Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Vatican Radio REPORT/SHARE - Pope Benedict XVI has given the last public homily of his pontificate in a moving Ash Wednesday ceremony, in St Peter’s basilica. His message to those gathered for the liturgy and following through global media, was that it is never to late to return to God and that faith is necessarily ecclesial.

The Ash Wednesday ceremony was moved from its traditional location in the basilica of St Sabina on the Aventine hill to accommodate the large numbers of priests, religious and lay people who wanted to participate in Pope Benedict’s last public liturgy.


The Pope began by thanking them – and particularly the faithful from the diocese of Rome – for their support and prayers during his ministry. He then went on to reflect on the first reading from the Prophet Joel Chapter 2, where the Lord says “Return to me with all your heart”.

Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of witnessing to the faith and Christian life on an individual and community level. This witness, he said, reveals the face of the Church and how this face is, at times, disfigured by the sins of disunity and division in the Body of Christ.

The community dimension is an essential element in faith and Christian life. Christ came "to gather the children of God who are scattered into one" (Jn 11:52). The "we" of the Church is the community in which Jesus brings us together (cf. Jn 12:32), faith is necessarily ecclesial. And it is important to remember and to live this during Lent: each person must be aware that the penitential journey cannot be faced alone, but together with many brothers and sisters in the Church.

The Pope concluded “Living Lent in a more intense and evident ecclesial communion, overcoming individualism and rivalry is a humble and precious sign for those who have distanced themselves from the faith or who are indifferent”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Ash Wednesday homily [original text Italian]

Venerable Brothers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new Lenten journey, a journey that extends over forty days and leads us towards the joy of Easter, to victory of Life over death. Following the ancient Roman tradition of Lenten stations, we are gathered for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The tradition says that the first statio took place in the Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill. Circumstances suggested we gather in St. Peter's Basilica. Tonight there are many of us gathered around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to also ask him to pray for the path of the Church going forward at this particular moment in time, to renew our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is also a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and I ask you for a special remembrance in your prayer.

The readings that have just been proclaimed offer us ideas which, by the grace of God, we are called to transform into a concrete attitude and behaviour during Lent. First of all the Church proposes the powerful appeal which the prophet Joel addresses to the people of Israel, "Thus says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (2.12). Please note the phrase "with all your heart," which means from the very core of our thoughts and feelings, from the roots of our decisions, choices and actions, with a gesture of total and radical freedom. But is this return to God possible? Yes, because there is a force that does not reside in our hearts, but that emanates from the heart of God and the power of His mercy. The prophet says: "return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment" (v. 13). It is possible to return to the Lord, it is a 'grace', because it is the work of God and the fruit of faith that we entrust to His mercy. But this return to God becomes a reality in our lives only when the grace of God penetrates and moves our innermost core, gifting us the power that "rends the heart". Once again the prophet proclaims these words from God: "Rend your hearts and not your garments" (v. 13). Today, in fact, many are ready to "rend their garments" over scandals and injustices – which are of course caused by others - but few seem willing to act according to their own "heart", their own conscience and their own intentions, by allowing the Lord transform, renew and convert them.

This "return to me with all your heart," then, is a reminder that not only involves the individual but the entire community. Again we heard in the first reading: "Blow the horn in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly! Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; Assemble the elderly; gather the children, even infants nursing at the breast; Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her bridal tent (vv.15-16). The community dimension is an essential element in faith and Christian life. Christ came "to gather the children of God who are scattered into one" (Jn 11:52). The "we" of the Church is the community in which Jesus brings us together (cf. Jn 12:32), faith is necessarily ecclesial. And it is important to remember and to live this during Lent: each person must be aware that the penitential journey cannot be faced alone, but together with many brothers and sisters in the Church.

Finally, the prophet focuses on the prayers of priests, who, with tears in their eyes, turn to God, saying: " Between the porch and the altar let the priests weep, let the ministers of the LORD weep and say: “Spare your people, Lord! Do not let your heritage become a disgrace, a byword among the nations! Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’"(V.17). This prayer leads us to reflect on the importance of witnessing to faith and Christian life, for each of us and our community, so that we can reveal the face of the Church and how this face is, at times, disfigured. I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the Church, of the divisions in the body of the Church. Living Lent in a more intense and evident ecclesial communion, overcoming individualism and rivalry is a humble and precious sign for those who have distanced themselves from the faith or who are indifferent.

"Well, now is the favourable time, this is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). The words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth resonate for us with an urgency that does not permit absences or inertia. The term "now" is repeated and can not be missed, it is offered to us as a unique opportunity. And the Apostle's gaze focuses on sharing with which Christ chose to characterize his life, taking on everything human to the point of taking on all of man’s sins. The words of St. Paul are very strong: "God made him sin for our sake." Jesus, the innocent, the Holy One, "He who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21), bears the burden of sin sharing the outcome of death, and death of the Cross with humanity. The reconciliation we are offered came at a very high price, that of the Cross raised on Golgotha, on which the Son of God made man was hung. In this, in God’s immersion in human suffering and the abyss of evil, is the root of our justification. The "return to God with all your heart" in our Lenten journey passes through the Cross, in following Christ on the road to Calvary, to the total gift of self. It is a journey on which each and every day we learn to leave behind our selfishness and our being closed in on ourselves, to make room for God who opens and transforms our hearts. And as St. Paul reminds us, the proclamation of the Cross resonates within us thanks to the preaching of the Word, of which the Apostle himself is an ambassador. It is a call to us so that this Lenten journey be characterized by a more careful and assiduous listening to the Word of God, the light that illuminates our steps.

In the Gospel passage according of Matthew, to whom belongs to the so-called Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to three fundamental practices required by the Mosaic Law: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. These are also traditional indications on the Lenten journey to respond to the invitation to «return to God with all your heart." But he points out that both the quality and the truth of our relationship with God is what qualifies the authenticity of every religious act. For this reason he denounces religious hypocrisy, a behaviour that seeks applause and approval. The true disciple does not serve himself or the "public", but his Lord, in simplicity and generosity: "And your Father who sees everything in secret will reward you" (Mt 6,4.6.18). Our fitness will always be more effective the less we seek our own glory and the more we are aware that the reward of the righteous is God Himself, to be united to Him, here, on a journey of faith, and at the end of life, in the peace light of coming face to face with Him forever (cf. 1 Cor 13:12).

Dear brothers and sisters, we begin our Lenten journey with trust and joy. May the invitation to conversion , to "return to God with all our heart", resonate strongly in us, accepting His grace that makes us new men and women, with the surprising news that is participating in the very life of Jesus. May none of us, therefore, be deaf to this appeal, also addressed in the austere rite, so simple and yet so beautiful, of the imposition of ashes, which we will shortly carry out. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and model of every true disciple of the Lord accompany us in this time. Amen!




Our observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 13 this year, and is a a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics.  At Mass on Ash Wednesday, the imposition of ashes replicates an ancient penitential practice and symbolizes our dependence upon God's mercy and forgiveness.
Share your Ash Wednesday image on ourFacebook page.
During this Lent, the U.S. bishops are encouraging Catholics to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives.  They  have issued a statement, "God's Gift of Forgiveness: The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation" that can be distributed and shared in parishes.  Dioceses are encouraged to make the sacrament available often during Lent and to use these resources to promote participation.  We are also providing resources to help individuals who have not been to confession in a while "rediscover" the sacrament. 
During Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
rosary-hands-istock-montageThe three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer,fasting and almsgiving. The Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.
The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
On these pages, you will find a variety of suggestions and resources to support your Lenten practice, enhance your prayer, and embrace your baptismal commitment.




Pope Benedict XVI with Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has written to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the Bishops to thank him for his Apostolic Ministry as Supreme Pontiff, joyfully remembering his Visit to the UK in 2010, and saluting his courage and integrity at stepping down from the See of Peter.

Full Text

Most Holy Father
On behalf of the Catholics of England and Wales, and expressing sentiments shared by many others, I write to offer you, at this historic moment, our loving affection and
We recognise the courage and integrity of your decision to step down from the See of St Peter. We assure you of our support, while very conscious of our profound sense of
We thank you, Holy Father, for all your years of service to the Church, and most of all for the seven years of your Apostolic Ministry as Supreme Pontiff. We have treasured your loving care as Pope and your wonderful teaching. Through your ministry many have grown in love of our faith and, most crucially, in their relationship with Our Lord.
We remember with joy and exhilaration your Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 when you thrilled us with your presence and spoke the message of the Gospel to the hearts of so many.
We promise you our prayers for the years ahead. May God bless you with peace and the gift of consoling prayer. We know that you will continue, faithfully, your life‐long
vocation of love of God and His Church and of prayer for us all.
Yours devotedly in the Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Vincent Nichols
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales


by Nirmala Carvalho
Three incidents take place in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh in three successive days. Police complicity and the indifference of political authorities favour anti-Christian attacks by Hindu fundamentalists.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In some areas of India, Christians are living in terror because of the lack of political will to stop anti-Christian violence and the complicity of police with criminals, this according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who spoke to AsiaNews about the latest anti-Christian attacks last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The worst attack occurred on Friday in Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh). At least 100 members from Hindu nationalist groups Bajrang DalRashtritya Sawayamsevak Sangh (Rss) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) stormed a church where a Pentecostal community, the  Indian Christian Mission (ICM), was holding a three-day prayer meeting (7-9 February).
Attackers beat up worshippers using iron rods, accusing them of forced conversions. More than 30 people ended up in hospital with major injuries. After treatment, the Christians were asked to leave by hospital staff who feared a possible attack by Hindu fundamentalists.
Those who were not injured filed a complaint with police, but the latter rejected their request and instead filed a counterclaim against the Church and its members.
On Saturday, a group of Hindu extremists led by the village chief in Nagpur (Jhabua District, Madhya Pradesh) attacked two Pentecostal clergymen during a prayer service.
The victims, Revs Jorder and Ilam, were taken to the Emergency Ward of the nearest hospital. In their case too, police refused to accept a complaint against the attackers, claiming that the church where the service was held was not registered as a place of worship.
The last attack took place on Sunday in Adilabad District (Andhra Pradesh) when members of the Hindu Vahini, a local Hindu nationalist organisation, filed a complaint against a Christian, Anand Rao, for forced conversions. The latter had come to deliver a lecture on the Bible.
Without checking on the veracity of the charges, police registered a complaint against the Christian man and took him into custody. He was released on bail the next day.
"With the start of Lent, Christians will meet on frequent occasions to pray and celebrate Mass, both in public and in private. For this reason, they should be protected," GCIC president Sajan George said.
However, this kind of attack "shows that not only religious freedom and tolerance but also the rule of law are in danger," he added.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
13 Feb 2013's Lenten Calendar for 2013 is accessed by thousands worldwide
Social networking site's Lenten Calendar for 2013 has used the very latest in technology to make it accessible and compatible with even more devices than ever before.
"We wanted to make sure Lenten Calendar continues to be the "go to" portal for users throughout Lent. This year, no matter where people live and no matter what device they use, they will have full access to daily reflections, quotes, prayers, podcasts and videos," says Mary Elias, Content Manager and Administrator of
Compatible with iPhones, iPads, Android Smartphones and tablets, not only is technology enabling even more young people worldwide to access's Lenten Calendar this year, but is enabling to offer even more content variety and downloads for each of the 40 days of Lent.
"This year's Calendar is more interactive than ever before and is using a wide range of audio and visual material to appeal to our many thousands of different users across Australia, Asia, Europe, Britain, the Americas and the Pacific," Mary says.
Every year since 2009, has created a Lenten calendar, and each year these calendars have come with more bells and whistles as technology continues to develop and advance.
"Our annual Advent calendar has always been popular. But to apply the same concept to produce a Calendar for each of the 40 days of Lent was quite revolutionary, and there seems to be nothing else quite like it out there," she says.
 "Young people are not afraid to take Lent seriously and during the next 40 days of what is considered to be the most important in the Catholic year, they will use the Calendar to help deepen their faith, to reflect on Christ, his life and his teachings, and to pray," Mary says.
For Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, Bishop Peter Comensoli, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney has recorded his reflections especially for this year's calendar. Then, as Lent progresses, the Calendar will feature podcasts, videos and written works. These will include articles on the Catholic faith, video talks by some of the world's leading apologetics, podcasts of Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten message for 2013 and an important new series for the faithful, entitled Way of the Cross.
Mary Elias (left) and Laura Bradley from Xt3 conduct a recent digital media workshop
Each day, the Calendar will feature daily Mass readings, a Biblical quotation, a multimedia item of interest and a small act of penance participants may choose to add to their Lenten commitments.
"This is a wonderful resource and ideally suited to youth groups, parishes, schools as well as for individual use by young people," Mary says.
Among the hundreds of emails received by last month asking when apps for the Calendar would be available, one young user was so keen for her school to use the Calendar throughout Lent as part of her year's religious studies that as soon as school returned two weeks ago, she embarked on a campaign promoting the Calendar app to her RE teacher and classmates.
"She told us this was a fun way for her year to follow the season of Lent without compromising the sombre and spiritual nature of the Lenten period," Mary says.
The content assembled by for each day of Lent 2013 remains hidden until the particular day is reached when it can be accessed along with its podcasts, materials, talks and videos.
Today, Ash Wednesday, is the first day on which the Calendar can be accessed.
To view the entire 2013 Lenten Calendar on line and to find out more about's Lent App log on
To see the promo click on to



CAPE TOWN, February 08, 2013 (CISA) -Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has invited Christians around the globe to join him in a Carbon Fast for Lent.
“Lent is a time of repentance and fasting, of turning away from all that is counter to God’s will and purposes for his world and all who live in it”, he said. “This year, I invite Anglicans and Christians to focus their Lenten ‘acts of love and sacrifice’ on our contribution to climate change, and on those most impacted by it.”
Archbishop Makgoba chairs the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) and is Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa which includes some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Two of the Church’s dioceses, Lebombo and Niassa in Mozambique, have recently been hit by devastating floods, leaving more than 150,000 people homeless.
The Carbon Fast resource suggests a specific action for each of the forty days of Lent, raising awareness of environmental issues and guiding participants on how they can have a positive impact on creation. Building on traditional Lenten practices where Christians give something up, such as chocolate or alcohol, the Carbon Fast asks participants to focus on giving up, or making changes to lifestyle, so that they reduce their ‘carbon footprint’, that is, their contribution to environmentally damaging greenhouse gas emissions, usually measured in carbon dioxide equivalent.
The activities suggested for each day include cutting down on meat consumption: “A traditional Lenten observance is ‘Fish on Fridays’. Why not also have a ‘Meat-free Monday’ – or some other day, if on Mondays you usually eat Sunday’s leftovers? Did you know that ‘a kilogram of steak could be responsible for as many greenhouse gases as driving a car for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home?’ D Fanelli, New Scientist, 2007.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The eighth edition of the Diocesan Congress of Missionary Childhood and Adolescence (VIII Codiam) under the slogan: "Teens and missionary children, with joy we share our faith" was held in the Diocese of San Juan de los Lagos, in Mexico. 
The impressive missionary feast was held from 8 to 10 February, in the beautiful city of Tepatitlán of Morelos, Jalisco.
This city, known as the "Perla de los Altos de Jalisco" welcomed more than 2,048 children and young people who came from the 86 parishes that make up the diocese, and that for more than three months prepared and trained for this missionary celebration.
According to a note sent to Fides by the PMS Mexico, was not a Congress like the others, because during the course of the CODIAM VIII, the Pontifical Mission Societies of Mexico, through the website were able to transmit the event which was followed by 27. 549 people from all over the world, in more than 454 cities in 49 Countries, including the USA, Canada, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Argentina, as well as Spain, Italy, France, Poland, Germany, Japan, Philippines , China and South Korea, Senegal and Zambia-.
The Congress would not have been possible without the participation of the laity, especially the families who hosted over 2000 children, the whole team of 130 young people who were part of the organization, of the logistics and animation. We must also acknowledge the collaboration of the entire priesthood of the Diocese of San Juan de los Lagos who worked in the promotion of the missionary event. (CE)


Matthew 6:
 1 - 6, 16 - 18

1"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16"And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.


    Ash Wednesday a moveable feast that begins the liturgical season of Lent. It does not have a specific date but depends on when Easter is celebrated. The Church encourages the faithful to go to Confession or Reconciliation on this day. Confession involves the telling of one's sins to a priest who then provides forgiveness according to the commission of Christ.
John 20:21-23:
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the period of the fast. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast or perform some act of penance. Abstinence from meat is required on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fasting requires the consumption of 1 full meal and only 2 smaller meals. Ash Wednesday starts the commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Lent is actually 46 days as the Sundays do not count for the fasting period. When people attend Church services on this day they are commonly blessed with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. The ashes are usually derived from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday. They are to remind people of their sins and call them to repentence. Usually a priest, deacon or lay person marks the person's forehead. The biblical verse is said:
Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3: 19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Mark 1 : 15
This marking is called a sacramental. Churches are decorated with purple during the season of Lent. Statues and crosses are covered with purple cloth. Lent ends with the celebration of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.
There are many biblical roots to repentence for sin with ashes, here are a few sources:
Judith 7: 14
But the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, putting ashes upon their heads, praying with one accord, that the God of Israel would shew his mercy upon his people.
Esther 4:3
And in all provinces, towns, and places, to which the king's cruel edict was come, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, wailing, and weeping, many using sackcloth and ashes for their bed.
Jeremiah 6:26
Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation, because the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us.
 by: Miriam Westen


St. Catherine de Ricci
Feast: February 13

Feast Day:February 13
23 April 1522 at Florence, Italy
Died:2 February 1590 at Prato, Italy
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany. Peter de Ricci, the father of our saint, was married to Catherine Bonza, a lady of suitable birth. The saint was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, she was formed to virtue by a very pious godmother, and whenever she was missing she was always to be found on her knees in some secret part of the house. When she was between six and seven years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. This place was to her a paradise: at a distance from the noise and tumult of the world, she served God without impediment or distraction. After some years her father took her home. She continued her usual exercises in the world as much as she was able; but the interruptions and dissipation, inseparable from her station, gave her so much uneasiness that, with the in consent of her father, which she obtained, though with great difficulty, in the year 1535, the fourteenth of her age, she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany, to which her uncle, F. Timothy de Ricci, was director. God, in the merciful design to make her the spouse of his crucified Son, and to imprint in her soul dispositions conformable to his, was pleased to exercise her patience by rigorous trials For two years she suffered inexpressible pains under a complication of violent distempers, which remedies themselves served only to increase. These sufferings she sanctified by the interior dispositions with which she bore them, and which she nourished principally by assiduous meditation on the passion of Christ, in which she found an incredible relish and a solid comfort and joy. After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses, and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practicing the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water, and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment, and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility, and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. The least shadow of distinction or commendation gave her inexpressible uneasiness and confusion, and she would have rejoiced to be able to lie hid in the centre of the earth, in order to be entirely unknown to and blotted out of the hearts of all mankind, such were the sentiments of annihilation and contempt of herself in which she constantly lived. It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart the sentiments or life of the first Adam—that is, of corruption, sin, and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself, and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer; for by the union of her soul with God, and the establishment of the absolute reign of his love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from all earthly things. And in one act of sublime prayer she advanced more than by a hundred exterior practices in the purity and ardour of her desire to do constantly what was most agreeable to God, to lose no occasion of practicing every heroic virtue, and of vigorously resisting all that was evil. Prayer, holy meditation, and contemplation were the means by which God imprinted in her soul sublime ideas of his heavenly truths, the strongest and most tender sentiments of all virtues, and the most burning desire to give all to God, with an incredible relish and affection for suffering contempt and poverty for Christ. What she chiefly laboured to obtain, by meditating on his life and sufferings, and what she most earnestly asked of him, was that he would be pleased, in his mercy, to purge her affections of all poison of the inordinate love of creatures, and engrave in her his most holy and divine image, both exterior and interior—that is to say, both in her conversation and her affections, that so she might be animated, and might think, speak, and act by his most Holy Spirit. The saint was chosen, very young, first, mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, was appointed perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, princes, and cardinals—among others, of Cervini, Alexander of Medicis, and Aldobrandini, who all three were afterwards raised to St. Peter's chair, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.
Something like what St. Austin relates of St. John of Egypt happened to St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Ricci. For having some time entertained together a commerce of letters, to satisfy their mutual desire of seeing each other, whilst he was detained at Rome she appeared to him in a vision, and they conversed together a considerable time, each doubtless being in a rapture. This St. Philip Neri, though most circumspect in giving credit to or in publishing visions, declared, saying that Catherine de Ricci, whilst living, had appeared to him in vision, as his disciple Galloni assures us in his life. And the continuators of Bollandus inform us that this was confirmed by the oaths of five witnesses. Bacci, in his life of St. Philip, mentions the same thing, and Pope Gregory XV, in his bull for the canonization of St. Philip Neri, affirms that whilst this saint lived at Rome he conversed a considerable time with Catherine of Ricci, a nun, who was then at Prat, in Tuscany. Most wonderful were the raptures of St. Catherine in meditating on the passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, but to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. After a long illness she passed from this mortal life to everlasting bliss and the possession of the object of all her desires, on the feast of the Purification of our Lady, on the 2nd of February, in 1589, the sixty-seventh year of her age. The ceremony of her beatification was performed by Clement XII in 1732, and that of her canonization by Benedict XIV in 1746. Her festival is deferred to the 13th of February.
In the most perfect state of heavenly contemplation which this life admits of, there must be a time allowed for action, as appears from the most eminent contemplatives among the saints, and those religious institutes which are most devoted to this holy exercise. The mind of man must be frequently unbent, or it will be overset. Many, by a too constant or forced attention, have lost their senses. in he body also stands in need of exercise, and in all stations men owe several exterior duties both to others and themselves, and to neglect any of these, upon presence of giving the preference to prayer, would be a false devotion and dangerous illusion. Though a Christian be a citizen of heaven, while he is a sojourner in this world, he is not to forget the obligations or the necessities to which this state subjects him, or to dream of flights which only angels and their fellow inhabitants of bliss take. As a life altogether taken up in action and business, without frequent prayer and pious meditation, alienates a soul from God and virtue, and weds her totally to the world, so a life spent wholly in contemplation, without any mixture of action, is chimerical, and the attempt dangerous. The art of true devotion consists very much in a familiar and easy habit of accompanying exterior actions and business with a pious attention to the Divine Presence, frequent secret aspirations, and a constant union of the soul with God. This St. Catherine of Ricci practiced at her work, in the exterior duties of her house and office, in her attendance on the sick (which was her favourite employment, and which she usually performed on her knees), and in the tender care of the poor over the whole country. But this hindered not the exercises of contemplation, which were her most assiduous employment. Hence retirement and silence were her delight, in order to entertain herself with t. Creator of all things, and by devout meditation, kindling in her soul the fire of heavenly love, she was never able to satiate the ardour of her desire in adoring and praising the immense greatness and goodness of God.