One Minute Reflection – 23 February – The witness of the Prophets leads to the witness of the Apostles

One Minute Reflection – 23 February – Saturday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C – The Memorial of St Polycarp (c 69–c 155) Martyr and Father of the Church

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain, apart by themselves and he was transfigured before them and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses and they were talking to Jesus…Mark 9:2-4

The witness of the Prophets leads to the witness of the Apostles

REFLECTION – “It was the will of the Lord Jesus that Moses alone (though he was accompanied, it is true, by Joshua (Ex 24:13)) should climb the mountain to receive the law.   In the gospel too, out of His many disciples He limited the revelation of His risen glory to three – Peter, James and John.   Wishing to put no stumbling block in the way of His weaker followers, whose vacillating minds might prevent them from taking in the full meaning of the paschal mystery, He chose to keep His redemptive plan a secret and repeatedly warned Peter, James and John not to talk freely about what they had seen. Peter, in fact, did not know what to say.   He thought of setting up three shelters for the Lord and His attendants.   Then he found himself unable to bear the brilliance of the glory radiating from His transfigured Lord.   Together with those “sons of thunder” (Mk 3:17), James and John, he fell to the ground (Mt 17:6)…

They entered the cloud in order to receive knowledge of hidden, secret matters and there they heard the voice of God saying:  “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”   What does “This is my beloved Son” mean?   The implication is as follows: Make no mistake, Simon.   Do not imagine God’s Son can be put into the same category as the servants who attend him.   This man is my Son – neither Moses nor Elijah can be given that title, even though the one opened the sea and the other closed the heavens. Both of them exercised dominion over the elements but it was by the power of the Lord’s word that they did so (Ex 14; 1 Kgs 17:1).   They were only servants, it was the Lord who made the waters into a solid wall, the Lord who caused the drought that closed the heavens and the Lord who, in his own time, opened them to release the rain.

For evidence of the resurrection to be accepted, the combined witness of those servants is required.   But when the glory of their risen Lord is revealed, the servant’ aureole is lost in shadow.   Sunrise obscures the stars, the light of the heavenly bodies grows pale before the brilliance of the sun shining on this material world.   How then could human stars attract notice in the presence of the eternal Sun of Justice?   (Mal 3:20).”…St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctormark 9 2 and he wwas transfigured - sunrise obscures the stars st ambrose 23 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Lord of all creation, let us praise You with voice and mind and deed. Let us too give glory to Your Holy Son and bask in the Sun of Justice! Grant us a place in the reflection of His Light to shine on those around us.   As You gave St Polycarp, a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant us our eternal joy with him and all Your angels and saints.   May his intercession, give us the strength to drink from that cup which Christ drank and so rise to eternal life.   Through Christ our Lord, in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever,


Thought for the Day – 22 February – St Pope Leo the Great “The Chair of Peter”

Thought for the Day – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

Pope Saint Leo the Great (400-461)
Bishop of Rome and Great Latin Father & Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from Sermo 4

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church.   Though, there are, in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed, to rule in his own person, those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler.   Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of His power that God in His goodness has given to this man.   Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common, by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter, that He has given to others, what He has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole, what men think of him.   As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when He presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord, is the one who is first in rank, among the apostles.

Peter says:  You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.   Jesus replies:  Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.   You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you.   You have not been deceived by earthly opinion but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed Me out to you but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues:  And I say to you.   In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you, your pre-eminence.   You are Peter:  though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.   On this strong foundation, He says, I will build an everlasting temple.   The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith;  the chains of death shall not bind it.   Its words are the words of life.   As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told – To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven.   Whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles and the institution, established by this decree, has been continued in all the leaders of the Church.   But, it is not without good reason, that what is bestowed on all, is entrusted to one.   For Peter, received it separately, in trust, because he is the prototype, set before all the rulers of the Church.

Saint Pope Peter
Apostle and Martyr
Pray for us!st pope peter apostle and martyr pray for us 22feb2019.jpg

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on the CHURCH, SAINT of the DAY

One Minute Reflection – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

One Minute Reflection – 22 February – The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

“And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it..”…Matthew 16:18matthew 16 18 and i tell you you are peter and on this rock 22 feb 2019.jpg

REFLECTION – “You are Peter and on this rock I shall build my Church.”   He was given this name of ‘Peter’ because he was the first to set the foundations of the faith among the nations and because he is, the indestructible rock on which rests, the judgement seat and the whole edifice, belonging to Christ Jesus.   It was on account of his faithfulness that he was called Peter, whereas our Lord receives the same name on account of His power according to Saint Paul’s words:  “They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was the Christ” (1Cor 10:4).   Yes, the apostle chosen to be His co-worker, merited to share, the same name as Christ.   They built the same building together – Peter does the planting, the Lord gives the increase and it is the Lord, too, who sends those, who will do the watering (cf. 1 Cor 3:6f.).
As you know, my beloved, it was following on from his own failure, when our Saviour suffered, that blessed Peter was raised up.   It was after he had denied the Lord that he became the first next to him.   Rendered more faithful when he wept over the faith he had betrayed, he received a still greater grace than the one he had lost.   To him Christ confided His flock, so that he might guide it like a good shepherd and he who had been so weak, would now become the support of all.   He who had fallen when questioned about his faith, must now establish the others, on the unshakeable foundations of faith. Hence he is called the foundation stone of the piety of the Churches.”…St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchyes, the apostle chosen to be his co-worker - st augustine - 22 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Holy Father, send Your Divine Enlightener into the hearts of all Your faithful, filling us with the strength to fulfil our mission as the followers of the Chair of St Peter. And most of all, we pray Lord Holy God to inspire and light the way of our Holy Father, Francis. Sustain and guide him, keep him in health and strength, to lead Your people by the Light of the Way and the Truth. Holy Father, have mercy on us, Holy Spirit guide and lead us, Lord Jesus Christ be our intercessor and teacher, peter pray for us 22 feb 2019.jpg


Thought for the Day – 21 February – Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ

Thought for the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Peter Damian
General Audience
Wednesday, 9 September 2009

One detail should be immediately emphasised – the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others.   “Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ”, he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117) and he described himself as “Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ” (Ep, 9, 1).
Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: “O Blessed Cross”, he exclaimed, You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints” (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God’s love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.

St Peter Damian, who was essentially a man of prayer, meditation and contemplation, was also a fine theologian – his reflection on various doctrinal themes led him to important conclusions for life.   Thus, for example, he expresses with clarity and liveliness the Trinitarian doctrine, already using, under the guidance of biblical and patristic texts, the three fundamental terms which were subsequently to become crucial also for the philosophy of the West – processio, relatio and persona (cf. Opusc. XXXVIII: PL CXLV, 633-642; and Opusc. II and III: ibid., 41 ff. and 58 ff).
However, because theological analysis of the mystery led him to contemplate the intimate life of God and the dialogue of ineffable love, between the three divine Persons, he drew ascetic conclusions from them for community life and even for relations between Latin and Greek Christians, divided on this topic.   His meditation on the figure of Christ, is significantly reflected, in practical life, since the whole of Scripture is centred on Him.
The “Jews”, St Peter Damian notes, “through the pages of Sacred Scripture, bore Christ on their shoulders as it were” (Sermo XLVI, 15).   Therefore Christ, he adds, must be the centre of the monk’s life:  “May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may he be perceived in our hearts” (Sermo VIII, 5).   Intimate union with Christ engages not only monks but all the baptised.   Here we find a strong appeal for us too not to let ourselves be totally absorbed by the activities, problems and preoccupations of every day, forgetting that Jesus must truly be the centre of our life.

Communion with Christ creates among Christians a unity of love.   In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion.   “Christ’s Church”, he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member – in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church”.   This is important – not only that the whole universal Church should be united but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us.   Thus the service of the individual becomes “an expression of universality” (Ep 28, 9-23).
However, the ideal image of “Holy Church” illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time.   For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; -various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls.   Their moral life frequently left much to be desired.   For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.   So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform.   He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church’s renewal contemplation did not suffice.   He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great grace that the Lord should have raised up in the life of the Church a figure as exuberant, rich and complex as St Peter Damian.   Moreover, it is rare to find theological works and spirituality as keen and vibrant as those of the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana.

St Peter Damian was a monk through and through, with forms of austerity which to us today might even seem excessive.   Yet, in that way he made monastic life an eloquent testimony of God’s primacy and an appeal to all to walk towards holiness, free from any compromise with evil.   He spent himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time.  He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and to the Church but always remained, as he liked to describe himself, Petrus ultimus monachorum servus, Peter, the lowliest servant of the monks.

St Peter Damian,

‘Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ’

Pray for the Church, Pray for Us All!st peter damian pray for us 21 feb 2019.jpg


Quote/s of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian

Quote/s of the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of  St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

“Let us faithfully transmit to posterity,
the example of virtue,
which we have received,
from our forefathers.”let us faithfully transmit - st peter damian 21 feb 2019.jpg

“He pours light into our minds,
arouses our desire and gives us strength…
As the soul is the life of the body,
so the Holy Spirit, is the life of our souls.”he-pours-light-into-our-minds-st-peter-damian-21-feb-2018.jpg

“When you are scorned by others
and lashed by God, do not despair.
God lashes us in this life,
to shield us from the eternal lash, in the next.”when-you-are-scorned-by-others-st-peter-damian-21-feb-2018.jpg

“May Christ be heard in our language,
may Christ be seen in our life,
may He be perceived in our hearts”
(Sermo VIII, 5)may christ be heard - st peter damian 21 feb 2019.jpg

“O Blessed Cross,
You are venerated, preached
and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs,
the predictions of the Prophets,
the senate that judges the Apostles,
the victorious army of Martyrs
and the throngs of all the Saints”
(Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304)o blessed cross - st peter damian - 21 feb 2019.jpg

“Those, who do not love
the Cross of Christ,
do not love Christ”
(Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117)

St Peter Damian (1007-1072) Doctor of the Churchthose who do not love the cross of christ do not love christ - st peter damian 21 feb 2019.jpg

those who do not love no 2 st peter damian 21 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 21 February – “You are the Christ.”

One Minute Reflection – 21 February – Thursday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Mark 8:27-33 and the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

“Who do men say that I am?”… “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” ...Mark 8:27,29

REFLECTION – “With these two questions, Jesus seems to say that it is one thing to follow the prevailing opinion and another, to encounter Him and open oneself to His mystery, there one discovers the truth.   Prevailing opinion contains a true but partial response, Peter and with him, the Church of the past, present and always, by the grace of God, responds with the truth:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
Jesus is the Son of God – hence He is perennially alive as His Father is eternally alive.  This is the novelty, that grace ignites, in the heart of those who are open to the mystery of Jesus, the non-mathematical — but even stronger, inner — certainty, of having encountered the Wellspring of Life, Life itself made flesh, visible and tangible in our midst.   This, is the experience of Christians and it is not their merit, not that of we Christians, it is not our merit but comes from God, it is a grace of God, the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.   All this is contained in the seed of Peter’s response: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.Pope Francis – Angelus, 29 June 2018mark 8 29 but who do you say - this is the novelty -pope francis 21 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Lord of heaven and earth, by Your grace You have brought our hearts and mind to seek and hope in Your saving love, in Your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.   May we, who like Peter, our father in faith, declare, ‘You are the Christ!’, remain ever in His steps, carrying the cross behind Him.   We thank You for the blessing of St Peter Damian, grant that, through his intercession, we may, like him, constantly follow the Light of Christ and so rise to eternal life.   We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus, in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amenST PETER DAMIAN PRAY FOR US.jpg

Posted in DANTE ALIGHIERI!, DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church, Bishop Cardinal, Benedictine Monk, Confessor, Theologian, Writer, Teacher, Preacher, Poet, Reformer.   Patronages – Spiritual warfare, Church reformers and Faenza, Italy.221peter14.jpg

Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor.   It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.

Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when a second brother, who was Archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing.   His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.

Already in those days, Peter was very strict with himself.   He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer.   Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of Saint Romuald at Fonte Avellana.   They lived two monks to a hermitage.   Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia.   He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself.   When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

st per damian ravenna  2.jpg
St Peter Damian

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him.   Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages.   He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself.   The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Benedetto Gennari st peter damian (1).jpg
Benedetto Gennari (1633 –  1715)
St Peter Damian 

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.   He worked hard to wipe out simony—the buying of church offices–and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance.   He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too-comfortable living.   He even wrote to the Bishop of Besancon complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters.   Some 170 are extant.   We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote.   He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings.   The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.

I cannot find out much about this image, it seems to be Saint Romuald on the left (of whom St Peter wrote a biography), St Peter Damian in the centre and an unknown saint, I presume on the right.

He asked often to be allowed to retire as Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and finally Pope Alexander II consented.   Peter was happy to become once again just a monk but he was still called to serve as a papal legate.   When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever.   With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on 22 February 1072.

In 1828, he was declared a Doctor of the peter damian statue snip.JPG

In Canto XXI, Dante has the Saint pronounce an invective against the luxury enjoyed by prelates in the Church of his day and in that of Dante`s – the translation below is by Allen Mandelbaum:

113 … There, within that monastery,
114 in serving God, I gained tenacity:
115 with food that only olive juice had seasoned,
116 I could sustain with ease both heat and frost,
117 content within my contemplative thoughts.

118 That cloister used to offer souls to Heaven,
119 a fertile harvest but it now is barren
120 as Heaven’s punishment will soon make plain.

121 There I was known as Peter Damian
122 and, on the Adriatic shore, was Peter
123 the Sinner when I served Our Lady’s House.

124 Not much of mortal life was left to me
125 when I was sought for, dragged to take that hat
126 which always passes down from bad to worse.

127 Once there were Cephas and the Holy Ghost’s
128 great vessel – they were barefoot, they were lean,
129 they took their food at any inn they found.

130 But now the modern pastors are so plump
131 that they have need of one to prop them up
132 on this side, one on that and one in front,

133 and one to hoist them saddleward.  Their cloaks
134 cover their steeds, two beasts beneath one skin:
135 o patience, you who must endure so much!”

amos nattini st peter damian
Amos Nattini (1892-1985)
Divina Commedia, Paradiso canto XXI, San Pier Damiani nel cielo di Saturno