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Easter: May 7th

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter; Minor Rogation Day

Other Commemorations: St. Rosa Venerini, Virgin (RM)


May 07, 2024 (Readings on USCCB website)



Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter: Grant, almighty and merciful God, that we may in truth receive a share in the Resurrection of Christ your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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Today the Roman Martyrology commemorates the feast of recently-canonized Italian educator Saint Rosa Venerini (1656-1728), who founded Catholic schools for girls and young women during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. St. Rosa (also known as St. Rose) was declared a saint in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, who spoke in his canonization homily of her courageous work for “the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time.”

Today continues the traditional observance of the Minor Rogation Days, which fall Monday through Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday.

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Meditation for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Minor Rogation Day
The need of prayer

1. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.". This solemn promise was made by the Lord to those who pray. Confiding in this promise, we join in the rogation procession and the Mass.

2. "The continual prayer of a just man availeth much. Elias was a man passible like unto us; and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." Thus we see how efficacious and how fruitful were the prayers of the just man Elias. And the Lord has also promised us in the Gospel: "Ask, and it shall be given you." How great, then, must be the intercessory power of the Church! How great must be the power of that prayer if all members of the Church and the saints in heaven lift their hands to the Father in supplication! The Church prays incessantly through her priests, through her religious, through the saints, through Mary, the most powerful of all intercessors, and through her Head, who is Christ Jesus. Christ is with the Father; He is also in our tabernacles, "always living to make intercession for us" (Heb. 7:25). We join our prayers to those of the Church, and we have the assurance: "Ask, and it shall be given you." We place our trust in the intercessory power of the Church, of which we are living members. We also place great confidence in the power of our prayer, because of the fact that we are supported and abetted by the prayers of many holy and God-fearing brothers and sisters in Christ. What a precious possession such prayers are! How we should prize and treasure them!

"Ask, and it shall be given you." What the Church wants today, above all else, is souls devoted to prayer. All of us in some way share a responsibility for our fellow Christians. God wishes the salvation of all men. But if this goal is to be realized. men must themselves desire salvation and work to obtain it. Moreover, men must will the salvation of their fellow men and work to accomplish it. Every man is master of his own destiny. But even so, each one of us is in some measure the master of the destiny of others. Modern science has taught us that we cannot split one atom without starting a chain reaction that destroys millions of other atoms. Much the same is true in the world of the spirit. We all contribute to the good fortune (or ill fortune), the salvation and eternal destiny, of our fellow men. Because we are all branches of the same living vine, Christ, our lives are intertwined. Necessarily, therefore, we can and do promote or hamper the progress of other branches of the vine. There is no such thing as a neutral position.

To a certain extent even the eternal salvation of our fellow men lies in our hands. This responsibility we discharge by means of our example and our prayers. By means of our prayers we prevent the just wrath of God from being visited upon His people. The sins of men in our day call out to heaven for vengeance. How frightful are the sins of unbelief! How horribly men revile God; how rashly they deny Him; how foolishly they blaspheme against Him and His Church! The world is drenched in sins of hatred—hatred between nations, hatred between social classes, hatred between individuals. For that reason we are admonished in today's Epistle: "Dearly beloved,…pray one for another that you may be saved.... If any of you err from the truth and one convert him, he must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins."

To save souls through the power of prayer is the great occupation of the Church during the rogation days and at other times also. She prays that souls may be saved, and that is the purpose of our prayer also. We pray with the tenacity of the beggar mentioned in today's Gospel: "If he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." We must pray much, pray diligently, and pray without ceasing. "Ask, and it shall be given you."

3. We place too little trust in the promise that has been made to us and too little dependence on the value and the power of prayer. That is why our prayers lack confidence and zeal. And yet, precisely to those who possess zeal and confidence the promise has been made: "All things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive" (Mark 11:24), and "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:22). Moreover, the closer our union with the Church, the more effective our prayers will be. This union with the Church will manifest itself in the firmness of our faith, in our obedience to her commands, in our devotion to her service, in our participation in her prayer, in our sharing of her sacrifice. Under these circumstances our prayers will have the quality that every effective prayer must have: they will be devout, zealous, unceasing, childlike, and persevering. Therefore pray with the Church.

"Ask, and it shall be given you." Today the liturgy associates his admonition with our reception of Holy Communion, for at that time we are most intimately bound to Christ the vine, to the other members of the community, and to the Church herself. At this most holy moment Christ, who has sacrificed Himself for us, prays with us and for us, together with the whole Church, to which He is intimately united; and we pray with Him and through Him. Then we shall receive, we shall find, it will be opened to us.
—Benedict Bauer, O.S.B, from The Light of the World, Vol II

Rogation Days
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we commemorate the traditional dates for the Minor Rogation Days. These are days of prayer and formerly fasting, which take place every year on April 25th and the three days preceding the feast of the Ascension, the former being known as the Major Rogation and the latter as the Minor Rogations. The word “rogation” has its origins in the Latin word rogare, which means to supplicate or ask, and the purpose of Rogation Days is to beg God for His mercy, to turn away His anger, and to ask Him to bless the fruits of the earth while protecting us from natural disasters. The Rogation Days no longer appear on the General Roman Calendar, but celebrated according to the local conference of bishops.

Second Rogation Day, Station at St. John Lateran. If at all possible, we will take part in the in the Rogation procession and Mass today and tomorrow. In spirit we will observe the venerable liturgy at St. John Lateran, the church were baptisms were administered in ancient times. It may aid our piety to group our petitions on these three days. the first day we will devote to our personal needs; the second, to family and community; the third, to the needs of the universal Church. Not only at the morning liturgy but throughout the day we will continue to pour forth our pleading to God.

Reflections on the Nature of True Prayer. In the Rogation liturgy we are reminded of what a great privilege it is to place our needs before God in prayer. The liturgical texts provide 1) instruction on the value and significance of prayer; 2) incentives and aids on how to pray fervently and perseveringly. We need but look at the beautiful Gospel triptych with Christ's words: "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives...," in the center panel flanked by the importunate friend and the pleading child. Petition is the key to the riches of God's fatherly heart, the key that opens up the treasures of divine mercy.

Yet if we are honest, we will be very ready to admit having had doubts concerning Christ's words just quoted. How often we asked in vain for some favor! What then are the qualities that our petition lacked? How must we pray in order to have our prayers heard? The answer may lie in the object for which we pray, in defects in our disposition, or in the spirit that animates us.

a) The object of prayer. The words of Christ are indeed general in character, they set no limit to the object of one's petition. Nevertheless, our Savior clearly stated that only such pleas will be answered which harmonize with the aims of the kingdom of God. He said: "If you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"

God will not give his children harmful gifts. the phrase "good things" is mystical and can perhaps be best explained as covering items that will serve our eternal goal. Certainly we may pray for material favorites, but on the condition that they will be "good things" for us. Sometimes God answers a prayer by granting the opposite to that which is asked; instead of a stone, a serpent, or scorpion, He blesses us with bread, eggs, or fish.

b) The second reason why our prayers may not be heard lies in our personal disposition, our lack of faith and love and humility. (1) Whenever Christ performed a miracle, He demanded faith as a prerequisite. On one occasion the apostles could not heal a possess body; to their queries Jesus said, "Because of your little faith; for amen I say to you, if you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain: Remove from here, and it will remove. And nothing will be impossible to you" (Mt 17:19). We need the faith that moves mountains. (2) A second obstacles is our lack of love. If we ourselves neither give nor forgive, we can expect no favors from God. In his epistle St. Peter makes a pertinent observation: "Husband, in like manner dwell with your wives considerately, paying honor to the woman as to the weaker vessel...that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pt 3:7). Our prayers are "hindered" through lack of love for our neighbor. (3) Lack of humility likewise closes God's dispensing hand. We need only recall the story of the publican and the pharisee. The same parable also teaching us that past sin does not prevent prayers from being heard. God listens to the prayer of a humble sinner rather than to the effusions of a just but proud man.

c) Finally, the spirit with which one prays is important. Do you pray perseveringly, in union with others, submissive to God's will? (1) The two Gospel parables speak clearly of persevering, even importunate petition. God wants to hear our prayers. He does not, however, want us to dictate the time when He should respond. There is high pedagogical wisdom in that God does not reply at once to our prayers. Perseverance in pleading is good training spiritually, and it purifies our longing. One who is expecting further gifts will more easily be grateful for benefits already received. Old age had already come upon Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, before his petition was granted. (2) A special efficacy is attached to prayer made in common. "If two of you shall agree on earth about anything at all for which they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Mt 18:19). (3) Lastly, our prayer must be rooted deeply in God's holy will. Of this there is no example more moving and convincing than that of Christ Himself during His agony on Mt. Olivet. His Father did not hear Him, did not remove the chalice from Him. And yet our Savior's prayer was answered. He was given strength to drink the chalice to its dregs.

Prayer does not imply the gratification of one's own will, rather that we submerge our wills in that of God. In prayer, in every act, we must leave behind our own pagan, egotistical selves and selflessly seek the good of God's kingdom. As long as prayer serves nothing more than one's own selfish interests, it will never be heard. However, once our hearts and minds are oriented to welfare of God's kingdom, then prayer will become the bond uniting us most intimately to God. Then we will realize what tremendous power it has.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

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Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Tuesday of the Lesser Rogation Days,
Station with San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran)

The Station today is at St. John Lateran which is the seat of the Roman Pontiff, and the cathedral church for the Diocese of Rome. The official name of the basilica in Italian is Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano. The Lateran is comprised of the Basilica, the Pontifical Palace and the Baptistry. The church is dedicated to the Christ the Savior. In the fifth century the titles of St. John Baptist and St. John the Evangelist were added. The Papal altar contains the wooden altar on which St. Peter is said to have celebrated Mass. This basilica is the mother of all churches and is the only church which has the title of Archbasilica.
The first Rogation Day we kept with our Mother. The second we celebrate with our Brother. In spirit we enter the Lateran Basilica dedicated to our Most Holy Savior, "The First-born among many brethren." In union with our eldest Brother we praise today "His Father and our Father, His God and our God. Especially this second rogation day should fill our souls with renewed awe and respect for the "Our Father" prayer so filled with love for the Father, so divine in origin, so embracing in content; a prayer sanctified by millions of Christ-branches, in particular by the holy martyrs who had it upon their lips while making the supreme sacrifice of their life for Him that taught.
—Excerpted from The Vine and the Branches, by Martin Hellriegel

For more on San Giovanni in Laterano, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.

St. Rosa Venerini
Rosa Venerini was born in Viterbo, on February 9, 1656. Her father, Goffredo, originally from Castelleone di Suasa (Ancona), after having completed his doctorate in medicine at Rome, moved to Viterbo where he practiced the medical profession brilliantly in the Grand Hospital. From his marriage to Marzia Zampichetti, of an ancient family of Viterbo, four children were born: Domenico, Maria Maddalena, Rosa and Orazio.

Rosa was naturally gifted with intelligence and an uncommon human sensibility. The education that she received in her family allowed her to develop her many talents of mind and heart, forming her in steadfast Christian principles. According to her first biographer, Father Girolamo Andreucci, S.I., she made a vow to consecrate her life to God at the age of seven. During the early years of her youth, she lived through a conflict between the attractions of the world and the promise made to God. Rosa overcame this crisis with trusting prayer and mortification.

At age twenty, Rosa raised questions about her own future. The women of her time could choose only two orientations for their live: marriage or the cloister. Rosa esteemed both, but she felt called to realize another project for the good of the Church and the society of her time. Urged on by prophetic interior occurrences, she committed much time in suffering and searching before reaching a resolution that was completely innovative.

In the autumn of 1676, on the advice of her father, Rosa entered the Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine, with the prospect of fulfilling her vow. With her Aunt Anna Cecilia beside her, she learned to listen to God in silence and in meditation. She remained in the monastery for only a few months because the sudden death of her father forced her to return to her suffering mother.

In the years immediately following, Rosa had to bear the burden of serious events for her family: her brother Domenico died at only twenty-seven years of age; a few months later her mother died, unable to bear the sorrow.

In the meantime, Maria Maddalena married. There remained at home only Orazio and Rosa, by now twenty-four years old. Challenged by the desire to do something great for God, in May of 1684, the Saint began to gather the girls and women of the area in her own home to recite the rosary. The way in which the girls and women prayed, and above all, their conversation before and after the prayer, opened the mind and heart of Rosa to a sad reality: the woman of the common people was a slave of cultural, moral and spiritual poverty. She then understood that the Lord was calling her to a higher mission which she gradually identified in the urgent need to dedicate herself to the instruction and Christian formation of young women, not with sporadic encounters, but with a school understood in the real and true sense of the word.

On August 30, 1685, with the approval of the Bishop of Viterbo, Cardinal Urbano Sacchetti and the collaboration of two friends, Gerolama Coluzzelli and Porzia Bacci, Rosa left her father's home to begin her first school, according to an innovative plan that had matured in prayer and her search for the will of God. The first objective of the Foundress was to give the girls of the common people a complete Christian formation and prepare them for life in society. Without great pretense, Rosa opened the first "Public School for Girls in Italy". The origins were humble but the significance was prophetic: the human promotion and spiritual uplifting of woman was a reality that did not take long to receive the recognition of the religious and civil authorities.

Expansion of the Work
The initial stages were not easy. The three Maestre (teachers) had to face the resistance of clergy who considered the teaching of the catechism as their private office. But the harshest suspicion came from conformists who were scandalized by the boldness of this woman of the upper middle class of Viterbo who had taken to heart the education of ignorant girls. Rosa faced everything for the love of God and with her characteristic strength, continuing on the path that she had undertaken, by now sure that she was truly following the plan of God. The fruits proved her to be right. The same pastors recognized the moral improvement that the work of education generated among the girls and mothers.

The validity of this initiative was acknowledged and its fame went beyond the confines of the Diocese. Cardinal Mark Antonio Barbarigo, Bishop of Montefiascone, understood the genius of the Viterbo project and he called the Saint to his diocese. The Foundress, always ready to sacrifice herself for the glory of God, responded to the invitation. From 1692 to 1694, she opened ten schools in Montefiascone and the villages surrounding Lake Bolsena. The cardinal provided the material means and Rosa made the families aware, trained the teachers, and organized the schools. When she had to return to Viterbo to attend to the strengthening of her first school, Rosa entrusted the schools and the teachers to the direction of a young woman, St. Lucia Filippini, in whom she has seen particular gifts of mind, heart and spirit.

After the openings in Viterbo and Montefiascone, other schools were started in Lazio. Rosa reached Rome in 1706, but the first experience in Rome was a real failure which marked her deeply and caused her to wait six long years before regaining the trust of the authorities. On December 8, 1713, with the help of Abate Degli Atti, a great friend of the Venerini family, Rosa was able to open one of her schools in the center of Rome at the foot of the Campidoglio.

On October 24, 1716, they received a visit from Pope Clement XI, accompanied by eight Cardinals, who wanted to attend the lessons. Amazed and pleased, at the end of the morning he addressed these words to the Foundress: "Signora Rosa, you are doing that which we cannot do. We thank you very much because with these schools you will sanctify Rome".

From that moment on, Governors and Cardinals asked for schools for their areas. The duties of the Foundress became intense, consisting of travels and hard work interwoven with joys and sacrifices for the formation of new communities. Wherever a new school sprang up, in a short time a moral improvement could be noted in the youth.

Rosa Venerini died a saintly death in the community of St. Mark's in Rome on the evening of May 7, 1728. She had opened more than forty schools. Her remains were entombed in the nearby Church of the Gesù, so loved by her. In 1952, on the occasion of her Beatification, they were transferred to the chapel of the Generalate in Rome. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 15, 2006 at Rome.

Her Spirituality
During her entire life, Rosa moved in the ocean of the Will of God. She said, "I feel so nailed to the Will of God that nothing else matters, neither death nor life. I want what He wants; I want to serve Him as much as pleases Him and no more".

After her first contacts with the Dominican Fathers at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Oak Tree, near Viterbo, she definitely followed the austere and balanced spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola under the direction of the Jesuits, especially Father Ignatius Martinelli.

The crises of adolescence, the perplexity of youth, the search for a new way, the institution of the schools and the communities, the rapport with the Church and the world-all were oriented to the Divine Will.

Prayer was the breath of her day. Rosa did not impose on herself or her Daughters long vocal prayers, but recommended that the life of the Maestre, in the practice of the precious education ministry, be a continuous speaking with God, of God and for God.

Intimate communion with the Lord was nourished by mental prayer, which the Saint considered "essential nourishment of the soul". In meditation, Rosa listened to the Teacher who taught along the roads of Palestine and in a particular way from the height of the Cross. With her gaze upon the crucifix, Rosa always felt more strongly her passion for the salvation of souls. For this reason, she celebrated and lived daily the Eucharist in a mystical way. In her imagination, the Saint saw the world as a great circle; she placed herself in the center of it and contemplated Jesus, the immaculate victim, who offered Himself from every part of the world to the Father through the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

She called this means of elevating herself to God "The Greatest Circle". With incessant prayer, she participated spiritually in all the Masses being celebrated in every part of the world. She united with love the sufferings, hard work and joys of her own life to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, concerned that His Precious Blood would not be shed in vain.

The Charism
We can summarize the charism of Rosa Venerini in a few words. She lived consumed by two great passions: passion for God and passion for the salvation of souls. When she understood that the girls and women of her time needed to be educated and instructed in the truths of the faith and of morality, she spared nothing of time, hard work, struggle, and difficulties of every kind, as long as it responded to the call of God. She knew that the proclamation of the Good News could be received if people were first liberated from the darkness of ignorance and error. Moreover, she intuited that professional training could give woman a human promotion and affirmation in society. This project required an educating Community and Rosa, without pretense and well before its time in history, offered to the Church the model of the Apostolic Religious Community.

Rosa did not practice her educational mission only in the school but took every occasion to announce the love of God. She comforted and cured the sick, raised the spirits of the discouraged, consoled the afflicted, called sinners back to a new life, exhorted to fidelity consecrated souls not observing their call, helped the poor and freed people from every form of moral slavery.

"Educate to save" became the motto that urged the Maestre Pie Venerini to continue the Work of the Lord intended by their Foundress and radiate the charism of Rosa to the world: to free from ignorance and evil so that the project of God which every person carries within can be visible.

This is the magnificent inheritance that Rosa Venerini left her Daughters. Wherever the Maestre Pie Venerini strive to live and transmit the apostolic concern of their Mother, in Italy as in other lands, they give preference to the poor.

After having made its contribution to the Italian immigrants to the USA from 1909 and in Switzerland from 1971 to 1985, the Congregation extended its apostolic activity to other lands: India, Brazil, Cameroon, Romania, Albania, Chile, Venezuela and Nigeria.
—Excerpted from ©Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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