Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 27 March – Monday of Passion Week
“In love, by love, for love and of love” St Francis de Sales
MONDAY IN PASSION WEEK St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“THE SWEET JESUS was scourged, crowned, condemned, mocked and rejected as man, devoted, destined and dedicated to carry out and endure, the opprobriums and ignominies due in punishment to all sins and He served as a general sacrifice for sin, being made, as it were, an anathema, separated from and abandoned by His Eternal Father.
The Divine Saviour wished to die in the flames of love because of the Infinite Charity He bore towards us and, by the force and power of love, that is to say, He would die in love, by love, for love and of love. This is what He Himself says: “No-one takes away My life but I lay it down of Myself, for I have power to lay it down and to take it up again” .—He was offered, says Isaias because He wished it.” – (Consoling Thoughts of St Francis de Sales).
Thought for the Day – 26 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Let us weep for our sins and increase in love for our Divine Redeemer. When we are oppressed by the weight of our own cross, we shall look at the Crucifix and find comfort. When we are tempted, we shall grasp the Crucifix and turn away with horror from thoughts of sin and ingratitude.
The Crucifix will teach us, as it taught the Saints, the lesson of charity towards God and towards our neighbour. It will teach us to hate sin and to love virtue. If we cherish it during life, it will be our consolation to kiss the Crucifix at the moment of death.”
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 24 March – Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent and the Feast of St Gabriel the Archangel – Daniel 9:21-26, Luke 1:26-38 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“He hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 90:11
“At that time, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” Luke 1:26-27
THE ANGELS St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“INASMUCH AS GOD continually sends us inspirations by means of His Angels, we may fittingly send back our aspirations, through the same channel. … Seek to be familiar with the Angels; learn to realise that they are continually present, although invisible. Especially love and revere the Guardian Angel of the Diocese in which you live, those of the friends who surround you and your own. Commune with them frequently, join in their songs of praise and seek their protection and help in all you do, spiritual or temporal.
That pious man Peter Faber, the first companion of Saint Ignatius and the first Priest, first preacher and first theological teacher of the Company of the Jesuits, who was a native of our Diocese, (the French region of Savoy) once, passing through this country on his way from Germany, (where he had been labouring for God’s Glory) told, how great comfort he had found, as he went among places infested with heresy, in communing with the Guardian Angels thereof, whose help had often preserved him from danger and softened hearts to receive the Faith. He spoke with such earnestness that a lady, who, when quite young, heard him, was so impressed that she repeated his words to me only four years ago, sixty years after their utterance! with the utmost feeling.” – (Introduction to the Devout Life – PART II. Containing sundry counsels).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 12 March – The Third Sunday in Lent – Ephesians 5:1-9, Luke 11,14-28 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“To Thee have I lifted up my eyes, Who dwells in Heaven. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.” Psalm 122:1,3
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.” Luke 11:17
MUTUAL CHARITY St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“IN TODAY’S GOSPEL[Lk. 11:14-28], Our Lord insists that every kingdom divided against itself, (not united in itself) is brought to desolation. On the other hand, the converse is true, too – all kingdoms united in concord, not permitting any division to enter, will surely be filled with consolation. For if the propositions are opposite, the consequences must be, too. These words are among the most remarkable, noteworthy and important that our Divine Master ever spoke. For this reason the ancient Fathers carefully interpreted them.
They agree that our Saviour had three kinds of concord or union in mind when He spoke, where division in any of them, results in desolation. The first is the concord which should exist between a king and his subjects, making subjects submissive and obedient to his laws. The second is the union which we ought to have within, in our inner kingdom, where reason must be the king to whom are subject, all the faculties of our spirit, all our senses and even our bodies. … (Without this obedience and submission we cannot avoid having desolation and trouble, any more than there could be peace in a kingdom in which the subjects are not obedient to the laws of the king.)
… The third, is that which we ought to have with each other. This union or concord, has been earnestly preached, recommended and taught to us by Our Lord, equally in word and example. … Nothing is so stressed, nothing stated so completely as the observance of this Commandment [the Commandment of love[. He does so with good reason, for the beloved of the Beloved, the great Apostle St John, assures us that anyone who says that he loves God and does not love his neighbour, is a liar [1 Jn.4:20-21]. On the other hand, he who says he loves his neighbour but does not love God also contradicts the truth. That simply cannot be. To love God without loving the neighbour, who is created in His Image and Likeness [Gen. 1:26-27], is impossible.
But what should this union and concord be which we all ought to have? Oh! What should it be indeed! It must be such that if Our Lord Himself had not explained it, no-one would have been so daring as to use the same terms as His. At the Last Supper, after He had given the incomparable pledge of His love for us men, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, He said: “Father, My very dear Father, I beseech Thee that all those whom Thou hast given Me may be one, as Thou and I, Father, are One ” [Jn 17:11-12, 21-22]. To show that He was not speaking only for the Apostles but for all the rest of us, He added: “I do not pray for them alone (that is, those He had just mentioned) but for all those who will believe in Me, through their word” [Jn 17:20]. Who would have dared, I repeat, to make such a comparison, or to ask that we might be united as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are united? – (Sermon for the Third Sunday of Lent, 27 February 1622).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 10 March – Friday of the Second Week in Lent – Hebrews 11:33-39, Luke 6:17-23. – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The just cried and the Lord heard them and delivered them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 33:18
“And He, lifting up His eyes on His disciples, said: Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20
POVERTY AMID RICHES St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” and if so, woe be to the rich in spirit, for theirs must be the bitterness of hell! By rich in spirit, I mean him, whose riches engross his mind, or whose mind is buried in his riches. He is poor in spirit, whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them. …
Whatever riches and all other transitory things you may possess, you must keep your heart free from the slightest affection for them. Your heart may be surrounded by riches; however, riches must never master your heart! … And this, my child, is what your heart should be – open only to Heaven, impenetrable to riches and earthly treasures. If you have them, keep your heart from attaching itself to them; let it maintain a higher level and amidst riches be as though you had none, superior to them. Do not let that mind which is the likeness of God, cleave to mere earthly goods; let it always be raised above them, not sunk in them.
… Do not fix your longings on anything which you do not possess; do not let your heart rest in that which you have; do not grieve overmuch , at the losses which may happen to you – and then, you may reasonably believe, that although rich in fact, you are not so in affection but that you are poor in spirit and, therefore, blessed, for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.” (Introduction to the Devout Life – PART III Containing counsels concerning the practice of virtue).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 9 March – Thursday in the Second Week of Lent – Proverbs 31:10-31, Matthew 13:44-52 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows.” Psalm 44:8
“So shall it be at the end of the world. The Angels shall go out and shall separate the wicked from among the just. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50
HEAVEN or HELL? St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“CONSIDER THAT THE CHOICE you make in this life will last forever in the next! Consider too, that while both are open to receive you, according to your choice, yet God, Who is prepared to give the one by reason of His Justice, the other by reason of His Mercy, all the while desires, unspeakably that you should select Paradise. offering you countless graces on God’s part, countless assistance to attain to it. Consider that Jesus Christ, enthroned in Heaven, looks down upon you in loving invitation – ‘O beloved one, come unto Me and joy forever in the eternal blessedness of My Love!’ Behold His mother yearning over you with maternal tenderness, ‘Courage, my child, do not despise the Goodness of my Son, or my earnest prayers for thy salvation.‘ …
O Hell, I abhor thee now and forever; I abhor thy griefs and torments, thine endless misery, the unceasing blasphemies and maledictions which thou pourest out upon my God and turning to thee, O blessed Paradise, eternal glory, unfading happiness, I choose thee forever as my abode, thy glorious mansions, thy precious and abiding tabernacles.
O my God, I bless Thy Mercy which gives me the power to choose, O Jesus, Saviour, I accept Thine Eternal Love and praise Thee for the promise Thou hast given me, of a place prepared for me, in that blessed New Jerusalem, where I shall love and bless Thee forever. ” (Excerpt – ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ 9th Meditation).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 8 March – Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent – Ecclesiasticus Sirach 31:8-11, Matthew 22:34-46 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments. …” Psalm 111:3
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” Matthew 22:37-39
THE GREAT COMMANDMENT St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“CHARITY, while it is alive in the soul, reigns supreme and holds sway over all the emotions, leading the will to put God before everything else without delay, without exception, without reserve. … But why does charity include love of ourselves? Why, because we are wearing God’s Image and Likeness and, since all men enjoy the same noble dignity, we love them too as we love ourselves – in other words, as devoted living likenesses of the Godhead. … So it is, then, that the same charity which gives rise to acts of love of God, also breeds love of our neighbour.
When we see our neighbour, created to the Image and Likeness of God, should we not say to one another, ‘Stop, do you see this created being, do you see how he resembles the Creator? should we not cast ourselves upon him and weep over him with love? Should we not give him a thousand, thousand blessings?
It is for love of God Who made him in His Own Image and Likeness and, therefore, capable of sharing in His goodness in grace and glory. I say it is for love of God, from Whom he is, Whose he is, by Whom he is, in Whom he is, for Whom he is, Whom he resembles in a most particular manner.” – (Treatise on the Love of God, Book 10).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 6 March – Ecclesiasticus Sirach 51:13-17, Matthew 13:44-52 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure …” Matthew 13:44
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds a single pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Matthew13:45-46
HEAVENLY TREASURE St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“The first difficulty seen in the question is: Can the souls of the blessed, separated from their bodies, see, hear, consider and understand? Can they, in short, exercise the functions of the mind, as freely as when they were united to their bodies? I answer that not only can they act as before but much more perfectly. And to support this theory I shall give you a story from St Augustine, an author in whom one can place complete trust. He relates that he was acquainted with a physician from Carthage who was as famous in Rome as in that City, both because he excelled in the art of medicine and because, he was a very good man, one who did many charitable works and served the poor gratis.
His charity towards his neighbour, moved God to lift him out of an error into which he had fallen as a young man. God always greatly favours those who practise charity toward their neighbour; indeed, there is nothing that draws down His mercy upon us more abundantly. Our Lord has declared it His own special commandment [Jn. 15:12], the one He loves and cherishes most. For after that of the love of God, there is none greater [Matt 22:37-40].
St Augustine recounts how this physician told him that when young, he began to doubt whether the soul, separated from the body, can see, hear, or understand anything. One day, while in this error, he fell asleep. Suddenly, a handsome young man appeared to him in his sleep and said: “Follow me.” The physician did so and his guide led him into a large and spacious field where, on one side he showed him incomparable beauties and on the other allowed him to hear a concert of delightful music. Then the physician awoke.
Some time after, the same young man again appeared to him in sleep and asked: “Do you recognise me?” The physician answered that he did indeed recognise him distinctly, that it was he who had conducted him to the beautiful field where he had heard such pleasing music. “But how can you see and recognise me?” asked the youth. “Where are your eyes?” “My eyes,” he replied, “are in my body.” “And where is your body?” “My body is lying in my bed.” “And are your eyes open or closed?” “They are closed.” “If they are closed, they can see nothing. Admit, then, since you see me even with your eyes closed, recognise me distinctly and have heard the music, even though your senses slept, that the functions of the mind do not depend on the corporal senses and that the soul, even when separated from the body, can nevertheless see, hear, consider and understand. ” Then the sacred dream ended and the youth left the physician, who never after doubted this truth.” – (Sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent, 20 February 1622).
Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 4 March – The Memorial of St Casimir (1458-1484) Confessor, Prince – Saturday of Ember Week in Lent – Ecclesiasticus Sirach 31:8-11,Luke 12:35-40 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The just shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall grow up, like the cedar of Lebanon.” Psalm 91:13
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning … ” Luke 12:35-36
VIGILANT FAITH AND CHARITY St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“IT WORKS THE SAME WAY with faith as with charity. We know by the works which charity performs, whether faith is dead or dying. When it produces no good works, we conclude that it is dead and when they are few and sluggish, that, it is dying. But just as there is a dead faith, there must also be a living one which is its opposite. It is excellent. Joined and United with charity and vivified by it, it is strong, firm and Constant. It performs many great and good works which deserve the praise: “Oh, how great is your faith!Let all that you desire be done.” …
It is great because of the good works it performs and also because of the many virtues which accompany it and which it governs. … So charity united to faith is not only followed by all the virtues but, as a queen, she commands them and all obey and fight for her and, according to her will. From this, results the multitude of good works, of a living faith.
There is a vigilant faith which, again, depends on its union with charity. But there is also one which is sluggish, dull and apathetic and, it is the opposite of vigilant faith. It is lax in applying itself to the consideration of the Mysteries of our Religion. It is completely torpid and, for this reason, it does not penetrate revealed Truths at all. It sees them, to be sure and knows them, because its eyes are not altogether closed. It is not asleep but it is drowsy or dozing. It resembles weary people who, although their eyes are open, see almost nothing and although they hear talking, they neither know nor understand what is said. Why? Because they are quite overcome with sleepiness. …
But vigilant faith not only performs good works, like living faith, it also penetrates and understands revealed Truths quickly and with great depth and subtlety of perception. It is active and diligent, in seeking and embracing those things which can increase and strengthen it. It watches and perceives from afar, all its enemies. It is always on the alert to discover the good and to avoid evil. It guards itself against anything which could ruin it. Vigilant, it walks firmly and easily keeps from falling over precipices.
This vigilant faith is accompanied by the Four Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude, Prudence, Justice and Temperance. It uses them as an Armoured Breastplate to put its enemies to flight, or to remain among them firm, invincible and unshaken. So great is its strength that it fears nothing because, not only is it strong but also, it is aware of its strength and by Whom it is supported—Truth itself!” (Sermon for Thursday after the First Sunday of Lent, 17 February 1622).
One Minute Reflection – 3 March – “The Month of the St Joseph” – Ember Friday, First Week of Lent – Ezekiel 18:20-28, John 5:1-15 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“Now a certain man was there who had been thirty-eight years under his infirmity. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been in this state a long time, He said to him: Do you wish to be made whole?” – John 5:5-6
REFLECTION – “Christ’s Miracles are symbols of the different events of our eternal salvation, … this pool is the symbol of the precious gift the Lord’s Word gives us. To explain – this water is the Jewish people; the five porticos are the Law which Moses wrote in five books. And so, this pool was surrounded by five porticos, like the people enclosed by the Law. The water which was stirred and troubled, is the Saviour’s Passion in this people’s midst. Whoever went down into this water was healed – but only one person so as to express unity. Those, who were unable to bear anyone speaking to them about the Passion, are the proud – they do not wish to go down and are not healed. “What!” says that arrogant man: “Believe a God to be Incarnate! that a God was Born of a woman that a God has been Crucified, Scourged, covered with Wounds ,that He Died and has been Buried?! No, I would never believe in these Humiliations of a God, they are unworthy of Him.”
Let your heart speak here, rather than your head. The Humiliations of a God seem unworthy to the arrogant and that is why they are very far from a cure. So protect yourself from this pride. If you desire your healing, accept to go down. There would be something to be worried about, if someone said to you that Christ had undergone some sort of change, in becoming Incarnate. But no, … your God remains what He Is, have no fear; He does not perish and He prevents you yourselves from perishing. Yes, He remains what He Is; He Is born of a woman but according to the flesh … it is as Man that He has been Seized, Bound, Scourged, Mocked and finally Crucified and put to Death. Why be afraid? The Word of the Lord remains forever. Anyone who refuses these humiliations of a God, does not wish to be cured of the mortal swelling of his pride.
By His Incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ has, therefore, restored hope to our flesh. He assumed the fruits of this earth which are only too well known and common – Birth and Death. Birth and death – here indeed are goods that the earth possesses in abundance! But in them were found, neither resurrection nor eternal life. He found here the unfortunate fruits of this unfruitful earth and gave us, in exchange, the possessions of His Heavenly Kingdom!” – St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace (Sermon 124).
PRAYER – From all perils of soul and body defend us, O Lord, we beseech Thee and by the intercession of blessed and gloriosus ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, graciously grant us safety and peace that all adversities and errors, being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. 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).Through the same 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).
One Minute Reflection – 1 March – Ember Wednesday – 3 Kings. 19:3-8, Matthew 12:38-50 –The Memorial of St David (c 542-c 601) Bishop, Confessor – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The sign of Jonah” – Matthew 12:39
REFLECTION – “You were conducted by the hand to the holy pool of Sacred Baptism, just as Christ was conveyed from the Cross to the sepulchre close at hand [in this Church of the Holy Sepulchre]. Each person was asked if he believed in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You made the confession that brings salvation and submerged yourselves three times in the water and emerged, by this symbolic gesture, you were secretly re-enacting the burial of Christ, three days in the tomb. For just as our Saviour spent three days and nights in the bosom of the earth, so you, upon first emerging, were representing Christ… You saw nothing when immersed – as if it were night but you emerged – as if to the light of day. In one and the same action, you died and were born, the water of salvation became both tomb and mother for you…
What a strange and astonishing situation! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we did not really hang from a cross and rise again. Our imitation was symbolic but our salvation a reality! Christ truly hung from a Cross, was truly buried and truly rose again. All this He did gratuitously for us, so that we might share His sufferings by imitating them and gain salvation in actuality. What transcendent kindness! Christ endured nails in His innocent Hands and Feet and suffered pain and by letting me participate in the pain, without anguish or sweat, He freely bestows salvation on me! …
We know well that not merely does Baptism cleanse sins and bestow on us the gift of the Holy Spirit – it is also the sign of Christ’s suffering. This is why, as we heard just now, Paul cried out: “Are you unaware that we, who were Baptised into Christ Jesus, were Baptised into His Death? We were indeed buried with Him through Baptism into death”… So, in order that we may realise that Christ endured all His sufferings for us and our salvation IN actuality and not in symbolism and that, we share in His pains, Paul cried out the literal truth: “If we have grown into union with Him through a death like His, we shall also be united with Him in the resurrection,” (Rom 6,3-5). – St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350) Bishop of Jerusalem, Father and Doctor of the Church (Catechesis no.20/2nd Mystagogy) .
PRAYER – We beseech Thee, O Lord, look graciously upon the fervour of Thy people, who mortify themselves in the flesh through abstinence that they may be refreshed in spirit, by the fruit of these good works and the intercession of Thy blessed Confessor, David. 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).
Saint of the Day – 1 January – Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord
“At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the Child should be circumcised; His Name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel, before He was conceived in the womb.” – Luke 2:21
Excerpt from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, (Part IV – “Hallowed be Thy Name“”)
In the Old Law (Gen. 17:12), it was required that every male child should, on the eighth day after his birth, be circumcised and thus admitted among God’s chosen people. The rite of circumcision in the Old Law corresponded to the Sacrament of Baptism in the New Law and was the means of remitting original sin. Our Lord, although free from every sin, submitted to this rite, in order to show that He was a true Son of Abraham, to manifest respect and obedience to the established law and, to prove that He had a real human body. At the time of circumcision, a name was given to the child. Our Lord was called Jesus, which signified His office as Saviour. On this Feast of the Circumcision, therefore, it is most appropriate that we should meditate on the first petition of the Lord’s prayer, “hallowed be thy name.”
I. The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer. In the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer we ask that God’s Name may be honoured, which shows that God’s glory should be our chief desire. This petition does not mean that God’s essential glory or perfection should be increased, nor that the honour given Him on earth, should be equal to that shown Him in Heaven.
II. The objects of this petition. We ask: That we may praise God with our hearts and lips; That those in error may be brought to recognise and revere His Church; That sinners may be converted to His service; That men may learn to refer all blessings to Him as to their Author and source.
CONCLUSION. Our conduct should be in conformity with this petition. Catholics must not cause the Name of God or of His Church, to be profaned by their own evil words and actions. On the contrary, by clean speech and good example, Catholics ought to excite others to exalt the Name of God, to respect the Faith of Christ, and to honour His Church. Good resolutions for the New Year!
Thought for the Day – 28 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Prudence and Simplicity
“Prudence is one of the Cardinal Virtues frequently recommended in the Sacred Scriptures. “If you receive My words and treasure My commands,” the Holy Spirit tells us in the Book of Proverbs, “turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding… if you seek her like silver and like hidden treasures, search her out, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, the knowledge of God you will find” (Prov 2:2-61). Then, He promises, God will counsel and protect you, “for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will please your soul, discretio will watch over you, understanding will guard you; saving you from the way of evil men” (Cf Prov 2:2-12).
The word ‘prudence,‘ as St Thomas Aquinas explains, is derived from the word ‘providence‘ and it consists in ordering everything correctly towards its proper end (Summa Theologiae II-II, q 49, a 6). From that we can see how necessary this virtue is. A man who can order everything correctly, towards its own end, does everything as it ought to be done. He will have achieved true wisdom, which is the foundation of sanctity.
To speak when we should speak; to be silent when we should be silent; never to leave unsaid what ought to be said but, to know when we should speak and how much; to pay attention mainly to necessary things, that is, to God and to the supernatural; to avoid every thought which would separate us from God and endanger our salvation; to love God more than anything else and more than ourselves because, He is the supreme good and our supreme happiness; to love other things only in God and for Him; solely to direct all our actions proportionately towards God, towards our neighbour and, towards ourselves and, to avoid every act which would alienate us from God, which would be contrary to His precepts, or which would endanger our eternal salvation.
And this is true prudence, which is founded on divine wisdom and must be continually nourished by the grace of God an inspired by charity. Since this virtue pervades and embraces all the others, a man who achieves perfection in it, has reached the peak of holiness.
But perhaps we are too preoccupied with worldly interests and so, stray from the straight path which leads to God and to sanctity? ”
Quote/s of the Day – 27 September – Wisdpm 5:16-20, Luke 6:17-23
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“The soul must grow and expand so as to be capable of God. And its largeness is its love, as the Apostle says, “widen yourselves in love” (2 Cor 6:13). It grows and extends spiritually, not in substance but in virtue. The greatness of each soul is judged by the measure of love that it has- he who has great love, is great- he who has little love is little, while he who has no love at all – is nothing!”
St Bernard (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“This death … has already levelled his bow to strike me. Is it not prudent to prevent its stroke, by dying now to the world, that at my death, I may live to God?”
St Francis Borgia (1510-1572)
“Do not live any longer in yourself but let Jesus Christ live in you in such a way that the virtue of this Divine Saviour may be resplendent in all your actions, in order that all may see in you a true portrait of the Crucified and sense, the sweetest fragrance of the holy virtues of the Lord, in interior and exterior modesty, in patience, in gentleness, suffering, charity, humility and in all others that follow.”
St Paul of the Cross (1604-1775)
“You leave the land just as it is when you depart, you do not carry anything away. Our first aim is to go to God, we are not on earth for anything but this!”
Thought for the Day – 24 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Eternity lies ahead. Where the tree falls, there it will remain. So it will be with us. If we have to our credit works of virtue and of apostolic labour, death will be for us, as it was for St Francis, the good sister, who will release us from the bonds which tie us to this earth, so that the soul can soar to its longed-for haven of everlasting joy, in the company of God. But, if we are so unfortunate, at this last moment, as to find ourselves in mortal sin, we shall be deprived forever of the sight of God and, as a result, of everlasting happiness. We shall be hurled into the eternal abyss, where there is no light, nor hope and where torments will have no end!
While there is still time, let us meditate on these truths. Remember – this hour, might be our last!”
Thought for the Day – 19 July – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Voice of God – The Saints
“God speaks to us through His Saints.
The Saints are those in whom God dwells in such a special way that their entire personalities reflect Him. They live the Gospel perfectly. They have renounced themselves in order to belong completely to God. Not only have they overcome their evil inclinations but, they have conquered themselves in the process of that Christian annihilation which, sublimates human nature, rather than destroys it. They have enthroned God in the place of their own will and of their own ego, so that, like St Paul, they can claims: “It is no longer I that live but Christ lives in me.”
God still speaks to us through His Saints, for even in this troubled and [digital] age, there are pure and humble souls declared to God and the service of their fellowmen. Whenever we encounter one of these privileged beings, whether in the pages of a book [or online] or in our actual surrounding world, let us pay attention to them and do our best to imitate their virtues.”
Thought for the Day – 9 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Cardinal Virtues of Mary
“Holy Mary, make the cardinal virtues flourish in my soul, as they did in yours. May they light my way through life and show me the way to Heaven. Protect me my Mother, when I am in danger of losing any of these virtues and obtain for me, from your Divine Son, Jesus, the grace which will nourish and restore them. Amen.”
Thought for the Day – 3 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Let us weep for our sins and increase in love for our Divine Redeemer. When we are oppressed by the weight of our own cross, we shall look at the Crucifix and find comfort. When we are tempted, we shall grasp the Crucifix and turn away with horror from thoughts of sin and ingratitude.
The Crucifix will teach us, as it taught the Saints, the lesson of charity towards God and towards our neighbour. It will teach us to hate sin and to love virtue. If we cherish it during life, it will be our consolation to kiss the Crucifix at the moment of death.”
Quote/s of the Day – 21 February – St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595)
“We … are under an obligation to be the light of the world by the modesty of our behaviour, the fervour of our charity, the innocence of our lives and the example of our virtues. Thus shall we be able to raise the lowered prestige of the Catholic Church and, to build up again, the ruins that others by their vices have caused. Others, by their wickedness, have branded the Catholic Faith with a mark of shame, we must strive, with all our strength, to cleanse it from its ignominy and to restore it to its pristine glory!”
“Christianity is warfare and Christians are spiritual soldiers.”
“Not where I breathe but where I love, I live.”
“When Fortune smiles, I smile to think, how quickly she will frown.”
“Where sin was hatched, let tears now wash the nest.”
“The path to Heaven is narrow, rough and full of wearisome and trying ascents, nor can it be trodden without great toil and, therefore, wrong is their way, gross their error nd assured their ruin, who, after the testimony of so many thousands of Saints, will not learn where to settle their footing!”
“The Epiphany” By St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Martyr
To blaze the rising of this glorious sun A glittering star appeareth in the east Whose sight to pilgrim toil three sages won To seek the light they long had in request, And by this star to nobler star they pace Whose arms did their desired sun embrace.
Still was the sky wherein these planets shined And want the cloud that did eclipse their rays, Yet through this cloud their passage they did find, And pierced these sages’ hearts by secret ways, Which made them know, the Ruler of the skies By Infant tongue and looks of babish eyes.
Heaven at her light, earth blusheth at her pride And of their pomp these peers ashamed be, Their crowns, their robes, their train they set aside When God’s poor cottage, clouts and crew they see, All glorious things their glory now despise Since God contempt doth more than glory prize.
Three gifts they bring, three gifts they bear away, For Incense, Myrrh and Gold, Faith, Hope and Love And with their gifts the givers’ hearts do stay, Their mind from Christ, no parting can remove, His humble state, His stall, His poor retinue They fancy more than all their rich revenue.
St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Priest and Martyr
Quote/s of the Day – 12 January – The Memorial of St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
“If Saul, who “breathed murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord” … was the object of such mercy … that he was “caught up to the third heaven, whether in the body or out of the body,” it is not surprising, that the holy Mother of God – who stayed beside her Son through all the trials He endured, from His cradle onwards – should have been lifted up to Heaven, even in her body and exalted high above the Choirs of Angels.”
“Charity may be a very short word but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man’s entire relation to God and to his neighbour.”
“Faith is not even a virtue, unless it is expressed by love; nor is hope, unless it loves what it hopes for.
And if we look more closely, do we not see, that temperance is only love, that no pleasure can seduce?
that prudence, is only love, that no error can mislead;
that fortitude is only love, courageously enduring adversity
and that justice, is only impartial love. mitigating the injustices of this life?
Charity, therefore, begins with faith, is exercised through the other virtues but achieves perfection in itself.”
St Aelred of Rievaulx O. Cist. (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
Thought for the Day – 1 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Blessedness of Those who Hunger and Thirst for Justice
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice” says Jesus Christ, “for they shall be satified” (Mt 5:6). These words oblige us to seek justice in our actions, if we desire the happiness which Our Lord promised to the just.
We must understand, of course, what is intended here by the word “justice.” It may be interpreted in two ways. According to its most common meaning, justice is the cardinal virtue which obliges us to give every man his due. Often in Sacred Scripture, however, the word is synonymous with perfection or holiness; that is, it is the synthesis of all the virtues. It is in this sense, that Jesus employs the term when He says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be given you besides” (Mt 6:33).
In its fullest sense then, justice embraces our relations with God, with ourselves and with our neighbour. In the first place, we must be just towards God and, therefore, in accordance with the Gospel precepts, we must “render to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Since everything belongs to God, our Creator and Redeemer, we must offer everything to Him, including ourselves, all that we are and all that we possess. We have only obligations in regard to God and no rights because, we have received everything from Him. We oughts to obey Him, therefore, as our supreme lawgiver. We ought to adore Him and to love Him, with a greater love than we have for any creature or for ourselves because, He is the highest good, which merits all our love and which alone, can satisfy us. We should express our love, moreover, by our actions and by the complete dedication of ourselves to His honour and glory.
Justice, then, is in fact, Christian perfection and is the synthesis of all the virtues. That great pagan writer, Cicero, had already perceived this, when he wrote that “piety is the foundation of all the virtues” (Pro Plancio, 12:29) and that “piety is justice in regard to God” (De natura deorum, I, 4). Justice in our relations with God, demands, that we adore, love and obey Him. In this way, we lay the basis of all the virtues. “”
Thought for the Day – 24 July – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Particular and General Judgements
“It is appointed unto men to die once and after this comes the judgement” (Heb 9:27).
To have to appear before the Face of the Living God is terrifying for everybody. How much more terrifying will it be for the sinner? Weighed down by numberless sins, he will stand before the scrutinising gaze of God. He will be able to hide nothing. Everything will be evident and clear. The Countenance of our Divine Redeemer, which was mild and merciful during life, will at that moment be that of a severe and just Judge. After having scorned so many graces, after having spurned so many calls to conversion and so many secret inspirations to change his life, after dying unrepentant …behold the sinner in the presence of his Eternal Judge. At that moment, he will hear the irrevocable sentence resounding in his ears “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire chich was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). This terrible condemnation will be publicly repeated, moreover, at the general judgement. Memento mori!”
Quote/s of the Day – 23 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – Readings: Exodus 20: 1-17; Psalms 19: 8, 9, 10, 11; Matthew 13: 18-23
“But he that received the seed upon good ground”
“ If you would rise, shun luxury, for luxury lowers and degrades.“
St John Chyrsostum (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Let us then learn from the Cross of Jesus our proper way of living. Should I say ‘living’ or, instead, ‘dying’? Rather, both living and dying. Dying to the world, living for God. Dying to vices and living by the virtues. Dying to the flesh but living in the spirit. Thus in the Cross of Christ, there is death and in the Cross of Christ, there is life. The death of death is there and the life of life. The death of sins is there and the life of the virtues. The death of the flesh is there and the life of the spirit. … It was fitting, that we, who had fallen because of a tree, might rise up because of a tree.”
St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) “St Bernard of the North”
Thought for the Day – 27 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Depending Always on Jesus
“Virtue is difficult and life holds more trials than consolations. Sometimes, we feel discouraged because virtue seems impossible and we fall so often, in spite of our best resolutions or because, our cross seems too heavy and we feel that we are overburdened.
Where will we find comfort in our sufferings and strength in our weakness? “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Go to Jesus and depend always on Him.
Difficulties will be overcome, the cross will grow lighter, the pain will be less severe, if we rely always on Jesus. Isaias, the Prophet, placed these words on the lips of God: “I have made you and I will bear-I will carry and I will save” (Is 46:3). At that time, Jesus had not yet come; He was not yet present among us with His doctrine, with His consoling spirt and with His Divine Eucharist. Now things are different; we have Emmanuel, God with us! Why, therefore, do we not allow ourselves to be carried by Him? It is necessary for us to allow ourselves to be “Carried by the grace of God,” (Bk II, Ch 9) as The Imitation of Christ puts it.
If God is with us, who or what can prevail against us?
We must, as St Francis de Sales writes, lean on the arm of Jesus, as the child leans securely on the arm of it’s mother. “It matters little,” he adds, “where she walks, on a grassy plain or on a steep path surrounded by precipices.” She, is his mother and she carries him; that is enough to make him happy and content. We must trust Jesus in this way, relying always on His support in joy and in sorrow, in moments of trial and in moments of satisfaction, in life and in death. Let us not be afraid; Jesus is better and stronger than our earthly mother. If He guides and supports us, we can be sure of Heaven, no matter what happens!”
Thought for the Day – 9 May – “Mary’s Month” Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Cardinal Virtues of Mary
“Let us compare ourselves with Mary and consider how far we have succeeded in acquiring these virtues. If we are to possess fully, the Cardinal virtue of JUSTICE, we must direct all our thoughts, desires and actions, towards God. Since everything comes from God, we should offer everything back to Him. If we fail to do this, we are guilty of injustice towards God. We take for ourselves, something which belongs to Him. We must also be just to our neighbour. It is not enough to be charitable only because there can be no charity, unless, it is founded on justice. This justice should characterise our thoughts and judgements, as well as our words and actions.
Have we the Virtue of PRUDENCE? Prudence demands constant self-control. How often do we lose control over ourselves and say things which we ought not to say, or do things, which we ought not to do? Prudence is a splendid virtue, which can be obtained by the grace of God, by living a life of union with Him. It necessitates constant vigilance over our faculties and passions, in order to ensure, that nothing will interfere with our rational conduct and with our observance of the commandments of God.
Interior TEMPERANCE, is simply the result of prudence, insofar, as it obliges us to master ourselves and to abstain from everything which could upset the proper order of our faculties, in relation to one another and to God. If we are inwardly temperate, we shall show external temperance in our words and deeds. We shall abstain, in other words, from everything suggested by our lower nature, which is contrary to the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. This means, we shall observe among other things, the Church’s laws of fasting and abstinence. We shall keep away from dangerous amusements and from anything else which could be harmful to ourselves or to our neighbour.
Finally, we must imitate the FORTITUDE of Mary. We must be brave in the face of temptation to sin, in suffering and in all the diffculties of life. Looking always towards Heaven, our true home, we shall find at last, the peace and happiness, which have no end.”
Thought for the Day – 6 May – “Mary’s Month” Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Virginal Purity of Mary
“Purity is the most beautiful of virtues. It is a virtue which is admired by God and by men, even by the most corrupt. It is often said, that it makes us like the angels but in fact, looking at it in a particular way, it makes us superior to the angels. Since they have no bodies, the angels cannot sin against purity, while we have to fight many battles and overcome many temptations, in order to preserve our chastity. Jesus had a very special love for this virtue. He chose to be born of a virgin and, He showed a particular affection for St John, who was a dedicated celibate. On one occasion, He placed His Hands on the head of a little child and said: “Unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven “(Mt:18.3)
Unfortunately, the virtue of purity is as fragile as it is beautiful. It can be lost in a single moment of weakness. We must love ths virtue as Mary loved it. We must be prepared to make any sacrifice, even the most heroic, rather than lose it. Worldly charm and beauty attract us and the devil works hard to control our imagination and our affections. On account of the disturbance of original sin, the flesh is like a terrible weight retarding our spiritual advancement. Sometimes it seems as if it is irresistibly drawing us towards the abyss of impurity. But we need not be dragged down, if we are prepared to fly from the occasions of sin and to pray to God and to our heavenly Mother for her intercession. We must always act at once, for there is no time to dally. It is fatal to remain inactive and to allow temptation to make its way into our soul. This kind of battle, said St Francis de Sales, is won only by soldiers who flee. We must fly from the occasions of sin, no matter what sacrifice this entails. Jesus has warned us, that it is better to enter Heaven without a hand or a foot, than to be cast into hell.
We know the remedies – instant flight, heroic sacrifice and constant prayer. We can leave the rest to the grace of God and to the maternal protection of Mary.”
One Minute Reflection – 21 April – Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 8:1-8, Psalm 66:1-7, John 6:35-40 and the Memorial of St Anselm (1033-1109) Doctor of the Church
“I am the bread of life” John 6:35
REFLECTION – “When Christ Himself has said of the bread: “This is my body” who could waver? And when He asserts that “This is my blood” who could be in doubt? Once, in Cana of Galilee, Jesus changed water into wine – which is akin to blood. So who could now refuse to believe it, if He transforms wine into blood? He wrought this amazing miracle when invited to an earthly marriage, so how could anyone refuse to acknowledge that He might grant the happiness of His own Body and Blood, to “the friends of the Bridegroom,” (Mt 9,15)?
For His body, has been given to you under the appearance of bread and His blood, under the appearance of wine, so that, when you have partaken of the body and blood of Christ, you might be one body and one blood with Him. So shall we become Christ-bearers [“Christophers”]. His body and blood are diffused through all our members – see, then, how we become participants in the divine nature! Formerly, when He was talking to the Jews, Christ said: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you do not have life in you” (Jn 6,53. If the bread and wine only seem to be purely natural substances to you, don’t stop at that… If your senses lead you astray, let your faith reassure you.
So when you draw near to receive him do not do so without respect, holding out the palms of your hands with your fingers spread apart. But since the King is about to rest in your right hand, make a Throne for Him with your left. Receive the Body of Christ in the hollow of your hand and answer: Amen!” – St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350) Bishop of Jerusalem, Father & Doctor of the Church – Catechetical Lectures to the Newly Baptised, 22
PRAYER – Holy almighty God, in Your wisdom You created us and by Your providence You rule and feed us with the bread of life, Your Divine Son Penetrate our inmost being with Your holy light, so that our way of life may always be one of faithful service, as we follow Your Son, who leads us to eternal life. May the prayers of Mary our Mother and St AAnselm, help us to shine Your light on our neighbour. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Acts 8: 1b-8 1 There was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem and they were all dispersed through the countries of Jude, and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men took order for Stephen’s funeral, and made great mourning over him. 3 But Saul made havock of the church, entering in from house to house and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison. 4 They. therefore. that were dispersed, went about preaching the word of God. 5 And Philip going down to the City of Samaria, preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord were attentive to those things which were said by Philip, hearing and seeingthe miracles which he did. 7 For many of them who had unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, went out. 8 And many, taken with the palsy and that were lame, were healed.
Gospel: John 6: 35-40 35 And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life,-he that comes to me, shall not hunger and he that believeth in me, shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, that you also have seen me and you believe not. 37 All that the Father gives to me, shall come to me; and him that comes to me, I will not cast out. 38 Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me. 39 Now this is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing but should raise it up agaiin, the last day. 40 And this is the will of my Father that sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him, may have life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest and, which most wins the heart of Him, who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God, is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.
St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee but, even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord’s partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.
This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times — The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — says more than any commentary could do. St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built – he, then, was honoured most but St John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.
Chastity of soul and body brings him, who possesses i,t into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper – that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls – John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love, it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.
Divine wisdom, wishing to make known to the world, the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture, those profound secrets, which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write — the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this, his Virgin-Disciple, the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach — THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.
Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and, therefore, fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head – how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! [Col. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church and, to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian. This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John, a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master, he made them known to the Church and, especially, that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His own, whom he had always tenderly loved but most so, at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth out fear — and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was forever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence, the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on His cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over His Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her? — for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross – we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son — Mary is to be John’s Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, — miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.
Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood — is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses — what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there — they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity — an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution and our tribute to the Lamb.
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” – Matthew 22:2
REFLECTION – “There are three kinds of marriage – the one that concerns union, the one that is about justification and the one that is about glorification. The first kind were celebrated within the temple of the Virgin Mary; the second kind are celebrated daily within the temple of faithful souls and the third, will be celebrated in the temple of heavenly glory. The purpose of a wedding is to unite two people, the bridegroom and the bride. If two families are against each other, marriage usually unites them, when a man from one side marries a woman from the other. Between ourselves and God, there used to be a great division – to wipe it out and establish peace, the Son of God had to take His bride from someone of our lineage. To realise this marriage, numerous intermediaries and peacemakers intervened who, through their insistent prayers, were able to win it, at great cost. Finally, the Father Himself gave His consent and sent His Son, who joined Himself to our nature in the marriage chamber of the Virgin Mary’s womb. Thus the Father “gave a marriage feast for his Son.” In the same way, the second kind of marriage is celebrated when the grace of the Holy Spirit intervenes and the soul is converted (…) The grace of the Holy Spirit is the bridegroom of the soul. When He calls it to repentance with His interior inspiration, all appeal from the vices is without effect. Finally, the third kind of marriage will be celebrated at the coming of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, on the Day of Judgement. Of Him it is written: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him” (Mt 25:6). He will take the Church itself as bride, as John says in the Book of Revelation: “Come here. I will show you the Bride, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, gleaming with the splendour of God” (cf. Rv 21:9-11). The Church of the Faithful comes down from heaven, from beside God, for it has obtained from God that it’s dwelling should be in the heavens. And so, at present, it lives by faith and hope but very soon it will celebrate it’s espousals with it’s bridegroom: “Blessed,” says the Book of Revelation, “are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb!” (Rv 19:9).” … St Anthony of Padua OFM (1195-1231) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – All-knowing God, let me be able to stand in Your presence with a good conscience. Send Your Holy Spirit to fill my soul with the enlightenment of repentance and then to guide my steps towards the wedding feast You have prepared for Your Son. You made St Bernard burn with zeal for Your house and gave him the grace to enkindle and enlighten others in Your Church. Grant that by his prayer, we may be filled with the same spirit and always live as children of the Light. Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Sunday Reflection – 12 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – The Fifteenth Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 65:10-14, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-23
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people, longed to see what you see and did not see and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.”
The Sacrament that You Receive is Effected by the Words of Christ
Saint Ambrose (340-397) Bishop and Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his work, On the Mysteries
We see that grace can accomplish more than nature, yet so far we have been considering instances of what grace can do through a prophet’s blessing. If the blessing of a human being had power even to change nature, what do we say of God’s action in the Consecration itself, in which the very words of the Lord and Saviour are effective? If the words of Elijah had power even to bring down fire from heaven, will not the words of Christ have power to change the natures of the elements? You have read that in the creation of the whole world He spoke and they came to be; He commanded and they were created. If Christ could by speaking create out of nothing what did not yet exist, can we say that His words are unable to change existing things into something they previously were not? It is no lesser feat to create new natures for things than to change their existing natures.
What need is there for argumentation? Let us take what happened in the case of Christ Himself and construct the truth of this mystery from the mystery of the incarnation. Did the birth of the Lord Jesus from Mary come about in the course of nature? If we look at nature we regularly find that conception results from the union of man and women. It is clear then, that the conception by the Virgin was above and beyond the course of nature. And this Body, which we make present, is the Body born of the Virgin. Why do you expect to find in this case, that nature takes its ordinary course in regard to the Body of Christ, when the Lord Himself was born of the Virgin in a manner above and beyond the order of nature? This is indeed the true flesh of Christ, which was crucified and buried. This is then, in truth, the Sacrament of His Flesh.
The Lord Jesus Himself declares – This is my Body. Before the blessing contained in these words, a different thing is named; after the Consecration a Body is indicated. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the Consecration something else is spoken of; after the Consecration Blood is designated. And you say: “Amen,” that is: “It is true.” What the mouth utters, let the mind within, acknowledge, what the word says, let the heart ratify.
So the Church, in response to grace so great, exhorts her children, exhorts her neighbours, to hasten to these mysteries – Neighbours, she says, come and eat; brethren, drink and be filled. In another passage the Holy Spirit has made clear to you what you are to eat, what you are to drink. Taste, the prophet says and see, that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who puts his trust in Him. Christ is in that sacrament, for it is the Body of Christ. It is, therefore, not bodily food but spiritual. Thus the Apostle too says, speaking of its symbol – Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink. For the body of God is spiritual; the body of Christ is that of a divine spirit, for Christ is a spirit. We read – The spirit before our face is Christ the Lord. And in the letter of Saint Peter we have this – Christ died for you. Finally, it is this food that gives strength to our hearts, this drink which gives joy to the heart of man, as the prophet has written.
You must be logged in to post a comment.