“We ought to pray and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more we are lacking in wisdom, weak in strength, burdened with trouble, prone to sin, the more we should turn to Him, Who is the never-ceasing Fount of Light, Strength, Consolation and Holiness.”
St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church
Thought for the Day – 25 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Living in the Presence of God
“The masters of the spiritual life advise us to the best way to cultivate an awareness of the presence of God (Cf St Alphonsus Liguori, Al Divino Servizio, III, 3). This may be done by employing the intellect to form the concept of God’s nearness and by using the will, to offer to Him, ourselves and everything around us, with acts of humility, adoration and love. The intellect, enlightened by faith, tells us that God is everywhere, “Do not I fill heaven and earth? said the Lord” (er 23:24). We should see Him in all His creations which reflect His eternal glory. “Learn to love the Creator in the creature” says St Augustine, “so that you may not become attached to created things and so lose Him by Whom, you yourself were created” (In Px 18).
When we wish to revive, in our minds, a sense of the presence of God, we should not picture Him as a distant Being but, as our own God, Who condescended to dwell within us. We should then listen to His inspirations and humbly venerate His Divine Majesty, which resides in our souls. “Do you not know,” says St Paul, “that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). God is everywhere but He dwells in a special manner, in our souls. It is difficult for us, however, to live with our minds constantly concentrated on Him. If we were able to do so, this would be an anticipation of the happiness of the Blessed in Heaven. But, we should have a habitual intention, which we should renew as often as possible, of living in the presence of God and of offering Him all our desires and actions. Then, our whole life will be a continual prayer of great value in the sight of God.
My loving Mother Mary, you lived both physically and spiritually, permanently in God’s presence, help me to live as you did. Help me to consciously remember the Divine presence in my soul and offer Him all that I am and do. Help me to love our good God, more and more. Amen.”
Quote/s of the Day – 25 May – St Madeleine Sophie Barat RSCJ (1779-1865) Virgin, Religious, Foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
“Our Lord, Who saved the world, through the Cross, will only Work for the good of souls, through the Cross.”
“God does not ask of us, the perfection of tomorrow, nor even of tonight but only, of the present moment. ”
“More is gained by indulgence, than by severity.”
“Let us leave acts, not words. No-one will have time to read us.”
“Give only good example, to the children; never correct them, when out of humour or impatient. We must win them by an appeal to their piety and to their hearts. Soften your reprimands with kind words; encourage and reward them. That is, in short, our way of educating.”
One Minute Reflection – 25 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the Memorial of St Pope Gregory VII (1015-1085) – 1 Peter 5:1-4; 5:10-11., Matthew 16:13-19
“Upon this rock I will build my church” – Matthew 16:18
REFLECTION – “Peter was to receive on deposit, the keys of the Church, or rather the keys of Heaven and, he should see himself entrusted with the numerous people. What did the Lord actually say to him? “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19). For Peter had a somewhat abrupt character; if he had been without sin what sort of forgiveness would the disciples have received from him? This is why divine grace allowed him to fall into a certain fault, in order that his own trial should make him benevolent towards others. Do you see how God can let someone fall into sin; this Peter, the leader of the Apostles, the unshakable foundation, indestructible rock, first in the Church, impregnable harbour, unshakable tower — this same Peter who had said to Christ: “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mt 26:35), Peter who, by a divine revelation, had confessed the Truth: “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God” (Mt 16:16). (…) But as I said, God arranged it in this way and allowed Peter to sin because, he had it in mind, to confer numerous people on him and he feared, that his roughness, joined to his impeccability, might make him unsympathetic towards his brothers. He gave way to sin so that, remembering his own failure and the kindness of the Lord, he might testify to others, a grace of philanthropy in accord with the divine design conceived by God. The fall had been permitted, to the one, who was going to see himself entrusted with the Church, the Pillar of the Church, the Harbour of the Faith; the fall had been permitted to Peter, the Doctor of the Universe, in order that, the forgiveness received, might remain the foundation of love for others.” – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop of Constantinople, Father and Doctor of the Church – On the apostle Peter and the prophet Elijah
PRAYER – O God, the strength of those who trust in You, Who fortified blessed Gregory, Your Confessor and Pontiff, with the virtue of firmness to protect the freedom of the Church, grant us, by his example and intercession, bravely to overcome all evil. 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 – 25 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Mother of my God, Lady Mary, Queen of Mercy By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Mother of my God and my Lady Mary, as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great Queen, so do I present myself before you, who are Queen of heaven and earth. From the lofty throne on which you sit, disdain not, I implore you, to cast your eyes on me, a poor sinner. God has made you so rich that you might assist the poor and has made you Queen of Mercy, that you might relieve the miserable. Behold me then and pity me. Behold me and abandon me not, until you see me changed from a sinner into a saint. Amen
Saint of the Day – 25 May – St Madeleine Sophie Barat RSCJ (1779-1865) Virgin, Religious, Foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a worldwide religious institute of Teachers. Born on 12 December 1779 at Joigny, France and died on Ascension Thursday, 25 May 1865, aged 85 at Paris, France of natural causes. Patronage – Teachers. Her body is incorupt.
She was a delicate little girl, spoilt, bubbling over with life and intelligence. Born during the night of 13 December 1779 in the little Burgundian town of Joigny in the glimmer from a neighbour’s burning house, she was premature and so frail that she was Baptised at dawn. She was the third child in a family of craftsmen, barrel-makers and vine-growers, who lived comfortably enough, in a small house in the rue du Puits-Chardon (today, 11 rue Davier). When she was seven, she became the pupil of her brother Louis, eleven years her senior. He was teaching in the local college until he was old enough to be able to be Ordained Priest. Under his austere direction, she made astonishing progress in all her subjects, both secular and religious, yet she regretted hardly having time to play with friends her own age, even at the time of the grape harvest and traditional holiday in the country of vineyards! Her family’s Jansenistic severity, might have crushed and destroyed her liveliness but, fortunately, she kept her spontaneous vivacity and joyful character.
During the Revolution, Sophie was a courageous adolescent. She, who so loved study had to work as a seamstress and became an excellent embroidress. She had to be the link between her father, a good workman but illiterate and her mother, more refined, sensitive and cultured. Above all, she had to sustain the courage of her family when her brother was made prisoner by the revolutionaries and only escaped the guillotine by the intervention of providence. It was then that Sophie discovered devotion to the Sacred Heart and now, she put all her trust in the love of Christ.
Still very young, she gave proof of resolve and generosity, when her brother, liberated by the fall of Robespierre, asked her to come to Paris to continue her education. Certainly it cost her dearly to tear herself away from her mother’s tenderness but she was resolved to give herself entirely to God. The Revolution had closed all the Convents and her brother’s offer ,opened to her a way of renunciation and generosity. For five years she lived in Paris, a life of prayer and study, giving herself to catechising the children of the Marais quartier.
In 1800 her brother introduced her to Fr Varin who was trying to establish a congregation of religious women, founded on the spirituality of the Heart of Christ and vowed to education. She had wanted to enter Carmel but the appeal of Fr Varin made her reflect. The exceptional culture she had acquired, the needs of a society that was gradually coming out of the revolutionary torments and which lacked guidelines, were these not signs of the Will of God for her?
On 21 November 1800, in Paris, she made her first religious commitment. A year later, a first community was established at Amiens, of which she was soon named Superior. While for political reasons, the Congregation could only take the name of Society of the Sacred Heart in 1815. II spread gradually, to Grenoble, then to Poitiers where the first noviciate was opened. She was named Superior General at the age of twenty-six. Henceforward, Madeleine Sophie’s life merged with that of the Society of the Sacred Heart, which she governed. She crossed France and Europe, going wherever she was asked to found Boarding Schools. And she insisted on opening a free school, or sometimes an orphanage, alongside each one, to which poor girls came flocking, since at that time, there were no communal schools.
This long religious life from 1800 to 1865 was filled with prayer, work and suffering but also with deep joy.
First, prayer, intense and prolonged for seven hours, day and night sometimes. Faith in the Love of God, manifested in the Heart of Jesus, was so important for her, that what counted was to respond to this Love by adoration and making it known and loved by all, throughout the world.
This prayer animated her immense work and her entire life. To bring up children and young people one must first love them, seek to understand them, respect their budding personality, instruct them in awakening their faculties, exercising their judgement, affirming their will and developing in them, the sense of responsibility. It was in that spirit that she formed the Religious of the Sacred Heart to be Teachers. Her task was varied. She had to open schools, to negotiate with religious and civil authorities, buy or rent property, construct or adapt buildings. She also had to send groups of religious to various places, at a time when these had to assume almost single-handedly, all the tasks of teaching, administration and material work.
Once she had established Convents, she had to visit them. But journeys at that time, by coach hired with much trouble, were long, difficult and sometimes dangerous. There was also, a large correspondence to maintain, so as to keep in touch, advise and encourage. She opened 122 Convents. Several disappeared, suppressed as a result of war, persecution by hostile regimes or simply because, certain foundations had not been wise.
At her death in 1865, 89 of them were flourishing. Thousands of young people were being educated there, by 3,500 religious. These houses were dispersed throughout 16 countries of Europe, Africa, North and South America. In 1818, she had sent St Philippine Duchesne to the United States, where she opened the first schools in very hard conditions and in great poverty.
These results that might make one think of a triumphant development, should not create an illusion – they were only obtained in the midst of great trials and at the price of suffering,: long and repeated illnesses, epidemics which ravaged entire regions, decimating religious and pupils alike. 1350 Religious of the Sacred Heart died before their foundress. Political troubles, revolutions and persecutions, chased the religious from Northern Italy and Switzerland. Mother Barat was also faced with contradictions and even calumnies against herself and her work, dissensions at the interior of the Congregation, as a result of misunderstandings and incomprehension. Twice, from 1809 to 1815 and from 1839 to 1843, crises put in peril the very existence of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Madeleine Sophie rose above them all with her usual weapons – silence, humility and the prayer which united her ever more closely to Jesus Christ. From Him she drew an unshakeable hope and full forgiveness for those who made her suffer.
What can one say of the joys, which, on the other hand lightened her life – her union with God, the approbation and support of the Church, to which she was so deeply attached, the esteem and affection which responded to her loving devotedness, for she had a truly exceptional gift of communion with others and friendship.. She welcomed everyone in the same way – Ecclesiastical dignitaries, Princesses, men distinguished by their culture or their power, workmen, religious, pupils and their parents. She showed so much interest, such a quality of listening and sympathy that one left her conscious of having been understood and comforted. Her preferences were for the poor and the deprived, for whom she always had time, help and delicate attention.
In her old age, the only relaxation she allowed herself, was to see the Junior School of the Rue de Varenne, brought to see her by their mistress. They came across the garden to the Mother House, Boulevard des Invalides and sat round her under a great cedar tree, whence ensued joyous exchanges. Saint Madeleine Sophie listened to them, asked them questions, answered their questions and passed round sweets. It was mutual joy; for the children knew well who loved them.
Saint Madeleine Sophie died in Paris on 25 May, 1865. Ascension Day. She was buried in the cemetery at Conflans. In 1904, when the French Sisters were expelled by the Combes laws, her body was transferred to the Sacred Heart at Jette, Brussels. Since her Beatification in 1908 by St Pius X, her well-preserved body has been exposed in a Shrine. She was Canonised n 24 May 1908 by Pope Pius XI
Since 20 May 1998, her Shrine has been at 31 rue de l’Abondance 1210 Brussels. You can go there to pray to Saint Madeleine Sophie.
Today nearly 4,000 religious try to follow her example and continue her work. All over the world, thousands of pupils, former pupils and all sorts of people, benefit, often without knowing it,, from her influence, her holiness and her love. St Madelein Sophie Barrat, pray for our children, pray for us all! Thanks be to God, amen.
Our Lady the Nea/New Church of the Virgin Mary or New Church of St Mary, Mother of God, built by the Emperor Justinian the Good, Jerusalem (530) – 25 May:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady the Nea or New, at Jerusalem, built by the Emperor Justinian, at Jerusalem, in the year 530.”
The Emperor Justinian the Good, is justifiably famous for many achievements and among them his construction of the magnificent Church of the Holy Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia, which is now a mosque in Istanbul. There was once another Church, though, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, that must have been just as splendid and an architecture wonder, as is, the Hagia Sophia but this magnificent structure was destroyed by an earthquake.
Recent archeological excavations have uncovered the foundations of the Church, but there were also one of Justinian’s court historians, a man named Procopius of Caesarea, who wrote in great detail about the construction of the Nea Church of Our Lady the New, Mother of God:
“These things the Emperor Justinian accomplished by human strength and skill but he was also assisted by his pious faith, which rewarded him with the honour he received and aided him in this cherished plan. The Church required throughout, columns whose appearance would not fall short of the beauty of the building and of such a size, that they could resist the weight of the load which would rest upon them. However, the site itself, being very far from the sea, inland and walled about on all sides by hills, that were quite steep, made it impossible for those who were preparing the foundations to bring columns from outside.
But when the impossibility of this task was causing the Emperor to become impatient, God revealed a natural supply of stone, perfectly suited to this purpose, in the nearby hills, one which had either lain therein concealment previously, or was created at that moment. Either explanation is credible to those who trace the cause of it to God, for while we, in estimating all things by the scale of man’s power, consider many things to be wholly impossible, for God nothing in the whole world can be difficult or impossible. So, the Church is supported on all sides by a number of huge columns from that place, which in colour resemble flames of fire, some standing below and some above and others in the stoas which surround the whole Church, except on the side facing the east.
Two of these columns stand before the door of the Church, exceptionally large and probably second to no column in the whole world. Here is added another colonnaded stoa, which is called the narthex, I suppose because it is not broad. Beyond this is a court with similar columns, standing on the four sides. From this there lead doors to the interior, which are so stately, that they proclaim to those walking outside what kind of sight they will meet within. Beyond there is a wonderful gateway and an arch, carried on two columns, which rises to a very great height. Then as one advances, there are two semi-circles which stand facing each other on one side of the road which leads to the Church, while facing each other on the other side, are two hospices, built by the Emperor Justinian. One of these is destined for the shelter of visiting strangers, while the other is an infirmary for poor persons suffering from diseases.”
Archaeologists working in the region near Jerusalem, believe they have found this miraculous quarry. They have found a stone pillar that was cracked and, therefore, not used, in a field of similar stones. Although the field cannot be linked to the Nea, it does seem to prove, that the stone for the Church was available for the project.
Recent archeology confirms that the Church was very large for the time, at over 100 meters long and 52 meters wide and probably had 5 aisles. St Antoninus of Piacenza, who visited the Basilica in about 570, wrote: “with its great congregations of Monks and its guest houses for men and women. In catering for travellers, they have a vast number of tables and more than three thousand beds for the sick!”
. In 1977, archeologists, led by Professor Nachman Avigad, found a large Greek inscription above a Cross that confirmed that construction of the Church was attributed to the generosity of Emperor Justinian. At that time, a corner of the Church, outside the Old City walls, was incorporated into the Beth Shalom Garden. In the following years, investigative and preservation work continued and in 1988 the restored vaults were incorporated into the Garden of Redemption.
St Pope Gregory VII (1015-1085) Confessor, Bishop of Rome 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085, Monk, Priest, Reformer, Administrator, Adviser. Pope Gregory “was probably the most energetic and determined man ever to occupy the See of Peter and was driven by an almost mystically exalted vision of the awesome responsibility and dignity of the papal office” (Eamonn Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes). Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2018/05/25/saint-of-the-day-25-may-st-pope-gregory-vii-c-1015-1085/
St Agustin Caloca St Aldhelm of Sherborne Bl Antonio Caixal Bl Bartolomeo Magi di Amghiari St Canio St Cristobal Magallanes Jara St Denis Ssebuggwawo St Dionysius of Milan St Dunchadh of Iona St Egilhard of Cornelimünster Bl Gerardo Mecatti St Gerbald St Injuriosus of Auvergne St Iosephus Chang Song-Jib Bl James Bertoni Bl Juan of Granada St Leo of Troyes St Madeleine Sophie Barat RSCJ (1779-1865) Virgin, Religious, Foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St Matthêô Nguyen Van Ðac Phuong St Maximus of Evreux Bl Nicholas Tsehelsky St Pasicrates of Dorostorum Bl Pedro Malasanch St Pherô Ðoàn Van Vân St Scholastica of Auvergne St Senzio of Bieda St Urban I, Pope St Valentio of Dorostorum St Victorinus of Acquiney St Winebald of Saint Bertin St Worad of Saint Bertin St Zenobius of Florence