Thought for the Day – 4 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“In order to understand more clearly, the gravity of sin, it is helpful at this stage, to consider three things:
(a) The world with all its evils – sorrows, diseases, wars, plagues and death. All these things do not come directly from the Will of God, Who is the highest good but happen, with His permission.” They are the effect of original sin and of the continuing transgressions of men.
(b) Hell, which is the handiwork of sin, God, infinitely good but also infintely just, has ordained this terrible and everlasting punishment for the rebellious sinner.
(c) The Crucifix. To save us from sin, the God-Man has suffered the cruellest of torments and death but, men go on offending Him with unbelievable ingratitude!
Now, let us turn the spotlight on ourselves and think of our past lives. So many sins and abuses of God’s grace! Such coldness and ingratitude! Where has all this brough us? Spiritually, sin has deprived us of God and of the supernatural life, which His grace gives us. Intellectually, it is an absurdity, a dishonour and a degradation. Physically, it is an inversion of the right order and often means total ruin.
Let us humbly repent, therefore and make resolutions so firm, that we shall be ready to face any sacrifice, even death, in order to put them into practice.”
Quote/s of the Day – 4 January – “Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” – Christmas Weekday, Readings: 1 John 3:7-10, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, John 1:35-42
“Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
“… There is one Road and one only, well secured against all possibility of going astray and, this Road is provided by One Who is Himself both God and man. As God, He is the Goal, as man, He is the Way.”
St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo Father and Doctor of Grace
May I Love You More Dearly St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
Thanks be to You, my Lord Jesus Christ For all the benefits You have given me, For all the pains and insults You have borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, May I know You more clearly, Love You more dearly, Follow You more nearly. Amen
“Those who risk all for God, will find. that they have both lost all and gained all.”
St Teresa of Jesus of Ávila (1515-1582) Doctor of Prayer of the Church
“Teach Us Good Lord” By St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
Teach us, good Lord, to serve You as You deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing that we are doing Your will. Amen
“All a person’s holiness, perfection and profit lies in doing God’s will perfectly…. Happy are we, if we succeed in pouring out our heart into God’s, in uniting our desires and our will to His, to the point, that one heart and one will are formed, wanting, what God wants, wanting, in the way, in the time and in the circumstances, what He desires and willing it all, for no other reason, than that God wills it.”
St Joseph Cafasso (1811-1860)
“You cannot be half a saint. You must be a whole saint or no saint at all.”
St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face of Lisieux (1873-1897) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 4 January – “Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” – Christmas Weekday, Readings: 1 John 3:7-10, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, John 1:35-42
He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day … John 1:39
REFLECTION – “John was there and two of his disciples with him.” John was such “a friend of the Bridegroom” that he did not seek his own glory, he simply bore witness to the truth (Jn 3:29.26). Did he dream of keeping back his disciples and preventing them from following the Lord? Not in the least. He, himself showed them, the one they were to follow … He declared: “Why cling to me? I am not the Lamb of God. Behold the Lamb of God …… Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
At these words the two disciples who were with John, followed Jesus. “Jesus turned and saw that they were following him and said to them: ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?” As yet they were not following Him definitively, as we know, they joined themselves to Him, when He called them to leave their boat …, when He said to them: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). That was the moment they joined Him definitively, no longer to leave Him. But for now they wanted to see where Jesus was living and put into practice the words of Scripture: “If you see an intelligent man, seek him out at daybreak; let your feet wear away his doorstep! Learn from him the precepts of the Lord” (cf. Sir 6:36f.). So Jesus showed them where He was living, they went and stayed with Him. What a happy day they spent! What a blessed night! Who can say what it was they heard from the Lord’s mouth? Let us, too, build a dwelling in our hearts, construct a house where Christ can come to teach and converse with us.” … St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father & Doctor of the Church (Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 7).
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, thank You for making me a child of eternity. Help me to live each day in such a way that I may deserve to be a child of Yours forever. Grant that by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all Your Angels and Martyrs and Saints, we may strive always to keep our eyes fixed on Your Son, our entry to You, our Shepherd and our Saviour, Who will lead us to You in our eternal home. May we never waiver from Your commandments. Amen.
Our Morning Offering – 4 January – Christmas Weekday “Month of the Most Holy Name”
Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Excerpt) By Prudentius, Aurelius Clemens (c 348-c 413) Trans. J M Neale (1818-1866)
Of the Father’s love begotten Ere the world began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending he, Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see Evermore and evermore.
Blessed was the day forever, When the Virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Saviour of our race And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His Sacred Face Evermore and evermore.
Glory be to God the Father, Glory be to God the Son Glory be the Holy Ghost, Persons Three, yet Godhead One, Glory be from all creation While eternal ages run, Evermore and evermore.
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Roman Christian Poet, born in the Roman Province of Tarraconensis (now Northern Spain) in c 348. He probably died in the Iberian Peninsula some time after 405, possibly around 413. Prudentius practised law with some success and was twice Provincial Governor, perhaps in his native country. Towards the end of his life (possibly around 392) Prudentius retired from public life to become an ascetic, fasting until evening and abstaining entirely from animal food and writing poems, hymns and controversial works in defence of Christianity. Prudentius later collected the Christian poems written during this period and added a preface, which he himself dated 405. The poetry of Prudentius is influenced by early Christian authors, such as Tertullian and St Ambrose, as well as the Sacred Scriptures and the Acts of the Martyrs. His hymn Da, puer, plectrum – “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”) and the hymn for Epiphany O sola magnarum urbium (“Earth Has Many A Noble City”), both from the Cathemerinon, are still frequently in use today, although many others are too but perhaps less frequently..
Saint of the Day – 4 January – Saint Pharaildis of Ghent (c 650-c 740) Virgin, although married, she remained a virgin during her marriage, apostle of charity, miracle-worker. Born in c 650 in Ghent, Belgium and died in c 740 of natural causes. Patronages – against childhood diseases, of toothache, difficult marriages, poultry, victims of abuse, widows, Ghent, Belgium, Smetlede, Belgium, Bruay, France. Also known as – Farahilde, Farailde, Pharaild, Pharailde, Pherailde, Vareide, Varelde, Veerhilde, Veerle, Verylde. The name of this Saint, very popular in Flanders, varies according to the various local dialects.
The Roman Martyrology states: ”In Bruay-sur-l’Escaut near Valencienne nell’Artois in Neustria, in modern-day ||Belgium, Saint Pharaildis, widow, who, forced to marry a violent man, is said to have embraced a life of prayer and austerity until old age.”
A native of a noble Belgium family, Pharaildis was the daughter of the Duke of Lotharingia called Witger and St Amalberga of Maubeuge. Her sister was Saint Gudule (c 646-c 700) and they were nieces of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles (c 628- 659).
After making a private vow of virginity, Pharaildis was given in marriage against her will, to a noble and rich suitor who treated her brutally, perhaps because she, who had consecrated her virginity to God, preferred to spend the nights in prayer in the Churches of the City rather than in the nuptial bed.
When Pharaildis was widowed, she was still a virgin and dedicated herself to charity.
Pharaildis is often depicted with a loaf or loaves of bread, in memory of one of her miracles, when she turned the loaves, into stone, that a miserly woman had refused to give to a beggar. She is also invoked by mothers concerned about their children’s health and against toothache.
A legend has it that to water thirsty reapers, Pharaildis made a spring gush out, whose waters were considered therapeutic.
The cult of Pharaildis has been documented as early as the eighth century. About the year 754, Agilfrid, Abbot of Saint Bavo’s Abbey, acquired her relics and brought them to Ghent. , where her feast is celebrated today.
Madonna delle Rose / Our Lady of the Rose s(Albano Sant’Alessandro, Italy) (1417) – 4 January:
A few kilometers from Bergamo, on the way to Trescore Balneario , in a pleasant plain, lies Albano St. Alexander , a Town famous for its Roman origin and for many historical events and bloody battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Today it is famous for the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of the Roses.
Until 1855, anyone travelling along this road came upon a small, rustic Chapel that appeared to manifest nothing special, neither painted nor written, which makes the unique devotion it attracted even more amazing. The Parish Priest of Albano, zealous and pious , devoted himself to research among the ancient documents the history of this powerful devotion. From this story , printed in Bergamo in 1880 , we are able to establish the origin of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Roses in Albano St. Alexander.
The events of the night between 3 and 4 January 1417, are as follows: – two Roman merchants travelling from Bergamo to Brescia, got lost and found themselves in a thicket near the Village called Albano. Bergamo is only eight miles away but for them, in the dark, between bushes and marshes covered by snow, they felt as if they would never find their way and would die of cold and fear . They turned so fervently to the Madonna with invocations and a vow to build a Chapel, if they would be rescued. Suddenly rays of bright light penetrated the darkness and a strip of luminous light shows them the way. With hearts relieved and grateful, they followed the light to the path and heard “This is the way, walk in it,” until its junction with the main road. Accompanied by a friendly glow they very quickly reached the City of Bergamo .
Desiring to thank the Blessed Virgin , they went to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore but given the hour of the night, it was closed. They found shelter in the nearby ruined tower, ruined by war. There, a great light stopped them and they saw the Immaculate Virgin sitting on a wreath of roses, which surrounded her completely, quite high up from the ground. The Blessed Virgin held the Divine Child close to her breast and the Child Jesus held, in one hand, a small bouquet of white roses, in the act of offering them to His Mother. The eyes of the Blessed Virgin and of the Divine Child, were turned compassionately towards the two merchants, who prostrated themselves at this heavenly vision.
Since that night, the site of the apparition was called “the Hill of Roses.” When day came, the merchants spread the news and attended at the Bishop’s house. After much investigation and many miracles at the Hill of Roses, the Bishop confirmed the miraculous event, judging it as a heavenly sign of mercy and protection for the City of Bergamo beset by many problems, for Italy plagued by discord and enmity, for the Church, torn by division and schism.
St Bernardine of Siena, who at this time was in Bergamo, was appointed as the final arbiter of the Blessing of Our Lady of the Night and of the Hill of Roses. The same Saint also had a vision of the Madonna in the same year, in Siena . The Holy Virgin appeared with great splendour to him, promising to help him in his mission to convert sinners.
All were eager to erect a Church in gratitude for so many graces from the Virgin Mary, The new Pope, Martin V also appointed in 1417, authorised the construction of a new Church. The two blessed visionaries returned to Albano to the site where they had been lost and seen the immense light. ,They bought the land at the place where the path of light guided them to Bergamo and there built the Chapel that would, for 438 years, in future generation,s attract the devotion of countless numbers of the faithful , until 1855. Then a terrible cholera epidemic ravaged the area and by unanimous vote of the population , they erected a new Sanctuary to the Blessed Virgin in thanksgiving and veneration. The epidemic subsided and on 20 September 1855 the construction of the Sanctuary began. The apse and dome of the Church are decorated with frescoes by Luigi Tagliaferri, the walls are adorned with paintings of the Nativity of Mary and the Descent of Jesus from the Cross by Vittorio Manini, the central painting above the High Altar depicting the Apparition to the two merchants and the medallions of the vault, are by Arturo Compagnoni. The Madonna of the Roses was canonically crowned in 1917. The terrible war that plagues the whole world prevented the solemn ceremony, which only occurred on 14 September 1920 celebrated by Don Mario Morra SDB.
St Celsus of Trier Bl Chiara de Ugarte St Chroman St Dafrosa of Acquapendente St Ferreolus of Uzès St Gaius of Moesia St Gregory of Langres St Hermes of Moesia St Libentius of Hamburg Bl Louis de Halles
St Mavilus of Adrumetum St Neophytos St Neopista of Rome St St St Oringa of the Cross Bl Palumbus of Subiaco St Pharaildis of Ghent (c 650-c 740) Virgin St Rigobert of Rheims Bl Roger of Ellant St Stephen du Bourg St Theoctistus
Martyrs of Africa – 7 saints: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of the Arian Vandal king Hunneric. Saint Bede wrote about them. – Aquilinus, Eugene, Geminus, Marcian, Quintus, Theodotus and Tryphon. In 484 in North Africa.
Martyrs of Rome – 3 saints: Three Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Julian the Apostate for refusing to renounce Christianity as ordered. – Benedicta, Priscillianus and Priscus. In 362 in Rome, Italy.