Thought for the Day – 30 July – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Knowledge and Sanctity
“We have no right to speak evil of human learning and industry, which are a gift from God. But we must recognise that goodness is more important than knowledge. The devil’s intellect is superior to ours but, he has lost God and in losing God, has lost everything which is good.
“Knowledge puffs up” writes St Paul (1 Cor 8:1). Pride and presumption can easily spring from a little learning, whereas the fruits of holiness are always beneficial to ourselves and to others.
Let us be humble in our scientific studies and use the results which we obtain, for our own progress in sanctity.”
Quote of the Day – 30 July – Our Lady’s Saturday – Ecclesiasticus 24:14-16, Luke 11:27-28
“Gracious Lady, you are a Mother and Virgin, you are the Mother of the body and soul of our Head and Redeemer, you are also truly Mother of all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. For through your love, you have co-operated in the begetting of the faithful in the Church. Unique among women, you are Mother and Virgin, Mother of Christ and Virgin of Christ. You are the beauty and charm of earth, O Virgin. You are, forever, the image of the holy Church. Through a woman came death, through a woman came life, yes, through you, O Mother of God.“
One Minute Reflection – 30 July – Our Lady’s Saturday – Ecclesiasticus 24:14-16, Luke 11:27-28
“Blessed is the womb that bore Thee ” – Luke 11:27
REFLECTION – “Stretching out His Hand over His disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are My mother and My brothers; anyone who does the Will of My Father Who sent Me, is mM brother and sister and My mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Saviour was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her—did she not do the Will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s Will and so, it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple, than to have been His Mother and she was more blessed in her discipleship, than in her Motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb Him, Whom she would obey as her Master.
Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following Him. His miracles gave proof of Divine power and a woman cried out – Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: – More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s Word and kept it and so, she is blessed. She kept God’s Truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying His Body in her womb. The Truth and the Body were both Christ, He was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as He is Truth, He was carried in her womb, insofar as He is Man but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order, than what is carried in the womb.
The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed and yet,the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent—the most eminent—member but still, only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its Head and Head and body together, make up the whole Christ. In other words, our Head is Divine—our Head is God!
Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ, you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you, yourselves, can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He Himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of My Father in Heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because,, although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the Only Son, His Mercy would not allow Him to remain alone. It was His wish that we too should be heirs of the Father and co-heirs with Himself.
Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you His mother? Much less would I dare to deny His own Words. Tell me how Mary became the Mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your Baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you, in your turn, must draw to the Font of Baptism, as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves and now, by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the Mothers of Christ!” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father and Doctor of Grace (An excerpt from Sermon 25).
PRAYER – Grant us, Thy servants, O Lord God, we beseech Thee, to enjoy lasting health of mind and body; and by the intercession of glorious and blessed Mary, ever virgin, may we be delivered from present sorrow and partake of the fullness of eternal happiness.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).
Most Holy Virgin, My Consolation By St Germanus of Paris (c 490-576)
Most Holy Virgin! Who are the greatest consolation that I receive from God, you, who art the heavenly dew which assuages all my pains, you, who are the light of my soul when it is enveloped in darkness, you, who are my guide in unknown paths, the support of my weakness, my treasure, in poverty, my remedy, in sickness, my consolation, in trouble, my refuge, in misery, and the hope of my salvation, hear my supplications, have pity on me, as becomes the Mother of so good a God and obtain for me a favourable reception of all my petitions at the throne of mercy. Amen
Saint of the Day – 30 July – Saint Godelieve (c 1049-1070) Flemish Married Laywoman. Born in c 1049 at Londefort-lez-Boulogne, France and died by murder by being strangled by her mother-in-law’s and husband’s servants on 6 July 1070 at Gistel, Belgium. Patronages – difficult marriages, against abuse and spousal abuse, against throat diseases, in-law problems, for good weather and against storms. Also known as – Godelieve of, Ghistelles, Godelieve of Gistel, Godaleva, Godeleine, Godeleva, Godeliève, Godelina, Godeliva, Godelive, Godelva, Godliva.
The Cross and Death of St Godelieve By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
“Godelieve was a native of France and the daughter of rich and noble parents, who neglected nothing, to give her an education in accor,dance with her station in life. She united with most exquisite beauty, great virtue and piety and hence was early sought in holy matrimony by many young men of the nobility. Among these, a certain Bertulph of the Netherlands, who seemed her equal in rank, gained her parent’s consent and Godeliva submitted to their will.
Having received a dowry according to her position, she went, accompanied by some of her relatives, to the Netherlands, where her marriage was to take place. But how surprising an evidence of the inconstancy of human love! Scarcely had the noble bride arrived under the roof of her future husband, when she perceived that Bertulph’s love for her was changed into hatred and aversion, as he hardly deigned to look at her. His wicked mother, if not the first, was not the last cause of this unexpected change – as she reproached her son for having chosen a foreigner for his wife, as if, in his own country, her equal in beauty and virtue could not be found. She found fault with everything the innocent Godeliva said or did and thus inflamed, the fire of contention, to such a degree that later, only the blood of the pious Godeliva could quench it.
The poor maiden’s sadness may easily be conceived but she hoped that these dark clouds would pass away. Meanwhile the arrangements for the wedding were completed and it accordingly took place. Bertulph, however, was present only during the ceremony, as he was unable to hide his aversion for his bride. He appointed a separate dwelling for her and remained with his parents, declaring that he would not hear or see anything of her, so great was the hatred he bore her. The deeply grieved Godeliva, seeing herself thus forsaken by men, sought for refuge with God. Day and night, she was on her knees imploring the Almighty to change Bertulph’s heart and fill it with Christian love.
Although God did not answer her prayers in the manner she desired, He gave her grace to submit entirely to His Divine Will and to carry her cross with heroic patience. Bertulph, in order to torment her still more and slowly to kill her, gave her a servant whom he had commanded to furnish for her sustenance daily, only a piece of bread and some water. The godless servant not only obeyed the cruel order but treated Godoliva with as much rudeness as if she had been his slave, instead of his mistress. Godrliva’s Christian virtue bore all this with indescribable patience. She never showed the least sign of indignation and no complaint of Bertulph’s inhuman command, nor the harsh treatment she received from the servant, ever passed her lips. She only uttered the praises of God, and thanked Him for giving her the opportunity to suffer.
When the profligate mother of Bertulph saw that neither hunger nor grief would, as she had hoped, end Godeliva’s life, she persuaded her son to get rid of her in some other way, as starvation was too slow. Bertulph would have been easily persuaded to follow this wicked advice, had not fear of Godeliva’s noble parents and relatives deterred him, at least for some time.
The innocent handmaid of the Lord perceived meanwhile, by the daily increasing torments, that she had nothing to expect but a violent death and, therefore, sought for an opportunity to escape. God gave her this opportunity and she, embracing it, fled, and after many hardships returned to her parents. The latter were inexpressibly griev,ed when she told them og her sufferings and being greatly indignant at the tyranny she had endured, they requested Baldwin, Count of Flanders and also the Bishop of Nimwegen, as their friend, to reproach Bertulph, seriously, with his impious conduct and command him, at the same time, to receive his wife again and in future to treat her in a different manner. Both took a deep interest in the matter and they supposed that their expostulation had impressed Bertulph, as he professed to them and to the parents of Godeliva, deep regret at his tyranny and promised on , not only to cease from maltreating her but to live with her in love and harmony. On this promise, she was commanded by her parent, to return with him to his home, which she did
No sooner, however, had she arrived there than she was more ill-treated than before. All her former miseries were redoubled and the hatred of Bertulph, now more deeply rooted, made itself more clearly manifest. Nothing was to be expected but the execution of the long nourished murderous design. The innocent Godeliva was ready for her last hour; for she was determined not to leave her husband again, even if it should cost her life. Everyday she prepared herself to die, commending her soul to the mercy of her Creator.
To some women, who came to comfort her in her misery, she said, with great cheerfulness; “You believe that I am an object of pity but I, although encompassed by sorrow, hope one day to be exalted and recompensed above all women in Flanders.” Thus she consoled herself with the contemplation of her reward in Heaven.
Into this she was soon to enter, for Bertulph was determined to do the worst. He hired two assassins to murder Godeliva. Not to be suspected of the bloody deed, he undertook a journey to Brussels, went to Godeliva and pretending to acknowledge and repent of his faults, he informed her that he was obliged to set out for Brussels but that, on his return, he would show greater love for her than she had ever expected from him. Upon this, the false spouse took leave, with the assurance that he would return in a few days. He really went away, believing that no-one would suppose him to be the instigator of the murder, which would take place during his absence.
Godeliva had no faith in his promises, his many other false demonstrations had made her suspicious. She had no doubt that her end was near. Soon after Bertulph’s departure, the two assassins entered Godeliva’s chamber at night, dragged her out of bed, put a rope around her neck, and strangled her in a most barbarous manner. After this, they placed the dead body again in the bed and covered it, thinking that no-one would discover how Godoliva had come by her death. When she was found on the following day, everyone believed that grief had put an end to her life. God, however, so ordered, that Bertulph, in the course of time, confessed his crime and, to do penance, retired into a cloister.
How precious Godeliva’s death was in the sight of the Lord, was shown by the many miracles which were wrought at her tomb. History does not tell what became of the wicked mother of Bertulph but she doubtless went to eternal destruction, if she repented not, since, by destroying the harmony between her son and his wife, she had been the cause of so much unhappiness. And the same lot will befall all those, who, by slander, tale-bearing, or other wicked means, produce the same disunion.
Woe to such mischief-makers! How great will be their responsibility before the Judgment-seat of God! The Lord, according to Holy Writ, has the greatest detestation for those who stir up dissensions among brothers and still more, for those who disturb the peace of husband and wife because the quarrels of the latter, are generally of longer duration and their consequences are more disastrous.
The two left panels represent the Saint’s piety and charity during her life in Boulogne. In the centre, the first panel shows Bertolf’s courtship, the second their marriage and the third Godelieve’s ill treatment from her husband and mother-in-law. In the two right panels the servants first strangle her, then immerse her in water, then return the body to her bed.
Godelieve’s body was exhumed in 1084 by the Bishops of Tournai and Noyon, in the presence of Gertrude of Saxony, the wife of Robert I, Count of Flanders, the Abbot of St Winnoc’s and a number of clergymen. It was Radbod II, Bishop of Noyon-Tournai, that consecrated Godelieve’s relics in 1084 and Godelieve’s popular cult developed thereafter. Godelieve’s feast day, 6 July in Belgium, was, like that of Saint Swithun in England and Saint Medard in France, connected with the weather. She is thus considered one of the “Weather Saints.”
Drogo, a Monk of St.Winnoc’s Abbey, wrote the Vita Godelieve, about ten years after her death. The Abbey of Ten Putte in Bruges, was dedicated to her. Every year, on the Sunday following 5 July, a procession celebrating Saint Godelieve takes place in Gistel.
Bl Richard Featherstone St Rufinus of Assisi St Senen St Tatwine of Canterbury St Terenzio of Imola Bl Thomas Abel St Ursus of Auxerre
Martyrs of Tebourba – 3 Saints: Three girls Martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know little else about them but the names – Donatilla, Maxima and Secunda. 304 at Tebourba in North Africa.