Patris et Filii Concordia Come Holy Spirit, Love of Father and Son. By St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Father and Doctor of the Church
O COME to me, my only Hope, O Lord my God. Come to me, true Light, Father, Almighty God. Come, Light from Light, both Word and Son of God, God Almighty. Come Holy Spirit, Love of Father and Son, One God Almighty. Come One Almighty God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Teach faith, stir up hope, pour out love. Thy will is present with me (yet not from me but from Thee) to leave the world and the earth and to seek the Heavens. But this will is a feeble feather, without Thy help. Give wings of faith that I might fly on high to Thee. Amen
Bl Mary of the Nativity St Moel-Odhran of Iona St Paulus of Rome St Phaolô Hanh St Podius of Florence Bl Robert Johnson St Senator of Milan Bl Thomas Ford St Ubaldesca Taccini St William of Gellone (755-812) Monk
Martyrs of Palestine: A group of early 5th century Monks in Palestine who were Martyred by invading Arabs.
Martyrs of Sardinia – 6 Saints: A group of early Christians for whom a Church on Sardinia is dedicated; they were probably Martyrs but no information about them has survived except the names Aemilian, Aemilius, Emilius, Felix, Lucian and Priamus. Patrons of the Diocese of Alghero-Bosa, Italy.
Quote/s of the Day – 25 April – Feast of St Mark Evangelist
The Gospel of Saint Mark was written in Greek around the 60s. He was Martyred in 68 and his Relics are preserved in the St Mark Cathedral of Venice. He is represented by a Winged Lion, one of the four living creatures of the Apocalypse, for he begins his Gospel by narrating St John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, like a roaring lion.
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed …”
“And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
“Take courage: It is I, do not be afraid. And He got into the boat with them and the wind fell”
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ …, will surely not lose his reward.”
“Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God, like a little child, shall not enter it.”
“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His Life as a ransom for many …”
One Minute Reflection – 25 April – “The Month of the Resurrection” – Feast of St Mark Evangelist – Ezekiel 1:10-14, Luke 10:1-9 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The harvest indeed, is great …” – Luke 10:2
REFLECTION – “Christ, filled with enthusiasm for His work, prepared to send out labourers… And so He has sent out reapers. “For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps’. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for, others have done the work and you are sharing the fruits of their work” (Jn 4:37-38). Now what is this? Has He sent reapers without sending sowers? Where has He sent the reapers? Where others had already laboured… Where the prophets had already preached, since they themselves were the sowers…
Who were the ones who thus laboured? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Read the account of their labours – in all their works, a Prophecy of Christ is to be found; in this sense, then, they were sowers. As for Moses, the other Patriarchs and all the Prophets, how much they had to put up with in the cold, while they were sowing! It follows that the harvest was already ready in Judah. And we understand that the harvest was ripe at the moment, when so many thousands of people brought along the value of their possessions, placed it at the feet of the Apostles and, setting down the burdens of this world, began to follow Christ the Lord (Acts 4:35; Ps 81:7). The harvest had indeed, come to maturity.
What was the outcome? Out of this harvest a few seeds were set aside, these sowed the whole world and now, see how another harvest rises up that is to be harvested at the end of the ages… It will not be the Apostles but the Angels who will be sent to gather this harvest.” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop, Father and Doctor of Grace (Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 15).
PRAYER – O God, Who didst exalt Thy blessed Evangelist Mark, by giving him grace to preach Thine Evangel, grant unto us, we beseech Thee, ever to follow more and more what he teaches and ever to be shielded from all evil by 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 – 25 April – Feast of St Mark Evangelist
Behold the Messengers of Christ By Fr Jean-Baptiste Santeul (1630-1697) Priest, Monk, Hymnist, Poet, Writer
Behold the Messengers of Christ, Who sow in every place, The unveiled Mysteries of God, The Gospel of His Grace.
The things through mists and shadows dim By holy prophets seen, In the full Light of Day, they saw With not a cloud between.
What Christ, true Man, Divinely wrought, What God in Manhood bore, They wrote, as God inspired, in words Which live forevermore.
Although in space and time apart, One Spirit ruled them all And in their Sacred pages still We hear that Spirit’s Call.
To God, the blessèd Three in One, Be glory, praise and might, Who called us from the shades of death To His Own glorious Light. Amen.
Trans. Compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861. This Hymn was used for Vespers I & II and Nocturns on the Feasts of St Mark and St Luke in the Paris Breviary (1736). Cardinal Newman’s Hymni Ecclesiae has it listed for the same hours, as the Common of Evangelists in the Paris Breviary (presumably a later edition). Tune: “Tiverton“ Rev J Grigg, c1791.
St Francis of Paola O.M. (1416-1507) known as “Saint Francis the Fire Handler” – Confessor, Monk and Founder, inspired with the Gift of Prophecy and still called the “Miracle-Worker” Apostle of the poor, Peacemaker. He was an Italian mendicant Friar and the Founder of the Order of Minims. Unlike the majority of founders of men’s religious orders and like his Patron Saint, Francis was never ordained a priest. His Body was Incorrupt until destroyed in the French Revolution. He was Canonised in 1519 by Pope Leo X. St Francis’s Life: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/saint-of-the-day-2-april-st-francis-of-paola-o-m-1416-1507/
St Abundius of Como St Agnofleda of Maine St Appian of Caesarea (c287-306) Martyr, Layman Blessed Arnulf of Leuven O.Cist. (c1200-1276) Abbot St Bronach of Glen-Seichis St Constantine of Scotland St Ebbe the Younger St Eustace of Luxeuil St Gregory of Nicomedia St John Payne
Martyrs of Africa – 10 Saints: A group of ten Christians Martyred together in Africa, date unknown. We have six of their names – Marcellinus, Procula, Quiriacus, Regina, Satullus and Saturnin but no other information has survived.
Martyrs of Thessalonica – 16 Saints: Sixteen Christians who were Martyred together in Thessalonica in Greece, date unknown. We know nothing else about them but 13 of their names – Agapitus, Agatophus, Cyriacus, Dionysius, Gagus, Julianus, Mastisius, Proculus, Publius, Theodoulus, Urbanus, Valerius and Zonisus.
St Dula the Slave Bl Everard of Nellenburg Bl Herman of Zahringen St Hermenland St Humbert of Pelagius Bl James Bird St Kennocha of Fife
St Lucia Filippini (1672-1732) Religious Sister, Founder of the Religious Teachers Filippini for whom she founded countless schools all over Italy, she concentrated too on raising her students to continue the work within their families in order to strengthen familt life and the role and dignity of woman. On 22 June 1930, Lucia Filippini was declared a Saint of the Church by Pope Pius XI and her Statue was given the last available niche in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Her statue can be seen in the first upper niche from the main entrance on the left (south) side of the nave of St Peter’s. Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2022/03/25/saint-of-the-day-25-march-st-lucia-filippini-1672-1732/
St Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586) Martyr, Married Laywoman and Mother of 3. Her 2 sons became Priests and her daughter a Nun. She is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. She was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI. St Matrona of Barcelona St Matrona of Thessaloniki St Mona of Milan St Ndre Zadeja St Nicodemus of Mammola (c900-990) Monk, Abbot, Hermit St Pelagius of Laodicea Bl Placido Riccardi OSB (1844-1915) Priest, Benedictine Monk. Beatified on 5 December 1954 by Pope Pius XII. St Procopius St Quirinus of Rome Bl Tommaso of Costacciaro
262 Martyrs of Rome: A group 262 Christians Martyred together in Rome. We know nothing else about them, not even their names.
Quote/s of the Day – 17 March – Feast of the Five Holy Wounds
“If you cannot soar up as high as Christ sitting on His Throne, behold Him hanging on His Cross. Rest in Christ’s Passion and live willingly in His Holy Wounds. You will gain marvellous strength and comfort in adversities. You will not care that men despise you!”
Thomas à Kempis CRSA (1380-1471)
“Ah ! what is all that I do and suffer, compared with what my Jesus did and suffered for my sake? O, that I might, for His honour, be torn with scourges and pierced with nails and expire on the Cross for Him!”
St Andrew Avellino (1521–1608)
Prayer Before The Crucifix – The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass By St Vincent Strambi (1745-1824)
Jesus, by this Saving Sign, bless this listless soul of mine. Jesus, by Your feet nailed fast, mend the missteps of my past. Jesus, with Your riven hands, bend my will to love’s demands. Jesus, in Your Heart laid bare, warm my inner coldness there. Jesus, by Your thorn-crowned head, still my pride till it is dead. Jesus, by Your muted tongue, stay my words that hurt someone. Jesus, by Your tired eyes, open mine to faith’s surprise. Jesus, by Your fading breath, keep me faithful until death. Yes, Lord, by this Saving Sign, save this wayward soul of mine. Amen
“But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; … and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaias 53:5
“He Himself bore our sins in His Body on the Cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
ETERNAL LOVE St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor Caritas
“Consider the eternal love which God had borne you – for even before our blessed Lord Jesus Christ became man and suffered on the Cross for you, His Divine Majesty foresaw you in His Sovereign Goodness and loved you exceedingly.
When did He begin to love you? When He began to be God. And when was His beginning? Never, for He has always been, without beginning and without end – wherefore, He has always loved you and from eternity prepared the favours and graces which He has bestowed upon you. And by His prophet He says (and He speaks to you, as much as to any), “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn thee, taking pity on thee” (Jer 31: 3).
Amongst other things, then, He thought to lead you to resolve on serving Him.” – (Introduction to the Devout Life).”
The Feast of the Five Holy Wounds – 17 March – Celebrated on Friday after the Third Sunday in Lent
The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. Francis in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, together with the enthusiasm of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land, gave a wonderful impulse to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ and, particularly, to practices in honour of the Wounds in His Sacred Hands, Feet and Side. The reason for this devotion was well expressed at a later period in the memorial of the Polish Bishops to Pope Clement XIII:
“Moreover, the Five Wounds of Christ are honoured by a Mass and an Office and, on account of these Wounds, we venerate also the Feet, Hands and Side of the most loving Redeemer, these parts of Our Lord’s Most Holy Body being held more worthy of a special cult than the others, precisely because they suffered special pains for our salvation and because they are decorated with these wounds as with an illustrious mark of love. Therefore, with living faith they cannot be looked upon, without a special feeling of religion and devotion.” (Nilles, “De rat. fest. SS. Cord. Jesu et Mariae” I 126).
Many beautiful medieval prayers in honour of the Sacred Wounds, including some attributed to St Clare of Assisi (Indulgenced on 21 November 1885), have been preserved. St Mechtilde and St Gertrude the Great of Helfta, were devoted to the Holy Wounds, the latter Saint reciting daily, a prayer in honour of the 5466 Wounds, which, according to tradition, were inflicted on Jesus during His Passion. In the Fourteenth Century, it was customary in southern Germany, to recite fifteen Pater Nosters each day (which thus amounted to 5475 in the course of a year) in memory of the Sacred Wounds.
In his 1761 book, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorist Fathers, listed, among various pious exercises, the Little Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus Crucified. St Alphonsus wrote the devotional as a Meditation on the Five Piercing Wounds that Christ suffered during His Crucifixion.
The earliest evidence of a Feast in honour of the Wounds of Christ comes from the Monastery of Fritzlar, Thuringia, where in the Fourteenth Century, a Feast was kept on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. In the Fifteenth Century it had spread to different countries, to Salisbury (England), Huesca and Jaca (Spain), Vienna, and Tours and was included in the Breviaries of the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans and other orders
The Feast of the Five Wounds, celebrated since the Middle Ages at Evora and elsewhere in Portugal on 6 February (at Lisbon on the Friday after Ash-Wednesday) is of historical interest. It commemorates the founding of the Portuguese kingdom in 1139, when, before the battle on the plains of Ourique, Christ appeared to Alfonso Henriquez, promising victory over the Moors and commanding him to insert into the coat of arms of the new kingdom the emblem of the Five Wounds. This feast is celebrated today in all Portuguese-speaking countries. In parts of France the Feast is celebrated on for the Friday after Ash Wednesday, on which day it is still kept in many dioceses
Since 1831, when the Feasts in honour of the Passion were adopted at Rome by the Passionists and the City, this Feast was assigned to the Friday after the Third Sunday in Lent. The Office is one of those bequeathed to us by the Middle Ages. As this Feast is not celebrated in the entire Church, the Office and Mass are placed in the appendix of the Breviary and the Missal.
COLLECT: O God, Who by the Passion of Thine Only Son and by the pouring out of the Blood of His Five Wounds, hast restored human nature lost by sin, grant unto us, we beseech Thee that by venerating the protective Wounds on earth, we may, thereby, merit the fruits of the same Precious Blood in Heaven. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.
St Llinio of Llandinam St Paul of Cyprus St Stephen of Palestrina St Theodore of Rome St Thomasello St Withburga (Died 743) Abbess, Princess
Martyrs of Alexandria – Also known as Martyrs of Serapis: An unknown number of Christians who were Martyred together by a mob of worshippers of the Graeco-Egyptian sun god Serapis. They were Martyred in c 392 in Alexandria, Egypt.
Quote/s of the Day – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas
“We must be burning with love and radiant with good deeds and so, take up Christ in our hands with Simeon … Could anyone hold up a lighted candle in his hands on this day, without at once remembering that old man, who on this same day, took up in his arms, Jesus, God’s Word, clothed in flesh like a candle-flame, clothed in wax and affirmed Him to be “the Light which would be a beacon for the Gentiles.”
“Be a lamp then in heart, in hand, in lips. The lamp in your heart will shine for you, the lamp in your hand or on your lips will shine out for your neighbours. The lamp in the heart, is loving faith, the lamp in the hand, is the example of good works, the lamp on the lips, is edifying speech.”
Bl Guerric of Igny (c 1080-1157)
“The glorious St Simeon also was very happy… to carry Him as did Our Lady… we do this when we endure with love, the labours and pains He sends us, that is to say, when the love which we bear to the Law of God, makes us find His yoke easy and pleasing, so that we love these pains and labours and gather sweetness in the midst of bitterness. This is nothing else but to carry Our Lord in our arms. Now if we carry Him in this way, He will, without doubt, Himself carry us!”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church
The Christopher Prayer, Make Us True Christ-Bearers Anonymous
Father, grant that we may be, bearers of Christ Jesus, Your Son. Allow us to fill, the world around us, with Your light. Strengthen us, by Your Holy Spirit, to carry out our mission of living and following the path of Jesus, our Lord. Help us to understand, that by Your grace our gifts are Your blessings, to be shared with others. Fill us with Your Spirit of love to give glory to You in loving all and preaching by our love. Nourish in us the desire to go forth as the bearers of Your Son fearless and gentle, loving and merciful. Make us true Christ-Bearers, that in seeing us, only He is visible. Amen.
One Minute Reflection – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas – Malachias 3:1-4, Luke 2:22-32 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The Lord, Whom you are seeking, will suddenly enter His Temple” – Malachias 3:1
REFLECTION – “Today the Virgin Mary brings the Lord of the Temple, into the Temple of the Lord. And Joseph, too, takes along there, to the Lord that Son Who is not his own but is the beloved Son in Whom God has set all His favour (Mt 3:17). Simeon, the just man, recognises the One for Whom he was waiting; Anna, the widow, gives Him praise. For the first time, a procession is celebrated on this day, by these four people, a procession that would subsequently be celebrated with joy, by the whole world… Do not be astonished that this procession is so small, since He is also very small Whom the temple receives. But there are no sinners in that place: all are righteous, all are Saints, all are perfect.
Are these the only ones you are going to save, Lord? Your Body is going to grow greater, Your tenderness will also increase… Now, I see a second procession, in which great crowds precede the Lord and crowds follow Him – it is no longer the Virgin who bears Him but a little donkey. So He despises no-one…, if at least those garments of apostles are not lacking them (Mt 21:7): their doctrine, habits and the charity which covers over a multitude of sins (1Pt 4:8). But I will go even further and say that He has saved a place in that procession for us as well… David, King and Prophet, rejoiced to see that day: “he saw it and was glad” (Jn 8:56). If he had not, would he have sung the words: “We have received, O God, Thy mercy in the midst of Thy Temple”? (Ps 47:8). David received this mercy from the Lord, Simeon received it and we, too, have received it as have all those predestined for life, since “Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever” (Heb 13:8)…
So let us take to ourselves this mercy we have received in the midst of the Temple and, like blessed Anna, let us not distance ourselves from it. For “God’s Temple is holy and you are that temple” says the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 3:17). This mercy is close to you; “the word of God is very close to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart” (Rm 10:8). Indeed, does not Christ dwell in your hearts by faith? (Eph 3:17) That is His Temple, that is His Throne… Yes, it is in our hearts that we receive mercy, in our hearts that Christ dwells, in our hearts He whispers words of peace to His people, His saints, everyone who returns to their heart!” – St Bernard (1090-1153) Cistercian Monk, known as the Last Father and the Mellifluous Doctor of the Church (1st sermon for the Purification).
PRAYER – Almighty, eternal God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty that, as Thy Only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the nature of our flesh, so may Thou grant us to be presented to Thee with purified minds. 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 – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin – Candlemas
O Gloriosa Virginum By St Venantius Fortunatus (c530 – c609)
O Glorious Virgin, ever blest, Sublime above the starry sky, Who nurture from thy spotless breast To thy Creator didst supply.
What we had lost through hapless Eve, The Blossom sprung from these restores, And, granting bliss to souls that grieve, Unbars the everlasting doors.
O Gate, through which hath passed the King. O Hall, whence Light shone through the gloom; The ransomed nations, praise and sing Life given from the Virgin womb.
All honour, laud and glory be, O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee; All glory, as is ever meet, To Father and to Paraclete. Amen
O Gloriosa Domina is the second half of the Hymn: Quem Terra, Pontus, Aethera. It was composed by St Venantius Fortunatus (c530 – c609) the Bishop of Poitiers. In 1632, in accordance with revisions made to the hymns of the Divine Office by Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644), it was altered and changed to O Gloriósa Vírginum. It is sung in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Roman Breviary. It is said that St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was always singing this Hymn. His mother sang it to him as a baby and even on his death bed, after receiving Extreme Unction, he intoned the Hymn.
Our Lady of the Candles – (formally known as Nuestra Señora de la Purificación y la Candelaria) is a Marian title and image venerated by Filipino Catholics. The image, which is enshrined on the balcony of Jaro Cathedral, is known as the patroness of Jaro District of Iloilo City and the whole of the Western Visayas. The feast day of Our Lady of the Candles is on Candlemas (2 February) and is celebrated in Iloilo City with a Solemn Pontifical Mass presided by the Archbishop of Jaro.
St Adalbald of Ostrevant St Adeloga of Kitzingen St Agathodoros of Tyana St Apronian the Executioner Bl Bernard of Corbara St Bruno of Ebsdorf St Burchard of Wurzburg St Candidus the Martyr St Columbanus of Ghent St Cornelius the Centurion St Felician the Martyr St Feock St Firmus of Rome St Flosculus of Orléans St Fortunatus the Martyr St Hilarus the Martyr St Jeanne de Lestonnac (1556-1640) Widow, Mother, Founder
St Lawrence of Canterbury (Died 2 February 619) The Second Archbishop of Canterbury, the successor of St Augustine of Canterbury from 604 until his death in 619, but he was Consecrated as Archbishop by his predecessor, St Augustine, during Augustine’s lifetime, to ensure continuity in the office, Benedictine Monk, Missionary. He was a member of the Gregorian mission sent from Italy to England to Christianise the Anglo-Saxons. About St Lawrence: https://anastpaul.com/2022/02/02/saint-of-the-day-2-february-saint-lawrence-of-canterbury-died-619/
Blessed Luigi Giuseppe Bellesini OSA (1774-1840) Priest and Friar of the Hermits of St Augustine St Marquard of Hildesheim St Mun
St Rogatus the Martyr St Saturninus the Martyr St Sicharia of Orleans St Simon of Cassia Fidati St Theodoric of Ninden St Victoria the Martyr
Martyrs of Ebsdorf: Members of the army of King Louis III of France under the leadership of Duke Saint Bruno of Ebsdorf. The Martyrs died fighting invading pagan Norsemen, and defending the local Christian population. Four bishops, including Saint Marquard of Hildesheim and Saint Theodoric of Ninden, eleven nobles, and countless unnamed foot soldiers died repelling the invaders. They were martyred in the winter of 880 in battle at Luneberg Heath and Ebsdorf, Saxony (modern Germany).
Quote/s of the Day – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Apostle – Acts 9:1-22, Matthew 19:27-29 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“So Saul was led to Ananias – the ravaging wolf is led to the sheep. But the Shepherd, Who guides everything from Heaven above, reassures him… “Do not fear, I will show him what he will have to suffer, for My Name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). What wonder is this! The wolf is led, a captive, to the sheep… The Lamb who died for the sheep, teaches it not to be afraid any more!”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Now Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he enjoys the brightness of Christ; he exults with Stephen, he reigns with Stephen. There, where Stephen arose, the first, stoned under Paul’s very eyes, there too, Paul has risen with the help of Stephen’s prayers!”
St Fulgentius of Ruspe (c 462 – 533) Bishop in North Africa
“Yet I live, no longer I but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who has loved me and given himself up for me.”
“It is possible that, as he lay dying, Stephen looked up at Saul and uttered his last prayer for this sincere and honest young Jew, who had been led astray by the prejudice and passion of the mob. … Let us endeavour too, to suffer, pray and work for the conversion of our fellowmen, so many of whom, are wandering in the darkness of error or struggling in the clutches of vice. Let us try, by our sufferings, prayers and good example, to draw down God’s grace on our unhappy brothers. If we succeed, we shall share in the merits of their good actions and we shall have ensured our own everlasting salvation.”
One Minute Reflection – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Apostle – Acts 9:1-22, Matthew 19:27-29 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” – Acts 9:4.
REFLECTION – “From Heaven’s height Christ’s Voice overturned Saul. He received a command to carry out his persecutions no more and fell face downwards to the ground. He had first to be knocked down and afterwards raised up – first struck, then healed. For Christ would never have come to live in him, if Saul had not died to his former life of sin. Cast down to the earth in this way, what was it he heard? “Saul, Saul, why are thou persecuting Me? It is hard for thou to kick against the goad” (Acts 9:4-5). And he replied: “Who are you, Lord?” Then the voice from on high continued: “I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom thou art persecuting.” The members are still on the ground, while the Head cries out, from the heights of Heaven. He is not saying: “Why art thou persecuting My servants?” but “Why art thou persecuting Me?”
And Paul, who had put all his energy into his persecutions, is already preparing to obey: “What do Thou want me to do?” The persecutor is already transformed into the preacher, the wolf has become a sheep, the enemy, a defender. Paul learns what he is to do – if he has become blind, if this world’s light is held back from him for a while, it is so as to make the light within shine in his heart. Light is taken away from the persecutor, so that it may be given to the preacher; at the very moment he no longer saw anything of this world, he saw Jesus. This symbolises the believer – those who believe in Christ, must fix the eyes of their soul on Him, without paying attention to outward things…
So Saul was led to Ananias – the ravaging wolf is led to the sheep. But the Shepherd, Who guides everything from Heaven above, reassures him… “Do not fear, I will show him what he will have to suffer, for My Name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). What wonder is this! The wolf is led, a captive, to the sheep… The Lamb who died for the sheep, teaches it not to be afraid any more!” – St Augustine (354-430) Bishop, Father and Doctor of Grace of the Church (Sermon 279).
PRAYER – O God, Who taught the whole world by the preaching of Thy blessed Apostle Paul, grant, we beseech Thee that we, who today celebrate his conversion, may draw closer to Thee, by way of hia example.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).
Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Apostle – 25 January
From the Liturgical Year, 1904
We have already seen how the Gentiles, in the person of the Three Magi, offered their mystic gifts to the Divine Child of Bethlehem and received from Him, in return, the precious gifts of faith, hope and charity. The harvest is ripe; it is time for the reaper to come. But who is to be God’s labourer? The Apostles of Christ are still living under the very shadow of Mount Sion. All of them have received the mission to preach the Gospel of Salvation to the uttermost parts of the world but, not one among them, has, as yet, received the special character of Apostle of the Gentiles. Peter, who had received the Apostleship of Circumcision (Gal 2:8), is sent especially, as was Christ Himself, to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel (Mt 15:24). And yet, as he is the Head and the Foundation, it belongs to him to open the door of Faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:26) which he solemnly does, by conferring Baptism on Cornelius, the Roman Centurion.
But the Church is to have one more Apostle – an Apostle for the Gentiles – and he is to be the fruit of the Martyrdom and prayer of St Stephen. Saul, a citizen of Tarsus, has not seen Christ in the flesh and yet, Christ alone can make an Apostle. It is then, from Heaven, where He reigns, impassible and glorified, that Jesus will call Saul to be His disciple, just as, during the period of His active life, He called the fishermen of Genesareth to follow Him and hearken to His teachings. The Son of God will raise Saul up to the Third Heaven and there, will reveal to Him, all His Mysteries and when Saul, having come down again to this earth, shall have seen Peter (Gal 1:18) and compared his Gospel with that recognised by Peter (Ibid 2: 2) – he can say, in all truth that he is an Apostle of Christ Jesus (Gal 1:1) and that he has done nothing less. than the great Apostles (2 Cor 11:55).
It is on this glorious day of the Conversion of Saul, who is soon to change his name into Paul that this great work is commenced. It is on this day, that is heard the Almighty Voice which breaketh the cedars of Libanus (Ps 28:5) and can make a persecuting Jew become, first a Christian and then an Apostle. This admirable transformation had been prophesied by Jacob, when, upon his death-bed, he unfolded, to each of his sons, the future of the tribe of which he was to be the father. Juda was to have the precedence of honour; from his royal race, was to be born the Redeemer, the Expected of nations. Benjamin’s turn came – his glory is not to be compared with that of his brother Juda and yet, it was to be very great – for, from his tribe, is to be born Paul, the Apostle of the Gentile nations!
These are the words of the dying Prophet – Benjamin, a ravenous wolf, in the morning shall eat the prey and in the evening, shall divide the spoil (Gen 49:27). Who, says an ancient writer (These words are taken from a Sermon, which for long time was thought to be St Augustine), is he, that in the morning of impetuous youth, goes like a wolf, in pursuit of the sheep of Christ, breathing threatenings and slaughter against them? Is it not Saul on the road to Damascus, the bearer and doer of the high-priest’s orders and stained with the blood of Stephen, whom he has stoned by the hands of all those, over whose garments he kept watch? And he, who, in the evening, not only does not despoil but, with a charitable and peaceful hand, breaks to the hungry the bread of life – is it not Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, the Apostle of Christ, burning with zeal for his brethren, making himself all to all and wishing even to be an anathema for their sakes?
Oh! the power of our dear Jesus! how wonderful! how irresistible! He wishes that the first worshippers at His Crib should be humble Shepherds – and, He invites them by His Angels, whose sweet hymn was enough to lead these simple-hearted men to the Stable, where lies, in swaddling-clothes, He Who is the hope of Israel. He would have the Gentile Princes, the Magi, do Him homage – and bids to arise in the Heavens, a Star, whose mysterious apparition, joined to the interior speaking of the Holy Ghost, induces these men of desire, to come from the far East and lay, at the feet of an humble Babe, their riches and their hearts. When the time is come for forming the Apostolic College, He approaches the banks of the sea of Tiberias and, with this single word: Follow me, He draws after Him such as He wishes to have as His Disciples. In the midst of all the humiliations of His Passion, He has but to look at the unfaithful Peter and Peter is a penitent. Today, it is from Heaven that He evinces His power – all the Mysteries of our Redemption have been accomplished and He wishes to show mankind that He is the Sole Author and Master of the Apostolate and that, His alliance with the Gentiles, is now perfect – He speaks – the sound of His reproach bursts like thunder over the head of this hot Pharisee, who is bent on annihilating the Church. He takes this heart of the Jew and, by His grace, turns it into the heart of the Apostle, the Vessel of election, the Paul, who is afterwards to say of himself: I live, not I but Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20).
The commemoration of this great event was to be a Feast in the Church and it had a right to be kept, as near as might be to the one which celebrates the Martyrdom of St Stephen, for Paul is the Protomartyr’s convert. The anniversary of his Martyrdom would, of course, have to be solemnised at the summer-solstice – where, then, place the Feast of his Conversion if not near Christmas and thus our own Apostle, would be at Jesus’ Crib and Stephen’s side? Moreover, the Magi could claim him, as being the conqueror of that Gentile-world, of which they were the first-fruits.
And lastly, it was necessary, in order to give the Court of our Infant-King its full beauty that the two Princes of the Church – the Apostle of the Jews and the Apostle of the Gentiles – should stand close to the mystic Crib – Peter, with his Keys and Paul, with his Sword. Bethlehem thus becomes the perfect figure of the Church and the riches of this season of the Cycle are abundant beyond measure. Amen.
St Apollo of Heliopolis Bl Archangela Girlani St Artemas of Pozzuoli St Auxentius of Epirus St Bretannion of Tomi St Donatus the Martyr St Dwynwen (Died c 460) Virgin Princess, Nun. St Eochod of Galloway St Joel of Pulsano St Juventinus of Antioch St Maximinus of Antioch St Palaemon
Our Morning Offering – 24 January – Feast of Saint Timothy, Bishop and Martyr
O Fathers of Our Ancient Faith
O Fathers of our ancient faith, With all the heav’n, we sing your fame Whose sound went forth in all the earth To tell of Christ and bless His Name.
You took the Gospel to the poor, The Word of God alight in you, Which in our day is told again, That timeless Word, forever new.
You told of God, Who died for us And out of death triumphant rose, Who gave the Truth which made us free and changeless through the ages goes.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Whose gift is faith that never dies, A light in darkness now, until The Day-Star in our hearts arise.
O Fathers of Our Ancient Faith is written by the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey. In the Divine Office it is sung at Morning Prayer in the Common of Apostles. It is set to the anonymous tune associated with the 7th century Latin hymn, Creator Alme Siderum.
Quote/s of the Day – 18 January – Feast of the Chair of the Apostle, St Peter at Rome – 1 Peter 1:1-7, Matthew 16:13-19 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“Upon this rock I will build My Church”
“… May grace and peace be yours in abundance, through knowledge of God and of Jesus Our Lord…”
2 Peter 1:2
“So Peter wept and wept bitterly; he wept so hard that he washed away his offence with his tears. And you, too, if you would win pardon, wipe out your guilt with tears. At that very moment, in that same hour, Christ will look at you. If some kind of fall happens to you, then He, the ever-present witness of your intimate life, looks at you to call you back and cause you to confess your lapse. Then do as Peter did, who thrice said: “Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15). He denied three times and three times he also confessed. But he denied by night; he confessed in broad daylight.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Yes, the Apostle chosen to be His co-worker, merited to share, the same Name as Christ. They built the same Building together – Peter does the planting, the Lord gives the increase and it is the Lord, too, Who sends those, who will do the watering (cf 1 Cor 3:6f).”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“It is good to admire the fidelity of St Peter and the designs of Divine Providence in making him the visible Head of the Church but, it is far better, to follow his example. His love for Jesus, led him to leave his family and his fisherman’s trade, in order to follow Our Lord. It led him to undertake long voyages, to endure imprisonment and to face Martyrdom. What can we do for the love of Jesus? Remember that, if love is to be sincere, it must be generous and effective. … He was not satisfied, until he was hanging upon the cross like his Divine Master and could prove his love for Jesus by a Martyr’s death.”
One Minute Reflection – 4 January – “The Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” – Octave of the Holy Innocents – Apocalypse 14:1-5 , Matthew 2:13-18 –Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child, to destroy Him.” – Matthew 2:14
REFLECTION – “The Apostle John said: “Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk even as Christ walked” (1 Jn 2:6). Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches us, saying: “We are God’s children but if children, then heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together” (Rm 8:16f.) … Let us, beloved brethren, imitate righteous Abel, who initiated Martyrdom, he being the first to be slain for righteousness’s sake (Gn 4:8) … let us imitate the three children Ananias, Azarias and Misael, who … overcame the king by the power of faith (Dn 3) … What of the prophets whom the Holy Spirit quickened to a foreknowledge of future events? What of the Apostles whom the Lord chose? Since these righteous men were slain for righteousness’ sake, have they not taught us also to die?
The nativity of Christ at once witnessed the Martyrdom of infants, so that they, who were two years old and under were slain for His Name’s sake. An age, not yet fitted for the battle, appeared fit for the crown. That it might be manifest that they, who are slain for Christ’s sake, are innocent, innocent infancy was put to death for His Name’s sake … How grave is the case of a Christian, if he, a servant, is unwilling to suffer when his Master first suffered! … The Son of God suffered that He might make us sons of God and the son of man will not suffer that he may continue to be a son of God!? … The Maker and Lord of the world also warns us, saying: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own but because you are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world ”… remember the word that I said to you: “The servant is not greater than his Lord” (Jn 15:18-20).” – St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200-258) Martyr, Bishop of Carthage, Father of the Church – Letter 55
PRAYER – O God, Whose praise the Innocents, Thy Martyrs, this day proclaimed, not by speaking but by dying, put to death in us all the wickedness of sin, so that Thy faith which our tongue professes, may be proclaimed also by our life. 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 – 4 January – Octave of the Holy Innocents – “The Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus”
Salvete Flores Martyrum Hail, Ye Little Martyr Flowers By Prudentius (c 348 – c 413) (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens) The Renowned Poet
All Hail! ye infant Martyr flowers, Cut off in life’s first dawning hours. As rosebuds snap’t in temptest strife, When Herod sought Thy Saviours life.
Thou, tender flock of lambs, we sing, First victims slain for Christ Thy King. Beside the very altar, gay With palms and crowns, ye seem to play.
All honour, laud and glory be, O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee; All glory, as is ever meet, To Father and to Paraclete.
Salvete Flores Martyrum is the Office Hymn for Lauds on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (28 Dec). Its stanzas are drawn from Prudentius’ Epiphany Hymn, Cathemerinon and were first assembled in the 1568 Breviary of Pope Pius V.
Our Morning Offering – 2 January – Feast and Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Jesu, Decus Angelicum! Jesu, Angelic Glory! By St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor Trans Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)
O Jesu, Thou the Beauty art Of Angel worlds above; Thy Name is music to the heart, Enchanting it with love.
Celestial Sweetness unalloyed! Who eat Thee, hunger still; Who drink of Thee still feel a void, Which only Thou canst fill.
O my sweet Jesu! hear the sighs Which unto Thee I send; To Thee mine inmost spirit cries My being’s hope and end.
Stay with us. Lord and with Thy Light Illume the soul’s abyss; Scatter the darkness of our night, And fill the world with bliss.
O Jesu, spotless Virgin flower, Our Life and Joy; to Thee Be praise, beatitude, and power, Through all eternity. Amen.
As noted yesterday, Jesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century prayer/hymn by St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluous. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas. Parts of this hymn are used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. So the above are the stanzas used today for the Feast of the Holy Name.
Saint of the Day – 2 January – Feast of the Infant Jesus of Prague – the 16th Century wax-coated wooden Statue of the Child Jesus, holding a globus cruciger (the Orb and Cross) with the right hand being raised in benediction, is of Spanish origin and is just under half a metre in height. It is now located in the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady of Victories in Malá Strana, Prague, Czech Republic, see the Church at the bottom (one where I have been immensely blessed to attend Holy Mass before the Infant each day for a week some years ago). The Statue is venerated on 2 January, on 14 January and on the first Sunday of May.
In 1556, pious legends claim that the Statue once belonged to St Teresa of Ávila and was donated to the Carmelite Friars by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628 upon her marriage to Czech nobleman.
The image is routinely clothed by the Carmelite Nuns in luxurious fabrics often in the Liturgical Vestment colours relevant to the Seasons and with imperial regalia and a golden crown. In thanksgiving for the numerous graces and cures received, the miraculous Statue at Prague , was solemnly crowned when Pope Leo XII signed and granted its first Pontifical Decree of Canonical Coronation on 24 September 1824.
St Pius X granted authorisation via the Decree “Significat Nobis” to erect a namesake cCnfraternity.
Disturbances in Bohemia due to the Thirty Years’ War brought an end to the special devotions and on 15 November 1631 the army of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden took possession of Bohemia’s Capital City. The Carmelite Friary was plundered and the image of the Infant of Prague was thrown into a pile of rubbish behind the Altar. Here it lay forgotten for seven years, its hands broken off, until in 1637, it was found again by Father Cyrillus and placed in the Church’s oratory. One day, while praying before the Statue, Cyrillus heard a voice say, “Have pity on Me and I will have pity on you. Give Me my hands and I will give you peace. The more you honour Me, the more I will bless you.”
Copies of the Infant Jesus arrived in Poland in 1680 and it has been popular in Polish homes and Bohemia in general, where the copies are typically placed in glass-enclosed cases. After the start of the Counter-Reformation era of the 17th Century, the Statue spread among Catholics all over the world, with particular devotion developing in South Africa, Australia, Caribbean, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
So many graces have been received by those who invoke the Divine Child before the original Statue that it has been called “The Miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague.” We read the following in an old book printed in Kempt: “All who approach the miraculous Statue and pray there with confidence, receive assistance in danger, consolation in sorrows, aid in poverty, comfort in anxiety, light in spiritual darkness, streams of grace in dryness of soul, health in sickness and hope in despair.”
From small beginnings, this devotion has grown to great proportions. The Divine Child attracts an ever increasing number of clients, who appeal to Him in every need.
Bl Airaldus of Maurienne St Alverius of Agaunum St Asclepius of Limoges St Aspasius of Auch St Baudimius of Auvergne St Blidulf of Bobbio St Dietmar of Prague Bl Guillaume Répin Bl Guillermo de Loarte St Hortulana of Assisi St Isidore of Antioch St Isidore of Nitri St John Camillus the Good St Macarius of Rome
St Mark the Mute St Maximus of Vienne St Munchin of Limerick Bl Odino of Rot St Paracodius of Vienne St Sebastian of Agaunum St Seiriol Bl Stephana de Quinzanis Bl Sylvester of Troina St Telesphorus, Pope St Theodota St Theopistus St Vincentian of Tulle St Viance of Anjou
Many Martyrs Who Suffered in Rome: There were many Martyrs who suffered in the persecutions of Diocletian for refusing to surrender the holy books. Though we know these atrocities occurred, we do not know the names of the Saints and we honour them as a group. c 303 in Rome, Italy.
Martyrs of Antioch – 5 Saints: A group of Christian soldiers Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of five – Albanus, Macarius, Possessor, Starus and Stratonicus. They were born in Greece and were Martyred in Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey).
Many Martyrs of Britain: The Christians of Britain appear to have escaped unharmed in the earlier persecutions which afflicted the Church but the cruel edicts of Diocletian were enforced in every corner of the Roman Empire and the faithful inhabitants of this land, whether native Britons or Roman colonists, were called upon to furnish their full number of holy Martyrs and Confessors. The names of few are on record but the British historian, Saint Gildas, after relating the Martyrdom of Saint Alban, tells us, that many others were seized, some put to the most unheard-of tortures and others immediately executed, while not a few hid themselves in forests and the caves of the earth, where they endured a prolonged death until God called them to their reward. The same writer attributes it to the subsequent invasion of the English, then a pagan people, that the recollection of the places, sanctified by these Martyrdoms, has been lost and so little honour paid to their memory. It may be added, that, according to one tradition, a thousand of these Christians were overtaken in their flight near Lichfield and cruelly massacred and that the name of Lichfield, or Field of the Dead, is derived from them.
Martyrs of Ethiopia – 3 Saints: A group of Christians Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of three – Auriga, Claudia and Rutile.
Martyrs of Jerusalem – 2 Saints: A group of Christians Martyred together for their faith. We know the names of two – Stephen and Vitalis.
Martyrs of Lichfield: Many Christians suffered at Lichfield (aka Lyke-field, meaning field of dead bodies), England in the persecutions of Diocletian. Though we know these atrocities occurred, we do not know the names of the Saints and we honour them as a group. Their Martyrdom occurred in 304 at Lichfield, England.
Martyrs of Piacenza: A group of Christians who died together for their faith in the persecutions of Diocletian. No details about them have survived. They were Martyred on the site of Church of Madonna di Campagna, Piacenza, Italy.
Martyrs of Puy – 4 Saints: Missionaries, sent by Saint Fronto of Périgueux to the area of Puy, France. Tortured and Martyred by local pagans. We know the names – Frontasius, Severinus, Severian and Silanus. They were beheaded in Puy (modern Puy-en-Velay), France and buried together in the Church of Notre Dame, Puy-en-Velay by Saint Fronto, their bodies laid out to form a cross.
Martyrs of Syrmium – 7 Saints: Group of Christians Martyred together, date unknown. We know the names of seven – Acutus, Artaxus, Eugenda, Maximianus, Timothy, Tobias and Vitus – but very little else. This occurred in the 3rd or 4th century at Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia).
Martyrs of Tomi – 3 Saints: Three brothers, all Christian soldiers, in the Imperial Roman army and all three Martyred in the persecutions of Emperor Licinius Licinianus. We know their names – Argeus, Marcellinus and Narcissus – but little else. They were Martyred in 320 at Tomi, Exinius Pontus, Moesia (modern Constanta, Romania).
One Minute Reflection – 1 January – “The Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” – Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord – Titus 2:11-15, Luke 2:21 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“His Name was called Jesus” – Luke 2:21
REFLECTION – “The Name “Jesus” in Hebrew means “salvation” or “Saviour.” It is a Name that for the prophets, referred to a very specific vocation . From whence came these words, sung with great desire to see Him: “My heart will rejoice in Thy salvation and will be joyful because of His salvation; my soul pines for Thy salvation” (Ps 12:6 ;34:9 ;118:81). “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God” (Hab 3:18). And especially: “O God, by Thy Name save me” (Ps 53:3). It is as though one were to say: “O Thou Who are called ‘Saviour,’ by saving me, manifest the glory of Thy Name.” And so the Name of the Son, born of the Virgin Mary, is Jesus, according to the Angel’s explanation: “He shall save His people from their sins”…
As for the word “Christ,” this designates priestly or royal status. Priests and Kings were in fact “chrismated” that is to say, anointed with holy oil. By this means, they became signs of Him Who, appearing in the world as true King and High Priest, received the anointing of “the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Ps 44:8). It is because of this anointing that He is called Christ and those, who share in this same anointing that of spiritual grace, are called Christians. May He grant, through His Name of Saviour, to save us from our sins! May He grant, through His anointing as High Priest, to reconcile us with God the Father. Through His anointing as King, may He give us the Eternal Kingdom of His Father.” – St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Father and Doctor of the Church (Homily 5; CCL 122,36).
PRAYER – O God, Thou Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, have bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may enjoy the intercession of her, through whom we have been found worthy to receive among us, the Author of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).
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