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.
Our Morning Offering – 20 March – Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Mary’s Saturday
My Most Sorrowful Lady By St Anselm (1033-1109) Marian Doctor Magnificent Doctor
My most sorrowful Lady, what can I say about the fountains, that flowed from your most pure eyes, when you saw your only Son before you, bound, beaten and suffering? What do I know of the flood, that drenched your matchless face, when you beheld your Son, your Lord and your God, stretched on the cross without guilt, when the flesh of your flesh, was cruelly butchered by wicked me? How can I judge what sobs troubled your most pure breast when you heard, “Woman, behold your son,” and the disciple, “Behold, your Mother,” when you received, as a son, the disciple, in place of the Master, the servant, for the Lord? Amen
Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 19 March:
“All the unmarried men gathered in the temple and prayed to the Lord conjointly with the Priests, in order to be governed by the Holy Spirit in what they were about to do. The Most High spoke to the heart of the High Priest, inspiring him to place into the hands of each one of the young men, a dry stick, with the command that each ask his Majesty with a lively faith, to single out the one, whom He had chosen as the spouse of Mary. And as the sweet odour of her virtue and nobility, the fame of her beauty, her possessions and her modesty and her position as being the firstborn in her family, was known to all of them, each one coveted the happiness of meriting her as a spouse. Among them all, only the humble and most upright Joseph, thought himself unworthy of such a great blessing and remembering the vow of chastity, which he had made and resolving anew its perpetual observance, he resigned himself to God’s will, leaving it all to His disposal and being filled at the same time, with a veneration and esteem greater than that of any of the others, for the most noble maiden Mary. While they were thus engaged in prayer, the staff which Joseph held was seen to blossom and at the same time, a dove of purest white and resplendent with admirable light, was seen to descend and rest upon the head of the saint, while, in the interior of his heart, God spoke:
“Joseph, my servant, Mary shall be thy Spouse; accept Her with attentive reverence, for She is acceptable in my eyes, just and most pure in soul and body and thou, shalt do all that She shall say to Thee.”
At this manifestation and token from heaven, the Priests declared Saint Joseph as the Spouse selected by God Himself for the maiden Mary. Calling Her forth for her espousal, the chosen one issued forth like the sun, more resplendent than the moon, and She entered into the presence of all, with a countenance more beautiful than that of an angel, incomparable in the charm of her beauty, nobility and grace and the Priests espoused Her to the most chaste and holy of man, Saint Joseph.”
*From The City of God by Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda OIC (1602-1665) (a Franciscan abbess and spiritual writer, known especially for her extensive correspondence with King Philip IV of Spain and reports of her bilocation between Spain and its colonies in New Spain. She was a noted mystic of her era. A member of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Conceptionists, Mary of Jesus wrote 14 books, including a series of revelations about the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ven Mary of Jesus’ body is incorrupt. Less than ten years after her death, Mary of Jesus was declared Venerable by Pope Clement X, in honour of her “heroic life of virtue.” Although the process of beatification was opened in 1673, it has not as yet been completed.)
St Adrian of Maastricht St Alkmund of Northumbria St Amantius of Wintershoven Bl Andrea Gallerani St Apollonius of Braga St Auxilius of Ireland Bl Clement of Dunblane St Colocer of Saint-Brieuc St Corbasius of Quimperlé St Cuthbert of Brittany St Gemus Blessed Isnard de Chiampo OP (Died 1244) Priest, known as the “Apostle of Pavia” Bl Jan Turchan St John the Syrian of Pinna St Lactali of Freshford St Landoald of Maastricht St Leontinus of Braga St Leontinus of Saintes Blessed Marcel Callo (1921-1945) Martyr Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2019/03/19/saint-of-the-day-19-march-blessed-marcel-callo-1921-1945-aged-23-martyr/
Our Morning Offering – 13 March – Saturday of the Third week of Lent
Mother of Sorrows, of Love, of Mercy By Fr Lawrence Lovasik SVD (1913-1986)
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my childlike love. Into your heart, pierced by so many sorrows, welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of your sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. Sorrowful Virgin, with you, I will gladly suffer all the trials, misunderstandings and pains which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to you in memory of your sorrows, so that every thought of my mind and every beat of my heart, may be an act of compassion and of love for you. Loving Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to your Divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet you in heaven and sing your glories. Mary, most sorrowful Mother of Christians, pray for us. Mother of love, of sorrow and of mercy, pray for us! Amen. Amen!
Our Morning Offering – 27 February – Saturday of the First week of Lent, the Memorial of St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862) and a Marian Saturday
O Mother of Sorrows, Stand by Me in My Last Agony By St Gabriel Francis Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862)
O Mother of Sorrows, by the anguish and love with which thou did stand at the Cross of Jesus, stand by me in my last agony. To thy maternal heart I commend the last three hours of my life. Offer these hours to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our dearest Lord, in atonement for my sins. Offer to the Eternal Father the most precious blood of Jesus, mingled with your tears on Calvary, that I may obtain the grace of receiving Holy Communion with the most perfect love and contrition before my death and that I may breathe forth my soul in the adorable presence of Jesus. Dearest Mother, when the moment of my death has at last come, present me as your child to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive me for having offended Him, for I knew not what I did. Beg Him to receive me into His kingdom of glory to be united with Him forever. Amen
Thought for the Day – 11 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Power of Mary
“We should turn confidently to Mary, especially when we are tempted. She cannot allow us to offend her Jesus and to fall into the foils of the devil, as long as we pray to her with faith in her intercession. “The devil, as a roaring lion,” says St Peter, “goes about seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But, our Mother Mary is always by our side seeking to protect us. Let us entrust ourselves to her maternal care. Not only does Mary wish to help us, declares St Bonaventure but, those who do not pray to her, commit almost as great an offence, as those who openly insult her (In Spec Virg)!
Thought for the Day – 2 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Purification of Our Lady
“Today, the Church commemorates the Presentatio of the Child Jesus in the temple ad the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These ceremonies were carried out, in order to comply with a twofold Mosaic law. One part of this law referred to women who had become mothers; the other pat was concerned with first-born male children. According to the first law, a mother was officially regarded as impure for forty days after she had given birth to a child. When this period was over, she had to present herself in the temple and make an offering of a lamb and a turtledove. If she were poor, she could substitute a second young pigeon for the lamb (Cf Lev 12). The second law (Cf Es 13:2, 34:19; Num 8:16; Lev 27:26) commanded the mother to offer and consecrate to God, her first-born son. She was to do this in memory of the miracle in Egypt when the Angel of God destroyed all the first-born sons of the people of the country and spared those of the Israelites. In later times, when the ritual worship of God became the special obligation of the tribe of Levi, the first-born sons of the other tribes, had to be presented in the temple and bought back by an offering.
It is quite clear, that Jesus and Mary were not bound by this twofold law. But they voluntarily subjected themselves to it, in order to give an example of humility and obedience.”
Quote/s of the Day – 2 February – The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Presentation of the Lord
“And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God ..…”
“We must be burning with love and radiant with good deeds and so take up Christ in our hands with Simeon. Could anyone hold up a lighted candle in his hands on this day, without at once remembering that old man, who on this same day, took up in his arms Jesus, God’s Word, clothed in flesh like a candle-flame clothed in wax and affirmed Him to be “the Light which would be a beacon for the Gentiles.”
Bl Guerric of Igny O.Cist (c 1080-1157)
“She, the holy Mother of God, must go to the Temple like other Hebrew mothers, as though she had lost something, which needed restoring by a legal sacrifice. He, that is the Son of God and Son of Man, must be treated in all things, as though He were a servant and be ransomed in common. with the poorest Jewish boy. Mary adores the will of God and embraces it with her whole heart. … She was in the Temple of Jerusalem, what she was in the house of Nazareth, when she received the Archangel’s visit; she was the Handmaid of the Lord.”
Servant of God Abbot Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875)
Thought for the Day – 1 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Holy Family – The Blessed Virgin Mary
“The Blessed Vigin Mary is the second model proposed for our imitation in the Holy Family. She is the purest and most beautiful creature ever fashioned by the Hand of God. As Mother of the Word Incarnate, her dignity touches the divine. Peserved from all stain of sin from the moment of her conception, she is full of grace. Except in God Himself, no greater beauty and holiness can be found elsewhere, than in Mary.
We do not read that Mary worked miracles, had ecstasies, or possessed any extraordinary external gifts. Her sanctity was completely internal. She trod the ordinary way of perfection, therefore, the way most easily imitated by us and, nevertheless, reached the highest peak of holiness. Since we are her devoted and affectionate children, let us ask her for the grace to follow her in the way of perfection and of complete resignation to the Will of God. Although, we may have to follow her from afar, let us follow with enthusiasm. As parents, let us imitate her holy, loving and obedient hand in the growth of our Saviour.”
Our Morning Offering – 30 January – Mary’s Saturday, as always
Into the Arms of Your Mercy By St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
Into the Arms of Your Mercy, O Mary, my Queen, I cast myself, into the arms of your mercy. I place my soul and body, in your blessed care and under your special protection from this world. I entrust to you, all my hopes and consolations, all my anguish and misery, my life and the end of my life. Through your most holy intercession and through your merits, grant that all my works may be directed and carried out, in accordance with your will and the will of your Divine Son. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 16 January – Saturday of the First week in Ordinary Time and the Feast of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners (Spain)
Shelter Me Under Your Mantle Refuge of Sinners By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to you who are the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the Universe, the Advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I, who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day. I venerate you, great Queen and I thank you for the many graces you have bestowed upon me even unto this day, in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often served by my sins. I love you, my dearest Lady and because of that love, I promise to serve you willingly forever and to do what I can, to make you loved by others also. I place in you all my hopes for salvation, accept me as your servant and shelter me under your mantle, you who are the Mother of Mercy. And since you are so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From you I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through you I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by your love for Almighty God, I pray you to assist me always but most of all, at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until you shall see me safe in heaven, there to bless you and sing of your mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 15 January – The Feast of Our Lady of Banneux/Our Lady of the Poor (1933)
O Virgin of the Poor, Our Lady of Banneux Prayer of Monsignor Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs (1878-1962) Bishop of Liège at the time of the apparitions
O Virgin of the Poor, May you ever be blessed! And blessed be He Who deigned to send you to us. What you have been and are to us now, you will always be to those who, like us and better than us, offer their faith and their prayer. You will be all for us, as you revealed yourself at Banneux: Mediatrix of all graces, the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God. A compassionate and powerful Mother who loves the poor and all people, who alleviates suffering, who saves individuals and all humanity, Queen and Mother of all Nations, who came to lead all those who allow themselves to be guided by you, to Jesus, the true and only Source of eternal life. Amen
“This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand ”– Mark 1:15
REFLECTION – “After John had been arrested, Jesus came into Galilee ” According to our interpretation, John stands for the Law and Jesus the Gospel. Indeed, John says: “One mightier than I is coming after me …” (Mk 1:7) and elsewhere: “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30): in this way he compares the Law with the Gospel. And afterwards he says: “I – that is, the Law – baptise you with water; he – that is the Gospel – will baptise you in the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8). And so, Jesus comes because John had been put in prison. In effect, the Law is finished, it has been brought to an end, it no longer has its former freedom. But we have passed from the Law to the Gospel …
“Jesus came to Galilee preaching the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God” … When I read the Law, prophets and psalms, I never heard them speak of the Kingdom of heaven, only in the gospel. For only when He came, of whom it is said “the Kingdom of God is in your midst” (Lk 17:21) that God’s Kingdom was thrown open … In fact, before the Saviour’s coming and the light of the Gospel, before Christ opened the gates of paradise with the thief (Lk 23:43), all holy souls descended to the place of the dead. Jacob himself said: “I will go down weeping and mourning to the nether world” (Gn 37:35) … In the Law, Abraham rests with the dead; in the Gospel, the thief is in paradise. We are not denigrating Abraham; we all want to rest in his bosom (Lk 16:23) but we prefer Christ to Abraham, the Gospel to the Law.
We read that after Christ’s Resurrection many saints appeared in the holy city (Mt 27:53). Our Lord and Saviour preached on earth and preached, too, to the underworld. He died and descended to hell to free the souls held captive there (1 Pt 3:18f.).” – St Jerome (347-420) Priest, Translator of Sacred Scripture, Father and Doctor of the Church – Homilies on Saint Mark’s Gospel, no.2A ; SC 494
PRAYER – Lord, be the beginning ad the end of all that we are and do and say. Prompty our actions with Your grace and complete them with Your all-powerful help. Let our hearts belong to You alone and make us Your obedient servants. By the intercession of the Blessed Mary our Hope and all the Saints and Angels, we make our prayer through Christ our Lord, amen.