands the affair rested, adopted the following account, which was approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on 2 August 1723 and has since been inserted in the lessons of the Office of the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, celebrated on 12 October.
“Of all the places that Spain offers for the veneration of the devout, the most illustrious is doubtless the Sanctuary consecrated to God under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar, at Saragossa. According to ancient and pious tradition, St James the Greater, led by Providence into Spain, spent some time at Saragossa. He there received a signal favour from the Blessed Virgin. As he was praying with his disciples one night, upon the banks of the Ebro, as the same tradition informs us, the Mother of God, who still lived, appeared to him and commanded him to erect an oratory in that place. The Apostle delayed not to obey this injunction,and with the assistance of his disciples, soon constructed a small Chapel. In the course of time, a larger Church was built and dedicated, which, with the dedication of Saint Saviour’s, is kept as a festival in the City and Diocese of Saragossa on the 4th of October.“
In 1730, Pope Clement XII allowed the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar all over the Spanish Empire. As the date coincides with the discovery of the Americas, the Lady was later named as Patroness of the Hispanic World although her Patronages include all of the following: Zaragoza, Spain, Melo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Diocese of Imus, Cavite, Zamboanga City, Santa Cruz, Manila, Alaminos, Laguna, San Simon, Pampanga, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Pilar and Morong in Bataan, Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, Sibonga, Cebu, Baleno, Masbate, Cauayan, Isabela.
Prayer: Hail, Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar, conceived without sin, I come to venerate and honour you. above all the Angels and Saints in Heaven, as my Queen, my Lady and my dearest Mother. I firmly resolve to serve you always and to do whatever I am able, that all may render faithful service to you. Most Holy Mary, through your kind intercession and by your own merits, obtain for me from your Divine Son Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, all the graces I need for the eternal salvation of my soul. Therefore, most devoted Mother of mothers, through the Precious Blood which your Son shed for us, I humbly beseech thee to receive me among your devotees and to accept me as your servant forever. Help me in my every thought, action word and deed, never to be displeasing in your sight and in the sight of your Son, our Lord and Redeemer. Think of me always, my dear Lady of the Pillar and do not forsake me in the hour of my death. Amen.
Saint Macarius the Younger of Alexandria (Died c 401) Priest, Monk, Desert Hermit.
St Maximus of Vienne Bl Odino of Rot St Paracodius of Vienne St Seiriol Blessed Sylvester of Troina St Telesphorus, Pope St Theodota St Theopistus St Vincentian of Tulle
Many Martyrs Who Suffered in Rome: There were many Martyrs who suffered in the persecutions of Diocletian for refusing to surrender the holy books. Though we know these atrocities occurred, we do not know the names of the Saints and we honour them as a group. c 303 in Rome, Italy.
Martyrs of Antioch – 5 saints: A group of Christian soldiers Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of five – Albanus, Macarius, Possessor, Starus and Stratonicus. They were born in Greece and were Martyred in Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey).
Many Martyrs of Britain: The Christians of Britain appear to have escaped unharmed in the earlier persecutions which afflicted the Church but the cruel edicts of Diocletian were enforced in every corner of the Roman Empire and the faithful inhabitants of this land, whether native Britons or Roman colonists, were called upon to furnish their full number of holy Martyrs and Confessors. The names of few are on record but the British historian, Saint Gildas, after relating the Martyrdom of Saint Alban, tells us, that many others were seized, some put to the most unheard-of tortures and others immediately executed, while not a few hid themselves in forests and the caves of the earth, where they endured a prolonged death until God called them to their reward. The same writer attributes it to the subsequent invasion of the English, then a pagan people, that the recollection of the places, sanctified by these Martyrdoms, has been lost and so little honour paid to their memory. It may be added, that, according to one tradition, a thousand of these Christians were overtaken in their flight near Lichfield and cruelly massacred and that the name of Lichfield, or Field of the Dead, is derived from them.
Martyrs of Ethiopia – 3 saints: A group of Christians Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of three – Auriga, Claudia and Rutile.
Martyrs of Jerusalem – 2 saints: A group of Christians Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of two – Stephen and Vitalis.
Martyrs of Lichfield: Many Christians suffered at Lichfield (aka Lyke-field, meaning field of dead bodies), England in the persecutions of Diocletian. Though we know these atrocities occurred, we do not know the names of theSsaints and we honour them as a group. Their Martyrdom occurred in 304 at Lichfield, England.
Martyrs of Piacenza: A group of Christians who died together for their faith in the persecutions of Diocletian. No details about them have survived. They were Martyred on the site of Church of Madonna di Campagna, Piacenza, Italy.
Martyrs of Puy – 4 saints: Missionaries, sent by Saint Fronto of Périgueux to the area of Puy, France. Tortured and Martyred by local pagans. We know the names – Frontasius, Severinus, Severian and Silanus. They were beheaded in Puy (modern Puy-en-Velay), France and buried together in the Church of Notre Dame, Puy-en-Velay by Saint Fronto, their bodies laid out to form a cross.
Martyrs of Syrmium – 7 saints: Group of Christians Martyred together, date unknown. We know the names of seven – Acutus, Artaxus, Eugenda, Maximianus, Timothy, Tobias and Vitus – but very little else. This occurred in the 3rd or 4th century at Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia).
Martyrs of Tomi – 3 saints: Three brothers, all Christian soldiers, in the Imperial Roman army and all three Martyred in the persecutions of Emperor Licinius Licinianus. We know their names – Argeus, Marcellinus and Narcissus – but little else. They were Martyred in 320 at Tomi, Exinius Pontus, Moesia (modern Constanta, Romania).