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One Minute Reflection – 17 May – May your door be open to Him Who comes …

One Minute Reflection – 17 May – The Memorial of St Paschal Baylon OFM (1540-1592) Confessor – Sirach 31:8-11, Luke 12:35-40

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.” – Luke 12:35-36

REFLECTION – “God, the Word, stirs up the lazy and arouses the sleeper. For indeed, someone who comes knocking at the door is always wanting to come in. But it depends on us, if He does not always enter, or always remain. May your door be open to Him Who comes; open your soul, enlarge your spiritual capacities, that you may discover the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace and sweetness of grace. Expand your heart; run to meet the Sun of that Eternal Light that “enlightens everyone” (Jn 1,9). It is certain that this true Light shines for all but, if anyone shuts their windows, then they themselves shut themselves off from this Eternal Light.

So, even Christ remains outside, if you shut the door of your soul. It is true that He could enter but He does not want to use force, He does not put those who refuse under pressure. Descended from the Virgin, born from her womb, He shines throughout the universe to give Light to all. Those who long to receive the Light, which shines with an everlasting brightness, open up to Him. No night comes to intervene. Indeed, the sun we see each day gives way to night’s darkness but the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20) knows no setting for Wisdom is not overcome by evil.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan and Father and Doctor of the Church – 12th Sermon on Psalm 118

PRAYER – O God, Who endowed blessed Paschal, Your Confessor, with a wondrous love for the Sacred Mysteries of Your Body and Blood, mercifully grant that we may be found worthy to share in the same spiritual abundance, which he received in this Divine Banquet. Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Quote/s of the Day – 16 May – I have chosen you

Quote/s of the Day – 16 May – Sirach 44:16-27; 45:3-20, Matthew 25:14-23

Well done, good and faithful servant …
Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Matthew 25:23

I have chosen you
and have appointed you,
that you should go
and should bring forth fruit
and your fruit should remain,
says the Lord.

John 15:16

If we follow Christ closely
we shall be allowed,
even on this earth,
to stand, as it were,
on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem
and enjoy the contemplation,
of that everlasting feast,
like the blessed Apostles,
who, in following the Saviour as their leader,
showed and still show,
the way to obtain the same gift from God.
They said – See, we have left all things and followed You.
We too follow the Lord
and we keep His feast
by deeds rather than by words.

St Athanasius (297-373)
Father & Doctor of the Church

Rejoice and be happy!
Persevere to the end
and prefer to die
rather than abandon the post,
to which God has called you!

St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Doctor of the Church

All Highest, Glorious God

All highest, glorious God,
cast Your light into the darkness of our hearts,
give us true faith, firm hope,
perfect charity and profound humility,
so that with wisdom,
courage and perception, O Lord,
we may do what is truly Your holy will.
Amen.

St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226)

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One Minute Reflection – 16 May – “A man going abroad, called his servants and handed over his goods to them.” – Matthew 25:14

One Minute Reflection – 16 May – The Memorial of St John Nepomucene (c 1345–1393) Priest, Martyr, “The First Martyr of the Seal of the Confession.” – Sirach 44:16-27; 45:3-20, Matthew 25:14-23

“A man going abroad, called his servants and handed over his goods to them.” – Matthew 25:14

REFLECTION – “There is no question but that this Householder is Christ. After His Resurrection, when He was about to return triumphantly to the Father, He called His Apostles and entrusted them with the Gospel teaching, giving more to one, less to the other, never too much or too little but according to the abilities of those who received it. In the same way, the Apostle Paul said that he had fed with milk those unable to take solid food (1Co 3,2)…

Five, two, one talent: let us take these to be the different graces granted to each, whether the five senses for the first; understanding of faith and works for the second; the reasons for distinguishing us from other creatures, for the third. “The one who received five talents went away and traded with them and made another five.” That is to say, besides the physical and material senses he had received, he added knowledge of heavenly things. His knowledge was raised from the creatures to the Creator, from the corporal to the incorporeal, from the visible to the invisible, from the transient to the eternal. “The one who received two made another two.” This one likewise, according to his ability, doubled in the school of the Gospel what he had learned in the school of the Law. Or perhaps we could say, that he understood that knowledge of faith and the works of this present life, lead to future happiness. But the man who received one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” In the grip of works here below and of worldly pleasures, the wicked servant neglected God’s commands.  However, let us note that, according to another evangelist, he wrapped it in a linen cloth – by this we could understand that he took away the force of his Master’s teaching, by a life of softness and pleasure…

The Master welcomed the first two servants… with the same words of praise. “Come,” He said, “share in your master’s joy and receive what eye has not seen and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart” (1Cor 2,9). What greater reward could be bestowed on a faithful servant?” – St Jerome (343-420) Translator of Sacred Scripture (the Vulgate), Father and One of the Original Four Doctors of the Latin Church .

PRAYER – Mercifully give us Your help, we beseech You, O Lord and by the intercession of blessed John, Your Confessor and Martyr, stretch over us the right hand of Your mercy against all wickedness of the devil. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

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One Minute Reflection – 12 May – ‘ … God walks in step with the simple ones, He shows Himself to the humble ones … ‘

One Minute Reflection – 12 May – The Memorial of Sts Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla (Virgin) and Pancras, Martyrs – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 4:46-53.

Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.” – John 4:48

REFLECTION –Whoever examines the majesty of God will be crushed by His glory” (Prv 25,27 Vg). God can do works that surpass man’s understanding… Faith is required of you and sincerity of life – not high intelligence, nor penetrating knowledge of the mysteries of God. If you do not understand, nor grasp what is below you, how will you comprehend what is above you? Be subject to God, submit yourself to the faith and the light of knowledge will be given to you, as much as you need and can use.

Some have grave temptations concerning faith and sacraments, which are not to be imputed to them but rather, to the enemy. Take no notice, do not argue with your thoughts, nor answer the doubts with which the devil attacks you; believe God’s word, believe His saints and prophets and the wicked enemy will be routed. It is often most profitable to God’s servant, to endure such things. For the devil does not tempt the infidel or sinner, of whom he has already secure possession but he uses various means, to tempt and harass the devout faithful.

Go on then with simple unquestioning faith and approach the Sacrament with reverent beseeching. Anything you cannot understand, commit it surely to God, Who is omnipotent. God does not deceive you – the over-confident person deceives himself. God walks in step with the simple ones, He shows Himself to the humble ones, He grants understanding to the little ones; “He reveals hidden meanings to little ones” and hides away His grace from the inquisitive and the proud. Human reason is feeble and fallible but true faith cannot be deceived. All use of reason, all human inquiry should walk in the footsteps of faith; it should not go on in front of it, nor call it in question.” – Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471) (The Imitation of Christ IV, 18).

PRAYER – May the holy feast of Your Martyrs, Nereus, Achilles, Domitilla and Pancras, ever comfort us, we beseech You, O Lord and make us worthy to serve You.
And grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto all Thy servants, that they may remain continually in the enjoyment of soundness, both of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, always a Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

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One Minute Reflection – 10 May – Talents – Matthew 25:14-23.

One Minute Reflection – 10 May – The Memorial of St Antoninus OP (1389-1459) – Sirach 44:16-27; 45:3-20, Matthew 25:14-23.

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately …” – Matthew 25:15

REFLECTION – “The man who is the landowner is actually the Creator and Lord of all. The Word compares the time the landowner spends away from home, in the parable, to either the Ascension of Christ into Heaven, or, at any rate, to the unseen and invisible character of the Divine Nature. Now, one must conceive of the property of God, as those in each country and city who believe in Him. He calls His servants, those who according to the times, Christ crowns with the glory of the Priesthood. For the holy Paul writes, “No-one takes this honoUr upon himself; he must be called by God.

He hands over [His property] to those who are under Him, to each giving a spiritual gift, so that he might have character and aptitude. We think that this distribution of the talents, is not supplied to the household servants in equal measure because, each is quite different from the other, in their understanding. Immediately they head out for their labours, He says, directly, indicating to us here, that apart from the procrastination of one, they are fit to carry out the work of God.

Surely those who are bound by fear and laziness will end up in the worst evils. For he buried, Jesus says, the talent given to him in the earth. He kept the gift hidden, making it unprofitable for others and useless for himself. For that very reason, the talent is taken away from him and will be given to the one who is already rich. The Spirit has departed from such as these and the gift of the divine gifts. But to those who are industrious, an even more lavish gift will be presented.”St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Archbishop of Alexandria, Father and Doctor of the Church (Fragment 283)

PRAYER – O Lord, may the merits of Antoninus, Your Confessor and Bishop, help us and just as we praise You for the wonders You have wrought in him, so may we glory in Your mercy toward us. T hrough Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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One Minute Reflection – 9 May – “You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

One Minute Reflection – 9 May – The Memorial of St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Bishop, Confessor, Father and Doctor of the Church – Sirach 39:6-14, Matthew 5:13-19

You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

REFLECTION – “I shall always love and reverence the Apostles sent by Christ and their successors, in sowing the seed of the Gospel, those zealous and tireless co-operators in propagating the Word, who may justly say of themselves: Let a man so account of us as the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. For Christ, like a most watchful and most faithful householder, wished that the Gospel lamp should be lighted by such ministers and delegates, with fire sent down from Heaven and once lighted, should not be put under a measure but set upon a candlestick, so that it may spread its brightness far and wide and put to flight, all darkness and error, rife among both Jews and Gentiles.

Now it is not enough for the Gospel teacher to be a brilliant speaker in the eyes of the people; he must also be as a voice crying in the desert and endeavour, by his eloquence, to help many to lead good lives, lest, if he omit his duty of speaking, he be called the dumb dog that is not able to bark, spoken of by the prophet. Yes, he should also burn, in such a way, that, equipped with good works and love, he may adorn his evangelical office and follow the leadership of Paul. He indeed was not satisfied with bidding the Bishop of the Ephesians: This command and teach: conduct thyself in work as a good soldier of Christ Jesus but he unflaggingly preached the Gospel to friend and foe alike and, said with a good conscience to the Bishops gathered at Ephesus: You know how I have kept back nothing that was for your good but have declared it to you and taught you in public and from house to house, urging Jews and Gentiles to turn to God in repentance and to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Such should be the shepherd in the Church who, like Paul, becomes all things to all men, so that the sick may find healing in him; the sad, joy; the desperate, hope; the ignorant, instruction; those in doubt, advice; the penitent, forgiveness and comfort and finally, everyone, whatever is necessary for salvation. And so Christ, when He wished to appoint the chief teachers of the world and of the Church, did not limit Himself to saying to His disciples: You are the light of the world but also added these words: A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a measure but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all who are in the house. Those churchmen err, who imagine that it is by brilliant preaching, rather than by holiness of and all-embracing love, they fulfil their office.” – St Peter Canisius SJ (1521-1597) Doctor of the Church (Sermon excerpt).

PRAYER – O God, Who gave to Your people, blessed Gregory, as a minister of salvation, grant, we beseech You, that we, who cherished him on earth as a teacher of life, may be found worthy to have him as an intercessor in Heaven. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Quote/s of the Day – 7 May – “Without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Quote/s of the Day – 7 May – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 15,1-7.

Without Me
you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Whoever does not gather
with me, scatter
s.”

Luke 11:23

We recognise a tree by its fruit
and we ought to be able to recognise
a Christian by his action.
The fruit of faith
should be evident in our lives,
for being a Christian,
is more than making
sound professions of faith.
It should reveal itself
in practical and visible ways.
Indeed, it is better to keep quiet
about our beliefs
and live them out,
than to talk eloquently
about what we believe
but fail, to live by it.

St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35-c 108)
Father of the Church

… Now is the time in this life of suffering,
when we journey apart from Him.
… So let us fast and pray now
because, we are in the days of childbirth!”

St Augustine (354-430)
Bishop of Hippo
Father and Doctor of Grace

Girded with faith
and the performance of good works,
let us follow in His paths
by the guidance of the Gospel
.”

For at all times, we must so serve Him,
with the good things He has given us,
that he may not, as an angry Father,
disinherit his children,
nor as a dread Lord,
provoked by our evil deeds,
deliver us to everlasting punishment,
as wicked servants,
who refuse to follow Him to glory
.”

St Benedict (c 480-547)

Each one of us has a thirst
for all that is infinite, eternal and perfect.
God alone can satisfy this thirst.
Just as we are created by God,
so we are created for Him.
Just as we came from God,
so we are gradually travelling back towards Him,
for He is the final goal of our earthly journey.
We should meditate on this great truth
which we were first taught in the Catechism,
namely, that we were created
to know, love and serve God
on this earth and to be happy with Him
forever in Heaven.
God alone is the eternal beauty
which will satisfy our hearts.

Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

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One Minute Reflection – 7 May – “I am the vine, you the branches.” – John 15:5

One Minute Reflection – 7 May – The Memorial of St Stanislas (1030-1079) Bishop and Martyr – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 15:1-7.

I am the vine, you the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, the same bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

REFLECTION – “The Lord calls Himself the Vine and those united to Him, branches, in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with Him and, how important it is for us, to remain in His Love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, Who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Saviour, those who are joined to Him, as branches are to a vine, share in His own nature.

On the part of those who come to the Vine, their union with Him depends upon a deliberate act of the will, on his part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had goodwill, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ and received from Him, the dignity of adoptive sonship which made us His own kinsmen, according to the words of Saint Paul: He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the Foundation because it is upon Him that we, as living and spiritual stones, are built into a holy priesthood to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Upon no other Foundation than Christ ,can this temple be built. Here Christ is teaching the same Truth, by calling Himself the Vine, since the Vine is the parent of its branches and provides their nourishment.

From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit, in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but, the fruit of a new life, founded upon our faith in Him and our love for Him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ and we cling to His holy commandment, in order to preserve this life. Eager to safeguard the blessing of our noble birth, we are careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us and Who makes us aware of God’s Presence in us.

Let the wisdom of John teach us how we live in Christ and Christ lives in us: The proof that we are living in Him and He is living in us, is that He has given us a share in His Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with Himself and with God the Father because they have been united to Him by faith and determination to do His will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God and teaches them, to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity.” – St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Known as “The Pillar of Faith” Archbishop of Alexandria, Father & Doctor of the Church, Doctor Incarnationis (Doctor of the Incarnation) [Commentary on the Gospel of John].

PRAYER – O God, in defence of Whose honour Stanislaus, the glorious Bishop, died by the swords of wicked men, grant, we beseech Thee, that all who seek his help may obtain salvation as a result of his prayers. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Quote/s of the Day – 4 May – ‘You touched me’

Quote/s of the Day – 4 May – The Memorial of St Monica (322-387) Mother of St Augustine – 1 Timothy 5:3-10, Luke 7:11-16

My grace is sufficient for thee,
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly
about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight.
I do not know what there is now for me to do
or why I am still here,
all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”

Saint Monica,
on the conversion
of St Augustine

Our Lord and Saviour lifted up His Voice
and said with incomparable majesty:
“Let all men know, that grace comes after tribulation.
Let them know, that without the burden of afflictions,
it is impossible to reach the height of grace.
Let them know,
that the gifts of grace increase,
as the struggles increase.
Let men take care not to stray and be deceived.
This is the only true stairway to paradise
and without the cross,
they can find no road to climb to Heaven
.”

St Rose of Lima (1586-1617)

Late Have I Loved You
By St Augustine (354-430)
Father and Doctor of Grace

Late have I loved You,
Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved You!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside,
seeking there for You,
and upon the shapely things
You have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me
but I was not with You.
They held me back far from You,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in You.
You called, shouted,
broke through my deafness.
You flared, blazed,
banished my blindness.
You lavished Your fragrance,
I gasped
and now I pant for You.
I tasted You
and now I hunger and thirst.
You touched me
and I burned for Your peace.
Amen

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One Minute Reflection – 4 May – Why then did He not work the miracle by only a word but also touched the bier?

One Minute Reflection – 4 May – The Memorial of St Monica (322-387) Mother of St Augustine – 1 Timothy 5:3-10, Luke 7:11-16

Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Naim and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.” – Luke 7:11

REFLECTION – “Observe how He joins miracle to miracle. In the former instance, the healing of the centurion’s servant, He was present by invitation but here, He draws near without being invited. No-one summoned Him to restore the dead man to life but He comes to do so of His own accord. He seems to me to have purposely made this miracle also follow upon the former.

The dead man was being buried and many friends were conducting him to his tomb. Christ, the Life and Resurrection, meets him there. He is the Destroyer of death and of corruption. He is the One in whom we live and move and are. He is Who has restored the nature of man to that which it originally was and has set free, our death-fraught flesh, from the bonds of death. He had mercy upon the woman and that her tears might cease,, He commanded saying, “Weep not.” Immediately the cause of her weeping was done away.

Christ raised him who was descending to his grave. The manner of his rising is plain to see. “He touched,” it says, “the bier and said, ‘Young man, I say unto thee, arise.’” How was not a word enough for raising him who was lying there? What is so difficult to it or past accomplishment? What is more powerful than the Word of God? Why then did He not work the miracle by only a word but also touched the bier? It was, my beloved, that you might learn, that the Holy Body of Christ is productive for the salvation of man. The Flesh of the Almighty Word is the Body of Life and was clothed with His Might. Consider, that iron, when brought into contact with fire, produces the effects of fire and fulfills its functions. The Flesh of Christ also has the power of giving life and annihilates the influence of death and corruption because, it is the flesh of the Word, Who gives life to all. May our Lord Jesus Christ also touch us, that delivering us from evil works, even from fleshly lusts, He may unite us to the assemblies of the saints.” St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Archbishop of Alexandria, Great Father and Doctor of the Church (Commentary on Luke, Homily 36).

PRAYER – O God, the consoler of those who mourn and the safety of those who put their trust in You; Who mercifully accepted the holy tears of blessed Monica for the conversion of Augustine, her son; grant us through the intercession of both, to bewail our sins and to obtain the grace of Your forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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One Minute Reflection – 3 May – ‘O Good Shepherd, Who carry the whole flock on Your shoulders …’

One Minute Reflection – 3 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross – 1 Peter 2:21-25, John 10:11-16

“I am the good shepherd and I know mine and mine know me.”- John 10:14

REFLECTION – “Let us consider Christ, our shepherd …. He rejoices in those sheep of His that are around Him and goes in search of those, that stray. Mountains and forests cause Him no fear; He crosses ravines to reach the sheep that is lost. Even if He finds it in a piteous state, He is not angry but touched with pity; He takes it on His shoulders and, from His own weariness, heals the exhausted sheep (Lk 15:4 f.) …

With good reason Christ declares: “I am the Good Shepherd, I seek out the lost sheep, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal (Ez 34:16). I have seen the flock of mankind struck down by sickness; I have witnessed my lambs wander about where demons dwell; I have seen my flock ravaged by wolves. All this I have seen and have not witnessed it from on high. That is why I took hold of the withered hand, gripped by pain as if by a wolf; I have unbound those whom fever had bound; I taught him to see whose eyes had been shut from his mother’s womb; I brought Lazarus out from the tomb where he had lain for four days (Mk 3:5; 1:31; Jn 9; 11). For I am the Good Shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” 

The prophet knew this shepherd when, long before His Passion, He declared what would take place: “Like a sheep led to the slaughter or a sheep, dumb before the shearers, he opened not his mouth” (Is 53:7). Like a sheep, the shepherd has offered His neck for His flock …. By His death, He heals from death; by His tomb, He empties the tomb …. The tombs are full and the prison shut until the shepherd, comes down from the cross, He has come to bring His captive sheep the joyful news of their liberation. We see Him in hell where He gives the order for their release (1 Pt 3:19); we see Him call His sheep once more, giving them the call to life from the dwellings of the dead. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” This is how He intends to win the affection of His sheep and those who know how to listen to His voice, love Christ.” – Basil of Seleucia (Died 448) Bishop of Seleucia, Writer – Oratio 26

PRAYER – O Good Shepherd,
You Whom My Soul Loves.
By St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–C 395)
Father of the Church

Where are You pasturing Your flock,
O good Shepherd,
Who carry the whole flock on Your shoulders?
(For the whole of human nature is one sheep
and You have lifted it onto Your shoulders).
Show me the place of peace,
lead me to the good grass that will nourish me,
call me by name so that I,
Your sheep, hear Your voice
and by Your speech,
give me eternal life.
Answer me, You Whom my soul loves.
… Show me then (my soul says),
where You pasture Your flock,
so that I can find that saving pasture too
and fill myself with the food of Heaven,
without which, no-one can come to eternal life
and run to the spring
and fill myself with the drink of God.
You give it, as from a spring,
to those who thirst –
water pouring from Your side, cut open by the lance,
water that, to whoever drinks it,
is a spring of water,
welling up to eternal life.
Amen

This is a tiny excerpt from St Gregory of Nyssa’s commentary on the Song of Songs (Cap. 2: PG 44, 802), using the imagery of Psalm 23, appeals to the Lord Jesus Christ for the promised green pastures, restful waters and noonday rest that is the final, eternal destination of those who love God and walk in His ways.

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MAY – The Month of our Loving Mother Mary!

It’s 1 May
The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Month of our Loving Mother!

The name of Mary
is a tower of strength,
which saves sinners from punishment
and defends the just
from the assaults of hell.

St Lawrence Justinian (1381-1455)

Mary Pondered All These Things in Her Heart (Cf Luke 2:19)

From a Sermon by St Lawrence Justinian (1381-1455) Bishop of Venice, Confessor
His Biography here:
https://anastpaul.com/2021/09/05/saint-of-the-day-5-september-saint-lawrence-justinian-1381-1455/

“While Mary contemplated all she had come to know through reading, listening and observing, she grew in faith,increased in merits and was more illuminated by Wisdom and more consumed by the fire of charity.
The Heavenly Mysteries were opened to her and she was filled with joy; she became fruitful by the Spirit, was being directed toward God and watched over protectively, while on earth.
So remarkable are the divine graces, that they elevate one from the lowest depths to the highest summit and transform one to a greater holiness.
How entirely blessed was the mind of the Virgin which, through the indwelling and guidance of the Spirit, was always and in every way, open to the power of the Word of God.
She was not led by her own senses, nor by her own will, thus, she accomplished outwardly, through her body. what Wisdom, from within, gave to her faith.
It was fitting for Divine Wisdom, which created itself a home in the Church, to use the intervention of the most Blessed Mary, in guarding the law, purifying the mind, giving an example of humility and providing a spiritual sacrifice.
Imitate her, O faithful soul!
Enter into the deep recesses of your heart, so that you may be purified spiritually and cleansed from your sins.
God places more value on goodwill in all we do, than on the works themselves.
Therefore, whether we give ourselves to God in the work of contemplation or whether we serve the needs of our neighbour by good works, we accomplish these things because, the love of Christ urges us on.
The acceptable offering of the spiritual purification, is accomplished, not in a man-made temple but, in the recesses of the heart where the Lord Jesus freely enters!”

Mary! How Sweetly Falls That Word
Anonymous, 19th Century

Mary! How sweetly falls that word
On my enraptured ear!
Oft do I breathe in accents low,
That sound when none are near.
Chorus:
Sing, O my lips and loudly proclaim:
O Mary, O Mary, how sweet is thy name!
Sing, O my lip, and loudly proclaim;
O Mary, O Mary, how sweet is thy name!

Sweet as the warbling of a bird,
Sweet as a mother’s voice;
So sweet to me is that dear name,
It makes my soul rejoice.
Chorus.

Bright as the glittering stars appear,
Bright as the moonbeams shine,
So bright in my mind’s eye is seen
Thy loveliness divine!
Chorus.

Through thee I offer my requests,
And when my prayer is done,
In ecstasy sublime I see
Thee seated near thy Son.
Chorus.

Tune: St Basil’s Hymnal: Unnamed Tune. (1889)

Posted in CHRIST the WORD and WISDOM, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, GOD the FATHER, QUOTES on the CHURCH, St JOSEPH, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 1 May – “Is not this the carpenter’s son? ”– Matthew 13:55

One Minute Reflection – 1 May – The Second Sunday after Easter – St Joseph the Worker, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Colossians 3:14-15, 17, 23-24, Matthew 13:54-58

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? ” – Matthew 13:55

REFLECTION – “For if I do not understand the nature placed at my service, I discern Your goodness from the mere fact that it is there to serve me. I perceive that I do not even understand myself but I wonder at You all the more… You have given me intellect, life and human feeling, the source of so many joys, yet I do not begin to understand how I began to be…
So it is through failing to understand what surrounds me, that I grasp what You are and, it is through perceiving what You are, that I come to adore You. That is why, in what concerns Your mysteries, my incomprehension lessens not a bit my faith in Your omnipotence… Your eternal Son’s birth exceeds even the idea of eternity – it is prior to the times everlasting. Before any other thing that exists, He was Son proceeding from You, O God and Father. He is true God… You have never existed without Him… Before ever time was, You are the eternal Father of Your Sole Begotten One.”… St Hilary (315-368) Bishop of Poitiers, Father and Doctor of the Divinity of Christ of the Church

PRAYER – O God, Creator of all things, Who dost impose on man the law of work, grant in Thy goodness, that, by the example and patronage of blessed Joseph, we may both accomplish the work Thou dost command and attain the reward Thou hast promised. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Quote/s of the Day – 29 April – ‘Wholly United to Christ’

Quote/s of the Day – 29 April – 2 Timothy 2:8-10; 3:10-12, John 15:1-7

I am the vine, you the branches;
whoever remains in me and I in him,
the same bears much fruit;
for without Me
you can do nothing
.”

John 15:5

“My sheep hear My Voice;
and I know them
and they follow Me.

John 10:27

He [Christ], protects their faith
and gives strength to believers,
in proportion to the TRUST,
that each man,
who receives that strength,
is willing to place in Him.

St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200- c 258)
Martyr, Father of the Church

The way to rest is through toil,
the way to life is through death.
Christ has taken on Himself
the whole weakness of our lowly human nature.
If then we are steadfast in our faith in Him
and in our love for Him,
we win the victory that He has won,
we receive what He has promised.”

St Pope Leo the Great (400-461)
Father and Doctor of the Church

“Place all your trust in God,
let Him be your fear and your love.
He will answer for you,
He will do what is best for you.
You have here no lasting home.
You are a stranger and a pilgrim
wherever you may be
and you shall have no rest,
until you are wholly united with Christ.
Why do you look about here
when this is not the place of your repose?

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

“For the branch,” says St Augustine,
“there can be no half-measures.
Either it remains united with the vine,
or it is thrown into the fire.”
The same holds true for each one of us.
We must choose, either close union with Jesus,
or separation and spiritual death.
We must decide between a life of fervour in Christ,
or a life of tepidity and sin.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

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One Minute Reflection – 29 April – Joined to Christ

One Minute Reflection – 29 April – The Memorial of St Peter Martyr of Verona OP (1205–1252) Martyr, Priest – 2 Timothy 2:8-10; 3:10-12, John 15:1-7

I am the vine, you the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, the same bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

REFLECTION – “The Lord calls Himself, the vine and those united to Him, branches, in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with Him and how important it is for us to remain in His love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, Who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Saviour, those who are joined to Him, as branches are to a vine, share in His own nature.

On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with Him depends upon a deliberate act of the will; on His part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had goodwill, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ,and received from Him, the dignity of adoptive sonship which made us His own kinsmen, according to the words of Saint Paul: – He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the foundation because, it is upon Him that we as living and spiritual stone, are built into a holy priesthood to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Upon no other foundation than Christ, can this temple be built. Here Christ is teaching the same truth by calling Himself the vine, since the vine is the parent of its branches and provides their nourishment.

From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit, in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but the fruit of a new life, founded upon our faith in Him and our love for Him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ and we cling to His holy commandment in order to preserve this life. Eager to safeguard the blessing of our noble birth, we are careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us and Who makes us aware of God’s presence in us.

Let the wisdom of John teach us how we live in Christ and Christ lives in us – The proof that we are living in Him and He is living in us, is that He has given us a share in His Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with Himself and with God the Father because they have been united to Him by faith and determination to do His will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God and teaches them to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity.”St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Archbishop of Alexandria, Father and Doctor of the Church (An excerpt from: Commentary on the Gospel of John).

PRAYERSaint Thomas Aquinas in Eulogy for Saint Peter the Martyr
Here silent is Christ’s Herald;
Here quenched, the People’s Light;
Here lies the Martyred Champion
Who fought Faith’s holy fight.

The voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Saviour crowns His Soldier;
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With Martyr’s fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

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Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Holy Saturday

Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Holy Saturday

“…He Slept,
so that We might be
Awakened,
He Died,
so that We might
Live.

St Augustine (354-430)
Father & Doctor of the Church

The Lord, although He was God, became man.
He suffered for the sake of those who suffer,
He was bound for those in bonds,
condemned for the guilty,
buried for those who lie in the grave
but He rose from the dead and cried aloud:
“Who will contend with Me? Let him confront Me.”
I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life,
raised men from their graves.
Who has anything to say against Me?
I, He said, Am the Christ, I have destroyed death,
triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot,
bound the strong one and taken men up to the heights of Heaven.
I Am the Christ.
Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you.
I Am your Forgiveness.
I Am the Passover which brings salvation.
I Am the Lamb Who was immolated for you.
I Am your Ransom, your Life, your Resurrection, your Light, I am your Salvation and your King.
I will bring you to the heights of Heaven.
With My own Right Hand I will raise you up
and I will show you the Eternal Father.

St Melito of Sardis (Died c 180)
Bishop, Father

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Adoration of the Holy Cross – 15 April – Good Friday

Adoration of the Holy Cross – 15 April – Good Friday – The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Faithful Cross!

Faithful Cross! Above All Other
By St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609)

Faithful Cross! above all other,
one and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peer may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron,
sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
for awhile the ancient rigour
that thy birth bestowed, suspend
and the King of heavenly beauty
gently on thine arms extend.

Praise and honour to the Father,
praise and honour to the Son,
praise and honour to the Spirit,
ever Three and ever One:
One in might and One in glory

while eternal ages run.

The Passion of Our Lord
St Leo the Great (400-461) Pope, Father & Doctor
(Excerpt from a Sermon on the Passion and Cross of Christ)

TRUE REVERENCE for the Lord’s Passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus Crucified and recognising in Him our own humanity.
The earth – our earthly nature – should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer.
The rocks – the hearts of unbelievers – should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart. Foreshadowings of the future Resurrection, should appear in the Holy City, the Church of God – what is happening to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.

NO-ONE, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross. No-one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against Him. How much more ,does it bring to those, who turn to Him in repentance.
Ignorance has been destroyed, obstinacy has been overcome. The Sacred Blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life. The age-old night of sin has given place to the true Light.
The Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise. All who have been reborn, have the way open before them, to return to their native land, from which they had been exiled. Unless indeed, they close off for themselves, the path that could be opened, before the faith of a thief.

THE BUSINESS of this life should not preoccupy us with its anxiety and pride, so that we no longer strive, with all the love of our heart, to be like our Redeemer and to follow His example. Everything that He did or suffered, was for our salvation – He wanted His body to share the goodness of its Head.

in taking our human nature while remaining God, so that the Word became Man, He left no member of the human race, the unbeliever excepted, without a share in His mercy. Who does not share a common nature with Christ, if He has welcomed Christ, Who took our nature, and is reborn in the Spirit, through Whom Christ was conceived?
Again, who cannot recognise in Christ, his own infirmities? Who would not recognise that Christ’s eating and sleeping, His sadness and His shedding tears of love, are marks of the nature of a slave?
It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the Only- Begotten Son of God, became also, the Son of Man. He was to have both the reality of human nature and the fullness of the Godhead.

THE BODY WHICH LAY LIFELESS in the tomb is ours!
The Body which rose again on the third day is ours!
The Body which ascended above all the heights of Heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory, is ours!
If then, we walk in the way of His commandments and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price He paid for our salvation in a lowly Body, we too, are to rise to share His glory. The promise He made, will be fulfilled in the sight of all – Whoever acknowledges Me, before men, I too will acknowledge him before My Father, Who is in Heaven.

Posted in CHRIST the WORD and WISDOM, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, FATHERS of the Church, QUOTES on DISCIPLESHIP, The PASSION, The WORD

Maundy Thursday – 14 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – THAT WAY has no room for dirty feet!

Maundy Thursday – 14 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – 1 Corinthians 11:20-32, John 13:1-15

May God have mercy on us and bless us:
may He cause the light of His countenance, to shine upon us and may He have mercy on us.”
Psalm 66:2

Jesus answered him,
“What I am doing you do not know now
but afterward, you will understand.” P
eter said to him,
“You shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“If I do not wash you,
you have no part in me.”

John 13:7-8

O WHAT WAS JESUS DOING in washing the feet of His disciples ? By washing them and wiping them with the towel around His waist, was not Jesus making their feet beautiful, at the moment when they were going to have to proclaim the good news?
It was then, in my opinion, that the prophetic word was fulfilled: “How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim good news!” (Is 52:7; Rm 10:15).
But if, by washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus makes them beautiful, how can we express the genuine beauty in those whom He immerses fully “in the Holy Spirit and in fire” (Mt 3:11)?

THE FEET of the Apostles were made beautiful, so that … they might set out along the holy road and walk in Him Who said: “I am the Way” (Jn 14:6).
For whoever has had his feet washed by Jesus and he alone, follows that living Way that leads to the Father.

THAT WAY has no room for dirty feet! … In order to follow this living, spiritual Way (Heb 10:20) … they had to have their feet washed by Jesus, Who set aside His garments … so as to take upon His own Body, the dirtiness of their feet, with the towel, which was His only garment, for “he bears our infirmities” (Is 53:4). … ” – Origen Adamantius (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Exegist, Writer, Apologist, Father (Commentary on St John’s Gospel)

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Quote/s of the Day – 14 April – This is Jesus Christ

Quote/s of the Day – 14 April – Maundy Thursday – 1 Corinthians 11:20-32, John 13:1-15

“He loved them unto the end.”

John 13:1

“Born as a Son,
led forth as a Lamb,
sacrificed as a sheep,
buried as a man,
He rose from the dead as a God,
for He was by nature God and man.

He is all things –
He judges and so, He is Law.
He teaches and so, He is Wisdom.
He saves and so, He is Grace.
He begets and so, He is Father.
He is begotten,and so, He is Son.
He suffers and so, He is Sacrifice.
He is buried and so, He is Man.
He rises again and so, He is God.
This is Jesus Christ,
to whom belongs glory for all ages.”

St Melito of Sardis (Died c 180)
Bishop, Early Church Father

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One Minute Reflection – 14 April – ‘… Place all your trust in the Blood of Christ Crucified …’

One Minute Reflection – 14 April – Maundy Thursday – 1 Corinthians 11:20-32, John 13:1-15

“Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, … he loved them unto the end.” – John 13:1

REFLECTION – “Be obedient to the death, following the example of the spotless Lamb who obeyed His Father even to a shameful death on the Cross. Reflect that He is the way and the rule you are to follow. Always hold Him present before the eyes of your spirit. See how obedient He is, this Word, this Utterance of God! He does not refuse to take up the burden of suffering laid on Him by His Father; to the contrary, He throws Himself into it, spurred on by His great desire. Isn’t this what He reveals during the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, when He says: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:15)? By “eat this Passover” He means, the accomplishment of the Father’s will and His desire. Seeing that scarcely any time lies before Him (He was already looking ahead to the end, when He would sacrifice His body for our sake), He rejoices, He is glad and joyfully says: “I have greatly desired.” Here is the Passover He is speaking about – that which consists in giving His own self as food, in laying down His own body in obedience to the Father.

Jesus had celebrated many another Passover with His disciples but never this one, O unspeakable, sweet and burning charity! You think neither of Your suffering nor of Your humiliating death – if You had thought of them, You would not have been so joyful, You would not have called it a Passover. The Word sees ,that it is He Himself Who has been chosen, He Himself Who has received all our humanity as His spouse. He has been asked to give us His own Blood so that God’s will might be accomplished in us, so that it might be His Blood that sanctifies us. This is, indeed, the sweet Passover, this Lamb without blemish accepts (cf. Ex 12:5) and it is with great love and great desire that He fulfils the Father’s will and wholly carries out His design. What unspeakably sweet love! …

That is why, my beloved, I beg you never to entertain the least dread and to place all your trust in the Blood of Christ Crucified … May all servile fear be banished from your spirits. You will say with Saint Paul …: “I can do all things through Christ crucified, since he is within me by desire and love and he strengthens me” (cf. Phil 4:13; Gal 2:20). Love, love, love! By His Blood, the gentle Lamb has made an unassailable rock of your soul.” – St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Dominican tertiary, Doctor of the Church, Co-patron of Europe – Letter 129

PRAYER – O God, from whom Judas received the punishment of his guilt and the thief the reward of his confession: grant unto us the full fruit of Thy clemency, that even as in His Passion, our Lord Jesus Christ gave to each a retribution according to his merits, so having taken away our old sins, He may bestow upon us the grace of His Resurrection. Who with Thee lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen

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Spy Wednesday in Holy Week – 13 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – We do the same thing as Judas …

Spy Wednesday in Holy Week – 13 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – Isaias 53:1-12, Luke 22:39-71; 23:1-53

And turn not away thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble, hear me speedily. Save me, O God, for the waters are come in, even unto my soul.” – Psalm 68:2

And Jesus said to him:
Judas, dost thou betray
the Son of man with a kiss?

Luke 22:48

LET US CONSIDER what Judas said to the Jewish priests: “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God!

THEY DO THE SAME THING, who accept sensual or worldly goods, in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls, the Saviour and Word of Truth, Who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas’ example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray Him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money, or for any selfish motive.
People who behave in this way, appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy, who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God’s Word, saying: “What will you give me if I hand Him over to you!?
And they gave him thirty pieces of silver
.”

THE NUMBER OF COINS they gave Judas, was equivalent, to the number of years the Saviour had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, He was Baptised and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers. Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also, the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked.” – Origen Adamantius (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Exegist, Writer, Apologist, Father (Commentary on Matthew 78)

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One Minute Reflection – 10 April – “Behold the hour is at hand … ” – Matthew 26:45

One Minute Reflection – 10 April – Palm Sunday – Philippians 2:5-11, The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew 26:36-75; 27:1-60

“Behold the hour is at hand and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.” – Matthew 26:45

REFLECTION – By St Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173) Armenian Bishop (Jesus, Only Son of the Father, § 708-724)

Because of sin, O innocent One,
You were set before the criminal’s judgement seat;
When You return in the Father’s glory
Do not judge me together with him.

You were put to scorn with sacrilegious spittle
On account of the first created man’s shame;
Wipe away the dishonour of the impudent man’s sins,
With which my face is covered…

You have put on crimson,
Set the scarlet cloak over You
As a dishonour and an affront,
As Pontius Pilate’s soldiers thought it to be (Mt 27:28).

Remove sin’s shirt of hair from me,
Crimson red, colour of blood,
Reclothe me in the garment of joy
With which You clothed the first man.

Kneeling, they made sport,
Acting ridicule, they mocked;
When they saw it, Heaven’s armies
Worshipped in fear.

This You underwent that You might remove
The shame, of being sin’s accomplice, from Adam’s nature in us
That, from my soul and my conscience,
You might suppress my sorrowing shame…

Following the judge’s verdict,
You received the terrible blows of flagellation
Over Your whole body
And on Your limbs’ every part.

As for me who, from foot to head
Suffer unbearable pain:
Be pleased to heal me once again
As through the grace of Baptism’s fount.

In exchange for the thorns of sin
That the curse caused to grow up for us (Gn 3,18)
A Crown of Thorns was set on Your Head
By the labourers in Jerusalem’s vineyard (Mt 21,33f.).

Pull out the thorns of sin from me,
Which my enemy planted within me,
And heal in me the bite of the wound
That the marks of sin might be erased.”

PRAYER – Almighty, eternal God, Who, to provide mankind an example of humility for it to imitate, willed that the Saviour should assume our flesh and suffer death upon the Cross, mercifully grant that we may be found worthy of the lesson of His endurance and the fellowship of His Resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Thought for the Day – 9 April – The Passion of Our Lord

Thought for the Day – 9 April – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Passion of Our Lord

“The Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the most profound mysteries of our religion.
It is a mystery of infinite goodness and mercy, that, out of love for fallen humanity, the Eternal Word of God, should have assumed a human form and become man, in order to show us the way to Heaven and to enable us, to reach it.
Jesus came amongst us, to instruct us, to call us, to perfection and to give us, an example and the necessary help.
But He did much more than this.
He came also to bear the weight of our offences and to offer Himself, as a spotless victim of love and suffering in expiation of our sins.
All this, seems too great a mystery, almost inconceivable, in fact, until we consider that the charity of God is as infinite as His nature.
This is why, the Saints experienced hours of ecstasy contemplating the Passion and Death of our Divine Redeemer.
Whenever St Gertrude looked upon the figure of Jesus nailed to the Cross, she could not restrain her tears.
She was accustomed to say, that God was specially merciful towards those who meditated on the Passion and Death of Jesus.
St Bernard writes, that even as the rocks were rent asunder at the Death of Our Redeemer, so, our sin-hardened hearts, should feel as if they were breaking, when we meditate on His Sufferings.
Let us meditate, therefore, on the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are sinners, as unfortunately, we all are, we shall we moved to weep for our sins.
If we are imperfect and lukewarm, we shall be set on fire with love and a determination, to requite, as far as possible, the infinite charity of Jesus Christ.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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One Minute Reflection – 9 April – “He who loves his life, loses it and he who hates his life in this world, keeps it unto life everlasting.” – John 12:25

One Minute Reflection – 9 April – Saturday in Passion Week, the Fifth Week in Lent – Jeremias 18:18-23, John 12:10-36

He who loves his life, loses it and he who hates his life in this world, keeps it unto life everlasting. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me and where I Am ,there also shall My servant be.” – John 12:25-26

REFLECTION – “… We are being towed along by a world that passes away, forgetting the world to come. We are greedy for present things but do not take into account the coming judgement. We will not run to meet the Lord as He comes…

Let us turn back, brethren, let us turn back… By the very fact of His delay, of His still waiting, our Lord proves His desire to see us come back to Him, His desire that we should not perish. In His great goodness, He continues addressing these words to us: “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked but would rather he would change his ways and live ”(Ez 33,11). So let us turn back to Him, brethren, not fearing that time is running short. The time that belongs to time’s Author cannot be shortened. The proof of it lies in the criminal in the Gospel, who, at the moment of dying on the cross, got away with his pardon, grabbed hold of life and, breaking into paradise like a burglar, managed to make his way into the Kingdom (cf. Lk 23,43)!” – St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Bishop of Ravenna, Father and “Doctor of Sermons” of the Church (Excerpt from Sermon 167).

PRAYER – O Lord, may the people dedicated to You, desire to serve You more and more, that, taught by these sacred rites, they may be enriched by more precious gifts, as they grow in favour with Your majesty. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
Amen (Collect).

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One Minute Reflection – 8 April – ‘ … No longer, then, do we die as men condemned …’

One Minute Reflection – 8 April – Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows – Friday of Passion Week, the Fifth Week in Lent – Jeremiah 17:13-18, John 11:47-54

… It is expedient for us, that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing.” – John 11:50

REFLECTION “God, the Word of the all-good Father, did not disregard the human race, His own creation, when it was sinking back into corruption but rather, by the offering of His own Body, He destroyed the death men had incurred and by His teaching, He corrected their negligence. So, He restored by His power, all that belongs to man’s estate.

Anyone can find confirmation of this from the Saviour’s own disciples who spoke of Him, for in their writings one reads: The charity of Christ constrains us as we judge that if one died on behalf of all, then all died and He died for all, in order that we may live, no longer for ourselves but for Him Who died for us and rose from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ. And again: We see Jesus, Who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone. Then the writer goes onto show why it had to be God, the Word and no other Who became Man: Indeed it was fitting that in bringing many sons to glory, God, for Whom and through Whom all things exist, should make perfect the One Who leads them to salvation. By this He means, that the task of bringing men back from the corruption into which they had fallen, belonged to no other save God the Word, Who had made them in the beginning. Further, Scripture shows, that the Word assumed a Body for the purpose of offering It in sacrifice on behalf of other bodies like His own, for the writer continues: Since the children have blood and flesh in common, He likewise, shared in them Himself ,so that, by His own Death, He might destroy the one who had power over death, that is, the devil and might deliver those, who all their life long, were enslaved by fear of death.

For by the sacrifice of His own Body, He both put an end to the law that stood against us and made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection. Hence Paul, the Christbearer, declares: As through a man came death, so through a Man has come the Resurrection of the dead. For as all died in Adam, so also in Christ all shall be made to live.

No longer, then, do we die as men condemned but as men being raised even now, we await the general resurrection of all, which God, Whose work and gift it is, will reveal at the appointed time. St Athanasius (297-373) Archbishop of Alexandria, Great Father and Doctor of the Church (An excerpt from his “On the Incarnation of the Word” 10).

PRAYER – O God, in Whose Passion the sword, according to the prophecy of blessed Simeon, pierced through the soul of Mary, the glorious Virgin and Mother, mercifully grant that we, who reverently commemorate her piercing through and her suffering, may, by the interceding glorious merits of all the saints faithfully standing by the Cross, obtain the abundant fruit of Your Passion. Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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One Minute Reflection – 7 April – “He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7:50

One Minute Reflection – 7 April – Thursday in Passion Week, the Fifth Week of Lent Daniel 3:25, 34-45, Luke 7:36-50

He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7:50

REFLECTION – “A sinful woman has proclaimed to us that God’s love has gone forth in search of sinners. For when He called her, Christ was inviting our whole race to His love and, in her person, He was drawing all sinners to His forgiveness. He spoke to her alone but He was drawing all creation to His grace. (…)

Who would not be struck by the mercy of Christ, who accepted an invitation to a Pharisee’s house, in order to save a sinner! For the sake of the woman who hungered for forgiveness, He, Himself felt hunger for the table of Simon the Pharisee and all the while, under the guise of a meal of bread, He had prepared for the sinner, a meal of repentance! …

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[50]: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.” ~ An Anonymous Christian Syrian Writer of the 6th century [ACW} (From a collection of homilies on the sinful woman, 1, 4.5.19.26.28 (Eastern Syrian)

PRAYER – Grant, we beseech You, Almighty God, that the dignity of human nature, weakened by excessive self-indulgence, may be restored by the earnest practice of healing self-denial. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who livetsand reigns withTthee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

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Wednesday of Passion Week – 6 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – ‘The mark of Christ’s sheep …’

Wednesday of Passion Week, the Fifth Week of Lent – 6 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-19, 25, John 10:22-38

O Lord, deal with us not according to our sins, nor requite us according to our crimes.” – Psalm 102:10

“My sheep hear My Voice;
I know them and they follow Me.”

John 10:27

THE MARK OF CHRIST’S SHEEP is their willingness to hear and obey, just as the sign of those who are not His, is their disobedience. We take the word “Hear” to imply obedience to what has been said. People who hear God are known by Him. No-one is entirely unknown by God but to be known in this way, is to become His Kin. Thus, when Christ says, “I know mine,” He means, “I will receive them and give them permanent Mystical Kinship with Myself.” It might be said, that inasmuch as He has become man, He has made all human beings His Kin, since all are members of the same race; we are all united to Christ in a Mystical relationship because of His Incarnation. Yet, those who do not preserve the likeness of His holiness are alienated from Him… .

MY SHEEP FOLLOW ME, says Christ. By a certain God-given grace, believers follow in the footsteps of Christ. No longer subject to the shadows of the Law, they obey the commands of Christ and, guided by His Words rise, through grace, to His own dignity, for they are called children of God. When Christ ascends into Heaven, they also follow Him.” – St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Bishop, Father & Doctor of the Church (Commentary on Saint John’s Gospel, 7, 10, 26).

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Quote/s of the Day – 6 April – Obedience

Quote/s of the Day – 6 April – Wednesday of Passion Week, the Fifth Week of Lent Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-19, 25, John 10:22-38

My sheep hear My Voice;
I know them and they follow Me.

John 10:27

“The mark of Christ’s sheep
is their willingness to hear and obey,
just as disobedience
is the mark of those who are not His.
We take the word ‘hear’
to imply obedience
to what has been said.

My sheep follow me,” says Christ.
By a certain God-given grace,
believers follow in the footsteps of Christ.
No longer subject to the shadows of the Law ,
they obey the commands of Christ,
and guided by His words,
rise through grace,
to His own dignity,
for they are called children of God.
When Christ ascends into heaven,
they also follow Him
.”

St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)

Chosen soul, how will you bring this about?
What steps will you take to reach the high level
to which God is calling you?
The means of holiness and salvation,
are known to everybody,
since they are found in the Gospel,
the masters of the spiritual life have explained them,
the Saints have practised them…
These means are –
sincere Humility,
unceasing Prayer,
complete Self-denial,
abandonment to Divine Providence
and obedience to the Will of God
.”

St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)

“Peace in us is the result
of two kinds of necessary obedience,
the obedience to right reason
of the lower faculties
and the obedience of right reason
to God, our Creator.
“This is the peace which God
gives on earth to men of goodwill;
this is the most perfect wisdom,”
St Augustine.

Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

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Monday in Passion Week – 4 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – “If anyone thirst, let himcome to Me and drink.”

Monday in Passion Week – 4 April – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – Jonas 3:1-10, John 7:32-39

O God, by Your Name save me and by your might deliver me.” – Psalm 53:3

If anyone thirst, let him
come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me,
as the Scripture says,
‘From within Him
there shall flow
rivers of living waters.’

John 7:37-38

AS THE DEER LONGS for running water, so my soul longs for You, my God. Just as the deer longs for running water, so do our newly baptised members, our young deer, so to speak, also yearn for God. By leaving Egypt and the world, they have put Pharaoh and his entire army to death in the waters of Baptism. After slaying the devil, their hearts long for the springs of running water in the Church. These springs, are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah testifies, that the Father is like a Fountain when He says: They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living water, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. In another passage we read about the Son: They have forsaken the Fountain of Wisdom. And again, John says of the Holy Spirit: Whoever drinks the water I will give him, that water shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life. The Evangelist explains that the Saviour said this of the Holy Spirit. The testimony of these texts, establishes beyond doubt, the Three Fountains of the Church constitute the mystery of the Trinity.

THESE ARE THE WATERS that the heart of the believer longs for, these are the waters that the heart of the newly baptised yearns for when he says: My heart thirsts for God, the living Fountain. This is not a weak, faint desire to see God, rather the newly baptised actually burn with desire and thirst for God. Before they received Baptism, they used to ask one another: When shall I go and see the face of God? Now their quest has been answered. they have come forward and they stand in the presence of God. They have come before the Altar and have looked upon the Mystery of the Saviour.

HAVING RECEIVED the Body of Christ and being reborn in the life-giving waters, they speak up boldly and say: I shall go into God’s marvellous dwelling place, His house. The house of God is the Church, his marveLlous dwelling place ….

BY THE WORD OF GOD you have been lifted out of the dangerous waters of this world, like so many little fish. In us, the nature of things has been changed. Fish taken out of the sea die but the Apostles have fished for us and have taken us out of the sea of this world, so we could be brought from death to life. As long as we were in the world, our eyes looked down into the abyss and we lived in filth. After we were rescued from the waves, we began to look upon the Sun and look up at the True Light. Confused in the presence of so much joy, we say: Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, in the presence of my Saviour and my God.” – St Jerome (343-420) Bishop and Great Western Father and Doctor of the Church (An excerpt from his Sermon on Psalm 41 addressed to the Newly Baptised).

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One Minute Reflection – 4 April ‘ … As long as we keep the seed of Truth … and His commandments …’

One Minute Reflection – 4 April – Monday in Passion Week – Jonas 3:1-10, John 7:32-39 and the Memorial of St Isidore of Seville (c 560-636) Father & Doctor of the Church

You shall seek me and shall not find me …” – John 7:34

REFLECTION – “To seek Jesus is often something good, for it is the same as to seek the Word, the Truth and Wisdom. But you will say, that the words “to seek Jesus” are sometimes said about those who want to harm Him. For example: “They tried to seize Him but no-one laid a finger on Him because His hour had not yet come.” … He knows from whom He distances Himself and with whom He remains, without being found yet, so that if someone seeks Him, that person will find Him at the favourable time. The Apostle Paul said to those, who did not yet possess Jesus in this way and, who did not contemplate Him: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who shall go up into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who shall go down into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). What is it He does say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.” (Rom 6:6-8)

When in His love for humankind, the Saviour said: “You will look for me,” (Jn 8:21) He let us glimpse the things pertaining to the reign of God, so that those, who look for Him, do not do so outside of themselves saying: “’Here, He is here’, or ‘He is there.’ The Gospel tells them: “The reign of God is already in your midst.” (Lk 17:21) As long as we keep the seed of Truth that has been placed in our soul and His commandments, the Word will not distance Himself from us. But if evil spreads in us to corrupt us, Jesus will tell us: “I am going away. You will look for me but you will die in your sins.Origen (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Father (Commentary on Saint John, 19,12).

PRAYER – O God, Who granted to Your people blessed Isidore, as a minister of salvation, grant, we beseech You, that we who cherished him on earth as a teacher of life, may be found worthy to have him as an intercessor in Heaven. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).