Thought for the Day – 16 January – The Memorial of St Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) Apostle of Sri Lanka
“Saint Joseph shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace. His undivided love for God opened him to love for his neighbour; he ministered to those in need, whoever and wherever they were. His example continues to inspire the Church in Sri Lanka today. She gladly and generously serves all members of society. She makes no distinction of race, creed, tribe, status or religion in the service she provides through her schools, hospitals, clinics and many other charitable works. All she asks in return is the freedom to carry out this mission.
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion.
As the life of Saint Joseph Vaz teaches us, genuine worship of God bears fruit not in discrimination, hatred and violence but in respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the dignity and freedom of others and loving commitment to the welfare of all.” (From the Homily of Pope Francis on the Canonisation of St Joseoph Vaz – 14 January 2015)
“Joseph Vaz was on fire with faith. Guided by the example of his Divine Master, he travelled the whole Island, going everywhere, often barefoot, with a rosary round his neck as a sign of his Catholic faith. As a true disciple of Jesus, he endured innumerable sufferings with joy and confidence, knowing that in those sufferings too God’s plans were being fulfilled. His heroic charity, shown in a particular way in his selfless devotion to the victims of the epidemic in 1697, earned him the respect of everyone. May the example of Father Joseph Vaz speak to your hearts…He welcomed everyone as a child of God. And because of this love his name is now invoked as a blessing, here in Sri Lanka and throughout the world. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5: 9). When lasting peace comes, all Sri Lankans will be blessed and your country will be restored in its full dignity and greatness. May Almighty God achieve this through you. Amen.
May Almighty God through the intercession of Our Lady and of blessed Joseph Vaz achieve this through you.” (St Pope John Paul on the Beatification of St Joseph Vaz – 21 January 1995)
Thought for the Day – 15 January – The Feast of Our Lady of Banneux – Our Lady of the Poor and Queen of Nations
There are many ways of “being poor” and in today’s world, the more we have, the poorer we can be. Our Lady of Banneux is a most worthy intercessor to pray on our behalf to our God of such loving mercy, for all the needs of the poor of the world, for so many who are rich in goods but poor in spirit.
As St John Paul said on a visit to Banneux – “The poor today – and there are many ways of being poor! – feel at home in Banneux. They come here to find comfort, courage, hope, union with God in their affliction. I encourage the pilgrims who come here to pray to her, who, always and everywhere in the Church, reflects the face of the Mercy of God.”
Quote/s of the Day – 10 January – Speaking of Persecution
“Know how to accept reproach which the world often unjustly hurls against the messenger of the Gospel, the groan of the poor, the candid voice of the child, the thoughtful cry of youth, the complaint of the tired worker, the lament of the suffering and the criticism of the thinker. Never be afraid.”
Blessed Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) -1975
“Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution but a church that walks serene, because it bears the force of love.”
St Oscar Romero (1917-1980) The Violence of Love
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.”
Thought for the Day – 2 January – The Memorial of St Basil the Great (329-379) and St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Fathers & Doctors of the Church – On Friendship “We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen
On 2 January the Roman Catholic Church honours the memory of two friends from an area of what is now Turkey that was called Cappadocia. These men began their friendship while away at school and later became bishops who were the backbone of Catholic Orthodoxy during a period of doctrinal struggle and confusion. Gregory presided over the 2nd ecumenical council, held at Constantinople, whose great achievement was the completion of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that the Catholic Church recites each Sunday and the definition of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. These Cappadocian Fathers, both Fathers and Doctors of the Church, proved to be some of the most influential Christian teachers of all time, honoured by both East and West, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic. Gregory here shares some memories of their friendship.
“Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.
I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.
What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.
Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.
The same hope inspired us – the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.
We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.
Our single object and ambition was virtue and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.
Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.”
Learning of these two great Doctors of the Church, St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzen and their lifelong friendship, their collaboration, most especially against the battle against Arianism, cannot help but call to our minds a similar and immensely brilliant collaboration and personal friendship, which yielded endless fruit for the life of the Church.
Do you know of whom I speak? Of course – St Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI – one already in the Halls of Heaven and raised to the Community of our Saints. Both these great modern fathers are “Doctors” of the Church – whether yet recognised officially or not and the one blessedly still with us is a saint amongst the faithful.
Sts Basil and Gregory Pray for us! St John Paul, Pray for us! Beloved Papa Benedict continue to keep us all in your prayers. Pray that our friendships may be as Godly as yours was!
One Minute Reflection – 1 January 2018 – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lord and the first day of the Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.…Luke 2:19
REFLECTIONS – “Today’s liturgy celebrates the solemnity of the Mother of God.
Mary is the one who was chosen to be Mother of the Redeemer, sharing intimately in his mission.
In the light of Christmas, the mystery of her divine motherhood is illumined.
Mary, Mother of Jesus who was born in the Bethlehem cave,
is also the Mother of every man and woman who comes into the world.
How is it possible not to commend to her the year that is beginning,
to implore a time of serenity and peace for all humanity?
On the day when this new year begins under the blessed gaze of the Mother of God,
let us invoke the gift of peace for each one and all.”…St Pope John Paul – 1997
PRAYER – God, our Father, since You gave mankind a saviour through blessed Mary, virgin and mother, grant that we may feel the power of her intercession when she pleads for us with Jesus Christ, Your Son, the author of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave
Prayer for the Family By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
from You every family in Heaven
and on earth takes its name.
Father, You are love and life.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman
and through the Holy Spirit,
the fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become,
for each successive generation
a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace,
may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives
for the good of their families
and of all the families in the world.
Grant that the young may find in the family
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love,
strengthened by the grace
of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weaknesses
and trials through which our families sometimes pass.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out
her worldwide mission in the family
and through the family.
We ask this of You,
Who is life, truth and love
with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave
The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, His mother the Virgin Mary and His foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth derived from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.
As far back as St John Chrysostom (347-407) , Christians were urged to make of their home a family church in which the family members would find their sanctification. That was to be accomplished by putting Christ at the center of all individual and family life, by working and praying together, reading the Scriptures and worshiping as a unit. The cult of the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century and several religious congregations have been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On 26 October 1921 the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar. Until then it had been celebrated regionally. Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on 30 December.
The Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The devotion to the Holy Family was born in Bethlehem, together with the Baby Jesus. The shepherds went to adore the Child and, at the same time, they gave honour to His family. Later, in a similar way, the three wise men came from the East to adore and give honour to the newborn King with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that would be safeguarded by His family.
We can go further to affirm that in a certain sense Christ, Himself, was the first devotee of His family. He showed His devotion to His mother and foster father by submitting Himself, with infinite humility, to the duty of filial obedience towards them. This is what St Bernard of Clairvaux said in this regard, ‘God, to whom angels submit themselves and who principalities and powers obey, was subject to Mary; and not only to Mary but Joseph also for Mary’s sake [….]. God obeyed a human creature; this is humility without precedent. A human creature commands God; it is sublime beyond measure.’ (First Homily on the ‘Missus Est’).
Today’s celebration demonstrates Christ’s humility and obedience with respect to the fourth commandment, whilst also highlighting the loving care that His parents exercised in His keeping. The servant of God, St Pope John Paul II, in 1989, entitled his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Redemptoris Custos’ (Guardian of the Redeemer) which was dedicated to the person and the mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church. After exactly a century, he resumed the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, for who Saint Joseph ‘.. shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men’ (Encyclical Quamquam Pluries n. 3). Pope Leo XIII continued, ‘.. Joseph became the guardian, the administrator and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was.[…] It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.’ Not many years before, blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed Saint Joseph, ‘Patron of the Catholic Church’ (1870)
Almost intuitively, one can recognise that the mysterious, exemplary, guardianship enacted by Joseph was conducted firstly, in a yet more intimate way, by Mary. Consequently, the liturgical feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the fond and loving care that we must render to the Body of Christ. We can understand this in a mystical sense, as guardians of the Church and also in the Eucharistic sense. Mary and Joseph took great care of Jesus’ physical body. Following their example, we can and must take great care of His Mystical Body, the Church and the Eucharist which He has entrusted to us. If Mary was, in some way, ‘thefirst tabernacle in history’ (St John Paul Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 55) then we, the Tabernacle, in which Our Lord chose to reside in person, in His Real Presence, was also entrusted to us.
We can learn from Mary and Joseph! What would they ever have overlooked in the care of Jesus’ physical body? Is there something, therefore, that we can withhold for the right and adoring care of His Eucharistic Body? No amount of attention, no sane act of love and adoring respect will ever be too much! On the contrary, our adoration and respect will always be inferior to the great gift that comes to us in the Holy Eucharist.
Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection and the diligent care that they gave to the Redeemer. We can not fail to feel uneasiness, perhaps a shameful thought, for the times in which we have not rendered the appropriate care and attention to the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask for forgiveness and do penance for all the sacrilegious acts and the lack of respect that are committed in front of the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask the Lord, through the intersession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time. (From the Congregation for the Clergy.)