Thought for the Day – 20 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“When Jesus was asked, what was the first commandment, He replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than this” (Mk 12:30-31). As St Augustine says, the love of God and the love of neighbour are two branches of the same tree, the tree of charity. “If anyone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother,” St John warns us, “he is a liar” (1 Jn 4:20).
We must prove our love for God by showing charity towards our neighbour. All men are our brothers in Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed us by His Precious Blood. Our Lord has said that He will regard as done for Himself, anything which we do for the least of our brethren (Mt 25:10).
Like the Saints, we should see Jesus Himself living in the poor and the suffering. The Saints gave Him everything they had, not only their possessions but also their toil and their love.
Think how much those missionaries do who leave everything in order to go to foreign lands and win souls for Christ. Think of the charitable work of the sisters and nurses in the hospitals, asylums and orphanages. What are we doing?”
The Third Sunday of Lent – 20 March – Ou4 Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – Ephesians 5:1-9, Luke 11:14-28
“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will free my feet from the snare. Look toward me and have pity on me, for I am alone and afflicted.” – Psalm 24:15-16
“He who is not with Me, is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
“NO-ONE COMES TO ME unless the Father draws him. Do not think that you are drawn against your will – the will is drawn also by love. We must not be afraid of men who weigh words but are far from understanding what belongs above all to Divine Truth. They may find fault with this passage of Scripture and say to us: “How can I believe of my own free will if I am drawn to believe?” I answer: “It is not enough that you are moved by the will, for you are drawn also by desire.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN, to be drawn by desire? Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. The heart has its own desires; it takes delight, for example, in the bread from heaven. The poet could say: “Everyone is drawn by his own desire,” not by necessity but by desire, not by compulsion but by pleasure. We can say then with greater force, that one who finds pleasure in Truth, in Happiness, in Justice, in Everlasting Life, is drawn to Christ, for Christ is all these things.
ARE OUR BOIDLY SENSES to have their desires but not the will? If the will does not have its desires, how can Scripture say: The children of men will find their hope under the shadow of your wings, they will drink their fill from the plenty of your house and you will give them drink from the running stream of your delights, for with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we shall see light.
SHOW ME ONE WHO LOVES; he knows what I mean. Show me one who is full of longing, one who is hungry, one who is a pilgrim and suffering from thirst in the desert of this world, eager for the fountain in the homeland of eternity; show me someone like that and he knows what I mean. But if I speak to someone without feeling, he does not understand what I am saying.
YOU HAVE ONLY to show a leafy branch to a sheep and it is drawn to it. If you show nuts to a boy, he is drawn to them. He runs to them because he is drawn, drawn by love, drawn without any physical compulsion, drawn by a chain attached to his heart. “Everyone is drawn by his own desire. ” This is a true saying and earthly delights and pleasures, set before those who love them, succeed in drawing them. If this is so, are we to say that Christ, revealed and set before us by the Father, does not draw us? What does the soul desire more than truth? Why then does the soul have hungry jaws, a spiritual palate as it were, sensitive enough to judge the truth, if not in order to eat and drink Wisdom, Justice, Truth, Eternal Life?
BLESSED ARE THOSE who hunger and thirst for justice, that is, here on earth. They shall be satisfied, that is, in Heaven. Christ says: I give each what he loves, I give each the object of his hope; he will see what he believed in, though without seeing it. What he now hungers for, he will eat; what he now thirsts for, he will drink to the full. When? At the resurrection of the dead, for I will raise him up on the last day.” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Great Western Father and Doctor of Grace of the Church (An excerpt from his Treatise 26).
Quote/s of the Day – 20 March – The Third Sunday of Lent – Ephesians 5:1-9, Luke 11:14-28
“Whoever does not gather with me, scatters.”
“We recognise a tree by its fruit and we ought to be able to recognise a Christian by his action. The fruit of faith should be evident in our lives, for being a Christian, is more than making sound professions of faith. It should reveal itself in practical and visible ways. Indeed, it is better to keep quiet about our beliefs and live them out, than to talk eloquently about what we believe but fail, to live by it.”
St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35-c 108) Father of the Church
The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock.” Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the Boat of Jesus.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Without the Way, there is no going, Without the Truth, there is no knowing, Without the Life, there is no living.”
One Minute Reflection – 20 March – The Third Sunday of Lent – Ephesians 5:1-9, Luke 11:14-28
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.” – Luke 11:17
REFLECTION –“No-one can have God as his father, if he does not have the Church as his mother… The Lord warned us of this when He said: “Whoever is not with me, is against me and whoever does not gather together with me, scatters.” The person who breaks the peace and concord of Christ, acts against Christ; the person who gathers together, outside of the Church, scatters the Church of Christ.
The Lord said: “The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30) It is also written of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “These three are one.” (1 Jn 5:7) From now on, who can believe, that the unity, which has its origin in this divine harmony, which is linked with this heavenly mystery, can be divided up in the Church… through conflicts of will? Whoever does not observe this unity, neither observes the law of God, nor faith, in the Father and the Son – he keeps neither life, nor salvation.
In the gospel, this sacrament of unity, this bond of concord, in indissoluble cohesion, is shown us through the Lord’s tunic. It could neither be divided nor torn but they drew lots, so as to know who would put on Christ (Jn 19:24)… It is the symbol of unity, that comes from on high.” – St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200- c 258) Bishop and Martyr, Father of the Church (On the unity of the Church).
PRAYER – O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful, look with favour upon Your servant , whom You willed to designate shepherd of Your Church; grant him, we beseech You, that by word and example he may so benefit those in his charge, that together with the flock committed to his care, he may attain life everlasting. 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). May the Mother of Your Church, teach us her holy way and pray for us all!.
Saint of the Day – 20 March – Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (c 634-687) “The Wonder-Worker of England,” Bishop of Lindisfarne, Monk, Hermit, Miracle-worker, Born in c 634 possibly in Northumbria, England and died on 20 March 687 at Lindisfarne, England of natural causes. Patronages – against plague and epidemics, of boatmen, mariners, sailors, shepherds, England, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, England, Diocese of Lancaster, England, of Durham, England, Northumbria, England. Both during his life and after his death he became a popular medieval Saint of Northern England, with a cult centred on his tomb at Durham Cathedral. I am always saddened by the almost total lack of veneration at this Tomb, although there are still a few organised Catholic pilgrimages per year. The Church is now no longer ours (Anglican) and for the most part, the only visitors to the Tomb are camera-flashing tourists.
The Roman Martyrology reads today: “In England, St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, who, from his childhood until his death, was renowned for good works and miracles.”
Cuthbert was born in North Northumbria in about the year 634 – the same year in which St Aidan founded the Monastery at Lindisfarne. He came from a notable and wea\lthy English family and like most boys of that class, he was placed with foster-parents for part of his childhood and taught the arts of war. We know nothing of his foster-father but he was very fond of his foster-mother, Kenswith.
It seems, from stories about his childhood, that he was brought up as a Christian. He was credited, for instance, with having saved, by his prayers, some Monks who were being swept out to sea on a raft. There is some evidence that, in his mid-teens, he was involved in at least one battle, which would have been quite normal for a boy of his social background.
His life changed when he was about 17 years old. He was looking after some neighbour’s sheep on the hills. (As he was certainly not a shepherd boy it is possible that he was mounting a military guard – a suitable occupation for a young warrior!) Gazing into the night sky he saw a light descend to earth and then return, escorting, he believed, a human soul to Heaven. The date was 31 August 651- the night that St Aidan died! Perhaps Cuthbert had already been considering a possible monastic calling but that was his moment of decision.
He went to the Monastery at Melrose, also founded by St Aidan and asked to be admitted as a Novice. For the next 13 years he was with the Melrose Monks. When Melrose was given land to found a new Monastery at Ripon, North Yorkshire, Cuthbert went with the founding party and was made Administrator. In his late 20s he returned to Melrose and found that his former teacher and friend, the Prior Boisil, was dying of the plague. Cuthbert became Prior (second to the Abbot) at Melrose.
In 664 the Synod of Whitby decided that Northumbria should cease to look to Ireland for its spiritual leadership and turn instead to the continent. The Irish Monks of Lindisfarne, with others, went back to Iona. The Abbot of Melrose subsequently became also Abbot of Lindisfarne and Cuthbert its Prior.
Cuthbert seems to have moved to Lindisfarne at about the age of 30 and lived there for the next 10 years. He ran the Monastery; – he was an active missionary; he was much in demand as a spiritual guide and he was graced with the charism of miraculous curing of the ill. He was an outgoing, cheerful, compassionate person and no doubt became popular. But when he was 40 years old he believed that he was being called to be a hermit and to do the hermit’s job of fighting the spiritual forces of evil in a life of solitude.
After a short trial period on the tiny islet adjoining Lindisfarne, he moved to the more remote and larger island known as ‘Inner Farne’ and built a hermitage where he lived for 10 years. Of course, people did not leave him alone – they went out in their little boats to consult him or ask for healing. However, on many days of the year the seas around the islands are simply too rough to make the crossing and Cuthbert was left in peace.
Cuthbert’s fame for piety, diligence, and obedience quickly grew.and at the age of about 50 he was asked by both Church and King to leave his hermitage and become a Bishop. He reluctantly agreed. For two years he was an active, travelling Bishop as St Aidan had been. He seems to have journeyed extensively. On one occasion he was visiting the Queen in Carlisle (on the other side of the country from Lindisfarne) when he knew by miraculous understanding that her husband, the King, had been slain by the Picts in battle in Scotland.
Feeling the approach of death, he retired back to the hermitage on the Inner Farne where, in the company of Lindisfarne Monks, he died on 20 March 687.
His body was brought back and buried at Lindisfarne. People immediately came to pray at the grave and many miracles occured. To the Monks of Lindisfarne this was a clear sign that Cuthbert was a Saint in Heaven and they, desired to declare to the world the great power of intercession, of their St Cuthbert.
They decided to allow 11 years for his body to become a skeleton and then ‘elevate’ his remains on the anniversary of this death (20 March 698). We believe that during these years, the beautiful manuscript known as ‘The Lindisfarne Gospels‘ was made, to be used for the first time at the great ceremony of the Translation of St Cuthbert. The declaration of Cuthbert’s sainthood was to be a day of joy and thanksgiving. It turned out to be also a day of surprise, even shock, for when they opened the coffin ,they found no skeleton but a complete and undecayed body. That was a sign of very great sainthood indeed.
So the cult of St Cuthbert began. Pilgrims began to flock to the Shrine. The ordinary life of the Monastery continued for almost another century until, on 8 June 793, the Vikings came. The Monks were totally unprepared; some were killed; some younger ones and boys were taken away to be sold as slaves; gold and silver was taken and the monastery partly burned down. After that, the Monastery lived under threat and it seems that in the 9th century there was a gradual movement of goods and buildings to the nearby mainland. The traditional date for the final abandonment of Lindisfarne is 875.
The body of St.Cuthbert, together with other relics and treasures which had survived the Viking attack, were carried by the Monks and villagers onto the mainland.
For over 100 years the community settled at the old Roman Town of Chester-le-Street. It was said that fear of further attack took them inland to Ripon but not for long and on their journey back from there they finally settled at Durham.
After the Norman Conquest (1066) a Benedictine community began to build the great Cathedral at Durham. They proposed to honour the body of St.Cuthbert with a new Shrine immediately east of the new High Altar and in 1104, all was ready for the translation. The Durham Monks opened up the coffin and found, that the St Cuthbert’s body was indeed still incorrupt. Throughout the Middle Ages the coffin was placed in a beautiful Shrine and visited by great numbers of pilgrims. But at the reformation, when the Monastery was dissolved, the Shrine was dismantled and the coffin opened – the body was still complete. It was buried in a plain grave behind the High Altar and the Sacred items buried with St Cuthbert were removed. Below is St Cuthbert’s Gospel of St John, recovered from his coffin; the original tooled red goatskin binding is the earliest surviving Western binding.
The human remains were then re-interred in the same place and marked by a plain gravestone with the name Cuthbertus. The Site, remaibs the focus of many pilgrimages today, including myself and family who have venerated St Cuthbert, a few times, in the Cathedral built to house his Shrine – of course, this is now a protestant church.
The 8th-century historian St Bede, wrote both a verse and a prose life of St Cuthbert around 720. He has been described as the most popular Saint in England prior to the death of Thomas Becket in 1170. In particular, Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, was inspired and encouraged in his struggle against the Danes by a vision or dream he had of St Cuthbert. Thereafter, the royal house of Wessex, who became the Kings of England, made a point of great devotion to St Cuthbert.
Why is St Cuthbert depicted holding St Oswald’s Head (c 605-642) King of Northumbia and why is it entombed with St Cuthbert?
St Bede tells us that Oswald was born around 605, the son of the King of Northumbria. After his father’s death, Oswald and his brothers were exiled to western Scotland, possibly to Iona, where they were inspired by St Columba’s Monks and were Baptised. In 634 Oswald returned to Northumbria where Cadwalla was massacring the people having killed King Edwin. After setting up a Cross as his standard and leading his men in prayer on the night before battle, Oswald defeated Cadwalla’s much larger army at Heavenfield and reclaimed the throne. The Intercession of St Columba,who died some 35 years earlier, assisted Oswald and his men, for Columba,appeared to Oswald in a vision and promised Heavenly assistance.
Oswald asked the Monks at Iona to send Missionaries to convert and guide his people. The first Monk they sent went back and reported that he could make no progress, due to the ungovernability, obstinacy and barbarous temperament of Oswald’s people, so they sent St Aidan instead. Oswald let Aidan choose where to base his Monastery and his mission. Aidan chose Lindisfarne and Oswald then worked closely with Aidan, travelling the countryside, acting as Aidan’s translator. In St Bede’s words, “while the Bishop, who was not fluent in the English language, preached the gospel, it was most delightful to see the King himself, interpreting the word of God to his ealdormen and thegns; for he, himself, had obtained perfect command of the Irish tongue during his long exile.”
Oswald was killed at Oswestry on 5 August 642, fighting the Mercians led by King Penda. His head was rescued from the battlefield and is buried in the Durham Cathedral, in St Cuthbert’s tomb, which is why you sometimes see pictures or statues of Cuthbert holding Oswald’s head. Soon miracles occurred at the place of his death, as they had at the place where he knelt to pray before battle and he was effectively canonised by the loving devotion of his people.
Bl Ambrose Sansedoni of Siena Anastasius XVI Archippus of Colossi St Benignus of Flay St Cathcan of Rath-derthaighe St Clement of Ireland St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (c 634-687) Bishop Bl Francis Palau y Quer St Guillermo de Peñacorada St Herbert of Derwenwater Bl Hippolytus Galantini Bl Jeanne Veron Bl John Baptist Spagnuolo St John Nepomucene St John Sergius
Martyrs of Amisus – 8 Saints: A group of Christian women Martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. The only details we have are eight of their names – Alexandra, Caldia, Derphuta, Euphemia, Euphrasia, Juliana, Matrona and Theodosia. They were burned to death c 300 in Amisus, Paphlagonia (modern Samsun, Turkey).
St Photina & Companions / Martyrs of Rome – 9+ Saints: A group of Christians Martyred together in the persecutions of Nero. We know nothing else about them but the names Photina, Sebastian and Victor, Anatolius, Cyriaca, Joseph, Parasceve, Photis.
Martyrs of San Saba – 20 Saints: Twenty monks who were Martyred together in their monastery by invading Saracens. They were Martyred in 797 when they were burned inside the San Sabas monastery in Palestine.
Martyrs of Syria – 3+ Saints: A group of Christians who were Martyred together in Syria. We know nothing else about them but the names Cyril, Eugene and Paul.
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