August – The Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Physical Heart, Symbol of the Spiritual Heart
The Fathers of the Church consider that when, from the Cross, Our Lord Jesus made the Blessed Lady, the mother of St John and thus He appointed her the mother of all men.
Thus, Mary’s heart is the physical symbol of her boundless love for God and humankind. But Our Lady’s physical heart is also the symbol of her spiritual heart. Thus, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary we also honour her inner life, her virtues, her perfect purity, her boundless humility, her affections and her sorrow.
Poignant in Catholic tradition is the representation of Mary’s heart pierced by a sword, symbol of her immense sorrow at witnessing and willing her Son’s passion and death for the salvation of our souls.
“…Let us continue Immaculate Mary’s mission. All is included in it. May [we].. follow her example and be the handmaid of the Lord in everything, everywhere and always.”
Our Morning Offering – 15 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” and the Memorial of St Bonaventure (1221-1274) Seraphic Doctor of the Church
To our Lady of Sorrows By St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Seraphic Doctor of the Church
O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the Martyrdom, the Crucifixion and the Death, of your Divine Son, look upon me, with eyes of compassion and awaken in my heart, a tender commiseration for those sufferings and a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem and that, henceforward, all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object, the honour, glory and love of our divine Lord Jesus, and to you, the Holy and Immaculate Mother of God. Amen.
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ / Institution of the Angelus of Our Lady, Europe, (1456) – 28 June:
The institution of the Angelus occurred on 28-29 June about 1456 by Pope Callistus. The Turks had been threatening Europe and it was the Pope’s request that the Faithful recite the Angelus for the safety of Christendom against the Turks and for peace. The Angelus was first recited about sunset, a general practice throughout Europe in the first half of the 14th century, recommended by Pope John XXI. The morning Angelus seems to have started somewhat later, again, for peace. The recitation of the midday Angelus began sometime in the 14th or 15th century; it was called the “Peace Bell.” This present-day custom of reciting the Angelus is a short practice of devotion in honour of the Incarnation, repeated three times each day, morning, noon, and evening, at the sound of the Church bell.
It is curious how the Angelus is associated historically with the invasion of the Turks, again, in 1683, when they laid siege to Vienna. Emperor Leopold of Austria fled and begged for assistance and help from John Sobieski, a great Polish general, who gathered his army and hastened to the rescue, stopping at one of Our Lady’s Shrines in Poland, for blessing. On 11 September Sobieski was on the heights of Kahlenberg, near Vienna and the next day engaged in battle with the Turks. Brilliantly leading his troops, he forced the Turks into a trap but the number of the foe was so great, that he could not penetrate their ranks; then Sobieski’s cavalry turned in retreat, interpreted by the Turks as flight. The Turks rushed forward but were re-attacked. The shouts and cries of Sobieski’s men threw terror into the Turks, when they learned that Sobieski himself, “The Northern Lion,” was on the battlefield, for he had defeated the Turks in Poland on previous occasions and they feared him, therefore, the Turks fled panic-stricken. The battle raged for a time; all along the front was Sobieski commanding, fighting, encouraging his men and urging them forward. The Turks were finally defeated, Vienna and Christendom saved and the news was sent to Pope Innocent XI at Rome. Sobieski was a humble man, for in the height of his greatest victory, in a letter to Pope Innocent XI, he said it was God’s cause he was fighting for and Mary’s honour. His message to the Pope on the victory read: “I came, I saw but God and Mary conquered.” The day after the Battle, Sobieski entered Vienna victoriously. Later, he pursued the Turks into Hungary, again attacking and defeating them. The Turkish threat to Europe had been vanished forever, or at least until the 21st century.
Pope Innocent XI, after the battle of Vienna, requested the whole Christian world to recite the Angelus for peace. In our own time, we see the peaceful Moslem invasion of Europe, which once again, Poland is resisting.
The 500th anniversary of the Institution of the Angelus by Pope Callistus III, was a reminder to recite the centuries old prayer for peace and for the protection of the Christian world. Let us renew this pious practice if we have become lax in our devotion and let us pray the Angelus, for the protection of the Church in our own times, from the many menaces, on all fronts, internally and exteriorly facing the Faith and the world and the whole existence of the Catholic Church.
Martyrs of Africa – 27 saints: 27 Christians martyred together. The only details about them to survive are the names – Afesius, Alexander, Amfamon, Apollonius, Arion, Capitolinus, Capitulinus, Crescens, Dionusius, Dioscorus, Elafa, Eunuchus, Fabian, Felix, Fisocius, Gurdinus, Hinus, Meleus, Nica, Nisia, Pannus, Panubrius, Plebrius, Pleosus, Theoma, Tubonus and Venustus. Unknown location in Africa, date unknown.
Martyrs of Alexandria – 8 saints: A group of spiritual students of Origen who were martyred together in the persecutions of emperor Septimius Severus – Heraclides, Heron, Marcella, Plutarch, Potamiaena the Elder, Rhais, Serenus and Serenus. They were burned to death c.206 in Alexandria, Egypt.
Quote/s of the Day – 27 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – The Memorial of St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father and Doctor of the Church ) – “The Pillar of Faith” & “Seal of all the Fathers” – Doctor Incarnationis (Doctor of the Incarnation)
“Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped but His, by essence and by nature.”
“Our lives are all controlled by the Spirit now and are not confined to this physical world that is subject to corruption. The light of the Only-begotten has shone on us and we have been transformed into the Word, the source of all life.”
“We must note, therefore, that he that does things pleasing to God, serves Christ but he that follows his own wishes, is a follower, rather of himself and not of God.”
“My sheep follow me,” says Christ. By a certain God-given grace, believers follow in the footsteps of Christ. No longer subject to the shadows of the Law , they obey the commands of Christ, and guided by His words, rise through grace, to His own dignity, for they are called children of God. When Christ ascends into heaven, they also follow Him.”
“The mark of Christ’s sheep is their willingness to hear and obey, just as disobedience is the mark of those who are not His. We take the word ‘hear’ to imply obedience to what has been said.”
“…[The Kingdom of God] … is within you. That is, it depends on your own wills and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it. Everyone, that has attained to justification, by means of faith in Christ and decorated by every virtue, is counted worthy, of the kingdom of heaven.”
Hail, O Mary, Mother of God By St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)
Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Virgin and Mother! Morning Star, perfect vessel. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Holy Temple in which God Himself was conceived. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Chaste and pure dove. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, who enclosed the One Who cannot be encompassed in your sacred womb. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, From you flowed the true light, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Through you the Conqueror and triumphant Vanquisher of hell, came to us. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Through you, the glory of the Resurrection blossoms. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, You have saved every faithful Christian. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father and Doctor of the Church
Nostra Signora d Montesenario / Our Lady of Monte Senario, Florence, Italy – Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis (OSM) (1240) – 19 June:
The cradle of the Order of the Servants of Mary began at Monte Senario in the year 1233 in the City of Florence, Italy, by a group of Hermits now known as the Seven Holy Founders Saints of the Servite Order – Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis (OSM). They were sons of wealthy families and they retired from the world for a life of prayer and devotion to the praises of Mary. Leaving La Camarzia, a Suburb of Florence, the seven went to Monte Senario in the region of Tuscany. Uncertain of what way of life to follow, they turned to Our Lady in prayer and supplication and she appeared to them on the Feast of the Assumption in the year 1240.
The Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Monte Senario, presented the Seven Holy Founders with the Habit of their new Order and an Angel stood nearby bearing a scroll that was marked, “Servants of Mary.” He read to the Seven Holy Founders the following words: “You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.”
From that day in 1240, the seven were known as the Servants of Mary, the Order of Servants of Mary, or the Servites. under her title of Mother of Sorrows (Italian: Madonna Addolorata) Members of the Order take solemn vows to especially honour the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The sorrows are, in order, the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Holy Child at Jerusalem, meeting Jesus on His Way to Calvary, standing at te foot of the Cross, Jesus taken down from the Cross, and the burial of Christ. According to an ancient document called the “Legenda de Origin ordini,” “Our Lady wanted to begin her Order with seven men to show everyone, with absolute clarity, that she wanted to adorn her Order, endowing it with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
The Order gained official recognition in 1249 but was not officially approved until Pope Benedict IX issued a Bull in 1304. Their Church on Monte Senario, rebuilt in 1700, is a favourite resort of pilgrims from Florence especially. Mary here, as Our Lady of Monte Senario, as well as elsewhere, proves herself the miraculous Mother of God. The names of the Seven Holy Founders are Saint Alexis Falconieri, Saint Bartholomew degli Amidei, Saint Benedict dell’Antella, Saint Buonfiglio Monaldi, Saint Gherardino Sostegni, Saint Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni, and Saint John Buonagiunta Monetti.
St Adleida of Bergamo Bl Arnaldo of Liniberio St Culmatius of Arezzo St Deodatus of Jointures St Deodatus of Nevers St Gaudentius of Arezzo St Gervase and St Protase (Died c 165) Martyrs, Twin Brothers of Martyr Parents, Laymen St Hildegrin of Châlons-sur-Marne Bl Humphrey Middlemore St Innocent of Le Mans
Thought for the Day – 12 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
“All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed”
‘A Jewish girl, poor in this world’s goods but rich in virtue, arrived after a long and difficult journey at a village in the hills of Judea, called Hebron. There, she paid a visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. When Elizabeth saw the girl, she was immediately enlightened by the Holy Spirit with the knowledge, that her visitor, was the Mother of God. “How have I deserved,” she cried out, “that the mother of my Lord, should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). At these words, Mary looked up towards Heaven and gave spontaneous expression to a hymn of humble acknowledgement to God, Who had “regarded the lowliness of His Handmaid” (Lk 1:48). Then she made a solemn prophecy, which would surely have assured the cynical intellectuals and nobles of the land but, which history has wonderfully fulfilled. “Behold” she said, “all generations shall call me blessed” (ibid). We can testify today, that this miracle came to pass. All the nations have paid reverence to the Jewish girl, who became the Mother of God and our Mother, the Queen of Heaven and earth, the comforter of the afflicted, the conqueror of Satan and the invincible Guardian of the Church. From the engravings in the Catacombs, to the celestial Madonnas of the Angelico, from the rudimentary sculpture of Roman art, to the prayerful statues on the pinnacles of more modern Cathedrals, the image of Mary has shone as a beacon of hope for all generations. Men bow before her and ask for light, for comfort and for pardon. “If anyone follows Mary,” says St Bernard, “he will not lose his way; if anyone pray to her, he will not despair; if anyone thinks of her, he will not sin; if anyone reaches out to her, he will not fall; if anyone places himself under her protection, he need have no fear; if anyone places himself under her leadership, he will never give up; if anyone pays homage to her, he is certain to reach his destination safely”(Homil Missus est 2:17).”
Quote/s of the Day – 12 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Our Lady assured Blessed Lúcia:
“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” Thus, if we devote ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, Mary will lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ and we will be on the way to Heaven.“
Our Lady of Fatima
“Do you not know, that not only is Jesus, resting and dwelling continually in the Heart of Mary but that He is, Himself the Heart of Mary … “
St John Eudes Apostle of the Two Holy Hearts
“If you put all the love, of all the mothers into one heart, it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.”
One Minute Reflection – 12 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Readings: Second Corinthians 5: 14-21, Psalms 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12, Gospel: Luke 2: 41-51
“And his mother kept all these words in her heart.” – Luke 2:51
REFLECTION – “Often, it seems to us, Mary forgot to eat and to drink, keeping vigil in order to think about Christ, to see Christ in His flesh. She burned with love of Him and passionately loved to serve Him. She often did what the Song of Songs sings about: “I was sleeping, but my heart kept vigil.” (Song 5:2) Even when she was resting, she continued to dream of Him who filled her thoughts throughout the day. Whether she was keeping vigil or resting in peace, she always lived in Him, was always occupied with Him.
Where her treasure was, there also was her heart (Mt 6:21); where her glory was, there also was her mind. She loved her Lord and her Son with all her heart, with all her mind, with all her strength (Mt 22:37). She saw with her eyes, touched with her hands, the Word of Life (1 Jn 1:1). How blessed was Mary, to whom it was given to embrace Him who embraces and nourishes everything! How happy was she who carried Him, who carries the universe (Heb 1:3), she who nursed a Son, who gives her life, a Son who nourishes her and all beings on earth (Ps 145:15).
The One Who is the wisdom of the Father, put His arms around her neck, the One Who is the strength, that gives movement to everything sat in her arms. He Who is the rest of souls, (Mt 11:29) rested on her motherly breast. How gently He held her in His hands, peacefully looked at her, He Whom the angels wish to contemplate (1 Pet 1:12) and He gently called her, He Whom every being calls upon when in need. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she held Him close to her heart … She never had enough of seeing Him or of hearing Him, Whom “many prophets and kings wished to see … but did not see.” (Lk 10:24) Thus Mary grew evermore in love and her mind was unceasingly attached to divine contemplation.” – St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159) Bishop – Homily on Mary, 4
PRAYER – Lord open our hearts to Your grace. As You brought joy to the world through the incarnation of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, grant that through the prayer of the Immaculate Heart of His Ever-Virgin Mother, our hearts too may grow in virtue and love by learning to reflect constantly on His commandments and counsels. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 12 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
O Mother Blest By St Alphonsus Maira Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor of the Church Trns. Fr Edmund Vaughn C.SS,R, (1827 – 1908 )
O Mother blest, whom God bestows On sinners and on just, What joy, what hope thou givest those Who in thy mercy trust. Thou are clement, thou are chaste, Mary thou art fair, Of all mothers, sweetest best, none with thee compare.
O heavenly Mother, mistress sweet! it never yet was told that suppliant sinner left thy feet, unpitied, unconsoloed. Thou are clement, thou are chaste, …
O Mother, pitiful and mild, Cease not to pray for me; For I do love thee as a child, And sigh for love of thee. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, …
Most powerful Mother, all men know Thy Son denies thee nought; Thou askest, wishest it, and lo! His power thy will hath wrought. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, …
O Mother blest, for me obtain, Ungrateful though I be, To love that God who first could deign To show such love for me. Thou art clement, thou art chaste, Mary, thou art fair. Of all mothers, sweetest, best, None with thee compare.
Madonna del Giorno di Montalto / Our Lady of Montalto, Messina, Italy, 1294 – 12 June:
One night a humble Friar named Nicholas dreamt of the Virgin Mary who told him to go the next day, by the Senate of Messina and inform them, that Our Lady wanted a temple on that hill, dedicated as the Lady of the High Mountain. In the morning, the Friar thought it was all his imagination and not believing that the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ would go to a poor Friar and thought no more of it. The next night, the Virgin appeared again in a dream to Nicholas, scolding him for disobedience. The monk then asked him how he could get himself heard by the Senate. Our Lady told him not to despair and the next day, at noon, a white dove on the hill site was outlined at the area where the Church was to be built. So it was, 12 June 1294, the hill was full of people and notables of Messina and a white dove appeared and marked out the spot for the Church (this miracle is represented by Statues in motion in the bell tower of the Cathedral). Fra Nicholas then went to the nearby Matagrifone castle to find the Queen Constance. He explained the facts, in the presence of a Court handmaiden who advised the Queen to drive the Monk away. The evil courtesan was suddenly seized with paralysis of her arm and excruciating pain throughout her body. The Monk advised her to apologise to the Madonna, she did so, and the pain was relieved. Queen Constance, remained shaken from the occurrence and she promised her help, indeed it was she who laid the first stone. By 1295 the Church was already built.
The Santuario della Madonna di Montalto was severely damaged during the 1908 earthquake and rebuilt in 1930. This view of the bell tower gives you a hint of the beauty of this Gothic and Romanesque structure.
St Amphion of Nicomedia Bl Antonia Maria Verna Bl Antonio de Pietra St Arsenius of Konev St Christian O’Morgair of Clogher St Chrodobald of Marchiennes St Cominus Bl Conrad of Maleville St Cunera St Cuniald St Cyrinus of Antwerp St Eskil St Galen of Armenia
Bl Mercedes Maria of Jesus St Odulf of Utrecht St Olympius of AEnos St Onuphrius of Egypt Bl Pelagia Leonti of Milazzo St Peter of Mount Athos St Placid of Val d’Ocre Bl Stanislaw Kubista Bl Stefan Grelewski Bl Stefan Kielman St Ternan of Culross St Valerius of Armenia
Martyrs of Bologna: Three Christians who were martyred at different times and places, but whose relics have been collected and enshrined together – Celsus, Dionysius, and Marcellinus. Their relics were enshrined in churches in Bologna and Rome in Italy.
Martyrs of Rome: Four members of the Imperial Roman nobility. They were all soldiers, one or more may have been officers, and all were martyred in the persecutions of Diocletian – Basilides, Cyrinus, Nabor and Nazarius. They were martyred in 304 outside Rome, Italy and buried along the Aurelian Way.
Three Holy Exiles: Three Christian men who became Benedictine monks at the Saint James Abbey in Regensburg, Germany, then hermits at Griestatten and whose lives and piety are celebrated together. – Marinus, Vimius and Zimius.
Thought for the Day – 22 May – “Mary’s Month” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth
“Towards the close of his life, St Paul wrote to his well-beloved disciple, St Timothy: “As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice and the time of my deliverance is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will give to me in that day; yet, not to me only but, also to those who love his coming” (2 Tim 4:6-8).
After all his apostolic labours and difficulties and, after a lifetime of boundless love, St Paul could confidently say, that he would receive the crown which he had earned. When the Blessed Virgin came to the end of her earthly pilgrimage, during which she had lovingly worked and suffered so much for Jesus, she could have expected, with even greater certainty, to receive the crown of glory, which she had merited. She was the noblest and holiest of creatures, because, she was the Mother of the eternal Word of God made man. Therefore, her reward had to be greater than that of any other creature. She was the Mother of the King of Angels and of Saints, of Heaven and earth. As such, it was her place to rule over them all. Seated at the right hand of her divine Son, she has glory and power, which none other could possess. The Church, therefore, invokes her under the title of Queen of Angels and of Saints, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Virgins, of Confessors and of Martyrs, Queen of Heaven and of earth. When our Holy Father, Pius XII, solemnly proclaimed her Queenship, in the year 1954, he was only giving voice to the general consensus of tradition, of the Liturgy and of the belief of all the faithful (Cf Encyclical, Ad Coeli Reginum, 11 Oct 1954).
It should be very encouraging to all of us to know that we have so powerful a Queen in Heaven, whose privilege it is, to dispense God’s graces. She has crushed the poisonous head of Satan. Now, she is able and eager to help us, her loyal sons and servants, to resist temptation, to frustrate the schemes of our deadly enemy and to perfect ourselves in virtue. Amen.”
Thought for the Day – 21 May – “Mary’s Month” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Have you ever experienced the sheer delight of climbing the mountains on a summer’s day and coming across one of those little alpine lakes, a tiny mirror, reflecting the still blueness of the sky? Or have you ever watched an infant smiling in it’s angelic slumber and been held spellbound by this vision of innocence? Finally, on some calm, clear night, surely you have studied the star-spangled sky and have been so overwhelmed by the beauty of the scene, that you could have cried out with the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork” (Ps 18:1). These, are only faint images of the beauty and virginal purity of Mary. Her soul was the purest and most beautiful of the entire human and angelic creation, because, nobody else was ever raised to the dignity of the Motherhood of God. She was conceived free from all taint of original sin and enriched with every grace. In her chaste womb, she conceived the Infant Jesus. Later, she held Him close to her heart; she lived for Him and eventually died for love of Him.
Purity is a virtue which is attractive to everybody, even to those who are evil themselves, or to those, who have lost their own chastity. We love and desire this virtue but, are we prepared to make any sacrifice in order to preserve it, in the manner demanded by our particular state in life? “The kingdom of heaven has been enduring violent assault,” Jesus said “and the violent have been seizing it by force” (Mt 11:12). This is especially true in regard to the acquisition of the virtue of purity. It is not enough to desire it, we must be willing to make sacrifices in order to acquire it.”
Thought for the Day – 10 May – “Mary’s Month” Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“We also have our share of suffering and humiliation. It is useless to try and escape from it, useless to rebel against it. If we embrace the cross patiently and lovingly, a Jesus and Mary did, it will seem lighter, even welcome. If we attempt to cast it from us, it will weigh more heavily on our shoulders. There are two kinds of men, those who bear their cross, patiently and embrace it because they wish to be like Jesus and, those who do not want to suffer and rebel. The former may stagger beneath their daily burden but, they have peace of soul because they are putting into practice, the great Gospel precept: “By your patience, you will win your souls” (Lk 21:19). They know that they are on the path to Heaven and this thought is consolation, which cannot be taken from them. The second group of men, rebel against the cross and, therefore, suffer doubly, in body and in soul. “The senseless man,” the Holy Spirit says, “loves not to be reproved” (Prov 15:12).
To which of these two categories do we belong? Do we love our cross, or do we carry it patiently, at least? Anyone who does not want the cross, does not want Jesus. Let the example of Mary and of the Saints inspire us. They always bore their burden patiently, they even looked for suffering and humiliation. If we cannot reach such heroic heights, let us at last, accept, from the hands of Our Lord, the cross which He offers us. Let us accept the sufferings which we meet on the way of life. If we are not heroic enough to seek to be unknown and mortified, let us resolve to accept, patiently, the inevitable sorrows of life.”
Thought for the Day – 4 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Mary, the Mother of God
“St Matthew (Cf Mt 12:46-50) and St Mark (Cf Mk 3:31-35), relate how Jesus was preaching one day in Galilee, surrounded by His Apostles and by a large crowd, when a man approached and said: “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are standing outside, seeking thee.” “Who is my mother,” He answered, “and who are my brethren?” Then He extended His hand towards His disciples and said: “Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
These words were directed at us, not at Our Lady. Not only was she the Immaculate Mother of Jesus Christ but, she performed lovingly, on all occasions, the Will of the heavenly Father. She did His Will, in poverty and obedience, in exile and on Mount Calvary. Therefore, she was God’s Mother in the spiritual, as well as, in the physical sense of the word, insofar, as she was constantly united to Him by a bond of love and of conformity with His desires.
Christ’s words indicate, that Mary’s perfect and continuous acceptance of God’s Will, was even more pleasing to God, than the dignity of the divine Motherhood.
We cannot equal her in dignity but, we can imitate her in this other respect. Jesus will look on us as His brothers and as worthy sons of Mary, if we carry out His Will in all things. It is not always easy to do this. It is not easy, when we are strongly tempted to commit sins of pride, anger or impurity. It is not easy, when we are overcome by sorrow or by sickness, when we are let down or misunderstod by others, when we are in want and, when we feel that we are collapsing beneath the weght of our cross. At times like these, we should pray for Mary’s spirit of complete acceptance of the Will of God.
Most Holy Mary, not only were you raised to the dignity of Mother of God but, you carried out His holy Will, heroically on all occasions. Obtain for me, from your divine Son, Jesus, the grace to co-operate always and at all costs, with His designs for me, both in life and in death, amen.”
Our Morning Offering – 4 May – “Mary’s Month” – Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Hail, O Mother! By St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
Hail, O Mother! Virgin, heaven, throne, glory of our Church, it’s foundation and ornament. Earnestly pray for us to Jesus, your Son and Our Lord, that through your intercession, we may have mercy on the day of judgement. Pray that we may receive, all those good things which are reserved for those who love God. Through the grace and favour of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be power, honour and glory, now and forever. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 28 April – The Memorial of Quote/s of the Day – 28 April – The Memorial of St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
“Take advantage of little sufferings even more than of great ones. God considers not so much what we suffer, as how we suffer. . . Turn everything to profit as the grocer does in his shop.”
“The salvation of the whole world began with the “Hail Mary.” Hence, the salvation of each person is also attached to this prayer.”
“Mary is the great mould of God … He who is cast in this divine mould is soon formed and moulded in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ in him. With little effort and in a short time, he will become divine, since he is cast in the same mould which formed a God.”
“The Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother.”
Our Morning Offering – 24 April – Saturday of he Third Week of Easter
Mother of my God, Lady Mary, Queen of Mercy By St Alphonsus Ligouri (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Mother of my God and my Lady Mary, as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great Queen, so do I present myself before you, who are Queen of heaven and earth. From the lofty throne on which you sit, disdain not, I implore you, to cast your eyes on me, a poor sinner. God has made you so rich that you might assist the poor and has made you Queen of Mercy, that you might relieve the miserable. Behold me then and pity me. Behold me and abandon me not, until you see me changed from a sinner into a saint. Amen
Our Glorious Most Sorrowful Mother – By St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Mary is our Mother — not by the flesh but by love. That is, she is our Mother by love alone. So someone observes that she glories in being the mother of love. She is all love for us, her adopted children. The first reason for Mary’s great love for human beings, is that she loves God so much. She loved Him more in the first moment of her existence, than all the Saints and Angels every loved Him or will love him.
Just as there is not one, among all the blessed ,who loves God as Mary does, so there is no one, after God, who loves us as much as this most loving Mother does. Furthermore, if we heaped together all the love that mothers have for their children, all the love of husbands and wives, all the love of all the Angels and Saints for their clients, it could never equal Mary’s love for even a single soul. Mary, to obtain the life of grace for us … offered her beloved Jesus to an ignominious death, and watched him die before her eyes, in cruel and unexampled torments. It is written of the Eternal Father, that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son (Jn 3:16), so also, we can say of Mary, that she so loved the world, as to give her only-begotten Son. So with St Anselm I will cry:
“Let my heart languish and my soul melt away and be consumed with love of you, my beloved Saviour Jesus and my dear Mother Mary! But because I cannot love you unless You give me grace, then give me grace, O Jesus and Mary — by Your merits, not mine — to love You as You deserve to be loved. O God, lover of humankind, You loved sinful human beings to the point of death. Will You deny Your love and Your Mother’s to anyone who begs for it?”
One Minute Reflection – 1 April – Maundy Thursday, Evening Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Readings: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-15
“Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, … he loved them unto the end.” – John 13:1
REFLECTION – “Be obedient to the death, following the example of the spotless Lamb who obeyed His Father even to a shameful death on the Cross. Reflect that He is the way and the rule you are to follow. Always hold Him present before the eyes of your spirit. See how obedient He is, this Word, this Utterance of God! He does not refuse to take up the burden of suffering laid on Him by His Father; to the contrary, He throws Himself into it, spurred on by His great desire. Isn’t this what He reveals during the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, when He says: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:15)? By “eat this Passover” He means, the accomplishment of the Father’s will and His desire. Seeing that scarcely any time lies before Him (He was already looking ahead to the end, when He would sacrifice His body for our sake), He rejoices, He is glad and joyfully says: “I have greatly desired.” Here is the Passover He is speaking about – that which consists in giving His own self as food, in laying down His own body in obedience to the Father.
Jesus had celebrated many another Passover with His disciples but never this one, O unspeakable, sweet and burning charity! You think neither of Your suffering nor of Your humiliating death – if You had thought of them, You would not have been so joyful, You would not have called it a Passover. The Word sees ,that it is He Himself Who has been chosen, He Himself Who has received all our humanity as His spouse. He has been asked to give us His own Blood so that God’s will might be accomplished in us, so that it might be His Blood that sanctifies us. This is, indeed, the sweet Passover, this Lamb without blemish accepts (cf. Ex 12:5) and it is with great love and great desire that He fulfils the Father’s will and wholly carries out His design. What unspeakably sweet love! …
That is why, my beloved, I beg you never to entertain the least dread and to place all your trust in the Blood of Christ Crucified … May all servile fear be banished from your spirits. You will say with Saint Paul …: “I can do all things through Christ crucified, since he is within me by desire and love and he strengthens me” (cf. Phil 4:13; Gal 2:20). Love, love, love! By His Blood, the gentle Lamb has made an unassailable rock of your soul.” – St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Dominican tertiary, Doctor of the Church, Co-patron of Europe – Letter 129
PRAYER – Love of You, with our whole heart, Lord God, is holiness. Increase then Your gifts of divine grace in us, so that, as in Your Son’s Death, You made us hope for what we believe, You may likewise, in His Resurrection, make us come to You, our final end. Listen we beg, to the prayers of Your holy ones and may the Blessed Mother walk along with us and keep our hand, ever in hers. Through Jesus Himself, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God with You, forever and ever, amen.
When Mary Weeps By Father Frederick M Lynk (1881-unknown)
When Mary weeps, her mother’s heart Is full to overflowing. When Mary weeps, pain’s piercing dart Stabs Him beyond all knowing, Who is by sinners Crucified, Blasphemed, forsaken and denied.
When Mary weeps, God’s holy wrath Is kindling cruel fires. When Mary weeps, poor mankind’s path Leads through war’s blood-soaked mires And makes all human mothers moan In love and pity for their own.
When Mary weeps, it’s time to pray To have our sins forgiven. When Mary weeps, each night and day By sorrow must be riven, Until His and her children will Once more seek peace on Calvary’s hill. When Mary weeps, we all must try To dry her tears of sorrow. When Mary weeps, we too must cry To glimpse a brighter morrow, When her Son’s name is recognised And all, in love adore the Christ. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 31 March – Wednesday in Holy Week, Readings: First: Isaiah 50: 4-9a, Psalm: Psalms 69: 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34, Gospel: Matthew 26: 14-25
“My appointed time draws near. I am to celebrate the Passover in your house” – Matthew 26:18
REFLECTION – “And will you be persuaded that He came to His passion willingly? The others, who foreknow it not, die unwillingly but He spoke beforehand of His passion: “Behold, the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Mt 26,2). But do you know why this Friend of man did not shun death? It was lest the whole world should perish in its sins. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed and shall be crucified” (Mt 20,13); and again: “He steadfastly set His face to Jerusalem” (Lk 9,51).
And will you know certainly, that the Cross is a glory to Jesus? Hear His own words, not mine. Judas had become ungrateful to the Master of the house and was about to betray Him. Having but just now gone forth from the table and drunk His cup of blessing, in return for that draught of salvation, he sought to shed righteous blood. He, who ate of his Bread, was lifting up his heel against Him…Then said Jesus: “The hour is come for the Son of man to be glorified” (Jn 12,23). Do you see how He knew the Cross to be His proper glory?… Not that He was without glory before,for He was glorified with the glory which was before the foundation of the world (Jn 17,5). He was ever glorified as God but now, He was to be glorified in wearing the crown of His patience.
He did not give up His life by compulsion, nor was He put to death by murderous violence but of His own accord. Hear what He says: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again” (Jn 10,18); I yield it to My enemies of My own choice, for unless I chose, this could not be. He came, therefore, of his own set purpose to His passion, rejoicing in His noble deed, smiling at the crown, cheered by the salvation of humankind, not ashamed of the Cross, since it was to save the world.” – St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350), Bishop of Jerusalem, Father and Doctor of the Church – Catechetical Lectures to the Newly Baptised 13, #6
PRAYER – Oh dear God and Father, let us stay with Your Son and never betray or desert Him. The One You sent to save us, needs our love and fidelity in return for His ineffable love. Teach us holy Father, do not abandon us to our weakness but help us to love Him in return, with all our hearts, minds and souls. As you O holy Mother loved your Son and your God, help us to be perfect imitators of your Immaculate heart. Through Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, one god forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 27 March – Saturday of Passion Week or the Fifth Week of Lent, Readings: First Reading: Ezekiel 37: 21-28, Responsorial Psalm: Jeremiah 31: 10, 11-12abcd, 13, Verse Before the Gospel: Ezekiel 18: 31, Gospel: John 11: 45-56
“It is expedient for you, that one man should die for the people.” – John 11:50
REFLECTION – “ The darkening of one, makes many bright… “It is better,” said Caiaphas, “for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” It is better that one be darkened “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” (Rm 8:3) for the sake of all, than for the whole of mankind to be lost, by the darkness of sin; that the splendour and image of the substance of God, should be shrouded in the form of a slave, in order that a slave might live; that the brightness of eternal ligh,t should become dimmed in the flesh for the purifying of the flesh; that He who surpasses all mankind in beauty (Ps 44:2) should be eclipsed by the darkness of the Passion for the enlightening of mankind; that He should suffer the ignominy of the Cross, grow pale in death, be totally deprived of beauty and comeliness, that He might gain the Church as a beautiful and comely bride, without spot or wrinkle (Ep 5:27). But under His dark covering (Sg 1:5) I recognise the King… I recognise Him and I embrace Him. For though He presents this dark exterior… within is the brightness of divine life, the beauty of His strength, the splendour of grace, the purity of innocence. But covering it all, is the abject hue of infirmity, His Face, as it were, hidden and despised: “one tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning” (Heb 4:15). I recognise here the image of our sin-darkened nature; I recognise the garments that clothed our first parents after their sin (Gn 3:21). My God has clothed Himself in them, by assuming the condition of a slave and becoming as men are, He was seen in their likeness (Ph 2:7). Under the skin that Jacob wore (Gn 27:16), symbol of sin, I recognise both the hand that committed no sin and the neck which never bowed to evil; no word of treachery was found in His mouth. I know, Lord, that you are gentle by nature, meek and humble of heart, pleasing in appearance and loveable in Your ways, “anointed with the oil of gladness above your companions” (Mt 11:29; Ps 44:8). Why then this disfigured likeness to Esau? Whose haggard image this?… Ah! It is mine. He has taken my likeness, taken on my sin… And beneath the rough skin of my sinfulness, I recognise my God and my Saviour! ” – St Bernard (1091-1153) “Doctor of Light”of the Church – 28th Homily on the Song of Songs
PRAYER – Lord God, at all times You are working out the salvation of man but now, more especially, You enrich Your people with grace. Look kindly on this people, Lord, keep the seal of Baptism inviolate in those who have received it and in those, who still await their rebirth in te Spirit. With Mary, our advocate of love and mercy by our side, may we attain the brightness of Your Face. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Saviour, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forver, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 27 March – Saturday of Passion Week or the Fifth Week of Lent
Mother of Love, of Sorrow and of Mercy By St Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373)
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mother of God, who endured a martyrdom of love and grief, beholding the sufferings and sorrows of Jesus! Thou didst co-operate in the benefit of my redemption by thy innumerable afflictions and by offering to the Eternal Father, His only-begotten Son, as a holocaust and victim of propitiation for my sins. I thank thee for the unspeakable love which led thee to deprive thyself of the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus, true God and true Man, to save me, a sinner. Oh! make use of the unfailing intercession of thy sorrows with the Father and the Son, that I may steadfastly amend my life and never again crucify my loving Redeemer by my sins and that, persevering till death in His grace, I may obtain eternal life through the merits of His Cross and Passion. Amen
Mother of Love, of Sorrows and of Mercy, pray for us!
Thought for the Day – 25 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Recollection of Mary
“It is believed that when the Angel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin in order to tell her that she was to be the Mother of God, she was in a quiet corner of her home, absorbed in prayer. She had no love for the noise and confusion of the world but preferred to be recollected in the company of God. This was to be the pattern of her whole life. In the midst of her domestic duties, on her journey to St Elizabeth and on her travels in Galilee and Judea, in the wake of her divine Son, her mind and heart were always concentrated on God.
Interior recollection is a wonderful thing. It helps us to hear God’s voice more clearly. It keeps us removed from the temptations of the world and assists us in sanctifying every moment of our lives.
“The cell continually dwelt in growth sweet,” (Bk 1, C 20:5) says The Imitation of Christ and goes onto ask: “What can thou see elsewhere that thou does not see here? Behold the heavens and the earth and all the elements, for out of these are all things made” (Ibid C 20:8). “As often as I have been amongst men,” it exclaims, “I have returned less a man” (Ibid C 20:2). When we move around chattering with different people, we have lost something of ourselves by the time we return home. Perhaps we have wasted a good deal of time in useless conversation or, worse still, have seen or heard unpleasant or disturbing things. When we go about in the world, we do not often see much that is edifying or instructive and rarely meet people whose conversation does us good. For this reason, even when we cannot remain apart, we should carry in ourselves, as Mary did, a spirit of interior recollection and communication with God.”
Lenten Journey Day thirty five – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8: 10, Psalms 40:7-8,8-9, 10, 11, Hebrews 10:4-10, Luke 1:26-38
Imitating Christ with Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
In You is the source of life and in Your Light Lord, we see light Psalm 35(36)
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” – Luke 1:27
ABOVE all things and in all things, O my soul, rest always in the Lord my God, for He is the everlasting rest and joy of the angels and the saints.
O Jesus, Splendour of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, who labour in this sinful world, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish. Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your presence, restore me to liberty and show me a friendly countenance. Let others seek, instead of You, whatever they will but nothing pleases me, or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying, until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying: “Behold, I am here. Lo, I have come to you because you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your soul, your humility and contrition of heart, have inclined Me and brought Me to you.”
Lord, I have called You and have desired You and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. For You first spurred me on, to seek You. May You be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for having shown this goodness to Your servant according to the multitude of Your mercies.
What more is there for Your servant to say to You unless, with his iniquity and vileness always in mind, he humbles himself before You? Nothing among all the wonders of heaven and earth, is like unto You. Your works are exceedingly good, Your judgements true and Your providence rules the whole universe. May You be praised and glorified, therefore, O Wisdom of the Father. Let my lips and my soul and all created things, unite to praise and bless You. (Book 3 Ch 21:1,4-6)
Quote/s of the Day – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8: 10, Psalms 40:7-8,8-9, 10, 11, Hebrews 10:4-10, Luke 1:26-38
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
“And so, when God’s birth is proclaimed to you, keep silent. Let Gabriel’s word be held in your mind for nothing is impossible to this glorious Majesty, who humbled Himself for us and was born of our humanity.”
“In her, God spun a garment with which to save us.”
St Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor
“He came from Him, from whom He did not depart, going forth from Him, with whom He stayed, so that without intermission, He was wholly in eternity, wholly in time, wholly was He found in the Father when wholly in the Virgin, wholly in His own majesty and in His Father’s, at the time when He was wholly in our humanity. ”
“Has anyone ever come away from Mary, troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly Mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because a request has been granted by the Mother of God?”
St Amadeus of Lausanne (1110-1159)
“The Father bending down to this beautiful creature, who was so unaware of her own beauty, willed that she be the Mother, in time, of Him, Whose Father He is, in eternity. Then the Spirit of love, Who presides over all of God’s works, came upon her; the Virgin said her fiat: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word” and the greatest of mysteries, was accomplished!”
One Minute Reflection – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8: 10, Psalms 40:7-8,8-9, 10, 11, Hebrews 10:4-10, Luke 1:26-38
“Hail, full of grace!” – Luke 1:28
REFLECTION – “This woman will be the Mother of God, the door to light, source of life; she will reduce to oblivion the judgement that weighed on Eve. “The rich among the people seek the face” of this woman, “the kings of the nations shall pay her homage,” they shall “offer gifts”… yet the glory of the Mother of God is an interior glory – the fruit of her womb.
O woman, so worthy of love, thrice happy, “blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Daughter of David the king and Mother of God, King of the universe, masterpiece in whom the Creator rejoices… you are to be nature’s full achievement. For you, life is not yours; you were not born for yourself alone but your life is to be God’s. You came into the world for Him, you will serve for the salvation of all people, fulfilling God’s design established from the beginning – the incarnation of the Word and our own divinisation. Your whole desire is to feed on the words of God, to be strengthened by their sap, like “a green olive tree in the house of God,” “like a tree planted by running water,” you are the “tree of life” who “yielded its fruit in due season”…
He who is infinite, limitless, came to dwell in your womb, God, the Child Jesus, was nourished by your milk. You are the ever virginal doorway of God; your hands hold your God; your lap is a throne raised up above the cherubim… You are the wedding chamber of the Spirit, the “city of the living God, gladdened by the runlets of the stream,” that is to say, the waves of the Spirit’s gifts. You are “all fair, the Beloved” of God.” – St John Damascene (675-749) Monk, Theologian, Father and Doctor of the Church – Homily on the Nativity of the Virgin, § 9 ; SC 80 ( Biblical references : Ps 44,13; 71,11.10; Mt 2,11; Lk 1,42; Is 62,5; Ps 51,10; 1,3; cf Gn 2,9, Rv 22,2; cf Ez 44,2; Ps 79,2; cf Sg 1,4; Ps 45,5; Sg 4,7)
PRAYER – Shape us in the likeness of the Divine nature of our Redeemer, whom we believe to be true God and true man, since it was Your will, Lord God, that He, Your Word, should take to Himself, our human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for always and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with Thee; Blessed art thou among women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, Now and at the hour of our death. Amen V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. Hail Mary, etc. V. And the Word was made Flesh. R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary, etc. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. LET US PRAY Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen
A tradition, which has come down from the apostolic ages, tells us that the great mystery of the Incarnation, was achieved on the twenty-fifth day of March. It was at the hour of midnight, when the most holy Virgin was alone and absorbed in prayer, that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her and asked her, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, to consent to become the Mother of God. Let us assist, in spirit, at this wonderful interview between the angel and the Virgin: and, at the same time, let us think of that other interview which took place between Eve and the serpent. A holy Bishop and Martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the Apostles, shows us that Nazareth, is the counterpart of Eden.
In the garden of delights there is a virgin and an angel and a conversation takes place-between them. At Nazareth a virgin is also addressed by an angel and she answers him but the angel of the earthly paradise, is a spirit of darkness and he of Nazareth, is a spirit of light. In both instances, it is the angel that has the first word. ‘Why,’ said the serpent to Eve, ‘hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?’ His question implies impatience and a solicitation to evil, he has contempt for the frail creature to whom he addresses it but he hates the image of God, which is upon her.
See, on the other hand, the angel of light; see with what composure and peacefulness he approaches the Virgin of Nazareth, the new Eve and how respectfully he bows himself down before her: ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!’ Such language is evidently of heaven, none but an angel could speak thus to Mary.
Scarcely has the wicked spirit finished speaking than Eve casts a longing look at the forbidden fruit, she is impatient to enjoy the independence it is to bring her. She rashly stretches forth her hand, she plucks the fruit, she eats it and death takes possession of her: death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life; and death of the body, which being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror and finally, crumbles into dust.
But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel’s explanation of the mystery, the will of heaven is made known to her and how grand an honour it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God and yet, the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will and says to the heavenly messenger: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me, according to thy word.’
Thus, as the great St Irenaeus and so many of the holy fathers remark, the obedience of the second Eve, repaired the disobedience of the first, for no sooner does the Virgin of Nazareth speak her fiat, ‘be it done,’ than the eternal Son of God (who, according to the divine decree, awaited this word) is present, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in the chaste womb of Mary and there, He begins His human life. A Virgin is a Mother and Mother of God and it is this Virgin’s consenting to the divine will, that has made her conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sublime mystery puts between the eternal Word and a mere woman, the relations of Son and Mother, it gives to the almighty God, a means whereby He may, in a manner worthy of His majesty, triumph over satan, who hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.
Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary. God would not choose man for the instrument of His vengeance, the humiliation of satan would not have been great enough and, therefore, she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy. The result of so glorious a triumph is, that Mary is to be superior not only to the rebel angels but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her and, in heaven, the very Cherubim and Seraphim reverently look up to Mary and deem themselves honoured, when she smiles upon them, or employs them in the execution of any of her wishes, for she is the Mother of their God.
Therefore is it that we, the children of Adam, who have been snatched by Mary’s obedience from the power of hell, solemnise this day of the Annunciation. Well may we say of Mary, those words of Debbora, when she sang her song of victory over the enemies of God’s people: ‘The valiant men ceased and rested in Israel, until Debbora arose, a mother arose in Israel. The Lord chose new wars and He Himself, overthrew the gates of the enemies.’ Let us also refer to the holy Mother of Jesus, these words of Judith, who by her victory over the enemy was another type of Mary: ‘Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. And by me, His handmaid, He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel and He hath killed the enemy of His people, by my hand this night. . . . The almighty Lord hath struck him and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman and hath slain him.’
Our Lady of Betania: The name Betania means Bethany in Spanish. It was originally given this name by Maria Esperanza and was the site of their farm, in Venezuela. Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary were reported and eventually a small Chapel was built there and the faithful began to gather, especially on Feast Days but throughout the year.
St Alfwold of Sherborne St Barontius of Pistoia St Desiderius of Pistoia St Dismas (Crucified with Jesus) “The Good Thief”
Bl Everard of Nellenburg Bl Herman of Zahringen St Hermenland St Humbert of Pelagius Bl James Bird Bl Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska St Kennocha of Fife St Lucia Filippini St Marie-Alphonsine/Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas (1843-1927) About St Marie-Alphonusine: https://anastpaul.com/2020/03/25/saint-of-the-day-25-march-st-marie-alphonsine-danil-ghattas-1843-1927/ St Matrona of Barcelona St Matrona of Thessaloniki St Mona of Milan St Ndre Zadeja Bl Pawel Januszewski St Pelagius of Laodicea Bl Placido Riccardi St Procopius St Quirinus of Rome Bl Tommaso of Costacciaro — 262 Martyrs of Rome: A group 262 Christians martyred together in Rome. We know nothing else about them, not even their names.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I AM” – John 8:28
REFLECTION – “Isaiah the prophet describes an exalted vision for us: “I saw the Lord seated on a throne” (Is 6:1). What a wonderful sight, my brethren! Happy the eyes that saw it! Who would not want with all their heart, to behold the splendour of so great a glory? … Yet here, I am listening to that same prophet give us an account of a very different vision of the same Lord: “We saw Him; He had no beauty, no splendour – we took Him for a leper” (Is 53:2f. Vg.) (…)
And so, if you desire to see Jesus in His glory, try, first of all, to contemplate Him in His humiliation. Begin by gazing on the serpent raised up in the desert, (cf. Jn 3:14) if you wish to see the King seated on His throne. Let the first vision fill you with humility, so that the second, may raise you from your humiliation. Let the former, reprove and heal your pride, before the latter fulfils and satisfies, your desire. Do you see the Lord “emptied?” (Phil 2:7). Do not let this vision leave you untouched, or you will not be able to behold Him later on, in the glory of His exaltation, without anxiety.
“You will be like Him,” indeed, when you see Him “as He is” (1 Jn 3:2); so, be like Him now, as you see what He became for your sake. If you do not refuse to become like Him in His humiliation, He will certainly give you, the likeness of His glory in return. He will never allow someone who has shared His Passion, to be excluded from communion in His glory. So little does He refuse, to admit someone who has shared His Passion, into the Kingdom with Him, that the thief found himself in paradise that very day with Him because he confessed Him on the cross (Lk 23:42) … Yes indeed, “if we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him” (Rm 8:17). – St Bernard (1091-1153) Cistercian Monk and Mellifluous Doctor of the Church – Sermon 1 for the first Sunday of November.
PRAYER – Holy Father, we have sinned against You and beg for Your forgiveness and mercy. Through the merits of the saving Cross of Your Son, help Your people O Lord, to persevere in obedience to Your will, so that through this obedience, we may reach our eternal home. May the eyes of our hearts, never cease contemplating the Holy Cross and following the way of its humiliation. We hope for the intercession of your angels and saints and our most loving Mother Mary. Through Christ, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.