Thought for the Day – 23 October – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Month of the Holy Rosary” “Forgive Us Our Debts”
“Over and above these natural debts, we are also indebted to God for His grace. Not only has God created us but He has also raised us to the supernatural order. By His grace, He has made us His friends and His adopted children. As a result of original sin, we lost this supernatural life and were unable to regain it by our own efforts.
God was moved with compassion for us, however and sent His own divine Son to sacrifice Himself for love of us, in order to redeem us and to restore to us, the supernatural life of the soul. We are greatly indebted in the supernatural order, therefore, to our Creator and our Redeemer. The only way in which we can adequately satisfy our obligation is by offering up the infinite merits of Jesus Christ.
We have been born, moreover, in the Catholic Church and have received a Christian education. God has always been close to us with His Sacraments. By means of Baptism, He caused us to be born again to a life of grace. Whenever we fell, He raised us up again through the Sacrament of Penance and, when we were weak and faltering, He nourished us with His Eucharistic food. Let us adore Him and acknowledge that we can never thank Him enough for all that He has done for us. That is why we need to repeat, time and time again, Forgive us our debts!”
Our Morning Offering – 22 October – Prayer of a Martyr, St Thomas More (1478-1535)
The prayer below, was written by Saint Thomas More while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, awaiting execution by King Henry VIII.
Give Me Thy Grace, Good Lord! A Prayer of Hope By St Thomas More (1478-1535)
Give me Thy grace, good Lord. To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on Thee and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths. To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little, utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business. Not to long to hear of earthly things but that the hearing of worldly fancies, may be displeasing to me. Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labour to love Him. To know mine own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty Hand of God. To bewail my sins past, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity. Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life. To bear the Cross with Christ. To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before mine eyes, my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider, the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the Judge come. To have continually in mind, the Passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits, unceasingly to give Him thanks. To buy the time again, that I before have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations. Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ. To think my worst enemies, my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favour, as they did him, with their malice and hatred. These minds are more to be desired of every man, than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together, all in one heap. Amen
Thought for the Day – 29 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Death of the Sinner
“The Sinner must also die. For him death is really terrible. Imagine him lying on his deathbed, instinctively aware, that his life is over. The past will rise up to reproach him, a past full of sin and of ingratitude towards his Creator and Redeemer. The plans which he has centred around profit, ambition and honour, will have vanished like smoke. His friends, will have either deserted him, or will be at hand, to utter useless words, which will have no power to comfort him. Now he must stand alone, alone before God!
What will happen, at that moment? Perhaps, despair will overcome his soul, as it overcame the soul of Judas? Perhaps, the innumerable graces which he has despised, will tip the balance of Divine Justice towards the abyss of damnation? Or, will a final ray of mercy pierce his tired mind, burning with remorse, so that, with it’s last throb, his poor heart will torn towards God and implore His pardon? Who can say? It is certain, however, that of the two thieves dying beside the Cross of our Redeemer, only one heard Him say: “This day, you will be with me in Paradise!” The other, remained obdurate in his sin. It is the height of stupidity, to wait to be converted, at the hour of death!”
Quote/s of the Day – 13 September – Readings: Timothy 2: 1-8; Psalm 28: 2, 7-9; Luke 7: 1-10
“Lord, … I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof… but only say the word …”
‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
“’You can make me clean.’”
“Christ is the artist, tenderly wiping away all the grime of sin that disfigures the human face and restoring God’s image to its full beauty.”
St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–C 395) Father of the Church
“What are you afraid of, you men of little faith? That He will not pardon your sins? But with His own hands He has nailed them to the cross. That you are used to soft living and your tastes are fastidious? But He knows the clay of which we are made (Gn 2:7). That a prolonged habit of sinning binds you like a chain? But the Lord loosens the shackles of prisoners. Or perhaps that angered by the enormity and frequency of your sins, He is slow to extend a helping hand? But where sin abounded, grace became superabundant (Rom 5,20). Are you worried about clothing and food and other bodily necessities so that you hesitate to give up your possessions? But He knows that you need all these things (Mt 6,32). What more can you wish? What else is there to hold you back from the way of salvation? ”
St Bernard (1091-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart, admire His bounty, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the foot of His Cross, adore His goodness, treat with Him of your salvation, give Him your whole soul – a thousand times in the day.”
Thought for the Day – 13 August – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Fundamental Facts – But tomorrow?
“Life is passing. The days chase one another; time is flying. Childhood has become a distant memory. Perhaps youth and manhood have also passed and gone and we find ourselves on the threshold of old age. All those days, months and years that have passed were gifts of God. He gave them to us for our benefit and sanctification. But what use have we made of them? Have we laid up treasure for eternal life? And, if we have not done so up to now, for what are we waiting? Let us remember the old saying, that we should never put off till tomorrow, what we can do today. Today there is still time to turn from sin, regain sanctifying grace and lead a life of Christian perfection. But tomorrow? What do we know about tomorrow? Tomorrow is in the hands of the Lord and we do not know if the Lord will grant us further time to make amends!
Do not say, therefore, that you will change tomorrow, that tomorrow you will turn away from the path of sin and begin to lead a holy life. For not alone does time pass but, it often betrays us! Our Lord tells us that the judgement will come at a time when we least expect it. The time that is gone will never return; the future is uncertain; there remains, only the present. But the present is equally uncertain; it is something that passes and, every moment could be the last of our lives. How many whom we have known, were taken away suddenly in the flower of their youth … Is that not a warning to us?
Let us do good while we have time; let us gain merit now, for eternal life. Amen”
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!”
Thought for the Day – 19 JuLy – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Falling into Sin
“When we realise that we have fallen, what should we do about it? We must avoid two extremes and opposing kinds of reaction – hardness of heart and an excessive anxiety, which may lead to discouragement and loss of confidence in God’s infinite mercy.
Above all, we must avoid hardness of heart and that accompanying state of indifference which causes us to become immersed in sin. Let us hope that we shall never foolishly boost: “I have sinned and what has befallen me? for the Lord bides His time. Of forgiveness, be not over-confident, adding sin upon sin ” (Ecclus 5:4-5). When we see that we have fallen into sin, let us cry out at once, like the prodigal son: “ I will get up and go to my Father” (Lk 15:19). How unfortunate I am, if I have lost the friendship of God! But God is an infinitely merciful Father and I must throw myself into His arms and implore His forgiveness. When we have sinned, a good Confession will give us God’s forgiveness and peace of soul. Let us go to Him humbly and penitently, trusting that He will give us the kiss of peace.”
Quote/s of the Day – 19 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – Readings: Exodus 14: 5-18; Exodus 15: 1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6; Matthew 12: 38-42 and the Memorial of St Arsenius s the Great (c 354-c 449)
“The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and ccondemn it, for they repented …”
“If you will, you can make me clean.”
“I have come, to warn the faithful, to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not continue to offend Our Lord, Who is already too much offended.”
Our Lady of Fatima 1917
There is still time for endurance, time for patience, time for healing, time for change. Have you slipped? Rise up! Have you sinned? Cease! Do not stand among sinners but leap aside!”
St Basil the Great (329-379) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Today, for those who will not repent at the approach of the kingdom of heaven, the reproof of the Lord Jesus is the same… As for when the end of the world will be, that is God’s concern… Even so, the time is very near for each of us, for we are mortal.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“Brethren, the just man shall scarcely be saved. What, then, will become of the sinner?”
One Minute Reflection – 19 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – Readings: Exodus 14: 5-18; Exodus 15: 1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6; Matthew 12: 38-42
“They repented” – Matthew 12:41
REFLECTION – “Let us meditate on the Ninevites…, let us listen to what they did. After the terrifying proclamation made by Jonah before this gluttonous and drunken people…, like capable workmen they made hast to restore the City their evil deeds had destroyed, taking a sure rock for its foundation…: repentance. After washing away its filth in the floods of their tears, they adorned their Town with their prayer and, converted Nineveh, pleased the Merciful One. For she immediately showed forth the beauty of her heart to “he who searches the heart” (Ps 7,10)… rubbed with the oil of their good deeds, perfumed with fasting, she returned to the One who loves her… and He embraced her repentance. Its king, a wise man,… prepared animals and flocks as if to bring them along in dowry, saying: “O God, my Saviour, I offer everything to You, only reconcile, bring back in grace, she who prostituted herself and betrayed… Your purity, for see how, in her love, she offers her repentance to You like a gift… If I, the sovereign king, have sinned then strike me alone and take pity on all these others. But if we have all fallen short, hear the voices of all… May Your help come upon us and all fear will be dissolved. Nothing will frighten us if You receive what we are offering You – our repentance… Rebellious Nineveh throws herself at Your feet and I, a miserable king and Your wretched servant, I sit down in ashes since I am unworthy of my throne (Joh 3,6). Because I have scorned the crown, I throw dust on my head. Because I am not worthy of my purple, I have put on sackcloth and burst into lamentation. Therefore, do not despise me, cast a glance upon us, O my Saviour, and accept our repentance.” Son of the One God, O only God, those who love You, wish to carry out Your Will; protect them in Your mercy… As in former days You took pity on the Ninevites… so today, release from judgement those who sing to You and grant me forgiveness in return for my confession… Since I have no works worthy of Your glory, at least save me, my Saviour, for my words of contrition – You Who love repentance.” – St Romanos Melodios (c 490-c 556) Monk, Poet, Hymnist – Hymn « Nineveh » § 4-17; SC 99
PRAYER – My Lord Jesus Christ, You have made this journey to die for me, with love unutterable and I have so many times unworthily abandoned You but now I love You with my whole heart and because I love You, I repent sincerely for having ever offended You. Pardon me, my God and permit me to accompany You on this journey. You go to die for love of me, I wish also, my beloved Redeemer, to die for love of Thee. My Jesus, I will live and die always united to You.” Amen – By St Alphonsus Mary Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor of the Church
Thought for the Day – 13 July – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Mercy of God
“Remember, that if God’s mercy is infinite, so also is His justice.
When we realise that we have fallen into serious sin, we should not give way to despair as Judas did but, should turn to Jesus trustingly and contritely, saying with the Psalmist, “My refuge and my fortess, my stonghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I trust” (Ps 143:2). We shall certainly be forgiven.
It would be the highest form of ingratitude and even blasphemous, to abuse God;s goodness and mercy. Let our repentance be sincere and effective. In return for the infinite goodness of God, let us give Him our love, limited indeed but willing and constant.”
Quote/s of the Day – 13 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Readings: Exodus 2: 1-15a; Psalms 69: 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34; Matthew 11: 20-24
“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, for their failure to repent.”
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.”
“Let us fix our thoughts on the Blood of Christ and reflect how Precious that Blood is, in God’s eyes, inasmuch, as its outpouring for our salvation, has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.”
St Pope Clement I (c 35-99)
“… In the conceitedness of our souls, without taking the least trouble to obey the Lord’s commandments, we think ourselves worthy to receive the same reward as those who have resisted sin to the death!”
St Basil the Great (329-379) Father and Doctor of the Church
“For this all-powerful Physician, nothing is incurable. He heals without charge! With one word, He restores to health! I would have despaired of my wound were it not, that I placed my trust in the Almighty.”
St Gregory the Great (540-604) Pope, Father, Doctor of the Church
“ … Yet only grant me repentance here below That I may make reparation for my sins, … That these tears may extinguish the blazing furnace With its burning flames. …
And, instead of acting like the merciless, Set merciful compassion within me, That, by showing mercy to the poor, I may obtain Your mercy.”
St Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173) Armenian Bishop
“ It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices, than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.”
One Minute Reflection – 13 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Readings: Exodus 2: 1-15a; Psalms 69: 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34; Matthew 11: 20-24
“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, for their failure to repent.” – Matthew 11:20
REFLECTION – “Let us cry out with David; let us hear him weep and let us shed tears with him. Let us see how he rises up again and let us rejoice with him: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness.” (Ps 51:3)
Let us place before the eyes of our soul a man who is seriously injured, almost on the point of breathing his last breathe and who is lying naked in the dust. In his desire to see a doctor arrive, he is moaning and begging the person who understands his condition, to have pity. Now sin is a wound to the soul. You who are this wounded person, learn that your Doctor is within you and show Him the wounds of your sins. May He, to whom every secret thought is known, hear the moaning of your heart. May your tears move Him and, if you have to seek Him with some insistence, let deep sighs rise up to Him from the bottom of your heart. May your pain come to Him and may you also be told, like David: “The Lord… has forgiven your sin.” (2 Sam 12:13)…
“Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness.” The people who belittle their fault because they do not know this great tenderness, only draw a little tenderness to themselves. As for me, I fell far, I sinned with full knowledge. But You, Almighty Doctor, correct those who scorn You; You teach those who do not know their fault and You forgive those who admit it to You.” – St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Father and Doctor of the Church – Presentation on the seven penitential Psalms
PRAYER – God our Father, we are Your children and You have set us aside to come home to You by the light of the way of Your divine Son. Fill us with knowledge of our need to turn to You in sorrow and repentance, that we may one day attain our final home with You. Grant we pray, that by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, we may too become lights announcing Your Glory and our great need for repentance. and penance. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Thought for the Day – 5 July – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Faith and Hope
“Christian hope derives from faith. When we believe in the infinitely good and merciful God, Who was made man for us and Who shed His Precious Blood, for our salvation, we experience a great hope and a great confidence. No matter how numerous our sins and our defects, as long as we are sincerely repentant, we should continue to hope for the forgiveness of God. Despair, which led Judas to commit suicide, should never be allowed to enter our minds. Like the penitent Magdalen, like the prodigal son, like the lost sheep and, like the good thief, let us trust in Jesus with faith, hope and sorrow for our sins. Let us remember, that He is infinitely good and merciful and ardently desires to pardon us. Together with this hope of God’s forgiveness, we should nurture the hope of gaining Heaven, which the Lord, in His infinite goodness, has promised, not only to innocent souls but, also to repentant sinners. In order that this hope may not be in vain, however, we should include, in our repentance for our sins, a firm purpose of amendment.
Let us remember, that the more we hope for, the more we shall obtain!”
Quote/s of the Day – 2 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – Readings: Genesis 23: 1-4, 19; 24: 1-8, 62-67, Psalms 106: 1b-2, 3-4a, 4b-5, Matthew 9: 9-13
“It is not the healthy who are in need of the physician but those who are sick”
“… Veiled in a human body, He was able to communicate with humans. He who wanted to assist the guilty hides the fact that He is a Judge. He who did not deny dignity to faithful servants, conceals his Lordship. He who desired the weak to be embraced by a parent’s love, covers His Majesty.”
St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) “Doctor of Homilies” Father and Doctor of the Church
” Indeed, the instant you say: “I have sinned against the Lord”, the response is given you: “Your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9:2). … Only do not keep away, or distance yourself, from He who has chosen you to sing and pray but all your life long, remain close to Him, either through pure confidence, or by a holy audacity and courageous confession.”
John of Karpathos (7th Century) Bishop
“My beloved Redeemer, how much did it cost You to raise me from the ruin, which I brought on myself through my sins? What can I do without Your grace? I can do nothing but pray that You will help me but even this prayer comes from the merits of Your suffering and death! O my Jesus, help me!”
St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most zealous Doctor
“Even if we are unfaithful servants and are covered with the leprosy of sin, let us go to Him and He will heal us. Even if we have deserved Hell a thousand times, let us shed tears of repentance at His feet as Magdalen did and, He will give us His forgiveness and His peace.”
Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Lord Jesus Christ,Son of God, Have Mercy on me, a sinner.”
Thought for the Day – 24 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mortification and Penance
“Our Lord reiterates many times, the command to do penance. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 4:17). He even insists on penance as a necessary condition for salvation. “Unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner” (Lk 13:3). It is a stern command and it may even seem cruel to some. Why does the infinitely good God, Who is our loving Father, wish us to impose penances and sufferings on ourselves? The answer is simple. God makes us suffer and do penance because He knows that it is necessary for our salvation. It is because He loves us and desires our welfare.
Mortification and suffering are necessary for two reasons. They are particularly necessary because, we are all sinners and must expiate our sins. Secondly, they are necessary because, without penance and suffering, we become attached to the world and forget all about Heaven, which is our real home. In His love for us, therefore, God commands us to do penance.
The Saints were gluttons for penance and mortification and went as far as imposing on themselves, sufferings which horrify us today. What are we doing in the way of penance? Let us remember the command of Jesus and His precursor, St John the Baptist: “Unless you repent, you will all perish!” (Ibid).”
Thought for the Day – 21 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
St Aloysius Gonzaga
“St Aloysius Gonzaga is one of the outstanding models of holy purity, for young and old alike. We are told, that when he was nine years of age and went to the City of Florence, he went to the Church of the Annunziata, to pray before the picture of our Blessed Lady. It was then, that he experienced the ardent desire to consecrate himself to God. He was the eldest son of Prince Ferdinand de Gonzaga and, therefore, heir to his father’s title. But, from this moment, he was determined to spend his life in the service of God. He made a vow of perpetual chastity and placed himself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.
Now, his life became a continual ascent towards perfection. Hs chastity, which he had offered to Our Lady, remained spotless until his death. The spirit of evil could make no headway against his angelic virtue. This was a grace which he merited as a result of his prayers and penances. He often spent three or four hours, kneeling in prayer and contemplation. Even at night, he rose from his bed, in order to pray. His mind and heart where in Heaven, rather than upon earth. His prayer was an intimate conversation with Jesus, Mary and the Saints. Innocent though he was, he practised servere mortifications. Believing himself to be a great sinner, he scourged his body until his blood flowed freely and deprived himself of food and sleep.
Do we wish to preserve our purity and to become saints? If so, let us remember that without prayer and mortification, this is impossible. Jesus said to His disciples “that they must always pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1) “Pray” He said again, “that you may not enter into temptation” (Lk 22:40) and further, “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Lk 13:5).”
Quote/s of the Day – 15 May – “Mary’s Month” – Readings: Acts 18: 23-28, Psalms 47: 2-3, 8-9, 10, John 16: 23-28
“Amen, amen I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you.”
“Prayer is the wing, wherewith the soul flies to heaven and meditation, the eye, wherewith we see God.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Lift up and stretch out your hands, not to heaven but to the poor… if you lift up your hands in prayer without sharing with the poor, it is worth nothing.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“A servant of the Lord stands bodily before men but mentally, he is knocking at the gates of heaven. with prayer.”
“Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience.”
St John Climacus (c 525-606) Father of the Church
Prayer for the Gift of Prayer By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
O Incarnate Word, You have given Your Blood and Your Life to confer on our prayers that power by which, according to Your promise, they obtain for us all that we ask. And we, O God, are so careless of our salvation, that we will not even ask You for the graces that we must have, if we should be saved! In prayer You have given us the key of all Your Divine treasures; and we, rather than pray, choose to remain in our misery. Alas! O Lord, enlighten us, and make us know the value of prayers, offered in Your name and by Your merits, in the eyes of Your Eternal Father. Amen
“My children, your heart is small but prayer expands it and makes it able to love God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an outflowing of paradise. It never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey, which descends into the soul and sweetens everything. Sorrows melt in a prayer, that is well prayed, like snow in the sun.”
Quote/s of the Day – 5 May – Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 15: 1-6; Psalm: Psalms 122: 1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5; Gospel: John 15: 1-8 and the Memorial of the Conversdion of St Augustine
“Without Me you can do nothing”
“You do not know when your last day may come. You are an ingrate! Why not use the day, today, that God has given you to repent?”
“What do you possess if you possess not God?”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“A saint is not someone, who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly.”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor
“Each day then, we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervour, as though it were the first day of our turning back to God. We ought to say: “Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing.” … Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking …” ”
Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
“A soul makes room for God by wiping away all the smudges and smears of creatures, by uniting its will perfectly to God’s, for to love is to labour, to divest and deprive oneself for God, of all that is not God . When this is done, the soul will be illumined by and transformed in God.”
St John of the Cross (1542-1591) Mystical Doctor of the Church
Thought for the Day – 25 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Good Shepherd
“The Good Shepherd is the theme of two of the most moving passages in the Gospel. “I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. But, the hireling, who is not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. and the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep … I am the good shepherd and I know mine and mine know me, even as the father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for my sheep” (Jn 10:11-15).
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep,” He says elsewhere “and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after that which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing. And on coming home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me because, I have found my sheep that was lost.” “I say to you that, even so, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety nine just, who have no need of repentance” (Cf Lk 15:4-7).
These texts vividly describe God’s mercy towards poor sinners.
We may often have been amongst the lost sheep which are separated from the flock of Jesus Christ. We found, perhaps, the poisoned pastures of error and vice and strayed from the path of truth and goodness. But what happened? We experienced disillusionment and remorse and knew that we had lost our only real good, which is God. How sad our fate would have been, if the Good Shepherd, Jesus, had not come to look for us and to enlighten us with His grace. We should have been lost forever, in the desert of sin!”
Thought for the Day – 21 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Dignity and Responsibility of Being a Christian
“It is a great dignity to be a Christian. By Baptism, we become sons of God, heirs to Heaven, temples of the Holy Spirit and members of the Mystical Body of Jesus, which is the Church. God’s grace raises us to the supernatural order and makes us, as St Paul expresses it, sharers in the divine nature. By the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit fortifies our faith and gives us the strength to resist the temptations of the devil and to fight like loyal soldiers, for the triumph in ourselves and in others, of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of Penance, is our plank of salvation in the shipwreck of sin.
Although, we are all wretched sinners, by this give of the divine mercy, we can recover our lost innocence and return to the grace and friendship of God. Moreover, in order to prevent us from falling back into sin, Jesus give us Himself in the Blessed Eucharist, which is called, by St Thomas Aquinas, the greatest miracle of His infinite love (Opusculum 56, Officium de festo Corporis Christi, lectures 1-4).
But this is not all. If it is our vocation for form a family, God consecrates our union at the altar and gives us the graces necessary, to sanctify it, so that it may produce a good Christian family. If God has called us, on the other hand, to become spiritual fathers of the souls redeemed by His Precious Blood, He raises us to this high dignity, by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Finally, when we shall have come to the end of our mortal lives, the Priest will be still by our side, to wash away, by the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the last traces of sin and to comfort us in our passage to eternity. The whole life of a Christian, is a chain of favours which accompany him, from the cradle to the grave. We should be grateful to God for the goodness with which He has treated us and continues to treat us. We should co-operate generously with His gifts by recognising the lofty honour it is, to be a Christian and by living in accordance with this dignity.”
Thought for the Day – 16 April– “Month of the Blessed Sacrament” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“St Therese of the Child Jesus truly claimed, that one Holy Communion, made with perfect dispositions, was enough to produce a saint! When we receive Holy Communion properly, we are transformed into Jesus and, therefore, we become holy. We live, no longer as ourselves but, we live in Jesus. Not alone are we purified of all our imperfections but, we are emptied of ourselves in order to receive Jesus into ourselves. Jesus becomes the dominant thought in our minds and the central desire of our hearts.
Holy Commuion, therefore, should be a supernatural miracle which causes us to live the life of Jesus.
This is the reason why the early Christians gathered daily at the Eucharistic table. They felt the need of achieving, everyday, the transformation of their souls into Jesus. They hungered for Jesus, they burned with love for Him, they were one in heart and in soul.
Let us examine ourselves and see if our communions have anything like this effect on us. “Let a man prove himself,” says St Paul “and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup, for he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement to himself ” (1 Cor 2:28-29).
We should examine ourselves before Holy Communion and make an act of sorrow for our sins and imperfections. Then we shall be able to approach Jesus with love and confidence. We need not be afraid, for it is He Who invites us. It is He Who desires to be united with us in order to make us like Himself.
Let us go to Him, with repentance, with humility and with love. Then He will make us holy.”
One Minute Reflection – 12 April – Monday of the Second week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 4: 23-31, Psalm: Psalms 2: 1-3, 4-7a, 7b-9, Gospel: John 3: 1-8 * readings below and the Memorial of St Alferius of La Cava (930–1050) Priest, Abbot, Founder
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3
REFLECTION – “We read in Saint John – No-one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. To be reborn in the Holy Spirit during this life, is to become most like God in purity, without any mixture of imperfection. Accordingly, pure transformation can be effected – although not essentially – through the participation of union.
Here is an example that will provide a better understanding of this explanation. A ray of sunlight shining on a smudgy window, is unable to illumine that window completely and transform it into its own light. It could do this, if the window were cleaned and polished… The extent of illumination is not dependent on the ray of sunlight but, on the window. If the window is totally clean and pure, the sunlight will so transform and illumine it, that to all appearances, the window will be identical with the ray of sunlight and shine just as the sun’s ray. Although, obviously, the nature of the window is distinct from that of the sun’s ray, even if the two seem identical, we can assert, that the window is the ray or light of the sun by participation.
The soul on which the divine light of God’s being is ever shining, or better, in which it is ever dwelling by nature, is like this window. A soul makes room for God by wiping away all the smudges and smears of creatures, by uniting its will perfectly to God’s, for to love is to labour, to divest and deprive oneself for God, of all that is not God . When this is done, the soul will be illumined by and transformed in God.” – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) – Mystical Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, grant that Your faithful people who were buried with Your Son in baptism, may by His Resurrection and intercession, at Your right hand, obtain for us eternal life. Send Your Spirit upon Your adopted children and lead us in Your way. Grant that by the intercession of Your Angels and Saints and holding on always, to our Blessed Virgin Mother, our path may be straightened and glow with Your light. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Acts 4: 23-31 23 And being let go, they came to their own company and related all that the chief priests and ancients had said to them. 24 Who having heard it, with one accord lifted up their voice to God and said: Lord, thou art he that didst make heaven and earth, the sea,and all things that are in them. 25 Who, by the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, hast said: Why did the Gentiles rage and the people meditate vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up and the princes assembled together against the Lord and his Christ. 27 For of a truth, there assembled together in this city against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, 28 To do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings and grant unto thy servants, that with all confidence they may speak thy word, 30 by stretching forth thy hand to cures,and signs and wonders to be done, by the name of thy holy Son Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was moved wherein they were assembled and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and they spoke the word of God with confidence.
Gospel: John 3: 1-8 1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night,and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come, a teacher from God, for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him. 3 Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again? 5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. 7 Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again. 8 The Spirit breatheth where he will and thou hearest his voice but thou knowest not ,whence he cometh and whither he goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.
Thought for the Day – 19 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Mercy of God
“God is the Being, Who is infinitely true, beautiful and good. His goodness is manifested in His infinite love for all the creatures which He has made but, it is in His relations with sinners, in particular, that we call Him merciful. He loves all things which He has created and directs them towards Himself, their beginning and their end. When He is dealing, however, with beings endowed with free will, who can separate themselves from Him and even offend Him, He tries, while respecting the liberty which He has given them, to recall them to Himself, by the influence of His love and of His grace. It is this supernatural outpouring of love towards sinners, which we call mercy.
The mercy of God shines forth in all the pages of Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament, there is promised and foreshadowed, in many ways, the coming of the Saviour of the sinful human race. In the New Testament, Jesus appears, made man for our salvation, meek and humble of heart and merciful towards the unfortunate, especially towards sinners. For them, He offers His life and His Precious Blood, dying on the Cross with His arms outstretched, as if in an embrace of forgiveness. He tells us that He has not come to call the just but sinners, (Lk 5:32) and, that He has not come to those who are in health but to those who are sick (Mk 2:17); He assures us that, if we ask the Father for anything in His name, it will be given to us (Jn 16:23). So much goodness should move and soften our hearts. Even if we are unfaithful servants and are covered with the leprosy of sin, let us go to Him and He will heal us. Even if we have deserved Hell a thousand times, let us shed tears of repentance at His feet as Magdalen did and, He will give us His forgiveness and His peace.”
Thought for the Day – 9 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Repentance of St Peter
“Peter had denied his Master three times. He was standing in the courtyard of the High Priest, waming hmself before a brazier and not even thinking of the depths to which he had descended. Jesus, caluminated, struck and mocked, as if He were a criminal, forgets altogether about Himself. Moved by compassion for the leader of His Apostles, now become a perjurer, He turns His gaze towards him. Peter is jerked back to his senses by this look, which is at the same time, stern and affectionate. He realises at last, the level to which he has fallen. He is stricken to the heart and feels a sudden tightness in hs throat. “And Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Lk 22:62).
Peter saw clearly, at this stage, the chasm into which he had fallen. He thought of all the gifts and favours which he had received from Jesus and recalled the prophecy which his Master had made. “A cock will not crow ths day, until thou hast denied, three times, that thou knowest me” (Lk 22:34). He remembered, also, how he had sworn that he would never deny Jesus. Now he saw himself in the role of the prodigal son or the lost sheep … and, as he wept bitterly, he saw again, the reproachful, yet loving gaze of Jesus. His grief found an outlet in hIs tears and he was filled with confidence, that Jesus, in His infinite goodness, wuld forgive him.
If we should fall (as we often do, unfortunately), let us rise again immediately, as Peter did. Let us weep for our sins and kneeling before Jesus, represented by the Priest, let us confess our faults and tell God, that we shall never offend Him again. ”
Quote/s of the Day – 9 April – Easter Friday, Readings: Acts 4:1-12, Psalm 118:1-2, 4, 22-27, John 21:1-14
“Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, girt his coat about him, (for he was naked) and cast himself into the sea.”
“ How odd, my brethren! … Peter gets into the boat without anything on and jumps into the sea fully clothed! (…) Those who are guilty always cover themselves, so as to disguise themselves. Like Adam, then, Peter wants to hide his nakedness after his sin …”
St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Father and Doctor of Homilies
“For this all-powerful Physician, nothing is incurable. He heals without charge! With one word, He restores to health! I would have despaired of my wound were it not, that I placed my trust in the Almighty.”
St Gregory the Great (540-604) Pope, Father, Doctor of the Church
“In order that you may have the same experience, reflect within yourself that your sin is great but that it is blasphemy against God and an injury to yourself, to despair of His forgiveness, because your sin seems to you to be too great. He has promised to forgive your sins, however many they are; will you tell Him you cannot believe this and dispute with Him, saying that your sin is too great and He cannot heal your sickness? Stop at that point and cry out with the prophet: “Lord, I have sinned against you” (Ps 51:6). At once He will reply, “As for me, I have overlooked your fault, you shall not die.” Glory to Him from us all, through all ages! Amen, Amen.”
Thought for the Day – 6 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Meaning of Easter
“Today the Church adorns herself in festival array. Gone are the lengthy lamentations of Holy Saturday and the sorrowful recitations of the Passion and in their place, is the glad cry of Alleluia, the hymn of vitory over death and sin. The true joy of Easter, lies, not merely in external celebration, however but in the spiritual gladness of the soul. As Jesus has conquered death and sin, so we must purify ourselves of every trace of guilt by a good confession and must be sure, that it will result in a practical renovation of our lives. We should approach Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist with greater fervour and humility and with greater trust in His goodness and mercy. When we have received Him into our hearts, we should ask Him to renew and transform us in Himself. He is everything and we are nothing without Him. He is strong, we are weak. We are capable only of feeble desires to do good but He can make them effective by His grace. We should not be satisfied with forming general resolutions when we go to confession and receive Holy Communion at Easter. We should examine the depths of our soul and discover the sin which we are most accustomed to commit and the virtue which we are principally lacking. As a result of our investigation, we should form a particular resolution to combat this sin and to practise this virtue. It is only in this way, that our celebration of Easter can inaugurate the beginning of a genuine self-renewal which will gain momentum daily, until it becomes a true spiritual resurrection. It will be a hard battle, which will necessitate a constant vigilance and a readiness to begin again, everytime we realise, that we have fallen. It will require an unfailing spirit of prayer but, the final victory, will bring us such happiness, that worldly pleasures will seem empty and illusory, by comparison.”
Thought for the Day – 1 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Betrayal of Judas
“Ingratitude is a very cruel thing. It imprints a deep wound on the human heart and the heart of Jesus, was infinitely more sensitive than ours. He had raised Judas to the high rank of the Apostolate; He had made him one of His closest friends and had entrusted him with the secrets of His infinite love. Now Judas betrays Him for the wretched sum of thirty pieces of silver. Worse is to follow, however. While Jesus is praying and perspiring blood at the thought of the ingratitude of men and of the nearness of His passion and death, the Garden of Gethsemane becomes suddenly aglow with torches and reverberates with the shouting of the hired ruffians, whom Judas has brought with him to arrest Jesus. The treacherous Apostle comes forward. He embraces our divine Redeemer, hails Him as his Master and greets Him with a sacrilegious kiss upon the cheek. Jesus neither repulses nor rebukes him but, with a gesture of infinite mercy, He addresses him as a friend. “Friend,” He says, “for what purpose hast thou come?” (Mt 26:50). “Dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:28). If only Judas could have heeded this last appeal and begged for forgiveness at Jesus’ feet with tears of repentance! Jesus would certainly have taken him to His heart and returned his kiss with a kiss of pardon and divine friendship. Perhaps, we have also stood at times on the brink of sin and have been aware of a higher appeal to go back! But, have we heeded it? If ever we are in danger again, let us listen to this quiet voice which speaks to our conscience. Let us fall on our knees before Jesus and earnestly implore Him: “Be not silent, Lord, be not far from me!” (Ps 34:22). Let us ask Him to have pity on our weakness and to come to our assistance.”
Lenten Journey Day Forty – 30 March – Tuesday of Holy Week, Readings: First: Isaiah 49: 1-6, Psalm: Psalms 71: 1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17, Gospel: John 13: 21-33, 36-38
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In You is the source of life and in Your Light Lord, we see light Psalm 35(36)
“The cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” – John 13:38
Truly, my sins have deserved nothing but hell and everlasting damnation. I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to hear this, yet for truth’s sake I will accuse my sins against myself, so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy. What shall I say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say nothing but this alone: “I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned; have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little that I may pour out my grief, before I go to that dark land that is covered with the shadow of death.” (Job 10:20-21)
What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart, hope of forgiveness is born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man is preserved from the wrath to come and God and the penitent meet with a holy kiss.
To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense. This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You will not spurn (Ps 51:19). There is the place of refuge from the wrath of the enemy, there, watever has been defiled, is washed away. (Book 3 Ch 52:2b-4)
One Minute Reflection – 30 March – Tuesday of Holy Week, Readings: First: Isaiah 49: 1-6, Psalm: Psalms 71: 1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17, Gospel: John 13: 21-33, 36-38
“The cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” – John 13:38
REFLECTION – “The first time Peter denied, he did not weep because the Lord had not looked at him. He denied a second time and did not weep because the Lord still did not look at him. He denied a third time; Jesus looked at him and he wept very bitterly (Lk 22:62). Look at us, Lord Jesus, so that we might know how to weep for our sins. This shows us that even the fall of the saints may be useful to us. Peter’s denial has done me no wrong, on the contrary, I have gained from his repentance – I have learned to be beware of faithless companions. …
So Peter wept and wept bitterly; he wept so hard that he washed away his offence with his tears. And you, too, if you would win pardon, wipe out your guilt with tears. At that very moment, in that same hour, Christ will look at you. If some kind of fall happens to you, then He, the ever-present witness of your intimate life, looks at you to call you back and cause you to confess your lapse. Then do as Peter did, who thrice said: “Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15). He denied three times and three times he also confessed. But he denied by night; he confessed in broad daylight.
All this has been written, to make us understand, that no-one should be puffed up. If Peter fell for having said: “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be” (Mt 26:33), who is there to count on himself? … From whence then, Peter, shall I call you to mind, to teach me your thoughts as you wept? From heaven where you have already taken your place among the choirs of angels, or from the grave? For that death, from which the Lord was raised, did not reject you in your turn. Teach us what use your tears were to you. But you taught it without delay for having fallen before you wept, your tears caused you to be chosen to guide others, you who, to begin with, did not know how to guide yourself.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan, Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 10,89f.
PRAYER – Almighty Father, we are slow to understand. In that love that You have for us and the grace, mercy and forgiveness You grant us. You gave Your only Son to save us from ourselves, help our lowly hearts, that we may understand Your love and in our smallness, offer all of our hearts, minds and souls, back to You in total submission and love. May Your saints and angels, help us on our way by their prayers and may Mary, the Sorrowful Mother of our Saviour, grant us, her heart, to love You in return. We make our prayer through our Saviour, Your Son, Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.