Our Morning Offering – 13 March – The Second Sunday of Lent
How Great is Your Goodness, Lord! By Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury (c 1125-1190)
How great is Your goodness, Lord, Who does not shrink from letting Your servant, place You upon his heart! How great my own worth, since You have chosen me to have part in Yours, to have You abiding in me, to love You as You deserve, above myself. Lord, take from me this hard heart and give me a new, clean heart of flesh and blood. You who make my heart pure, take possession of mine and make it Your home. Hold it and fill it, You, Who are higher than my topmost height, more inward than my inward being. You, the Seal of Holiness, Beauty of beauties, engrave on my heart, Your Image and the imprint of Your mercy. Be, O God, my eternal love and my inheritance. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 21 December – O Oriens/O Radiant Dawn – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, Readings: Songs 2: 8-14 or Zephaniah 3: 14-18a; Psalm 33: 2-3, 11-12, 20-21; Luke 1: 39-45
The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.
O Radiant Dawn, Splendour of Eternal Light, Sun of Justice! Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
“Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” – Luke 1:41-42
REFLECTION – “Everyday we devoutly greet the most Blessed Virgin Mary with the angel’s greeting and we usually add: Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. After she was greeted by the Virgin, Elizabeth added this phrase as if she were echoing the salutation of the Angel – Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. This is the fruit of which Isaiah spoke – On that day the shoot of the Lord shall be splendid and radiant—the sublime fruit of earth. What is this fruit but the holy one of Israel, the seed of Abraham, the shoot of the Lord, the flower arising from the Root of Jesse, the fruit of life, Whom we have shared?
Blessed surely in seed and blessed in the shoot, blessed in the flower, blessed in the gift, finally blessed in thanksgiving and praise, Christ, the Seed of Abraham, was brought forth from the seed of David into the flesh.
He alone among men is found perfected in every good quality, for the Spirit was given to Him without measure so that He alone could fulfill all justice. For His justice is sufficient for all nations, according to the Scriptures. As the earth brings forth its buds and as the garden germinates its own seed, so the Lord God shall bring forth justice and praise before all the nations. For this is the shoot of justice, which the flower of glory adorns with its blessings when it has grown. But how great is this glory? How can anyone think of anything more glorious, or rather, how can anyone conceive of this at all? For the flower rises from the root of Jesse. you ask: “How far?” Surely it rises even to the highest place because Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. His magnificence is elevated above the heavens, so that He, the issue of the Lord, is splendid and glorious, the sublime fruit of earth.
But what is our benefit from this fruit? What other than the fruit of blessing from the blessed fruit? From this seed, this shoot, this flower, surely the fruit of blessing comes forth. It has come even to us; first as a seed it is planted through the grace of pardon, then germinated with the increase of perfection and finally, it flowers in the hope or the attainment of glory. For the fruit was blessed by God and in God, so that God may be glorified through it. For us, too, the fruit was blessed, so that blessed by God, we may be glorified in Him through the promise spoken to Abraham. God made the fruit a blessing for all nations.” – Baldwin of Forde O.Cist ( c 1125– 1190) Cistercian Abbot, Bishop, then Archbishop of Canterbury ( An excerpt from A Sermon on the ‘Hail Mary’).
PRAYER – In Your goodness Lord, as we rejoice at the coming of Your Son in flesh and blood like ours, grant that when He comes again in glory, we may receive the gift of eternal life. And may His Blessed and Immaculate ever Virgin Mother, cast upon us a look of mercy and intercede on our behalf. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and for all eternity, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 14 October – “Month of the Holy Rosary” – Readings: Romans 3: 21-30; Psalms 130: 1b-6ab; Luke 11: 47-54
“And they began to act with hostility toward him… for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. ” – Luke 11:53-54
REFLECTION – “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). This only Son “was offered”, not because His enemies overcame Him but because “he surrendered himself” (cf. Is 53:12). “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1). This “end” was the death He accepted on behalf of those whom He loved; this was the end of all perfection, the end of perfect love, for “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).
This love of Christ, was stronger in the death of Chris, than His enemies’ hatred – for hatred could only do what love permitted it to do. Judas – or the enemies of Christ – delivered Him up to death through wicked hatred. The Father delivered His Son and the Son delivered Himself to death, through love (Rom 8:32; Gal 2:20). Love, however, is by no means guilty of betrayal; it is innocent even when Christ dies of it. Since love alone, is able to carry out with impunity, whatever it pleases. Only love can constrain God and, as it were, give Him orders! This it was, that caused Him to descend from Heaven and placed Him on the Cross; this it was, that shed Christ’s Blood for the remission of sins, in an act that was as innocent as it was salutary. All our thanksgiving for the salvation of the world ,is thus owing to love. And it constrains us, with inescapable logic, to love Christ as much as humans are able to hate Him! – Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury (c 1125-1190) also Baldwin of Forde Cistercian abbot, then Bishop (The Sacrament of the Altar, II, 1 ).
PRAYER – I Love You, O My God – By St Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) I love You, O my God and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O my infinitely lovable God and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You. I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask, is to love You eternally My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 31 August – “Month of the Immaculate Heart” – Readings: Thessalonians 5: 1-6, 9-11; Psalms 27: 1, 4, 13-14; Luke 4: 31-37
And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and they come out.” – Luke 4:36
REFLECTION – “God’s word is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Heb 4:12). It acts in the creation of the world, in the world’s operation and in its redemption. For what is more effective and stronger? “Who can tell the mighty deeds of the Lord, or proclaim all his praises?” (Ps 106:2).
The Word’s effectiveness manifests itself in its works; it also manifests itself in preaching. The Word does not return to God without having produced its effect but, all to whom it is sent, benefit from it (Isa 55:11). It is “effective and sharper than any two-edged sword” when it is received with faith and love. What is impossible to the person who believes, what is difficult to the person who loves? When the Words of God ring out, they pierce the believer’s heart like “sharp arrows of a warrior.” (Ps 120:4) They enter the heart like spears and settle in its most intimate depths. Yes, this Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, for it is more incisive than any other strength or power, more subtle than every subtlety of the human genius, sharper than every learned perception by the human word.” – Baldwin of Forde O.Cist ( c 1125– 1190) – Cistercian Abbot, Bishop, then Archbishop of Canterbury – Homily 6 on Heb 4:12 ; PL 204, 451-453
PRAYER – God our Father, Your rule is a rule of love, Your providence is full of mercy for Your people. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Word made flesh and His Immaculate Mother, grant the spirit of wisdom and understanding in Your Word, Your Son Jesus Christ. Grant that by the light of His Resurrection we may know our eternal home and strive to attain eternal joy there with You. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 1 August – “Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” – Readings: Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15; Psalms 78: 3-4, 23-24, 25, 54 (24b); Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24; John 6: 24-35
They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”…John 6:34-35
REFLECTION – Christ is “the bread of life” for those who believe in Him: to believe in Christ is to eat the bread of life, to possess Christ within one, is to possess eternal life… “I am the bread of life,” He says; “your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they are dead” (Jn 6,48f). By this is to be understood ,spiritual death. Why are they dead? Because they believed in what they saw and did not understand what they could not see… Moses ate manna, Aaron ate it and many others, too, who pleased God and are not dead. Why are they not dead? Because they understood, in a spiritual fashion, they were spiritually hungry, they tasted the manna spiritually, so that they might be spiritually satisfied. “This is the bread that came down from heaven: whoever eats it will never die” (v.50). This manna – that is to say, Christ, who Himself spoke like this…, was prefigured by the manna but was able to do more than manna could. For manna could not, of itself, prevent dying spiritually… But the righteous saw Christ in the manna, they believed in His coming and Christ, of whom manna was the symbol, grants to all who believe in Him that they should not spiritually die. Hence He says: “This is the bread come down from heaven; whoever eats it will never see death.” Here on earth, here now, before your eyes, your eyes of flesh: here is to be found the “bread from heaven” (v.51). The “bread of life” we spoke of a moment ago is now called “living bread.” Living bread because it contains, within itself, the life that abides and can deliver from spiritual death and bestow life. First He said: “Whoever eats it will never die” now he speaks clearly, concerning the life He gives: “Whoever eats this bread will live for ever” (v.58). Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury (c 1125-1190) Cistercian – The Sacrament of the Altar II
PRAYER – Forgive the sins of Your people Lord and since of ourselves, we are unable to do what pleases You, lead us on the way of salvation in Your divine Son who lives in us and gives us life. May the prayers of Mary, His Mother help us to constantly meditate on His eternal sustenance. He is our food, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 17 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart”
Seal Your Image on My Heart By Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury (c 1125-1190)
O Lord, take away my heart of stone, my hardened heart, my uncircumcised heart and grant to me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a clean heart. Come, You who cleanse the heart and love the pure of heart, possess my heart and dwell in it, containing it and filling it, higher than my highest and more intimate than my most intimate thoughts. You are the image of all beauty and the seal of all holiness, seal Your image on my heart and seal my heart in Your mercy, O God, the strength of my heart and my portion forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 20 April – Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 7:51–8:1, Psalm 31:3-4, 6-8, 17, 21, John 6:30-35
“I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” … John 6:35
REFLECTION – “God, – Whose nature is goodness, Whose substance is love and Whose whole life is benevolence – sent His own Son into the world, the bread of angels, “because of the great love he had for us” (Eph 2,4), because He wanted to show us the meekness of His nature and the affection He has for His children. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3,16).
This is the real bread that the Lord sent from heaven so that we may eat it…; this is what God, in His goodness, has prepared for the poor (Ps 67,9s). For Christ, who came down form heaven for all men and to the level of each one, attracts everything to Himself through His inexpressible goodness; He does not reject anybody and He receives all men who wish to repent. He gives all those who receive Him, the most delicious taste. He is the only one who can fulfill all our desires… and, He adapts Himself in different ways, to one and the other, according to the tendencies, the desires and the appetites of each one…
Everyone finds in Him a different taste… For He does not have the same flavour for the one who repents and for the beginner, for the one who progresses and for the one who is at the end. He does not have the same taste, in an apostolic life and in a contemplative life, nor for the one who makes use of the world and for the one who does not, for the bachelor and for the married man, for the one who fasts and for the one who makes a distinction between the different days and for the one who considers all days alike (Rom 14,5)…
This bread has a sweet taste because it delivers one from all worries, it heals sicknesses, it eases trials, it assists one’s efforts and strengthens one’s hopes…Those who have tasted it hunger for it, those who hunger, will be satisfied.” – Baldwin of Canterbury O.Cist (c 1125-1190) Cistercian Abbot, then Bishop – The Sacrament of the Altar III, 2
PRAYER – Almighty Father, to whom this world, with all it’s goodness and beauty belongs, give us grace joyfully to begin this day in Your name and to fill it with the active love for You and our neighbour. By the food You give us, to sustain us on this journey, we are brought to holiness in Your Son, our Lord Jesus the Christ, whom You gave to us as our food. May the Mother of Your Son and our mother, lead us to You and be a succour on our way. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Acts 7: 51 -60 51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do you also. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels,and have not kept it. 54 Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. 56 And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears and with one accord ran violently upon him. 58 And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death.
Gospel: John 6: 30-35 30 They said, therefore, to him: What sign, therefore, dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you,Moses gave you not bread from heaven but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 34 They saidthereforeunto him: Lord, give us always this bread. 35 And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life, he that comes to me, shall not hunger and he that believes in me, shall never thirst.
O Lord, take away my heart of stone By Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury (d 1190)
O Lord, take away my heart of stone,
my hardened heart
and grant to me a new heart,
a heart of flesh, a clean heart.
Come, You who cleanse the heart
and love the pure of heart,
possess my heart and dwell in it,
containing it and filling it,
higher than the highest
and more intimate
than my most intimate thoughts.
You are the image of all beauty
and the seal of all holiness,
seal Your image on my heart
and seal my heart in Your mercy.
O God, the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.