Quote/s of the Day – 19 May – The Memorial of St Peter Celestine (1210-1296) Pope and Confessor – 1 Peter 5:1-4; 5:10-11, Matthew 16:13-19
“Upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
“Of one Bread did both Peter and Judas partake and yet, what communion had the believer with the infidel? Peter’s partaking was unto life but that of Judas, unto death. For that good Bread was just like the sweet savour. For as the sweet savour, so also does the good Bread give life to the good and bring death to the wicked. “For he that eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself:” – judgement to himself,” not to thee. If, then, it is judgement to himself, not to thee, bear as one that is good, with him that is evil, that you may attain the rewards of the good,and be not hurled into the punishment of the wicked.”
“People who associate the name of Christian with a dishonest life, injure Christ! … If God’s Name, is blasphemed by bad Christians, it is praised and honoured, on the other hand, by the good: “For in every place, we are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor,14-15). And it is said in the Song of Songs: “Your name is oil poured out” (1,3).”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
(On John 12:1-9 Monday of Holy Week).
“Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.”
St Peter Canisius (1521-1397) Doctor of the Church
“The path to Heaven is narrow, rough and full of wearisome and trying ascents, nor can it be trodden without great toil and, therefore, wrong is their way, gross their error and assured their ruin, who, after the testimony of so many thousands of Saints, will not learn where to settle their footing!”
St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Priest and Martyr
One Minute Reflection – 19 May – The Memorial of St Peter Celestine (1210-1296) Pope and Confessor – 1 Peter 5:1-4; 5:10-11, Matthew 16:13-19
“Upon this rock I will build my church” … Matthew 16:18
REFLECTION – “Nothing escaped the Wisdom and Power of Christ, the elements of nature lay at His service, spirits obeyed Him, Angels served Him. … And yet, out of all the world, Peter alone was chosen to stand at the head, for the calling of all the peoples and the oversight of all the Apostles and Fathers of the Church. Thus, even though there are many Priests and shepherds among the People of God, Peter governed them all in person, while Christ also governs them in the capacity of Head. …
The Lord asks all the Apostles what people think of Him and they all say the same thing, so long as they are making known the doubts deriving from human ignorance. But when the Lord demands to know, what the disciples themselves think, the first to confess the Lord, is he, who is the first in dignity of the Apostles. As he had said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus answers him: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” That is to say, blessed are you because my Father taught this to you. Earthly opinion has not led you astray but it is heavenly inspiration that has instructed you. It is not flesh and blood that enabled you to discover Me but He, Whose only Son I am.
“And so I say to you,” that is to say- just as my Father has manifested My Divinity to you, so, I Am making known your superiority to you. “You are Peter” namely, I am the unshakeable Rock, the Cornerstone who makes two peoples one (Eph 2:14), the foundation other than which, no-one can lay any other (1 Cor 3:11). But you also, you are rock, since you are impregnable by My Strength and, what I have by virtue of My Power, you have in common with Me, by the fact,, that you participate in it. “On this rock I will build my Church” … On the firmness of this foundation, He says, will I build an everlasting temple and my Church, whose summit is to reach to Heaven, will be raised on the strength of that faith.” … Saint Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church ( 4th sermon for the Anniversary of his Conse
PRAYER – O God, Who raised blessed Peter Celestine to the lofty dignity of Supreme Pontiff and taught him to prefer self-abasement instead; mercifully grant that by his example, we may look upon all worldly things as naught and may be worthy, to reap in joy, the rewards promised to the humble. 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).
Our Morning Offering – 19 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Virgin Full of Goodness, Mother of Mercy By St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Doctor angelicus Doctor communis
Virgin full of goodness, Mother of mercy, I entrust to you my body and my soul, my thoughts and my actions, my life and my death. My Queen, come to my aid and deliver me from the snares of the devil. Obtain for me the grace of loving my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, with a true and perfect love, and after Him, O Mary, of loving you with all my heart and above all things. Amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 18 May – The Memorial of St Venantius (Died c 250) Martyr – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 15:1-7
“Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctor of the Church
“Every Christian must be a living book wherein one can read the teaching of the Gospel. This is what St Paul says to the Corinthians. Our heart is the parchment; through my ministry the Holy Spirit is the writer because ‘my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe’ (Psalm 45:1).”
St Joseph of Leonissa OFM CAP (1556-1612)
“God’s Spirit is a spirit of peace, even after our most serious failings He makes us feel a sorrow that is peaceful, humble and confident, precisely because of His mercy.
The spirit of evil, on the other hand, agitates, irritates and makes us feel a sort of anger at ourselves when we have failed. So, when you are bothered by certain thoughts, the agitation never comes from God but from the devil, since God, being a spirit of peace, brings you serenity.”
St Pio of Pietralcina “Padre Pio” (1887-1968)
( Letter 549)
Breathe in Me, O Holy Spirit By St Augustine (354-420) Father and Doctor of the Church
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 18 May – The Memorial of St Venantius (Died c 250) Martyr – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 15:1-7
“He who abides in Me and I in Him, the same bears much fruit” – John 5:5
REFLECTION – “Because Christ wished to show His disciples, how necessary it is, to be rooted in love of Him and how beneficial it is, to cling to Him, He told them … that He was the vine and that the branches of the vine, were those, who were united to Him and, so to speak, inserted in Him so as to “participate in His nature” (2 Pt 1:4), through a share in the Holy Spirit. For we are made one with Christ the Saviour, by His Holy Spirit …
For we have been reborn from Him and in Him, that is, in the Spirit, in order to bear the fruit of life; not the old life we used to live but the life that consists of newness of faith and of love for Him. We are preserved in being, if we grow onto Him and cling fast to the holy commandment ,which has been handed down to us and, if we are eager to keep the blessing of nobility, that is to say, if we never consent, in any way, to “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph 4:30), Who has come to dwell in us and, through Whom, we believe, God has made His home in us. …
For just as the vine-stock supplies and distributes, the virtue of its own inherent natural quality to the shoots, so, too, the Only-Begotten Word of God, implants, in His people, a sort of affinity with His own nature and that of the Father. By the gift of the Spirit, they are united with Him by every kind of holiness. He nourishes them, so that they become devout and He moves them to knowledge of all virtue and good works.” – St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Archbishop of Alexandria, Father and Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O God, Who made this day holy by the triumph of blessed Venantius, Your Martyr, listen to the prayers of Your people, and grant that we, who honour his noble deeds, may imitate the constancy of his faith. 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).
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).
Our Morning Offering – 17 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Hail, O Mother! By St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
Hail, O Mother! Virgin, Heaven, throne, glory of our Church, it’s foundation and ornament. Earnestly pray for us to Jesus, your Son and Our Lord, that through your intercession, we may have mercy on the day of judgement. Pray that we may receive, all those good things which are reserved for those who love God. Through the grace and favour of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be power, honour and glory, now and forever. Amen
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.”
“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.”
“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.
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.
Our Morning Offering – 16 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Mary, our Queen and Mother of Mercy By St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) Evangelical Doctor of the Church
Mary, our Queen, Holy Mother of God, we beg you to hear our prayer. Make our hearts overflow with Divine grace and resplendent with heavenly wisdom. Render them strong with your might and rich in virtue. Pour down upon us the gift of mercy so that we may obtain the pardon of our sins. Help us to live in such a way as to merit the glory and bliss of Heaven. May this be granted us, by your Son Jesus Who has exalted you above the Angels, has crowned you as Queen, and has seated you with Himself forever, on his refulgent throne. Amen.
One Minute Reflection – 15 May – The Fourth Sunday after Easter – James 1:17-21, John 16:5-14 and the Memorial of St John Baptiste de la Salle (1651-1719) “The Father of Modern Education,” Confessor, Priest, Founder
“But I tell you the truth, it is expedient to you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you but if I go, I will send him to you.” – John16:7
REFLECTION – “The Holy Spirit is the wheat that comforts us along the road to the fatherland, the wine that gives us joy in tribulation, the oil that sweetens life’s sorrows. This threefold support, was needed by the apostles who had to go out to preach through the whole world. This is why Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to them. They are filled with Him – filled, so that no impure spirits might gain entrance into them; when a container is completely full, nothing else can enter into it.
The Holy Spirit “will teach you.” (Jn 16,13) so that you can know; he will prompt you. so that you can will. He gives both knowledge and will add to this our “ability,” according to the measure of our strength and we shall be temples of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6,19).” – St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) Franciscan, Doctor of the Church – Sermons
PRAYER – God, Who raised up the holy Confessor John Baptiste for the Christian education of the poor and to strengthen youth in the way of truth and through him, formed a new family in the Church, graciously grant, by his intercession and example, that we, striving to save souls out of zeal for Your glory, may be found worthy to share his heavenly crown. 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.
Our Morning Offering – 15 May – The Fourth Sunday after Easter
Prayer Before Holy Mass By St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctor of the Church
Lord Jesus Christ, we approach Your banquet table as saints and sinners and dare not rely on our own worth but only on Your goodness and mercy. Gracious God of majesty and awe, we seek Your protection, we look for Your healing. We appeal to You, the fountain of all mercy. Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, Crucified for us, look upon us with mercy and hear our prayer, for we trust in You. Merciful Father, purify us in body and soul and make us worthy to taste the Holy of Holies. May Your Body and Blood, which we intend to receive, unworthy as we are, be for us the remission of our sins, the washing away of our guilt, the end of our evil thoughts and the rebirth of our better instincts. May it incite us to do the works pleasing to You and profitable to our health in body and soul and may it deliver us from evil. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 14 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and Mary’s Day
O Mother Blest By St Alphonsus Maria Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor of the Church Trns. Fr Edmund Vaughn C.SS,R, (1827 – 1908 )
O Mother blest, whom God bestows On sinners and on just, What joy, what hope thou givest those Who in thy mercy trust. Thou are clement, thou are chaste, Mary thou art fair, Of all mothers, sweetest best, none with thee compare.
O heavenly Mother, mistress sweet! it never yet was told that suppliant sinner left thy feet, unpitied, unconsoled. Thou are clement, thou are chaste, …
O Mother, pitiful and mild, Cease not to pray for me; For I do love thee as a child, And sigh for love of thee. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, …
Most powerful Mother, all men know Thy Son denies thee nought; Thou askest, wishest it, and lo! His power thy will hath wrought. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, …
O Mother blest, for me obtain, Ungrateful though I be, To love that God who first could deign To show such love for me. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, Mary, thou art fair. Of all mothers, sweetest, best, None with thee compare.
Second Thought for the Day – 13 May – The Memorial of St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621) Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
“The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” St Robert’s Personal Devotion to the Mother of God
“St Robert was devoted to the Blessed Virgin from his earliest years. According to his schoolmate, later Canon Vincent Patiuchelli, as a young boy Bellarmine used to recite daily the Office of the Blessed Virgin, often in company with Vincent as the two of them walked slowly along the road. Bellarmine retained this custom of reciting the Office of Our Lady throughout life. In the same way. he kept the custom into his old age. of daily saying the Rosary. Alexander Jacobelli, who was the Cardinal’s Almoner for twenty years, testified at the Beatification process that, “He never omitted saying the Office and the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, during which he was often found melted in tears.”
However, Robert was not satisfied with only a single recitation of the Rosary. The beads were literally his constant companion. In the words of his chaplain, “when fatigued with study, Bellarmine would find recreation in reciting the beads with uncovered head.” And again, “his relaxation was to say the Rosary of Our Lady.” On his frequent journeys as Archbishop of Capua, attendants noticed that he always followed the same ritual – celebrate Mass, say the Itinerarium and, Rosary in hand, enter the carriage for the journey.
Juan de Serayz, a close friend of Robert, left some interesting details on how Bellarmine would say the Rosary. It was 14 June 1618, the Feast of Corpus Christi, when Robert and Juan were returning from a procession at St Peter’s Basilica. “As we got into the carriage,” relates Juan, “he told me that he was able to say the third part of the Rosary exactly three times, from the time the procession left the Sistine Chapel to where it finally ended at the Altar of Exposition in St Peter’s. Which I asked him, out of curiosity, how he said the Rosary, he told me that he separated the decades of the Angelic Salutation with an Our Father, adding to each decade a short prayer corresponding to the different mysteries and preceding with emphasis, he said that he recited the Hail Mary’s slowly, slowly. When I observed that this did not leave much time for keeping his partner company, he answered that during the whole procession, he did not say a single word to his Cardinal companion.”
We understand, therefore, how painful were the doctor’s orders during Robert’s last illness, when he was forbidden, not only to say the Breviary but also, the Rosary. For, as his brother explained, the doctor knew with what ardour and devotion he applied himself to these prayers. Finally, the doctor was moved by the dying man’s pleas and mitigated the orders first given to the servant, allowing the sick man “a moderate use of the Rosary,” although everyone knew that, “his intense application to this prayer would be a great strain upon him.”
To the Office and the Rosary, Bellarmine added the Saturday fast in Mary’s honour. He fasted three days a week with the same rigour that he kept the Lenten fast, that is, most strictly. According to a syllogism which he wrote on the subject, he argued in this way:
“Our justice should be greater than that of the Pharisees. Matt. 5/20 But the Pharisees fasted two days a week. Luke 18/12 Therefore, I should fast at least three days a week!” So, besides the fasts for the vigils and the Lenten fast and besides the whole of Advent, he kept a sacred fast on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of each week. That he kept the Saturday fast in honour of Our Lady is clear from the sermon which he gave on one occasion for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he said that among the practices most pleasing to the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Son and most useful to growing in their love and friendship, is the daily recitation of the Rosary and the Saturday fast in Mary’s honour. It was only under express orders from his Confessor to fast only twice a week, that in his old age Bellarmine relinquished the Saturday fast.” [Excerpt by Servant of God Fr John A Hardon SJ (1914-2000)]
Quote/s of the Day – 13 May – The Memorial of St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621) Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
“If you are wise, then know, that you have been created for the glory of God and your own eternal salvation. This is your goal; this is the centre of your life; this is the treasure of your heart. May you consider truly good, whatever leads you to your goal and truly evil, whatever makes you fall away from it.”
“A Pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se), ceases to be Pope and Head, just as he ceases, automatically, to be a Catholic and a Member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is too, the teaching of all the ancient Fathers.”
One Minute Reflection – 13 May – The Memorial of St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621) Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church – Wisdom 7:7-14, Matthew 5:13-19
“Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so, will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments, will be called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 5:19
REFLECTION – “For what reason then does He call some of these commandments “least,” although they are so magnificent and lofty? Jesus spoke this way because He was about to introduce His own teaching, as a new law . As He humbles Himself and speaks of Himself with great modesty, so He refers to His own teaching in the same manner. In this way, Jesus teaches us to practice humility in everything. And besides, since some suspected His teaching to be a new departure, He temporarily taught it in a more reserved way.
But when you hear “least in the Kingdom of Heaven,” you are to think of nothing but hell and punishment. For it was His practice to speak, not only of the joy the Kingdom brings but also, of the time of the resurrection and the fearful event of the Second Coming.
Think of one who calls a brother a fool. That one, transgresses only one commandment, maybe even the slightest one and falls into hell. Compare that one with another, who breaks all the commandments and instigates others to break them too. Do both have the same relationship to the Kingdom? This is not the argument Jesus is making. Rather, He means, that one who transgresses only one of the commands will, on the final day, be the least—that is, cast out—and last and will fall into hell!” – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Archbishop of Constantinople, Father and Doctor of the Church (The Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 16).
PRAYER – O God, Who endowed blessed Robert, Your Bishop and Doctor, with wondrous learning and virtue to repel the deceits of error and to defend the rights of the Apostolic See, grant, by his merits and intercession, that we may ever grow in love of truth and that the hearts of the erring may return to the unity of Your Church. 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).
Our Morning Offering – 13 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the Memorial of St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621) Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.
St Robert Bellarmine’s Hymn to Mary the Virgin: Among St Robert’s extant writing, there is a short poem of twenty stanzas which he composed in the nature of a Litany to the Blessed Virgin. The text was first published in Italian some fifty years ago and to the best of the writer’s knowledge, has never been translated into English. Each verse-line begins with the name “Virgin,” joined to a title and petition to Our Lady, starting with the letter “A” and going down the Italian alphabet to “V.” Thus the first seven verses begin with the invocation: “Vergine adorna … Vergine Bella …Vergine casta … Vergine degna … Vergine eletta … Vergine felice … Vergine gradita …”
A translation to this tribute to the Virgin Mother reads as follows: – Servant of God Fr John A Hardon SJ (1914-2000).
Hymn to Mary the Virgin By St Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) Doctor of the Church.
Virgin adored and clothed with the sun, grant me thine aid. Virgin most beautiful, mystical rose, take abode in my heart. Virgin most chaste, all undefiled, grant me true peace. Virgin deserving of all honour and praise, give me thy love. Virgin elect and full of all grace, lead me to God. Virgin most blessed, star of the sea, dispel the storms besetting me. Virgin most virtuous, holy and sweet, show me the way. Virgin illustrious, with thy burning light, enlighten thou my mind. Virgin more precious than jewels or gold, make reparation for me. Virgin most worthy of all praise, mother, daughter and immaculate spouse. Virgin and Mother, make me more pleasing to Jesus thy Son. Virgin most innocent of any stain or fault, make me more worthy of God. Virgin enriched with every gift and grace, obtain the remission of my sins. Virgin most pure, grant me to enjoy the bliss of heavenly love. Virgin, thou lily among thorns, I pray thee for the grace of a happy death. Virgin more rare than the rarest dream, bring joy to my heart. Virgin so great, there is none like thee on earth, bring peace to my soul. Virgin most true, loving Mother too, Virgin Mary. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 13 May – St Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542-1621) Archbishop of Capua, Italy, Rector of the Roman College, Confessor, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church, Theologian, Professor, Writer, Preacher, Mediator. Known as – “The Father of the Poor,” “The Hammer of Heretics,” “The Model of Promoters and Defenders of the Catholic religion.”
St Robert Bellarmine From the Roman Breviary
Robert, a native of Montepulciano, Italy and of the noble family of Bellarmine, had for his mother, the most pious Cynthia Cervini, sister of Pope Marcellus II. From the first, he was conspicuous for exemplary piety and most chaste manners, earnestly desiring this one thing, to please God alone and to win souls to Christ.
He attended the college of the Society of Jesus in his native town where he was highly commended for his intelligence and modesty. At the age of eighteen, he entered the same Society at Rome and was a model of all religious virtues. Having passed through the course of philosophy at the Roman College, he was sent firstly to Florence, then to Monreale, later to Padua to teach Sacred Theology and afterwards, to Louvain where, not yet a Priest, he ably discharged the office of preacher. After Ordination at Louvain, he taught Theology with such success, that he brought back many heretics to the unity of the Church and was regarded throughout Europe, as a most brilliant Theologian, so much so, that St Charles, Bishop of Milan and others, keenly sought after him.
Recalled to Rome at the wish of Pope Gregory XIII, he taught the science of controversial Theology at the Roman College and there, as Spiritual Director, he guided the angelic youth St Aloysius in the paths of holiness. He governed the Roman College and then the Neapolitan Province of the Society of Jesus, in accordance with the spirit of St Ignatius.
Again summoned to Rome, he was employed by Clement VIII in the most important affairs of the Church, with the greatest advantage to the Christian state. Then, against his will and in spite of opposition, he was admitted among the number of the Cardinals because, as the Pontiff publicly declared, he did not have his equal among Theologians in the Church of God, at the time. He was Consecrated Bishop by the same Pope and administered the Archdiocese of Capua in a most saintly manner for three years. Having resigned this office, he lived in Rome until his death, as a most impartial and trusty Counsellor to the Supreme Pontiff. He wrote much and in an admirable manner.
His principal merit lies in his complete victory in the struggle against the new errors, during which he distinguished himself as a strenuous and outstanding vindicator of Catholic tradition and the rights of the Roman See. He gained this victory by following St Thomas as his guide and teacher, by a prudent consideration of the needs of his times, by his irrefragable teaching and by a most abundant wealth of testimony, well-chosen from the Sacred Writings and from the very rich fountain of the Fathers of the Church. He is eminently noted for very numerous short works, for fostering piety and especially for that golden Catechism, winch he never failed to explain to the young and ignorant, both at Capua and at Rome, although preoccupied with other very important affairs.
A contemporary Cardinal declared, that Robert was sent by God for the instruction of Catholics, for the guidance of the good and for the confusion of heretics. St Francis de Sales regarded him as a fountain of learning; the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XIV called him the Hammer of Heretics and Benedict XV proclaimed him the Model of Promoters and Defenders of the Catholic religion.
He was most zealous in the religious life and he maintained that manner of life after having been chosen as one of the empurpled Cardinals. He did not want any wealth beyond what was necessary; he was satisfied with a moderate household and scanty fare and clothing. He did not strive to enrich his relatives and he could scarcely be induced to relieve their poverty, even occasionally. He had the lowest opinion of himself and was of wonderful simplicity of soul. He had an extraordinary love for the Mother of God; he spent many hours daily in prayer. He ate very sparingly and fasted three times a week. Uniformly austere with himself, he burned with charity towards his neighbour and was often called the Father of the poor. He earnestly strove that he might not stain his baptismal innocence by even the slightest fault.
Almost eighty years old, he fell into his last illness at St Andrew’s on the Quirinal hill and in it, he showed his usual radiant virtue. Pope Gregory XV and many Cardinals visited him on his deathbed, lamenting the loss of such a great pillar of the Church. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1621, on the day of the Sacred Stigmata of St Francis, the memory of which, he had been instrumental in having celebrated everywhere. The whole City mourned his death, unanimously proclaiming him a Saint. The Supreme Pontiff Pius XI inscribed his name, firstly, in the number of the Blessed, and then in that of the Saints and shortly afterwards, by a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, he declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church.
His body is honoured with pious veneration at Rome in the Church of St Ignatius, near the tomb of St Aloysius, as he himself had desired. Blessed be God in His Holy Saints! Amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 12 May – Wisdom 5:1-5, John 4:46-53.
“And himself believed and his whole house.”
“Believing is: an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth, by command of the will, moved by God through grace.”
St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Doctor Angelicus. Doctor Communis
“Do you also wish to go away?” He asked. It was then that Simon Peter made his memorable reply, “Lord, to whom shall be go? Thou hast the words of everlasting life.” (Jn 6:68-69). We also may experience, at times, a sense of uncertainty concerning the words of Jesus Christ. There are such tremendous mysteries in the Christian religion. But, a religion which contained no mysteries could scarcely be true. There are mysteries of nature surrounding us and within us. How can we imagine that there are no mysteries in God, the supreme and most perfect Being? Could it be possible for our petty intellects fully to comprehend God in Himself and in His revelation? Let us bow our heads, therefore, before the mysteries of the Divinity. Let us adore God and repeat with St Peter: We cannot go away from You, O God because You have the words of everlasting life.”
Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 11 May – Octave Day of St Joseph
“I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him, at any time for anything, which he has not granted and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God has given me, through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he has delivered me, both of body and of soul!”
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church
“It is impossible, that he could be denied the favours for which he asks and which we should request him to obtain for us. Let us go to him trustingly but, let us remember, that the surest way of being heard by him, is to imitate his wonderful virtues, especially his humility, his spirit of prayer, his purity and his calm desire always, to do God’s will.”
Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Hail, Holy Joseph, Hail! By Father Frederick William Faber CO (1814-1863)
Hail, holy Joseph, hail! Chaste spouse of Mary hail! Pure as the lily flow’r In Eden’s peaceful vale. Hail, holy Joseph, hail! Prince of the house of God! May His best graces be By thy sweet hands bestowed.
Hail, holy Joseph, hail! Comrade of Angels, hail! Cheer thou the hearts that faint, And guide the steps that fail. Hail, holy Joseph, hail! God’s choice wert thou alone! To thee the Word made flesh, Was subject as a Son.
Hail, holy Joseph, hail! Teach us our flesh to tame And, Mary, keep the hearts That love thy husband’s name. Mother of Jesus! bless, And bless, ye Saints on high, All meek and simple souls That to Saint Joseph cry. Amen.
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).
Quote/s of the Day – 9 May – The Memorial of St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Bishop, Confessor, Father and Doctor of the Church
“He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the Great Light, bathed in the glory of Him who is the Light of Heaven.”
“Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a Cross, the sun made dark and again flaming out; for it was fitting, that creation should mourn with its Creator. The temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from His side – the one as from a Man, the other as from what was above man; the earth shaken, the rocks shattered because of the Rock; the dead risen to bear witness to the final and universal resurrection of the dead. The happenings at the sepulchre and after the sepulchre, who can fittingly recount them? Yet not one of them, can be compared, to the Miracle of my Salvation. A few drops of Blood renews the whole world and do, for all men, what the rennet does for the milk – joining us and binding us together!”
“God accepts our desires as though they were of great value. He longs ardently for us to desire to and love Him. He accepts our petitions for benefits, as though we were doing Him a favour. His joy in giving, is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God’s greatness.”
“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, such a one is a stranger to the Godhead.”
St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Father & Doctor of the Church
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).
Saint of the Day – 9 May – St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Archbishop of Constantinople, Father and Doctor of the Church, Confessor, Theologian, Philosopher, Orator, Poet, Writer, he is remembered as the “Trinitarian Theologian.” He is widely considered one of the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. Along with his great friends and colleagues, the brothers St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers. The Cappadocia region, in modern-day Turkey, was an early site of Christian activity, with several missions by St Paul in this region. The Cappadocians advanced the development of early Christian theology, for example the doctrine of the Trinity and are highly respected as “Great” Fathers of the Church.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Naziazus, the birthday of St Gregory, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, surnamed “The Theologian” because of his remarkable knowledge of divinity. At Constantinople, he restored the Catholic Faith, which was fast waning and repressed the rising heresies.”
St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Bishop, Father and Doctor of the Church By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger, SJ (1805-1888)
St Gregory who, on account of his great knowledge in Sacred science, is surnamed the Theologian, was born at Nazianzum, in the year c 300. His father, whose name was also Gregory, his mother, Nonna, his brother Caesarius and Gorgonia, his sister, are all honoured as Saints. At Athens, where St. Gregory devoted himself to study, he became acquainted with St Basil the Great, who had made his home there with the same intention. They became most intimate friends, as both were virtuous and diligent. They secluded themselves from all frivolous young men, shunned gaming, idleness, and other vices of youth, cultivating only piety and knowledge. They knew of only two roads, one of which led to school, the other to Church.
After having finished his studies, Basil returned to his home but Gregory remained and studied eloquence, in which he was, in after years, unsurpassed. At that time also, Julian studied at Athens, who afterwards became Emperor and was called the Apostate. In regard to the manners and behaviour of this prince, Gregory said at that time; “Oh what a monster the Roman Empire nourishes in its bosom!” At the same time he predicted, that if Julian should ever wear the imperial crown, he would become the great enemy and persecutor of Christendom, which unhappily became true.
After several years, Gregory left Athens and returned to his native place. One day, while studying, he was overtaken by sleep and it appeared to him that he saw two beautiful virgins, who came as if wishing to speak to him. He asked who they were and what they desired. “One of us,” they answered, “is chastity, the other wisdom.God has sent us to be your friends and remain constantly with you.” His life proved that this vision was no empty dream. Gregory preserved his chastity inviolable and was endowed by the Almighty with such wisdom, that on account of it, he became celebrated throughout the whole world. Great men, among whom was St Jerome, often travelled many miles to hear him speak.
Having been Ordained Priest, he went secretly toBasil, who had retired to the desert of Pontus. There they lived in the greatest harmon, but, at the same time, in the greatest rigour occupied only in prayer and in studying the holy Scriptures.
After the lapse of some years, Gregory returned again to his home, to bring back to the True Faith, his father who, not out of wickedness,but out of simplicity and ignorance, had been deluded by the Arians. Gregory happily extricated him from his error …
Meanwhile Basil became Bishop of Caesarea and most earnestly requested Gregory to take the small bishopric of Sasima, as the far spreading heresy demanded a strong opposition. Gregory allowed himself to be prevailed upon and accepted the See. When, however, another one came who asserted that the office was his, he gave place to him and retired. They wished him afterwards to take charge of the church at Nazianzum but he arranged matters in such a manner, that they chose someone else.
He, however, did not succeed so well in Constantinople. He had gone thither to oppose the heretics, who had filled the whole city with their poison, to defend the Catholic faith and teach its doctrines to the people. After he had laboured there some time with great success, Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, nominated him Bishop of Constantinople and Gregory was obliged to take this heavy burden. All his thoughts were now directed to exterminate heresy and to restore the ancient prestige of the Church.
The Catholics had, at that time, only one Church where they assembled, the heretics having taken possession of all the others. Gregory, however, so brought it about that the newly chosen Emperor Theodosius came himself to Constantinople and gave the Cathedral back to the Catholics, although the heretics opposed it with all their power. This enraged the latter to such a degree that they hired a villain to assassinate the Bishop. The Saint was sick in bed when the murderer came under the pretext of visiting him. As he, however, was alone with him and, therefore, had every opportunity of committing the crime, God suddenly changed his heart, and falling at the feet of the Saint, he confessed his wicked intention and asked forgiveness. The Saint said; “May God, Who protected me, forgive you. I ask you nothing but that you forsake your heresy.”
Much more had he to suffer from the heretics but it in no wise slackened his zeal. The Catholics also gave him just cause of complaint.
Among the Bishops assembled in Council, a dispute arose, concerning the validity of Gregory’s election. The Saint represented to them, that he had not in any manner sought the office but that it had been forced upon him against his desire. Perceiving, however, that all were not satisfied with his explanation and fearing that the peace of the Church might be materially endangered, to the detriment of the whole Christian community, he arose and addressed the assemblage in the following manner:
“Dear colleagues and joint-shepherds of the flock of Christ, it would be very unbecoming to your dignity, should you, whose office it is to exhort others to peace, become disunited among yourselves. Am I the cause of your discord? Behold, I am not better than the prophet Jonas; cast me, therefore, into the sea and the tempest will be calmed. Although I am innocent of your charges, I will suffer without a murmur, that unanimity may be restored among you.”
after having thus spoken calmly and sweetly, he took leave of all present and went to the Emperor, whom he acquainted with his resolution to leave Constantinople. The Emperor, at first refused his consent but the Saint knew so well how to represent to him his reasons, that he at last gave him the desired permission.
He immediately made all the necessary preparations for his departure but once more ascended the pulpit of his Episcopal Church and in a last discourse, took leave of all the assembled faithful, as also of all the other Churches, hospitals and asylums of the city. To those who had frequently complained of his sermons because he unhesitatingly denounced their vices, he said: “Now joyfully clap your hands and cry that the bad, talkative tongue will cease to strike you; yes, it will cease but the hand still remains and pen and ink must in future sustain the combat.” Finally, he admonished them all to lead a Christian life and concluded his sermon with these words: “I exhort you, my dear children, to keep my instructions in your hearts. May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, remain with you all. Amen!“
How deeply affected all his hearers were, was plainly perceived by their tears and their emotion. Well had they reason to be grieved, for they had possessed in Gregory a most tender father for their needy widows and orphans, an invincible protector of their faith, a teacher whom God had gifted with unusual wisdom, a careful, never weary pastor and almost perfect model of all virtue. They tried in every possible way to prevent his leaving but he was not to be persuaded to change his resolution but went on board the ship, which was ready to set sail and returned to his home.
On his arrival, he settled himself upon his parental estate, with the intention of then passing the remainder of his life in solitude and in the exercise of virtue.
This intention he carried out and prayers and devout meditation were his greatest comfort, until, failing health owing to excessive labour, besides old age and sickness, kept him for the greater part of the time in bed. Sometimes, however, he took the pen in hand and wrote several works to confute the doctrine of the heretics and to strengthen and confirm the Catholics. God permitted that the holy man, who had lived until now so piously and pure a life, should endure most fearful temptations from the Evil One. Constant calling on God, austere fasting, prayers, reading devout books and severe study, were the weapons he used against the enemy of man and he always conquered. The Most High also permitted that some men, envious and devoid of conscience, should calumniate the Saint everywhere and even falsely accuse him of some great crimes, to the Bishop of Tianea. The holy man was not angry but, while defending his honour, prayed God to bestow His grace upon his enemies and to pardon them.
Omitting much that might still be related of this great Saint, I will only mention one instance of his solicitude to avoid sin and to do penance. He thought that he had spoken in a certain affair more than was necessary and punished himself by remaining forty days without uttering a single word to anyone!
At length he expired happily, in the 90th year of his age, having laboured and suffered much for the honour of the Almighty and the protection of the True Church. Praise be to God!Amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 8 May – The Third Sunday after Easter – 1 Peter 2:11-19, John 16:16-22
“So also, you now indeed have sorrow but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice. And your joy, no man shall take from you.”
“Even in a world which is being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”
“Holy Spirit, the Life that gives life: You are the Cause of all movement. You are the Breath of all creatures. You are the Salve that purifies our souls. You are the Ointment that heals our wounds. You are the Fire that warms our hearts. You are the Light that guides our feet. Let all the world praise You!”
St Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Doctor of the Church
“Turn to the Lord with your whole heart and leave behind this wretched world. Then your soul shall find rest. For the Kingdom of God is the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you prepare, within your heart, a fitting dwelling place, Christ will come to you and console you.”
Thomas á Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
O Holy Spirit of God By Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1466-1536) (Fr Erasmus of Rotterdam)
O Holy Spirit of God with Your holy breath, You purify the hearts and minds of humankind, comforting them, when they are in sorrow, leading them, aright when they have gone astray, kindling them, when their hearts are cold, reconciling them, when they are at variance and enriching them, with Your many gifts. By Your working, all things live. We make our prayer to You, maintain and day by day, increase, the gifts which You have granted us, so that with Your Light before us and within us, we may pass through this world, without stumbling and without straying. Who with the Father and the Son, are One God, now and forever. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 8 May – The Third Sunday after Easter – 1 Peter 2:11-19, John 16:16-22 and the Feast of the Apparition of St Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano, Italy (492)
“A little while now and you shall not see me” – John 16:16
REFLECTION – “The Ascension of Christ into Heaven is in accord with reason – firstly, because Heaven was due to Christ by His very nature. It is natural for someone to return to the place from whence they take their origin. The beginning of Christ is from God, Who is above all things. Jesus says to the Apostles (Jn 16:28): “I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” … The just ascend into Heaven but not in the manner that Christ ascended, namely by His own power, for they are taken up by Christ – “Draw me, we will run after thee.” (Sg 1:3) Or indeed, we can say, that no-one but Christ has ascended into Heaven because the just do not ascend, except, insofar as they are members of Christ, Who is the Head of the Church. … Secondly, Heaven is due to Christ because of His Victory. For He was sent into the world to combat the devil and He did overcome him. Therefore, Christ deserved to be exalted above all things – “I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on His throne” (Rv 3:21)
Finally, the Ascension was owing to Christ because of His humility. There never was humility so great as that of Christ Who, although He was God yet wished to become man and although He was the Lord, yet He wished to take the form of a servant and, as Saint Paul says: “He was obedient even unto death” (Phil 2:7) and descended even into hell. Therefore, He deserved to be exalted even to Heaven, to God’s throne, for humility leads to exaltation. “For whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11) and, “the one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens” (Eph 4:10).” … St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Doctor Angelicus/Doctor Communis (Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed).
PRAYER – O God, Who hast ordained and constituted the services of angels and men in a wonderful order, mercifully grant, that as Thy holy Angels alway do Thee service in Heaven, so, by Thy appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth. 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).
St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
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).
Our Morning Offering – 7 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
Regina Caeli Laetari Eastertide from Holy Saturday until Trinity Sunday (in case you forgot to replace the praying of the Angelus).
Anthem to the Blessed Virgin
Regina Caeli Laetari Queen of heaven
O Queen of Heaven, rejoice, Alleluia. For He Whom thou didst merit to bear, Alleluia. Hath risen as He said, Alleluia. Pray for us to God, Alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary! Alleluia. R. For the Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.
Let us pray
O God, Who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, grant, we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession HIs Holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen
There is a venerable tradition connected with this joyous Anthem. It is related that a fearful pestilence raged in Rome, during one of the Easters of the Pontificate of St. Gregory the Great. In order to propitiate the anger of God, the holy Pope prescribed a public procession of both people and clergy, in which was to be carried the portrait of our Blessed Lady painted by St Luke.
The procession was advancing in the direction of Saint Peter’s and as the holy Picture, followed by the Pontiff, (it is said that he processed with bare feet), was carried along, the atmosphere became pure and free from pestilence. Having reached the bridge which joins the City with the Vatican, a choir of Angels was heard singing above the Picture and saying: “Rejoice, O Queen of heaven, alleluia! for He whom thou deservedst to bear, alleluia! hath risen, as He said, alleluia!” As soon as the heavenly music ceased, the saintly Pontiff took courage, and added these words to those of the Angels: “Pray to God for us, alleluia!”
Thus was composed the Paschal Anthem to our Lady. Raising his eyes to heaven, Gregory saw the destroying Angel standing on the top of the Mole of Hadrian and sheathing his sword.
In memory of this apparition, the Mole was called the Castle of Saint Angela and on the dome was placed an immense statue representing an Angel holding his sword in the scabbard.
( “The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XIII, by a brief, Injuntae nobis, 14 September1724, amended by the Sacred Penitentiary Apostolic, 20 February 1933, granted a Plenary Indulgence, once a month, to all the faithful who, everyday, in the morning (6.00), at noon and in the evening at sunset (6.00), shall say, devoutly, the Angelus Dominie, with the Hail Mary, three times, or at Eastertide the Regina Caeli, on any day when, being truly penitent, after Confession and Communion, they shall pray for peace and union among Christian Princes, for the extirpation of heresy and for the triumph of Holy Mother Church. Also an indulgence of ten years, on all the other days in the year, ever time that they shall devoutly say these prayers.”)
Regina caeli, laetare, Alleluia.
Qua quem meruisti portare, Alleluia. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, Alleluia. Ora pro nobis Deum, Alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia. R. Qua surrexit Dominus vere, Alleluia.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri, Jesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es, praesta, quaesumus, ut per ejus Genitricem Virginem Mariam perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae: per eumdem Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 6 May – Tthe Feast of St John Before the Latin Gate – Wisdom 5:1-5, Matthew 20:20-23
“You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink?” – Matthew 20:22
REFLECTION – “Through their mother’s mediation, the sons of Zebedee press Christ as follows in the presence of their fellow apostles: “Command that we may sit, one at your right side and one at your left” (cf. Mk 10:35f.)… Christ hastens to free them from their illusions, telling them they must be prepared to suffer insults, persecutions, even death. “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the chalice that I shall drink?”
Let no-one be surprised to see the Apostles displaying such imperfect dispositions. Wait until the Mystery of the Cross has been fulfilled and the strength of the Holy Spirit given to them. If you want to see the strength of their souls, take a look at them later and you will see them to be above all human weakness. Christ does not conceal their pettiness, so that you will be able to see what they become later by the power of the grace which will transform them! …”… St John Chrysostom (c 345-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O God, Who sees that sins and sufferings do, on every side rise up to trouble us, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may find a shield in times of need, through the glorious intercession of Thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist beloved Saint John. 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).