Quote/s of the Day – 16 February – The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
“As to the truth of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, there is no room left for doubt. For both, from the declaration of the Lord Himself and from our own faith, it is truly flesh and truly blood. And when these are eaten and drunk, it is brought to pass, that we are both in Christ and Christ is in us. Is this not so?”
St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368)
Doctor of the Divinity of Christ
“Always give good heed to the Word of God, whether you hear or read it in private, or hearken to it when publicly preached. Listen with attention and reverence, seek to profit by it and do not let the precious words fall unheeded but receive them into your heart.”
One Minute Reflection – 31 January – Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1-10, 13-17, Psalm 51:3-7, 10-11, Mark 4:26-34 and the Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier Bianchi CRSP (1743-1815) “Apostle of Naples” and St John Bosco (1815-1888)
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed…” … Mark 4:30-31
REFLECTION – “The Word of God is like a grain of mustard seed, before cultivation it looks extremely small. But when it is cultivated in the right way, it grows so large, that the highest principles of both sensible and intelligible creation, come like birds to revive themselves in it. For the principles – or inner essences of all things, are embraced by the Word but the Word is not embraced by anything. Hence, the Lord has said, that whoever has faith like a grain of mustard seed, can move a mountain by a word of command (cf. Mt 17:20), that is, he can destroy the devil’s dominion over us and remove it from its foundation.
The grain of mustard seed is the Lord, who by faith is sown spiritually in the hearts of those who accept Him. Whoever diligently cultivates the seed by practising the virtues, moves the mountain of earthbound pride and, through the power thus gained, expels the obdurate habit of sin. In this way, the activity of the principles and qualities, or divine powers, present in the commandments, is revived as though they were birds. (…) Those who seek the Lord should not look for him outside themselves. On the contrary, they must seek Him, within themselves, through faith made manifest in action.
For it is written, “The word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rm 10:8), that is, the word of faith, Christ, being Himself, the word that is sought.” … Saint Maximus the Confessor (c 580-662) Monk and Theologian – Second Century on Theology, nos. 10-11, 35
PRAYER – Almighty Father, we bless You Lord of life, through whom all living things tend. You are the source of all, our first beginning and our end! Grant holy Father, that we may allow the Word to enter our hearts and grow by Your grace, so that we may always live for Your glory. May the intercession of St Francis Xavier Bianchi and St John Bosco, who consistently tended Your seed, grant us strength and zeal. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Second Thought for the Day – 28 January – The Memorial of St Joseph Freinademetz SVD (1852-1908) “Fu Shenfu” – Lucky Priest
Man of Prayer
Freinademetz was what one would call a ‘great man of prayer’ and a ‘spiritual’ person. In his preparatory work for the first diocesan synod of South Shandong, his fundamental attitude became clear in the synod paper on “The Clergy.” “Do you imagine you can become holy without meditation, something no saint was able to do? Meditation is a waste of time? The very opposite is true. Without meditation life is lost. Furthermore, set aside one day a month for prayer and meditation. Such days, are among life’s most beautiful and enriching. On such days the Holy Spirit has promised to speak to our hearts.”
Just to see him at prayer was edifying for many – “Mostly he knelt in the sanctuary of the church and for us, it was an extraordinary experience, to see him at prayer. The image of that kneeling priest is indelibly impressed in my memory. You got the impression that nothing could disturb him . He was a great man of prayer. His piety was open and aroused fervour” (Cardinal Tien).
Henninghaus states straight out, that “Prayer” was his “life element and life’s joy,” it was the “source from which he lived.” Even when he had to work until late at night, he still took time for prayer and spiritual reading. In summer, Freinademetz often began his working day at 3 a.m., with prayer and meditation. He preferred to pray the breviary kneeling, mainly very erect without any support. He may often have recalled his childhood when the whole family knelt every day on the hard boards of the living room, praying the rosary before the house altar.
He celebrated holy Mass “in a dignified and devout manner, without haste but without irritating slowness” (Henninghaus). The man from Tyrol obviously did not wish to be importunate in these things either.
The official name of the Steyl missionaries, ‘Society of the Divine Word’, fitted as if tailored made for him: “Daily spiritual reading. Do not let even a single day pass without meditating on sacred scripture which has been called the Priest’s Book. Woe to you if the well-springs of devotion in you run dry!” he exhorted in one of the synod papers.
He himself knew the Bible inside out. He frequently quoted scripture, mostly in Latin, and above all he was always able to find suitable comparisons for current situations – i.e. he had truly internalised the Bible. It was not a dead letter for him, not ‘dry’ but full of life, a well from which he knew how to draw water.
With the same intensity he challenged his confreres to continue to update themselves – “Cultivate serious study! Sacred scripture says, ‘Because you have despised wisdom, I will despise you’.” That, too, is an example of the way in which he could quote the Bible.
The cross of Christ, the Eucharist and contemplation of God’s Word were the central pillars of the missionary life of Joseph Freinademetz, may they be our central pillars too!
Prayer to St Joseph for Missionaries
You have given us your graces
and blessings through the saints.
We thank You for choosing St Joseph Freinademetz,
a zealous missionary to China, to be our model.
He was a man of prayer who prayed without growing weary.
Prayer was the air he breathed and the joy of his life.
Prayer nourished his missionary vocation,
his love of neighbour,
his enthusiasm and readiness for sacrifice
and his profound faith.
Through the intercession of St Joseph
we implore You to shower Your graces on all missionaries
so that they become persons of prayer
and adopt the culture of the people they are sent to.
Enlighten them to discover the road
You want them to travel
and the plan You have mapped out for them.
May they have courage like St Joseph to keep going,
in spite of many trials and hardships in their mission work
and to live out their vocation faithfully.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Sunday of the Word of God – 26 January
Making the Scriptures
Part of our Everyday Lives
What is the Word of God?
We often identify the Bible as the Word of God. This is not wrong but God speaks to our hearts in many different ways. For instance, He speaks to us in prayer and through our conscience and often through other people. Hence, the Word of God covers much more than a printed book. Nevertheless, the Bible is the privileged collection of communications between God and His people. These stories and poems have nourished the lives of the people of Israel and the Christian Church, right through the centuries and they continue to nourish us today. They tell the story of God’s love and our salvation from ancient times onwards. The scriptural texts offer us both challenge and encouragement for our lives and are especially valuable to us through the hope they offer us at dark moments.
The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures
The Holy Spirit was at work in the whole process of the formation of the Scriptures. This is why, even though many people across different times and places contributed to the writing, we believe that the Scriptures are divinely inspired. But the Holy Spirit’s work does not come to an end with the writing of the text. The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us by virtue of our baptism, is also at work in us as we listen to the text. Therefore, through the Spirit’s inspiration, the words of Scripture can become a living Word of the Lord to us here and now.
Opening the Law and the Prophets (see Luke 4:17) – On Reading the Old Testament as Christians
When Saint Luke, in his Gospel, portrays the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he does so in the following way:
“Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”(4:16–18).
For Luke, the one in whom Christians place their trust as their Lord and Saviour, who is—in the words of the Nicene Creed—God from God, Light from Light and who sits at the right hand of the Father, was, is and remains, a Jewish male from Galilee. Our Saviour is a Jew from Galilee. To lose sight of His essential and enduring Jewishness is to distort Jesus, it is to divorce Him from His people, and to blind us to the reality and power of the Word made flesh (see John 1:14).
Jesus, the Galilean Jew, began His “public” life with words from His Scriptures. His life ended with word from His Scriptures—in His anguish of the cross, He prays the beginning of Psalm 21 (22): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” To express what He’s about and to say who He is, Jesus proclaims His Scriptures—what Christians call the Old Testament. Today also, truly to understand what God is doing in Christ (see 2 Cor 5:19), the followers of Christ are called to read and pray the Old Testament so that we may come to a sense of the mysteries that are veiled in all our lives and revealed in Christ (see St Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter § 27).
Because the Old Testament communicates the mysteries of God’s life and ours, to come to know God’s word in the Old Testament is to know the power of God. This is why St Jerome famously says that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ: – it is not that we gain “information” about Christ that is otherwise inaccessible, rather, to have one’s heart opened by the word of God is to come to know the one in whom the “the power and wisdom of God” has taken flesh. It is to know “Christ—the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24).
This means that Christians are called to read the Old Testament like Christ read it – in a way that opens the heart, that recognises the faithfulness of God to His people and to the everlasting covenant made with them, that sees in the words of the Law, the Prophets and the writings, the threshold of the Word of God.
To read like Christ is to see the Law not as a burden but as the revelation of God’s will. To read like Christ is to see in the Psalms the most wonderful school of prayer. To read like Christ is to submit oneself to the prophets’ call to justice and their witness to the power of God. To read like Christ is to read as one who is “last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35), who avoids all haughtiness and refuses to put the other in the wrong.
Such a person resists the distortions of history which have caused so much suffering to God’s chosen people, the brothers and sisters of our Lord.
…The Proclaimed Word is a Word not just in the past but a Word here and now, given to this liturgical assembly to shape, challenge and sustain their ongoing following of the Lord. Every time a Christian community gathers, it is making a bold statement about where they have come from, who they are and where they hope one day to be. The Scriptures nourish the boldness of the community, once more today, we are urged to allow the Word of God to nourish us as both individuals and communities.
Jesus also calls to Himself a group of disciples in today’s gospel account. He invites them to come and walk in His ways. Through their response, they set out on a path of discipleship leaving all behind them, it is a way that will lead some of His followers to martyrdom and others to betrayal: words of fidelity and words of treachery. The Scriptures nurture the path of the disciples in their following of Jesus and walking in His ways, by taking the word and allowing it to shape and mould our identity as Christians. The Word proclaimed every Sunday in our Eucharistic celebration, the Word heard in the very ordinary circumstances of our daily lives, the words that we speak every moment, let all of them be, for us, moments of salvation and gifts to others….Catholic Bishops of Ireland
Official logo for the Sunday of the Word of God unveiled at Vatican
An icon of the encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus was chosen as the official logo for the worldwide celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God.
The colourful logo is based on an icon written by the late-Benedictine Sr Marie-Paul Farran, a member of the Our Lady of Calvary Congregation, who lived and worked at its monastery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The logo was presented to the press at a Vatican news conference on 17th January, ahead of the newly established Sunday of the Word of God, which is being celebrated on 26th January this year.
The logo was presented to the press at a Vatican news conference on 17th January, ahead of the newly established Sunday of the Word of God, which is being celebrated on 26th January this year.
The logo shows the Resurrected Christ holding in his left hand a scroll, which is “the sacred Scripture that found its fulfilment in his person,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, told reporters.
By his side are two disciples: Clopas and his wife, Mary. They both fix their gaze on Christ while Clopas holds a stick to indicate “a pilgrimage,” the archbishop said.
Mary is holding one hand upward and with her other hand seems to be touching the Lord, reaffirming that he has fulfilled the ancient promises and is the living Word that must be proclaimed to the world, he said.
Holding the stick in one hand, Clopas’ free hand is pointing the road ahead, which all disciples are called to take in order to bring the Good News to everyone, Archbishop Fisichella said.
There is a star overhead symbolising evangelisation and the “permanent light” that guides their journey and shows them the way, he added.
It is also important, he said, to notice the feet of all three are depicted as being in motion, representing that the proclamation of the Risen Christ cannot be accomplished by “tired or lazy disciples” but only by those who are “dynamic” and ready to find new ways to speak so that sacred Scripture may become the living guide of the life of the church and its people.
Quote/s of the Day – 15 January – Wednesday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A – The Memorial of St Arnold Janssen SVD (1837-1909)
“Proclamation of the Good News is the first and most significant expression, of love for one’s neighbour.”
St Arnold, in his youth, invented a means of personally keeping in contact with God. To do so, he prayed the acts of faith, hope and charity every quarter hour at the signal of the church tower clock or the chime of the clock at home or in school. He would pray:
O God, eternal truth, I believe in You. O God, our strength and salvation, I trust in You. O God, infinite goodness, I love You with my whole heart.
St Arnold Janssen (1837-1909)
Founder of the Missionaries of the Divine Word Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters
Quote/s of the Day – 13 January – Monday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A and the Memorial of St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) Father and Doctor of the Church
“The privilege of our Church is such that it is never stronger, than when it is attacked, never better known, than when it is accused, never more powerful, than when it appears forsaken.”
(Treatise on the Trinity)
“The Church is the Ship outside which it is impossible to understand the Divine Word, for Jesus spoke from the boat to the people gathered on the shore.”
“God only knows, how to be love and He only knows, how to be Father. And the one who loves is not envious and one who is Father is so totally. This name does not permit compromises, as if God were only father in some aspects and not in others.”
St Hilary of Poitiers
Father & Doctor of the Church
Thought for the Day – 28 November – It’s time to Hope! Advent is nearly upon us
This year, as before, I will post daily Advent Reflections drawn from diverse Saints and Holy people – please join me in prayer and in awakening our souls to hope.
Memory Awakens Hope
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
(Pope Benedict XVI)
In one of his Christmas stories Charles Dickens tells of a man who lost his emotional memory, that is, he lost the whole chain of feelings and thoughts he had acquired in the encounter with human suffering. This extinction of the memory of love is presented to him as liberation from the burden of the past but it becomes clear, immediately, that the whole person has been changed, now, when he meets with suffering, no memories of kindness are stirred within him… Since his memory has dried up, the source of kindness within him has also disappeared. He has become cold and spreads coldness around him.
Goethe deals with the same ideas as Dickens, in his account of the first celebration of the feast of Saint Roch in Bingen, after the long interruption caused by the Napoleonic wars. He observes the people as they press, tightly packed, through the church past the image of the saint and he watches their faces – the faces of the children and the adults are shining, mirroring the joy of the festal day. But with the young people, Goethe reports, it was otherwise. They went past unmoved, indifferent, bored. And he gives an illuminating explanation – they were born in evil times, had nothing good to remember and consequently had nothing to hope for. In other words, it is only the person who has memories who can hope. The person who has never experienced goodness and kindness simply does not know what such things are.
Recently a counsellor who spends much of his time talking with people on the verge of despair, was speaking in similar terms about his own work, if his client succeeds in recalling a memory of some good experience, he may once again be able to believe in goodness and thus relearn hope, then there is a way out of despair. Memory and hope are inseparable. To poison the past does not give hope, it destroys its emotional foundations.
Sometimes Charles Dickens’ story strikes me as a vision of contemporary experience. This man who let himself be robbed of the heart’s memory by the delusion of a false liberation — do we not find him with us today, in a generation whose past has been poisoned by a particular program of liberation that has stifled hope? When we read of the pessimism with which our young people look toward the future, we ask ourselves, Why? Is it that, in the midst of material affluence, they have no memory of human goodness that would allow them to hope? By outlawing the emotions, by satirising joy, have we not trampled on the root of hope?
These reflections bring us straight to the significance of the Christian season of Advent. For Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God Who became a Child. This is a healing memory, it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope. All the feasts in the Church’s calendar are events of remembrance and hence events of hope. These events, of such great significance for mankind, which are preserved and opened up by faith’s calendar, are intended to become personal memories of our own life history, through the celebration of holy seasons by means of liturgy and custom. Our personal memories are nourished by mankind’s great memories, in turn, it is only by translating them into personal term,s that these great memories are kept alive. Man’s ability to believe always depends in part on faith having become dear on the path of life, on the humanity of God having manifested itself through the humanity of men. No doubt each of us could tell his own story here as to what the various memories of Christmas, Easter or other festivals mean in his life.
It is the beautiful task of Advent, to awaken in all of us, memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.
“Those who run toward the Lord, will never lack space… One who is climbing never stops, he moves from beginning to beginning, according to beginnings, that never end.”
St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–c 395)
Brother of St Basil the Great