Quote of the Day – 20 September – The Memorial of Saint Jose Maria de Yermo y Parres (1851–1904)
“Let us speak about saints to forge saints.”
Quote of the Day – 20 September – The Memorial of Saint Jose Maria de Yermo y Parres (1851–1904)
“Let us speak about saints to forge saints.”
Thought for the Day – 16 September – Monday of the Twenty-fourth week in Ordinary Time, Year Cand the Memorial of St Pope Corneliu s and St Cyprian of Carthage, Martyrs
An excerpt from his Letter 60
Cyprian sends greetings to his brother Cornelius. My very dear brother, we have heard of the glorious witness given by your courageous faith. On learning of the honour you had won by your witness, we were filled with such joy that we felt ourselves sharers and companions in your praiseworthy achievements. After all, we have the same Church, the same mind, the same unbroken harmony. Why then should a priest not take pride in the praise given to a fellow priest as though it were given to him? What brotherhood fails to rejoice in the happiness of its brothers wherever they are?
Words cannot express how great was the exultation and delight here when we heard of your good fortune and brave deeds, how you stood out as a leader of your brothers in their declaration of their faith. You led the way to glory but you gained many companions in that glory, being foremost in your readiness to bear witness, on behalf of all, you prevailed on your people to become a single witness. We cannot decide which we ought to praise, your own ready and unshaken faith, or the love of your brothers who would not leave you. While the courage of the bishop who thus led the way has been demonstrated, at the same time the unity of the brotherhood who followed, has been manifested. Since you have one heart and one voice, it is the Roman Church as a whole that has thus borne witness.
Dearest brother, bright and shining is the faith which the blessed Apostle praised in your community. He foresaw in the spirit the praise your courage deserves and the strength that could not be broken, he was heralding the future when he testified to your achievement, his praise of the fathers was a challenge to the sons. Your unity, your strength have become shining examples of these virtues to the rest of the brethren.
Divine providence has now prepared us. God’s merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. By that shared love which binds us closely together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fasting, vigils and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure, they are the spiritual defences, the God-given armaments that protect us.
Let us then remember one another, united in mind and heart. Let us pray without ceasing, you for us, we for you, by the love we share, we shall thus relieve the strain of these great trials.
Thought for the Day – 10 September – The Memorial of St Ambrose Edward Barlow OSB (1585-1641) Martyr
Ambrose ministered to the Catholic population in an area between Manchester and Liverpool.
We are fortunate in that the primary sources give us substantial detail about the manner in which Ambrose carried out his work. Richard Challoner (who wrote Memoirs of Missionary Priests) wrote:-
“such was the fervour of his zeal, that he thought the day lost in which he had not done some notable thing for the salvation of souls…. Night and day he employed in seeking after the lost sheep and correcting sinners…. He found so much pleasure in this inward conversation with God… as much as worldlings would be when going to a feast.
He was always afraid of honours and preferments and had a horror of vainglory, which he used to call the worm or moth of virtues and which he never failed to correct in, others. He industriously avoided feasts and assemblies and all meetings for merrymaking, as liable to dangers of excess, idle talk and detraction…..He chose to live in a private country house, where the poor, to whom he had chiefly devoted his labours, might have, at all times, free access to him. He would never have a servant, till forced to it by sickness, never used a horse but made his pastoral visits on foot….He allowed himself no manner of play or pastime and avoided all superfluous talk and conversation, more especially, with those of the fair sex. His diet was chiefly whitmeats and garden stuff…. He drank only small beer and that very sparingly and always abstained from wine. He was never idle but was always either praying, studying, preaching, administering the sacraments or painting pictures of Christ or His blessed mother….He feared no dangers, when God’s honour and the salvation of souls called him forth…passed, even at noonday through the midst of his enemies, without apprehension….Yet he was very severe in rebuking sin, so that obstinate and impertinent sinners were afraid of coming near him.”
On the eve of principal festivals, Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, Catholics would gather from a wide area. The night was spent in prayer and hearing confessions. On the following day, all were fed, the richer members and Ambrose serving the rest and then they had their meal from the leavings. “Their cheare was boil’d beefe and pottage, minched pies, goose and groates and to every man a gray coate at parting.”
About six months before his arrest in 1641, Ambrose suffered a stroke which affected the use of one side of his body. A Jesuit priest was sent to help him and may have provided some assistance to him while he was in prison.
Ambrose laboured in south Lancashire between 1617 and 1641. It appears that he was arrested and imprisoned on at least four occasions. He ministered to St Edmund Arrowsmith SJ (1585 – 1628) Martyr, in 1628 while the latter was awaiting trial and subsequent execution in Lancaster Prison. He was said to be as well known in the area in which he served. Probably local support enabled him to continue in his role for so long. He had a premonition of what his fate would be since it is reported that St Edmund Arrowsmith appeared to him in a dream and said that he too would become a martyr.
Thought for the Day – 9 September – The Memorial of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813–1853) “Servant to the Poor” and Founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society
A man convinced of the inestimable worth of each human being, Frédéric served the poor of Paris well and drew others into serving the poor of the world. Through the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which he founded, his work continues to the present day.
Once, after Frédéric spoke about Christianity’s role in civilisation, a club member said: “Let us be frank, Mr Ozanam, let us also be very particular. What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you?”
Frédéric was stung by the question. He soon decided that his words needed a grounding in action. He and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of Saint Vincent de Paul formed around Frédéric.
Feeling that the Catholic faith needed an excellent speaker to explain its teachings, Frédéric convinced the Archbishop of Paris to appoint Dominican Father Jean-Baptiste Lacordaire OP (1802-1861), the greatest preacher then in France, to preach a Lenten series in Notre Dame Cathedral. It was well-attended and became an annual tradition in Paris. Meanwhile, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society was growing throughout Europe. Paris alone counted 25 conferences.
In 1846, Frédéric, Amelie, and their daughter Marie went to Italy, there he hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the Saint Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frédéric and his coworkers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.
In 1852, poor health again forced Frédéric to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on 8 September 1853. In his sermon at Frédéric’s funeral, Fr Lacordaire described his friend as “one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius, in order to enkindle the world.”
Frédéric was beatified in 1997. Since Frédéric wrote an excellent book entitled Franciscan Poets of the Thirteenth Century, and since his sense of the dignity of each poor person was so close to the thinking of Saint Francis, it seemed appropriate to include him among Franciscan “greats.”
His commitment to the plight of those in need and social justice for all, inspires us to look around our communities today—outside our safety zones—and activate the Christian virtues of charity that we are all called to by the life of Jesus. He said:
“Yours must be a work of love, of kindness, you must give your time, your talents, yourselves. The poor person is a unique person of God’s fashioning with an inalienable right to respect. You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis, You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of a long term improvement.”
Lord, you made Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
a witness of the Gospel, full of wonder
at the mystery of the Church.
You inspired him to alleviate poverty and injustice
and endowed him with untiring generosity
in the service of all those suffering.
In family life, he revealed a most genuine love
as a son, brother, husband and father.
In secular life, his ardent passion for the truth
enlightened his thought, writing and teaching.
His vision for our society was a network of charity
encircling the world inspired
by St Vincent de Paul’s love, boldness and humility.
His prophetic social vision appears in every aspect of his life,
together with the radiance of his virtues.
We thank you Lord, for these many gifts.
May the Church proclaim his holiness,
as a saint, a providential light for today’s world!
We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Thought for the Day – 29 August – The Beheading of St John the Baptist
An excerpt from Homily 23
As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle, a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendour of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom, the testimony, which he delivered, on behalf of our Lord.
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was and gave his life for Him. His persecutor had demanded, not that he should deny Christ but only, that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say – I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
Through his birth, preaching and baptising, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ and by his own suffering, he showed, that Christ also would suffer.
Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men, he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptised in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptise the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John, rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.
Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege, not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for Him: The sufferings of this present time, are not worthy, to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
Thought for the Day – 27 August – Tuesday of the Twenty-first week in Ordinary Time, Year C and The Memorial of St Monica (322-387)
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Sermons preached on various occations
“Many a mother, who is anxious for her son’s bodily welfare, neglects his soul.
So, did NOT the Saint of today – her son might be accomplished, eloquent, able and distinguished – all this was nothing to her, while he was dead in God’s sight, while he was the slave of sin, while he was the prey of heresy.
She desired his true life.
She wearied heaven with prayer
and wore out herself,
with praying –
she did not at once prevail.
He left his home,
he was carried forward by his four bearers –
and ambition –
he was carried out into a foreign land,
he crossed over from Africa to Italy.
She followed him,
she followed the corpse,
the only mourner-
she went where he went, from city to city.
It was nothing to her to leave her dear home and her native soil, she had no country below; her sole rest, her sole repose, her Nunc dimittis, was his new birth.
So while she still walked forth in her deep anguish and isolation
and her silent prayer,
she was at length rewarded by the long-coveted miracle.
Grace melted the proud heart
and purified the corrupt breast of Augustine
“How many difficulties there are also today in family relationships
and how many mothers are anguished because their children choose mistaken ways!
Monica, a wise and solid woman in the faith, invites us not to be discouraged
but to persevere in our mission of wives and mothers,
maintaining firm our confidence in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.”
Thought for the Day – 24 August – The Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle of Christ – Today’s Gospel: John 1:45–51
“The apostles’ glory is so indistinguishable and so bonded together by the cement of so many graces that in celebrating the feast of one of them the common greatness of all is called to our interior attention. For they share together the same authority of supreme judge, the same honourable rank and they hold the same power to bind and loose (Mt 19:28; 18:18). They are those precious pearls that Saint John tells us he beheld in the Book of Revelation out of which are constructed the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rv 21:21.14)… And indeed, whenever the apostles beam divine light through their signs or miracles, they open up the heavenly glory of Jerusalem, to all those peoples who have been converted to the christian faith…
Of them, too, the prophet says: “Who are these who fly along like clouds?” (Is 60:8)… God raises the minds of His preachers to contemplation of truths on high… so that they can abundantly pour down the rain of God’s word into our hearts. Thus they drink water from the spring, so as to give drink to us too.
Saint Bartholomew drew from the fullness of this spring, when the Holy Spirit came upon him, as on the other apostles, in the form of tongues of fire (Acts 2:3).”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072) – Bishop, Doctor of the Church (Sermon 42, 2nd for Saint Bartholomew, PL 144, 726)