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Thought for the Day – 21 January – The Burning Babe

Thought for the Day – 21 January – Monday of the Second week in Ordinary Time –  and The Memorial of St Agnes (c 291- c 304) Virgin and Martyr

Seeing as it is the Memorial of St Agnes and we are thinking about martyrdom, I have included the post below, which is an excerpt from my post on St Robert Southwell’s Memorial – 21 February.    It is talk by Servant of God, Fr John A Hardon SJ (1914-2000) (a hero!).   If you wish to read the whole post, it is here:  https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/saint-of-the-day-21-february-st-robert-southwell-s-j-1561-1595-martyr/

“There are two books, prose writings, that Robert Southwell wrote that are worth reading.   They are of course written in 16th century English but, powerful, written to encourage his fellow Catholics to remain firm in their faith.   The one is called ‘Mary Magdalene’s Funeral Tears’.   And the other one is called ‘Epistle of Comfort‘.   We would probably call it a letter of encouragement.   

His poetry – we don’t know exactly when he began to write but it must have been very young because he wrote a great deal of which we have the record and by now the English speaking world knows Robert Southwell.   His two outstanding poems are ‘The Burning Babe’ and ‘The Virgin Mary to Christ On The Cross.’”

The Burning Babe, by St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Martyr

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

It’s not surprising, it’s one of the great poems of the English language.burning babe excerpt - st robert southwell - mem 21 feb - 21 jan 2019 on martyrdom mem of st agnes

St Agnes, Pray for Us!bernardo-lorente-german-sevilla-1680-sevilla-1759-e2809csaint-agnese2809d-pray-for-us

St Robert Southwell, Pray for Us!st robert southwell - pray for us - 21 feb 2018

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Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 12 January – 6th day after Epiphany – Today’s Gospel: John 3:22–30

One Minute Reflection – 12 January – 6th day after Epiphany – Today’s Gospel: John 3:22–30

“This joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase, but I must decrease.”…John 3:29-30this joy of mine ...he must increase - john 3 29-30 12 jan 2019

REFLECTION – “Listen, children of light: you who have been adopted for the Kingdom of God;  listen, my dearest brethren; listen and exult for joy in the Lord, you just, for “praise from the upright is fitting” (Ps 33:1).   Listen to what you already know;  reflect on what you have heard ; love what you believe; proclaim what you love!…
Christ is born, God from His Father, man through His mother.   He was born from His Father’s immortality and His mother’s virginity.   From the Father without the aid of a mother;  from the mother without that of a father.   From His Father without time; from His mother without seed.   According to His Father he is the principle of life; according to His mother, the ending of death.   According to His Father, He was born to determine the order of days;  according to His mother, to consecrate the day that is here.
He sent John the Baptist before Him, causing him to be born when the days were beginning to decrease, while He Himself was born when the days began to grow in length, thus prefiguring John’s own words:  “He must increase, I must decrease”.   For indeed, human life must grow weaker in itself but stronger in Jesus Christ “so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Cor 5:15) and so that each one of us might repeat those words of the apostle Paul:  “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).”…St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctorchrist is born - st augustine 12 jan 2019

PRAYER – Almighty ever-living God, through Christ Your Son, You made of us a new creation.   Shape us then, in His likeness, since in Him, our human nature now lives with You.   Grant that by the prayers of our blessed Virgin Mary and of Your holy men and women, we may be granted assistance in our struggle here below.   Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for all eternity, amen.blessed virgin holy mother pray for us

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, celebrated 6 January 2019, in St Peter’s Basilica

“In order to find Jesus, we also need to take a different route, to follow a different path, His path, the path of humble love.   And we have to persevere.   Today’s Gospel ends by saying that the Magi, after encountering Jesus, “left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12).   Another road, different from that of Herod.   An alternative route than that of the world, like the road taken by those who surround Jesus at Christmas – Mary and Joseph, the shepherds.   Like the Magi, they left home and became pilgrims on the paths of God.   For only those, who leave behind their worldly attachments and undertake a journey, find the mystery of God.for only those who leave behind their worldly attachments - pope francis epiphany 2019 9jan2019.jpg

This holds true for us too.   It is not enough to know where Jesus was born, as the scribes did if we do not go there.   It is not enough to know that Jesus was born, like Herod, if we do not encounter Him.   When His place becomes our place, when  His time becomes our time, when His person becomes our life, then the prophecies come to fulfilment in us.   Then Jesus is born within us.   He becomes the living God for me.   Today we are asked to imitate the Magi.   They do not debate – they set out.  They do not stop to look but enter the house of Jesus.   They do not put themselves at the centre but bow down before the One who is the centre.   They do not remain glued to their plans but are prepared to take other routes.   Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to Him, a total engagement with Him.   With Him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks.   Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive but to give.   Let us ask ourselves this question – at Christmas did we bring gifts to Jesus for His party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?when his place becomes our place - pope franics epip homily 2019 9 jan 2019.jpg

let us ask ourselves - pope francis 9 jan 2019 epiphany homily 2019.jpg

If we went to the Lord empty-handed, today we can remedy that.   The Gospel, in some sense, gives us a little “gift list”: gold, frankincense and myrrh.   Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place – He has to be worshipped. But to do that, we need to remove ourselves from the first place and to recognise our neediness, the fact that we are not self-sufficient.    Then there is frankincense, which symbolises a relationship with the Lord, prayer, which like incense rises up to God (cf. Ps 141:2).   Just as incense must burn in order to yield its fragrance, so too, in prayer, we need to “burn” a little of our time, to spend it with the Lord.   Not just in words but also by our actions.   We see this in the myrrh, the ointment that would be lovingly used to wrap the body of Jesus taken down from the cross (cf. Jn 19:39).   The Lord is pleased when we care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return.   Precious in the eyes of God is mercy shown to those who have nothing to give back.   Gratuitousness!

In this Christmas season now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem.   If we can do this, His light will shine upon us.”in this christmas season - pope francis - 9 jan 2019.jpg

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The NATIVITY of JESUS

If we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life’

Thought for the Day – 8 January – 2nd Day after Epiphany – It is still Christmastide!

‘If we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart
and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life’

Pope Francis’ Homily – 19 December 2018 – General Audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In six days, it will be Christmas.   The trees, the decorations and the lights everywhere recall that this year also there will be a celebration.   Advertising invites to keep exchanging newer and newer gifts to have surprises.   However, is this the celebration that pleases God?   What Christmas would He want, what presents and surprises?

We look at the first Christmas of history to discover God’s tastes.   That Christmas was full of surprises.   It begins with Mary, who was Joseph’s promised bride – the Angel arrives and changes her life.   From being a virgin, she will be a mother.   It continues with Joseph, called to be the father of a son without generating Him.   A son that — in a dramatic turn of events — arrives in the least indicated moment, namely, when Mary and Joseph were betrothed and, according to the Law, could not live together.   In face of the scandal, the good sense of the time invited Joseph to repudiate Mary and save his good name but he, although he had the right, surprises us – not to hurt Mary he thinks of taking leave of her in secret, at the cost of losing his own reputation.   Then, another surprise – in a dream, God changes his plans and asks him to take Mary to himself.   Jesus having been born, when Joseph had his plans for the family, again in a dream he is told to rise and go to Egypt.   To summarise, Christmas brought unexpected life changes.  And if we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life.

However, it’s on Christmas Eve that the greatest surprise arrives – the Most High is a little baby.   The divine Word is an infant, which means literally, “incapable of speaking.”   And the divine Word becomes “incapable of speaking.”  The Authorities of the time or of the place or the ambassadors were not there to receive the Saviour – no, it was simple shepherds, who, surprised by the Angels while they were working at night, run without delay.   Who would have expected it?   Christmas is to celebrate the unheard-of God, or better, it is to celebrate an unprecedented God, who overturns our logics and our expectations.

To celebrate Christmas, then, is to receive on earth Heaven’s surprises.   One can’t live “down to earth,” when Heaven has brought its novelties into the world.   Christmas inaugurates a new era, where life isn’t planned but is given;  where one no longer lives for oneself, on the basis of one’s tastes, but for God;  and with God because since the first Christmas, God is God-with-us, who lives with us, who walks with us.   To live Christmas is to let oneself be shaken by its surprising novelty.   Jesus’ Birth doesn’t offer the reassuring warmth of a fireplace but the divine thrill, that shakes history.  Christmas is the revenge of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over noise, of prayer over “my time,” of God over my “I.”christmas is - pope francis no 2 - 8 jan 2019

To celebrate Christmas is to do as Jesus did, who came for us needy people and to come down to those in need of us.   It is to do as Mary did, to entrust ourselves, docile to God, even without understanding what He will do.   To celebrate Christmas is to do as Joseph did, to rise to do what God wants, even if it’s not according to our plans.   Saint Joseph is surprising – he never speaks in the Gospel, there isn’t one word of Joseph in the Gospel and the Lord speaks to him in silence, He speaks to him in fact in his sleep. Christmas is to prefer God’s silent voice to the noises of consumerism.   If we are able to be silent before the Crib, Christmas will be a surprise for us also, not something already seen.   To be in silence before the Crib – this is the invitation for Christmas.  Take a bit of time, go before the Crib and stay in silence.   And you will feel, you will see the surprise.

Unfortunately, however, the celebration can be mistaken and we can prefer the usual things on earth, to the novelties of Heaven.   If Christmas remains only a beautiful traditional feast, where we and not Him, are at the centre, it will be a lost occasion.   Please, let us not make Christmas worldly!   Let us not put the One celebrated aside as ‘happened’ then, when “He came among His own and His own received Him not” (John 1:11).   Since the first Gospel of Advent, the Lord has put us on guard, asking us not to be weighed down with “dissipation” and “the cares of life” (Luke 21:34).   In these days one runs, perhaps more than ever during the year.   So, the opposite is done of what Jesus wants.   We blame the many things that fill our day, the world that goes fast.   Yet Jesus didn’t blame the world.   He asked us not to let ourselves be dragged, to watch at all times praying (Cf. v. 36).

Behold, it will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we make room for silence;  if, like Mary, we say to God “Here I am”;  if, like Jesus, we are close to one who is alone;  if, like the shepherds, we go out of our enclosures to be with Jesus.   It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor cave of Bethlehem.   It won’t be Christmas if we seek the shimmering glow of the world, if we fill ourselves with gifts, lunches and dinners but we don’t help at least one poor person, who is like God, because at Christmas God came poor.

Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a happy Christmas, a Christmas rich in Jesus’ surprises!   They might seem uncomfortable surprises but they are God’s tastes.   If we embrace them, we will have a splendid surprise for ourselves.   Each one of us has hidden in the heart, the capacity to be surprised.   Let us let Jesus surprise us this Christmas.

It’s Christmas every day!  behold it will be christmas - pope francis given 19 dec 2018 gen aud - 8 jan 2019

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The INCARNATION, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 7 January – Monday after Epiphany – Gospel:  Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

One Minute Reflection – 7 January – Monday after Epiphany – Gospel:  Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25 and the Memorial of St Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275) “Father of Canon Law”

“…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light and for those, who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.”…Matthew 4:16

REFLECTION – “All these things we know to have taken place ever since the three wise men, aroused in their far-off land, were led by a star to recognise and worship the King of heaven and earth.   The responsiveness of that star exhorts us to imitate it’s obedience and, as much as we can, to make ourselves servants of that grace which invites us all to Christ.   For, whoever lives religiously and chastely in the Church and “sets his mind on the things which are above, not on the things that are upon the earth” (Col 3:2) resembles that heavenly light in a certain sense.   So long as he maintains in himself the brightness of a holy life, he points out to many, like a star, the way that leads to God.   All having this concern, dearly-beloved… you will shine in the Kingdom like children of light.”…St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father & Doctor of the Churchmatthew 4 16 - the people who sat in darkness - for whoever lives - st pope leo 7 jan 2019

PRAYER – Lord, may the radiance of Your glory, light up our hearts and bring us through the shadows of this world, until we reach our homeland of everlasting light.   Grant we pray, that by the intercession of St Raymond of Peñafort , our way may be smoothed and our troubles eased.   We ask this through Jesus, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.st raymond of penafort pray for us 7 jan 2019

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Thought for the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Thought for the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church

epiphany-feast-7-jan-2018 (1)

“They saw the child with Mary his mother.   They prostrated themselves and did him homage”...Matthew 2:11

The magi find a poor young woman with a poor child wrapped in poor linen bands… and yet, on entering this cave, they feel a joy never experienced before… The divine Infant’s expression lights up, sign of the loving delight with which He welcomes them as the first conquest of His redeeming work.   Then the holy kings turn their eyes to Mary, who does not speak, remaining silent, yet her face, reflecting joy and shining with a heavenly sweetness, confirms that she welcomes them and is grateful to them for being the first to recognise her Son for who He is – their Sovereign Lord…

O Child so worthy of our love, I see You lying on the straw in this cave, so poor and despised.   Yet faith teaches me that You are my God come down from heaven for my salvation.   I acknowledge You as my Sovereign Lord and Saviour, as such I proclaim You, yet I have nothing at all to offer You.   I am without love’s gold, since I have given my love to the things of this world – I have only loved my own whim, rather than loving You, so infinitely worthy of love.   I am without prayer’s incense since I have lived wretchedly without thinking of You.   I have no myrrh of mortification since, so as not to forsake some paltry pleasures, I have so often saddened Your infinite goodness.   So what am I to offer You?   O my Jesus, I offer You my heart, soiled and naked as it is.   Take it and change it, for You have come down to us to wash our guilty hearts with Your blood and so transform us from sinners into saints.   O grant me that gold, incense and myrrh that I lack.   Grant me the gold of Your holy love;  grant me the incense that is the spirit of prayer;  grant me myrrh, the willingness and strength to deny myself in all that displeases You…

O holy Virgin, you welcomed those devout magi kings with keen affection and satisfied them.   Deign to welcome and comfort me also, I who come, following their example, to visit and offer myself to your Son.i acknowledge you as my lord and saviour - st alphonsus 6 jan 2019

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Quote/s of the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Quote/s of the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?
For we saw his star when it rose
and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:2matthew 2 2 - where is he - 6 jan 2019

“For by gold, the power of a king is signified,
by frankincense the honour of God,
by myrrh the burial of the body
and accordingly they offer Him,
gold as King,
frankincense as God,
myrrh as Man.”

St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Churchfor-by-gold-st-john-chrysostom-7-jan-2018

“Though many kings of the Jews
had been born and died, none of them,
did the Magi seek to adore.
And so they, who came from a distant foreign land,
to a kingdom that was entirely strange to them…
But they had learnt, that such a King was born,
that by adoring Him, they might be sure of obtaining
from Him the salvation which is of God.”though many kings had been born and died st augustine 6 jan 2019

“Truth,
by which the world is held together,
has sprung from the earth,
in order to be carried
in a woman’s arms.”

St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchtruth by which the world is held together - st augustine - 6 jan 2019.jpg

“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder
at what they see:
heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God,
God in man, one whom the whole universe
cannot contain, now enclosed in a tiny body.
As they look, they believe and do not question,
as their symbolic gifts bear witness:
incense for God,
gold for a king,
myrrh for one who is to die.”

St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Father & Doctor of the Churchtoday the magi gaze in deep wonder - st peter chrysologus 6 jan 2019.jpg

“What are you doing, O Magi?
Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel,
wrapped in miserable rags?
Can this Child be truly God? …
Are you become foolish, O Wise Men …
Yes, these Wise Men have become fools
that they may be wise!”

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor of the Churchwhat-are-you-doing-o-magi-st-bernard-7-jan-2018.jpg