Thought for the Day – 2 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Prayer as a Necessary Means of Salvation
“The man who prays, will be saved, the man who does not pray, will be damned!” This reflection occurs in much the same words in the writings St Teresa, of St Alphonsus and of other masters of the spiritual life. There is no suggestion that prayer ALONE, without sincerity of purpose, the Sacraments and good works, is sufficient for salvation. What is meant, is that anyone, who does not pray, cannot possibly be saved, except by a miracle because, God, does not normally give His grace to anyone, who does ot ask for it! Even though the soul has grown indifferent and submerged in sin, if it does not abandon the habit of praying, it will sooner or later, be overcome by remorse and will turn again to God. St John Chrysostom teaches us, that it is impossible for anyone, who prays fervently and consta\ntly, to fall and remain in serious sin.
Let us pray, therefore. Let prayer be our constant support in every situation and in every action. If we remain close to God, we are assured of salvation. As long as we remain united to Our Lord, His grace will pervade our souls. But, if we sever this bond of prayer with God, we shall be alone and helpless and shall fall into sin. This has been the sad experience of many before us.”
Ash Wednesday – 2 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers Begins
“In the face of my darkness, You are Light. In the face of my mortality, You are Life.”
St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) Father & Doctor of the Church
“O Lord, deal with us, not according to our sins, nor requite us according to our crimes.”
BEHOLD, DEARLY BELOVED, the Sacred days are drawing near, the acceptable time, of which it is written – Behold, now is the acceptable time. behold, now is the day of salvation (II Cor vi) And so you must be more earnest in prayer and in alms-giving, in fasting and in watching. He that until now has given alms, in these days let him give more – for as water quencheth a flaming fire, so does almsgiving wipe out sin (Eccles. iii. 33). He that until now fasted and prayed, let him fast and pray still more – for there are certain sins which are not cast out, except by prayer and fasting (Mc. xvii. 20).
SHOULD ANYONE CHERISH ANGER towards another, let him forgive from his heart. Should anyone take, unjustly what belongs to another, let him restore it and if not fourfold, at least that which he has taken, if he desires God to be merciful to himself (Lk. xix. 8).
AND although a Christian should abstain at all times from cursings and revilings, from oaths, from excessive laughter and from idle words, he must do this especially in these holy days, which are set apart, so that during these forty days, he may, by Penance, wipe out the sins of the whole year!
MAY YOU BELIEVE and believe firmly, that if, in these days, you have made a thorough Confession of your sins and done Penance as we have told you, you shall receive from Our Most Merciful Lord, the pardon of all your offences, as did the Ninivites, who earned deliverance from their afflictions by doing penance in sackcloth and ashes (Jn. iii).
So you also, following their example, if you cry out with all your heart to the Lord, you will invoke His Mercy on you, so that, serene and joyful, you will celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection and, thus blessed, you will, after this life, cross over to your heavenly home, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, world without end. Amen. – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan. Father and One of the Four Original Doctors of the Latin Church
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.”
“He need not fear anything, nor be ashamed of anything, who bears the Sign of the Cross on his brow.”
“Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no-one try to separate them, they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them, or not all together, you have nothing! So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.”
St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Father & Doctor of the Church
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself!”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“Fasting, when rightly practised, lifts the mind to God and mortifies the flesh. It makes virtue easy to attain and increases our merits.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 2 March – Ash Wednesday –Joel 2:12-19, Matthew 6:16-21
“They have received their reward” – Matthew 6:16
REFLECTION – “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Why not? If people see them then what will you get out of them? “You will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”My brethren, the Lord is not bringing judgement here but giving an explanation. He casts light on the wiles of our thoughts, He strips bare the secret intentions of our souls. He draws attention to the measure of a just retribution, to those unrighteous, pondering righteousness. Righteousness that sets itself in the sight of others can expect no divine reward from the Father. It wanted to be seen and it was seen; it wanted to please others and it pleased them. It has received the recompense it wanted – the recompense it did not want, it will not have …
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do.” “Blow your trumpet” – this is the exact phrase in that this kind of alms is more like a deed of war than of peace. It passes wholly into its sound but has nothing to do with mercy. It comes from the land of disunion but has not been nourished by goodness. It is a dealing in outward show, not chaste commerce …. “So, then, when you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.” You have taken good note: – alms offered at a meeting, in public square and street corners, is not an offering made for the comforting of the poor but has been set forward in the sight of others to attract their admiration … Flee hypocrisy, my brethren, flee from it …. It does not bring comfort to the poor; the groans of the homeless but is only a pretext for it, to seek out even more busily, a spectacular glory for itself. It inflates its praise of the suffering of the poor. – St Peter Chrysologus (406-450) Bishop of Ravenna, Father and Doctor of the Church (Sermon 9).
PRAYER – Grant, O Lord, that Your faithful people may, with true piety, undertake the time-honoured custom of fasting and may carry it out with unwavering devotion. 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).
Pardon Lord, I Ask By St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
Lord Jesus Christ, Who stretched out Your Hands on the Cross and redeemed us by Your Blood, forgive me, a sinner , for none of my thoughts are hidden from You. Pardon I ask, Pardon I hope for, Pardon I trust to have. You, Who are full of pity and mercy, spare me and forgive. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 2 March – Saint Luke Casali of Nicosia (Died c 800) Priest, Abbot Born in Nicosia, Sicily, Italy and died in c 800 at the Monastery of Saint Philip in Agira, Sicily, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Luke Casalius, Lucad Casali. Lucad of Nicosia. Patronages – Nicosia, Sicily, Italy.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Agíra in Sicily, Saint Luke Casale of Nicosía, a Monk, full of humility and virtue.”
Luke Casali was born in Nicosia in Sicily in the ninth century. At around the age of twelve, he was led by a Monk to the Monastery of Santa Maria Latina di Agira, where he took the Habit and was later Ordained Priest. He grew up and lived endowed with spiritual virtues and the population of the faithful willingly went to the Monastery to consult him.
In adulthood he was elected Abbot of the Monastery of Agira, but he refused the position out of humility. However, the Monks did not surrender and asked the Pope to intervene. Luke then accepted out of obedience.
Years passed, in which he showed great humility and prudence in the office of Abbot, until he was struck by blindness but this serious limitation, especially for those times, did not stop him and he continued to carry out his apostolate, by being accompanied in his travels by his confreres.
His holiness was revealed to the incredulous Monks, when one day, returning from Nicosia where he had visited his relatives, he was made to believe that he had a large crowd of faithful in front of him and he began to preach. But there was no-one before him and the place was deserted! At the end of the sermon, he gave the blessing, to which the stones responded with a resounding “Amen!” Faced with this prodigy, the Monks who accompanied him, asked him for forgiveness.
He died a holy death in sanctity and peace in the Monastery of Agira,and was buried in the Church of St Philip. His fame as a Saint grew so much, that his body was placed in the same urn as St Philip of Agira, a great Exorcist Priest, who died in Agira around 453. Later the memory of his sepulchre was lost but the cult continued. In 1575 at the end of the plague epidemic, the people and the Senate of the City of Nicosia, in gratitude to St Luke Casali, decided to celebrate his feast at the expense of the Municipality, asking the Pope to recognise him as the Patron saint of the City.
Twenty years later in 1596, during some renovations, the remains of sSt Luke Casali, of St Eusebius, a Monk and of St Philip of Agira, evidently hidden at the time of the Saracen invasions,were found. On that occasion, St Luke’s birthplace Nicosia, asked for and obtained, a relic of the holy Abbot, which was received with great solemnity.
For the rest, the historical sources concerning hSt Luke differ; the year of his death according to some scholars is in the year c 900. others say around 1164, however, he seems to have lived before the Arab invasions in Sicily, which began in 827. Even the religious Order to which he belonged is questioned, there are those who consider him a Benedictine, others a Basilian. But, none of these details truly matter. St Luke’s efficacious intercession has been experienced by the faithful of Nicosia for centuries – he is always there to help when needed and the City celebrates him each year on his Feast Day today.
Bl Charles the Good St Cynibild of Laestingaeu Bl Engelmar Unzeitig St Felix of Treves St Fergna the White Bl Girolamo Carmelo di Savoia St Gistilian St Joavan of Brittany St John Maron St Jovinus the Martyr St Lorgius of Caesarea St Lucius of Caesarea St Luke Casali of Nicosia (Died c 800) Priest Abbot St Quintus the Thaumaturge St Slebhene St Troas St Willeic
Martyrs of Campania – Approximately 400 northern Italian Christians Martyred for their faith by pagan Lombards. Their story was recorded by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who reports that they people spent their final days supporting each other with prayer. c 579 in Camnpania, Italy.
Martyrs of Porto Romano – 4 Saints – Group of Christians Martyred in the persecution of Diocletian. The only other information that survives are the names of four of them – Heraclius, Januaria, Paul and Secondilla. c305 at Porto Romano at the mouth of the River Tiber, Rome.
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