Quote/s of the Day – 13 June – The Memorial of St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) Evangelical Doctor of the Church
“Damned money! Alas! … Money is the ‘droppings of birds’ that blinded the eyes of Tobit.”
“Christ, who is your life, is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross, as in a mirror. There you will be able to know, how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine other, than the Blood of the Son of God, could heal. If you look closely, you will be able to realise, how great your human dignity and your value are…. Nowhere other than looking at himself, in the mirror of the Cross, can man better understand how much he is worth”
(Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, pp. 213-214)
“The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross.”
“The spirit of humility is sweeter than honey and those, who nourish themselves with this honey produce sweet fruit.”
The Praises of Mary “Assumption” Poem by Saint Anthony
O how wondrous is the dignity of the glorious Virgin! She merited to become the mother of Him who is the strength and beauty of the angels and the grandeur of all the saints.
Mary was the seat of our sanctification, that is to say, the dwelling place of the Son who sacrificed Himself for us.
“And I shall glorify the place where my feet have stood.” The feet of the Saviour signify His human nature. The place where the feet of the Saviour stood was the Blessed Mary, who gave Him His human nature.
Today the Lord glorifies that place, since He has exalted Mary above the choirs of the angels. That is to say, the Blessed Virgin, who was the dwelling of the Saviour, has been assumed bodily into heaven.
St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)
Evangelical Doctor of the Church
Quote of the Day – 1 May – Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Mary’s Month By Fr Dennis John Burns (1920-2009)
Blue waters, blue as Mary’s eyes
God scatters with a lavish hand,
On every land.
Made lovely with soft, silver light,
God wraps about the world when day
Has slipped away.
Holds up a golden-flowered shield
Against the shining shafts of sun,
Yet each is won.
God spills to bring to earth again
New freshness. Then like sudden tears
The vagabonding summer breeze,
The golden days and silver nights
His will unites
And when His work of love is done,
His will decrees a holiday,
The month of May.
That she, as pure as summer sky,
Who found within an earth-born Boy
What earth contained of joy and pain
Might find her full content of joy
On earth again.
Second Thought for the Day – 25 March – The Annunciation
The Annunciation By Fr Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!
Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.
Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.
Air, earth and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.
These blue thinas bud in Israel.
The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom’s house, and Ark and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)
Fifteen years old –
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.
It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden’s wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.
Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession
Until her Jesus, makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.
Fr Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist monk and priest is recognized as one of the major spiritual fathers of our times. His longing for silence and solitude, his contemplative vision, his engagement with need for world peace through inner life of the spirit, his journey across religious traditions, cultures and disciplines, make him a man for all times but especially for our own. Thomas Merton expressed this vision in his poetry, novels, essays, devotionals and autobiographical writings.
Our Morning Offering – 1 January – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord
CHRISTMAS By Gertrude von le Fort (1876-1971)
Your voice speaks:
Little child out of Eternity, now will I sing to Thy mother!
The song shall be fair as dawn-tinted snow.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, daughter of my earth, sister of my soul,
rejoice, O joy of my joy!
I am as one who wanders through the night
but you are a house under stars.
I am a thirsty cup but you are God’s open sea.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, blessed are those who call you blessed,
never more shall child of man lose hope.
I am one love for all, I shall never cease from saying:
one of you has been exalted by the Lord.
Rejoice Mary Virgin, wings of my earth, crown of my soul,
rejoice joy of my joy!
Blessed are those who call you blessed.
The Baroness Gertrud von Le Fort (full name Gertrud Auguste Lina Elsbeth Mathilde Petrea Freiin von Le Fort – 11 October 1876 – 1 November 1971 – aged 95) was a German writer of novels, poems and essays. She converted to Catholicism in 1925 and most of her writings came after this conversion. She published over 20 books, comprising poems, novels and short stories. Her work gained her the accolade of being “the greatest contemporary transcendent poet.” Her works are appreciated for their depth and beauty of their ideas and for her sophisticated refinement of style. She was nominated by Hermann Hesse for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was granted an honorary Doctorate of Theology for her contributions to the issue of faith in her works.
Thought for the Day – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave
Her Amazement at her Only Child Karol Wojtyla Saint Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Light piercing, gradually, everyday events,
a woman’s eyes, hands
used to them since childhood.
Then brightness flared, too huge for simple days,
and hands clasped when the words lost their space.
In that little town, my Son, where they knew us together,
You called me mother but no-one had eyes to see,
the astounding events as they took place day by day.
Your life became the life of the poor
in Your wish to be with them, through the work of Your hands.
I knew – the light that lingered in ordinary things,
like a spark sheltered under the skin of our days —
the light was You,
it did not come from me.
And I had more of You in that luminous silence,
than I had of You as the fruit of my body, my blood.
ST JOHN PAUL II’S CHRISTMAS POETRY Poem from his 1950 Collection, “The Mother”
Second Thought for the Day – 14 December – Saturday of the Second week of Advent, Year A, the Memorial of St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609) and a Marian Saturday
The Ave Maris Stella (“Hail Star of the Sea”) is a plainsong Vespers hymn to Mary. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions. The creation of the original hymn has been attributed to several people, including Saint Venantius Fortunatus (6th century) Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century) and Hermannus Contractus (11th century).
The text is found in 9th-century manuscripts, kept in Vienna and in the Abbey of Saint Gall.
The melody is found in the Irish plainsong “Gabhaim Molta Bríde”, a piece in praise of St Bridget of Ireland. There are many translations of this most beautiful and favourite Catholic prayer, the one below is found in The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Ave Maris Stella
Hail, O Star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.
Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.
Praise to God the Father,
honour to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one.
During Advent, as we prepare for the birth of Christ at Christmas, we also celebrate one of the great feasts of the Catholic Church. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (8 December-moved to 8 December in 2019) is not only a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary but a foretaste of our own redemption.
In keeping the Blessed Virgin free from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception, God presents us with a glorious example of what mankind was meant to be. Mary is truly the second Eve, because, like Eve, she entered the world without sin. Unlike Eve, she remained sinless throughout her life—a life that she dedicated fully to the will of God. The Eastern Fathers of the Church referred to her as “without stain” (a phrase that appears frequently in the Eastern liturgies and hymns to Mary), in Latin, that phrase is immaculatus: “immaculate.”
The Immaculate Conception was not, as many people mistakenly believe, a precondition for Christ’s act of redemption but the result of it. Standing outside of time, God knew that Mary would humbly submit herself to His will and in His love for this perfect servant, He applied to her at the moment of her conception the redemption, won by Christ, that all Christians receive at their Baptism.
It is appropriate, then, that the Church has long declared the month in which the Blessed Virgin not only was conceived but gave birth to the Saviour of the world, as the Month of the Immaculate Conception.
The star of Mary Immaculate shines down on the path of Advent….
What person is more luminous than Mary?
Who can be for us, better than her, the star of hope,
the sunrise that proclaims the day of salvation?
Pope Benedict XVI
Holy light on earth’s horizon, Star of hope to those who fall, Light amid a world of shadows, Dawn of God’s design for all.
Mary, Virgin of Advent, may we always walk with you in the light of the Lord, Jesus, the fruit of your womb! Amen
Our Morning Offering – 19 October – Saturday of the Twenty-eighth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and a Marian Saturday in October!
An October Prayer
Mother, at thy feet is kneeling
One who loves thee–it’s thy child
Who has sighed so oft’ to see thee,
Bless me, Mother, Mother mild.
And when storms are raging round me,
And when tempests hover near,
In thy own sweet arms enfold me,
Shield me, Mother, Mother dear.
Mother, when my Saviour calls me
From this world of sin and strife,
Clasp me upon thy spotless bosom,
Let me bid farewell to life.
Plead for me when Jesus judges,
Answer for me when He asks
How I’ve spent so many moments,
How performed so many tasks.
Tell Him I was weak and feeble,
Yes, that I so often strayed
From the thorny path of virtue
To the one with roses laid.
Yet, O Mother, tell my Jesus
That I loved Him fond and true
And, O Mother, dearest Mother,
Tell Him I belong to you.
Then He’ll place me (yes, I feel it)
Close to thee, O Mother dear,
Then I’ll praise and bless and thank thee
Thru eternity’s long years.
Thought for the Day – 25 September – The Memorial of Blessed Herman of Reichenau/the Cripple OSB (1013–1054) the Author of the Salve Regina
THE “SALVE, REGINA” RECEIVES AN ADDITION
In the year 1146 Saint Bernard, the illustrious doctor of the Church and abbot of Clairvaux, was travelling through Germany and by the power of his eloquence was rousing the people of that country to the necessity of entering upon another crusade, a spirited one, in order to wrest from the iron grasp of the heathens those places in Palestine that had been sanctified by the footsteps and moistened with the blood, of our holy Redeemer.
Passing from Switzerland, by way of Strasbourg, Saint Bernard sailed down the river Rhine and landed at Spire, on Christmas Eve, 1146. In a grand procession, composed of the civic societies and trades unions, with their banners waving in the air and holding lighted tapers in their hands, followed in turn by the clergy with their bishop clad in pontifical robes, Saint Bernard was conducted, amid every sign of respect from the multitudes who lined the streets of the city, to the majestic cathedral.
Here, amid the chant of the choristers and the joyful pealing of the bells, the great preacher of the holy wars was met by the Emperor Conrad and all the royal princes of the court, who tendered to their illustrious guest the welcome of their realm.
It was a scene of great magnificence as the saint crossed the threshold of the sacred edifice. Thousands had to remain outside the building, for the saint’s great reputation for sanctity and the fame of the wondrous miracles that he had wrought, as well as his renowned eloquence, had drawn vast crowds from far and near, eager to get a glimpse of his venerable person.
As the solemn procession, preceded by the cross and other standards, marched slowly up the grand aisle of the cathedral, a choir of a thousand voices chanted the hymn, “Salve, Regina,” or “Hail, holy Queen.” The lofty vaults of the sacred edifice spanning many altars ablaze with a thousand lights, the soldierly form of the emperor, the venerable mien of the holy bishops, the long files of white-robed priests, the vast crowds of admiring people, the inspiring strains of the music and all this but the expression of truly Catholic hearts, over-powered the soul of Saint Bernard with emotions of intense gratitude to God and His blessed Mother.
The altar was reached as the singers’ voices repeated the last words of the “Salve, Regina.” A profound silence ensued as the words, “Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exilium ostende” – that is, “Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus,” died away. In a moment of inspiration, and overwhelmed with the loftiest sentiments of piety towards the Blessed Virgin, the great Saint Bernard, in thrilling tones, exclaimed spontaneously, “O clemens, O pia, O dukis Virgo Maria!” that is, “O element, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!”
From that moment the “Salve, Regina” continued to have a new ending. The love-breathing words of Saint Bernard, the honey-tongued doctor, as holy Church styles him, were universally adopted and added, with a will by all, to the “Salve, Regina” originally composed by Blessed Herman the Cripple.
They form a beautiful and fitting ending to a beautiful apostrophe to the Mother of God. In the cathedral at Spire, every day, from that time till our day, the “Salve, Regina” is sung solemnly in memory of the events so sacred which led to the inspired composition of its present ending and in memory of the saint who uttered the beautiful words.
Salve Regina, Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God!
V Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟ that we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.
Blessed Herman, Pray for Us!
St Bernard, Pray for us!
Saint of the Day – Blessed Herman of Reichenau/the Cripple OSB (1013–1054) Benedictine Monk, Confessor, Scholar, Scientist, Writer, Hymnist, Poet, Musical Composer, Teacher – born on 18 February 1013 at Altshausen, Swabia (in modern Germany) and died on 21 September 1054 at Reichenau abbey, Germany of natural causes. Also known as Hermann Contractus, Herimanus Augiensis, Hermann von Reichenau.
In his own day, the heroic cripple who achieved learning and holiness was called ‘The Wonder of His Age’. He composed works on history, music theory, mathematics and astronomy, as well as many hymns. Composer of the “Salve Regina” Hail Holy Queen, “Veni Sancte Spiritus” Come Holy Spirit and “Alma Redemptoris Mater” Nourishing Mother of the Redeemer. He was renowned as a religious poet and musical composer. Among his surviving works are officia for St Afra and St Wolfgang. When he went blind in later life, he began writing hymns and these have carried the Church and still do for a 1000 years in joy and glory!
Blessed Herman was the son of Count Wolverad II von Altshausen. Being a cripple (born with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy and possibly spina bifida – though today it is thought that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or spinal muscular atrophy) from birth (hence the surname Contractus) he was powerless to move without assistance and it was only by the greatest effort that he was able to read and write but he was so highly gifted intellectually, that when he was but seven years of age his parents confided him to the learned Abbot Berno, on the island of Reichenau.
His great love and sincere devotion for the “Mother of the afflicted ” secured him peace of soul and even lightened his bodily sufferings. We are told, however, that he continued to pray to his beloved Mother for restoration to health and strength, if it should be pleasing to God. Pious legend informs us, that when he had prayed thus for some months, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and offered him the choice between two gifts, namely, health or wisdom. Herman, without hesitating a moment, chose the gift of wisdom. He made a wise selection, for notwithstanding his bodily infirmities he became one of the most learned men of his time. Under the poor form of a deformed body there dwelt a noble soul, a clear and richly gifted intellect and a humble and charitable heart.
Herman spent his entire life in the monastery Reichenau as a teacher, researcher and musician. Herman was bound to a carrying chair and was completely dependent on his servants. He could only write with difficulty and one may assume that he has dictated a large part of his works. And even that might have been difficult, as his biographer writes that he could only speak with difficulty and was barely understandable. But if we are allowed to believe Berthold, his charisma, his cheerfulness and his modesty of intelligence were so impressive that everyone had to love him.
A good student of theology, he could also produce works of spiritual depth. For a readership of nuns he wrote a discourse “On the Eight Principal Vices.” It was cast in poetry and he handled the versification with great lyricism. He also knew how to give serious matters a light touch. The treatise for nuns was witty and he even began his world chronicle with a touch of self-depreciation: “Herman, the rubbish of Christ’s little ones, lagging behind the learners of philosophy more slowly than a donkey or a slug … ”
Herman was not just a music theoretician but, with that, he took on a special position – he himself created melodies – and he may be considered one of the first known composers of Gregorian chants. In contrast to the strict Gregorian chant, his music show an almost romantic melody. His “Salve Regina” is clearly the work of a master.
Herman gave instructions on how to measure the circumference of the earth at a time when there was not even clarity about the spherical shape of the earth. One of Herman’s inventions was the pillar sundial , which he called the horologium viatorum.
His iron will overcame all obstacles and it was not long before his brilliant attainments made him a shining light in the most diversified branches of learning, including, besides theology, mathematics, astronomy, music, the Latin, Greek and Arabic tongues. Students soon flocked to him from all parts, attracted not only by the fame of his scholarship but also by his monastic virtue and his lovable personality.
We are indebted to him chiefly for a chronicle of the most important events from the birth of Christ to his day. It is the earliest of the medieval universal chronicles now extant and was compiled from numerous sources, being a monument to his great industry as well as to his extraordinary erudition and strict regard for accuracy. While it is not improbable that this work was based on a previous state chronicle of Swabia, since lost (called “Chronicum Universale Suevicum”, or “Epitome Sangallensis”), it has nevertheless a significance entirely its own. But the full measure of his genius appears from the objectivity and clearness with which he wrote the history of his own time, the materials of which were accessible to him only by means of verbal tradition.
In later life he became blind and had to give up his academic writing.
He died on the island of Reichenau, Lake Constance, 21 September, 1054. He was Beatified in 1863 by Pope Pius IX.
Three of five symphonies that were written by Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya are based on his texts.
Quote/s of the Day – 12 September – Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary
“This most holy, sweet and worthy name was eminently fitted to so holy, sweet and worthy a virgin. For Mary means a bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminatrix. Mary is interpreted Lady. Mary is a bitter sea to the demons, to men, she is the Star of the sea, to the Angels, she is illuminatrix and to all creatures she is Lady.”
St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Seraphic Doctor
“Mary means Star of the sea, for as mariners are guided to port by the ocean star, so Christians attain to glory, through Mary’s maternal intercession.”
St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
“One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary.”
Pope Benedict XVI
Rare perfume is a rough and reeking place, A bell-like music breaking through the blare Of strident streets, a dear remembered face Appearing through the mind’s pondrous despair.
A foam of summer flowers fringing the drear Immobile desert sea, a cherished voice Calling in some long night of pain and fear To make the heavy, heaving heart rejoice. Such is the mystic wonder of her name That is a shudder down Hell’s shaken halls, And joy where angel-wings flit like white flames, Where height to echoing height its glory calls.
Our Morning Offering – 15 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blest,
Of the sole begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs.
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O thou Mother: fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.
Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.
By the Cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.
Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.
Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swooned
In His very blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.
While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.
Note: This text of the Stabat Mater is one of over 60 translations of this famous Latin hymn that can also be recited in prayer. It is often used when praying the Stations of the Cross. The original Latin text of the Stabat Mater has also been set to music by such composers as Haydn, Rossini, and Poulenc.