Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco
With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..."
Blessed John Henry Newman
Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions.
"For the saints are sent to us by God
as so many sermons.
We do not use them, it is they who move us
and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.”
Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975)
This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings but rejects the Second Vatican Council as heretical and, therefore, all that followed it.
Our Lady of the Fields, Paris, France, consecrated by St Denis (250) – 26 February:
The title of Our Lady of the Fields, or Notre-Dame des Champ and the devotion to Mary as such, takes us back to the earliest days of Catholic life in France. Our Lady des Champs, at Paris, was dedicated in ancient times to Ceres. Saint Denis, to whom we owe a great deal of our traditional devotion to Mary, was the first Bishop of Paris. According to tradition he drove the demons from the Temple of Ceres, the pagan goddess of agriculture and placed therein, an image of the Madonna modelled after Saint Luke’s famous painting. The Temple was henceforth dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom Parisians have honoured for centuries under the title of Our Lady of the Fields. It is said that a picture of the Blessed Virgin is still to be seen there, on a small stone, a foot square, which was made after that which Saint Denis brought to France.
This house, which is a Benedictine priory, was afterwards occupied by the Carmelites, who were received there in the year 604 and founded by Catherine, Princess of Longueville. It was the first occupied by those nuns in France; the mother Ann of Jesus, the companion of Saint Teresa, was its first superior. If the Blessed Virgin were a goddess she would be a very human goddess – simple and approachable, forgetful of her privileges and of her beauty. Her constant humility adds to her charm. Saint Denis knew this well. He found her so gloriously beautiful that he gave to her the place in the temple – and in the hearts of the people – formerly held by the pagan goddess. “I am the Flower of the Fields,” the Holy Ghost has the Blessed Virgin say. A flower of the fields has a simple beauty that charms us even more because it blossoms by itself without care or cultivation. Our Saviour Himself marvelled at such a flower and of it He spoke these words of praise that have been repeated through the centuries: “See how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these.” But lilies soon fade and roses are hardly open, before they begin to shed their petals before the wind. The beauty of Mary is less perishable; it remains ever fresh and unchanged in the valley of our exile.
Thought for the Day – 25 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
How We Should Pray
“We must pray with deep humility. Once again we find, that the Man-God Jesus, has given us an example. In Gethsemane He fell prostate on the ground and begged that, if it were possible, the bitter chalice might be taken away from Him. Immediately he added. with full submission to the will of His Heavenly Father – “Yet, not my will but thine be done” (Lk 22:42). Let us remember, moreover, the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. The former appeared to be full of virtue but he was proud and was rejected. The latter, recognised in all humility, that he was a poor sinner and he was exalted. “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11). “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Js 4:6). “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest, until t reaches its goal” (Ecclus 35:17).
When we kneel down to pray, therefore, we should make an act of humility. We are poor beggars, as St Augustine puts it, before the throne of God. Let us pray with confidence in God’s goodness but also with a proper realisation of our own helplessness. Then God will take pity on us.
Day Nine of our Lenten Journey – 25 February – Thursday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25, Psalms 138:1-2,2-3, 7-8, Matthew 7:7-12
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In You is the source of life and in Your Light Lord, we see light Psalm 35(36)
“Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty. But if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.
[…] How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain if you desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole world? For what, without Jesus, can the world give you? Life without Him is a relentless hell but living with Him is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.
He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him, loses more than the whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no-one is so rich, as the man who lives in His grace.
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus and great wisdom to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful and Jesus will be with you. Be devout and calm and He will remain with you.
[…] You cannot live well without a friend and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be very sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any other. Choose the opposition of the whole world, rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus but Jesus, for His own sake.
[…] Never wish that anyone’s affection be centred in you, nor let yourself be taken up with the love of anyone but let Jesus be in you and in every good man. Be pure and free within, unentangled with any creature. You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is.
Truly you will never attain this happiness, unless His grace prepares you and draws you on, so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him alone. When the grace of God comes to a man, he can do all things, but when it leaves him, he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it were, to affliction.
Yet, in this condition he should not become dejected or despair. On the contrary, he should calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him, in praise of Jesus Christ. For after winter comes summer, after night, the day and after the storm, a great calm. (Book 2 Ch 8:1-5)
Quote/s of the Day – 25 February – Thursday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25, Psalms 138:1-2,2-3, 7-8, Matthew 7:7-12
“Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”
“Prayer is the wing, wherewith the soul flies to heaven and meditation, the eye, wherewith we see God.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience.”
St John Climacus (c 525-606) Father of the Church
“All who ask receive, those who seek find and to those who knock it shall be opened. Therefore, let us knock at the beautiful garden of Scripture. It is fragrant, sweet and blooming with various sounds of spiritual and divinely inspired birds. They sing all around our ears, capture our hearts, comfort the mourners, pacify the angry and fill us with everlasting joy.”
St John Damascene (676-749) Father and Doctor of the Church
“He promises to be [our] strength, in proportion to the trust which [we] place in Him.”
St Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682) “Apostle of the Sacred Heart”
“On the journey of this life to eternity, let me carry You in my heart, following Mary’s example, who bore You in her arms, during the flight to Egypt.”
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 25 February – Thursday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25, Psalms 138:1-2,2-3, 7-8, Matthew 7:7-12 and the Memorial of Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio OFM (1502-1600) “The Angel of Mexico”
“Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
REFLECTION – “Try hard to please the Lord, pay Him unwearying attention within yourself, seek for Him with the aid of your thoughts, keep a check on your will and its decisions, control them so they are constantly directed towards Him. Then you will see how He draws near you and makes His dwelling within you… He stands there, taking note of your reasoning, thoughts, reflexions, examining how you are seeking Him, whether it is with all your soul or whether sluggishly and carelessly. And as soon as He sees you seek Him fervently, he will make himself known to you. He will appear to you, grant you His help, bestow the victory on you and save you from your enemies. In fact, when He sees how you are looking for Him, how you continually place all your hope in Him, then He will instruct you, teach you true prayer, give you that authentic charity that is Himself. Then, He will become everything to you: your paradise, life-giving tree, precious pearl, crown, architect, farmer, one subject to suffering but not afflicted with suffering, man, God, wine, living water, lamb, bridegroom, soldier, armour, Christ who is “all in all” (1Cor 15,28).
Just as a child cannot feed or take care of itself but can only look at its mother and cry until she takes pity and gives it her attention, so believing soul,s always hope in Christ and attribute to Him, all righteousness. As the shoot withers if it is separated from the vine (Jn 15,6) so does someone who wants to become faultless apart from Christ. Just as “someone is a thief and robber who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere” (Jn 10,1), so it is with someone, who wants to become just, without Him who justifies.” – St Macarius of Egypt (c 300-390) Monk – Spiritual Homilies no 30, 3-4
PRAYER –May We Love Only YouBy St Columban (543-615) Loving Saviour, be pleased to show Yourself to us who knock, so that in knowing You, we may love only You, love You alone, desire You alone, contemplate only You, day and night and always think of You. Inspire in us the depth of love that is fitting for You to receive as God. So may Your love pervade our whole being, possess us completely and fill all our senses, that we may know no other love but love for You, Who are everlasting. May our love be so great, that the many waters of sky, land and sea cannot extinguish it in us – many waters could not extinguish love. May this saying be fulfilled in us also, at least in part, by Your gift, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 25 February – Thursday of the First week of Lent
Suscipe By St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
Take, Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours, do with it what You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen
Saint of the Day – 25 February – Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio OFM (1502-1600) “The Angel of Mexico,” Franciscan Lay brother, Confessor, Ascetic, apostle of the poor, builder of roads and bridges in Mexico and thus is honoured as the founder of the transport and road system in Mexico. Born as Sebastiano de Aparicio y del Pardo on 20 January 1502 in La Gudiña, Orense, Spain and died on 25 February 1600 of natural causes, aged 98. Sebastian was a Spanish colonist in Mexico shortly after its conquest by Spain, who after a lifetime as a rancher and road builder, entered the Order of Friars Minor as a lay brother. He spent the next 26 years of his long life, as a beggar for the Order and died with a great reputation for holiness. Patronages – drivers, travellers, road builders and the Transport industry in Mexico. His body is incorrupt.
Sebastian was born in Spain into a peasant family in 1502,. He was a good looking young man with a reserved personality that attracted the interest of quite a few women. He was deeply religious and changed employment several times, before the age of 30, to avoid the temptations opened to him. He worked as a household servant and as a hired field hand.
Despite his illiteracy, he had absorbed the discourse on how to lead a pious and holy life that he could emulate models in hagiographic texts. According to his own account, his life was saved in a miraculous way during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in his town in 1514. Forced to isolate him from the community, his parents built a hidden shelter for him in the woods, where they left him. While lying there helpless, due to his illness, a she-wolf found the hiding spot and, poking her head into his hiding spot, sniffed and then bit and licked an infected site on his body, before running off. He began to heal from that moment.
At the age of 31, Sebastian left Spain for Mexico. He settled in the town of Puebla de los Angeles where he took employment as a field hand. However, he soon noticed a business opportunity for Puebla was an important crossroads and he noted, that the goods transported, were carried on the backs of pack animals or on the backs of the native people.
At first, Sebastian made and sold wheeled carts for the transport of goods. He then expanded into the improvement and building of roads and bridges to improve transport for goods and people. He was responsible for the building of a 460 mile road from Mexico City to Zacatecas, which took 10 years to build and was of enormous benefit to the local economy.
By the age of 50, Sebastian was a wealthy man. He lived very simply and gave his earnings to others, he bought food for the poor, made loans that he never reclaimed to poor farmers too proud to accept charity, he paid the dowries for poor brides and gave free training to Indians in skills that would assist them in earning a living. In addition, people brought him their problems and he had a reputation for his wisdom.
Sebastian became known as “The Angel of Mexico.” He retired at the age of 50 to a hacienda to raise cattle. He married at age 60 at the request of his bride’s parents. His bride was a poor girl and he agreed to the match, on condition that the couple lived as brother and sister, which they did. His wife died and he married again on the same condition. When he was 70, Sebastian’s second wife died and he himself contracted a serious illness.
Upon recovering, he decided to give everything he had to the poor and became a lay Franciscan brother. He undertook many responsibilities, including cook, sacristan, gardener and porter. He was then assigned to the large community of friars in the city of Puebla, at that time consisting of about 100 friars, most of whom, were doing their studies or were retired or recovering from illness. He was appointed to be the quaestor of the community, the one assigned to travel throughout the local community, seeking food and alms for the upkeep of the friars and those who came to them for help. The builder of Mexico’s highway system had become a beggar on it. Despite his advanced age, he felt the vigour needed for the task. This formerly rich man, loved his job and was loved by his fellow Franciscans, the townspeople and the poor that the Brothers helped. He also loved–and was loved–by animals, even the most stubborn mules and oxen would obey the Blessed, much like Saint Francis.
Though he had long suffered from a hernia, Aparicio marked his 98th birthday on the road, apparently in good health. On the following 20 February, he developed what was to be his final illness, as the hernia became entangled. He began to feel pain and nausea and, upon arrival at the friary, was immediately sent to the infirmary. It was the first time he had slept in a bed in 25 years. As his condition worsened, he became unable to swallow. His only regret was that, due to this, he was unable to receive Holy Communion. As he lay dying, he was consoled by the friars’ fulfilling his request that they bring the Blessed Sacrament to his cell.
On the evening of 25 February, Aparicio asked to be laid on the ground to meet his death, in imitation of St. Francis. He soon died in the arms of a fellow Galician, Friar Juan de San Buenaventura, with his last word being “Jesus.” When his body lay in state, the crowds that gathered were large and the miracles wrought were so numerous, that he could not be buried for several days. His habit had to be replaced repeatedly, as mourners would snip a piece of it off to keep as the relic of a saint.
The Blessed’s remains were never buried but at the request of the local people, exposed in a prominent place for veneration. His body, although darkened, has remained incorrupt and can be viewed in the Church of Saint Francis in Puebla.
Nearly 1,000 miracles were reported at his intercession, even before his death and such claims continue to this day. Pope Pius VI Beatified him on 17 May 1789.
Our Lady of Great Power, Quebec, Canada, (1673) – 25 February:
Our Lady of Great Power is little known in America, unless among the pupils of the Ursulines in Quebec. Generations of these, however, have dwelt within the walls of the Old Monastery during two centuries and more, since the arrival of the statue in the last years of the 17th century. In the annals of the Ursulines of the Sacred Heart at Perigueux, France, where the statue was solemnly crowned, we find the origin of the devotion. The devotion to Our Lady of Great Power began in the monastery of Issoudun. There a holy Ursuline nun, Mother Saint Peter, was inspired during her prayer to invoke Our Lady under this title. She spoke of her inspiration to her Sisters and her Superiors. The devotion was adopted with enthusiasm and very soon it was decided, that a statue be sculptured and a Chapel built, dedicated to Our Lady of Great Power; she would henceforth be chosen, as first and principal Superior of the Monastery. The feast of the dedication took place 25 February 1673 and was celebrated with great pomp, as the chronicle testifies:
“After High Mass two ecclesiastics carried the statue to the entry of the monastery where the nuns, in solemn procession, received it. It was placed on a richly decorated litter and, to the chanting of hymns, psalms and canticles, it was brought to the prepared Chapel. When the same statue was raised on its pedestal, the Superior laid the keys of the monastery, the seals and constitutions at Our Lady’s feet, begging her, in the name of the community, to accept the gift of all hearts and of the entire monastery and to allow them, to look on her as their Superior forever. Each rendered homage while hymns and canticles of thanksgiving were sung in Mary’s honour.”
Ever after, when a Superior was elected, the ceremony was renewed and is still renewed in each Ursuline community every year on a principal feast of the Blessed Virgin; though homage is rendered only every three years, after the election or nomination of Superiors. The statue of Our Lady of Great Power was carried off and profaned during the dark days of the French Revolution. It was found and returned to the monastery at Perigueux and the devotion continued fervently until 1892, when the Bishop of Perigueux, in the name of the Soverign Pontiff, placed a richly jewelled crown on the head of the Mother and the Child and ratified the numberless and signal favours obtained through Our Lady of Great Power. Through the Ursulines in Quebec, the devotion soon spread through the New World. Before the Altar in Quebec hangs the famous votive light promised to be kept burning as a token of thanks for favours granted to Mother Saint Agatha (Madeleine de Repentigny). Relatives and descendants of this holy nun have kept the lamp burning. One relative, Miss Anthon, had a new lamp made, an artistic gem, the work of the celebrated ecclesiastical goldsmith Calliat of Lyon, France.
St Adelelmo of Engelberg St Aldetrudis St Ananias of Phoenicia Bl Avertano of Lucca St Caesarius of Nanzianzen St Callistus Caravario Bl Ciriaco Maria Sancha Hervas Bl Didacus Yuki Ryosetsu St Domenico Lentini St Donatus the Martyr Saint Felix III, Pope St Gerland the Bishop St Gothard the Hermit St Herena the Martyr St Justus the Martyr St Laurentius Bai Xiaoman St Luigi Versiglia Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani (1806-1855) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2018/02/25/saint-of-the-day-25-february-blessed-maria-adeodata-pisani-osb-1806-1855/ St Nestor of Side St Riginos Bl Robert of Arbrissel Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio OFM (1502-1600) Franciscan Lay Brother St Tharasius St Toribio Romo González St Victor of Saint Gall St Walburga — Martyrs of Egypt – A group of Christian men who were exiled to Egypt for their faith and were eventually martyred for their faith in the persecutions of Numerian. We know little more than their names: Claudianus Dioscurus Nicephorus Papias Serapion Victor Victorinus
Thought for the Day – 24 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Some people think that they are good Christians because they avoid committing grave sin and more or less, fulfil their duties. They do not entirely omit their prayers but, they are content to recite them listlessly.
They go to Mass on days of obligation but, they are afraid of arriving too early and so, they are usually a little late. Once Mass is over, they leave the Church, as if they had been set on fire. During Mass, they are cold and distracted. They are like candlesticks without candles – their minds are absent, their hearts are mute.
In regard to their work or other obligations, any excuse suffices to escape or to leave a job half-done. It is useless to expect from them, anything like fervour in prayer, attention to duty, or a spirit of sacrifice in the performance of good works.
Such people are only half-Christians. They do not wish to serve Satan but, they lack the generosity ad the strength of will to become true sons of God. Do you belong to this category? If your carelessness derives from a lack of appreciation of divine things and of your duty in life, you can hardly avoid grave fault. If it comes from laziness, tepidity or lack of mortification, there is no doubt but that you are close to mortal sin! Anyone who is negligent, not only disgusts men but he is an object of loathing to God also and is running the risk of being abandoned by Him. We should examine ourselves seriously and, if we discover this indifference in ourselves, we should shake off our lethargy and make good resolutions to love God more and to serve Him with greater fidelity and diligence. We should be ready, no matter how great the sacrifice, to avoid every imperfection and sin. Any offence against God can lead us nearer to eternal damnation!”
Day Eight of our Lenten Journey – 24 February – – Wednesday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Jonah 3:1-10,Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19, Luke 11:29-32
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In You is the source of life and in Your Light Lord, we see light Psalm 35(36)
“This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign but no sign will be given to it, except the sign of Jonah.” – Luke 11:29
IN ALL things consider the e,d; how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgement in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgement when no man can be excused or defended by another because each, will have enough to do, to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there, will be more bitter, than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the day of judgement you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day, the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them and he, who now submits humbly to the judgement of men, will arise to pass judgement upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ, will then appear to have been wise. (Book 1 Ch 24:1-4)
Quote/s of the Day – 24 February – Wednesday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Jonah 3:1-10,Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19, Luke 11:29-32
“The sign of Jonah”
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.”
“… In the conceitedness of our souls, without taking the least trouble to obey the Lord’s commandments, we think ourselves worthy to receive the same reward as those who have resisted sin to the death!”
St Basil the Great (329-379) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Today, for those who will not repent at the approach of the kingdom of heaven, the reproof of the Lord Jesus is the same… As for when the end of the world will be, that is God’s concern… Even so, the time is very near for each of us, for we are mortal.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“My children, eternal life is being offered to us, the kingdom of heaven is made ready and Christ’s inheritance awaits us … So let us run from now on with increased energy and above all you, lazy, recalcitrant, dull of heart, friends of murmuring who, unless you improve, are like the cursed fig tree. … Let us seek out the fight, bravely pour with our sweat, adorn ourselves with crowns, gain praises and gather up, like a treasure, “what eye has not seen and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart” (1 Cor 2:9).
St Theodore the Studite (759-826)
“And when I hear it said, that God is good and He will pardon us and then see, that men cease not from evil-doing, oh, how it grieves me! The infinite goodness with which God communicates with us, sinners as we are, should constantly make us love and serve Him better but we, on the contrary, instead of seeing in His goodness an obligation to please Him, convert it into an excuse for sin, which will, of a certainty, lead in the end, to our deeper condemnation.”
REFLECTION – “God showed patience in the face of man’s weakness because He saw beforehand, the victory He would eventually give him, through His Word. For, when “power was made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9), the Word caused God’s goodness and tremendous power, to be made manifest. Indeed, it was the same with man, as it was with the prophet Jonah. God permitted Jonah to be swallowed by a sea-monster, not to make him altogether vanish away and die but, so that when he had been vomited out by the monster, he would become more subject to God and would give all the more glory to Him who had given him this unexpected deliverance. It was, too, to lead the Ninevites to firm repentance and to convert them to Him, Who would deliver them from death, amazed as they were by the sign accomplished in Jonah … In the same way, God permitted man to be swallowed by that great monster, the author of disobedience, not so that he should altogether vanish away and die but because God, had prepared beforehand, the salvation fulfilled by His Word by means of the “sign of Jonah.” This salvation has been prepared, for those who have the same feelings for God as Jonah did and, who confess Him in the same words: “I am the servant of the Lord and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jon 1:9). God desired that man, by receiving an unanticipated salvation from Him, would rise from the dead and worship God, saying with Jonah: “Out of my distress I called to the Lord; from the midst of the nether world he heard my voice” (Jon 2:2). God desired, too, that man would always remain faithful in giving Him worship and unceasing thanks for the salvation he has received from Him.” – St Irenaeus (130-208) Bishop of Lyons, Martyr, Theologian – Against the heresies III, 20, 1
PRAYER – “Dear Lord! It is just when I am in the world that I have most need of You because You know it is full of snares that the devil has set for me. You must hold my hand, dear Lord, if You will not abandon me. A little of the world is not bad for me; it is even good, for it teaches me how small it is and I feel the greater happiness when I come back to You. But that I may surely do so, You must only loose Your hold a little, that it may not try me too far, You must not entirely leave hold. Do You see dear Lord? I wish to clasp Your hand – do not refuse me!”(I Wish to Clasp Your Hand – Do Not Refuse Me! – Prayer of Eugene de Ferronays) Mary, Health of the Sick, pray for us!
Our Morning Offering – 24 February – Wednesday of the First week of Lent
Grant me, O my God By St Vincent Ferrer OP (1350-1419)
Good Jesus, let me be penetrated with love to the very marrow of my bones, with fear and respect toward You. Let me burn with zeal for Your honour, so that I may resent terribly, all the outrages committed against You, especially those of which I myself have been guilty. Grant further, O my God, that I may adore and acknowledge You humbly, as my Creator and that, penetrated with gratitude for all Your benefits, I may never cease to render You thanks. Grant that I may bless You in all things, praise and glorify You with a heart full of joy and gladness and that, obeying You with docility in every respect, I may one day, despite my ingratitude and unworthiness, be seated at Your table together with Your Holy Angels and Apostles to enjoy ineffable delights. Amen
Saint of the Day – 24 February – Saint Ethelbert of Kent (552-616) King of Kent and Confessor. Born in 552 and died on 24 February 616 at Canterbury, England of natural causes. St Ethelbert of Kent is not to be confused with St Ethelbert, King of East Anglia, who died in 794 as a Martyr – also known as Albert or Albrigh. Also known as Ædilberct, Æthelberht, Aedilberct, Aethelberht, Aibert, Albert, Edilbertus.
Ethelbert, son of Eormenric, great-grandson of Hengist, Saxon conqueror of Britain. He was raised as a pagan worshipper of the pagan god Odin. He was the first English king to be converted to Christianity, which proved to be a crucial event in the development of English national identity. In 597, a Roman Monk St Augustine of Canterbury, arrived in Kent as leader of a group of Missionaries sent by St Pope Gregory the Great. There were Christians in Britain already and had been ever since Roman and early Celtic times, before the country was invaded from the mid-fifth century onwards by pagan English of various Germanic tribes, who in time set up small kingdoms.
Ethelbert’s wife, Bertha, was a daughter of the Merovingian Frankish king in what is now France. She was a Christian and it was a condition of the marriage that she would be free to practise her religion. Ethelbert evidently considered that an acceptable price for a close connection with the most powerful ruler in western Europe. The two had three children, including Saint Ethelburgh of Kent.
The details and dates are often uncertain but Bertha brought a Bishop with her from France as her Chaplain and presumably she had her own Christian retinue as well. For worship, she restored the ancient Church of St Martin of Tours, which dated back to Roman times.
Ethelbert had consequently been in close touch with Christianity and he soon accepted it for himself and was Baptised by St Augustine.
His example led to the Baptism of 10,000 of his countrymen within a few months and he supported Augustine in his missionary work with land, finances and influence.
Ethelbert now presided over the creation of a law code which gave the Roman Church a secure place in the Kingdom. St Augustine was made Archbishop of the English on the Pope’s orders and he appointed Bishops of London and Rochester before his death in 604. London was in the Kingdom of Essex, which was ruled by Ethelbert’s nephew Sebert, who had also became a Christian convert.
Bertha died in or soon after 601, it seems. Ethelbert apparently took a second wife. He was succeeded by his son Eadbald, who had reverted to paganism. He horrified the Roman clerics by marrying his father’s second wife, which was strictly against the rules, but he afterwards reverted to Christianity. In time, other pagan English Kings were impressed by the Roman Church’s positive support for strong regimes, which in turn made religious control easier. These Kings accepted the Roman Church and carried their people with them. Over centuries the process would lead to the creation of a single unified English nation.
When he died in 616, St Ethelbert was buried in the side chapel of Saint Martin in the Abbey Church of Saints Peter and Paul. His relics were later translated to Canterbury.
In the Roman Martyrology, he is listed under his date of death, 24 February, with the citation: ‘King of Kent, converted by St Augustine, Bishop, the first leader of the English people to do so.’
Plague in Rome ends after Saint Pope Gregory the Great leads a procession with a painting of Our Lady by Saint Luke (591): – 24 February
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “On this day, in the year 591, St Gregory the Great, having had the picture of Our Lady, which was painted by St Luke, carried in procession, the plague ceased at Rome.”
The miseries that afflicted Rome in the year 591 were substantial. The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire and the Goths had substantially depopulated Italy, so much so that a Germanic tribe of Lombards had entered the peninsula and established their own kingdom. They were pagans and Arians who did not respect Catholics, burning the famous Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino and pillaging the land at will. The instability and warfare caused famine in large regions, though Rome was still able to obtain grain by sea. Then came earthquakes and flooding to further the suffering, and from this plague Rome was not immune. The banks of the Tiber overflowed and when the waters did not recede, all of the low-lying lands became swamps that brought death and the plague. The disease struck with such rapidity that the victim would often die shortly after realising he had contracted the disease, although there were some who sickened but recovered. Our custom of saying, “God Bless you,” to someone who sneezes came about at this time, for sneezing was one of the signs that someone had contracted the disease. Even the Roman Pontiff died of the plague on 7 February 590. His successor, was Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who was both a humble and pious man. It would be an understatement to say he did not want the honour of being the next Pope but once in that position, he did everything in his power to try to save his people. He understood that the plague was a chastisement from God and encouraged the faithful to repent of their sins and pray for deliverance while he and the religious cared for the people of Rome. Finally, Saint Gregory called for a procession to take place at dawn on 24 April. On that day, the faithful first assembled in their groups throughout Rome and then walked through the streets of the City praying and singing as they approached the Church of Saint Mary Major. The plague was so potent at that time, that eighty people collapsed and died as they walked toward the meeting place. Pope Saint Gregory met them upon their arrival, joining them in prayer as he took his place with them holding aloft the miraculous image of Our Lady painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. This image is the very famous, Salus Populi Romani (the health or salvation, of the Roman People) As the procession neared the Vatican the participants all saw Saint Michael the archangel standing upon the cupola of Hadrian’s mausoleum as he sheathed his flaming sword. It was a sign that the chastisement had come to an end and, at once, the heaviness in the air abated and the air itself seemed to freshen and clear. Indeed, at that moment the plague ended, as the faithful rejoiced and lifted up their voices to thank the Mother of God.
Regina Coeli laetare, Alleluia! (Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!)
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia! (Son whom you merited to bear, Alleluia!)
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! (He has risen as He said, Alleluia!)
Thought for the Day – 23 February– Meditations with (1881-1971)
The “Our Father”
“Our Father, Who art in heaven.” Heaven is God Himself, Who reveals Himself to the souls of the blessed. If a man lives in God, his mid and heart are already in Heaven, even though he is still an exile upon this earth. It is a wonderful experience to lead a bodily existence upon earth, while our minds are with God in Heaven, for, as St Paul says, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). As we are aware, God is everywhere, in Heaven and on earth. When we invoke our Father, Who is in Heaven, however, we manifest our faith in Him and in His generosity, whereby, He reveals Himself in all His glory to the blessed and shows His mercy to us poor exiles, when we come to Him. In the first words of the Pater Noster, we express, not only our faith but, also our hope of being happy with God for all eternity.”
Day Seven of our Lenten Journey – 23 February – Tuesday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7,16-17, 18-19, Matthew 6:7-15
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In Your Light Lord, we see light
“Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10
WHATEVER I can desire or imagine for my own comfort, I look for not here but hereafter. For if I alone should have all the world’s comforts and could enjoy all its delights, it is certain, that they could not long endure. Therefore, my soul, you cannot enjoy full consolation or perfect delight except in God, the Consoler of the poor and the Helper of the humble. Wait a little, my soul, wait for the divine promise and you will have an abundance of all good things in heaven. If you desire these present things too much, you will lose those which are everlasting and heavenly. Use temporal things but desire eternal things. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods because you were not created to enjoy them.
Even if you possessed all created things, you could not be happy and blessed; for in God, Who created all these things, your whole blessedness and happiness consists — not indeed such happiness as is seen and praised by lovers of the world but such, as that for which the good and faithful servants of Christ wait and of which the spiritual and pure of heart, whose conversation is in heaven, sometime have a foretaste.
Vain and brief is all human consolation. But that which is received inwardly from the Truth is blessed and true. The devout man carries his Consoler, Jesus, everywhere with him and he says to Him: “Be with me, Lord Jesus, in every place and at all times. Let this be my consolation, to be willing to forego all human comforts. And if Your consolation be wanting to me, let Your will and just trial of me, be my greatest comfort. For You will not always be angry, nor will You threaten forever.” (Book 3 Ch 16:1-2)
Quote/s of the Day – 23 February – Tuesday of the First week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7,16-17, 18-19, Matthew 6:7-15
“Father, hallowed be thy name.”
“So, my brothers, let us pray as God our master has taught us. To ask the Father in words His Son has given us, to let Him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in His ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognise the words of His Son. Let the Son who lives in our hearts, be also on our lips. We have Him as an Advocate for sinners, before the Father, when we ask for forgiveness for ours sins, let us use the words given by our Advocate. He tells us – Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you. What more effective prayer could we then make, in the name of Christ, than in the words of His own prayer?”
“As the Lord’s Prayer continues, we ask: Give us this day our daily bread. We can understand this petition in a spiritual and in a literal sense. For in the divine plan both senses may help toward our salvation. For Christ is the Bread of Life; this Bread does not belong to everyone but is ours alone. When we say, our Father, we understand that he is the Father of those who know Him and believe in Him. In the same way, we speak of our daily bread, because Christ is the Bread of those who touch His body.”
St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200- c 258) Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr An excerpt from his “On the Lord’s Prayer”
“For the author and giver of divine blessings could not but be our teacher as well, providing the words of this prayer, as precepts of life, for those disciples who believe in Him and follow the way He taught in the flesh. Through these words, He has revealed the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3) that exist in Him as pure form. And, in all who offer this prayer, He kindles the desire to enjoy such treasures.”
St Maximus the Confessor (c 580-662) Monk and Theologian Interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer
REFLECTION– “Regarding other ceremonies in vocal prayers and other devotions, one should not become attached to any ceremonies or modes of prayer, other than those Christ taught us. When His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray [Lk 11:1], Christ obviously, as one Who knew so well His Father’s will, would have told them, all that was necessary, in order to obtain an answer from the Eternal Father and, in fact, He only taught them those seven petitions of the Our Father, which include all our spiritual and temporal necessities and He did not teach numerous other kinds of prayers and ceremonies. At another time, rather, He told them, that in praying, they should not desire much speaking because our heavenly Father clearly knows our needs.
He only charged us with great insistence to persevere in prayer – that is, in the Our Father – teaching, in another place, that one should pray and never cease. [Lk.18:1] He did not teach us a quantity of petitions but that these seven be repeated often and with fervour and care. For in these, as I say, are embodied everything that is God’s will and all that is fitting for us. Accordingly, when His Majesty had recourse three times to the Eternal Father, all three times He prayed with the same petition of the Our Father, as the evangelists recount: “Father, if it cannot be but that I drink this chalice, may your will be done.” [Mt. 26:42]
And He taught us only two ceremonies for use in our prayers. Our prayer should be made either in the concealment of our secret chamber [Mt 6:6] where without noise and without telling anyone we can pray with a more perfect and pure heart … Or, if not in one’s chamber, in the solitary wilderness and at the best and most quiet time of night, as He did..” [Lk. 6:12] – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) – Carmelite, Doctor of the Church – The Ascent of Mount Carmel Bk.III, ch.44
PRAYER – Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our trespasses As we forgive those who trespass against us And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen
Our Morning Offering -23 February – Tuesday of the First week of Lent
Lord Jesus, Think on Me By St Synesius of Cyrene (375-430) Bishop of Ptolemais
Lord Jesus, think on me, and purge away my sin, from earth-born passions set me free, and make me pure within. Lord Jesus, think on me, With care and woe oppressed, let me Thy loving servant be, and taste Thy promised rest. Lord Jesus, think on me, nor let me go astray, through darkness and perplexity point Thou the heav’nly way. Lord Jesus, think on me, that, when the flood is past, I may eternal brightness see, and share Thy joy at last.
St Synesius, a native of Cyrene, born circa 375. His descent was illustrious. His pedigree extended through seventeen centuries and in the words of Gibbon, “could not be equaled in the history of mankind.” He became distinguished for his eloquence and philosophy and as a statesman and patriot he took a noble stand. When the Goths were threatening his country he went to the court of Arcadius and for three years, tried to rouse it to the dangers that were coming on the empire. But Gibbon says, ”The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded the eloquence and neglected the advice of Synesius.” In 410 he was made Bishop of Ptolemaïs (modern Libya) but much against his will. He died in 430.We have extant one hundred and fifty-five epistles and ten hymns written at different periods of his life.
Saint of the Day – 23 February – Saint Willigis of Mainz (c 940-1011) Archbishop of Mainz, Reformer, builder of the Cathedral of Mainz and many Churches, bridges and roads throughout his Diocese, de facto Regent of Germany during the minority of Otto III, to whom he was Guardian. Born in c 940 at Schoningen, Germany and died on 23 February 1011 of natural causes. Patronage – Wheelwrights. Also known as Willigisus, Willigus, Willegis.
Willigis was born in the Duchy of Saxony, possibly at Schöningen, the son of simple, free and pious peasants. His father worked as a wheelwright, hence his patronage and attribute – the wheel also occured in his emblem as Bishop. The able and intelligent young man received a good education and was recommended by Bishop Volkold of Meissen to the service of Emperor Otto the Great. Willigis was appointed Chancellor, an office formerly held by the Emperor’s brother Archbishop Bruno of Cologne. He served Otto throughout the last years of his reign and at the height of his power.
In 975 Emperor Otto II appointed him Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor for Germany. Being of humble origin, Willigis had to cope with many objections but he immediately received Pope Benedict VII confirmation of his supremacy as metropolitan Bishop.
Soon he started to build the great Cathedral of Mainz. Willigis demanded solid learning in his clergy too. He was known as a good and fluent and zealous Precher. In March 975 he received the Pallium from Pope Benedict VII. In January 976 Willigis Consecrated the first Bishop of Prague, Thietmar (Dětmar) at Brumath in Alsace, whose Diocese was put under his jurisdiction.
In his Diocese, he laboured by building bridges, constructing roads and fostering commerce. In Mainz, he initiated the construction of Cathedral and consecrated it on 29 August 1009, dedicating it in honour of St Martin of Tours but on the same day, disastrously, it was destroyed by fire. Willigis immediately gave orders for reconstruction.
Willigis greatly helped the restoration of the old collegiateCchurch of St Victor and built that of St Stephan. He also built Churches at Brunnen in Nassau and Seesbach. He showed great solicitude for the religious and substantially aided the Monasteries of St Ferrutius at Bleidenstadt, of Disibodenberg and of Jechaburg in Thuringia.
At the 983 Reichstag of Verona, Otto II vested him with large territories in the Rheingau region, thereby laying the foundations for the Prince-Bishopric of Mainz. Upon the Emperor’s death, Willigis as Primas Germaniae (an historical title for the the most important Bishop in the German lands).
On Christmas day in 983 he assisted at the crowning of Otto II’s his three-year-old son Otto III at Aachen. After the Dowager Empress Theophanu died in 991, Willigis became the Guardian of the minor, thus making him, together with Otto’s Grandmother, Adelaide of Italy, de facto Regent of the Empire until Otto III reached his majority in 994.
In 996 he was in the retinue of the King on his journey to Italy. Together with Otto III he pushed the election of Pope Gregory V against the resistance of the Roman nobility led by Crescentius the Younger and was present at the Consecration and at the Synod convened a few days later. In this counsel Willigis strongly urged the return of Bishop Adalbert of Prague, who, unable to bear the conflicts with the Vršovci noble family and the ruling Přemyslid dynasty, had left his Diocese for a second time, to which, after much correspondence between the Holy See and Willigis, he had once already been forced to return in 993. In 997 Pope Gregory V sent the Decrees of a synod at Pavia to Willigis, “his vicar,” for publication.
He was on friendly terms with Rome, though the Papacy was going through a difficult time. These relations were somewhat disturbed by the dispute of Willigis with Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim, about jurisdiction in the house of secular canonesses at Gandersheim Abbey. The immediate monastery established in 852 was originally situated at Brunshausen in the Diocese of Hildesheim but was transferred to nearby Gandersheim within the territorial limits of the Archdiocese of Mainz. Both Bishops claimed jurisdiction, until Pope Sylvester II finally declared in favour of Hildesheim, against Willigis’ initial resistance.
His protégé was the scholarly and just Burchard, who was appointed Bishop of Worms by Emperor Otto III in 1000. Upon the Emperor’s early death, Archbishop Willigis, on 7 June 1002, crowned the Duke of Bavaria Henry IV as King of the Romans at Mainz, after the assassination of his rival Margrave Eckard I of Meissen. Willigis presided at the 1007 Synod at Frankfurt am Main, where thirty-five Bishops signed the bull of Pope John XVIII for the erection of the Diocese of Bamberg.
Though Willigis has never been formally Canonised, Roman Catholics celebrate his feast on 23 February, the day of his death in 1011. Because the rebuilding of the Cathedral had not yet been completed, he was buried in the Church of St Stephan, which he had also built.
Our Lady of the Rock, Pena de Francia, near Salamanca, Spain (1434) – 23 February: The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Roches, near Salamanca, in Spain; an image is there venerated, which was found miraculously, in the year 434, by Simon Vela, who caused a Church to be built there.”
The Simon mentioned above by the Abbot Orsini, was actually born in the year 1401 in Paris, France. The incident that he states had occurred in the year 434 actually occurred in 1434 but that is getting ahead of our story. Simon was born on4 September 1401, in the City of Paris, France, to pious and wealthy parents. Growing up a good Catholic, Simon despised money and luxury, so that when he grew up and inherited his parents’ money and property, he recognised it for the threat to his eternal welfare that it was and gave all that he owned to the Church and to relieve the poor. Once the money was gone, he went to a Franciscan Monastery and took a position as a chamber boy. Simon naturally spent a great deal of time in prayer and was especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometimes when he prayed he asked the Mother of God if there was anything he might do, that would be especially pleasing to her. On one of these occasions, he fell asleep while praying. He was suddenly awakened when he heard a voice speak to him from the empty Church: “Simon, wake up; be on the watch…From now on, your name will be Simon Vela. Go to Pena de Francia, for there you will find the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Simon travelled for five years over fields and mountains, searching through lonely valleys and gloomy caves, in his quest for this place called Pena de Francia but he could not even find anyone who had ever heard of the place. On the verge of giving up in frustration, he had already begun working his way back home from Spain, when the voice spoke to him from the darkness once again: “Simon, do not give up the search, do not give up what you have begun. Persevere and your labours will be recompensed.” Feeling that it was still the will of God, Simon was determined to continue the search. Simon was passing through the market square in Salamanca on his way to the Church of Santiago, when he observed two men who began shouting in a serious disagreement. Weapons flashed and one of the pair fell wounded at Simon’s feet. The other was restrained from finishing the man, by the crowd, who held him back. Unable to reach his adversary, he shouted: “Had I killed my enemy, I would have escaped to Pena de Francia where no-one, not even the king, could find me!” Simon’s heart leapt for joy when he heard this, for it was the first time he had heard the place spoken of, and now he was certain that his search would not be in vain.
It was a short time later when Simon received a second bit of good news. He was on his way to the Church of Saint Martin when he happened upon a travelling merchant. Simon asked the man where he had come from and he answered, Pena de Francia. Thrilled to hear the name, he felt his search was nearly over but when he asked the man to take him there, he refused. He did not want to go back the way he had come, no matter how much Simon begged him. All he would do was point out the general direction. Simon went down the road from which he had seen the merchant approach, hoping he was not too far from his destination. The road led him to a villa named San Martin de Castanar, which he reached on 14 May 1434. He found a Church there and after Mass, he asked if anyone knew of a place called Pena de Francis. One man knew of it and when Simon kindly asked him to show him where it was, the man walked with him a good distance from the Church and then pointed out a hill in the far distance. That, he said, was Pena de Francia. Simon was elated, thanking God and the man for revealing to him the place that meant the end of his quest.
The place was far off but Simon went off at once, thinking the years he had spent in seeking, were nearly at an end. He gave no thought to his provisions and as the journey was long and arduous, he was far from any help when he realised how weakened his fast had made him. Suffering intense pangs of hunger, Simon did not despair, for he felt certain that God would not forsake him. He continued on his way and soon came across an abandoned pack that contained a loaf of bread and a piece of meat. Refreshed, he turned his attention to finding shelter as the night approached. Finding a suitable cave, he went inside and prayed for guidance until he dropped off into welcome slumber. Waking early in the morning, Simon began to search the area for the Shrine and quickly found that there were caves all over the hill where he had slept. He naturally became discouraged when it became apparent that it could take him weeks or even months to find what he sought and so, feeling that it was almost as if his quest had started all over again, he fell to his knees and prayed for the grace of perseverance. His prayer was quickly answered, as the now familiar voice said: “Simon, be awake: do not sleep.” Simon got up at once and continued his search, awakening with renewed enthusiasm the following morning. As he prepared to leave his cave a brilliant light struck his eyes, the source of which was a spot some distance away on a rocky hill. Trembling with joy, Simon approached the source of that light and found the Blessed Virgin Mary sitting on a golden throne with the Child Jesus in her arms. His heart overflowing with inexpressible joy, he knelt and said: “Oh, Lady, dream of my soul and inspiration of men and women! My labours are now ended. Many years have I travelled far and wide to seek you and to drink in the beauty of your eyes! Do not forsake me but be my protection.”
Our Lady answered sympathetically: “Simon, rejoice! Your constancy will be rewarded. Your dream will be realised. Your labours are now ended. Take heed and keep in your heart what I wish you to do. Dig in this spot and take what you can see and place it on the summit of this rocky hill. Build on this hill a beautiful Shrine. You are to begin it and others will come to finish it. This must come to pass as it has been the wish of my Child.” When the vision ended, Simon remained alone for some time, filled with wonder and awe. On the spot where the apparition of the Holy Virgin had appeared, Simon began the work of excavating. He had barely begun digging when he heard the same voice once again saying: “Simon, do not attempt to undertake this large of a task alone. Undertake it in the presence and with the help of two, three, or more persons.” Evidently this demand was made to ward off any suspicion about the veracity of the coming miracle, as well as Simon’s credibility. So Simon went back to San Martin de Castanar and asked five men to help him, and all of them agreed. Even though Simon told them the truth, these men believed that they were digging for hidden treasure. Simon repeated that they were after an objective worthier than merely worldly goods and that it was something their hearts would forever cherish. They dug for some time, until finally, on 19 May 1434, they removing a huge stone that was barring their way. They found beneath it, sheltered among several smaller rocks, the most coveted image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Divine Child in her arms, now known as Our Lady of Rocks.
St Alexander Akimetes St Boswell St Dositheus of Egypt St Felix of Brescia St Florentius of Seville St Giovanni Theristi (1049–1129) Monk Bl Giovannina Franchi Bl John of Hungary St Josephine Vannini (1859-1911) Bl Juan Lucas Manzanares Bl Ludwik Mzyk St Martha of Astorga St Medrald St Milburga Bl Nicolas Tabouillot St Ordonius St Polycarp of Rome Bl Rafaela Ybarra de Villalongo St Romana St Serenus the Gardener (Died 307) Martyr His story: https://anastpaul.com/2019/02/23/saint-of-the-day-23-february-st-serenus-the-gardener-died-307-martyr/ Bl Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski St Willigis of Mainz (c 940-1011) Bishop St Zebinus of Syria — Martyrs of Syrmium – 73 Christians who were martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know no details about them, and only six of their names – Antigonus, Libius, Rogatianus, Rutilus, Senerotas and Syncrotas.
Thought for the Day – 19 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
“Besides being our infallible teacher, the Church is also our affectionate Mother. Along with the inexhaustible treasury of His graces, it has inherited, from Jesus, His infinite love fo all mankind. Let us consider what the Church does and has done for us. As soon as we are born into this mortal life, She gives us, through the waters of Baptism, a second life, which is supernatural and everlasting. When we are a little older and exposed to the onslaughts of evil, She stengthens us in gace by means of another Sacrament and makes us soldiers of Christ. She raises us up. In the Sacament of Penance, She gives us God’s forgiveness and the spiritual strength to rise agin. Moeover, She gives us Jesus Christ Himself, in the Blessed Eucharist. By means of another Sacament, she elevates those who receive the power of Orders. In yet another, She blesses and consecrates matrimonial love and the pure marriage union. When we are dying, She comes, compassionately to our side again and, through the final Sacrament, gives us strength and purity of purpose, for the great journey into eternity. Nor is this enough. She is present with her prayers and blessings, even by our coffin nd by our graveside.
We owe the Church more than obedience! We owe Her our love! We should love very much, this good Mother, who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave, from our birth upon earth, to our spiritual birth into everlasting happiness!” Amen
Day Six of our Lenten Journey – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Readings: 1 Peter 5:1-4, Psalm 23:1-3,4-5, Matthew 16:13-19
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In Your Light Lord, we see light
“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:15-16
CHRIST: MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth and seek Me always in the simplicity of your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall be defended from the attacks of evil and the truth shall free him from seducers and from the slanders of wicked men. For if the truth has made you free, then you shall be free indeed and you shall not care for the vain words of men.
DISCIPLE: O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let Your truth teach me. Let it guard me and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love and I shall walk with You in great freedom of heart.
CHRIST: I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing to Me. Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow and never think yourself to be virtuous because of your good works. You are truly a sinner. You are subject to many passions and entangled in them. Of yourself you always tend to nothing. You fall quickly, are quickly overcome, quickly troubled and quickly undone. You have nothing in which you can glory but you have many things for which you should think yourself vile, for you are much weaker than you can comprehend. Hence, let none of the things you do seem great to you. Let nothing seem important or precious or desirable except that which is everlasting. Let the eternal truth please you above all things and let your extreme unworthiness always displease you. Fear nothing so much, blame and abhor nothing so much as your own vices and sins; these should be more unpleasant for you than any worldly losses.
Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a certain curiosity and arrogance, they wish to know My secrets and to understand the high things of God, to the neglect of themselves and their own salvation. Through their own pride and curiosity and because I am against them, such men often fall into great temptations and sins. I leave them to their own devices without My help and counsel!
Fear the judgements of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty! Do not discuss the works of the Most High but examine your sins — in what serious things you have offended and how many good things you have neglected.
Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures, some in outward signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips when there is little of Me in their hearts. Others, indeed, with enlightened understanding and purified affections, constantly long for everlasting things, they are unwilling to hear of earthly affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the necessities of nature. These sense what the Spirit of truth speaks within them, for He teaches them to despise earthly things and to love those of heaven, to neglect the world and each day and night, to desire heaven. (Book 3 Ch 4:1-4)
Quote/s of the Day – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
“The Church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the Apostles, is one for all men; but the frantic folly of the diverse impious sects, has cut them off from her. It cannot be denied, that this tearing asunder of the faith, has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read, to confirm to its opinion, instead of adjusting its opinion to the meaning of what is read. However, while individual parties fight among themselves, the Church stands revealed, not only by her own doctrines but by those also, of her adversaries. And although they are all ranged against her, she confutes the most wicked error which they all share, by the very fact that she is alone and one. All the heretics, therefore, come against the Church but while all the heretics can conquer each other, they can win nothing for themselves. For their victory is the triumph of the Church over all of them. One heresy struggles against that teaching of another, which the faith of the Church has already condemned in the other heresy – for there is nothing which the heretics hold in common, – and, the result is that they affirm our faith, while fighting among themselves.”
St Hilary (315-368) Bishop of Poitiers Father and Doctor of the Divinity of Christ
“For nothing more glorious, nothing nobler, nothing surely, more honourable can be imagined, than to belong to the One, Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, in which we become members of one Body as venerable as it is unique; are guided by one supreme Head; are filled with one divine Spirit; are nourished during our earthly exile by one doctrine and one heavenly Bread, until at last, we enter into the one, unending blessedness of heaven. But lest we be deceived, by the angel of darkness, who transforms himself into an angel of light, let this be the supreme law of our love – to love the Spouse of Christ, as Christ willed her to be and as He purchased her with His blood.”
Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) “Mystici Corporis Christi” 1943
“Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and, whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” … Matthew 16:18-19
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.” – (Attr) St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop of Constantinople, Father and Doctor of the Church – On the apostle Peter and the prophet Elijah
PRAYER – Holy Father, send Your Divine Enlightener into the hearts of all Your faithful, filling us with the strength to fulfil our mission as the followers of the Chair of St Peter. And most of all, we pray Lord Holy God, to inspire and light the way of our Holy Father, Francis. Sustain and guide him, keep him in health and strength, to lead Your people by the Light of the Way and the Truth. Holy Father, have mercy on us, Holy Spirit guide and lead us, Lord Jesus Christ be our intercessor and teacher, amen.
Saint of the Day – 22 February – Blessed Diego Carvalho SJ (1578-1624) Jesuit Priest and Martyr, Missionary to Japan. Born in 1578 in Coimbra, Portugal and died by exposure on 22 February 1624 at Sendai, Miyagi, Japan. Patronage Japanese miners.
Diego was born in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1578. After entering the Society of Jesus in his hometown in 1594, late in 1600 he arrived, after a long voyage with sixteen other Jesuits, in Goa, India.
The following year, 1608, he set out for Macau, where he was Ordained as Priest. In 1609, he arrived in Japan, where, after learning Japanese, he was a Missionary in the Amakusa Islands, before relocating to Kyōto around 1612. After the edict of proscription of 1614, in November that year, with seventy-two other Jesuits on three Chinese junks, he was deported to Macau.
Diogo’s heart remained in Japan, however and he secretly returned in 1616. Later he relocated in the north to serve refugees fleeing persecution in the south.
Carvalho’s ministry centred on the silver miners in the districts of Oshu and Dewa. Living conditions were difficult but conversions were abundant. In December 1623 he was working in Miwake when the local prince began to persecute the Christians and ordered soldiers to kill all who refused to apostatise. When the governor of Sendai learned of Father Carvalho, he went searching for him but the Jesuit and about 60 Christians fled into a deep valley seeking to escape. Unfortunately, their tracks in the snow led the soldiers to them and Carvalho gave himself up, in an attempt to allow his people to get away. He was able to save all but 12 of his companions. Then the Christians had to march for seven days through the cold to Sendai. Two who could not keep up, were killed on the spot and the rest were barely given enough food to eat to survive their month-long imprisonment once they reached the City.
Martyrdom came for Carvalho and his companions through the cold. The Hirose River flowed near the fortress where they had been imprisoned; on its bank the soldiers dug a hole and filled it with icy water from the river. The prisoners were forced first to sit naked in the freezing water and then stand up to let the wind hit them. Their captors promised to end the torture if they would renounce Christianity. None did and the cold slowly took away their life. Carvalho was the last to die, enduring the torture long into the night before he also finally perished. The names of his companions are sadly unknown, so they could not be Beatified with him but with God they are Blessed in His Heavenly Kingdom.
The decree of Martyrdom and Beatificztion, was confirmed on 7 May 1867 by Pope Blessed Pius IX.
Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues, Rennes, France (1357) – 22 February:
Our Lady of Rennes, in Britanny. The English, having made a mine to blow up the town, it is said that the candles in theCchapel were found miraculously lighted; the bells rung of themselves and the image of the Blessed Virgin was seen to stretch out its arms towards the middle of the Church, where the mine was, which, by that means was discovered. The people rushed to the spot and so, the plot was discovered and the entire town saved through the intervention of Our Lady of Rennes. Great was the rejoicing and deep the gratitude of the people. Known today as the Basilica of Saint Sauveur in Rennes, it is located in the heart of historic Rennes, which was once the capital of Brittany. It is situated at the termination of Saint-Sauveur Street on which its façade faces. As the original Gothic Church partially collapsed in the year 1682, the Classical style Church that can currently be seen, was constructed beginning in 1703 and consecrated in August of 1719. In the year 1793, during the French Revolution, the Church was made into a Temple of Reason and the miraculous statue of Our Lady was destroyed. It was not until 1802, after the end of the Terror, that the Church was opened again to worship. The Church was made into a minor Basilica in 1916 by Pope Benedict XV.
According to popular tradition there was a famous miracle attributed to Our Lady at Rennes during the War of Succession at Brittany. As Rennes was being besieged by the invading English army under the Duke of Lancaster, the people of the city expected the English forces to mine their way under the walls into the City. On the night of 8 February 1357, the Church bells began to ring of their own accord and the candles were spontaneously lit. The Statue of Our Lady, known as Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues, pointed out a particular slab in the Church. The inhabitants of the city thus were alerted to the mine and the point of the English attack, and were able to repulse the invasion. The miracle was a popular subject for ballads, especially the troubadour Cavalier. In 1634 the miracle was officially recognised by the Bishop of Rennes, Pierre Cornulier. There are many miracles attributed to Our Lady, including the miraculous healing of Magdalene Morice in the year 1761. She had gangrene in her right foot which was instantly healed on Easter Sunday. The Statue of Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues currently displayed at the Basilica was placed there in February of 1876. In 1684 a boy of eleven left home for the City of Rennes, in hopes of enrolling at the Jesuit College of Thomas a Becket. The young Louis-Marie was an intelligent boy who was taken under the guidance of the Jesuit Priests and it was at Rennes that he began to consider a possible vocation to the Priesthood. It was here, at the Shrine of Our Lady at Rennes, that Saint Louis de Montfort made the final decision to become a Priest. Amen! We thank our Lady for giving us St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort!
St Maximian of Ravenna St Miguel Facerías Garcés St Mohammed Abdalla St Papias of Heirapolis St Paschasius of Vienne St Raynerius of Beaulieu St Thalassius — Martyrs of Arabia – A memorial for all the unnamed Christians martyred in the desert and mountainous areas south of the Dead Sea during the persecutions of Emperor Valerius Maximianus Galerius.
Thought for the Day – 21 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Detachment from the World
“St John Bosco said, that we should ork as if we never had to die. But, we should also be as detached from worldly things, as if we had to die in one hour. A man who works like this, can accomplish wonders because, he is not working for himself but, for God. We should work and pray with our feet on the earth and our minds in heaven. We should seek God, not ourselves, in everything which we do. Let us remember, that one moment in Heaven, is worth infinitely more than all the pleasure, love and vanity of this world!”