Thought for the Day – 13 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Causes of Discontent
“There are a few people in the world, who are always content. They walk lightly upon the earth, for their minds are already with God in Heaven and their hearts are united to Him.
Have they any anxieties or disappointments? They have and they feel them deeply. But, sorrow can make them bow their heads only for a moment and then, they raise them cheerfully again. They understand that they are suffering for God, even as they live and work only for Him. Therefore, their reaction to every sorrow or humiliation, is always the same: “Deo Gratias!” If God wants it this way, I must be satisfied too. May His Holy Will be done in all things.
These people are the Saints who are never lacking in the Church. The Apostles rejoiced in the insults and ill-treatment they received from the Sanhedrin, “They departed from the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).
Do we desire to possess also, the only kind of contentment it is possible to have on earth? Let us do our best to become holy. That is the only way open to us.”
Quote/s of the Day – 13 February – Septuagesima Sunday and the Memorial of Saint Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Mystic, Stigmatist.
Three Points on the Spiritual Life By St Catherine de Ricci (1522-1590) 1) Detach 2) Direct 3) Accomplish
Letter to a Fellow Nun by St Catherine de Ricci
Very dear daughter, I have already sent you a letter to exhort you to the service of our Lord and now, I send you this one, in which I am going to give—first for myself and then for you—an account of the true way of faithfullyserving our Divine Spouse and a resume of the spiritual life, so that, by following it, we shall carry out the Holy Will of God.
If, then, my daughter, you would be the true spouses of Jesus, you must do His Holy Will in all things and you will do this, if you entirely give up your own will on every occasion and if you love the divine Spouse with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength. Then, you must carefully attend to the following points (but it is necessary to weigh all these words), as they contain the summary of Christian perfection:
We must force ourselves to DETACH the heart and the will from all earthly love; to love no fleeting things, except for the love of God and, above all, not to love God for our own sakes, for self-interest but with a love as pure as His own goodness.
We must DIRECT all our thoughts, words and actions to His honour and by prayer, counsel and good example, seek His glory solely, whether for ourselves or for others, so that through our means, all may love and honour God. This second point is more pleasing to Him than the first, as it better fulfils His will.
We must aim more and more at the ACCOMPLISHMENT of the Divine Will – not only desiring nothing special to happen to us, bad or even good, in this wretched life and thus, keeping ourselves always at God’s disposal, with heart and soul at peace but also, believing, with a firm faith, that Almighty God loves us more than we love ourselves and takes more care of us, than we could take care of ourselves.
The more we conform to this way of acting, the more we shall find God present to help us and the more we shall experience, His most gentle love. But no-one can reach such perfection except by constant and courageous sacrifice of self-will and, if we would learn to practice such abnegation, it is necessary to keep ourselves in a state of great and deep humility, so that, by perfect knowledge of our own misery and weakness, we may rise to learn the greatness and beauty of our God.
Consider how just and necessary it is, to serve Him unceasingly, with love and obedience. I say just, because, God being Father and Master of all things, it is just that His Son and Servant, should obey and love Him. I say necessary because,, by acting otherwise, we could not be saved.
Let us always remember, never doubting, that it is the Eternal, Sovereign, All-powerful God, Who does, orders, or allows, everything that happens and that nothing comes to pass, without His Divine Will.
Let us remember that He is Himself that Wisdom, which, in the government of the universe – of heaven, earth and every single creature – cannot be deceived. (He would be neither God nor most wise, if it were otherwise). Let us look upon Him as supremely good, loving and beneficent.
If, through His Mercy, this conviction becomes strongly impressed upon our wills, we shall easily take all things from His Sacred Hand, with well-contented hearts, always thanking Him for fulfilling His most holy will in us. By acting thus. (with the help of His holy grace) we shall unite ourselves to Him, by true love in this life and by glory in eternity.
May He grant it to us in His goodness! Of your charity pray for me, a wretched sinner, who commends herself to you all.”
One Minute Reflection – 13 February – Septuagesima Sunday – 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5, Matthew 20:1-16
“Have I not a right to do what I choose? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Even so the last shall be first and the first last; for many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 20:15-16
REFLECTION – “One of the robbers crucified with Jesus cried out: “Lord, remember me; it is to you I now turn (…). Remember not my works, for of these I am afraid. Every man has a feeling for his fellow-traveller; I am travelling with you towards death; remember me, your fellow-wayfarer. I do not say, Remember me now, but, “when you come in your kingdom” (Lk 23:42).
What power, O robber, led you to the Light? Who taught you to worship that despised Man, your companion on the cross? O Light Eternal, which gives light to them that are in darkness! (Lk 1:79) “Take courage! Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” because “today you have heard my voice, and have not hardened your heart” (Ps 95:8). Very speedily I passed sentence upon Adam … but you, who today have obeyed the faith, today is your salvation. By the tree Adam fell away; by the tree you are brought into paradise (…)
O mighty and ineffable grace! The faithful Abraham had not yet entered but the robber enters! Paul also wondered at this before you, saying, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20). They who had borne the heat of the day had not yet entered and he of the eleventh hour entered. Let none murmur against the Master of the House, for He says, “My friend, I am not cheating you. Am I not free to do as I wish with what is my own?” The robber has a will to work righteousness … I accept his faith … I, the Shepherd, have “found the sheep that was lost”; I lay it on my shoulders (Lk 15:5); since he himself has said, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep;Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” … St Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387) Bishop of Jerusalem, Father, Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O Lord, we beseech You, graciously hear the prayers of Your people, that we who are justly punished for our sins may be mercifully delivered for the glory of Your name. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).
Our Morning Offering – 13 February – Septuagesima Sunday
O Lord, My God, I Am Not Worthy Prayer Before Holy Communion By St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
O Lord, my God, I am not worthy that You should come into my soul but I rejoice that You have come to me because, in Your loving kindness You desire to dwell in me. You ask me to open the door of my soul, which You alone have created, so that You may enter into it with Your loving kindness and dispel the darkness of my mind. I believe that You will do this, for You did not turn away Mary Magdalene when she approached You in tears. Neither did You withhold forgiveness from the tax collector who repented of his sins or from the good thief who asked to be received into Your kingdom. Indeed, You numbered as Your friends, all who came to You with repentant hearts. O God, You alone are blessed always, now and forever. Amen
Saint of the Day – 13 February – Saint Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stigmatist, Ecstatic, Counsellor to many in both secular and spiritual matters, a highly admired Administrator and Advisor,blessed with many mystical charism including visions of Christ, both as a Baby and Adult, bilocation and miracles. Born as Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de’ Ricci in Florence on 23 April 1522 and died on 2 February 1590 (aged 67) at Prato, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, of natural causes. Patronage – the sick. Her body is incorrupt.
The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “At Prato, in Tuscany, St Catherine de Ricci, a Florentine Virgin of the Order of St Dominic, replenished with her heavenly gifts, whom Pope Benedict XIV inscribed on tbe catalogue of holy Virgins. She died in virtues and merits, on the 2nd of this month but her festival is celebrated on this day, 13th.”
The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany today. Alessandra was born in Florence to Pier Francesco de’ Ricci, of a patrician family and his wife, Caterina Bonza, who died soon after the birth of Alessandra. At age 6 or 7, her father enrolled her in a school run by a Monastery of Benedictine Nuns in the Monticelli quarter of the City, near their home and the City gates, where her Aunt, Luisa de’ Ricci, was the Abbess.
Catherine was a devout and pious child and it was here, in the Convent of her Aunt, that she developed a lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. After a short time back at home and after finally persuading her father,, at the age of 14, she entered the Convent of St Vincent in Prato, Tuscany, a cloistered community of religious sisters of the Third Order of St Dominic, disciples of the noted Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola, who followed the strict regimen of life she desired. In May 1535 she received the religious habit from her uncle, Timoteo de’ Ricci, who was Confessor to the Convent and the religious name of Catherine, after the Dominican tertiary, St Catherine of Siena.
Her novitiate was a time of trial. She would experience ecstasies during her routine, which caused her to seem asleep during community prayer , dropping plates and food, so much so, that the community began to question her competence, if not her sanity. Eventually, the other Sisters became aware of the spiritual basis for her behaviour. By the age of 30 she had risen to the post of Prioress.
After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practising the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; – she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water alone and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. Much of penitential practice and oblation of her sufferings, were directed to the succour of the Souls in Purgatory.
It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart, the sentiments or life of the first Adam – that is, of corruption, sin and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself,and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer. By the union of her soul with God and the establishment of the absolute reign of His love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from, all earthly things. Her visions became most vivid allowing her to hold Baby Jesus dressed in swaddling clothes and to be mystically married and united with adult Jesus. Catherine’s meditations on the Passion of Christ were so deep, that she spontaneously bled, as if scourged. She also bore the Stigmata. During times of deep prayer, like Catherine of Siena, her Patron Saint, a coral ring representing her marriage to Christ, appeared on her finger.
Crowds gathered to witness her prayer and ecstasies and it began to distract from the life of the Convent. Catherine herself was embarrassed by all the attention. The community prayed that her wounds and experience would lessen in intensity so that they could go about the work of their common life together in peace and in 1554 the visions ceased.
As the Prioress, Catherine developed into an effective and greatly admired administrator. She was an advisor on various topics to Princes, Bishops and Cardinals. She corresponded with three figures who were destined to become Popes: Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII and Pope Leo XI. An expert on religion, management and administration, her advice was widely sought. She gave counsel both in person and through exchanging letters. It is reported that she was extremely effective in her work, managing her priorities with great zeal and efficiency.
One of the miracles that was documented for her Canonisation was her appearance many hundreds of miles away from where she was physically located, in a vision to St Philip Neri, a resident of Rome, with whom she had maintained a long-term correspondence. St Philip, who was otherwise very reluctant to discuss miraculous events, confirmed the event.
Catherine lived in the Convent until her death in 1590 after a prolonged illness. Her remains are visible under the Altar of the Minor Basilica of Santi Vicenzo e Caterina de’ Ricci, Prato, which is next to the Convent associated with her life..
Catherine was Beatified by Pope Clement XII in 1732 and Canonised by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746 in a spectacular ceremony for which a magnificent ‘canopy’ was constructed. In celebration of the Saint’s Canonisation, Domenico Maria Sandrini wrote an authorative biography of the new Saint.
Septuagesima Sunday: The word Septuagesima is Latin for “seventieth.” It is both the name of the liturgical season and the name of the Sunday. Septuagesima Sunday marks the beginning of the shortest Liturgical season. This season is seventeen (17) days long and includes the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season never changes but the start date is dependent on the movable date of Easter, which can fall between 22 March-25 April. Septuagesima Sunday can be as early as 18 January. The Septuagesima season helps the faithful ease into Lent. It is a gradual preparation for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors and to exhort him to penance. Liturgically it looks very much like Lent. The Gloria and Alleluia are omitted, the tone becomes penitential with the Priest wearing purple vestments. The main difference is that there are no fasting requirements.
Bl Beatrix of Ornacieux St Benignus of Todi Bl Berengar of Assisi St Castor of Karden St Catherine de Ricci OP (1522-1590) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stimatist. Her body is incorrupt.
St Julian of Lyon St Lucinus of Angers St Marice St Martinian the Hermit St Maura of Ravenna St Modomnoc St Paulus Lio Hanzuo St Peter I of Vercelli St Phaolô Lê Van Loc St Stephen of Lyons St Stephen of Rieti