Thought for the Day – 3 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Imitation of Mary
“O Holy Mary, ever ready to protect and assist me, grant that I may be as truly your child as you are my are my Heavenly Mother. Grant that I may reproduce your most outstanding virtues, especially those which are most necessary for me to imitate. Help me to be humble, pure and inflamed with love for God and for my neighbour. Obtain for me a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial and, most of all, a complete and absolute acceptance of the will of God. Amen.”
Quote/s of the Day – 3 April – the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross
The Word of the Cross Look on thy God, Christ hidden in our flesh. A bitter word, the Cross and bitter sight: Hard rind without, to hold the heart of Heaven. Yet sweet it is, for God upon that tree Did offer up His Life upon that rood My Life hung, that my Life might stand in God. Christ, what am I to give Thee for my life? Unless take from Thy Hands the cup they hold, To cleanse me with the precious draught of death. What shall I do? My body to be burned? Make myself vile? The debt’s not paid out yet. Whate’er I do, it is but I and Thou, And still do I come short, still must Thou pay My debts, O Christ, for debts Thyself hadst none. What love may balance Thine? My Lord was found In fashion like a slave, that so His slave Might find himself in fashion like his Lord. Think you the bargain’s hard, to have exchanged The transient for the eternal, to have sold Earth to buy Heaven? More dearly God bought me!
St Paulinus of Nola (c 354-431) Father of the Church
Faithful Cross! Above All Other By St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609)
Faithful Cross! above all other, one and only noble tree! None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit thy peer may be; sweetest wood and sweetest iron, sweetest weight is hung on thee.
Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory! Thy relaxing sinews bend; for awhile the ancient rigour that thy birth bestowed, suspend and the King of heavenly beauty gently on thine arms extend.
Praise and honour to the Father, praise and honour to the Son, praise and honour to the Spirit, ever Three and ever One: One in might and One in glory while eternal ages run.
One Minute Reflection – 3 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross – 1 Peter 2:21-25, John 10:11-16
“I am the good shepherd and I know mine and mine know me.”- John 10:14
REFLECTION – “Let us consider Christ, our shepherd …. He rejoices in those sheep of His that are around Him and goes in search of those, that stray. Mountains and forests cause Him no fear; He crosses ravines to reach the sheep that is lost. Even if He finds it in a piteous state, He is not angry but touched with pity; He takes it on His shoulders and, from His own weariness, heals the exhausted sheep (Lk 15:4 f.) …
With good reason Christ declares: “I am the Good Shepherd, I seek out the lost sheep, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal (Ez 34:16). I have seen the flock of mankind struck down by sickness; I have witnessed my lambs wander about where demons dwell; I have seen my flock ravaged by wolves. All this I have seen and have not witnessed it from on high. That is why I took hold of the withered hand, gripped by pain as if by a wolf; I have unbound those whom fever had bound; I taught him to see whose eyes had been shut from his mother’s womb; I brought Lazarus out from the tomb where he had lain for four days (Mk 3:5; 1:31; Jn 9; 11). For I am the Good Shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” …
The prophet knew this shepherd when, long before His Passion, He declared what would take place: “Like a sheep led to the slaughter or a sheep, dumb before the shearers, he opened not his mouth” (Is 53:7). Like a sheep, the shepherd has offered His neck for His flock …. By His death, He heals from death; by His tomb, He empties the tomb …. The tombs are full and the prison shut until the shepherd, comes down from the cross, He has come to bring His captive sheep the joyful news of their liberation. We see Him in hell where He gives the order for their release (1 Pt 3:19); we see Him call His sheep once more, giving them the call to life from the dwellings of the dead. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” This is how He intends to win the affection of His sheep and those who know how to listen to His voice, love Christ.” – Basil of Seleucia (Died 448) Bishop of Seleucia, Writer – Oratio 26
PRAYER –O Good Shepherd, You Whom My Soul Loves. By St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–C 395) Father of the Church
Where are You pasturing Your flock, O good Shepherd, Who carry the whole flock on Your shoulders? (For the whole of human nature is one sheep and You have lifted it onto Your shoulders). Show me the place of peace, lead me to the good grass that will nourish me, call me by name so that I, Your sheep, hear Your voice and by Your speech, give me eternal life. Answer me, You Whom my soul loves. … Show me then (my soul says), where You pasture Your flock, so that I can find that saving pasture too and fill myself with the food of Heaven, without which, no-one can come to eternal life and run to the spring and fill myself with the drink of God. You give it, as from a spring, to those who thirst – water pouring from Your side, cut open by the lance, water that, to whoever drinks it, is a spring of water, welling up to eternal life. Amen
This is a tiny excerpt from St Gregory of Nyssa’s commentary on the Song of Songs (Cap. 2: PG 44, 802), using the imagery of Psalm 23, appeals to the Lord Jesus Christ for the promised green pastures, restful waters and noonday rest that is the final, eternal destination of those who love God and walk in His ways.
Our Morning Offering – 3 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Hail, O Mary, Mother of God By St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father & Doctor of the Church
Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Virgin and Mother! Morning Star, perfect vessel. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Holy Temple in which god Himself was conceived. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Chaste and pure dove. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Who enclosed the One who cannot be encompassed in your sacred womb. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, From you flowed the true light, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Through you the Conqueror and triumphant Vanquisher of hell came to us. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Through you, the glory of the Resurrection blossoms. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, You have saved every faithful Christian. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
The Liturgical Year by Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
“It was most just that our Divine King should show Himself to us with the sceptre of His power, to the end, that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of His empire. This sceptre is the Cross; and Paschal Time was to be the Season, for its being offered to Him in glad homage. A few weeks back and the Cross was shown to us, as the instrument of our Emmanuel’s humiliation and as the bed of suffering, whereon He died but, has He not, since then, conquered Death? and what is His Cross now but a trophy of His victory? Let it then be brought forth to our gaze and let every knee bend before this Sacred Wood, whereby our Jesus won the honour and praise we now give Him!
On the day of His Birth at Bethlehem, we sang these words of the Prophet Isaias: A Child is born unto us and a Son is given unto us and His government is upon His Shoulder (Is. ix. 6. The Introit of the Third Mass for Christmas Day). We have seen Him carrying this Cross upon His Shoulder, as Isaac carried the wood for his own immolation but now, it is no longer a heavy burthen. It is shining with a brightness that ravishes the eyes of the Angels and, after having received the veneration of man, as long as the world lasts, it will suddenly appear in the clouds of heaven, near the Judge of the living and the dead, a consolation to them that have loved it but a reproach to such as have treated it with contempt or forgetfulness.
Our Saviour did not think the time between His Resurrection and Ascensio,n a fitting one for glorifying the Instrument of His Victory. The Cross was not to be brought into notice, until it had subjected the world to Him, Whose glory it so eloquently proclaimed. Jesus was three days in the tomb; His Cross is to lie buried unknown to men, for three centuries but it is to have its Resurrection and the Church celebrates this Resurrection today. Jesus would, in His own good time, add to the joy of Easter by miraculously revealing to us, this Sacred Monument of His love for mankind. He entrusts it to our keeping, it is to be our consolation, as long as this world lasts – is it not just, that we should love and venerate it?
Never had Satan’s pride met with a humiliation like that of his seeing the instrument of our perdition, made the instrument of our salvation. As the Church expresses it in her Preface for Passiontide: “he that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree.” Thus foiled, he vented his fury upon this saving Wood, which so bitterly reminded him, both of the irresistible power of his Conqueror and of the dignity of man, who had been redeemed at so great a price. He would fain have annihilated the Cross but knowing that this was beyond his power, he endeavoured to profane it and hide it from view. He, therefore, instigated the Jews to bury it. At the foot of Calvary, not far from the Sepulchre, was a deep hole. Into this was the Cross thrown, together with those of the two Thieves, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns and the Inscription, or Title, written by Pilate . The hole was then filled up with rubbish and earth and the Sanhedrim exulted in the thought of its having effaced the memory of the Nazarene, Who could not save Himself from the ignominious death of the Cross.
Forty years after this, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the instruments of God’s vengeance. The Holy Places were desecrated by the idolaters. A small temple to Venus was erected on Calvary and another to Jupiter over the Holy Sepulchre. By this, the pagans intended derision; whereas, they were perpetuating the knowledge of two spots of most sacred interest. When peace was restored under Constantine, the Christians had but to remove these pagan monuments and their eyes beheld the holy ground that had been bedewed with the Blood of Jesus and the glorious Sepulchre.
As to the Cross, it was not so easily found. The sceptre of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal hand. The saintly Empress Helena, Constantine’s Mother, was chosen by heaven to pay to Jesu, and that, too, on the very spot where He had received His greatest humiliations, the honours which are due to Him as the King of the world. Before laying the foundations of the Basilica of the Resurrection, this worthy follower of Magdalene and the other holy women of the Sepulchre, was anxious to discover the Instrument of our Salvation. The Jews had kept up the tradition of the site where it had been buried, the Empress had the excavations made accordingly. With what holy impatience must she not have watched the works! and with what ecstasy of joy did she not behold the Redeeming Wood, which, though not, at first, distinguishable, was certainly one of the three Crosses that were found! She addressed a fervent prayer to the Saviour, Who alone could reveal to her which was the trophy of His Victory – the Bishop, St Macarius, united his prayers with hers and their faith was rewarded by a miracle, that left them no doubt as to which was the true Cross.
The glorious work was accomplished and the Church was put in possession of the instrument of the world’s Redemption. Both East and West were filled with joy at the news of this precious discovery, which Heaven had set on foot and which gave the last finish to the triumph of Christianity. Christ completed His Victory over the Pagan world, by raising thus His Standard, not a figurative one but His own real Standard, His Cross, which, up to that time, had been a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles;but before which every Christian is, henceforth, to bend his knee.
Helena placed the Holy Cross in the Basilica that had been built by her orders and which the same St Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem oversaw and which covered both the glorious Sepulchre and the hill of the Crucifixion. Another Church was erected on the site, where the Cross had lain concealed for three hundred years and the faithful are enabled, by long flights of steps, to go down into the deep grotto, which had been its tomb. Pilgrims came, from every part of the world, to visit the hallowed places, where our Redemption had been wrought and to venerate the Sacred Wood of the Cross. But God’s merciful providence willed, not that the precious pledge of Jesus’ love for mankind should be confined to one only Sanctuary, however venerable it might be. Immediately after its discovery, Helena had a very large piece cut from the Cross and this fragment she destined for Rome, the new Jerusalem. The precious gift was enshrined in the Basilica built by her son Constantine in the Sessorian garden,and which was afterwards called the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
By degrees, other places were honoured by the presence of the Wood of the Holy Cross. As far back as the 4th Century, we have St Cyril of Jerusalem attesting that many of the Pilgrims used to obtain small pieces of it, and thus carried the precious Treasure into their respective countries and St. Paulinus of Nola, who lived in the same century, assures us that these many gifts lessened not the size of the original Relic. In the 6th century, the holy Queen, St Radegonde, obtained from the Emperor Justin 2nd a large piece from the fragment that was in the imperial treasury of Constantinople . It was for the reception of this piece of the True Cross into France, that St Venantius Fortunatus composed the , that beautiful Hymn which the Church uses in her Liturgy, as often as she celebrates the praises of the Holy Cross.
After several times losing and regaining it, Jerusalem was, at length, forever deprived of the precious Relic. Constantinople was a gainer by Jerusalem’s loss. From Constantinople, especially during the Crusades, many Churches of the West procured large pieces. These again supplied other places; until, at length the Wood of the Cross was to be found in almost every town of any importance.
There is scarcely to be found a Catholic, who, some time or other in his life, has not had the happiness of seeing and venerating a portion of this sacred object. How many acts of love and gratitude have not been occasioned by this? And who could fail to recognise, in this successive profusion of our Jesus’s Cross, a plan of divine providence for exciting us to an appreciation of our Redemption, on which rest all our hopes of eternal happiness?
How dear, then, to us should not this day be, which blends together the recollection of the Holy Cross and the joys of the Resurrection of that Jesus, Who, by the Cross, has won the throne to which we shall soon see Him ascend|! Let us thank our Heavenly Father for His having restored to mankind a treasure so immensely precious as is the Cross. Until the day comes for its appearing, with Himself, in the clouds of heaven, Jesus has intrusted it to His Spouse, as a pledge of His Second Coming. On that day, He, by His divine power, will collect together all the fragments and the Tree of Life will, then, gladden the Elect with its dazzling beauty and invite them to eternal rest beneath its refreshing shade”. – Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
“On whose dear arms, so widely flung, The weight of this world’s ransom hung, The price of humankind to pay And spoil the spoiler of his prey All hail, O Cross, our only hope!” [From the Hymn Vexilla Regis by St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609)]
Virgen de la Carrasca / Our Lady of Carrasca, Bordón, Teruel, Aragón, Spain (1212) – 3 May, Commemorated on First Monday of May:
In 1212, a herder found an image of the Virgin in a holm oak (carrasca) in the rocky countryside of Aragón in Spaon. There are several stories about what happened then, all of them ending with a Shrine in Bordón. Templars carried the Statue to Castellote, 12 miles north but the next day the image was back in the oak, the Virgin made those carrying her to Castellote keep turning toward Bordón and springs arose at each turn.
In the place where it was found, a hermitage was built to house it, which would later be replaced by the building that today is the Parish Church of Bordón, built in 1306 by the Templar Order (The Order was dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312 ).
Although its exterior hardly stands out, its interior is magical and fascinating, a place full of mystery. In one of the Chapels inside, the Templar novices who previously made a pilgrimage on foot from Castellote, capital of the Templar Commandery, performed initiation rites to become Knights of the Order.
In the 18th century, the interior of the Church was covered with marvellous frescoes, which have been recently restored. Unfortunately, the venerated carving of the Black Virgin of the Carrasca was lost during the Civil War, along with another very famous Romanesque carving with a reputation for miraculously calming storms, the Virgin of the Spider, only a series of photographs being preserved, which allowed the making a replica.
On the first Monday in May, the faithful from the three towns to the south—Tronchón, Olocau del Rey and Mirambel—conduct a processional pilgrimage to the Virgin de la Carrasca. They have done this “from time immemorial,” according to a document of 1390 in the Parish archives of Tronchón.
St Adalsindis of Bèze Bl Adam of Cantalupo in Sabina St Ahmed the Calligrapher St Aldwine of Peartney St Pope Alexander I St Alexander of Constantinople Bl Alexander of Foigny St Alexander of Rome Bl Alexander Vincioli
St Ethelwin of Lindsey St Eventius of Rome St Fumac St Gabriel Gowdel St Juvenal of Narni Bl Maria Leonia Paradis St Maura of Antinoe St Peter of Argos St Philip of Zell Bl Ramon Oromí Sullà St Rhodopianus the Deacon St Scannal of Cell-Coleraine Bl Sostenaeus
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