Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Bacci's "Meditations for Each Day of the Liturgical Year"

Cardinal Antonio Bacci is well beloved of all Traditional-minded Catholics: along with Cardinal Ottaviani, he wrote the introduction an presented to Paul VI the famous "Brief Critical Study of the New Order of the Mass", showing how the Novus Ordo was (and is) opposed to all main aspects of the apostolic Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist.

Arouca Press, a new Catholic publisher in Canada, is republishing Bacci's delightful "Meditations for Each Day" (first published in Italian in 1959, and in English in 1965), as written by this man who loved and cherished the Traditional Liturgy of the Roman Church. The book is $25.99 plus s&h and can be ordered directly from them at or can be purchased through various online retailers such as Amazon. The following is an excerpt of the book's introduction.

The frenetic pace of modern life presents a host of challenges for the Catholic who wishes to grow in sanctity. Distracted by the pressures of modernity, it often leaves him little room for making a profound and serious study of the state of his interior life. The Catholic Faith is not only to be believed but applied to our everyday life and as St. James has said, “faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself” (Js. 2:14). An excellent means of helping a soul interiorize the principles of the Faith and to dispose the soul to greater acts of love of God is through a book of meditations. This brings us to the present book written by Antonio Cardinal Bacci, who was one of the most renowned Latinists of the 20th century.

In 1959, Cardinal Bacci wrote in Italian, Meditazioni Per tutti I Giorni Dell’ Anno, translated into English (and other languages) and published in 1965. It was a series of daily meditations written, as the author states in his preface, “to produce an edifying rather than an erudite work”. Yet, the reader will quickly find in his daily reflections profound insights into the interior life.

This book will aid the reader in exploring the depths of the Catholic Faith, and if understood and prayerfully read, hopefully will help him persevere in virtue, as Cardinal Bacci states: “The masters of the spiritual life assure us that without the practice of meditation it is almost impossible for the just man to persevere in virtue, or for the tepid to become fervent, or for the sinner to be converted” (Meditation for January 2).

What sources does Cardinal Bacci use to compose his reflections for each day of the year? As a classicist, he taps into the great sources of the ancient world with its grasp of natural truths. He shows his great familiarity with the wisdom of the Church Fathers – especially through the works of St. Augustine. His constant guide throughout the book is St. Thomas Aquinas whose penetrating reason illuminated by Divine Revelation probes the profound beauty and mystery of Catholicism. The science of the saints bursts forth as he wonderfully quotes from various saints as well as providing anecdotes from their lives. The Imitation of Christ is another cherished companion for the reader indicating that Cardinal Bacci has made its teachings an integrated part of his life. Finally, the words of Sacred Scripture spill out on almost every page giving life to St. Jerome’s words who said that the “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” (Prologue to the Book of Isaiah).

Cardinal Bacci writes with a simple style but his words are not simplistic for they impress upon the reader a great desire to rise above mediocrity: “We cannot be content with half-hearted efforts, but must work hard to become holy” (Meditation for January 25). He has a great understanding of human nature and knows well the tendency of modern life to uproot man from his supernatural end, and while written at a time when there was relative peace in the Church and society, the principles and ideas he explores – firmly rooted in Catholic teaching – are still applicable for the 21st century reader. For example, in his meditation for February 18, Interior Silence, he says the following:

Modern life has become a whirling machine which snatches men up into its enormous rotators and carries them with it. Not only has it become difficult to remain a Christian, but it is even difficult to continue to be a man.
What would he say now when the vestiges of Christian societies are fading away in the midst of an almost relentless attack on the natural and supernatural orders? He continues in his May 14 meditation, The Great Exile:

Once the idea of God as the supreme lawgiver and judge has been taken away, men sin without shame and without restraint. Sin becomes an industry, a dishonourable business carried on by means of the press, cinema, television; and all the media of so-called modern civilisation.
To use but one more example, he critiques modern society for its “progress” which can only be a false progress if it separates itself from the principles of truth and goodness:

A veneer of refinement and civilisation endows modern society with a deceptive lustre, but at its heart there is misery and rottenness much greater than any which our fathers ever knew. This is because in our times progress has become for many an instrument of sin. Today we have to contend with not merely the existence of evil, but with its industrialisation. Evil is bought and sold; it is propagated for profit. (June 15, The Feast of Pentecost)
The entire book is full of such stirring quotes. On every page, the reader will find wisdom and a program to begin living a life that is thoroughly Christ-centred. In addition, being deeply Marian, Cardinal Bacci dedicates many pages to the devotion we should have for the Mother of God whose spotless life gave us the Son of God. One excellent section (October 3 – 17) is his treatment of the mysteries of the Rosary, which can be used as an insightful aid to its recitation.

The book does not leave every stone unturned, as it would require a book ten times larger to wrestle with every aspect of the Faith; but for its purposes as a book of meditations, it provides an abundance of ideas worth considering. It will challenge our superficial and far too materialistic grasp of the Faith. In the end, if but one reader will take to heart the words of Cardinal Bacci and resolutely fight against the “principalities and powers” and equip himself with “the armour of resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect” (Eph. 6:12), then Cardinal Bacci will not have written in vain.