Our Lady of Mantara / Our Lady of ‘Awaiting’, Maghdouché, Sidon, South Governorate, Lebano,, 1721 – 11 June, 8 September:
While Jesus preached in Sidon, Mary is said to have waited here in the cave of Mantara (“awaiting” in Arabic). Emperor Constantine’s wife Helena replaced a pagan shrine with one to the Holy Mother, donating to it an Icon and Altar furnishings. Three centuries later, after takeover by an intolerant Arab ruler, Christians sealed the cave and fled Maghdouché. In 1683, descendants of the exiles returned to their homeland under the inclusive Prince Fakhreddin II. On 8 September 1721, when a goat fell through a gap in the porous limestone, its young herder made a rope from vine twigs, tied it to a tree and followed the animal into the hole but the rope broke. The boy fell into the darkness, where eventually he made out the golden glimmer of an Icon of the Madonna and Child. On seeing the image, the Melkite Catholic clergy recognised it as St Helen’s Icon.
Christians now celebrate its rediscovery annually on 8 September, Feast of the Virgin’s Birth. A Cathedral was added to the site in 1860 and a modern tower topped with a bronze Statue in the 1960s.
On 11 June 1911, some 400 people saw a silent, luminous apparition of the Madonna and Child near the cave. Our Lady of Mantara is invoked for the healing of eye diseases and the protection of children, so the Shrine is a popular site for infant Baptisms.
Bl Kasper of Grimbergen St Maximus of Naples St Parisius St Paula Frasinetti St Riagail of Bangor St Tochumra of Kilmore St Tochumra of Tuam — Martyrs of Tavira – 7 beati: Members of the Knights of Santiago de Castilla. During the re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Muslims by Christian forces, in a period of truce between the armies, the group was allowed to leave the Portuguese camp to hunt. Near Tavira, Portugal, he and his companions were ambushed and killed by a Muslim force. Making a reprisal attack, the Portuguese army took the city of Tavira. The murdered knights were considered to be martyrs as they died in an action defending the faith. They were – • Blessed Alvarus Garcia • Blessed Beltrão de Caia • Blessed Damião Vaz • Blessed Estêvão Vasques • Blessed Garcia Roiz • Blessed Mendus Valle • Blessed Pedro Rodrigues They were martyred in 1242 outside Tavira, Faro, Portugal. Their relics are enshrined under the altar of Saint Barnabas in the Church of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels (modern Santa Maria do Castelo) in Tavria
Mercedarian Martyrs of Damietta: Three Mercedarian lay knights who worked to ransom Christians enslaved by Muslims. During the 7th Crusade, a plague swept through the Christian army and these knights volunteered to work with the sick. During this work they were captured by Muslims and ordered to convert to Islam; they refused. They were tortured, taken to Damietta, Egypt where they were murdered for their faith. They were thrown from a tower in the mid-13th century in Damietta, Egypt.
Thought for the Day – 1 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
“When we consider it under it’s fundamental aspect as the cult of the love of God, rather than of the Incarnate Word, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is as old as Christianity, even though it is only in recent centuries, that it has assumed it’s present symbolism. “He who does not love, does not know God,” says St John, “for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). “And we have come to know,” he continues “and have believed, the love that God has in our behalf. God is love and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). This cult of the love of God, particularly of the love of God made man, vibrates throughout the pages of the Gospel and of the writings of the Apostles, especially of St John and of St Paul.
In the works of the Fathers, there are references to the Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, from which flowed all the infinite graces of the Church for our redemption. We are reminded of this in the Encylical, Haurietis Aquas, published by Pope Pius XII in the year 1956. But the specific cult of the love of God, as symbolised by the Heart of Jesus, was explicitly approved by the Church after Jesus Himself appeared in the year 1674 to St Margaret Mary Alacoque and showed her His Heart on fire with love for men.”
Beata Vergine di San Luca, Bologna, Italy / The Blessed Virgin of Saint Luke, Bologna – 22 May, Saturday before the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord:. The Blessed Virgin of St Luke is the Patron Saint of Bologna.
A Greek holy man named Theocles Kmnia, praying before this icon in the Church of St Sophia in Constantinople, saw an inscription on it: “This work made by St Luke, Chancellor of Christ, must be taken to the Church of St Luke on Guardia Mountain and installed on its Altar.”
Without knowing the mountain’s location, he pleaded with the clergy of St Sophia until they agreed to let him take the image there. For some time he travelled without finding anyone who knew of such a place. Finally, in Rome, he met the Bolognese Ambassador, who knew that two sisters, Azzolina and Beatrice Guezi, had retired to a life of prayer on Lookout Mountain, Monte della Guardia, outside Bologna and, had built a Chapel on the hill dedicated to St Luke. Supplied by the Ambassador with a horse, a servant and letters of recommendation to the leaders of Bologna, Theocles carried the icon there. On 8 May 1160, the Bishop of Bologna led it in procession to the sisters’ hermitage on Monte della Guardia. At this point, the story moves from legend to documented history. In 1192, another holy woman, Angelica di Caicle, retired to the mountain with the intention of building a bigger Church there. On 15 May 1194, the Bishop of Bologna ,laid the first stone. In 1249, Dominican sisters settled there. The image was carried in procession to Bologna on 4 April, 1302, during Charles de Valois’ invasion and again on 5 July 1433, after months of damaging rain. The rain’s end is commemorated in an annual procession from the Sanctuary to Bologna, which since 1476 has taken place on the Saturday before the Feast of Christ’s Ascension (always a Thursday).
The holy icon remains in Bologna for a week, returning to the Basilica Sanctuary on Ascension Sunday. It was ceremonially Crowned 5 April 1653 by the Archbishop and in 1857 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. Today the procession continues when pilgrims remove their shoes and begin the 3,796 meter (about 2 1/2 miles) climb up the longest uninterrupted portico in the world. to reach the Sanctuary and beg of our Holy Mother, intercession to her Son, for all their needs. Today, the highly veerated image is protected by a glass cover, see below.
St Boethian of Pierrepont St Castus the Martyr St Conall of Inniscoel Bl Diego de Baja Bl Dionisio Senmartin St Emilius the Martyr St Faustinus the Martyr St Francisco Salinas Sánchez St Fulgencio of Otricoli Bl Fulk of Castrofurli Bl Giacomo Soler Bl Giusto Samper St Helen of Auxerre
St Humility of Faenza (c 1226–1310) Wife, Mother, Nun – a founder of Vallumbrosan convents, and is considered the Founder of the Vallumbrosan Nuns
St Lupo of Limoges St Marcian of Ravenna St Margaret of Hulme Bl Pedro of the Assumption St Quiteria St Romanus of Subiaco St Timothy the Martyr St Venustus the Martyr — Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed Francisco Salinas Sánchez • Blessed José Quintas Durán
Quote/s of the Day – 14 May – “Mary’s Month” – Feast of St Matthias Apostle, Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, Psalm 113:1-8, John 15:9-17
“The lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
“He needed to be a witness not of the times before or after that event and not of the signs and wonders but only of the Resurrection itself. For the rest happened by general admission, openly but the Resurrection took place secretly and was known to these men only.”
St John Chrysosthom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
“You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you.”
“I have chosen you and have appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit and your fruit should remain, says the Lord.”
One Minute Reflection – 14 May – “Mary’s Month” – Feast of St Matthias Apostle, Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, Psalm 113:1-8, John 15:9-17
“…All that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.” … John 15:15
REFLECTION – “Among His disciples Christ chose twelve chief ones whom He destined to be the teachers of the nations. Accordingly, after one of these had been struck off, He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to “go and teach all nations” who were to be “baptised into the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19).
So the Apostles – whom this designation indicates as ‘the sent’ – on the authority of a prophecy which occurs in a psalm of David, immediately chose Matthias by lot in place of Judas. They obtained the promised power of the Holy Spirit for the gift of miracles and tongues and, after first bearing witness to faith in Jesus Christ, throughout Judaea and founding Churches there, they next went out into the world and preached the same teaching of faith to the nations. …
Now what it was they preached – in other words, what it was that Christ revealed to them – can properly be proved, in no other way, than by those very Churches that the Apostles founded in person, by directly declaring the Gospel to them, first by word of mouth and subsequently by their epistles. If, then, these things are so, it is manifest, that all doctrine that agrees with the Apostolic Churches, which are the matrix and source of the faith, must be reckoned as true and as undoubtedly containing that, which those Churches received, from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ and Christ from God.” … Tertullian, full name Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (c 155- c 240) Father of the Church
PRAYER – Lord God, You chose St Matthias to complete the number of the twelve. By his prayer, include us among Your chosen ones, since we rejoice to see that the lot marked out for us, is in Your Love. May the Mother of Jesus, the Apostles and our Mother, ever intercede for us all. Through Jesus the Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Madonna di Pinè, Montagnaga, Trento, Italy / Our Lady of Pinè, Montagnaga (1729) – Commemorated 14 May:
Domenica Targa of Guardia, thirty years old, was busy supervising the cattle grazing,which suddenly, with no apparent visible reason, started running in all directions as if she were crazy. The shepherdess then began to cry out: “Mary, Jesus, help me.” As soon as she uttered these words, the Virgin Mary appeared before her with a white veil on her head and thus addressed her: “You called Jesus and Mary for help and they will help you … Do you promised once again to visit Our Lady of Caravaggio? But do not go to Caravaggio! Go rather to the Feast of the Ascension of Christ in the Chapel of St Anne in Montagnaga. There you will find a portrait of the Blessed Virgin by Caravaggio. Kneel down and address your prayers with a sincere heart to Jesus and Mary, then you will see miraculous things. “
On Sunday Domenica went to the Chapel of St Anne in Montagnaga, while praying fervently, she again had an apparition of Mary. The robe of the Blessed Virgin radiated a golden light. She was crowned with a diadem and rays of clear light shone all around her, as did the Child Jesus, who was in her arms. He was dressed all in gold. In the right hand of the Madonna held a crown. She said: “I am Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Please tell this apparition to the local priest. Do not be afraid! Nothing bad will happen to you. I will be with you. In my name you must announce, that every year on this day,a feast must be celebrated.“
Only a few believed the story and especially the Priest showed himself very skeptical.
The Virgin appeared again the next on Sunday and said: “I chose this place as the throne of my Mercy. Those who care to pray here with living faith will not return home empty-handed. Take care that a Church be built for large numbers of my devotees.”
In 1730, an ecclesiastical investigation was ordered which resulted in a positive outcome and approval was granted to the apparitions. A Sanctuary was built and Consecrated in 1750. to which large crowds have flocked on pilgrimage and continue to do so to this day. Today, 14 May, special Masses and processions are held.
Domenica Targa led a life of deep Christian devotion and died in 1764.
St Ampelio (Died c 428) St Boniface of Ferentino St Boniface of Tarsus St Corona the Martyr St Costanzo of Capri St Costanzo of Vercelli Bl Diego of Narbonne St Dyfan St Engelmer St Erembert of Toulouse St Felice of Aquileia St Fortunatus of Aquileia St Gal of Clermont-Ferrand
St Pons of Pradleves St Pontius of Cimiez St Tuto of Regensburg St Victor the Martyr — Martyrs of Seoul – 5 Beata: A group of lay people martyred together in the apostolic vicariate of Korea. • Petrus Choe Pil-je • Lucia Yun Un-hye • Candida Jeong Bok-hye • Thaddeus Jeong In-hyeok • Carolus Jeong Cheol-sang 14 May 1801 at the Small West Gate, Seoul, South Korea – Beatified: 15 August 2014 by Pope Francis
Saint of the Day – 6 May – St John the Evangelist before the Latin Gate. St John the Apostle and Evangelist – “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” – (died c 101).
The Roman Martyrology States of this feast today: “At Rome, the feast of St John before the Latin Gate. Being bound and brought to Rome fro Ephesus by the order of Domisian, he was condemned by the Senate to be cast, near the said gate, into a vessel of boiling oil, from which he came out more healthy nd vigorous than before.”
“The seething oil was changed for him into an invigorating bath and the Saint came out more refreshed than when he had entered the cauldron.”
Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger (1805-1875) relates the story for us.
“The Beloved Disciple John, whom we saw standing near the crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, comes before us again today and this time, he is paying his delighted homage to the glorious Conqueror of death and hell. Like Philip and James, he too is clad in the scarlet robe of martyrdom. The month of May, so rich in saints, was to be graced with the Palm of St John.
Salome one day presented her two sons to Jesus,and, with a mother’s ambition, had asked Him to grant them the highest places in His kingdom. The Saviour, in His reply, spoke of the Chalice which He Himself had to drink,and foretold ,that these two Disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Greater, was the first to give His Master this proof of his love; we shall celebrate his victory when the sun is in Leo; it was today that John, the younger Brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus’ Divinity.
But the Martyrdom of such an Apostle, called for a scene worthy of the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelised, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome, whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword, Rome alone deserved the honour of seeing the Beloved Disciple march onto Martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College.
Domitian was then Emperor, the tyrant over Rome and the world. Whether it were that John undertook this journey of his own free choice and from a wish to visit the Mother-Church, or .that he was led thither bound with chains, in obedience to an imperial edict, John, the august founder of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, appeared before the Tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew that had been Crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was a superstitious and rebellious man and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was, therefore, sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death. He had somehow escaped Nero’s power but he should not elude the vengeance of Caesar Domitian!
A huge cauldron of boiling oil was prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence ordered that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour was come for the second son of Salome ,to partake of his Master’s Chalice. John’s heart leaped with joy, at the thought that he, the most dear to Jesus and yet, the only Apostle that had not suffered death for Him, was, at last, permitted to give Him this earnest of his love.
After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seize dthe old man and threw him into the cauldron but, lo! the boiling liquid had lost all its heat, the Apostle felt no scalding, on the contrary,, when they took him out again, he felt all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him. The Praetor’s cruelty was foiled,and John, the Martyr in desire, was to be left to the Church for some few years longer.
An imperial decree banished him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God revealed to him, the future of the Church, even to the end of time.
The Church of Rome, which counts the abode and Martyrdom of St John as one of her most glorious memories, has marked, with a Basilica, the spot where the Apostle bore his noble testimony to the Christian Faith. This Basilica stands near the Latin Gate and gives a title to one of the Cardinals.”
O singular happiness of St John to have stood under the Cross of Christ, so near His divine person, when the other disciples had all forsaken Him! O extraordinary privilege, to have suffered Martyrdom in the person of Jesus and been eye-witness of all He did or endured and of all that happened to Him, in that great sacrifice and mystery. Here he drank of his cup; this was truly a Martyrdom and our Saviour exempted all those who had assisted at the Martyrdom of His Cross, from suffering death by the hands of persecutors. St John, nevertheless, received also the crown of this second Martyrdom, to which the sacrifice of his will, was not wanting but only the execution.
One Minute Reflection – 3 May – “Mary’s Month” – Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Readings: First: First Corinthians 15: 1-8; Psalm: Psalms 19: 2-3, 4-5; Gospel: John 14: 6-14 and the Feast of Sts Philip and James Apostles and Martyrs
“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? …” -John 14:9
REFLECTION – “In the Church, I know of only one image, that is, the image of the unseen God. God has said about this image, “Let us make man [humankind] in our image.” Of this image it is written that Christ is the “effulgence of the glory and impress of His hypostasis.” In that image, I perceive the Father, as the Lord Jesus Himself has said, “The one who has seen me has seen the Father.” For this image is not separated from the Father, which indeed, has taught me the unity of the Trinity, saying, “I and the Father are one” and again, “All things whatever the Father has are mine.” [In this image, also perceive] the Holy Spirit, seeing that the Spirit is Christ’s and has received of Christ, as it is written, “He shall receive of mine and shall announce it to you.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan, Father and one of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church( – Sermon Against Auxentius, 32)
PRAYER – Lord God, each year You grant us the blessing of celebrating with joy, the feast day of Your Apostles and Martyrs Saints Philip and James. Make us partners with them by their prayers, in the Passion and Resurrection of Your only-begotten Son, so that we may come, with them, to the eternal vision of Your glory. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever, amen.
Virgen de la Carrasca, Bordón, Teruel, Aragón, Spain (1212) – 3 May:
Commemorated on First Monday of May
In 1212, a herder found an image of the Virgin in a holm oak (carrasca) in the rocky countryside of Aragón in Spaon. There are several stories about what happened then, all of them ending with a Shrine in Bordón. Templars carried the Statue to Castellote, 12 miles north but the next day the image was back in the oak, the Virgin made those carrying her to Castellote keep turning toward Bordón and springs arose at each turn.
In the place where it was found, a hermitage was built to house it, which would later be replaced by the building that today is the Parish Church of Bordón, built in 1306 by the Templar Order (The Order was dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312 ).
Although its exterior hardly stands out, its interior is magical and fascinating, a place full of mystery. In one of the Chapels inside, the Templar novices who previously made a pilgrimage on foot from Castellote, capital of the Templar Commandery, performed initiation rites to become Knights of the Order.
In the 18th century, the interior of the Church was covered with marvellous frescoes, which have been recently restored. Unfortunately, the venerated carving of the Black Virgin of the Carrasca was lost during the Civil War, along with another very famous Romanesque carving with a reputation for miraculously calming storms, the Virgin of the Spider, only a series of photographs being preserved, which allowed the making a replica.
On the first Monday in May, the faithful from the three towns to the south—Tronchón, Olocau del Rey and Mirambel—conduct a processional pilgrimage to the Virgin de la Carrasca. They have done this “from time immemorial,” according to a document of 1390 in the Parish archives of Tronchón.
St Adalsindis of Bèze Bl Adam of Cantalupo in Sabina St Ahmed the Calligrapher St Aldwine of Peartney St Pope Alexander I St Alexander of Constantinople Bl Alexander of Foigny St Alexander of Rome Bl Alexander Vincioli St Ansfrid of Utrecht (c 940-1010) Bishop St Antonina of Constantinople St Diodorus the Deacon
St Ethelwin of Lindsey St Eventius of Rome St Fumac St Gabriel Gowdel St Juvenal of Narni Bl Maria Leonia Paradis St Maura of Antinoe St Peter of Argos St Philip of Zell Bl Ramon Oromí Sullà St Rhodopianus the Deacon St Scannal of Cell-Coleraine Bl Sostenaeus
Saint of the Day – 25 April – St Anianus of Alexandria (Died c 86) 2nd Bishop of Alexandria, Consecrated by St Mark the Evangelist and succeeding him, disciple of St Mark. He was Ordained by Saint Mark and was also the first convert Mark won for Christ in the region, in c 48. Also known as – Anian, Annianus. Patronage – cobblers.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Alexandria, the Bishop St Anianus, disciple of the blessed Mark and his successor in the episcopate. With a great renown for virtue, he rested in the Lord.”
As St Mark was entering Rakotis, a suburb of Alexandria, the strap of his sandal broke. He found a cobbler, St Anianus, to repair it. While he was working on the sandal, the awl slipped in Anianus’ hand, piercing it. Anianus cried ‘“Heis ho Theos” (“God is one”) in response to the pain. Mark took the opportunity to preach the Gospel of Christ to him, at the same time, miraculously healing Anianus of his wound.
St Mark was invited to Anianus’s house, where he taught Anianus’ family the Gospel and baptised them all. A large number of natives of the area were quickly converted by St Mark and his followers, causing those citizens, who did not convert, to feel obliged to defend their local gods against the new faith
St Mark, the outsider, decided it might be best if he were to leave the area for a while. He Ordained Anianus and Consecrated hm as Bishop in his absence. He also Ordained three Presbyters and seven Deacons at the same time, charging the group with zealously watching over the Church.
St Mark was gone for a period of two years, during which time, he is said to have gone to Rome, Aquileia and the Pentapolis, preaching, performing miracles,and winning converts to Christianity at each location.
On St Mark’s return, he found that the Church in Alexandria had grown significantly and, that they were able to build a Shurch for themselves at Bucolia, on the shore of the eastern harbour of Alexandria.
Following the Martyrdom of Mark, Anianus became the Bishop of the Church in Alexandria. He would remain in that capacity for over seventeen years. During that time, the number of Christians in the area grew immensely and Anianus Ordained new Priests and Deacons for the growing Church. The extent of the evangelisation they performed is unknown, although it has been thought by some, that it was done at least somewhat covertly, given the hostility the pagan population demonstrated to the new faith.
Anianus died in bed of natural causes and was buried next to St Mark at the Church in Baucalis.
St Agathopodes of Antioch Bl Andrés Solá Molist St Anianus of Alexandria (Died c 86) 2nd Bishop of Alexandria, after St Mark and succeeding him. Consecrated by St Mark and disciple of St Mark. Bl Antonio Pérez Lários St Callista of Syracuse St Clarentius of Vienne St Ermin of Lobbes St Evodius of Syracuse
St Phaebadius of Agen St Philo of Antioch St Robert of Syracuse Bl Robert Anderton Stefano of Antioch St Valenzio of Mesia Bl William Marsden — Martyrs of Yeoju – 3 saints: Three Christian laymen martyred together in the apostolic vicariate of Korea. 25 April 1801 in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea They were Beatified15 August 2014 by Pope Francis • Ioannes Won Gyeong-do • Marcellinus Choe Chang-ju • Martinus Yi Jung-bae
One Minute Reflection – 10 April – Easter Saturday, Readings: First: Acts 4: 13-21, Psalm: Psalms 118: 1 and 14-15ab, 16-18, 19-21, Gospel: Mark 16: 9-15 *First Reading and Gospel in full below
“Preach the gospel to every creature” – Mark 16:15
REFLECTION – “You have heard what the Lord said to His disciples after the Resurrection. He sent them out to preach the Gospel and they did so. Listen: “Through all the earth their voice resounds and to the ends of the world, their message” (Ps 18,5). Step by step, the Gospel has reached even to us and the ends of the earth. In a few words the Lord, addressing Himself to His disciples, set out what we are to do and what we have to hope for. Just as you have heard, He said: “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.” He asks for our faith and offers us salvation. What He offers us, is so precious, that what He asks of us, is as nothing.
“The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings, O my God… from your delightful stream You give them to drink, for with you is the fountain of life” (Ps 35,8f.). Jesus Christ is the Fountain of Life. Before the Gountain of Life came to us, we had only a human salvation, like that of the beasts of which the psalm speaks: “Man and beast you save, O Lord” (Ps 35,7). But now, the Fountain of Life has come even to us, the Fountain of Life died for our sakes. Will He refuse us His life Who, for our sakes, gave His death? He is salvation and this salvation is not worthless, like the other one. Why? Because it does not pass away. The Lord has come. He died, but He killed death. In Himself, He brought an end to death. He assumed it and He killed it. Where is death now, then? Look for it in Christ and it is no longer there. It used to be there but there it died. O life, death of death! Take heart, it will also die in us. What was fulfilled in the Head, will also be fulfilled in the members and death will die in us, too.” – St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church – Sermon 233
PRAYER – Lord our God, You increase and multiply Your faithful by Your abundant gift of grace. Look now on Your chosen people and clothe them forever in the garment of eternal life. May we, in confident love of You, go forth and live our lives in witness and speaking with joy of the ways of truth. Grant that the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the Saints and Angels, may accompany us on our journey. Through our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Acts 4: 13-21 13 Now seeing the constancy of Peter and of John, understanding that they were illiterate and ignorant men, they wondered and they knew them that they had been with Jesus. 14 Seeing the man also who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But they commanded them to go aside out of the council; and they conferred among themselves, 16 Saying: What shall we do to these men? for indeed a known miracle hath been done by them, to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: it is manifest and we cannot deny it. 17 But that it may be no farther spread among the people, let us threaten them that they speak no more in this name to any man. 18 And calling them, they charged them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answering, said to them: If it be just in the sight of God, to hear you rather than God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21 But they threatening, sent them away, not finding how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified what had been done, in that which had come to pass.
Gospel: Mark 16: 9-15 9 But he rising early the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 She went and told them that had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. 11 And they hearing that he was alive and had been seen by her, did not believe. 12 And after that he appeared in another shape to two of them walking, as they were going into the country. 13 And they going, told it to the rest: neither did they believe them. 14 At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart because they did not believe them, who had seen him after he was risen again. 15 And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Thought for the Day – 31 March– Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Mercy of God
“Remember, that if God’s mercy is infinite, so also is His justice.
When we realise that we have fallen into serious sin, we should not give way to despair as Judas did but, should turn to Jesus trustingly and contritely, saying with the Psalmist, “My refuge and my fortess, my stonghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I trust” (Ps 143:2). We shall certainly be forgiven.
It would be the highest form of ingratitude and even blasphemous, to abuse God;s goodness and mercy. Let our repentance be sincere and effective. In return for the infinite goodness of God, let us give Him our love, limited indeed but willing and constant.”
One Minute Reflection – 29 March – Monday of Holy Week, Readings: First: Isaiah 42: 1-7, Psalm: Psalms 27: 1, 2, 3, 13-14, Gospel: John 12: 1-11
“The house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” – John 12:3
REFLECTION – “When she had anointed the Lord’s feet this woman did not wipe them with a cloth but with her own hair, to show Him greater honour … Like a thirsty person drinking from a fresh waterfall, this holy woman drank in grace full of delights, from the Springs of Holiness, to quench the thirst of her faith.
However, in the allegorical or mystical sense, this woman prefigured the Church, which offered the full and entire devotion of it’s faith to Christ …There are twelve ounces to a pound and this is the amount of perfume the Church possesses, having received the teaching of the twelve Apostles, as if it were a precious perfume. Indeed, what more precious is there than the Apostles’ teaching, which contains both faith in Christ and the glory of the Kingdom of heaven? Furthermore, it is related that the whole house was filled with the scent of that perfume because, the whole world has been filled with the Apostles’ teaching. As it is written: “Through all the earth their voice resounds and to the ends of the world, their message”(Ps 19:5).
In the Song of Songs we read the following words addressed through Solomon, to the Church: “Your name spoken is a spreading perfume” (1,2). Not without cause, is the Lord’s name called a “spreading perfume.” As you know, so long as perfume is preserved inside it’s flask, it keeps it’s fragrance but, as soon as is poured out or emptied, it spreads out its fragrant scent. Even so, so long as our Lord and Saviour reigned with His Father in heaven, the world was unaware of Him, He was unknown here below. But when, for our salvation, He deigned to humble Himself, by descending from heaven, to take on a human body, then He spread abroad in the world, the sweetness and perfume of His Name.“ – St Chromatius of Aquilaea (c 407) – Bishop of Aquileia, Italy, Theologian, Exegete – Sermon 11
PRAYER – Lord our God, Your Son so loved the world that He gave Himself up to death for our sake. Strengthen us by Your grace and give us a heart willing to live by that same love. With Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus and our Mother, may we stand at His Cross. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 20 February – Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Readings Isaiah 58: 9-14, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, Luke 5:27-32 and the Memorial of St Elutherius of Tournai (c 456-532) Bishop and Martyr and Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta (1910-1920)
“Those who are well, have no need of a physician but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31-32
REFLECTION – “The Apostle Paul said: “Take off the old self with its practices and put on the new self” (Col 3,9-10)… This was the work Christ accomplished when He called Levi; He refashioned him into a new man. Similarly, it is as a new person, that the former publican prepares a banquet for Christ since Christ takes pleasure in him and he himself, merits to have a share in happiness with Christ… He followed him now, happy, light-hearted and overflowing with joy.
“I have the aspect of a publican no more,” he said, “I don’t carry around the old Levi any longer; I put off Levi when I put on Christ. I flee from my earlier life; my Lord Jesus, you alone, who heal my wounds, I desire to follow. Who shall separate me from the love of God … ? tribulation? anguish? hunger? (Cf Rom 8,35). I am bound to You by faith as by nails, I am held fast by the worthy bonds of love. All Your commandments will be like a cautery that I will apply firmly to my wound; the remedy stings but it takes away the ulcerous infection. Lord Jesus, with Your powerful sword, cut away the corruption of my sins: come quickly, lance my hidden and varied passions. Purge away all infection in the new bath.
“Listen to me, you people who are fixed to the earth, you whose thoughts are intoxicated by your sins. I, Levi, was also wounded by similar passions. But I found a doctor who dwells in heaven and pours out His remedies on earth. He alone can cure my wounds since He Himself has none. He alone can remove the heart’s pain and the soul’s lethargy, for He knows everything that lies hidden.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on Saint Luke’s Gospel, 5, 23.27
PRAYER – Come my all-powerful, ever-living God, look with compassion on our frailty and for our protection, stretch out to us Your strong right hand. Grant that by the prayers of Mary, our Mother and all your angels and saints we may change our ways, leave everything behind, proclaim the glory of Your kingdom and come safely home to You. St Eleutherius and Sts Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
The Translation of the Relics of Saint Mark, the Evangelist – 31 December
The story of how Saint Mark’s relics eventually came to Venice is a remarkable one and it has been the subject of various works of art throughout the centuries. Tintoretto’s Translation of the Body of Saint Mark, a stark, dramatic painting that has the eerie feel of a photo negative, may be one of the most recognisable. Painted between 1562 and 1566 for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, the work is part of the permanent collection of the Accademia Galleries in Venice. Tintoretto himself is portrayed within the work, as the bearded man beside the camel.
A companion painting, Discovery of the Body of Saint Mark, is located at the Brera Gallery in Milan.
The glittering mosaics that adorn the exterior of Saint Mark’s Basilica also tell the story, in tessellated form, of the translation of Saint Mark’s relics. For example, the mosaic located above the left doorway (the Door of Saint Alypius) of the west facade depicts Saint Mark’s body being carried into the basilica. The mosaic, known as the Deposition mosaic, is the oldest exterior mosaic on the Basilica and dates to 1260-1270.
According to legend, Saint Mark’s body was taken from Alexandria, Egypt, in 828. Two Venetian merchants travelling in Alexandria, obtained the relics of Saint Mark from Priests at the church of Saint Mark, where the saint’s body was interred. The Priests feared Saint Mark’s relics might be damaged or destroyed by the Saracens during the persecution of the Catholic community in Alexandria. Promising to safeguard the Saint’s relics, the merchants convinced the Priests to allow them to return to Venice with the body of Saint Mark. “The body of Saint Mark was taken out of the sarcophagus and unwrapped from its silk shroud, the relic being substituted by another and less eminent Saint. It was then placed in a chest and taken on board the Venetian ship, the merchants first ensuring, that the Saint’s remains were covered by a layer of pork and cabbage. When the Muslim officials asked to inspect the chest, they cried out ‘Kanzir, kanzir’ (Oh horror) at the sight and smell of the pork. . . . Thus the Evangelist was safely conveyed to Venice but not before a number of miracles eased his passage across the Mediterranean.”
Saint Mark’s body was initially kept in a Chapel at the Doge’s palace, a Chapel originally dedicated to Saint Theodore, until a more suitable Church could be built. Begun in 829, the year after the translation of Saint Mark’s relics, the first Church of Saint Mark was completed in 832. This Church was destroyed in 976 during a rebellion against Doge Pietro Candiano IV. And so St Mark’s Basilica was built to house the remains. Unfortunately, two hundred years later, the unthinkable happened, the authorities forgot where they had put them. Various excuses have emerged, all rather contradictory; there had been a fire, there was building work at the Basilica, the people who knew the location died suddenly without passing on the secret. All of Venice despaired but St Mark himself came to the rescue – his arm suddenly appeared from a pillar, no doubt accompanied by a shout of ‘I’m over here!’ The Basilica was completed in 1063 but was only Consecrated in 1094 now that St Mark was found.
In 1835, Giacomo Monico, Patriarch of Venice, exhumed the body of Saint Mark from the Crypt beneath the Basilica and placed it in the high Altar. Before then, the Saint’s body had apparently last been seen in the 12th century, dressed in ecclesiastical robes, when it was placed on display for five months for public veneration.
In 1075, the Doge passed a law requiring all returning ships to bring back something precious to decorate the Basilica, accounting for the more than 500 columns of rare marble, porphyry, alabaster and jasper brought back from the East. The interior is clad with 4,240 square meters of gold mosaics, mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries.
Between 1500 and 1750, some of the old sections were replaced by “modern” mosaics designed by artists including Titian and Tintoretto. The presence of St Mark, the mosaics, golden altar, beautiful chapels and treasury make St Mark’s one of Italy’s best-loved Churches.
Saint Mark’s simple, marble Sarcophagus can only be viewed from behind the high Altar. The exterior of the Sarcophagus is well lit and a short inscription applied to the stone in metallic letters read: “SALUTAT VOS . . . MARCUS FILIUS MEUS.” This inscription was followed by a citation in much smaller letters below the word “MEUS.” The citation read “1 Petri 5.13,” the source of the abbreviated quote on the tomb. The front of the Sarcophagus proclaims “CORPUS DIVI MARCI EVANGELISTAE” (Body of the Divine Mark, Evangelist). Red roses are often placed on top of the Sarcophagus.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time +2020 Septuagesima Sunday (Traditional Calendar): The word Septuagesima is Latin for “seventieth.” It is both the name of the liturgical season and the name of the Sunday. Septuagesima Sunday marks the beginning of the shortest liturgical season. This season is seventeen (17) days long and includes the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season never changes but the start date is dependent on the movable date of Easter, which can fall between 22 March-25 April. Septuagesima Sunday can be as early as 18 January. The Septuagesima season helps the faithful ease into Lent. It is a gradual preparation for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors and to exhort him to penance. Liturgically it looks very much like Lent. The Gloria and Alleluia are omitted, the tone becomes penitential with the Priest wearing purple vestments. The main difference is that there are no fasting requirements.
Apparition of Our Lady to Saint Angela de Foligno (1285) – 31 January: Angela of Foligno was born in 1248 of a prominent family in Foligno, three leagues from Assisi. As a young woman and also as a wife and mother, she lived only for the world and its vain pleasures. But the grace of God intended to make of her, a vessel of election, for the comfort and salvation of many. A ray of the divine mercy touched her soul and so strongly affected her, as to bring about a conversion. At the command of her confessor, Angela of Foligno committed to writing the manner of her conversion in eighteen spiritual steps. “Enlightened by grace,” Blessed Angela of Foligno wrote in this account. “I realised my sinfulness; I was seized with a great fear of being damned and I shed a flood of tears. I went to confession to be relieved of my sins but through shame I concealed the most grievous ones but still I went to Communion. Now my conscience tortured me day and night. I called upon St Francis for help and, moved by an inner impulse, I went into a church where a Franciscan Father was then preaching.” (It is reported that in the year 1285 she had a vision of both the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Francis of Assisi, who called her to penance.) “I gathered courage to confess all my sins to him and I did this immediately after the sermon. With zeal and perseverance, I performed the penance he imposed but my heart continued to be full of bitterness and shame. I recognised that the divine mercy has saved me from hell, hence I resolved to do rigorous penance; nothing seemed too difficult for me because I felt I belonged in hell. I called upon the saints and especially upon the Blessed Virgin, to intercede with God for me.
It appeared to me now as if they had compassion on me and I felt the fire of divine love enkindled within me, so that I could pray as I never prayed before. I had also received a special grace to contemplate the Cross in which Christ had suffered so much for my sins. Sorrow, love and the desire to sacrifice everything for Him filled my soul.”
About this time God harkened to the earnest desire of the penitent – her mother died, then her husband and soon afterwards, all her children. These tragic events were very painful to her but she made the sacrifice with resignation to the will of God. Being freed from these ties, she dispossessed herself of all her temporal goods with the consent of her confessor, a Franciscan friar named Arnoldo, so that being poor herself, she might walk in the footsteps of her poor Saviour. It was to Arnoldo that she dictated her account of her conversion, now known as the ‘Memoriale,’ or the ‘Book of Visions and Instructions.’ She also entered the Third Order of St Francis and presently found herself the superior and guide of other,s who followed in her path. Many women joined her, even to the point of taking the three vows. She encouraged them in works of charity, in nursing the sick and in going personally from door to door to beg for the needs of the poor. Meanwhile, Angela became still more immersed in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ and she chose the Sorrowful Mother and the faithful disciple John as her patrons. The sight of the wounds which her Lord suffered for her sins, urged her to the practice of still greater austerities. Once Our Lord showed her that His Heart is a safe refuge in all the storms of life. She was soon to be in need of such a refuge. God permitted her to be afflicted with severe temptations. The most horrible and loathsome representations distressed her soul. The fire of concupiscence raged so furiously that she said: “I would rather have beheld myself surrounded with flames and permitted myself to be continually roasted, than to endure such things.” Still, she called out to God, “Glory be to Thee, O Lord! Thy cross is my resting place.” These painful trials lasted over two years but then, the purified and tried servant of the Lord, was filled with great consolation. She obtained a marvellous insight into divine things and was very frequently found in ecstasy. For a time she had the stigmata and for many years Holy Communion was her only food, until at last, completely purified, she entered into the eternal joy of the Supreme Good on 4 January 1310. Pope Innocent XII approved the continual devotion paid to her at her tomb in Foligno, where many miracles were attributed to her. He Beatified her in 1693. Her Canonisation was an equipollent Canonisation in 2013. Blessed Angela of Foligno said, “To know oneself and to know God, that is the perfection of man; without this knowledge, visions and the greatest gifts are of no account.” St Angela’s Biography here: https://anastpaul.com/2020/01/04/saint-of-the-day-4-january-saint-angela-of-foligno-tosf-1248-1309/
The Translation of the Relics of Saint Mark, the Evangelist
St Abraham of Abela Bl Adamnan of Coldingham St Aedan of Ferns St Aiden St Athanasius of Modon St Bobinus of Troyes St Eusebius of Saint Gall St Francesco Saverio Maria Bianchi/Francis Xavier Bianchi CRSP (1743-1815) “Apostle of Naples” About St Francesco: https://anastpaul.com/2020/01/31/saint-of-the-day-31-january-saint-francis-xavier-bianchi-crsp-1743-1815-apostle-of-naples/ St Geminian of Modena Bl John Angelus St Julius of Novara Bl Louise degli Albertoni Bl Luigi Talamoni St Madoes St Marcella Bl Maria Cristina di Savoia St Martin Manuel St Nicetas of Novgorod St Tryphaena of Cyzicus St Tysul St Ulphia of Amiens St Waldo of Evreux St Wilgils —
Martyrs of Corinth – 14 saints: A group of Christians tortured and martyred together in Corinth, Greece in the persecutions of Decius. We know nothing about them except some names – Anectus, Claudius, Codratus, Crescens, Cyprian, Diodorus, Dionysius, Nicephorus, Papias, Paul, Serapion, Theodora, Victor and Victorinus.
Martyrs of Canope: Athanasia Cyrus the Physician Eudoxia John the Physician Theoctista Theodotia Martyred in Alexandria, Egypt Cyriacus Metranus Saturninus Tarskius Thyrsus Victor Zoticus
Martyred in Alexandria, Egypt: Cyriacus Metranus Saturninus Tarskius Thyrsus Victor Zoticus
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: José Acosta Alemán Juan José Martínez Romero Pedro José Rodríguez Cabrera
Martyrs of Korea: Thousands of people were murdered in the anti-Catholic persecutions in Korea. • Saint Agatha Kwon Chin-i • Saint Agatha Yi Kyong-I • Saint Augustinus Park Chong-Won • Saint Magdalena Son So-Byok • Saint Maria Yi In-Dok • Saint Petrus Hong Pyong-Ju
“Here are my mother and my brethren! Whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother.”…Mark 3:34-35
REFLECTION – “He did not treat us as our sins deserved. For we are now sons of God. How do we show this? The only Son of God died for us, so that He might not remain alone. He who died as the only Son, did not want to remain as the only Son. For the only Son of God made many sons of God. He bought brothers for Himself by His blood, He made them welcome by being rejected, He ransomed them by being sold, He honoured them by being dishonoured, He gave them life by being put to death.” – St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace – An excerpt from his Sermon 171
PRAYER – Almighty God, You endowed Saints Timothy and Titus with power to preach Your Word. Grant that, living a life of integrity and holiness in this world, reaching out to teach the Gospel both by our lives and our words, we may, through their prayers, come to our true home in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Lady of Atocha/Our Lady of Long Fields, Madrid, Spain (1261) – 26 January:
For a long time part of Madrid was nothing but a field of matreeds (tules) particularly in the district of Atocha. Here is a shrine to Our Lady of Atocha, a Spanish contraction for “Theotokos”, meaning “Mother of God,” or a simplification of “Antiocha” which, in the 12th Century under this title, was already ancient and beloved. Today the statue stands in a business centre, a dark little Madonna with an enigmatic smile on her face. Nobody knows where she came from but everyone, from gold-braided officer, to the ragged street urchins, pay her the most polite respect and give her most unqualified love. Our Lady of Atocha was in Madrid when there was only a field of reeds and a hermitage. The Moor and the Moslem came – they respected her and left her alone. When Toledo was sacked in 1170, she remained there calm and accessible, watching over her children. In 1525 Charles V brought her his bride and asked her blessing upon their marriage; Don Juan of Austria, departing for the Battle of Lepanto, knelt at her feet and pledged his sword to her; after his victory, he sent in thanksgiving, his sword to her along with the captured Moorish banners. Despite all these trappings of the high and wealthy, she still remains Our Lady of all the people, beloved of kings and farmers, such as St Isidore. Our Lady of Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine: there is not a Spaniard of public importance for a thousand years who would not kneel to ask her help. Her gowns are made from the bridal gowns of queens; yet no shrine better demonstrates how little it matters where we rank in the world, or what we do for a living. One of her supplicants asks her for victory for his armies, one for rain for his thirsty fields; Our Lady of Atocha answers all, impartially and lovingly.
In the year 1554 the Spanish Missionaries brought Our Lady of Atocha to Mexico with them. She was brought to a sanctuary called The Santuario De Plateros, which is a church about 30 minutes from the small town of Fresnillo. There were many miracles that occurred after the arrival of the famous statue. After the first miracle was reported, the Infant of Atocha was separated from the rest of the statue. He was seated instead by Himself in a splendid crystal niche on the main altar, and He can still be seen there today. In His left hand He holds a jug, which for centuries was used by pilgrims to carry their liquids for drinking. In His right hand is a small basket of food. The face of the Infant is dark and bright. He has long curls and wears a small hat trimmed with gold and feathers on the side. His clothing is velvet, with exquisite embroidering and has the initials JHS. Finally, on his feet he wears solid gold sandals. The Holy Infant is so small and attractive He is like a magnet to everyone. He is actually a figure of admiration to the faithful. He grants them the favours they ask for and gives grace instantly. He usually works during the night visiting the sick and the poor, therefore, He is also known as The Night Walking Infant of Atocha. It is not unusual to see HIs little chair empty while He is out on a mission. In the morning when He returns the sisters dust off His sandals after His all night journeys. Pilgrimages are daily occurrences at the Santuario De Plateros. Thousands of pilgrims go to the Santuario on their knees, singing and praying. The pilgrims come for miles away on foot carrying flowers. The children come also and the little infants are carried in the mother’s shawl. It is impossible to count the testimonials that cover the walls. Pictures, wheel chairs, crutches, braids of hair, have been brought in by those who received miraculous cures. All testimonials are framed with a picture of The Little Infant of Atocha, a picture of the moment of the miracle and they also indicate time, date and place.
St Alphonsus of Astorga St Ansurius of Orense St Athanasius of Sorrento St Conan of Iona Bl Eystein Erlandsön Bl José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero Bl Marie de la Dive veuve du Verdier de la Sorinière Bl Michaël Kozal St Paula of Rome (347-404) Widow, Foundress St Theofrid of Corbie St Theogenes of Hippo St Tortgith of Barking — Martyred Family of Constantinople: Saint Mary and Saint Xenophon were married and the parents of Saint John and Saint Arcadius. Theirs was a wealthy family of Senatorial rank in 5th century imperial Constantinople, but were known as a Christians who lived simple lives. To give their sons a good education, Xenophon and Mary sent them to university in Beirut, Phoenicia. However, their ship wrecked, there was no communication from them, and the couple assumed, naturally, that the young men had died at sea. In reality, John and Arcadius had survived and decided that instead of continuing to Beirut, they were going to follow a calling to religious life and became monks, eventually living in a monastery in Jerusalem. Years later, Mary and Xenophon made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem – where they encountered their sons. Grateful to have their family re-united and taking it as a sign, Xenophon and Mary gave up their positions in society in Constantinople, and lived the rest of their lives as a monk and anchoress in Jerusalem. A few years later, the entire family was martyred together. They were martyred in 5th century Jerusalem. St Xenophon St Mary St John St Arcadius
One Minute Reflection – 24 January – Friday of the Second week in Ordinary Time, Readings: Hebrews 8: 6-13, Psalms 85:8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14, Mark 3:13-19 and the Memorial of St Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850)
He appointed the twelve – Simon (to whom the gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew and Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew and Thomas and James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. – Mark 3:16-18
REFLECTION – “Accordingly, in affirming that they are sent by Him, just as He was sent by the Father, Christ sums up in a few words the approach, they themselves should take to their apostolate. From what He said, they would gather, that it was their vocation to call sinners to repentance, to heal those who were sick, whether in body or spirit, to seek in all their dealing, never to do their own will but the will of Him who sent them and, as far as possible, to save the world by their teaching.” – St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Bishop, Father & Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Human weakness finds its anchor in You, Lord and our faith is build on You as on a rock. Supported by the teachings, lives and prayers of our fathers, Your Apostles, may we always answer Your call and live in ever-closer union with You. And may all your Angels, Martyrs and Saints, pray for Holy Mother Church and for us all. Through Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spiirt, God forever and ever, amen.
Thought for the Day – 13 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Grace of God
“It is astonishing to consider how much St Paul accomplished when he had been transformed by the grace of God. Formerly, a persecutor of Christians, he became the Apostle of the Gentiles. Enlightened by faith and inspired by charity, he travelled the globe, spreading everywhere, the religion of Jesus Christ.
He feared neither the anger of the hostile Jews, nor the tribunals of the Roman judges, neither long and difficult journeys, nor scourging, shipwreck and imprisonment. “The love of Christ impels us,” (2 Cor 5:14) he said. It was the love of God which drove him on and on, until he met his martyrdom. But what about ourselves? We also have received grace from God. Often we hear His voice appealing to us to abandon our sinful ways, to practise virtue, to love Him more ardently and to prove our love, by deeds. If we co-operate, we shall be able to say with St Paul: “by the grace of God, I am what I am and his grace in me has not been fruitless,” (1 Cor 15:10) and “I have laboured … yet, not I but the grace of God with me” (ibid).
It is wise to recall, however, that Judas also received special graces from God. He did not correspond with them and was probably damned for eternity. If we fail to correspond with God’s graces, the result will be tragic for ourselves.”
Thought for the Day – 26 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) – Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, the Beloved
St John the Apostle and Evangelist
“St John was the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ. He was allowed, along with St Peter and St James, to enjoy the glory of the Transfiguration and, he was invited with them into the Garden of Gethsemane to witness the agonu ofour divine Redeemer. In the Cenacle, moreover, after he had received the Blessed Eucharist, he was the only one of the Apostles privileged to rest his head on the breast of Jesus. He stood at the foot of the Cross on Mount Calvary and heard his Master entrust to him, with His dying breath, the most precious treasure which still remained to Him on earth, the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Son, behold thy Mother.”
It is true, that Jesus loved all His Apostles, to all of whom He granted the happiness of enjoying His company, listening to His teaching and witnessing, His miracles. Even so, He had a special affection for St John. This was because John was a virgin when Jesus called him and remained so, all his life. The state of virginity is especially pleasing to God. It makes us like the Angels and, in a sense, superior to them, since these pure spirits are naturally chaste and, we can only succeed in being so, by means of great self-control. “Blessed are the pure of heart,” says Jesaus in the Gospel, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
The privilege of the vision of God is attributed, in a special way, to the pure of heart. Therefore, St John, the virgin Apostle, begins his Gospel with a descriptio of the intimate life of the eternal God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word, was God” (Jn 1:1). He soars above the earth like an eagle, as St Jerome observes and penetrates into the presence of God Himself.
We know that we shall never be called to scale such heights. We may not even have a vocation to live as virgins. But, we are all required to be clean of heart. Purity is a virtue which all Christians should possess in whatever manner is appropriate to their position in life. Let us examine ourselves strictly on this matter and make suitable resolutions for the future.”
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest and, which most wins the heart of Him, who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God, is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.
St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee but, even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord’s partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.
This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times — The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — says more than any commentary could do. St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built – he, then, was honoured most but St John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.
Chastity of soul and body brings him, who possesses i,t into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper – that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls – John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love, it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.
Divine wisdom, wishing to make known to the world, the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture, those profound secrets, which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write — the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this, his Virgin-Disciple, the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach — THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.
Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and, therefore, fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. 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. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church and, to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian. This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John, a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master, he made them known to the Church and, especially, that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His own, whom he had always tenderly loved but most so, at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth out fear — and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was forever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence, the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on His cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over His Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her? — for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross – we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son — Mary is to be John’s Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, — miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.
Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood — is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses — what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there — they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity — an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution and our tribute to the Lamb.
Today is the Feast day of the Holy Family but also every family’s feast day, since the Holy Family is the Patron and model of all Christian families. Today should be a huge family feast, since it is devoted entirely to the Holy Family as a model for the Christian family life. As Rev. Edward Sutfin states:
Finally, having traversed the long roads and trials of the desert we have arrived in our new coastal home and after much ado, we are back online at last and I am so happy to be with you. Blessed be God as His many Graces have been poured down upon us and may He bless you all for your many prayers which so kindly accompanied us during this time.
From tomorrow, I will be back in the usual way. May we share this beautiful season of anticipation together.
In the meantime, herewith, a little reminder of the beautiful Catholic tradition of the St Andrew Novena, the Christmas Anticipation Prayer which we began yesterday and pray 15 times everyday until Christmas.
While a Novena is normally a nine-day prayer, the term is sometimes used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. It is an ideal Advent devotion; the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.
The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honour of the birth of His Son at Christmas. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).
Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your family and children on the Advent season.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment, in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, ………………… [here mention your request] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ and of His blessed Mother. Amen
“In those days he departed to the mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer to God.” – Luke 6:12
REFLECTION – “So the Lord prays, not to entreat for Himself but to intercede for me. Although the Father placed all things in the power of His Son, yet the Son, in order to fulfil the form of a man, thinks that the Father must be entreated for us because He is our Advocate. If He is an Advocate, He must intercede on account of my sins.
It says, “He passed the whole night in prayer.” A model is given to you. A form is prescribed which you must imitate. Unless I am mistaken, it is nowhere found that He prayed with the apostles. Everywhere He entreats alone, for human prayers do not grasp the counsels of God, nor can anyone share with Christ, in the inward mysteries.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor (Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 5.)
PRAYER – Lord God, You taught us to call upon Your name, through the preaching of the Apostles. Open our eyes each day, grant that we may see Jesus Your Son at our side, open our ears that we may hear His voice, open our mouths, that we may beg forgiveness and proclaim the good news, as we follow the way Your Son carved out for us. At the intercession of Sts Simon and Jude, may Your Church continue to grow and to hope in Your love. We make our prayer through Jesus our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Lord of Miracles/Señor de los Milagros de Nazarenas: A mid-17th-century painting of the Crucifixion that is venerated in Lima, Peru and its celebration involves one of the largest processions in the world.
It was painted by an unnamed African taken to Peru as a slave from what is now Angola. Above the Cross is the Holy Spirit and God the Father. Below and to the right of Jesus, is His mother, the Virgin Mary with her heart pierced by a sword of sorrow. Kneeling and weeping at the foot of the cross is St Mary Magdalene.
The name originated on 13 November 1655 when everything around it was destroyed in an earthquake that left the painting standing and undamaged. Christ is shown enduring the pain of crucifixion. Every year in October, hundreds of thousands of devotees from all races and economic backgrounds participate in a procession honouring the image through the streets of Lima. Boulevards are decorated in purple on 18,19 and the final Feast 28 October to celebrate the Lord of Miracles.
St Abdias of Babylon St Abraham of Ephesus St Alberic of Stavelot St Anastasia the Elder St Anglinus of Stavelot St Cyril of Rome St Cyrilla of Rome St Diomedes the Younger St Dorbhene of Iona St Eadsin of Canterbury St Elius of Lyon St Faro of Meaux St Fidelis of Como (Died c 304) Soldier-Saint Martyr St Genesius of Thiers St Gioan Dat St Godwin of Stavelot St Maria Ascuncion St Remigius of Lyons St Rodrigo Aguilar Aleman St Salvius of Amiens — Martyrs of Avila – 3 saints: Two sisters and a brother who, during a period of persecution, fled Talavera de la Reina, Spain, were caught and executed. Martyrs: Christeta, Sabina and Vincent. 303 in Avila, Spain.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed Claudio Julían García San Román • Blessed Maria Asuncion
Quotes of the Day – 18 October – Feast of St Luke the Evangelist
“Most Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
“And I say to you: Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asks receives and he that seeks finds and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.”
“Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span?”
“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God, the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:20-21
REFLECTION – In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel: “The image of God is not depicted on gold but is imaged in humanity. The coin of Caesar is gold; that of God, humanity. Caesar is seen in his currency; God, however, is known through human beings. And so give your wealth to Caesar but reserve for God the sole innocence of your conscience, where God is beheld. For the hand of Caesar has crafted an image by likenesses and lives each year by renewable decree. However, the divine hand of God has shown His image in ten points.
What ten points? From five carnal ones and five spiritual ones through which we see and understand what things are useful under God’s image. So let us always reflect the image of God in these ways:
I do not swell up with the arrogance of pride; nor do I droop with the blush of anger; nor do I succumb to the passion of avarice; nor do I surrender myself to the ravishes of gluttony; nor do I infect myself with the duplicity of hypocrisy; nor do I contaminate myself with the filth of rioting; nor do I grow flippant with the pretension of conceit; nor do I grow enamoured of the burden of heavy drinking; nor do I alienate by the dissension of mutual admiration; nor do I infect others with the biting of detraction; nor do I grow conceited with the vanity of gossip.
I will reflect the image of God in that I feed on love; grow certain on faith and hope; strengthen myself on the virtue of patience; grow tranquil by humility; grow beautiful by chastity; am sober by abstention; am made happy by tranquillity and am ready for death, by practicing hospitality.
It is with such inscriptions that God imprints His coins with an impression made neither by hammer nor by chisel but has formed them, with His primary divine intention. For Caesar required his image on every coin but God has chosen man, whom He has created, to reflect His glory.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 40»)
PRAYER – Lord God, You chose St Luke to reveal the mystery of Your love in his preaching and his writings. Grant, we pray, that we may grow in love for the Holy Face of Christ, His words and His directions, revealed to us in the Gospels, in the example of your saints. Today, on his feast, we especially look to St Luke, to guide, teach and pray for us. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You, forever and ever, amen.