Thought for the Day – 2 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Purification of Our Lady and The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
“During the ceremony, a devout man, enlightened by God, entered the temple. He asked and obtained, the privilege of holding the Divine Infant in his arms. This was Simeon, a holy old man to whom the Holy Ghost had revealed that before he died, he would see the expected Messiah, the Redeemer of the sinful race. Overjoyed as he held Jesus in his arms, he exclaimed: “Now Thou doet dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace” (Lk 2:29).
May God grant that when we come to the end of our mortal lives, we may too have the pleasure of clasping Jesus to our hearts. Then we can say with confidence in God’s Mercy: Receive Thy servant in peace, O Lord. Forgive him and receive him into everlasting happiness.”
Quote/s of the Day – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas
“We must be burning with love and radiant with good deeds and so, take up Christ in our hands with Simeon … Could anyone hold up a lighted candle in his hands on this day, without at once remembering that old man, who on this same day, took up in his arms, Jesus, God’s Word, clothed in flesh like a candle-flame, clothed in wax and affirmed Him to be “the Light which would be a beacon for the Gentiles.”
“Be a lamp then in heart, in hand, in lips. The lamp in your heart will shine for you, the lamp in your hand or on your lips will shine out for your neighbours. The lamp in the heart, is loving faith, the lamp in the hand, is the example of good works, the lamp on the lips, is edifying speech.”
Bl Guerric of Igny (c 1080-1157)
“The glorious St Simeon also was very happy… to carry Him as did Our Lady… we do this when we endure with love, the labours and pains He sends us, that is to say, when the love which we bear to the Law of God, makes us find His yoke easy and pleasing, so that we love these pains and labours and gather sweetness in the midst of bitterness. This is nothing else but to carry Our Lord in our arms. Now if we carry Him in this way, He will, without doubt, Himself carry us!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
The Christopher Prayer, Make Us True Christ-Bearers Anonymous
Father, grant that we may be, bearers of Christ Jesus, Your Son. Allow us to fill, the world around us, with Your light. Strengthen us, by Your Holy Spirit, to carry out our mission of living and following the path of Jesus, our Lord. Help us to understand, that by Your grace our gifts are Your blessings, to be shared with others. Fill us with Your Spirit of love to give glory to You in loving all and preaching by our love. Nourish in us the desire to go forth as the bearers of Your Son fearless and gentle, loving and merciful. Make us true Christ-Bearers, that in seeing us, only He is visible. Amen.
One Minute Reflection – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas – Malachias 3:1-4, Luke 2:22-32 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The Lord, Whom you are seeking, will suddenly enter His Temple” – Malachias 3:1
REFLECTION – “Today the Virgin Mary brings the Lord of the Temple, into the Temple of the Lord. And Joseph, too, takes along there, to the Lord that Son Who is not his own but is the beloved Son in Whom God has set all His favour (Mt 3:17). Simeon, the just man, recognises the One for Whom he was waiting; Anna, the widow, gives Him praise. For the first time, a procession is celebrated on this day, by these four people, a procession that would subsequently be celebrated with joy, by the whole world… Do not be astonished that this procession is so small, since He is also very small Whom the temple receives. But there are no sinners in that place: all are righteous, all are Saints, all are perfect.
Are these the only ones you are going to save, Lord? Your Body is going to grow greater, Your tenderness will also increase… Now, I see a second procession, in which great crowds precede the Lord and crowds follow Him – it is no longer the Virgin who bears Him but a little donkey. So He despises no-one…, if at least those garments of apostles are not lacking them (Mt 21:7): their doctrine, habits and the charity which covers over a multitude of sins (1Pt 4:8). But I will go even further and say that He has saved a place in that procession for us as well… David, King and Prophet, rejoiced to see that day: “he saw it and was glad” (Jn 8:56). If he had not, would he have sung the words: “We have received, O God, Thy mercy in the midst of Thy Temple”? (Ps 47:8). David received this mercy from the Lord, Simeon received it and we, too, have received it as have all those predestined for life, since “Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever” (Heb 13:8)…
So let us take to ourselves this mercy we have received in the midst of the Temple and, like blessed Anna, let us not distance ourselves from it. For “God’s Temple is holy and you are that temple” says the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 3:17). This mercy is close to you; “the word of God is very close to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart” (Rm 10:8). Indeed, does not Christ dwell in your hearts by faith? (Eph 3:17) That is His Temple, that is His Throne… Yes, it is in our hearts that we receive mercy, in our hearts that Christ dwells, in our hearts He whispers words of peace to His people, His saints, everyone who returns to their heart!” – St Bernard (1090-1153) Cistercian Monk, known as the Last Father and the Mellifluous Doctor of the Church (1st sermon for the Purification).
PRAYER – Almighty, eternal God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty that, as Thy Only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the nature of our flesh, so may Thou grant us to be presented to Thee with purified minds. 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 – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas
O Gloriosa Virginum By St Venantius Fortunatus (c530 – c609)
O Glorious Virgin, ever blest, Sublime above the starry sky, Who nurture from thy spotless breast To thy Creator didst supply.
What we had lost through hapless Eve, The Blossom sprung from these restores, And, granting bliss to souls that grieve, Unbars the everlasting doors.
O Gate, through which hath passed the King. O Hall, whence Light shone through the gloom; The ransomed nations, praise and sing Life given from the Virgin womb.
All honour, laud and glory be, O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee; All glory, as is ever meet, To Father and to Paraclete. Amen
O Gloriosa Domina is the second half of the Hymn: Quem Terra, Pontus, Aethera. It was composed by St Venantius Fortunatus (c530 – c609) the Bishop of Poitiers. In 1632, in accordance with revisions made to the hymns of the Divine Office by Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644), it was altered and changed to O Gloriósa Vírginum. It is sung in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Roman Breviary. It is said that St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was always singing this Hymn. His mother sang it to him as a baby and even on his death bed, after receiving Extreme Unction, he intoned the Hymn.
Saint of the Day – 2 February – Blessed Stephen Luigi Giuseppe Bellesini OSA (1774-1840) Priest and Friar of the Hermits of St Augustine, teacher, mentor to the youth, Parish Priest, guardian of the poor and sick. Born on 25 November 1774 at Trent, Italy as Aloysius Bellesini and died on 2 February 1840 of Typhus and an infection that developed from a cut on his leg received by an accidental fall while visiting the sick at Genazzano, Italy. Also known as – Aloysius Bellesini, Stefano Bellesini. Additional Memorial – 3 February (Augustinians). Beatified on 27 December 1904 by Pope Pius X.
We celebrate today the memory of Blessed Stephen Bellesini, a man who lived during a difficult period of the Church’s history at the turn of 19th Century Italy. His vocation as an Augustinian Religious was severely tried by strong anticlerical government regulations. Nevertheless, he did not withdraw in shame, nor did he become embittered by external challenges and persecutions. Rather, he redoubled his commitment and persevered in his resolve, giving himself generously in the service of others, most especially the poor, the disadvantaged and the infirm.
Luigi Bellesini was born in Trent, Italy, on 25 November 1774. He entered the Order at the Monastery of San Marco in his native City, taking the name Stephen and making his profession on 31 May 1794. Following studies in Rome and Bologna, aged just 22, he was forced to return to Trent during the government suppression of religious houses and there completed his theological education. He was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1797.
After several years of service, principally as a preacher as well as a teacher in the local schools, the Monastery in Trent, after years of tension and uncertainty, Stephen and his community were expelled from their Monastery for good, forbidden to wear any longer the Habit of their religious profession. They would never return. The Monastery would never re-open.
Stephen was forced to return to his family home. He founded, in his home, a free school for the poor children of the area, who otherwise would not have access to education. He gave food and clothing to the poorest of his students and offered encouragement and friendship to all of them. He dedicated his energies with such remarkable results that his work won the respect of the materialistic local authorities, who appointed him Director and Superintendent of all schools of the district.
However, when the opportunity presented itself, he resigned from these offices and secretly made his way to Rome, in order to resume his religious life. He was appointed Novice Master first in Rome, then in Bologna, Umbria and lastly at Genazzano.
Political leaders in Trent begged Stephen to return to his work in the schools there, offering to increase his salary. But Stephen refused, writing to them: “You would surely not ask me (to return to Trent) if you realised the unbreakable bond between a Friar and his God, Who is the King of Kings. Before His Altar, I have solemnly promised to be faithful to those vows.”
The closing years of his life were spent as Parish Priest at the Shrine of Our Mother of Good Counsel,. There his ministry included a special emphasis on the needs of the poor and of children.
In January 1840, while answering a call to care for a sick Parishioner, during the Typhus epidemic which was raging in the area at the time, he tripped and fell. A cut on his leg became infected and he developed a high fever. He tried to remain active for the next two days but the fever remained. It is believed that he had contracted Cholera and in his weakened state, he could not fight the desease. He died, a Martyr of Charity, on 2 February 1840.
At the entrance to the Chapel of the General Curia in Rome, there is a familiar painting of the Augustinian Blessed, Stephen Bellesini. It is a copy of an original artwork created by G Toeschi in 1905, depicting a usual but crowning moment and possibly one of the last, of Stephen’s life. He stands close to the bedside of an ill man, administering perhaps the last Sacrament or simply offering him some spiritual comfort, while the man’s wife presses her head to the bed, seemingly overcome with grief or exhaustion. Two young children look on anxiously. The artist touchingly captured here an important aspect of the ministry which occupied the latter part of Stephen’s life, as he visited the homes of the townspeople, bringing them the comfort of the Sacraments and oftentimes, material assistance as well, during the Typhus epidemic which struck Genazzano in the Spring of 1839. As we know, less than a year later, Stephen, himself, would fall victim to the pestilence and would succumb – a Martyr of Charity – faithful to the end.
Stephen was Beatified by St Pius X on 27 December 1904. His remains are venerated in a special Chapel dedicated to him at the Shrine of Our Mother of Good Counsel, Genazzano.
“Why is Blessed Stephen, who was Beatified in 1904, not yet a saint?
Certainly his sanctity is not at issue. Champion of youth, advocate for justice, comforter of the sick, guardian of the poor, his message is timely, his life is exemplary and his love for and commitment to religious life speaks loudly to Augustinians of today. The Postulator of Causes will tell us that Stephen needs to obtain a miracle! And so we might be inclined to leave the question at Stephen’s own feet … and wait. But, to borrow an opinion expressed in another context, “how will they call on him if they have not heard of him?” In Stephen Bellesini we Augustinians have a powerful witness to show forth, a Religious and Priest who has a great deal to say to so many categories of people in need today: the sick, the young, Religious and Priests, to those who fight injustice and religious persecution. This is a small attempt to make him better known. Can you help us in this effort?” (Augustinian.org)
Our Lady of the Candles – (formally known as Nuestra Señora de la Purificación y la Candelaria) is a Marian title and image venerated by Filipino Catholics. The image, which is enshrined on the balcony of Jaro Cathedral, is known as the patroness of Jaro District of Iloilo City and the whole of the Western Visayas. The feast day of Our Lady of the Candles is on Candlemas (2 February) and is celebrated in Iloilo City with a Solemn Pontifical Mass presided by the Archbishop of Jaro.
St Adalbald of Ostrevant St Adeloga of Kitzingen St Agathodoros of Tyana St Apronian the Executioner Bl Bernard of Corbara St Bruno of Ebsdorf St Burchard of Wurzburg St Candidus the Martyr St Columbanus of Ghent St Cornelius the Centurion St Felician the Martyr St Feock St Firmus of Rome St Flosculus of Orléans St Fortunatus the Martyr St Hilarus the Martyr St Jeanne de Lestonnac (1556-1640) Widow, Mother, Founder
St Lawrence of Canterbury (Died 2 February 619) The Second Archbishop of Canterbury, the successor of St Augustine of Canterbury from 604 until his death in 619, but he was Consecrated as Archbishop by his predecessor, St Augustine, during Augustine’s lifetime, to ensure continuity in the office, Benedictine Monk, Missionary. He was a member of the Gregorian mission sent from Italy to England to Christianise the Anglo-Saxons. About St Lawrence: https://anastpaul.com/2022/02/02/saint-of-the-day-2-february-saint-lawrence-of-canterbury-died-619/
Blessed Luigi Giuseppe Bellesini OSA (1774-1840) Priest and Friar of the Hermits of St Augustine St Marquard of Hildesheim St Mun
St Rogatus the Martyr St Saturninus the Martyr St Sicharia of Orleans St Simon of Cassia Fidati St Theodoric of Ninden St Victoria the Martyr
Martyrs of Ebsdorf: Members of the army of King Louis III of France under the leadership of Duke Saint Bruno of Ebsdorf. The Martyrs died fighting invading pagan Norsemen, and defending the local Christian population. Four bishops, including Saint Marquard of Hildesheim and Saint Theodoric of Ninden, eleven nobles, and countless unnamed foot soldiers died repelling the invaders. They were martyred in the winter of 880 in battle at Luneberg Heath and Ebsdorf, Saxony (modern Germany).
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