Thought for the Day – 16 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Death of our Saviour
“Jesus had now come to the last morning of His earthly life. The Blood had been drained from His Body as a result of His fatal Wounds and He felt a great thirst, “I thirst,” He murmured in a weak voice. He expressed in these words, not only His physical thirst but also, His spiritual thirst for souls. He had given everything for the eternal salvation of men, yet, He realised with Divine foresight, that many would refuse to co-operate with His infinite love, His thirst was a burning love for us and it was answered, on the physical level, by the vinegar which was given to Him to drink and in the moral order, by our ingratitude.
Seeing that His mission was fulfilled with His last breath, Jesus entrusted His soul to His Heavenly Father, “Father, into Thy Hands, I commend My spirit” (Lk 23:46). Then, in order to show that His Death was voluntary, He cried out in a loud Voice, “It is consummated!” (Jn 19:30). Jesus was dead!
Let us prostrate ourselves before His lifeless Body covered with sores and furrowed with blood. Let us vow, never to offend Him again. Let us give Him our minds, our hearts, our souls, our whole being. Let us love Him more and more!”
Holy Saturday (Vigil Mass of Easter) – 16 April – Matthew 28:1-7
“When Christ should appear, Who is your Life, then you also shall appear with Him, in glory.” – Colossians 3:4
“And at the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.”
Ancient Christian Writer Anonymous (An excerpt from Homily on Holy Saturday)
The Lord Descends into Hell
SOMETHING STRANGE IS HAPPENING — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept even since the world began. God has Died in the Flesh and hell trembles with fear!
HE HAS GONE TO SEARCH for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow, the captives Adam and Eve, He Who is both God and the Son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the Weapon that had won Him the Victory. At the sight of Him, Adam, the first man He had created, struck His breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you light.”
I AM YOUR GOD, Who, for your sake, have become your Son! Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now by My Own Authority, command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness, to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the Life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in My image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I Am in you; together, we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
FOR YOUR SAKE I, your God, became your Son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden and I was Crucified in a garden.
SEE ON MY FACE the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in My Image. On My Back see the marks of the scourging I endured, to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My Hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I SLEPT ON THE CROSS and a sword pierced My Side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My Side has healed the pain in yours. My Sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
RISE, LET US LEAVE THIS PLACE. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise but I will enthrone you in Heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life but see, I Who am Life itself, am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity!
“…He Slept, so that We might be Awakened, He Died, so that We might Live.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“The Lord, although He was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, He was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave but He rose from the dead and cried aloud: “Who will contend with Me? Let him confront Me.” I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against Me? I, He said, Am the Christ, I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one and taken men up to the heights of Heaven. I Am the Christ. Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I Am your Forgiveness. I Am the Passover which brings salvation. I Am the Lamb Who was immolated for you. I Am your Ransom, your Life, your Resurrection, your Light, I am your Salvation and your King. I will bring you to the heights of Heaven. With My own Right Hand I will raise you up and I will show you the Eternal Father.”
One Minute Reflection – 16 April – Holy Saturday (Vigil Mass of Easter) – Matthew 28,1-7.
“And the Angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you, for I know that you seek Jesus Who was Crucified, He is not here, for He is risen, as He said.” – Matthew 28:5-6
REFLECTION – “When the third day dawned of the Lord’s sacred repose in the tomb (…) Christ, the “power and Wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24), with the author of death lying prostrate, conquered even death itself and opened to us access to eternity, when He raised Himself from the dead by His divine power in order to make known to us the paths of life.
Then there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, with raiment like snow and his countenance like lightening. He appeared attractive to the devout and severe to the wicked – for he terrified the soldiers and comforted the timid women, to whom the Lord Himself first appeared after rising, because their intense devotion so merited. Then He was seen by Peter, then by the disciples going to Emmaus, then by all the apostles except Thomas. Later He presented Himself to be touched by Thomas, who proclaimed his faith: “My Lord and my God.” And thus, during forty days, He appeared in many ways to His disciples, both eating and drinking with them.
He enlightened our faith with proofs and lifted up our hope with promises, so as finally to enkindle our love with gifts from heaven.” … St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O God, Who dost illuminate this most holy night by the glory of the Lord’s Resurrection, preserve in the new children of Thy family, the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given, that renewed in body and mind, they may render to Thee a pure service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).
My Most Sorrowful Lady By St Anselm (1033-1109) Marian Doctor Magnificent Doctor
My most sorrowful Lady, what can I say about the fountains, that flowed from your most pure eyes, when you saw your only Son before you, bound, beaten and suffering? What do I know of the flood, that drenched your matchless face, when you beheld your Son, your Lord and your God, stretched on the Cross without guilt, when the flesh of your flesh, was cruelly butchered by wicked me? How can I judge what sobs troubled your most pure breast when you heard, “Woman, behold your son,” and the disciple, “Behold, your Mother,” when you received, as a son, the disciple, in place of the Master, the servant, for the Lord? Amen
Saint of the Day – 16 April – Saint Magnus of Orkney (c 1075-1115) Layman Martyr, Earl of Orkney, Born in c1075 in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and died by being struck in the head with an axe, in 1115 at Egilsay Island, Scotland. Patronage – Orkney Islands. Also known as – Magnus Erlendsson of Orkney, Magnus Erlendsson, Magnus the Martyr, Mans… Additional Memorial – 13 December (translation of relics). The image below is a reconstruction of the face of St Magnus by the BBC.
Magnus was the Earl of Orkney in Scotland and related to the Royal House of Norway, which exercised sovereignty over the Orkney Islands at that time. The story of St Magnus’ life and Martyrdom are well attested. Three legends tell his story, the most famous being the Orkneyinga saga. His life is also recounted in two Latin accounts. Magnus was born around 1075. He was the son of Erlend Thorfinnson, Earl of Orkney. Erlend held the earldom of Orkney under the Norse crown but was practically independent. Magnus’ father and uncle had been among the Norse invaders of England under Harald Hadrada in 1066. In 1098 King Magnus III of Norway came and deposed St. Magnus’ father, taking personal possession of the Orkneys and installing his illegitimate son as ruler. Magnus entered the service of King Magnus III and served as his personal Chamberlain.
St. Magnus had a disposition for piety and gentleness. The warriors of King Magnus’ retinue mistook this for weakness and harassed him. At this time, many Norse were still pagans or only Christians in a very nominal sense. He was present in 1098 for the Battle of Angelsey Sound in Wales but refused to take part in what essentially was a Viking raid, preferring instead to stay on the ship and sing Psalms. This disgraced him with the King’s retinue and he was obliged to take refuge in Scotland.
Magnus returned to Orkney in 1105 to dispute an inheritance issue with his cousin, Haakon. The dispute could not be resolved and Magnus appealed to the new King, Eystein I of Norway. In 1114, King Eystein made Magnus and Haakon, his cousin, joint Earls of Orkney, an arrangement which was obviously doomed to failure. The two sides almost came to blows but it was agreed that the Earls would meet on the Island of Egilsay on Easter to work out their differences. Each Earl was to bring only two ships. Magnus, being good natured, virtuous and honest,arrived with the requisite two ships. Haakon, however, treacherously brought eight ships full of armed followers.
Magnus took refuge in the Island Church overnight, praying to God and preparing his soul for whatever lay before him. In the morning he was dragged out of the Church by the chieftains loyal to Haakon. Magnus offered to go into exile or imprisonment but the chieftains demanded that one of the Earls must die. However, Haakon could find none of his chiefs willing to strike the fatal blow, as it was clear Magnus was innocent of any wrongdoing, his only crime consisting in being born with a title to the Earldom which Haakon coveted in his lust for power.
In the end, Haakon made his cook deliver the lethal blow. Before death, Magnus prayed for his captors and implored God’s to forgive them. He was killed with a single blow to the head from an axe, tn Easter Monday, 1117.
Magnus was hastily buried in the field where he was executed. According to legend, the rocky area around his grave miraculously became a green field. Magnus’ mother Thora, was later given permission to have Magnus interred at Christchurch in Birsay on Orkney’s mainland. A Church was later constructed on the spot where he was killed on Egilsay.
Tale of Magnus’ sanctity soon spread as well as tales of miracles at his tomb. William the Old, Bishop of Orkney in the 12th century, spoke condescendingly about miracles attributed to Magnus and was subsequently struck blind until receiving his sight again after praying at St Magnus’ tomb. Not long after, Bishop William authorized the cult of Magnus on the island at constructed the church of St Magnus near the site of the murder. A Cathedral dedicated to St Magnus was constructed shortly thereafter, which became the final repository of his relics. A renovation of the Cathedral in 1919 uncovered a box with the skull of St Magnus within.
Since his death, St. Magnus has been venerated as a Martyr but his status as a martyr has been questioned. Magnus’ Canonisation was done locally, prior to the institution of canonical procedures by Pope Alexander III. It is difficult to see in what sense St. Magnus was a Martyr. The occasion of the hostility of Haakon, was not the practice of the faith or the defence thereof but, in a dispute over the rightful possession of the Earldom of Orkney. Magnus certainly was pious and saintly, even praying for his persecutors before his execution but it is difficult to see how his death itself was a Martyrdom, in the proper sense. We should keep in mind, that while the Church has adopted the Episcopal Canonisation of Magnus, his title of “martyr” is more an exercise of popular piety than a strict theological title.
The feast day of St. Magnus is also interesting. In the Orkney’s his feast day is celebrated today, 16 April, the date of his death. It is known as Mansemass and attended with considerable public festivities. But has become more of a popular commemoration than a liturgical one; it is often not celebrated liturgically because it frequently coincides with Easter, Holy Week, or the Easter Octave. In Denmark, where devotion to St Magnus was very strong, there was an alternate feast day of 19 August. How this date got fixed was due to a confusion between St Magnus of Orkney and Magnus of Milan. It happened that there was another and earlier St Magnus – an Italian Martyr from Milan – who had long occupied 19 August in the Calendar of Saints. So, for no better reason than the coincidence of their names, our saintly Earl took over his Italian counterpart’s spot on the Danish Calendar.
‘So Magnus Erlendson, when he came up from the shore that Easter Monday, towards noon, to the stone in the centre of the island, saw against the sun eleven men and a boy and a man with an axe in his hand who was weeping … Then in the light of the new day, 16 April 1117, there was a blinding flash of metal in the sun’. – George Mackay Brown
St Benedict Joseph Labre – Known as the Beggar of Perpetual Adoration (1748-1783) Laqy Penitent and Pilgrim – he “abandoned his country, his parents and whatever is flattering in the world, to lead a new sort of life, a life most painful, most penitential, not in a wilderness, nor in a cloister but in the midst of the world, devoutly visiting as a pilgrim the famous places of Christian devotion.” Canonised by Pope Leo XIII on 8 December 1881. Dearest St Benedict Joseph: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/saint-of-the-day-16-april-st-benedict-joseph-labre/
St Lambert of Saragossa St Lambert of Saragossa St Magnus of Orkney (c 1075-1115) Layman Martyr
St Turibius of Astorga St Vaise St William Gnoffi
Martyrs of Avrillé – 26 Beati: – A group of lay people who were executed together for their faith during the anti-Christian persecutions of the French Revolution. They were martyred on 16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France. • Blessed Anne Maugrain, • Blessed François Micheneau veuve Gillot, • Blessed François Suhard veuve Ménard, • Blessed Jean Ménard, • Blessed Jeanne Gourdon veuve Moreau, • Blessed Jeanne Leduc épouse Paquier • Blessed Jeanne Onillon veuve Onillon, • Blessed Jeanne Thomas veuve Delaunay, • Blessed Madeleine Cady épouse Desvignes, • Blessed Madeleine Sallé épouse Havard • Blessed Marguerite Robin, • Blessed Marie Forestier • Blessed Marie Gingueneau veuve Coiffard, • Blessed Marie Lardeux, • Blessed Marie Piou épouse Supiot, • Blessed Marie Rechard, • Blessed Marie Roger veuve Chartier, • Blessed Marie-Genevieve Poulain de la Forestrie, • Blessed Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie, • Blessed Perrine Bourigault, • Blessed Perrine Laurent • Blessed Perrine Pottier épouse Turpault, • Blessed Pierre Delépine, • Blessed Renée Bourgeais veuve Juret, • Blessed Renée Rigault épouse Papin, • Blessed Renée Sechet veuve Davy. 16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France – Beatified: 19 February 1984 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy
Martyrs of Corinth – 9 Saints: A group of nine Christians who were tortured and Martyred together in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than three of their names – Callistus, Charisius and Leonide. They were thrown into the sea at Corinth, Greece c250.
Martyrs of Saragossa: Group of eighteen Martyrs murdered in 304 in Saragossa, Spain in the persecutions of Diocletian and the prefect Dacean. We know little more than the names – Apodemus, Caecilian, Caius, Crementius, Engratia, Eventius, Felix, Fronto, Gaius, Julia, Lambert, Lupercus, Martial, Optatus, Primitivus, Publius, Quintilian, Saturnius (4 men of this name), Succesus and Urban. Their graves re-discovered in 1389 in the crypt under the church of San Encrazia in Saragossa.