Thought for the Day – 7 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Problem of Suffering
“There are some , unfortunately, who rebel under the lash of pain. “God is not good,” they say. “If He were good, He would not permit suffering. God does not love me. If He loved me, He would not make me suffer.”
This is false, of course. God did not create suffering. It was man who brought it into being by his sins and excesses. God, Who always draws good from evil, knows how to draw great good, even from suffering, in the way of expiation, redemption and propitiation for our sins. Precisely because He loves us, God permits our sufferings. He knows well, that they purify and refine us, as the fire purifies and refines gold. They raise our thoughts to Heaven.
God permits suffering for our spiritual welfare. But because it has this elevating and propitiatory power, we ought to receive it with an act of resignation and love, as Jesus did in Gethsamane. We should unite our sufferings with those of our Redeemer, which have an infinite value before our Heavenly Father.”
Quote of the Day – 7 January – The Second Day within the Octave of Epiphany
“The Epiphany” By St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Martyr
To blaze the rising of this glorious sun A glittering star appeareth in the east Whose sight to pilgrim toil three sages won To seek the light they long had in request, And by this star to nobler star they pace Whose arms did their desired sun embrace.
Still was the sky wherein these planets shined And want the cloud that did eclipse their rays, Yet through this cloud their passage they did find, And pierced these sages’ hearts by secret ways, Which made them know, the Ruler of the skies By Infant tongue and looks of babish eyes.
Heaven at her light, earth blusheth at her pride And of their pomp these peers ashamed be, Their crowns, their robes, their train they set aside When God’s poor cottage, clouts and crew they see, All glorious things their glory now despise Since God contempt doth more than glory prize.
Three gifts they bring, three gifts they bear away, For Incense, Myrrh and Gold, Faith, Hope and Love And with their gifts the givers’ hearts do stay, Their mind from Christ, no parting can remove, His humble state, His stall, His poor retinue They fancy more than all their rich revenue.
One Minute Reflection – 7 January – The Second Day within the Octave of Epiphany, Readings:1 John 5: 5-13; Psalm 147: 12-15, 19-20; Gospel: Luke 5: 12-16
“Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him” … Luke 5:13
REFLECTION – “Christ said when He came into the world: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but a body you prepared for me … Then I said: Behold I come to do your will’ ” (Heb 10:5.7; Ps 40:7-9 LXX). Can it be true that God wanted to become man to save us from our wretchedness … and conquer our love? Yes, it is so true that it is an article of faith: “Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven… and was made man” (Creed) … Yes, this is what God has done, so to be loved by us! … This is how He wanted to make known the immensity of His love for us: “the grace of God our saviour has appeared to all” (Ti 2:11). It is, as though, our Lord said: “Man does not love Me because he cannot see Me, I am going to make Myself visible and talk to him, in that way I shall surely make Myself loved”: “He has appeared on earth and spoken with us” (cf. Bar 3:38).
God’s love for humankind is vast, vast from all eternity: “with age-old love I have loved you; so in mercy I have drawn you to myself” (cf. Jer 31:3). But we have not yet seen how great and incomprehensible He is. When the Son of God was seen in the form of a child, lying on the straw in a stable, then He was made known indeed: “the kindness and generous love of God our saviour appeared” (Ti 3:4). As Saint Bernard observed: “The creation of the world made God’s power shine out, the ordering of the world, His wisdom but the Incarnation of the Word, caused His mercy to break forth in the sight of all.” …
“By showing disdain towards God,” Saint Fulgentius said, “man was separated from Him forever and, since man could no longer return to God, God deigned to come to find him on earth.” And as Saint Augustine had already said: “We were unable to go to the Doctor, therefore, the Doctor had the graciousness, to come to us.” … St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) – Bishop and Doctor of the Church – 1st address for the Octave of Christmas.
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, by the guidance of a star, You revealed the Birth of the Saviour of the world. Open our minds and hearts to that revelation and may it bear fruit in our lives. May Your nearness, be understood in our hearts and minds, ‘may the Lord Jesus touch our eyes, as He did those of the blind and may the prayers of His Blessed Mother Mary and ours, grant us strength on our journey. We make our prayer, through Christ, our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 7 January – The Second Day within the Octave of Epiphany
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, power and glory, through all eternity. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 7 January – Blessed Matthew of Agrigento OFM (c 1377-1450) “Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus” Bishop, Priest and Friar of the Friars Minor, Missionary Preacher often with St Bernardine of Siena, Provincial Vicar and General Commissioner of the Order, founder of many Convents. The Etymology of the name Matthew is “man of God,” from Hebrew. Born in 1377 as Matteo Guimerà on the Via Arco di San Francesco di Paola in Rabbato, Agrigento, Italy and died on 7 January 1450 in the Franciscan Monastery (which he had founded) of Santa Maria di Gesù, Palermo, Sicily, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Matteo/Matthew Guimerà.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Palermo, transit of Blessed Matteo Guimerá, Bishop of Agrigento, of the Order of Minors, lover and advocate of the Most Holy Name of Jesus”
Matthew was born on the southern coast of Sicily in c 1377. His parents were pious Catholics and they educated and instilled in him, a fervent love of the Faith.
He entered the Seraphic Order in 1391-92 at the Convent of St Frances of Assisi in Agrigento where he made his religious profession in 1394. He studied theology in Bologna, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, where he earned his doctorate and was Ordained a Priest in 1400.
Matthew became a travelling missionary preacher in the region of Tarragona, Spain from 1400 to 1405 and was then appointed Novie Master. In 1417, Matthew returned to Italy, desiring to work with St Bernardine of Siena, who was leading the observant reform movement of the Franciscan Order which gave rise to the Observant Franciscans. They met in 1418, perhaps at the General Chapter of the Order held at Mantua and Matthew, soon afterwards, asked his superiors for permission, to transfer to the Observing branch of the Order.
Matthew’s friendship with St Bernardine had a profound effect on his life. The two were fellow preachers and shared a desire for reform. Both preached tirelessly and led an austere life, in keeping with the spirit of Franciscan rule. Likewise, both encouraged devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus – in the case of Matthew, joined to the name of Mary, the Mother of God – for this reason, many of the Convents he founded in Italy and Spanish lands bear the name of Santa Maria de Jesús.
Matthew had the support of King Alfonso the Magnanimous and Pope Eugene IV, for the expansion of the reform movement. . In 1425, Pope Martin V granted him the power to found observant convents, in addition to those he had already reformed: Messina , Palermo , Agrigento, Syracuse , Barcelona , Valencia , etc. In addition, he was Provincial Vicar of the Order in Sicily between 1425 and 1430 and General Commissioner from 1432 to 1440.
Invited by the King of Spain, in 1427-1428, he preached in Valencia , Barcelona, Vic and other places. Invited again, he returned in 1430 to preach and perform peacekeeping missions, spreading devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and founding new observant convents. He was chosen Bishop of his native City, Agrigento which he wanted to refuse but at the insistence of King Alfonso, he was appointed Bishop on 17 September 1442 and Consecrated the following year.
He was a reformist and a zealous Bishop of the ecclesiastical discipline of the clergy, which pitted him against a section of the clergy and the nobility, who slandered him (accused him of squandering Church property by exercising charity to the poor) and having illicit relations with a woman) and asked the Holy See to investigate. Prosecuted by the Papal Curia, he was found innocent and acquitted, regaining the Pope’s confidence. Again, however, his enemies provoked new conflicts and Matthew, realising that he was unable to maintain order, presented his resignation from the Bishopric.
When this was accepted in 1445, he retired to the Convent of Palermo, where he lived as a Friar until his death on 7 January 1450. He was buried in the same Convent.
The people soon considered him a saint and began to venerate him. In 1759 the Diocesan process of Beatification began , which led to the confirmation of the immemorial cult, equivalent to the Beatification by Pope Clement XIII on 22 February 1767.
Around a hundred of Blessed Matthew’s sermons are preserved, which were found during the twentieth century and only from 1960 began to be published by Agostino Amore. Written in Latin and the vernacular, they comment on biblical texts with great theological depth.
Madonna delle Grazie / Our Lady of Grace, Costa Folgaria, Italy (1588) – 7 January, 8 September:
Brother Pietro Dal Dosso di Folgaria – a young Hermit Friar of the Order, Saint Jerome of Vicenza – was inspired directly by the Virgin Mary into building a small Church in her honour on the Echen Peak during the second half of the 16th century. Obediently, the Friar began his work and built a small Chapel, occupying what is now the Apse of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie. In the 17th Century, the Magnifica Comunità di Folgaria expanded the small building and endowed it with a Bell Tower (1662). The Sanctuary currently hosts the miraculous Madonna, which was declared Holy Patron of Skiers by Papal Decree. The Terracotta statue of the Virgin Mary dates to the second half of the 16th century and is venerated by thousands of believers, who hold an ancient feast – as well as a solemn procession – on the 8th of September every year, when the Statue is carried by ski instructors. All along its age-old history, the Sanctuary of Echen has always been a pilgrimage destination and numerous faithful have put up their own votive offers for graces received in the small Church. The Sanctuary is approximately 2 km away from Folgaria, near the hamlet of Costa and can be easily reached on foot after an easy walk. I am not sure why this Title is listed for today, 7 January but there must be a good reason.
St Aldric of Le Mans Bl Ambrose Fernandez St Anastasius of Sens St Brannock of Braunton St Candida of Greece St Canute Lavard St Cedd St Clerus of Antioch St Crispin I of Pavia St Cronan Beg St Emilian of Saujon St Felix of Heraclea Bl Franciscus Bae Gwan-gyeom St Januarius of Heraclea St Julian of Cagliari St Kentigerna
St Lucian of Antioch Bl Marie-Thérèse Haze Blessed Matthew of Agrigento OFM (1377-1450) “Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus,” Franciscan Priest and Friar, Bishop, Missdionary Preacher often with St Bernardine of Siena. St Pallada of Greece St Polyeuctus of Melitene St Reinhold of Cologne St Spolicostus of Greece St Theodore of Egypt St Tillo of Solignac St Valentine of Passau St Virginia of Ste-Verge Bl Wittikund of Westphalia