One Minute Reflection – 14 December – Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent, Readings: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34: 2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 and 23; Matthew 21: 28-32 and the Memorial of St Berthold of Regensburg OFM (c 1220-1272
“John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him.” – Matthew 21:32
REFLECTION – “John the Baptist is teaching in both word and deed. A true teacher, he shows by example what he describes in speech. Knowledge makes the teacher but action bestows authority. … To teach by doing, is the only rule followed, by one who wants to give instruction, for instructing by words is knowledge but, when it passes on into deeds, then it is virtue. Therefore, that knowledge is genuine that is combined with virtue: this and this alone, is divine, rather than human. …
“In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!‘” “Repent” – Why did he not rather say: “Rejoice“? “Rejoice, rather because what is human gives way to what is divine, what is earthly to what is heavenly, what is temporal to what is eternal, what is evil to what is good, what is unsure to what is certain, sadness to happiness, what is perishable to those things that endure forever. The Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand. Repent!” Let your behaviour as one who has converted be manifest. You who preferred what is human, to what is divine, who desired to be the world’s slave, rather than to conquer the world along with the world’s Lord, Repent. You who fled the freedom which virtue would have won for you because you wished to take on the yoke of sin: Repent. Repent in earnest, you who, for fear of possessing Life, have given yourself up to death! – St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Bishop of Ravenna, Father and Doctor of the Church (Sermon 167).
PRAYER – Lord God, You hold out the Light of Your Word to those who do not know You. Strengthen in our hearts, the faith You have given us and the Credo we profess, so that no trials may quench the fire Your Spirit has kindled in us. May the intercession of St Berthold of Regensburg who spent himself preaching repentance, grant us the grace of following the way of the Cross, to stand beneath it with our Mother, the Mother of God, Ave Maria! We make our prayer through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 14 December – Saint Berthold of Regensburg OFM (c 1220-1272) Friar of the Order of the Friars Minor, Renowned Preacher for which reason he was known as “Sweet Brother Berthold,” “The Beloved of God and man,” “A Second Elias,” “The Teacher of the Nations,” Missionary Evangelist covering large areas of Germany. It is recorded that he would preach to up to 100,000 people at one time. Born as Berthold Sachs, at Ratisbon, which is now Regensburg, Germany in c 1220 and died there on 14 December 1272 of natural causes. Also known as – Berthold of Ratisbon. Berthold was a Franciscan Friar in the Monastery of Regensburg and the most powerful preacher of repentance in the Thirteenth Century. Patronage – of Preachers.
Berthold was probably a member of a well-to-do middle-class family of Ratisbon named Sachs. The excellence of his literary training is proved by his sermons ,which show more than common acquaintance with the ancient classics. From his knowledge of the usages of secular life, it may be inferred that he was of mature age before he entered the Franciscans. The first fixed date in Berthold’s life is 1246, when the Papal Legate appointed him and David of Augsburg (another Franciscan Friar) as Inspectors of the Convent of Niedermünster. One of his contemporaries, the Abbot of Niederaltaich, a reliable Historian, speaks in 1250 of the great reputation that Berthold had in Bavaria as a preacher.
Four years later, the missionary journeys of this preacher extended as far as the Valley of the Rhine, Alsace and Switzerland. During the next ten years Berthold’s apostolic labours led him eastward into Austria, Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia. In 1263 Pope Urban IV appointed him to preach the Crusade and Saint Albert the Great was designated as his assistant. When speaking to Slavonic audiences, Berthold naturally employed an interpreter, just as St Bernard, in his day, made use of an interpreter in Germany. Notwithstanding any difficulties that might arise as to understanding, wherever he went Berthold exerted an extraordinary power of attraction over his hearers so that the Churches were not able to hold the great crowds of the faithful who came from all quarters to his Masses, and he was often obliged to preach in the open air. When this was the case, a Pulpit was generally arranged under the spreading branches of a linden tree. Long after his day “Berthold’s Linden” was to be seen at Glatz.
About 1270 he seems to have returned to Regensburg where he remained until his death on 14 December 1272. He had fallen down the stairs a few days prior to his death. His remains form the most precious relic among the treasures of the Cathedral of Regensburg.
The poets and chroniclers of Bertold’s time made frequent reference to him. He was called “Sweet Brother Berthold,” “The Beloved of God and man,” “A Second Elias,” “The Teacher of the Nations.” All of these expressions are proofs of the high esteem in which his preaching and missionary zeal were held. The secret of the Preacher’s success, lay partly in the saintliness of his life and partly in his power to make use of the language of humble life. He became the great master, it may be said, the classic of homely speech and this rank has been maintained by his sermons to the present day. One of his two popular discourses on the Last Judgment became a favourite book of the people under the title “The Valley of Josaphat“. There is no doubt, that Brother Berthold preached in German., and used translators when necessary, as said above
For a long time scholars disagreed as to how his sermons had been preserved. It is now generally accepted, that the sermons were often written down afterwards in Latin, frequently with marginal comments in German – these reports of the sermons, as they may be called, partly German, partly Latin, or at times in the language in which they were delivered (recorded by the translators, we presume), are what have been handed down to posterity.
The discourses thus preserved, are of the greatest importance for the history of the development of the literature of homiletics; -they are of equal value as rich sources for determining the condition of education and culture in the thirteenth century. It is difficult, therefore, to understand, how this greatest of Catholic Preachers to the poor, could have been forgotten for centuries! It was not until some of Brother Berthold’s sermons were published in 1824 that attention was called to the eloquent Franciscan and his holy and zealous life of a true disciple of Christ! Since this date, the enthusiasm for Berthold grew steadily, so that he has become a favourite, both of Germanic scholars and of the historians of the development of German civilization and of the Faith. He is also regarded as the great pattern of homely Pulpit eloquence.
Seventy-two of his sermons have been preserved for our edification, some of which are available online.
Madonna del Patrocinio / Our Lady of Defence – also known as Santa Maria del Calcare (Faenza, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy) (1685) – 14 December:
In Forlì, in eastern Italy, the Baldi family owned a painting of the Madonna nursing the Christ Child. A woman of the family joined the Camaldolese Benedictine Convent there under the name of Sister Frances and at her death, the Bishop requested that the sacred image be moved to the Convent Church. In 1614, such great crowds attended the Madonna’s transfer ceremony that the Sisters decided to build a special Chapel for the Blessed Virgin of Defence. On the last Sunday of September, 1650, the painting was installed in its new marble Shrine. An annual festa on that day commemorated the beginning of public veneration of the Virgin of Defence. During the night of 20 November 1685, a fire spread from the Convent laundry to the parlour and Sacristy and had almost entered the Chapel of the holy image when the flames stopped unexpectedly. Only in morning did the nuns realise what happened. This miracle rekindled public devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Defence, which the Vatican approved officially in 1721. During the Risorgimento, the government closed many religious communities and seized their goods. When their Convent was suppressed in 1862, the Camaldolese Nuns of Forlì moved with their Madonna to Faenza, about 15 miles away. The small Sanctuary of the Madonna del Patrocinio, is located along the old mule track that led from Bieno and Santino to the sunny pastures of Ompio. The Sanctuary, built at the beginning of the 18th century, was the destination of endless penitential processions of peasants, shepherds and woodcutters. The place is surrounded by dense chestnut and oak woods; almost a border between the lakes (Maggiore and Mergozzo) and the infinite forest of the Val Grande. On 14 December 1954, at the close of the Marian Year, the sacred image was solemnly crowned by the Bishop of Faenza, Msgr Giuseppe Battaglia. At the nuns’ request, the Virgin’s crown was made of the gold rings they had received at their solemn profession, together with pilgrims’ votive offerings. St Catherine’s Convent was demolished in 2008 for construction of a Catholic rest home. I believe the miraculous image now resides in the local Parish Church.
St Abundius of Spain St Agnellus of Naples St Berthold of Regensburg OFM (c 1220-1272) Friar of the Order of the Friars Minor, Renowned Preacher for which reason he was known as “Sweet Brother Berthold,” “The Beloved of God and man,” “A Second Elias,”,”The Teacher of the Nations.” Bl Buenaventura Bonaccorsi St Folcuino of Therouanne Bl Joan Lambertini St John Pan y Agua (Bread-and-Water) Bl John Discalceat St Justus of Spain St Matronianus of Milan St Pompeius of Pavia Bl Protasi Cubells Minguell
St Viator of Bergamo St Yusuf Jurj Kassab al-Hardini Bl William de Rovira — Martyrs of Alexandria – 4 saints: A group of Egyptian Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Decius – Arsenius, Dioscurus, Heron and Isidore. They were burned to death in 250 at Alexandria, Egypt.
Martyrs of Apollonia – 7 saints: Martyred in the persecutions of Decius. The only surviving details are three names – Callinicus, Leucio and Tirso. Apollonia, Bithynia (in modern Turkey).
Martyrs of Ashkelon – 3 saints: Several pilgrims from Egypt to Cilicia (in modern Turkey) who planned to minister to fellow Christians suffering in the persecutions of emperor Maximinus. They were arrested, torture, mutilated and then imprisoned in Ashkelon. Some were ordered to forced labour in the mines, but we have the names of three who were martyred by order of governor Firmilian – Ares, Elijah and Promo. They were burned at the stake or beheaded at the gates of Ashkelon c 308.
Martyrs of Hayle – 2+ saints: Several Christians, including a brother and sister, who were martyred together by pagans. The only other information to survive are the names of the two siblings – Fingar and Phiala. 5th century at Hayle, Cornwall, England.
Martyrs of Syria – 3 saints: Three Christians who were martyred together. Known to Saint John Chrysostom who preached on their feast day and left us the only details we have – their names – Drusus, Theodore and Zosimus. The date and precise location of their martyrdom is unknown, but it was in Syria, possibly in Antioch.