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.
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.
Thought for the Day – 9 May – “Mary’s Month” Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Cardinal Virtues of Mary
“Mary’s soul has been appropriately styled, ‘the Garden of all the Virtues.’ In it, the three theological virtues were wonderfully interwoven with the four cardinal virtues of, justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.
As St John Chrysostom observed, justice is nothing else but the perfect observance of all the commandments. (Homil 12 super Matth). The Blessed Virgin obeyed all the commandments in her relations with God, to Whom she dedicated herself, from the moment when she gained the use of reason. She obeyed them in her relations with her Son, Jesus Christ, for she reared and instructed Him with loving maternal care, even though she knew that He was God and had no need of her attention. She fulfilled them in her relations with men, for whose salvation, she united her sufferings and her merits, to the infinite sufferings ad merits of our Saviour.
Furthermore, Mary was prudence itself. This virtue shone forth in all her words and in all her actions. When the Angel appeared in human form and told her that she was to be the Mother of God, she was not flattered nor complacent. She thought calmly about the mystery which had been announced to her and asked the Angel how it could come to be, since she had already consecrated her virginity to God. She pronounced her Fiat only when she was reassured by the Angel that through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, she would be a virgin mother. This was the beginning of the miracle of the Incarnation. When she was greeted by St Elizabeth as the Mother of the Lord, she did not boast about her distinction but composed a hymn of gratitude, in which she attributed her glory to God alone. Mary’s prudence, is equally evident in her words of gentle reproof to Jesus after He had been lost and found again, in the company of the Doctors. It is again obvious at the wedding celebrations in Cana, when she knew well, how to snatch the first miracle from the heart of Jesus.
Mary possessed the virtue of temperance also, both in her external behaviour and in her perfect internal control over all her faculties. This was the result of her immunity from original sin, which has created such grave moral disorder in our poor human nature. This virtue, was further perfected, by the purity and holiness of her daily life.
Finally, the virtue of fortitude was Mary’s to an heroic degree. But her fortitude was always calm and controlled. The elderly Simeon had foretold that the sword of sorrow would pierce her heart. Her whole life was interwoven with suffering and privation. From the manger in Bethlehem, to the flight into Egypt, from the Circumcision, when Jesus first shed His blood, to the Hill of Calvary, where He gave all He had for our salvation. Mary offered her sufferings along with those of her divine Son for our redemption. Her fortitude never wavered but was always serene, for her mind and heart were in constant communication with God.”
Quote/s of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles and Martyrs, Gospel: Luke 6:12-19
“Simon was worlds apart from Matthew, who, on the contrary, had an activity behind him as a tax collector that was frowned upon as entirely impure. This shows that Jesus called His disciples and collaborators, without exception, from the most varied social and religious backgrounds.
It was people who interested Him, not social classes or labels! And the best thing is that in the group of His followers, despite their differences, they all lived side by side, overcoming imaginable difficulties, indeed, what bound them together, was Jesus Himself, in whom they all found themselves united with one another.
This is clearly a lesson for us who are often inclined to accentuate differences and even contrasts, forgetting, that in Jesus Christ, we are given the strength to get the better of our continual conflicts.
Let us also bear in mind, that the group of the Twelve, is the prefiguration of the Church, where there must be room for all charisms, peoples and races, all human qualities that find their composition and unity in communion with Jesus.”
Pope Benedict XVI
Catechesis on Saints Simon and Jude General Audience Saint Peter’s Square Wednesday, 11 October 2006
“Woe to them! They followed the way of Cain … These are blemishes … as they carouse fearlessly and look after themselves. They are waterless clouds blown about by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead and uprooted. They are like wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameless deeds, wandering stars, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever.”
One Minute Reflection – 18 October – The Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, Gospel: Luke 10:1-9
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, pray therefore, the Lord of the harvest, to send out labourers into his harvest.” … Luke 10:2
Saint Luke’s testimony – “I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately to write it down in an orderly sequence” (Luke 1:3)
REFLECTION – “Among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special pre-eminence and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our Saviour. The Church has always and everywhere, held and continues to hold, that the four Gospels are of apostolic origin. For what the Apostles preached in fulfilment of the commission of Christ, afterwards, they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing – the foundation of faith, namely, the fourfold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy, held and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (Acts 1:1-2). Indeed, after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ’s life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:26).
The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always, in such fashion, that they told us the honest truth about Jesus. For their intention in writing, was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who “themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word” we might know “the truth concerning those matters about which we have been instructed” (Lk 1, 1-4). … Vatican Council II – Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation “ Dei Verbum ” # 18-19
PRAYER – Lord God, You chose St Luke to reveal the mystery of Your love in his preaching and his writings. Grant, we pray, that we may grow in love for the Holy Face of Christ, His words and His directions, revealed to us in the Gospels, in the example of your saints. Today, on his feast, we especially look to St Luke, to guide, teach and pray for us. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You, forever and ever, amen.
Thought for the Day – 2 August – The Memorial of St Eusebius of Vercelli (c 283-371)
Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s
Catechesis on St Eusebius, October 2007
Ambrose’s admiration for Eusebius was based, above all, on the fact that the Bishop of Vercelli governed his Diocese with the witness of his life: “With the austerity of fasting he governed his Church.” Indeed, Ambrose was also fascinated, as he himself admits, by the monastic ideal of the contemplation of God which, in the footsteps of the Prophet Elijah, Eusebius had pursued. First of all, Ambrose commented, the Bishop of Vercelli gathered his clergy in vita communis and educated its members in “the observance of the monastic rule, although they lived in the midst of the city.” The Bishop and his clergy were to share the problems of their fellow citizens and did so credibly, precisely by cultivating, at the same time, a different citizenship, that of Heaven (cf. Heb 13: 14). And thus, they really built true citizenship and true solidarity among all the citizens of Vercelli.
While Eusebius was adopting the cause of the sancta plebs of Vercelli, he lived a monk’s life in the heart of the city, opening the city to God. This trait, though, in no way diminished his exemplary pastoral dynamism. It seems among other things that he set up parishes in Vercelli for an orderly and stable ecclesial service and promoted Marian shrines for the conversion of the pagan populations in the countryside. This “monastic feature,” however, conferred a special dimension on the Bishop’s relationship with his hometown. Just like the Apostles, for whom Jesus prayed at his Last Supper, the Pastors and faithful of the Church “are of the world” (Jn 17: 11), but not “in the world”. Therefore, Pastors, Eusebius said, must urge the faithful not to consider the cities of the world as their permanent dwelling place but to seek the future city, the definitive heavenly Jerusalem. This “eschatological reserve” enables Pastors and faithful to preserve the proper scale of values without ever submitting to the fashions of the moment and the unjust claims of the current political power. The authentic scale of values – Eusebius’ whole life seems to say – does not come from emperors of the past or of today but from Jesus Christ, the perfect Man, equal to the Father in divinity, yet a man like us. In referring to this scale of values, Eusebius never tired of “warmly recommending” his faithful “to jealously guard the faith, to preserve harmony, to be assiduous in prayer”(Second Letter, op. cit.).
Dear friends, I too warmly recommend these perennial values to you, as I greet and bless you, using the very words with which the holy Bishop Eusebius concluded his Second Letter: “I address you all, my holy brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, faithful of both sexes and of every age group, so that you may… bring our greeting also to those who are outside the Church, yet deign to nourish sentiments of love for us.”
Thought for the Day – 22 May – Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter C, Gospel: John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit and everyone that does, he prunes so that it bears more fruit” … John 15:1-2
The Christian in the World
An excerpt from A Letter to Diognetus
(Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)
Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country . Like others, they marry and have children but they do not expose them. They share their meals but not their wives. They live in the flesh but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.
Christians love all men but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death but raised to life again. They live in poverty but enrich many, they are totally destitute but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonour but that is their glory. They are defamed but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference, their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself…Vatican.va
Father of all holiness, guide our hearts to You. Keep in the light of Your truth all those You have freed from the darkness of unbelief. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Prepared by the Spiritual Theology Department of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Marian Thoughts – 14 May – ‘Mary’s Month’ – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter, C
Mini Series – Pope Francis and the Holy Rosary
“I want to recommend some medicine for all of you. It’s a spiritual medicine. Don’t forget to take it. “It’s good for your heart, for your soul, for your whole life.” (17 November 2013)
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
“The annunciation to Mary can be read alongside the announcement to Zechariah of John the Baptist’s birth. One annunciation happens to a priest in the Temple of God, during a liturgy, where everyone is waiting outside, while the other, happens to a young woman named Mary, in a small town that did not necessarily have a good reputation. This contrast is not insignificant. It serves as a sign that the new Temple of God, the new encounter of God with His people, will happen in places which we normally do not expect, on the margins, on the peripheries. By now, it will no longer be in a place reserved for the few, while the majority wait outside. Nothing and no-one, will be indifferent, no situation will be deprived of His presence, the joy of salvation began in the daily life of the home of a youth in Nazareth.
Even today, God is still searching for hearts like Mary’s that are open to welcoming His invitation and providing hope, even when it’s hard.
God continues to walk our neighbourhoods and our streets, He pushes in each place in search of hearts capable of listening to His invitation and making it become flesh here and now.
In the end, the Lord continues to seek hearts like that of Mary, disposed to believe even in very extraordinary conditions.
Just like He did with Mary, God also takes the initiative in our lives, inserting Himself into our daily struggles, anxieties and desires.
It is precisely in the daily routine of our lives, that we receive the most beautiful announcement we can hear – “Rejoice, the Lord is with you!”
(Pope Francis, 2017)
Second Thoughts for the Day – 13 May – Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter, C and the Memorial of Blessed Julian of Norwich (c 1342-c 1430)
Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on Julian of Norwich
Wednesday, 1st December 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I still remember with great joy the Apostolic Journey I made in the United Kingdom last September. England is a land that has given birth to a great many distinguished figures who enhanced Church history with their testimony and their teaching. One of them, venerated both in the Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion, is the mystic Julian of Norwich, of whom I wish to speak this morning.
The — very scant — information on her life in our possession comes mainly from her Revelations of Divine Love in Sixteen Showings, the book in which this kindly and devout woman set down the content of her visions.
It is known that she lived from 1342 until about 1430, turbulent years both for the Church, torn by the schism that followed the Pope’s return to Rome from Avignon and for the life of the people who were suffering the consequences of a long drawn-out war between the Kingdoms of England and of France. God, however, even in periods of tribulation, does not cease to inspire figures such as Julian of Norwich, to recall people to peace, love and joy.
As Julian herself recounts, in May 1373, most likely on the 13th of that month, she was suddenly stricken with a very serious illness that in three days seemed to be carrying her to the grave. After the priest, who hastened to her bedside, had shown her the Crucified One not only did Julian rapidly recover her health but she received the 16 revelations that she subsequently wrote down and commented on in her book, Revelations of Divine Love.
And it was the Lord himself, 15 years after these extraordinary events, who revealed to her the meaning of those visions.
“‘Would you learn to see clearly your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Learn it well – Love was His meaning. Who showed it to you? Love…. Why did He show it to you? For Love’…. Thus I was taught that Love was our Lord’s meaning”(Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 86).
Inspired by divine love, Julian made a radical decision. Like an ancient anchoress, she decided to live in a cell located near the church called after St Julian, in the city of Norwich — in her time an important urban centre not far from London. She may have taken the name of Julian, precisely from that Saint, to whom was dedicated the church, in whose vicinity she lived for so many years, until her death.
This decision to live as a “recluse”, the term in her day, might surprise or even perplex us. But she was not the only one to make such a choice. In those centuries a considerable number of women opted for this form of life, adopting rules specially drawn up, for them, such as the rule compiled by St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167).
The anchoresses or “recluses”, in their cells, devoted themselves to prayer, meditation and study. In this way they developed a highly refined human and religious sensitivity which earned them the veneration of the people. Men and women of every age and condition, in need of advice and comfort, would devoutly seek them. It was not, therefore, an individualistic choice, precisely with this closeness to the Lord, Julian developed the ability to be a counsellor to a great many people and to help those who were going through difficulties in this life.
We also know that Julian too received frequent visitors, as is attested by the autobiography of another fervent Christian of her time, Margery Kempe, who went to Norwich in 1413 to receive advice on her spiritual life. This is why, in her lifetime, Julian was called “Dame Julian”, as is engraved on the funeral monument that contains her remains. She had become a mother to many.
Men and women who withdraw to live in God’s company acquire by making this decision a great sense of compassion for the suffering and weakness of others. As friends of God, they have at their disposal a wisdom that the world — from which they have distanced themselves — does not possess and they amiably share it with those who knock at their door.
It was precisely in the solitude infused with God that Julian of Norwich wrote her Revelations of Divine Love. Two versions have come down to us, one that is shorter, probably the older and one that is longer. This book contains a message of optimism based on the certainty of being loved by God and of being protected by his Providence.
In this book we read the following wonderful words: “And I saw full surely that ere God made us He loved us, which love was never lacking nor ever shall be. And in this love He has made all His works and in this love He has made all things profitable to us and in this love our life is everlasting… in which love we have our beginning. And all this shall we see in God, without end” (Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 86).
The theme of divine love recurs frequently in the visions of Julian of Norwich who, with a certain daring, did not hesitate to compare them also to motherly love. This is one of the most characteristic messages of her mystical theology. The tenderness, concern and gentleness of God’s kindness to us are so great that they remind us, pilgrims on earth, of a mother’s love for her children. In fact, the biblical prophets also sometimes used this language that calls to mind the tenderness, intensity and totality of God’s love, which is manifested in creation and in the whole history of salvation that is crowned by the Incarnation of the Son.
God, however, always excels all human love, as the Prophet Isaiah says: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will never forget you” (Is 49:15).
Julian of Norwich understood the central message for spiritual life – God is love and it is only if one opens oneself to this love, totally and with total trust and lets it become one’s sole guide in life, that all things are transfigured, true peace and true joy found and one is able to radiate it.
I would like to emphasise another point. The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites the words of Julian of Norwich when it explains the viewpoint of the Catholic faith on an argument that never ceases to be a provocation to all believers (cf. nn. 304-313, 314).
If God is supremely good and wise, why do evil and the suffering of innocents exist? And the Saints themselves asked this very question. Illumined by faith, they give an answer that opens our hearts to trust and hope: in the mysterious designs of Providence, God can draw a greater good even from evil, as Julian of Norwich wrote: “Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly hold me in the Faith … and that … I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in … that ‘all manner of thing shall be well”’ (The Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 32).
Yes, dear brothers and sisters, God’s promises are ever greater than our expectations. If we are present to God, to His immense love, the purest and deepest desires of our heart, we shall never be disappointed. “And all will be well”, “all manner of things shall be well” – this is the final message that Julian of Norwich transmits to us and that I am also proposing to you today. Many thanks…Vatican.va
Thought for the Day – 9 May – Thursday Third Week of Easter, C
The Eucharist, Pledge of our Resurrection
Saint Irenaeus (130-202)
Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr
An excerpt from a Against Heresies
If our flesh is not saved, then the Lord has not redeemed us with His blood, the Eucharistic chalice does not make us sharers in His blood and the bread we break, does not make us sharers in His body. There can be no blood without veins, flesh and the rest of the human substance and this the Word of God actually became – it was with His own blood that He redeemed us. As the Apostle says – In Him, through His blood, we have been redeemed, our sins have been forgiven.
We are His members and we are nourished by creatures, which is His gift to us, for it is He who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall. He declared that the chalice, which comes from His creation, was His blood and He makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread, which comes from His creation, was His body and He makes it, the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake, receive the Word of God, the Eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies, live and grow. How then can it be said, that flesh belonging to the Lord’s own body and nourished by His body and blood, is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life? Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of His body, of His flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is His body.
The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God’s word, they become the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the Eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up, to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God’s power is shown most perfectly in weakness.
Thought for the Day – 2 May – Thursday of the Second week of Easter, Gospel: John 3:31–36 and the Memorial of St Athanasius (297-373)
On the Incarnation of the Word
Saint Athanasius (297-373)
Bishop, Great Eastern Father & Doctor of the Church
Known as “The Father of Orthodoxy”
An excerpt from On the Incarnation of the Word
The Word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible and immaterial, entered our world. Yet it was not as if He had been remote from it up to that time. For there is no part of the world that was ever without His Presence; together with His Father, He continually filled all things and places.
Out of His loving-kindness for us, He came to us and we see this in the way He revealed Himself openly to us. Taking pity on mankind’s weakness and moved by our corruption, He could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us, He did not want creation to perish and His Father’s work in fashioning man, to be in vain. He, therefore, took to Himself a body, no different from our own, for He did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen.
If He had wanted simply to be seen, He could indeed have taken another and nobler, body. Instead, He took our body in its reality.
Within the Virgin, He built himself a temple, that is, a body, He made it His own instrument in which to dwell and to reveal Himself. In this way, He received from mankind, a body like our own and, since all were subject to the corruption of death, He delivered this body over to death for all and with supreme love, offered it to the Father. He did so, to destroy the law of corruption, passed against all men, since all died in Him. The law, which had spent its force on the body of the Lord, could no longer have any power over His fellowmen. Moreover, this was the way in which the Word was to restore mankind to immortality, after it had fallen into corruption and summon it back, from death to life. He utterly destroyed the power death had against mankind—as fire consumes chaff—by means of the body He had taken and the grace of the Resurrection.
This is the reason why the Word assumed a body that could die, so that this body, sharing in the Word who is above all, might satisfy death’s requirement in place of all. Because of the Word dwelling in that body, it would remain incorruptible and all would be freed forever from corruption, by the grace of the Resurrection.
In death, the Word made a spotless sacrifice and oblation of the body He had taken. By dying for others, He immediately banished death for all mankind.
In this way the Word of God, who is above all, dedicated and offered His temple, the instrument that was His body, for us all, as He said and so paid, by His own death the debt that was owed. The immortal Son of God, united with all men by likeness of nature, thus fulfilled all justice, in restoring mankind to immortality, by the promise of the resurrection.
The corruption of death, no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among them through His one body.
Thought for the Day – 25 April – Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Congratulations to those who entered the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation, (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion) at the Easter Vigil. You are now members with us, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Welcome Home!
Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s passion
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387)
Bishop, Father, Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his Mystagogical Catechesis 3
You were led down to the font of holy baptism just as Christ was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb which is before your eyes. Each of you was asked, “Do you believe in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” You made the profession of faith that brings salvation, you were plunged into the water and three times you rose again. This symbolised the three days Christ spent in the tomb.
As our Saviour spent three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, so your first rising from the water represented the first day and your first immersion represented the first night. At night a man cannot see but in the day he walks in the light. So when you were immersed in the water, it was like night for you and you could not see but when you rose again, it was like coming into broad daylight In the same instant, you died and were born again, the saving water was both your tomb and your mother.
Solomon’s phrase in another context is very apposite here. He spoke of a time to give birth and a time to die. For you, however, it was the reverse – a time to die and a time to be born, although, in fact, both events took place at the same time and your birth was simultaneous with your death.
This is something amazing and unheard of! It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again. We only did these things symbolically but we have been saved in actual fact. It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again and all this has been attributed to us. We share in His sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality. What boundless love for men! Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails, He suffered the pain. I experience no pain, no anguish, yet, by the share that I have in His sufferings, He freely grants me salvation.
Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ. This is why Paul exclaims: Do you not know that when we were baptised into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in His death? By baptism we went with Him into the tomb.
St Abundius the Sacristan
St Antony of Vilna
St Ardalion the Actor
St Benezet the Bridge Builder
St Bernhard of Tiron
St Domnina of Terni
St Eustace of Vilna
St Fronto of Nitria
St John of Monte Marano
St John of Vilna
St Lambert of Lyon Bl Lucien Botovasoa (1908-1947) Martyr Blessed Lucien’s life: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/saint-of-the-day-14-april-blessed-lucien-botovasoa-o-f-s-1908-1947-martyr/
St Lydwina of Schiedam (1380-1433)
St Maximus of Rome St Peter Gonzalez OP (1190 – 1246) About St Peter: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/saint-of-the-day-14-april-blessed-peter-gonzalez-o-p/
St Tassach of Raholp
St Thomaides of Alexandria
St Tiburtius of Rome
St Valerian of Trastevere
Lenten Reflection – 29 March – Friday of the Third week of Lent, Year C, Gospel: Mark 12:28–34
“…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
St John Vianney (1786-1859)
REPAIRING THE WRONG DONE
Having made satisfaction to God, we must then make satisfaction to our neighbour for the wrong which-either in his body or in his soul — we have done him. I say that it is possible to wrong him in his body, that is to say, in his person, by attacking him either by injurious or insulting words or by bad treatment. If we have sinned against him by injurious words, then we must apologise to him and make our reconciliation with him. If we have done him some wrong by belabouring his animals, as sometimes happens when we find that they have been doing damage among our crops, we are obliged to give him all that we have been the cause of his losing: -we could have got compensation without maltreating these animals. If we have done any harm, we are obliged to repay as soon as we can, otherwise we will be gravely at fault. If we have neglected to do that, we have sinned and we must confess it.
If you have done wrong to your neighbour in his honour, as, for instance, by scandalous talk, you are obliged to make up by favourable and beneficent talk for all the harm you have done to his reputation, saying all the good of him which you know to be true and concealing any faults which he may have and which you are not obliged to reveal. If you have calumniated your neighbour, you must go and find the people to whom you have said false things about him and tell them that what you have been saying is not true, that you are very grieved about it and that you beg them not to believe it.
But if you have done him harm in his soul, it is a still more difficult thing to repair and yet it must be done as far as possible, otherwise God will not pardon you.
You must also examine your conscience as to whether you have given scandal to your children or to your next-door neighbours. How many fathers, mothers, masters and mistresses are there who scandalise their children and their servants, by not saying their prayers morning or evening or by saying them when they are dressing or sitting back in a chair, who do not even make the Sign of the Cross before and after a meal? How many times are they heard swearing, or perhaps even blaspheming?
How many times have they been seen working on Sunday morning, even before Holy Mass?
You must consider, too, whether you have sung bad songs, or brought in bad books, or whether you have given bad counsel, as, for instance, advising someone that he should take his revenge on someone else, should exact satisfaction by force.
Consider, too, whether you have ever taken anything from a next-door neighbour and neglected to pay it back, whether you have neglected to give some alms which you had been told to give or make some restitution which your parents, who are dead, should have made. If you wish to have the happiness of having your sins forgiven, you must have nothing belonging to anyone else, which you should and could pay back. So if you have sullied your neighbour’s reputation, you must do all in your power to repair the damage. You must be reconciled with your enemies, speak to them as if they had never done you anything but good all your life, keeping nothing in your heart but the charity, which the good Christian should have for everyone, so that we can all appear with confidence before the tribunal of God.
Lenten Reflection – 21 March – Thursday of the Second week of Lent, Year C
“There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus…”
St Peter Chrysologus (400-450)
Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church
Sermon 122, On the rich man and Lazarus
“Abraham was very rich,” Scripture tells us (Gn 13:2)… My brethren, Abraham wasn’t rich for himself but for the poor, rather than keeping hold of his fortune, he intended to share it…This man, who was himself a stranger, did not hesitate to do all he could so that the stranger might not feel himself to be a stranger. Living in a tent, he was unable to let a passer-by remain without shelter. Perpetual traveller, he unfailingly welcomed the travellers who came his way… Far from taking his ease in God’s bounty, he knew himself called to spread it abroad, he used it to protect the oppressed, set prisoners free, even to snatch those about to die from their fate (Gn 14:14)… Abraham did not sit but remained standing before the stranger he had received. He was not his guest’s host but made himself his servant. Forgetting that he was master in his own home, he himself brought the food and, concerned that it should be carefully prepared, called on his wife. Where he himself was concerned he relied entirely on his servants, but for the stranger he had received he thought it barely enough to entrust it to his wife’s skill.
What more could I say, my brothers? It was so perfect a consideration… that drew God himself to Abraham’s home and compelled him to become his guest. Thus the very one who would later claim to be welcomed in the person of the poor and the stranger, came to Abraham, rest for the poor, refuge of strangers. “I was hungry,” he said, “and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).
And again, we read in the Gospel: “When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.” Isn’t it only right, brethren, that Abraham should welcome all the saints even into his own rest and should exercise, even in the blessedness of heaven, his service of hospitality?… Doubtless, he could not have considered himself wholly happy unless, even in glory, he was able to continue to practice his ministry of sharing.”
Daily Meditation: Bring us back to you.
The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is our lesson today.
We beg to be open to the workings of the Spirit,
that we might not settle for the consolations of this life alone.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.
LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR
St John Vianney (1786-1859)
“All of our religion is but a false religion and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone, for the good and for the bad, for the poor people as well as for the rich, for all those who do us harm as much as for those who do us good. No, my dear brethren, there is no virtue which will let us know better whether we are the children or God than charity. The obligation we have to love our neighbour is so important, that Jesus Christ put it into a Commandment, which He placed immediately after that by which He commands us to love Him with all our hearts. He tells us that all the law and the prophets are included in this commandment to love our neighbour. Yes, my dear brethren, we must regard this obligation as the most universal, the most necessary and the most essential to religion and to our salvation. In fulfilling this Commandment, we are fulfilling all others. St Paul tells us that the other Commandments forbid us to commit adultery, robbery, injuries, false testimonies. If we love our neighbour, we shall not do any of these things because the love we have for our neighbour would not allow us to do him any harm.”
I hear your invitation, “Come back to me”
and I am filled with such a longing to return to You.
Show me the way to return.
Lead me this day in good works I do in Your name
and send Your Spirit to guide me and strengthen my faith.
I ask only to feel Your love in my life today and if You are with me, how can I not love my neighbour?
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Thought for the day – 19 January – The Memorial of Blessed Marcelo Spínola y Maestre, Cardinal-Priest (1835-1906)
Blessed Marcelo was a pious man, of intense prayer and mortification, extremely sensitive to the needs and suffering of his faithful and an untiring apostle. Homes, workers’ societies, centres where food was given to those who needed it, orphanages, night schools, creation of the faculty of theology of Seville, etc., were all part of his mark. He toured all the dioceses in which he exercised his ministry, travelling on a mule, he fought against the attempt to displace the teaching of religion from public centres as a senator from Granada, consoled the afflicted and took the gospel to every corner, preaching and confessing.
And at the centre of the heart of Blessed Marcelo was the Holy Eucharist. He wrote:
“The masterpiece of Jesus Christ’s love for humanity is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is within our reach. We can all get close to Christ the guest and talk with Him and perceive the warmth of His word. The word! How it inflames the spirits! How will the word of Christ inflame them! We can all get to the altar when He immolates Himself and shouts at us: Look how much I have loved and loved you! And we can all sit at His table and eat the bread and drink the intoxicating wine of charity. “
Quote/s of the Day – 17 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time and The Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
Speaking of: The Sign of the Cross
“The illusions of this world soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.”
St Anthony Abbot (251-356)
“Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink; in our comings in and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are in the way and when we are still. Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the poor’s sake; without toil, for the sick, since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful and the dread of evils; for He has triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly; for when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, Who hath bruised the heads of the dragon. Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the Gift but for this rather honour thy Benefactor.”
St Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387) Father and Doctor
“The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the devil. Thus the Church wishes not only, that we have it continually in front of our minds, to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and, above all, when we are tempted.”
St John Vianney (1786-1859)
“The cross is the badge that shows who we are – our speaking, thinking, looking, working, we are under the sign of the cross, that is, the love of Jesus, to the end.”
“Making the sign of the cross when we wake up, before meals, before a danger, to defend against evil, at night before sleep means to tell ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to be.”
3 Things to Know about the Cross – Fr Mike Schmitz
Thought for the Day – 27 November – The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751)
Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well. As for the rest, compare these two opinions – the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned, the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.
What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, “Strive by good works to make your election sure.” When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, “You will be saved if you want to be.” I say the same thing to you and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin – that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to – that is an undeniable theological proposition. Therefore, no one goes to hell, unless he wants to – the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you?
Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain, that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell and that to commit mortal sin, you must want to and that consequently, no one goes to hell, unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth – may God give you to understand it and may He bless you. Amen.”
Thought for the Day – 8 November – The Memorial of Blessed John Duns Scotus OFM (c 1265-1308)
Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s
Catechesis on Blessed John Duns Scotus
General Audience – 7 July 2010
“The Immaculate Conception”
This morning, after several Catecheses on various great theologians, I would like to present to you another important figure in the history of theology. He is Blessed John Duns Scotus, who lived at the end of the 13th century. An ancient epitaph on his tombstone sums up the geographical coordinates of his biography: “Scotland bore me, England received me, France taught me, Cologne in Germany holds me”. We cannot disregard this information, partly because we know very little about the life of Duns Scotus. He was probably born in 1266 in a village called, precisely, “Duns”, near Edinburgh.
Attracted by the charism of St Francis of Assisi, he entered the Family of the Friars Minor and was ordained a priest in 1291. He was endowed with a brilliant mind and a tendency for speculation, which earned him the traditional title of Doctor subtilis, “Subtle Doctor”.
Mary is the subject of the Doctor subtilis’ thought. In the times of Duns Scotus the majority of theologians countered with an objection that seemed insurmountable, the doctrine which holds that Mary Most Holy was exempt from original sin from the very first moment of her conception – in fact, at first sight the universality of the Redemption brought about by Christ might seem to be jeopardised by such a statement, as though Mary had had no need of Christ or His redemption. Therefore the theologians opposed this thesis. Thus, to enable people to understand this preservation from original sin Duns Scotus developed an argument that was later, in 1854, also to be used by Bl Pope Pius IX when he solemnly defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And this argument is that of “preventive Redemption”, according to which the Immaculate Conception is the masterpiece of the Redemption brought about by Christ because the very power of His love and His mediation obtained, that the Mother be preserved from original sin. Therefore Mary is totally redeemed by Christ but already before her conception. Duns Scotus’ confreres, the Franciscans, accepted and spread this doctrine enthusiastically and other theologians, often with a solemn oath, strove to defend and perfect it.
In this regard I would like to highlight a fact that I consider relevant. Concerning the teaching on the Immaculate Conception, important theologians like Duns Scotus enriched what the People of God already spontaneously believed about the Blessed Virgin and expressed in acts of devotion, in the arts and in Christian life in general with the specific contribution of their thought. Thus faith both in the Immaculate Conception and in the bodily Assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpreting it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. The People of God therefore precede theologians and this is all thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit that qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith with humility of heart and mind. In this sense, the People of God is the “teacher that goes first” and must then be more deeply examined and intellectually accepted by theology.
May theologians always be ready to listen to this source of faith and retain the humility and simplicity of children! I mentioned this a few months ago saying: “There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture… but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus…. The essential has remained hidden!… On the other hand, in our time there have also been “little ones” who have understood this mystery. Let us think of St Bernadette Soubirous; of St Thérèse of Lisieux, with her new interpretation of the Bible that is “non-scientific’ but goes to the heart of Sacred Scripture”
Dear brothers and sisters, Bl Duns Scotus teaches us that in our life the essential is to believe that God is close to us and loves us in Jesus Christ and, therefor,e to cultivate a deep love for Him and for His Church. We on earth are witnesses of this love. May Mary Most Holy help us to receive this infinite love of God, which we will enjoy eternally to the full in Heaven, when our soul is at last united to God for ever in the Communion of Saints.
Saint of the Day – 17 October – St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35 – 107) Father of the Church, Martyr
Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Ignatius
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Today, we will be speaking of St Ignatius, who was the third Bishop of Antioch from 70 to 107, the date of his martyrdom. At that time, Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were the three great metropolises of the Roman Empire. The Council of Nicea mentioned three “primacies”: Rome but also Alexandria and Antioch participated in a certain sense in a “primacy”.
St Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch, which today is located in Turkey. Here in Antioch, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles, a flourishing Christian community developed. Its first Bishop was the Apostle Peter – or so tradition claims – and it was there that the disciples were “for the first time called Christians” (Acts 11: 26). Eusebius of Caesarea, a fourth-century historian, dedicated an entire chapter of his Church History to the life and literary works of Ignatius (cf. 3: 36).
Eusebius writes: “The Report says that he [Ignatius] was sent from Syria to Rome and became food for wild beasts on account of his testimony to Christ. And as he made the journey through Asia under the strictest military surveillance” (he called the guards “ten leopards” in his Letter to the Romans, 5: 1), “he fortified the parishes in the various cities where he stopped by homilies and exhortations and warned them above all to be especially on their guard against the heresies that were then beginning to prevail, and exhorted them to hold fast to the tradition of the Apostles”.
The first place Ignatius stopped on the way to his martyrdom was the city of Smyrna, where St Polycarp, a disciple of St John, was Bishop. Here, Ignatius wrote four letters, respectively to the Churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralli and Rome. “Having left Smyrna”, Eusebius continues, Ignatius reached Troas and “wrote again”: two letters to the Churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna and one to Bishop Polycarp. Thus, Eusebius completes the list of his letters, which have come down to us from the Church of the first century as a precious treasure. In reading these texts one feels the freshness of the faith of the generation which had still known the Apostles. In these letters, the ardent love of a saint can also be felt.
Lastly, the martyr travelled from Troas to Rome, where he was thrown to fierce wild animals in the Flavian Amphitheatre.
No Church Father has expressed the longing for union with Christ and for life in Him with the intensity of Ignatius. We therefore read the Gospel passage on the vine, which according to John’s Gospel is Jesus. In fact, two spiritual “currents” converge in Ignatius, that of Paul, straining with all his might for union with Christ and that of John, concentrated on life in Him. In turn, these two currents translate into the imitation of Christ, whom Ignatius several times proclaimed as “my” or “our God”.
Thus, Ignatius implores the Christians of Rome not to prevent his martyrdom since he is impatient “to attain to Jesus Christ”. And he explains, “It is better for me to die on behalf of Jesus Christ than to reign over all the ends of the earth…. Him I seek, who died for us: Him I desire, who rose again for our sake…. Permit me to be an imitator of the Passion of my God!” (Romans, 5-6).
One can perceive in these words on fire with love, the pronounced Christological “realism” typical of the Church of Antioch, more focused than ever on the Incarnation of the Son of God and on His true and concrete humanity: “Jesus Christ”, St Ignatius wrote to the Smyrnaeans, “was truly of the seed of David”, “he was truly born of a virgin” “and was truly nailed [to the Cross] for us” (1: 1). Ignatius’ irresistible longing for union with Christ was the foundation of a real “mysticism of unity”. He describes himself: “I therefore did what befitted me as a man devoted to unity”(Philadelphians, 8: 1).
For Ignatius unity was first and foremost a prerogative of God, who, since He exists as Three Persons, is One in absolute unity. Ignatius often used to repeat that God is unity and that in God alone is unity found in its pure and original state. Unity to be brought about on this earth by Christians is no more than an imitation as close as possible to the divine archetype.
Ignatius was the first person in Christian literature to attribute to the Church the adjective “catholic” or “universal” – “Wherever Jesus Christ is”, he said, “there is the Catholic Church” (Smyrnaeans, 8: 2). And precisely in the service of unity to the Catholic Church, the Christian community of Rome exercised a sort of primacy of love: “The Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness… and which presides over love, is named from Christ and from the Father…” (Romans, Prologue).
As can be seen, Ignatius is truly the “Doctor of Unity” – unity of God and unity of Christ (despite the various heresies gaining ground which separated the human and the divine in Christ), unity of the Church, unity of the faithful in “faith and love, to which nothing is to be preferred”(Smyrnaeans, 6: 1).
Ultimately, Ignatius’ realism invites the faithful of yesterday and today, invites us all, to make a gradual synthesis between configuration to Christ (union with Him, life in Him) and dedication to His Church (unity with the Bishop, generous service to the community and to the world).
Thought for the Day – 1 October – The Memorial of St Thérèse of Lisieux O.C.D. (1873 – 1897) Doctor of the Church
Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Thérèse – 6 April 2011
“Today I would like to talk to you about St Thérèse of Lisieux, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, who lived in this world for only 24 years, at the end of the 19th century, leading a very simple and hidden life but who, after her death and the publication of her writings, became one of the best-known and best-loved saints. “Little Thérèse” has never stopped helping the simplest souls, the little, the poor and the suffering who pray to her.
I would like to invite you to rediscover this small-great treasure, this luminous comment on the Gospel lived to the full! The Story of a Soul, in fact, is a marvellous story of Love, told with such authenticity, simplicity and freshness that the reader cannot but be fascinated by it! But what was this Love that filled Thérèse’s whole life, from childhood to death? Dear friends, this Love has a Face, it has a Name, it is Jesus! The Saint speaks continuously of Jesus.
Dear friends, we too, with St Thérèse of the Child Jesus must be able to repeat to the Lord every day that we want to live of love for Him and for others, to learn at the school of the saints to love authentically and totally. Thérèse is one of the “little” ones of the Gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depths of his Mystery. A guide for all, especially those who, in the People of God, carry out their ministry as theologians. With humility and charity, faith and hope, Thérèse continually entered the heart of Sacred Scripture which contains the Mystery of Christ. And this interpretation of the Bible, nourished by the science of love, is not in opposition to academic knowledge. The science of the saints, in fact, of which she herself speaks on the last page of her The Story of a Soul, is the loftiest science.
In the Gospel Thérèse discovered above all the Mercy of Jesus, to the point that she said: “To me, He has given His Infinite Mercy and it is in this ineffable mirror, that I contemplate His other divine attributes. Therein all appear to me radiant with Love. His Justice, even more perhaps than the rest, seems to me to be clothed with Love” (Ms A, 84r).
In these words she expresses herself in the last lines of The Story of a Soul: “I have only to open the Holy Gospels and at once I breathe the perfume of Jesus’ life and then I know which way to run; and it is not to the first place but to the last, that I hasten…. I feel that even had I on my conscience every crime one could commit… my heart broken with sorrow, I would throw myself into the arms of my Saviour Jesus, because I know that He loves the Prodigal Son” who returns to Him. (Ms C, 36v-37r).
“Trust and Love”are therefore the final point of the account of her life, two words, like beacons, that illumined the whole of her journey to holiness, to be able to guide others on the same “little way of trust and love”, of spiritual childhood (cf. Ms C, 2v-3r; LT 226).
Trust, like that of the child who abandons himself in God’s hands, inseparable from the strong, radical commitment of true love, which is the total gift of self for ever, as the Saint says, contemplating Mary: “Loving is giving all, and giving oneself” (Why I love thee, Mary, P 54/22).
Thus Thérèse points out to us all that Christian life consists in living to the full the grace of Baptism in the total gift of self to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, His same love for all the others.”…Pope Benedict XVI
Thought for the Day – 30 September – The Memorial of St Jerome (347-419) Father and Doctor
Pope Benedict XVI – 7 November 2007 –
Catechesis on St Jerome (1)
What can we learn from St Jerome? It seems to me, this above all – to love the Word of God in Sacred Scripture.
St Jerome said: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”. It is therefore important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialogue with the Word of God given to us in Sacred Scripture. This dialogue with Scripture must always have two dimensions: on the one hand, it must be a truly personal dialogue because God speaks with each one of us through Sacred Scripture and it has a message for each one. We must not read Sacred Scripture as a word of the past but as the Word of God that is also addressed to us and we must try to understand what it is that the Lord wants to tell us. However, to avoid falling into individualism, we must bear in mind that the Word of God has been given to us precisely in order to build communion and to join forces in the truth on our journey towards God. Thus, although it is always a personal Word, it is also a Word that builds community, that builds the Church. We must, therefore, read it in communion with the living Church. The privileged place for reading and listening to the Word of God is the liturgy, in which, celebrating the Word and making Christ’s Body present in the Sacrament, we actualise the Word in our lives and make it present among us. We must never forget that the Word of God transcends time . Human opinions come and go. What is very modern today will be very antiquated tomorrow. On the other hand, the Word of God is the Word of eternal life, it bears within it eternity and is valid for ever. By carrying the Word of God within us, we therefore carry within us eternity, eternal life.
I thus conclude with a word St Jerome once addressed to St Paulinus of Nola (354-431). In it the great exegete expressed this very reality, that is, in the Word of God we receive eternity, eternal life. St Jerome said: “Seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in Heaven” (Ep. 53, 10)…. Pope Benedict XVI – 7 November 2007 – Catechesis on St Jerome (1)
Thought for the Day – 4 August – The Memorial of St John Vianney (1786-1859)
“My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven.
Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where out treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man – to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. Prayer is nothing else but union with God. In this intimate union, God and the soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can every pull apart. This union of god with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is a happiness beyond understanding.
My little children, your hearts, are small but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet.
When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun. Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water, because they give themselves totally to God. O, how I love these noble souls! How unlike them we are! How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for. And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go. And still worse, there are some who seem to speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to You and then I will be rid of You.” I often think that when we come to adore the Lord, we would receive everything we ask for, if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart.
Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”
– from the catechetical instructions by Saint John Vianney
St John Marie Baptiste Vianney, the poor boy from Dardilly, ordained a priest “through compassion” and in charge of an isolated parish, the one who prepared himself to die every day: because of the strange logic of God who chooses the little to depose the mighty, it was this man who became a teacher and model even for the Popes who sit on the Chair of Peter, who are inspired by him and hold him up for emulation to the entire Church. We must make ourselves ‘little’ in prayer, in total self-giving to God!