Quote/s of the Day – 11 February – The Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Pope Gregory II (669-731)
“I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Our Lady of Lourdes to St Bernadette
25 March 1858
St Pope Gregory II “Defender of Icons”
Here is an excerpt of one of his letters to the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, Leo III the Isaurian, who became an iconoclast and issued an imperial decree forbidding the use of sacred images:
“The pious Emperors were submissive to the Pontiffs of the Church and never dishonoured them. You, on the contrary, since the day when you apostatised from the Faith, incurring the same curse that [in previous letters] you made against those who persecute sacred ministers and condemning yourself by your own decree, you have separated yourself from the Holy Ghost and you do persecute and tyrannise us, by the hands of your soldiers and earthly weapons. We do not have weapons or armies but we invoke the King of the whole Universe, Christ, Who is seated in Heaven over all the celestial powers and armies, to deliver you to Satan, as the Apostle says, in the flesh and the spirit.
We are travelling to the far East to assist those who are asking for Baptism. I had already sent Bishops and priests from my Church to them. The Princes of those places have not yet been washed in the waters of the Baptism and they have chosen me as Godfather. So, we need to be on our way, fearful lest one day God will ask an account for our negligence.
I pray God to give you prudence and repentance so that you will return to the truth that you left and bring the people to the bosom of the Catholic Church.”
One Minute Reflection – 28 January – Tuesday of the Third week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19, Psalm 24:7-10, Mark 3:31-35 and the Memorial of Joseph Freinademetz SVD (1852-1908) “Fu Shenfu” – Lucky Priest-
“Here are my mother and my brethren! Whoever does the will of God, is my brother, and sister and mother.”…Mark 34-35
REFLECTION – “Grace is thicker than blood – As mother, Mary made significant appearances in the life of Jesus. She followed Him in His ministry.
In today’s short Gospel text, she is outside with the relatives of Jesus asking for Him.
Notice the delicacy of Mary. She neither interrupts the ministry of Jesus nor enters the room where Jesus is ministering. She waits outside.
The response of Jesus to the one who brought the message seems like a rebuff.
In fact, it is a tribute to Mary.
She was His mother, not merely because she gave Him birth but even more, because she did the will of God.
Blood is thicker than water no doubt – but Grace is thicker than blood.
She conceived Jesus in faith, even before she conceived him in her womb.” … Msgr Alex Rebello – Diocese of Wrexham, Wales – Daily Reflections, Year A
PRAYER – Loving Father, You gave us Your only-begotten Son to teach us, to make us Your adopted children by His adoption of ourselves as His siblings. What grace, what mercy, what love, is this! We give You our gratitude and our love. Mary, holy and blessed Virgin, Mother of God, pray for us. St Joseph Freinademetz, you survived solely on faith in a strange land and brought Christ to those who spoke another language by the language of Grace, please pray for us. Through Jesus, our brother and our Saviour, who gave us His mother to guide and protect us, we pray, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 2 January – Christmas Weekday and The Memorial of St Basil the Great (329-379) and St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390), Readings: 1 John 2:22-28, Psalm 98:1-4, John 1:19-28
“It is a voice which cries out where it seems that no one can hear it — for who can listen in the desert? — and which cries out in the disorientation caused by a crisis of faith. We cannot deny that the world today is in a crisis of faith. One says: “I believe in God, I am a Christian” — “I belong to this religion…” But your life is far from being Christian – it is far removed from God! Religion, faith is but an expression: “Do I believe?” — “Yes!” This means returning to God, converting the heart to God and going on this path to find Him. He is waiting for us. This is John the Baptist’s preaching – prepare.
Prepare for the encounter with this Child who will give our smile back to us.”
General Audience, 7 December 2016
“The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. Whoever deliberately commits abortion is subject to the penalty for homicide.”
St Basil the Great (329-379)
Father & Doctor of the Church
“Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390)
(from his writings on his friendship with St Basil)
“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, such a one is a stranger to the Godhead.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390)
Father & Doctor of the Church
Second Thought for the Day – 31 December – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas and the Memorial of Blessed Alain de Solminihac (1593-1659) Bishop of Cahors, France
2018 was the 400th Anniversary the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. His Diocese of Cahors, France launched a Year of Vocations to conincide with this event of their former Bishop. One of their aims, besides promoting vocations, was to make known the life and holiness of Blessed Alain. Bishop Laurent Camiade, the current Bishop of Cahors, wrote:
“It is wonderful to know that you are called to holiness and it is inspiring to answer the call, to give your whole life, for consecration in the Church. All Christians are concerned with the “universal vocation to holiness.” Some are specifically called to give their whole life – religious consecration, or in an institute, hermit or order of the virgins, or commitment to celibacy with a view to being ordained a priest.
Providence wanted 2018 to be the 400th anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. He was Ordained Deacon on 25 March 1617 and Priest on 22 September 1618. In 1636, he was called again to become Bishop of Cahors. This is why, after having spoken to different councils, I hope that we will take advantage of this Anniversary to return to listening to the teachings of Blessed Alain. He teaches us with his vigorous and profound words … and by his exemplary life, to strive to be courageous, ardent and sober.
Today, as in Alain de Solminihac’s time, devoting his whole life to God involves difficulties. Celibacy according to a sober lifestyle has never been obvious. In the time of Blessed Alain, the choice of becoming a priest, religious or nun, made it possible to ensure material security, thanks to a system of benefits attached to abbeys or dioceses. As a result, in the 17th century, not all consecrated persons had internalised, the spiritual conditions, for living in accordance with their state and the clergy did not always give a good testimony. It is in this context, that Blessed Alain would become a “reformer”, that is to say, a demanding promoter of coherence between vocation and lifestyle.
Alain de Solminihac put spirituality and fidelity to the duties linked to the received mission first. “You must follow the good pleasure of God as soon as you know it , he wrote, and accomplish it by immediately turning your eyes to God, remaining in a simple expectation to receive another sign or command, without wasting time delight in the satisfaction of having accomplished this adorable Will of God.”
The requirements of Blessed Alain sometimes provoked reactions of opposition but they also attracted many young people, happy to give themselves, in a way that made sense and above all, pushed by the Holy Spirit who wanted this for the Church. His motto was Faith and Valour! and he lived up to it!
It is clearly a current need to relaunch the call to specific vocations (priests, religious, nuns, consecrated). The desire to give all of one’s life to follow Christ, exists in many young people (recent statistics prove it) but this is seldom realised, as we can see.
The priests and seminarians of our Diocese are deeply attached to Our Lady of Rocamadour, who played an often decisive role in their engagement. Blessed Alain fought with all the vigour of his temper, to keep this sanctuary in the Diocese of Cahors. We are therefore grateful to him for these graces which, by the will of God, reflect from the pierced heart of Christ, to our local Church. Blessed Alain considered Rocamadour to be the most famous Marian place in the kingdom . He was very attached to Mary who, he explains, “had more humility than all the other saints, because, holier than the others, she had a more perfect knowledge of the excellence of God and by consequence of her own nothingness. “
May Blessed Alain de Solminihac help us to share his missionary ardour and his discreet humility.”
Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
“John’s God-illumined mind, conceived the incomparable height of divine wisdom, when he reclined on the Redeemer’s breast, during the holy Last Supper meal (Jn 13:25). And because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3) are within the heart of Jesus, it is from there, that he drew and from there, that he greatly enriched our wretchedness, as people who are poor and generously distributed these goods, taken from their source, for the salvation of the whole world. And because this blessed John speaks about God in a marvellous way, that cannot be compared to that of anyone else, it is only right that the Greeks as well as the Latins have given him the name of “Theologian”. Mary is “Theotokos” because she has truly given birth to God; John is “Theologos” because he saw in an indescribable way, that the Word of God, was with the Father before the beginning of time and was God (Jn 1:1) and because, too, he spoke about this, with extraordinary depth.”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church
“If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the Divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head, how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Col. ii 3] how sublime his writings! how Divine his teaching!”
“Then too, as Son and Guardian of Mary, thou hast to present us to thine own and our Mother. Ask her to give us, somewhat of the tender love, wherewith she watches over the Crib of her Divine Son, to see in us, the Brothers of that Child she bore and to admit us, to a share of the maternal affection, she had for thee, the favoured confidant of the secrets of her Jesus.”
Thought for the Day – Saturday of Advent 21 December
Mary visits Elizabeth
Saint Ambrose of Milan (340-397)
Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from A Commentary on Luke, Book 2
When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary, he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman, to show that God is able to do all that He wills.
When she hears this, Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word, she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.
Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear, as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice but John, is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence but he is aware of the Lord’s – a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received, while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.
The child leaps in the womb, the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for you and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit but we know, that though Mary’s spirit rejoices, she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her Son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in His mother, in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.
You also are blessed, because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes, both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges His works.
Let Mary’s soul be in each of you, to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each, to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother, in the flesh but we all bring forth Christ, in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God, if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, it’s modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this, proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour. In another place we read – Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but, because He is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God and, if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.