Quote/s of the Day – 28 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – The Memorial of Blessed Paolo Giustiniani ECMC (1476-1528) – Monk, Hermit and Founder of the Congregation of the Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona
“The supreme goal to which the monk tends, the summit of the perfection of his heart, is indeed the union of his heart with his Lord.”
St John Cassian (c 360-435)
Monk, Father of the Church and Founder of Monasteries Disciple of St John Chrysostom
“O Hermitage, only those who know you, who rest sweetly in your arms, can tell of your grandeur and chant your praises. As for me, I only know this and affirm it in all sincerity – Whoever forces himself with perseverance to enter more and more into the desire to love You, will finally enter Your mystery and, at the same time, the mystery of God.”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072)
Doctor of the Church
“Go to Church for the work of God, not by habit or duty, but rather driven, by the interior desire to praise our Creator.”
“Celebrate holy Mass in the joy of the Spirit.”
“I desire to serve my Lord Jesus Christ. However, I blindly entrust the manner of service to His decision – in action or in contemplation, in peace and quiet or in suffering and tribulation, in the quiet of the cell or else in wearisome wanderings. So long as I am serving Him, I have no preference or taste of my own.”
“To me it appears incontrovertible, that, above the light and discourse of reason, there is another light. It is clearer and more evident, given by God to those human minds that do not refuse to receive it and by means of it, God can be properly understood. …. This is the light of faith.“
Prayer of Blessed Paolo Giustiniani “Lord, I dare not say to You: “Show me the light that I may believe in Your Light” but it is enough for me, that You make me see my darkness … Bring me back to myself. In my misery I have distanced myself not only from You but from myself, becoming a stranger to myself. Make me know my darkness, that then I may look at the light. Yes, I tell You and repeat to You incessantly, Show me to myself, so that I may know my sins.”
“Until I was alone I never really lived. Until I was alone, I was not with myself. Until I was alone, I never drew near to my creator.”
Thought for the Day – 24 May – “Mary’s Month” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Recollection of Mary
“It is believed that when the Angel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin in order to tell her that she was to be the Mother of God, she was in a quiet corner of her home, absorbed in prayer.
She had no love for the noise and confusion of the world but preferred to be recollected in the company of God.
This was to be the pattern of her whole life.
In the midst of her domestic duties, on her journey to St Elizabeth and on her travels in Galilee and Judea, in the wake of her divine Son, her mind and heart were always concentrated on God.
Interior recollection is a wonderful thing.
It helps us to hear God’s voice more clearly.
It keeps us removed from the temptations of the world and assists us in sanctifying every moment of our lives.
“The cell continually dwelt in growth sweet,” (Bk 1, C 20:5) says The Imitation of Christ and goes onto ask: “What can thou see elsewhere that thou does not see here? Behold the heavens and the earth and all the elements, for out of these are all things made” (Ibid C 20:8). “As often as I have been amongst men,” it exclaims, “I have returned less a man” (Ibid C 20:2).
When we move around chattering with different people, we have lost something of ourselves by the time we return home.
Perhaps we have wasted a good deal of time in useless conversation or, worse still, have seen or heard unpleasant or disturbing things.
When we go about in the world, we do not often see much that is edifying or instructive and rarely meet people whose conversation does us good.
For this reason, even when we cannot remain apart, we should carry in ourselves, as Mary did, a spirit of interior recollection and communication with God.”
Saint of the Day – 4 April – St Isidore of Seville (c 560-636) Father & Doctor of the Church, Creator of the first encyclopedia – often called “The Last Scholar of the Ancient World” and “The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages.” His most well known patronage is of computers and the internet (though not officially so_ – his full story with Patronages is here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/saint-of-the-day-4-april-st-isidore-of-seville-father-and-doctor-of-the-church/ but today we will follow his life with Pope Benedict XVI during his Catechetical audiences on the Doctors of the Church. This was given at St Peter’s on Wednesday, 18 June 2008.
He was a younger brother of St Leander (c 534-c 600) memorial 13 March, Archbishop of Seville and a great friend of St Pope Gregory the Great. Pointing this out is important, because it enables us, to bear in mind, a cultural and spiritual approach, that is indispensable for understanding Isidore’s personality. Indeed, he owed much to Leander, an exacting, studious and austere person who created around his younger brother a family context, marked by the ascetic requirements proper to a monk and from the work pace demanded, by a serious dedication to study. Furthermore, Leander was concerned to have the wherewithal to confront the political and social situation of that time – in those decades in fact, the Visigoths, barbarians and Arians, had invaded the Iberian Peninsula and taken possession of territories that belonged to the Roman Empire. It was essential to regain them for the Roman world and for Catholicism. Leander and Isidore’s home was furnished with a library richly endowed with classical, pagan and Christian works. Isidore, who felt simultaneously attracted to both, was, therefore, taught under the responsibility of his elder brother, to develop a very strong discipline, in devoting himself to study with discretion and discernment.
Thus, a calm and open atmosphere prevailed in the episcopal residence in Seville. We can deduce this from Isidore’s cultural and spiritual interests, as they emerge from his works themselves, which include an encyclopaedic knowledge of pagan classical culture and a thorough knowledge of Christian culture. This explains the eclecticism characteristic of Isidore’s literary opus, who glided with the greatest of ease from Martial to Augustine, or from Cicero to Gregory the Great. The inner strife that the young Isidore had to contend with, having succeeded his brother Leander on the episcopal throne of Seville in 599, was by no means unimportant. The impression of excessive voluntarism that strikes one, on reading the works of this great author, considered to be the last of the Christian Fathers of antiquity, may, perhaps, actually be due to this constant struggle with himself. A few years after his death in 636, the Council of Toledo in 653 described him as “an illustrious teacher of our time and the glory of the Catholic Church.”
Isidore was, without a doubt, a man of accentuated dialectic antitheses. Moreover, he experienced a permanent inner conflict in his personal life, similar to that which Gregory the Great and St Augustine had experienced earlier, between a desire for solitud, to dedicate himself solely to meditation on the word of God and, the demands of charity to his brethren, for whose salvation, as Bishop, he felt responsible. He wrote, for example, with regard to Church leaders: “The man responsible for a Church (vir ecclesiasticus) must on the one hand allow himself to be crucified to the world, with the mortification of his flesh and, on the other, accept the decision of the ecclesiastical order – when it comes from God’s will – to devote himself humbly to government, even if he does not wish to”(Sententiarum liber III, 33, 1: PL 83, col 705 B). Just a paragraph later he adds: “Men of God, (sancti viri), do not in fact desire to dedicate themselves to things of the world and groan when by some mysterious design of God they are charged with certain responsibilities…. They do their utmost to avoid them bu,t accept what they would like to shun and do what they would have preferred to avoid. Indeed, they enter into the secrecy of the heart and seek there to understand what God’s mysterious will is asking of them. And when they realise that they must submit to God’s plans, they bend their hearts to the yoke of the divine decision” (Sententiarum liber III, 33, 3: PL 83, coll. 705-706).
To understand Isidore better, it is first of all, necessary, to recall the complexity of the political situations in his time to which I have already referred – during the years of his boyhood he was obliged to experience the bitterness of exile. He was, nevertheless, pervaded with apostolic enthusiasm. He experienced the rapture of contributing to the formation of a people, that was at last, rediscovering its unity, both political and religious, with the providential conversion of Hermenegild, the heir to the Visigoth throne, from Arianism to the Catholic faith. Yet we must not underestimate the enormous difficulty of coming to grips with such very serious problems as were the relations with heretics and with the Jews. There was a whole series of problems which appear very concrete to us today too, especially if we consider what is happening in certain region, in which we seem almost to be witnessing the recurrence of situations, very similar to those, that existed on the Iberian Peninsular, in that sixth century. The wealth of cultural knowledge that Isidore had assimilated, enabled him to constantly compare the Christian newness with the Greco-Roman cultural heritage, however, rather than the precious gift of synthesis, it would seem that he possessed the gift of collatio, that is, of collecting, which he expressed in an extraordinary personal erudition, although it was not always ordered as might have been desired.
In any case, his nagging worry not to overlook anything, that human experience had produced, in the history of his homeland and of the whole world, is admirable. Isidore did not want to lose anything that man had acquired, in the epochs of antiquity, regardless of whether they had been pagan, Jewish or Christian. Hence, it should not come as a surprise if, in pursuing this goal, he did not always manage to filter the knowledge he possessed sufficiently, in the purifying waters of the Christian faith as he would have wished. The point is, however, that in Isidore’s intentions, the proposals he made, were always in tune with the Catholic faith, which he staunchly upheld. In the discussion of the various theological problems, he showed, that he perceived their complexity and often astutely suggested solutions, that summarise and express, the complete Christian truth. This has enabled believers through the ages and to our times, to profit, with gratitude, from his definitions. A significant example of this is offered by Isidore’s teaching on the relations between active and contemplative life. He wrote: “Those who seek to attain repose in contemplation must first train in the stadium of active life and then, free from the dross of sin, they will be able to display that pure heart which alone makes the vision of God possible”(Differentiarum Lib. II, 34, 133: PL 83, col 91A). Nonetheless, the realism of a true pastor, convinced him of the risk the faithful run, of reducing themselves to one dimension. He therefore added: “The middle way, consisting of both of these forms of life, normally turns out to be more useful in resolving those tensions, which are often aggravated, by the choice of a single way of life and are instead better tempered, by an alternation of the two forms” (op. cit. 134; ibid., col 91B).
Isidore sought in Christ’s example the definitive confirmation of a just orientation of life and said: “The Saviour Jesus offers us the example of active life, when during the day He devoted Himself to working signs and miracles in the town but, He showed the contemplative life, when He withdrew to the mountain and spent the night in prayer”(op. cit. 134: ibid.). In the light of this example of the divine Teacher, Isidore can conclude with this precise moral teaching: “Therefore let the servant of God, imitating Christ, dedicate himself to contemplation without denying himself active life. Behaving otherwise, would not be right. Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbour with action. It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other”(op. cit., 135; ibid. col 91C). I consider that this is the synthesis of a life that seeks contemplation of God, dialogue with God in prayer and in the reading of Sacred Scripture, as well as action at the service of the human community and of our neighbour. This synthesis, is the lesson that the great Bishop of Seville has bequeathed to us, Christians of today, called to witness to Christ at the beginning of a new millennium. Amen … Vatican.va
Prayer for the Intercession of St Isidore before accessing the Internet
Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thy image
and bade us to seek after all that is good,
true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person
of Thy only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore,
Bishop and Doctor,
during our journeys through the internet,
we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience,
all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord.
Orátio ante colligatiónem in interrete:
*Omnípotens aetérne Deus,
qui secúndum imáginem Tuam nos plasmásti
et omnia bona, vera, et pulchra,
praesértim in divína persóna Unigéniti Fílii Tui
Dómini nostri Iesu Chrísti, quaérere iussísti,
ut, per intercessiónem Sancti Isidóri, Epíscopi et Doctóris,
in peregrinatiónibus per interrete,
et manus oculísque ad quae Tibi sunt plácita intendámus
et omnes quos convenímus cum caritáte ac patiéntia accipiámus.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Quote/s of the Day – 8 February – The Memorial of Blessed Maria Esperanza de Jesus (1893-1983)
Speaking of: Prayer
“The means to obtain grace and glory is prayer.”
Blessed Maria Esperanza de Jesus (1893-1983)
“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except, when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Doctor of the Church
“Do not neglect prayer, however busy you may be.”
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850)
“How many things Jesus tells us in our heart, when we stand at His feet, if we are careful to listen to His Voice!”
Blessed Giovanni Maria Boccardo (1848-1913)
“Prayer is our strength, our sword, our consolation and the key to paradise.”
St Joseph Freinademetz (1852-1908)
“Fu Shenfu” – Lucky Priest
“And delicately, gently, by means of this sweet and peaceful dawn, God taught me, too, to obey … God who offers me a little corner on this earth for prayer, who gives me a little corner in which to wait for what I hope.”
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.
Quote/s of the Day – 24 January – Friday of the Second week in Ordinary Time, Year A and The Memorial of St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) “The Gentle Christ of Geneva” – Doctor of the Church: Doctor Caritatis (Doctor of Charity)
“Let us think only of spending the present day well. Then, when tomorrow shall have come, it will be called TODAY and then, we will think about it.”
“Don’t get upset with your imperfections. It’s a great mistake, because it leads nowhere – to get angry because, you are angry, upset at being upset, depressed, at being depressed, disappointed, because you are disappointed. So don’t fool yourself. Simply surrender to the Power of God’s Love, which is always greater than our weakness.”
“Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden, just cultivate your own, as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts, to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and least understood point to the spiritual life. We all love according to what is our taste, few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking. What is the use of building castles in Spain when we have to live in France?”
“The work is never finished, we have continually to begin again and that courageously. What we have done so far is good but what we are going to commence, will be better and when we have finished that, we shall begin something else that will be better still and then another – until we leave this world to begin a new life that will have no end because it is the best that can happen to us.
It is not then a case for tears, that we have so much work to do for our souls, for we need great courage to go ever onwards (since we must never stop) and much resolution to restrain our desires. Observe carefully this precept, that all the Saints have given to those who would emulate them – to speak little, or not at all, of yourself and your own interests.”
“Cook the truth in charity, until it tastes sweet.”
“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except, when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
“Consider all the past as nothing and say, like David – Now I begin to love my God.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
Thought for the Day – 3 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Making a Good Meditation
“It is not enough, simply to make a meditation.
It ought to be made well.
It is well made only when it results in an increase of solid virtue and sanctity.
Meditation, moreover, should not be study but mental prayer – a raising of mind to God, asking Him to illumine the darkness of our hearts, too often entangled with the things of the world and, to reinforce our wills, rescuing them from the violent attractions of evil and drawing them, in the direction of virtue and sacrifice.
To meditate, is not to study but to pray.
Whoever loses himself in subtle investigations of Christian Doctrine in order to learn something or to be able to mystify others, is studying, not meditating.
It would be even worse, to let one’s imaginations wander off into a kind of pseudo-mystic daydream.
Let us be quite clear about this – Meditation is not a waste of time but a very serious occupation.
It consists in placing ourselves in the presence of God, in admitting to Him our misery and weakness, in thinking about the eternal truths, so that our minds may be enlightened and in aiming at a Christian self-renewal, through the making and carrying out of good resolutions.”
Thought for the Day – 2 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Absorbed in the deafening din of the world around us, it is difficult to hear the voice of God.
At least, for a little while each day, we must create within ourselves, a zone of silence, in order to listen to His voice.
Since God speaks readily in the silence of the heart, let us recollect ourselves before Him, in this quiet oasis.
At least a quarter of an hour of daily meditation is essential for the life of a Christian.
This should be the jumping-off board for all the actions of day, if we wish these to be correct and productive of good.
It is very useful, moreover, to recall to mind frequently during the day, the resolutions which have been formed and to accompany these reflections, with short prayers, aspirations and acts of love for God.”