The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. … Luke 16:22-23
REFLECTION – By St Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173) Armenian Bishop – Jesus, Only Son of the Father, 624 f.
Like the rich man who loved a life of pleasure I, too, have loved pleasures that pass away With this animal body of mine, In the pleasures of that fool.
And from so many and such great blessings That You have so freely given me I have not paid back the tenth From Your own gifts.
But, out of everything under my roof, Gathered from earth and sky and sea, I believed Your numberless blessings To be my own possession.
Nothing of these have I given to the poor, Nor set anything aside for his needs: Neither food for the hungry Nor covering for the naked body,
Neither shelter for the homeless Nor abode for the foreign guest, Nor visit to the sick Nor even concern for the prisoner (cf. Mt 25:31 f.).
I was not saddened for the sorrow Of the one cast down by his burdens, Nor shared the joy of the joyful But burned with jealousy against him.
All of them were another Lazarus, (…) They lay outside at my gate; … Yet I, deaf to their appeal, Never gave them the crumbs from my table. …
The dogs of your Law outside Comforted them, at least with their tongues; Yet I, who listened to Your commandment, Wounded the one who bore Your likeness with my tongue (Mt 25:45). (…)
Yet only grant me repentance here below That I may make reparation for my sins, … That these tears may extinguish the blazing furnace With its burning flames. …
And, instead of acting like the merciless, Set merciful compassion within me, That, by showing mercy to the poor, I may obtain Your mercy.
PRAYER – Dear and Holy God, let us offer You all our daily struggles against sin and evil. Grant us the strength to resist all forms of idolatry, to seek only You and never to allow the material goods of this world to seduce us. Sustain us ever more with Your word and help us to find in it, the source of life. Grant that by the intercession of St Casimir we may grow in charity us during our life on earth. Grant this, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 4 March – Thursday of the Second week of Lent
O Lord and Master of My Life By Saint Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor of the Church
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, vain curiosity, lust for power and idle talk. But give to me, Thy servant, a spirit of soberness, humility, patience and love. O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to condemn my brother. For blessed art Thou to the ages of ages. Amen O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, cleanse me, a sinner. O God, my Creator, save me and for my many sins forgive me!
Saint of the Day – 4 March – Blessed Placida Viel SSC (1815—1877) Virgin, Religious Sister of the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy, which focused on the education of girls. Born Eulalie-Victoire Jacqueline Viel on 26 September 1815 at Quettehou, Normandy, France and died on 4 March 1877 at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, France of natural causes. She is also known as Eulalie Victoire Jacqueline Viel, Eulalie-Victoire Viel, Placide Viel .
Vittoria Eulalia Giacomina Vicl, the future second Superior General of the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy, was born in 1815 in the village of Val-Vacher in Normandy. Vittoria was the eighth of eleven children, (she was baptised just moments after her birth). Her family, formerly wealthy and respected throughout Quettehou, eventually degraded to the status of a small farmer. Vittoria, between five and twelve years of age, attended a girls’ school, then studied sewing for a year. She, therefore, received minimal education, which, however, being very devout, she was able to enrich by attending Catechism courses at the Parish of the town, where later she also taught. She made her First Communion before the mandated age because the Parish Priest believed she was mature and devout enough. At eighteen she was a tall, generous and cheerful girl but very shy.
Her father’s cousin, Maria, always considered as Vittoria’s Aunt, was first a disciple and then one of the first companions of St Marie-Madeline Postel (1756-1846) (16 July), of whose small community she had also been treasurer. Sr Marie-Madeline invited Vittoria to visit the group that had recently settled in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. Vittoria was immediately fascinated by the Superior and conceived the desire to share the extremely poor but obviously happy life of the nuns. In May 1833 she left home to join the community. She was greatly saddened by the separation from her father but was also overjoyed at her vocation.
In 1833, when Vittoria arrived, she found a community made up of fourteen professed and nine novices who lived in extreme poverty. She also found a saint of about eighty, from whom she absorbed her virtues, her knowledge and her charity. The postulant embraced her new life with great enthusiasm and received the novice habit in 1835 along with ten other young women and was given the name of Placida. She worked as an assistant cook until 1838, the year in which she made her Profession and in which she began a long series of ever new tasks.
Firstly, the Superior sent her back to school so that she could improve her level of education. The course of studies was supposed to last two years but Sr Placida completed it within three months and after obtaining her Diploma she even became a teacher at the college, was appointed head of the novices and also a councillor. Maria soon understood that the Mother Superior had decided to prepare that young girl for the highest responsibilities and her attempts to guide her niece towards the strictest religious observance turned into evident hostility. The Aunt did nothing but point out and underline Placida’s faults and seemed to want her to be removed from the Monastery of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. The Mother Superior, however, was adamant and even appointed Placida Assistant Superior and gave her the task of founding a new Convent.
One day, while the Bishop was expressing his concern for the future, to the elderly Foundress, Placida passed by and Mary Magdalene said: “It will be that twenty-four-year-old nun who will succeed me. God will tell you how to do it.” He then ordered Placida to go to Paris and raise the necessary funds to restore the Church. He told her to go to the Queen and the most important Ministers of the Government and to collect what was still needed, begging from door to door. For four years Placida carried out this task, committing herself and accepting the refusals, disdain and profound solitude, with a great spirit of obedience, humility and sacrifice.
In May 1846 she was recalled to Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte because the Superior was dying. St Mary Magdalene Postel died on 16 July 1846 . The General Chapter for the election of the new Superior was held in September of the same year and all but two votes were in favour of Placida, who felt completely unworthy and apologised on her knees. While her Aunt and the Chaplain, were of the opinion that the role of Superior belonged to the Aunt, the Bishop was adamant and validated the votes . A very strange period followed. Placida submitted to the Chapter her need to complete the task entrusted to her for the raising of funds and suggested that she postpone her taking Office for a year and keep only some functions in the interim. The Chapter agreed and entrusted the daily leadership of the community to her Aunt. However, that situation lasted ten years, years in which the Mother Superior, Placida, extended the range of her travels outside of Paris, always moving on foot and often spending the night outdoors.
She kept in correspondence with the members of the community and gave instructions for the assignment of tasks but her short stays at the Convent were rather sad. Maria had taken possession of the Superior’s rooms, while Placida was relegated to an attic; the Aunt humiliated the young Superior in front of the whole community, gave her orders, opened her post, made decisions together with the Chaplain and instructed her on what she should do.
Why was all this possible? Had Placida abdicated her role? Shouldn’t she have taken some more vigorous action towards Maria? In the end, her great sufferings paid off; forcing the Aunt into submission would have jeopardised the already fragile balance of the congregation, which the true Mother Superior knew she had to avoid at all costs.
Shortly after the Consecration of the Abbey Church, which had been completed with the vast funds Placida had raised, Maria died. Placida ran the Community for thirty more years and received Papal approval for the order in 1859 from Pope Pius IX. Her tenure as Mother Superior saw Sisters in the Order increase from 150 to more than 1000, as well as seeing an increase in the number of Convents. Placida’s ambition was to do for the students, the same, that St John the Baptist de La Salle had done for the boys.
Placida died on 4 March 1877 at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte after having been organising relief during the Franco-Prussian War. Placida was Beatified 6 May 1951 by Pope Pius XII.
The Roman Martyrology states – “In the Monastery of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Normandy in France, Blessed Placida (Eulalia) Viel, virgin, who distinguished herself in leading the Congregation of the Christian Schools of Mercy with commitment and humility.”
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde/Our Lady of the Guard , Marseille, France (1221) – 4 March:
Late one afternoon during the thirteenth century, a solitary French fisherman was fishing off the harbour of Marseille. Before he became aware of it, a terrific storm descended upon him. His boat tossed around like a shell and filled with water faster than he could bail it out. His rudder was lost. his mast snapped. Cutting himself free from the rigging with a knife, he had saved himself temporarily from certain drowning. Still, everything looked hopeless and he felt he could never get back to the harbour. The fisherman thought of the family he would never see again and cast a despairing look at the City, the huge rock standing like a sentinel or guard on the mountain which overlooked the City and harbour. Dimly through the gloom, he suddenly saw a solitary figure of a lady, dressed in white, standing firmly on the very top of the rock. She seemed to be extending her hand as if she would help him to the shelter and safety of the harbour. At once it came to him that the Lady so calmly defying the wind and rain could only be the Blessed Mother, so he prayed to her to help him. Almost immediately his boat ceased its wild tossing, righted itself and pushed by a friendly gust of wind, raced into the calm water of the harbour until it drove onto the shore at the very foot of the mountain. Stepping onto the shore, the fisherman fell to his knees and poured out his thanks to the Blessed Virgin and then hurried home to his worried family. The story of his rescue through the assistance of Our Lady, quickly spread throughout the port. It was remembered that other sailors, on numerous occasions during severe storms, had also seen the figure of the Lady on top of the rock. Always when she had appeared, the angry seas had calmed and their crafts had ridden safely into the shelter.
Soon everyone came to believe that the rock was the spot on which the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Guard, would appear whenever her help was desperately required. In thanksgiving to her the sailors of Marseille, in 1213-1218, erected a Chapel on top of the rock . In it they enshrined a lovely Statue of Our Lady. Around 1544, the Chapel was replaced by a large Church and the Statue transferred to it. Sometime during the French Revolution the Statue of Our Lady of Guard was destroyed but during the 1830’s a new Statue was dedicated. That Mary did not confine her help only to sailors was proved in the year 1832, when a severe epidemic of cholera struck Marseille, the people decided to appeal to Mary. Forming a procession, they climbed the mountain, removed the Statue from the Chapel, brought it down and solemnly carried it through the streets of the City. Almost immediately the epidemic waned and in a few days vanished. So they called Mary, Our Lady of Help – the sailors called her Our Lady of Mariners. Some years later, as the fame of the shrine on top of the mountain spread, more and more people made pilgrimages to venerate the Blessed Virgin. The shrine acquired still another name, a name more reflective of who Our Lady truly is for all who call upon her – Notre Dame de la Guarde – Our Lady of Guard, or Guardian.
In Marseilles today, the hill of Notre Dame de la Garde is topped by a beautiful Basilica, built in 1864, at an altitude of 550 feet. This commanding site, however, has been occupied by a Chapel since the year 1214. The interior has a multitude of sailors’ votive offerings and model ships are hung in all parts of it, as signs of thanksgiving for all the mariners who have been assisted by their heavenly mothe, the beautiful Stella Maris.. A golden statue of the Virgin and Child suitably dominates the City from its place on top of the western tower spire.
— St Adrian of May St Adrian of Nicomedia Bl Alexander Blake St Appian of Comacchio St Arcadius of Cyprus St Basinus of Trier Bl Christopher Bales St Felix of Rhuys St Gaius of Nicomedia Bl Humbert III of Savoy St Leonard of Avranches St Nestor the Martyr St Owen Bl Paolo of Brescia St Peter of Pappacarbone Blessed Placida Viel SSC (1815—1877) Virgin, Religious Sister Bl Rupert of Ottobeuren — Martyrs on the Appian Way – 900 saints – Group of 900 martyrs buried in the catacombs of Saint Callistus on the Appian Way, Rome, Italy.c260
Martyrs of Nicomedia – 20 saints – A group of 20 Christians murdered together for their faith. The only details about them to survive are three of their names – Archelaus, Cyrillos and Photius. Nicomedia, Bithynia (in modern Turkey)
Martyrs of the Crimea – 7 saints – A group of 4th century missionary bishops who evangelized in the Crimea and southern Russia, and we martyred for their work. We know little else beyond the names – Aetherius, Agathodorus, Basil, Elpidius, Ephrem, Eugene and Gapito.
Martyred by Communists: Bl Giovanni Fausti, Bl Gjelosh Lulashi, Bl Kolë Shllaku, Bl Zoltán Lajos Meszlényi
Martyred by Elizabeth I: Bl Alexander Blake, Bl Christopher Bales, Bl Nicholas Horner
Thought for the Day – 16 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Steadfastness in Suffering
“When we feel depressed or when we are tempted to strike out angrily against human injustice and misunderstanding, there are two considerations which should help us to be patient.
The first, is the reflection, that everything comes to us from God, or is at least permitted by Him. Why should we rebel against the will of God? Jesus was innocence itself yet He willed to suffer for love of us. Are we unwilling to suffer for love of Him?
The second, is the realisation, that we are sinners who have offended God many times and deserve to be punished. It is necessary to accept patiently, all the sufferings which God sends us in expiation ofour sins. “We are receiving what our deeds deserved” (Lk 23:41).
Above all, we ought to resolve, never to give way to anger in word or deed when we are offended. On these occasions, we should wait until we have calmed down and have asked God for peace of mind. Before we do anything, we need time for reflection and prayer. If we act in this way, we shall not have to be sorry afterwards.
Patience can help us to achieve anything and will eventually help us to gain Heaven.”
Day Fifteen of our Lenten Journey – 3 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 18:18-20,Psalms 31: 5-6, 14, 15-16, Matthew 20: 17-28
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)
“Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” – Matthew 20:22
Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervour, as though it were the first day of our turning back to God. We ought to say: “Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing.”
As our intention is, so will be our progress and he who desires perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man fails frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions …
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes and God’s way is not man’s. If a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out of piety or in the interests of another, it can easily be resumed later. But if it be abandoned carelessly, through weariness or neglect, then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. Much as we try, we still fail too easily in many things. Yet we must always have some fixed purpose, especially against things which beset us the most. Our outward and inward lives alike, must be closely watched and well ordered, for both are important to perfection. (Book 1 Ch 19:1-2)
Quote/s of the Day – 3 March – Wednesday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Jeremiah 18:18-20,Psalms 31: 5-6, 14, 15-16, Matthew 20: 17-28
“Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”
“Only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ, that I may suffer together with Him! I endure everything because He Himself, Who is perfect man, empowers me.”
St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35–107) Martyr
“Do not rejoice in the Cross only in times of peace, preserve the same faith in times of persecution. Do not be a friend to Jesus in times of peace alone, only to become His enemy in times of war. You are now receiving forgiveness for your sins and the spiritual gifts lavishly bestowed by your King so, when war breaks out, fight valiantly for your King.”
St Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Do not live any longer in yourself but let Jesus Christ live in you in such a way that the virtue of this Divine Saviour may be resplendent in all your actions, in order that all may see in you a true portrait of the Crucified and sense, the sweetest fragrance of the holy virtues of the Lord, in interior and exterior modesty, in patience, in gentleness, suffering, charity, humility and in all others that follow.”
St Paul of the Cross (1604-1775)
“To labour and to suffer for the One we love, is the greatest proof of our love.”
“You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” … the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” … Matthew 20:22,28
REFLECTION – “It is our task and, in our case, an obligation, to make of you the object of all our care, our zeal, our ministrations, by word and deed, by warnings, encouragement, admonitions and incitement, (…) so that, in this way, we might insert you into the rhythm of the divine will and face you towards the goal set before us – to give pleasure to God. …
He who is immortal, voluntarily shed His blood. He who created the host of angels, was bound at the hands of soldiers and He who is to judge the living and the dead, was dragged to justice (cf. Acts 10:42; 2 Tm 4:1). Truth was exposed to false witnesses, was slandered, struck, covered with spittle, hung on the wood of the cross – the Lord of glory (cf. 1 Cor 2:8) endured every outrage and suffering without Himself needing these trials. How could this have happened to Him who, even as man, was without sin and who, to the contrary, snatched us away from the tyranny of the sin through which death came into the world and falsely took possession of our first father?
So there is nothing surprising about it, if we submit to even one of these trials since such is our condition … Therefore, we too have to be offended and tempted, afflicted by the cutting off of our wills. According to the interpretation of our Fathers, there is in this, a shedding of blood for this is what it means to be a monk. And we must gain the Kingdom of heaven in that way, by spending our lives in imitation of the Lord. … Apply yourselves zealously to your duties in the thought that by means of them, far from being slaves of men, you are serving God.” … St Theodore the Studite (759- 826) Monk at Constantinople – Catecheses 1
PRAYER – Protect Your family, Lord, trained as it is by the constant exercise of good works. Renew our spirit with the grace that teaches us how to imitate You, to suffer for You and with You, strengthen us with Your consoling presence and lead us, to the joys of heaven. May the intercession of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary keep us on the path of Your kingdom’s glory. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 3 March – Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Thy Grace A Lenten Prayer By St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
O my God, suffer me still, bear with me in spite of my waywardness, perverseness and ingratitude! I improve very slowly but really, I am moving onto heaven, or at least, I wish to move. Only give me Thy grace meet me with Thy grace, I will, through Thy grace, do what I can and Thou shall perfect it for me. Then shall I have happy days, in Thy Presence and in the sight and adoration of Thy five Sacred Wounds. Amen
Saint of the Day – 3 March – Blessed Pietro de Geremia OP (1381-1452) Dominican Priest and Friar, renowned and brilliant Preacher, miracle-worker. In addition to his many miracles and conversions of sinners, he founded the University of Catania and help establish several Dominican Monasteries. Born in 1381 at Palermo, Sicily and died on 3 March 1452 in the Convent of Santa Zita, Palermo, Sicily of natural causes. He is also known as Peter Geremia. Patronages – Palermo, Preachers.
Pietro Geremia was born in Palermo on 10 August 1399 to aristocrats. ad He studied at the Bologna college and was perceived to be an excellent law student and his own pride led him to believe this.
One night in 1422 as he meditated on his vain success and what his future would bring, a recently deceased relative knocked on his third floor window. Pietro sat upright and asked who was there. The relative told him that his constant seeking after worldly glory had caused him to be eternally lost. He warned Pietro not to repeat the fatal errors of sin and pride and thus lose his eternal salvation!
The shaken Geremia purchased an iron chain to wear in mortification and began to seriously pray for guidance in his vocation. He received a sign that he was to enter the Order of Preachers.
His enraged father came to Bologna to stop him but saw how changed Pietro was and the peace and happiness which he emanated. He began his novitiate in Fiesole and was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1424. He made his vows in 1423 and returned to Palermo in 1433, where his superiors appointed him Prior at the Convent of Santa Cita in Palermo, Sicily.
His fame as a Preacher caught the attention of St Vincent Ferrer who once visited him and the two discussed spiritual matters at great lengths. Pietro was seen as one of the finest Preachers on the island and preached in the open often because the Churches never could hold the vast number of people who flocked to hear him.
On one particular occasion there was no food for the people and he asked a fisherman for a donation but the fisherman refused him in a rude manner. So he got into a boat and rowed out to sea and made a sign to the fish who broke the nets in the water and followed him back to the shore. The fisherman apologised and so he made another sign to the fish who returned to the nets in the sea. In 1444 he was preaching on repentance in Catania, when Mount Etna erupted. The people begged him to save them and he went to the Saint Agatha Shrine and removed the Saint’s veil. He held the veil towards the flow of lava heading towards the town and the eruption and lava flow ceased.
These and countless other miracles he performed which caused him to be revered as a saint. He raised the dead to life, healed the crippled and the blind and brought obstinate sinners to the feet of God.
Pope Eugene IV (1431-47) had a great appreciation for his skills and during the Council of Florence (1431-45), which briefly reconciled the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the Pontiff relied on Pietro to help mediate between the two sides.
He died on 3 March 1452 in the Santa Zita Convent in Palermo and was Beatified on 12 May 1784 by Pope Pius VI.
Our Lady of Angels of Toulouse, France (1212) – 3 March:
In the year 1212, three merchants from Angers were passing through the forest of Bondy in France, when they were set upon by robbers. After being robbed, they were bound to trees and left to their fate. Since it was a wild and lonely place, known to be the haunt of robbers, their chances of rescue were few. They prayed earnestly to God and Our Lady and, after a day and a night, angels came in visible form and released them. The men discovered a spring near the place where they had been bound, which they considered to be miraculous. They determined to set up a Shrine of Our Lady on the spot in thanksgiving for their deliverance. The first statue they put into the Shrine was only intended to be temporary, to be used until something better could be made or purchased. However, almost immediately there began a stream of miraculous cures among those who prayed before the rough little statue. In the years that followed, fervent pilgrims came in droves to the Shrine, as evidenced by the numerous drinking vessels found during archaeological excavations carried out on the site. In 1260 the little Chapel was enlarged to enclose also the spring. In 1663 the Chapel was rebuilt and redecorated and so remained until the French Revolution, when it was completely destroyed. However, after the Terror had passed, the Chapel was rebuilt in 1808. One of the many thank-offerings in the Chapel is a ship suspended above the altar, as an ex-voto from a group of sailors who were saved from shipwreck at the intercession of Our Lady. On Sunday, 9 September 2012, the Diocese of Saint-Denis celebrated the 800th anniversary of the pilgrimage to Notre-Dame-des-Anges in Clichy-sour-Bois, under the leadership of Bishop Pascal Delannoy. The pilgrimage to the small Shrine always takes place on the second Sunday of September, and is thought by some to be the second oldest pilgrimage site in France.
__ St Katharine Drexel SBS (1858-1955) (Optional Memorial) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2017/03/03/saint-of-the-day-3-march-st-katharine-drexel/ — St Anselm of Nonantola St Arthelais of Benevento Bl Benedetto Sinigardi da Arezzo St Calupan St Camilla St Cele-Christ St Cunegundes St Foila Bl Frederick of Hallum St Gervinus Bl Innocent of Berzo Bl Jacobinus de’ Canepaci St Lamalisse St Non Blessed Pietro de Geremia OP (1381-1452) Priest Bl Pierre-René Rogue St Sacer St Teresa Eustochio Verzeri St Titian of Brescia St Winwallus of Landévennec — 40 Martyrs in North Africa – A group of Christians martyred together in North Africa, date unknown. No details have survived, but we know these names – Antonius, Artilaus, Asclipius, Astexius, Basil, Bosimus, Carissimus, Castus, Celedonius, Claudianus, Cyricus, Donata, Emeritus, Emeterius, Euticus, Felix, Fortunatus, Frunumius, Gajola, Georgius, Gorgonius, Hemeterus, Isicus, Janula, Julius, Luciola, Luciolus, Marcia, Marinus, Meterus, Nicephorus, Papias, Photius, Risinnius, Sabianus, Savinianus and Solus
Martyrs of Pontus – 3+ saints – A large group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Emperor Maximian Galerius and governor Ascleopiodato. We have some details on three of them – Basiliscus, Cleonicus and Eutropius. 308 in Pontus (in modern Turkey) Martyrs of Caesarea; Asterius Marinus Martyrs of Calahorra Cheledonius Emeterius
Martyrs of Gondar, Ethiopia: Bl Antonio Francesco Marzorati Bl Johannes Laurentius Weiss Bl Michele Pío Fasol
Thought for the Day – 23 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Christian Formation of Character
“St Francis de Sales writes thus, with his usual simplicity: “A way has been found of making bitter almonds sweet, by pucturing them at the base and squeezing out the juice. Why cannot we eject our evil inclinations in order to make ourselves better. There is nobody so good by nature, that a bad habit could not altogether corrupt him. Similarly, there is nobody so bad by nature, that he could not be trained in goodness by the grace of God and his own perseverance.” St Francis de Sales did not teach this in theory alone but, he put his advice into practice to an heroic degree in his own life. He was endowed by nature, with a vigorous, irascible and resentful disposition and he bacame an angel of gentleness and affability. From his youth, he was aware of the defects in his character. He himself, admitted, that he struggled against them for twenty two years with God’s help. He reached the point where he was able to remain silent when he was insulted and to refrain from defending himself, when he was slandered, for he had acquired an inward peace and a remarkable calmness of manner. This gentleness of character enabled him to convert over seventy thousand heretics, to win back hardened sinners to Jesus Christ and, to set countless souls on fire with the love of God. This is the man called “the Gentle Christ of Geneva” and “the Gentleman Saint!” We have a great deal to learn from him!
Day Fourteen of our Lenten Journey – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20,Psalms 50: 8-9,16-17, 21 and 23, Matthew 23:1-12
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)
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” … Matthew 23:12
WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart.
Meanwhile, we do wrong and then do worse in excusing it. At times, we are moved by passion and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes and overlook greater ones in ourselves.
We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us.
If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgement on others. The interior man, puts the care of himself before all other concerns and he who attends to himself carefully, does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself.
If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about you. … You will sweetly repose if your heart does not rebuke you. Rejoice at nothing but only your good deeds. Bad men have never a true joy, nor feel inner peace, for “there is no peace for the wicked” (Is 57:21). … He is easily calmed and contented whose conscience is clean. Praise makes you not more holy, nor insult more worthless.
What you are you are, what God knows of you, is all that can be said for you. If you will only look at what you truly are, you will not care what men say of you. “Man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). (Book 2 Ch 5)
Quote/s of the Day – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20,Psalms 50: 8-9,16-17, 21 and 23, Matthew 23:1-12
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
“My brothers, keep away from the beast of boasting and concern for one’s reputation, for these destroy and weaken, every good work.”
Bl Raymond of Capua (c 1330-1399)
“The one sole thing, in myself, in which I glory, is that I see in myself, nothing, in which I can glory.”
St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
“Humility is not just about self-mistrust but about the entrusting of ourselves to God. Distrusting ourselves and our own strength produces trust in God and from that trust, generosity of soul is born.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of Charity
“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all, how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”
St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
“There is more value in a little study of humility and, in a single act of it, than in all the knowledge in the world.”
St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of Prayer
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” … Matthew 23:12
REFLECTION – “Humility is a secret power the saints receive when they bring all their life’s ascetical practices to a successful conclusion. For indeed, this power is only bestowed on those who attain to the perfection of virtue through the strength of grace … It is the same power the blessed Apostles received in the form of fire. Our Saviour commanded them, in fact, not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the power from on high (Acts 2:3; 1:4). Here Jerusalem stands for virtue; the power is humility and the power from on high, is the Paraclete, in other words the Consoler Spirit.
Now this is exactly what Sacred Scripture had said – these mysteries are revealed to the humble (Lk 10:21). To the humble it is given to receive within themselves that Spirit of revelation that uncovers mysteries. That is why certain saints have said that humility is what brings the soul to fulfilment in divine contemplation. So let no-one start thinking they have attained complete humility because at some moment a thought of compunction came to them or because they shed a few tears …. But if someone has overcome every contrary spirit …, if he has overturned and subjected all the strongholds of the enemy and if he then feels that he has received that grace in which “the Spirit bears witness to our spirit” (Rom 8:16), in the Apostle Paul’s words, then there is the perfection of humility. Blessed are they who possess it. For they continually embrace the breast of Jesus (cf. Jn 13,25).” … St Isaac the Syrian of Nineveh (c 613-c 700) Bishop of Nineveh, Monk at Mosul – Ascetical discourses, 1st series, no 20
PRAYER – Almighty Father, look with favour on Your family and as You have given us Your Son as Master and Redeemer, grant that we may be strengthened by Your grace, to follow His teachings. May the prayers of St Chad be heard for ou needs. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 2 March – Tuesday of the Second week of Lent
Prayer for the Gift of Prayer By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
O Incarnate Word, You have given Your Blood and Your Life to confer on our prayers that power by which, according to Your promise, they obtain for us all that we ask. And we, O God, are so careless of our salvation, that we will not even ask You for the graces that we must have, if we should be saved! In prayer You have given us the key of all Your Divine treasures; and we, rather than pray, choose to remain in our misery. Alas! O Lord, enlighten us, and make us know the value of prayers, offered in Your name and by Your merits, in the eyes of Your Eternal Father. Amen
Saint of the Day – 2 March – Saint Chad (c 620-672) Bishop of Lichfield, Confessor, Abbot, Monk, known as the Apostle of Mercia. St Chad was a man of holy humility and mortification. He was an great carer of the poor and a man of zealous energy, visiting all in his massive Diocese on foot. Born in c 620 in Northumbria, England and died on 2 March 672 at Lichfield, England of natural causes after a brief illness, which is thought might have been the plague. Patronages – Birmingham, England, Archdiocese of, Lichfield, England, Diocese of. Also known as St Chad of Mercia, of Lichfield, Ceadda.
St Chad, or Ceadda, was the youngest of the four brothers – Cedd, Cynebil, Celin and Chad, all eminent Priests. Despite attempts to claim him as both a Scottish and an Irish saint, he was certainly an Angle, born of noble parents in Northumbria around 620. Bede tells us, that Chad, along with his elder brothers, was a pupil of St Aidan at his Lindisfarne school. The Bishop required the young men who studied with him, to spend much time in reading Holy Scripture and in learning, by heart, large portions of the Psalter, which they would require in their devotions. Upon the death of Aidan, in 651, the four young men went to Ireland to complete their training. The Emerald Isle was then full of men of learning and piety and Chad, there, made the acquaintance of Egbert, afterwards Abbot of Iona.
Meanwhile, Chad’s brother, Cedd, had returned to England and evangelised the East Saxons. In 658, at the request of King Aethelwald of Deira, he also established a Monastery at Lastingham in Yorkshire, standing just on the edge of the North York Moors. Though often absent, he frequently returned there from his London Diocese and, at a time of the 664 plague, he died there. Upon his death-bed, Cedd bequeathed the care of the Monastery to his brother, Chad, who was then still in Ireland.
On his return, Chad ruled the Lastingham Abbey with great care and prudence and received all who sought his hospitality with kindness and humility. However, he arrived in Northumbria during a period of religious change and political upheaval. Eventually, the heavily pro-Roman and, therefore to some factions, unpopular St Wilfred, was given the Northumbrian Bishopric which he transferred to York.
The following year, while St Wilfred was away, King Oswiu of Northumbria became impatient for some religious guidance in his kingdom and decided to send Chad to Kent to be Consecrated Bishop of the Northern Church. He was accompanied by the King’s Chaplain, Edhed, who was, some years afterwards, made Abbot of Ripon. However, upon their arrival in Canterbury, the two Priests found that Archbishop Deusdedit had died of the Plague. His successor, Wigheard, was journeying to Rome for his Consecration and Bishop Ithamar of Rochester was too close to death to be of any help. So they turned aside to Wessex where, at Dorchester-on-Thames, they were greeted by Bishop Wine. He was the only canonically ordained bishop available in England, yet the required ceremony demanded three. Wine therefore called upon two Welsh and/or Cornish Bishops to help him and Chad was duly Consecrated Bishop of York in Dorchester Cathedral.
Bishop Chad began, at once, to apply himself to the practice of humility, continence and study. He travelled about his new Diocese, not on horseback but after the manner of the Apostles, on foot, to preach the gospel in the towns and the open countryside, according to the example of both St Aidan and his late brother, Cedd. Wilfred returned to England in AD 666 and, finding himself, deposed, quietly retired to his Abbey at Ripon. He remained, however, an opponent of Chad who was constantly criticised for the manner of his appointment. Three years later, Theodore of Tarsus, a new Archbishop arrived in Canterbury from the Continent. Being naturally a staunch supporter of the Roman doctrine, he soon charged Chad with holding an uncanonical office. The northern prelate humbly replied that if this were true, he would willingly resign for he never thought himself worthy of the position and had only consented out of a sense of duty. Theodore was so moved, that he completed Chad’s ordination himself in the Roman manner. Though the latter still preferred to resign in favour of Wilfred and he thus retired to Lastingham. Though Chad was Bishop of York for so short a time, he left his mark on the affections of the people, for we find that at least one oratory was dedicated in his name at York Minster.
In 669, Bishop Jaruman of Mercia died and King Wulfhere asked Archbishop Theodore to send his people a new Christian leader. The primate did not wish to consecrate a fresh bishop, so he persuaded King Oswiu to release Chad from the Abbacy of Lastingham to be the new Mercian Bishop. Soon after his election, Chad set out for Repton in Derbyshire, where Diuma, the first Bishop of Mercia, had established his see. Theodore, knowing that it was Chad’s custom to travel on foot, bade him ride, whenever he had a long journey to perform. However, finding Chad unwilling to comply, the Archbishop was forced to lift him onto his horse, with his own hands and oblige him to ride.
Chad did not stay long at Repton but removed the centre of the Mercian See to Lichfield in Staffordshire. Whether this was through a desire for a more central position, or was influenced by a wish to do honour to a spot enriched with the blood of martyrs, is unknown. For Licetfield was then thought to translate as “Field of the Dead” where one thousand British Christians were said to have been butchered. Possibly also, he wished to be closer to the popular Royal Palace at Tamworth.
Chad’s new Diocese was not much less in extent than that of Northumbria. It comprised seventeen counties and stretched from the banks of the Severn to the shores of the North Sea. For the Dioceses of Worcester, Leicester, Lindsey and Hereford had still to be detached. Though such an area may be thought far beyond the power of one man to administer effectively, Chad apparently rose to the challenge. King Wulfhere gave him the land of fifty families upon which to build a Monastery, where the ancient Saxon Church still stands.
Chad built himself a small oratory beside Stowe Pool at Lichfield. It adjoined a large well and a small Church (St Chad’s), not far from his new Cathedral. He would immerse himself in the deep well every morning and meditate in the icy waters before setting out around his Diocese to care for the needy. When time allowed, Chad was also wont to pray and read with seven or eight other brethren in his cell. If it happened that there blew a strong gust of wind, when he was reading or doing anything else, he at once called upon the Lord for mercy. If it blew stronger, he, prostrating himself, prayed more earnestly. But if it proved a violent storm of wind or rain, or of thunder and lightning, he would pray and repeat Psalms in the Church until the weather became calm. He explained to his followers that the Lord moves the air, raises the winds, darts lightning and thunders from heaven to excite the inhabitants of the earth to fear him, to dispel their pride, vanquish their boldness and to put them in mind of their future judgement.
It was to Bishop Chad’s little cell that Prince Wulfade of Mercia happened to chase a handsome deer whilst out hunting one day. Struck by the words of the pious holyman, the Prince was converted and was Baptised in the Bishop’s well. His brother, Rufine, soon followed suit. Their father, King Wulfhere, had relapsed into Paganism and was furious at his sons. Having his mind further poisoned by their enemy – a thane named Werbode – he rode out and slew them both with his own hands. Immediately stung with remorse, however, the King fell ill and was counselled by his Queen to ask Chad to give him absolution. As a penance, the saint told him to build several abbeys and, amongst the number, he completed Peterborough Minster (Cathedral), which his brother had begun. He was converted to Christianity and, often afterwards, sought the Bishop’s advice.
After a rule of two and a half years, a deadly plague began to ravage the Midlands. Many of the Lichfield brethren were felled by the disease and it was not long before Bishop Chad’s time came near. This was heralded by a heavenly audition, witnessed by Owin, a Monk of great merit who had joined Chad at Lastingham from the entourage of St Etheldreda, whilst he worked outside the Bishop’s oratory. Chad immediately called upon him to gather the brethren, then praying in the Church, around him. He encouraged them to preserve the virtue of peace amongst themselves and follow his example in all things when he had gone. He explained to Owin that his death would come to pass within seven days and so it did.
Chad died on the 2nd March 672 and was first buried in St Mary’s Church at Lichfield. Like many Cathedrals of the time, however, there were many Churches in the Episcopal complex and when the Church of St Peter was completed, his bones were translated there. Frequent miraculous cures were attested in both places.
Though Chad’s episcopate was short, it was abundantly esteemed by the warm-hearted Mercians, for thirty-one Churches are dedicated in his honour, all in the midland counties, either in or near the ancient Diocese of Lichfield. His relics were translated to the present Cathedral, when it was rebuilt by Bishop Roger, in honour of the Blessed Virgin and St Chad. There, they reposed in a beautiful shrine erected by Bishop Walter Langton in his newly-built Lady Chapel from the early 14th century until the Reformation. Some of them were saved from destruction and are now on display in Birmingham Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Chad’s emblem is a branch, perhaps this was suggested by the Gospel of St John which speaks of the fruitful branches of the vine. This was formerly read on the Feast of Chad’s Translation, which was celebrated with great pomp at Lichfield every year. However, he is most easily recognised in art through his cradling a little church with three spires, Lichfield Cathedral.
Our Lady of Apparitions, Madrid, Spain (1449) – 2 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Apparitions, at Madrid, so called because, in the year 1449, the Blessed Virgin appeared during eight following days to a young woman named Yves and ordered her to build a Church in her honour, on the spot where she should find a Cross planted to Our Lady.”
Cubas de la Sagra is a municipality in Spain in the Province and autonomous community of Madrid. The approved apparitions of Our Lady in 1449 that occurred there, are now almost inexplicably unknown, barely mentioned in passing, or treated as a legend in some books, if even recognised as a point on some ancient map. It is true that the hosts of Napoleon looted and destroyed the Sanctuary and Monastery built there and that, the war in 1936 did not leave one stone upon another but, the memory of what happened there in 1449 must not be forgotten, at least by Catholics! In the year 1449, Cubas was only a village with a simple Church dedicated to Saint Andrew. The population of Cubas, however, lived quite forgetful of their duties to God and their sins were so many, that it seemed even to them, that the hand of God must be hovering over the land, ready to punish them. The Chronicles speak then of a young girl of 12, named Ines, (sometimes Yves or Agnes), who was but of humble birth. Still, there was something about her that made her different from other girls her age. She fasted, confessed regularly, and prayed daily the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Perhaps her deep faith and religiosity may explain what happened next. On Monday, 3 March 1449, Ines was tending pigs on the outskirts of town in a place called Cecilia, when at noon a woman appeared, a lady bright and beautiful dressed in cloth of gold. She was surrounded by ligh, and asked Ines what she was doing there. Ines stated that she was tending the pigs. The Lady then said that the people were no longer keeping the fasts and told Ines the necessity of fasting. The lady said that the people of Cubas must change their ways, confess and cease their debauchery and offences against God, or He would soon punish them. There would be a great pestilence that would come upon them from which many would die. Perhaps knowing the hardheartedness of the people, Ines asked if she, too, or her mother and father, would die of this pestilence. She was told only that it would be as God desired. The lady then disappeared. At first Ines did not tell anyone of the incident, for she thought no-one would believe what had happened. On Tuesday, 4 March, Ines was again tending the pigs, this time near the stream of Torrejon . At about the same time of day, at noon, just as the day before, the Lady reappeared. She asked Ines if she had told the people what she had been told to say but Ines answered that she dared not to, for she suspected that she would not be believed. The Lady then commanded Ines to warn the people and that if they did not believe, she would give her a sign. Ines asked the Lady who she was but she said she would not yet reply, before once again disappearing. Finally Ines decided to tell her father, Alfonso Martinez, who did not give any importance to the events recounted by his daughter but thought it a children’s story, a story invented in the imagination of a young girl. He told Ines to be quiet when she tried to tell anyone about the warning. On Friday, 7 March, Ines was keeping the pigs in New Prado, when the Lady reappeared again as before. She asked Ines if she had told what she had been commanded to say. Ines answered that she had told her mother and father and many others. The Lady told Ines to publish what she had said to all the people without any fear or trepidation. When Ines went home at the end of the day, she told her parents what had happened. Her father told her she was lying and to “shut up” but her mother encouraged Ines, saying, “Well, still, say it.” By Sunday, 9 March, word had spread. A Priest, Juan Gonzalez, with some other men, went to Ines’ home and talked to her parents. Afterwards, the Priest went to say Mass . Ines went out with the pigs, accompanied by her brother Juan, to a place called The Ciroleda. Ines’ father left them and went to Mass. The Ciroleda was a watery meadow that the pigs liked. Ines left her brother after a time, looking for one of the pigs that had slipped away and soon lost sight of her brother. All by herself, she knelt on the soft earth, asking the lady to return, even though she was afraid. The Lady appeared again as before, telling Ines to rise. “Lady, who are you?” Ines asked. “I am the Virgin Mary,” the lady answered and approaching Ines, took her right hand and squeezed her fingers and thumb together making some kind of a sign . She then told Ines to go to the Church and show the sign to the people as they left Mass. Ines told her brother to watch after the pigs and went to the Church, arriving just as Mass was finished. She was crying and went to kneel before the Altar of Mary. There, she told everyone what had happened. I cannot decipher what the sign was in Ines’ hand but whatever it was, the people examined her hand and many believed. The following day the Priest led the notables of the town and the faithful in a procession to the place of the last apparitions, carrying a wooden Cross. When they arrived, Ines walked forward alone with the Cross. The Virgin Mary herself took the Cross, telling Ines to have a Church built there in her honour. Th Cross was permanently placed where the Virgin, Our Lady of Apparitions, had been last seen and many miracles occurred there, including 11 people who were brought back to life . A Church was begun shortly after the apparitions of the Virgin were approved. It stood for nearly five centuries, when it was destroyed in the 1936 fire, caused during the Civil War. Many of the Nuns who were living in the Convent nearby, were martyred. In 1949 the reconstruction was completed in part by the Regiones Devastadas, who placed the current Cross in the same place where the first had been. According to tradition, Ines ended her life in the Monastery of Santa Maria de la Cruz after having children and being widowed. It is said that anyone who goes to visit the place, with faith, receives special graces and that miracles still occur there.
Bl Charles the Good St Cynibild of Laestingaeu Bl Engelmar Unzeitig St Felix of Treves St Fergna the White Bl Girolamo Carmelo di Savoia St Gistilian St Joavan of Brittany St John Maron St Jovinus the Martyr St Lorgius of Caesarea St Lucius of Caesarea St Luke Casali St Quintus the Thaumaturge St Slebhene St Troas St Willeic — Martyrs of Campania – Approximately 400 northern Italian Christians martyred for their faith by pagan Lombards. Their story was recorded by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who reports that they people spent their final days supporting each other with prayer. c579 in Camnpania, Italy.
Martyrs of Porto Romano – 4 saints – Group of Christians martyred in the persecution of Diocletian. The only other information that survives are the names of four of them – Heraclius, Januaria, Paul and Secondilla. c305 at Porto Romano at the mouth of the River Tiber, Rome.
The month of March is known as the Month of St Joseph and is punctuated by the Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 19 March.
The Year and this month of March of St Joseph, are an ideal time to “go to Joseph” for all the help we need to be holy. Even small details, like adding the invocation, “St Joseph, pray for us!” following grace before meals, and after the family Rosary each day, setting an alarm on your phone to spend a moment with the Holy Guardian of the Church and ask him to pray especially for our Holy Mother Church in these most difficult times, all these, can be effective reminders of the closeness of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Amen!
Thought for the Day – 17 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Commandments and the Desires of Jesus Christ
“Whoever has Jesus in his heart,” writes St Francis de Sales, “has Him also in his actions.” If God really lives in us, He cannot be inactive but will work with us for our sanctification. Our actions must be the actions of Jesus Christ. Remember that the Gospel says, that a good tree will produce good fruit, while a bad tree will produce bad fruit (Cf Mt 7:17). From the fruits which we produce, we can see clearly, if Jesus is working in us. Holiness consists in accepting the will of God, whatever it is, whether it be sacrifice, sorrow or humiliation. We must allow Jesus to act in us as He desires. Not only must we conform to His holy will but, we must do so, with enthusiasm. We must be obedient instruments of His grace, doing precisely what He wants us to do. If He wishes us to suffer, we must be prepared to do so for Him, knowing that we are participating and, co-operating, in the work of His Redemption. If He desires us to be happy, we should humbly accept happiness from His Hands. Everything must be as Jesus wills. We must transform ourselves into Him, like the white host which first is bread and through the act of consecration, becomes Jesus Christ!”
Day Thirteen of our Lenten Journey – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Daniel 9:4-10, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11 and 13, Luke 6:36-38
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)
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36
NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man. For one who is in need, however, a good work may at times be purposely left undone or changed for a better one. This is not the omission of a good deed but rather its improvement.
Without charity external work is of no value but anything done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely fruitful, inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts, rather than the deed itself.
He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests.
Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really sensuality, for man’s own inclination, his own will, his hope of reward and his self-interest, are motives seldom absent. On the contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing but searches all things for the glory of God. Moreover, he envies no man, because he desires no personal pleasure nor does he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he desires the greater glory of God above all things. He ascribes to man nothing that is good but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all things proceed as from a fountain and in Whom, all the blessed shall rest as their last end and fruition.
If man had but a spark of true charity, he would surely sense that all the things of earth are full of vanity! (Book 1 Ch 15)
Quote/s of the Day – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent, Readings: Daniel 9:4-10, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11 and 13, Luke 6:36-38
“Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give, will be the measure you get back.”
“Someone who shows no clemency, who is not clothed with the bowels of mercy and tears, no matter what sort of student he is in spirituality, such a one does not fulfil the law of Christ.”
St Jerome (343-420) “The Man of the Bible” Father and Doctor of the Church
“Lift up and stretch out your hands, not to heaven but to the poor… if you lift up your hands in prayer without sharing with the poor, it is worth nothing.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you, nothing that you have received— only what you have given – a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
St Francis of Assisi (c 1181–1226)
“Let us learn of Him, that holy preference, which shows most love, to those who suffer most.”
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813–1853) “Servant to the Poor”
“For the measure you give, will be the measure you get back.”… Luke 6:38
REFLECTION – “Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things – they leave behind them in this world but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.” – St Francis of Assisi (c 1181–1226)
PRAYER – We beseech Your mercy Lord, let Your Spirit come upon us in power and fill us with His gifts, to render our minds and hearts pleasing to You and make us docile and merciful as Your Son has taught us. May our Lord Jesus, Your Son, guide us and may the prayers of St Albinus of Angers assist us to engrave Your precepts in our hearts and actions. Through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 1 March – Monday of the Second week of Lent
Alone With None but Thee, My God Attri. St Columban (543-615)
Alone with none but Thee, my God I journey on my way, what need I fear when Thou art near, O King of night and day? More safe am I within Thy hand than if a host should round me stand.
My destined time is known to Thee, and death will keep his hour; did warriors strong around me throng, they could not stay his power. No walls of stone can man defend when Thou Thy messenger dost send.
My life I yield to Thy decree and bow to Thy control in peaceful calm, for from Thine arm no power can wrest my soul, could earthly omens e’er appal a man that heeds the heavenly call?
The child of God can fear no ill, His chosen, dread no foe; we leave our fate with Thee and wait Thy bidding when to go, ’tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our Trust, O King of kings.
Saint of the Day – 1 March – Saint Albinus of Angers (469-549) Bishop, Confessor, Monk, Abbot, miracle-worker. Born in 469 at Vannes, Brittany, France and died in 1 March 549 of natural causes. Patronage – invoked against pirate attacks. Also known as Aubin of Angers, Albino of Angers.
Albinus was born of an ancient and noble family in Brittany and from his childhood, was fervent in every exercise of piety. He ardently sighed after the happiness which a devout soul finds in being perfectly disengaged from all earthly things. Having embraced the monastic state at Cincillac, called afterwards Tintillant, a place somewhere near Angers, he shone a perfect model of virtue, especially of prayer, watching, universal mortification of the senses and obedience, living as if in all things he had been without any will of his own and his soul seemed so perfectly governed, by the Spirit of Christ, as to live only for Him.
In 504, at the age of thirty-five years, he was chosen Abbot and remained so for twenty-five years and thereafter, was chosen as the Bishop of Angers. He restored discipline, being inflamed with a holy zeal for the honour of God. His dignity seemed to make no alteration either in his mortifications, or in the constant recollection of his soul. Honoured by all the world, even by Kings, he was never affected with vanity. Powerful in works and miracles, he looked upon himself as the most unworthy and most unprofitable among the servants of God and had no other ambition than to appear such, in the eyes of others, as he was in those of his own humility. By his courage in maintaining the law of God and the canons of the church, he showed that true greatness of soul is founded in the most sincere humility.
At the third Council of Orleans, in 538, he procured the thirtieth Canon of the Council of Epaone to be revived, by which those are declared excommunicated who presume to contract incestuous marriages in the first or second degree of consanguinity or affinity (marriage between those closely related through blood), as well as other immoral practices. This action caused a great deal of persecution by the wealthy families of the time, who were guilty of these sins.
Many Christians of his Diocese had fallen into slavery through the invasions of the barbarians and Saint Albinus used every resource available to him for their redemption. To the graces of charity from which his people benefitted, were joined those deriving from his public miracles. He resurrected a young child and when one of his servants died during his absence, those who carried the man to his grave were unable to lower him until the Bishop arrived to give the final benediction.
One of the miracles recorded states that as St Albinus passed a prison tower in Angers he heard the cries and moans of badly treated prisoners. He entered and added his moans to those of the prisoners in his pleading for clemency. He then went to the local Magistrate and formally submitted a plea for their release but it was refused. He returned to the tower and prayed in front of it, after several hours, a landslide brought down part of the tower, the prisoners escaped, followed Albinus to the Church of Saint Maurichies, reformed their ways and became model citizens and Christians.
Albinus was a contemporary of St Bede. We owe appreciation to St Albinus for assisting St Bede in composing his “Ecclesiastical History of the English.” St Bede records this fact in the letter he sent to Albinus with a copy of the work. St Bede also spoke very highly of Albinus, stating that he was a most learned man in all the sciences and giving Albinus credit for his assistance.
He died on the 1st of March, in 549. In 556, his relics were taken up and enshrined by St Germanus of Paris and a council of Bishops, with Eutropius, the Saint’s successor, at Angers. The most considerable part still remains in the Church of the famous Abbey of St Albinus at Angers, built upon the spot where he was buried, by King Childebert, a little before his relics were enshrined.
Many Churches in France and several Monasteries and Villages, bear his name. He was honoured by many miracles, both in his lifetime and after his death. Several are related in his life written by Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, who came to Angers to celebrate his festival seven years after his death, also by St Gregory of Tours. From St Gregory of Tours too, we know that the cult of St Albinus was extremely widespread, spreading to Germany, England and Poland, making Albinus one of the most popular Saints of the Middle Ages.
St Albinus, we need your intercession in our times, please pray for us!
Our Lady Della Croce, “Holy Mary of the Cross,”Crema, Italy (1490) – 1 March:
There is a Sanctuary of the Madonna on the Bergamo Road, about a mile away from the city of Crema, Italy. The structure is a circular form, with four additions in the shape of a cross, which gave rise to the name: “Holy Mary of the Cross,” or Our Lady Della Croce. The Sanctuary is located in a place where, in years gone by, there stood a dense little wood called “Il Novelletto.”
In the late 15th century, a young woman named Caterina Uberti lived with her brother in the city of Crema. When she arrived at marriageable age, her brother induced her to wed one Bartolomeo Petrobelli; it was an unfortunate arrangement – Caterina was good and pious; Bartolomeo was quite the opposite, tending toward the wicked and corrupt. The marriage was unhappy for Caterina and uncomfortable for Bartolomeo – his rather crude and brutal ways shamed her, while her refined and holy life was a silent reproach to his somewhat scandalous mode of living. So, after a year of turmoil, Bartolomeo decided to kill Caterina. Having made up his mind, he lost no time in carrying out his evil design. He suggested that they journey to Bergamo and visit his parents; she agreed and in the late afternoon of 3 April 1490, they mounted their horses and set forth from the city. When they arrived at the wood about a mile from Crema, Bartolomeo left the highway and rode into the forest; Caterina was puzzled but not knowing what else to do, followed him. When they reached the middle of the wood, Bartolomeo dismounted and made Caterina get down from her horse. Then, without warning, he drew his sword, raised it and fiercely brought it down, intending to split her head with one clean cut. Instinctively she drew up her arm to ward off the savage blow, saved her head but lost her right hand – the poor severed hand hung from the stump of her arm by a strip of skin and Bartolomeo brutally tore it off and flung it to one side. He then slashed at her like a maniac until she fell to the ground in a pool of blood; thinking her dead, he leaped on his horse and fled. Caterina was not dead, nor was she afraid to die, though she felt her time was short. With all her dying heart she wished for the Last Sacraments; so she prayed to the Mother of God, who heard her prayer. A glow of light pushed back the gathering darkness and a beautiful lady approached her. Reaching down, the Lady, Our Lady Della Croce, took her by the arm and helped her rise – the blood stopped flowing and new life coursed through her mutilated body. The Lady bade Caterina follow her but Caterina asked if she might look for her lost hand. The Lady promised it would be returned to her in due time. Taking Caterina to a hut, she told her these people would help her and then vanished. The kind peasants did all they could for Caterina, and the next morning they placed her on a rude stretcher and tenderly carried her back to Crema. As they passed through the wood, one of the men found the severed hand and returned it to Caterina. They took her to the Church of St Benedetto, where the Priest, after hearing the story, anointed Caterina who died there. The story spread rapidly; some believed, others doubted that the Blessed Virgin worked such wonders. An eleven year old boy, living in Crema plagued with an unhealable abscess on a foot, begged to be taken to the wood to put his foot on the spot where the Lady appeared. His mother and a group of relatives carried him there and he was instantly cured, all abscess traces gone. Many other sick and infirm came also and were cured . The people erected a small Chapel on the spot and placed in it a plaster image of Our Lady. More favours followed; many offerings were made by the faithful and by 1500, in a few years a fitting Sanctuary to the Madonna was completed. Later a fine new statue of Mary was enshrined in the Sanctuary and in 1873, Our Lady Della Croce was crowned with a golden crown by order of the Vatican.
St Abdalong of Marseilles St Adrian of Numidia St Agapios of Vatopedi St Agnes Cao Guiying St Albinus of Angers (469-549) Bishop St Albinus of Vercelli St Amandus of Boixe St Antonina of Bithynia Bl Aurelia of Wirberg Bl Bonavita of Lugo St Bono of Cagliari Bl Christopher of Milan Bl Claudius Gabriel Faber St David of Wales (c 542-c 601) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2017/03/01/saint-of-the-day-1-march-st-david-of-wales/ St Domnina of Syria St Domnina of Syria St Donatus of Carthage St Eudocia of Heliopolis St Felix III, Pope Bl George Biandrate Bl Giovanna Maria Bonomo Bl Gonzalo de Ubeda St Hermes of Numidia St Jared the Patriarch St Leo of Rouen St Leolucas of Corleone St Lupercus St Marnock St Monan Bl Pietro Ernandez Bl Roger Lefort St Rudesind St Seth the Patriarch St Simplicius of Bourges St Siviard St Swithbert St Venerius of Eichstätt
Martyrs of Africa – A group of 13 Christians executed together for their faith in Africa. The only details about them to survive are ten names – Abundantius, Adrastus, Agapius, Charisius, Donatilla, Donatus, Fortunus, Leo, Nicephorus and Polocronius. c290
Martyrs of Antwerp – A group of Christians martyred together, buried together and whose relics were transferred and enshrined together. We know nothing else but their names – Benignus, Donatus, Felician, Fidelis, Filemon, Herculanus, Julius, Justus, Maximus, Pelagius, Pius, Primus, Procopius and Silvius. Died in the 2nd Century in Rome. They are buried in the St Callistus Catacombs and their relics were enshirned in the Jesuit Church in Antwerp on 28 February 1600.
Martyrs of the Salarian Way – A group of 260 Christians who, for their faith, were condemned to road work on the Salarian Way in Rome, Italy during the persecutions of Claudius II. When they were no longer needed for work, they were publicly murdered in the amphitheatre. Martyrs. c269 in Rome.
Martyrs Under Alexander – A large but unspecified number of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Emperor Alexander Severus and the praefect Ulpian who saw any non-state religion to be a dangerous treason. c 219.
Thought for the Day – 28 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Living the Gospel
“The Gospel teaches perfection. It teaches the perfection of the interior life, as well as the exterior life, of private, as well as of domestic and social life. There is no problem in the universe, which has not been solved in the Gospel. In regard to the spiritual life, its command is clear. “You are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with they whole mind … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30, Lk 10:27). “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). “Blessed are the poor in spirit … the clean of heart … the peacemakers …” (Mt 5:3-10). “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast and give to the poor and thou shall have treasure in heaven” (Mt 19:21). “Our Father who art in heaven … thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). “Father … not my will but thine be done” (Lk 22:42). Anyone who identifies himself with these maxims, rises above the level of a man, to that of an angel. His interior life soars to such a peak, that he seems to be leading a heavenly, rather than an earthly existence. If he is living the Gospel, moreover, his external behaviour will be a faithful mirror of his interior life, for it is not enough to say “Lord, Lord” but a man must also do the will of the Father (Cf Mt 7:21). A man’s domestic and social life, will follow the pattern of his private life.
When he has reached the summit of perfection, an invisible force will emanate from him, the force of good example. This force will transform everything, within him and around him. Like Mary and the Saints, he will become the loyal and powerful co-worker of Christ in the redemption of the human race and in the Christian transformation of society. Redemption and restoration, can come only through the Gospel. Other theories are always bound up with and impeded by, human egoism. The doctrine of the Gospel is reinforced by the love of God and our neighbour. In the Gospel, public and private justice is transformed into the charity of Christ which cannot be impeded by any earthly difficulty, nor by any human barrier, not even by death. “Who shall separate us from the charity of Christ?” (Rom 8:35) asks St Paul. Let us meditate on this.”
Day Twelve of our Lenten Journey – 28 February – The Second Sunday of Lent, Readings: Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18, Psalms 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19, Romans 8:31-34, Mark 9:2-10
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 was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white” – Mark 9:2-3
DISCIPLE: Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears. I am Your servant and beg You for the understanding to know Your commandments. Incline my heart to follow Your holy teachings, that they may seep into my soul as dew seeps into the grass. … Speak to me Yourself Lord, for Your servant is listening. You alone have the words of eternal life, speak them to me that they may comfort my soul and help me to amend my whole life – all to Your everlasting honour and glory.
CHRIST: “My child, hear My words and follow them, for they are most sweet and far exceed the learning and wisdom of the philosophers and all the wise of the world. My words are spirit and life and not within the scope of human understanding. They are not to be adapted or applied to the vain complacency of the hearer but are to be heard in silence, with humility and reverence, with deep affection and in great tranquillity of body and soul.”
DISCIPLE:“Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest, O Lord and teachest out of Thy law, to give him peace from the days of evil,” (Ps 94:12-13) and that he be not desolate on earth.
CHRIST: “I taught the prophets from the beginning and even to this day I continue to speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many are deaf to My Voice. Most men listen more willingly to the world than to God. They are more ready to follow the appetite of their flesh, than the good pleasure of God. The world, which promises small and passing things, is served with great eagerness. I promise great and eternal things but the hearts of men grow dull. Who is there that serves and obeys Me in all things, with as great care, as that with which the world and its masters are served?
… And if you ask why, listen to the cause, for a small gain they travel far, for eternal life many will scarcely lift a foot from the ground. They seek a petty reward and sometimes fight shamefully in law courts for a single piece of money. They are not afraid to work day and night for a trifle or an empty promise. But, for an unchanging good, for a reward beyond estimate, for the greatest honour and for glory everlasting, it must be said to their shame, that men begrudge even the least fatigue. Be ashamed, then, lazy and complaining servant, that they should be found more eager for perdition than you are for life, that they rejoice more in vanity than you in truth.
Sometimes indeed, their expectations fail them but My promise never deceives, nor does it send away empty-handed, him who trusts in Me. What I have promised, I will give. What I have said, I will fulfil, if only a man remain faithful in My love to the end. I am the rewarder of all the good, the strong approver of all who are devoted to Me.
Write My words carefully on your heart and meditate on them earnestly, for in time of temptation they will be very necessary. What you do not understand when you read, you will learn in the day of visitation. I am wont to visit My elect in two ways – by temptation and by consolation. To them I read two lessons daily – one reproving their vices, the other exhorting them to progress in virtue. He who has My words and despises them, has that, which shall condemn him on the last day!“ (Books 3 Ch2:1a,3b and Ch3:1-6)
Quote/s of the Day – 28 February – The Second Sunday of Lent, Readings: Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18, Psalms 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19, Romans 8:31-34, Mark 9:2-10
“And a cloud overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
“… He was also providing a firm foundation for the hope of holy Church. The whole body of Christ was to understand, the kind of transformation, that it would receive as His gift. The members of that body were to look forward to a share in that glory which first blazed out in Christ their head.”
St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church
“In most holy contemplation we shall be ever filled with the sight of God shining gloriously around us, as once it shone for the disciples at the divine Transfiguration. And there we shall be, our minds away from passion and from earth and we shall have a conceptual gift, of light from Him and, somehow, in a way we cannot know, we shall be united with Him and, our understanding carried away, blessedly happy, we shall be struck by His blazing light. Marvellously, our minds, will be like those in the heavens above.”
Pseudo Dionysius the Areopogite (5th-6th Century) (The Divine Names, 1)
“By His loving foresight, He allowed them to taste for a short time, the contemplation of eternal joy, so that they might bear persecution bravely.”
The Venerable St Bede (673-735) Father and Doctor of the Church
“At His Transfiguration Christ showed His disciples, the splendour of His beauty, to which He will shape and colour those who are His: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of his glory.’”
St Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) Doctor of the Church
“He was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white” – Mark 9:2-3
REFLECTION – “Three persons were chosen to climb the mountain, two to appear with the Lord … Peter, who received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, was one of those who climbed up and John, to whom was entrusted the Mother of Jesus and James, who would be the first to be elevated to the Episcopal dignity. Then Moses and Elijah, the Law and the prophets, appeared together with the Word … Let us, too, climb the mountain, let us beg the Word of God to appear to us in His “splendour and beauty,” to “be strong, go forth in majesty and reign” (Ps 45:4). …
For if you do not ascend to the peak of a higher knowledge, Wisdom will not appear to you, understanding of the mysteries will not make itself known. The splendour and beauty to be found in the Word of God will not appear to you but God’s Word will seem like a body “without grace or beauty” (Is 53:2). He will seem to you like a man of suffering, “accustomed to infirmity” (v. 3) and like a word born of man, covered with the veil of the letter and not shining with the power of the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor 3:6-17). …
His clothing takes one appearance at the foot of the mountain, another at the top. It might be said that the garments of the Word are Scripture’s words that, so to speak, clothe the divine thoughts. And just as He appeared to Peter, James and John under another aspect, His garment dazzling white, so the meaning of the divine Scriptures is already explained in your mind’s eye. Thus the divine words become like snow “such as no one on earth could bleach them” …
Then followed a cloud, that hid them under its shadow. This shadow is the divine Spirit, which does not cover over men’s hearts but brings to light, what lies hidden … You see, perfect faith is knowledge of the Son of God, not just for beginners but for the perfect and even for the inhabitants of heaven.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan, Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on Saint Luke’s Gospel, VII9 f.
PRAYER – God our Father, You bid us listen to Your Son, the well-beloved. Nourish our heats on Your Word, purify the eyes of our mind and fill us with joy, at the vision of Your glory. May our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary accompan us and intercede for us as we strive to purify our lives. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.