Thought for the Day – 21 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Power of God’s Love in the Christian Life
“As has been said, love must be active and effective, as well as coming from the heart. This is still not sufficient, however. Love tends towards an intimate union with the person loved and does not rest, until this union is achieved. This is the unity of love. The Saints reached this high level of charity. They lived in God and were permanently united to God, as if theyt formed part of His Being. “It is now, no longer I that live,” exclaimed St Paul, “but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
If only we could succeed in achieving such a complete and lasting union with God, any sacrifice would seem easy and we should certainly grow in sanctity.”
Monday of the Third Week of Lent – 21 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – 4 Kings, 5:1-15, Luke 4:23-30
“O God, my wanderings You have counted; my tears are recorded in Your sight.” – Psalm 55:9
“There were many widows in Israel”
THE WIDOW OF SAREPTA welcomes the prophet Elijah with every generosity and expends all her poverty in his honour, even though she is a Sidonian foreigner. She had never heard what the prophets have to say about the merits of almsgiving, let alone the words of Christ: “You saw me hungry and gave me food” (Mt 25:35).
WHAT EXCUSE DO WE HAVE if, after such exhortations, after the promise of such great rewards, after the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven and its happiness, we fail to reach the same level of goodness as this widow? A Sidonian woman, a widow, burdened with the care of a family, threatened by famine and seeing the advent of death, opens her door to welcome an unknown man and gives him the scrap of meal she has left …
YET WE, WHO HAVE been taught by the prophets, have heard the teachings of Christ, have the opportunity of meditating on what is to come, who are not threatened by famine and who own a great deal more that this woman, are we to be excused if we dare not lay a finger on our goods to give of them? Are we going to neglect our own salvation? …
SO THEN, LET US SHOW GREAT compassion towards the poor so as to be made worthy of possessing good things to come for all eternity, by the grace and love for humankind of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop of Constantinople, Great Father and Doctor of the Church (Sermon on Elijah and the widow and almsgiving; PG 51, 348).
Quote/s of the Day – 21 March – Monday of the Third Week of Lent – The Memorial of St Benedict OSB (c 480-547)
“Girded with faith and the performance of good works, let us follow in His paths by the guidance of the Gospel.”
“There exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell. Similarly, there is a good fervour, which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life.”
“For at all times, we must so serve Him, with the good things He has given us, that he may not, as an angry Father, disinherit his children, nor as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil deeds, deliver us to everlasting punishment, as wicked servants, who refuse to follow Him to glory.”
“The first degree of humility, is prompt obedience.”
One Minute Reflection – 21 March – Monday of the Third Week of Lent – 4 Kings, 5:1-15, Luke 4:23-30 and the Memorial of St Benedict OSB (c 480-547)
“There were many widows in Israel” – Luke 4:25
REFLECTION – “My wretched soul is naked and cold and benumbed, it longs to warm itself at the fIre of Your love… Out of my wide wilderness and the great emptiness of my heart, I have collected only these few tiny twigs like the widow of Sarepta; so that,, when I do come to the tabernacle of my house, I may have a handful of flour and a vessel of oil to eat before I die (1Kgs 17,10f.). Or maybe, Lord, I shall not die as quickly as all that! It may be rather that “I shall not die at al, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (Ps 117,17).
So I stand in the house of solitude… I open my mouth in Your direction, Lord; I breathe in the Spirit. And sometimes, Lord,… You do put something in my heart’s mouth but You do not permit me to know just what it is. A savour I perceive, so sweet, so gracious, and so comforting that… I should seek nothing more. But when I receive this thing, neither by bodily sight, nor by spiritual sense, nor by understanding of the mind, do You allow me to discern what it is. When I receive it, then I want to keep it, and think about it and assess its flavour but forthwith, it has gone… But every time this happens I hear the Lord say to me: “The Spirit blows whither he will. ” And I know, even in myself, that He breathes not, when I will but when He Himself wills…
I know that it is to You alone, O Fount of Life, that I must lift up my eyes, that “in your light I may see light” (Ps 35:10). Towards You, then, Lord, are all things turned… But in the meantime, Lord, how much longer are You going to put me off? How often must my wretched, harassed, gasping soul trail after You? “Hide me,” I beseech you, “in the secret place of Your Face away from the troubles of men, protect me in Your tabernacle from the strife of congues!” (Ps 30,21).” – William of Saint-Thierry (c 1085-1148) Cistercian Monk, Theologian (The Contemplation of God 12).
PRAYER – O Lord, we beseech You, in Your mercy, pour forth Your grace into our hearts, that, as we abstain from material food, so may we restrain our senses from sin. May the intercession of the blessed Abbot Benedict, commend us to You, O Lord, so that through his merits we may obtain that which we cannot accomplish by our own. 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 – 21 March – Monday of the Third Week of Lent and the Memorial of St Benedict OSB (c 480-547)
O God, Be With Us By St Benedict (c480-547)
O God, from Whom to be turned, is to fall, to Whom to be turned, is to rise, and in Whom to stand, is to abide forever. Grant us in all our duties, Thy help, in all our perplexities, Thy guidance, in all our dangers, Thy protection, and in all our sorrows, Thy peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 21 March – Saint John of Valence (Died 1146) Bishop, Founder of the Abbey of Bonnevaux, Monk, Abbot, Apostle of the poor, Social Reformer. Born at Lyons, France and died on 21 March 1146 of natural causes. Additional Memorial – 26 April on some calendars.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Valence in the territory of Vienne in France, St John, Bishop, who, at first Abbot of Bonnevaux, suffered many adversities for the defence of justice and with charity took care of the peasants, the poor and the merchants ruined by debts.”
Nothing is known of his early life until he became a Priest and a Canon of the Lyons Cathedral.
After a pilgrimage to Compostela, Spain John had a dream in which Christ complained: “He ought to be Mine, not as a pilgrim but as a dweller in My house.” John immediately entered Clairvaux Abbey to become a Monk under Saint Bernard. In 1117, he founded the Cistercian Abbey at Bonnevaux, became its Abbot and from which he established four daughter-houses.
In 1141 John was elected Bishop of Valence. John felt so unworthy of the position that he had to be physically carried to the Altar to be Consecrated. As Bishop, John fought zealously for his flock not just in matters spiritual but for farmers, merchants and the impoverished who were all ruined by debt during a regional financial crisis.
During his five years as the Bishop, John maintained the rigoroys life of a Monk, keeping fasts and penances. He actively alleviated the sufferings of widows, orphans and the poor and in other ways, promoted social justice.
John died on 21 March 1146 . Pope Pius X confirmed his cultus in on 3 December 1903.
Martyrs of Alexandria: A large but unknown number of Catholics massacred in several Churches during Good Friday services in Alexandria, Egypt by Arian heretics during the persecutions of Constantius and Philagrio. They were Martyred on Good Friday in 342 in Alexandria, Egypt.
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