Octave Before Christmas | DivineOffice.org

\”O\” Antiphons, a Family Prayer

December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

December 20

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

December 22

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

—From “Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers”

via Octave Before Christmas | DivineOffice.org.

Reciting or singing the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. We, at Divineoffice.org made our mission to perpetuate this ancient tradition, to inspire families to gather in prayer and people around the word to join a community of prayer.

Let us remember that, in the Middle Ages, it became traditional to ring the great bells of the church each evening when the “O” Antiphones were being sung. Honoring this beautiful catholic tradition, this evening, at Vespers time, gather your loved ones and let us all pray, with one voice, to our Lord Jesus Christ who is to come.:

The Angelic Choirs

I spent yesterday and today learning more about the nine choirs of angels and angels in general.  I have missed a great deal of blessing, help and intercession by knowing so little about these marvels of God’s creation and their role in adoration and service to the Holy Trinity and also the angels’ role in relationship to Man and the Cosmos.

New Age teaching have polluted our understanding of these spiritual beings.  We need to correct that, for we need the help of all nine choirs of angels now more than ever.

Here are some links to help you get started if you would like to begin a holy relationship with the being created just for you, your guardian angel and the three hierarchies of Angels.

Angels in the writings of the Saints

Angel Stories

Angels Explained: What You Should Know About the Nine Choirs   (well worth downloading for a pittance)

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
approved this Consecration prayer
on May 31, 2000 for use in Opus Angelorum.

The Consecration to the Holy Angels

O Holy Angels of God, here, in the presence of the Triune God and in the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, I, N.N., poor sinner, want to make a covenant with you, who are his servants, so that in union with you, I might work with humility and fortitude for the glory of God and the coming of his Kingdom. Therefore, I implore you to assist me, especially – in the adoration of God and of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,  – in the contemplation of the word and the salvific works of God, -in the imitation of Christ and in the love of his Cross in a spirit of expiation, – in the faithful fulfillment of my mission within the Church, serving humbly after the example of Mary, my heavenly Mother, your Queen. And you, my good guardian angel, who continually behold the face of our Father in heaven, God entrusted me to you from the very beginning of my life. I thank you with all my heart for your loving care. I commit myself to you and promise you my love and fidelity. I beg you: protect me against my own weakness and against the attacks of the wicked spirits; enlighten my mind and my heart so that I may always know and accomplish the will of God; and lead me to union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
approved this Consecration prayer
on May 31, 2000 for use in Opus Angelorum.

Chaplet of St. Michael

The Slave of the Slaves

From a letter by Saint Peter Claver, priest
To preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim pardon to captives

Yesterday, May 30, 1627, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, numerous blacks, brought from the rivers of Africa, disembarked from a large ship. Carrying two baskets of oranges, lemons, sweet biscuits, and I know not what else, we hurried toward them. When we approached their quarters, we thought we were entering another Guinea. We had to force our way through the crowd until we reached the sick. Large numbers of the sick were lying on the wet ground or rather in puddles of mud. To prevent excessive dampness, someone had thought of building up a mound with a mixture of tiles and broken pieces of bricks. This, then, was their couch, a very uncomfortable one not only for that reason, but especially because they were naked, without any clothing to protect them.

We laid aside our cloaks, therefore, and brought from a warehouse whatever was handy to build a platform. In that way we covered a space to which we at last transferred the sick, by forcing a passage through bands of slaves. Then we divided the sick into two groups: one group my companion approached with an interpreter, while I addressed the other group. There were two blacks, nearer death than life, already cold, whose pulse could scarcely be detected. With the help of a tile we pulled some live coals together and placed them in the middle near the dying men. Into this fire we tossed aromatics. Of these we had two wallets full, and we used them all up on this occasion. Then, using our own cloaks, for they had nothing of this sort, and to ask the owners for others would have been a waste of words, we provided for them a smoke treatment, by which they seemed to recover their warmth and the breath of life. The joy in their eyes as they looked at us was something to see.
This was how we spoke to them, not with words but with our hands and our actions. And in fact, convinced as they were that they had been brought here to be eaten, any other language would have proved utterly useless. Then we sat, or rather knelt, beside them and bathed their faces and bodies with wine. We made every effort to encourage them with friendly gestures and displayed in their presence the emotions which somehow naturally tend to hearten the sick.

After this we began an elementary instruction about baptism, that is, the wonderful effects of the sacrament on body and soul. When by their answers to our questions they showed they had sufficiently understood this, we went on to a more extensive instruction, namely, about the one God, who rewards and punishes each one according to his merit, and the rest. We asked them to make an act of contrition and to manifest their detestation of their sins. Finally, when they appeared sufficiently prepared, we declared to them the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Passion. Showing them Christ fastened to the cross, as he is depicted on the baptismal font on which streams of blood flow down from his wounds, we led them in reciting an act of contrition in their own language.

Audio Post – Prayer to All Guardian Angels

Even Slaves and the Persecuted Can Preach it

No one can chain the Word of God.  Our bishops couldn’t have picked a more appropriate reading for this day, if they tried. Even slaves, those in chains  and the persecuted can preach it.  So preach it, People. Preach it!

Phil 2:12-18

My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

Late Have I Loved You

Today is the memorial of St Augustine. I hope you go to Divineoffice.org and hear this read to you. It is a treat to the soul:

From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop

O eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. It was not the ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor was it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity. No, it was something entirely distinct, something altogether different from all these things; and it did not rest above my mind as oil on the surface of water, nor was it above me as heaven is above the earth. This light was above me because it had made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”

I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you.
But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed for ever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

St. Dominic

From various writings on the history of the Order of Preachers

He spoke with God or about God

Dominic possessed such great integrity and was so strongly motivated by divine love, that without a doubt he proved to be a bearer of honor and grace. He was a man of great equanimity, except when moved to compassion and mercy. And since a joyful heart animates the face, he displayed the peaceful composure of a spiritual man in the kindness he manifested outwardly and by the cheerfulness of his countenance.

Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a man of the Gospel. During the day no one was more community-minded or pleasant toward his brothers and associates. During the night hours no one was more persistent in every kind of vigil and supplication. He seldom spoke unless it was with God, that is, in prayer, or about God, and in this matter he instructed his brothers.

Frequently he made a special personal petition that God would deign to grant him a genuine charity, effective in caring for and obtaining the salvation of men. For he believed that only then would he be truly a member of Christ, when he had given himself totally for the salvation of men, just as the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all, had offered himself completely for our salvation. So, for this work, after a lengthy period of careful and provident planning, he founded the Order of Friars Preachers.

In his conversations and letters he often urged the brothers of the Order to study constantly the Old and New Testaments. He always carried with him the gospel according to Matthew and the epistles of Paul, and so well did he study them that he almost knew them from memory.

Two or three times he was chosen bishop, but he always refused, preferring to live with his brothers in poverty. Throughout his life, he preserved the honor of his virginity. He desired to be scourged and cut to pieces, and so die for the faith of Christ. Of him Pope Gregory IX declared: “I knew him as a steadfast follower of the apostolic way of life. There is no doubt that he is in heaven, sharing in the glory of the apostles themselves.”

New Song

Love and praise hold hands.
Happy hearts rejoice.
Song rises from the multitude,
As lives lived in faith believing.

The Just sing with their being,
Resplendent and resounding love.
Praise embodied in saintly flesh.

New song, New Day,
New creation,
In harmony with Heaven
A symphony of faithful, forgiven witness.

Alleluia.

Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

St. Agatha

From a homily on Saint Agatha by Saint Methodius of Sicily, bishop

The gift of God, the source of all goodness

My fellow Christians, our annual celebration of a martyr’s feast has brought us together. She achieved renown in the early Church for her noble victory; she is well known now as well, for she continues to triumph through her divine miracles, which occur daily and continue to bring glory to her name.

She is indeed a virgin, for she was born of the divine Word, God’s only Son, who also experienced death for our sake. John, a master of God’s word, speaks of this: He gave the power to become children of God to everyone who received him.

The woman who invites us to this banquet is both a wife and virgin. To use the analogy of Paul, she is the bride who has been betrothed to one husband, Christ. A true virgin, she wore the glow of pure conscience and the crimson of the Lamb’s blood for her cosmetics. Again and again she meditated on the death of her eager lover. For her, Christ’s death was recent, his blood was still moist. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ. It bears the indelible marks of his crimson blood and the shining threads of her eloquence. She offers to all who come after her these treasures of her eloquent confession.

Agatha, the name of our saint, means “good.” She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. She was also given as the gift of God, the source of all goodness to her bridegroom, Christ, and to us. For she grants us a share in her goodness.

What can give greater good than the Sovereign Good? Whom could anyone find more worthy of celebration with hymns of praise than Agatha?

Agatha, her goodness coincides with her name and way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds, and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. Agatha, her mere name wins all men over to her company. She teaches them by her example to hasten with her to the true Good. God alone.

The Church Conformed to Your Passion

Jesus Passions, Holy Monastery of Stavronikita...

Image via Wikipedia

Psalm-prayer for this day from the Office of Readings:

Lord Jesus, you foretold that we would share in the persecutions that brought you to a violent death. The Church formed at the cost of your precious blood is even now conformed to your Passion; may it be transformed, now and eternally, by the power of your resurrection.

Martin of Tours

St Martin of Tours

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

From a letter by Sulpicius Severus:

Martin the poor and humble man

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near. Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes. The clergy of that church were quarrelling, and he wished to reconcile them. Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.

He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed. Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength. He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.”nnnn

Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed. Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: “Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.” As he spoke these words, he saw the devil standing near. “Why do you stand there, you bloodthirsty brute?” he cried. “Murderer, you will not have me for your prey. Abraham is welcoming me into his embrace.”

With these words, he gave up his spirit to heaven. Filled with joy, Martin was welcomed by Abraham. Thus he left this life a poor and lowly man and entered heaven rich in God’s favor.

Why the Saints?

Courts of Praise

Thank you, dear Lord, for my life long,

for beloved family and friends,

and all dear hearts touching mine.

My treasure trove of souls

spills far beyond my time

to number as my own

those who have gone before,

your saints of ages past,

the cloud of witnesses on high

and pure angelic beings

in realms veiled from the eye.

There never was a day in which I was alone,

nor forgotten before Your throne.

There, at Your feet,

all heaven sweet anthems raise

to set celestial hearts ablaze.

My heart with choruses

swell my love,

grown great in gratitude.

I make a small return of love beside Your All Love.

You count my debt as paid

and bid me enter courts of praise.

By Joann Nelander

Divine Mercy Chaplet Song- Generations Unite in Prayer PART 2

Divine Mercy Sunday

How great are the gifts of God? How great is His Mercy? How great is the gift of faith?! May all the world come to know Him and the reign of His Mercy.

Happy Easter! In Appreciation “Take & Eat”

Happy Easter Everyone!

This glorious morning, we will celebrate the Mass of Easter. After hearing the sermons and summonings of Lent, after fulfilling our “Easter Duty,”and after a week of holy preparation and solemn Liturgies, Easter is splendidly here.  It is Jesus , Who has been at the center of our preparation. Jesus, the Christ, our Lord!

Throughout this time,who else has enabled us to fulfill the mandate of Christ, “Take and eat!”  Who is it that have heard our confessions and blessed us in His Name, and in His Person?  It is those upon whom He breathed His peace, empowered to forgive and sent forth with His authority, His holy priests, ministering His holy sacraments.

Thank you holy Fathers, faithful Fathers, faith-filled Fathers! It is into your care that Jesus entrusted His flock.  We. a flawed People, yet a royal priesthood, a kingly, and prophetic People, thank you, our flawed in your humanity, and yet gloriously appointed and anointed Priesthood.  Happy, holy Easter, dear Fathers. May you be forever blessed!

Wonderful St. Michael Prayer

Act of Consecration to St. Michael

Oh, most Noble Prince of the Angelic Hierarchies, valorous warrior of Almighty God, and zealous lover of His glory, terror of the rebellious Angels, and love and delight of all the just, my beloved Archangel Saint Michael, desiring to be numbered among thy devoted servants, today I offer and consecrate myself to thee, and place myself, my family and all I possess under thy most powerful protection.

I entreat thee not to look at how little I, as thy servant have to offer, being only a wretched sinner, but to gaze rather with favorable eye at the heartfelt affection with which this offering is made, and remember that if from this day onward I am under thy patronage, thou must during all my life assist me and procure for me the pardon of my many grievous offenses and sins, the grace to love with all my heart my God, my dear Saviour Jesus, and my Sweet Mother Mary, and obtain for me all the help necessary to arrive to my crown of glory.

Defend me always from my spiritual enemies, particularly in the last moments of my life.

Come then oh glorious Prince and succour me in my last struggle, and with thy powerful weapon cast far from me into the infernal abysses that prevaricator and proud Angel that one day thou didst prostrate in the celestial battle.

Accompany me then to the throne of God to sing with thee, Archangel Saint Michael and all the Angels, praise, honour and glory to the One Who reigns for all eternity. Amen.

A Mother to All -Mother Teresa of Calcutta

This is healthcare for the soul. Mother Teresa did it without government, person to person and from the heart.

Days of Elijah – Paul Wilbur

Great way to begin a day and a renewed life.

Prayer of St. Augustine

I beg of You, my God,

let me know You and love You so that I may be happy in You.

And though I cannot do this fully in this life, yet let me improve from day to day till I may do so to the full.

Let me know You more and more in this life, that I may know You perfectly in heaven.

Let me know You more and more here, so that I may love you perfectly there,

so that my joy may be great in itself here, and complete in heaven with You.

O Truthful God, let me receive the happiness of heaven which You promise so that my joy may be full.

In the meantime,

let my mind think of it,

let my tongue talk of it,

let my heart long for it,

let my mouth speak of it,

let my soul hunger after it,

let my flesh thirst after it,

let my whole being desire it,

until such time as I may enter through death into the joy of my Lord,
there to continue forever, world without end.

Amen.

"Everything Is Ready Now" – Towards Living

Because Lent leads us to think about the Last Four Things, it is a good preparation for life as it is for death.  A little more than a year ago, Richard John Neuhaus died, Jan. 8, 2009.  On that day First Things reprinted an article he published in 2000, Born Toward Dying.(Read here) It recounted his near death experience, which became for him as much a confirmation of life as it was a preparation for death.

Neuhaus recalls the children’s nighttime prayer  “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.”

“Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are…..Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing.

Neuhaus surveys our way with death from reticence and silence to “processing”, even to commercial exploitation. Whether your own or a loved one, he writes:

“The worst thing is not the sorrow or the loss or the heartbreak. Worse is to be encountered by death and not to be changed by the encounter.”

Neuhaus writes of his own encounter(summarized):

The days in the intensive care unit was an experience familiar to anyone who has ever been there. I had never been there before, except to visit others, and that is nothing like being there. I was struck by my disposition of utter passivity. There was absolutely nothing I could do or wanted to do, except to lie there and let them do whatever they do in such a place. Indifferent to time, I neither knew nor cared whether it was night or day. I recall counting sixteen different tubes and other things plugged into my body before I stopped counting….

Astonishment and passivity were strangely mixed. I confess to having thought of myself as a person very much in charge. Friends, meaning, I trust, no unkindness, had sometimes described me as a control freak. Now there was nothing to be done, nothing that I could do, except be there. Here comes a most curious part of the story, and readers may make of it what they will. Much has been written on “near death” experiences. I had always been skeptical of such tales. I am much less so now. I am inclined to think of it as a “near life” experience, and it happened this way.

It was a couple of days after leaving intensive care, and it was night. I could hear patients in adjoining rooms moaning and mumbling and occasionally calling out; the surrounding medical machines were pumping and sucking and bleeping as usual. Then, all of a sudden, I was jerked into an utterly lucid state of awareness. I was sitting up in the bed staring intently into the darkness, although in fact I knew my body was lying flat. What I was staring at was a color like blue and purple, and vaguely in the form of hanging drapery. By the drapery were two “presences.” I saw them and yet did not see them, and I cannot explain that. But they were there, and I knew that I was not tied to the bed. I was able and prepared to get up and go somewhere. And then the presences—one or both of them, I do not know—spoke. This I heard clearly. Not in an ordinary way, for I cannot remember anything about the voice. But the message was beyond mistaking: “Everything is ready now.”

That was it. They waited for a while, maybe for a minute. Whether they were waiting for a response or just waiting to see whether I had received the message, I don’t know. “Everything is ready now.” It was not in the form of a command, nor was it an invitation to do anything. They were just letting me know. Then they were gone, and I was again flat on my back with my mind racing wildly. I had an iron resolve to determine right then and there what had happened. Had I been dreaming? In no way. I was then and was now as lucid and wide awake as I had ever been in my life.

Tell me that I was dreaming and you might as well tell me that I was dreaming that I wrote the sentence before this one. Testing my awareness, I pinched myself hard, and ran through the multiplication tables, and recalled the birth dates of my seven brothers and sisters, and my wits were vibrantly about me. The whole thing had lasted three or four minutes, maybe less. I resolved at that moment that I would never, never let anything dissuade me from the reality of what had happened. Knowing myself, I expected I would later be inclined to doubt it. It was an experience as real, as powerfully confirmed by the senses, as anything I have ever known. That was some seven years ago. Since then I have not had a moment in which I was seriously tempted to think it did not happen. It happened—as surely, as simply, as undeniably as it happened that I tied my shoelaces this morning. I could as well deny the one as deny the other, and were I to deny either I would surely be mad.

“Everything is ready now.” I would be thinking about that incessantly during the months of convalescence. My theological mind would immediately go to work on it. They were angels, of course. Angelos simply means “messenger.” There were no white robes or wings or anything of that sort. As I said, I did not see them in any ordinary sense. But there was a message; therefore there were messengers. Clearly, the message was that I could go somewhere with them. Not that I must go or should go, but simply that they were ready if I was. Go where? To God, or so it seemed. I understood that they were ready to get me ready to see God. It was obvious enough to me that I was not prepared, in my present physical and spiritual condition, for the beatific vision, for seeing God face to face. They were ready to get me ready. This comports with the doctrine of purgatory, that there is a process of purging and preparation to get us ready to meet God. I should say that their presence was entirely friendly. There was nothing sweet or cloying, and there was no urgency about it. It was as though they just wanted to let me know. The decision was mine as to when or whether I would take them up on the offer…………………………

Tentatively, I say, I began to think that I might live. It was not a particularly joyful prospect. Everything was shrouded by the thought of death, that I had almost died, that I may still die, that everyone and everything is dying. As much as I was grateful for all the calls and letters, I harbored a secret resentment. These friends who said they were thinking about me and praying for me all the time, I knew they also went shopping and visited their children and tended to their businesses, and there were long times when they were not thinking about me at all. More important, they were forgetting the primordial, overwhelming, indomitable fact: we are dying! Why weren’t they as crushingly impressed by that fact as I was?

Surprising to me, and to others, I did what had to be done with my work. I read manuscripts, wrote my columns, made editorial decisions, but all listlessly. It didn’t really matter. After some time, I could shuffle the few blocks to the church and say Mass. At the altar, I cried a lot, and hoped the people didn’t notice. To think that I’m really here after all, I thought, at the altar, at the axis mundi, the center of life. And of death. I would be helped back to the house, and days beyond numbering I would simply lie on the sofa looking out at the back yard. That birch tree, which every winter looked as dead as dead could be, was budding again. Would I be here to see it in full leaf, to see its leaves fall in the autumn? Never mind. It doesn’t matter.

It took a long time after the surgeries, almost two years, before the day came when I suddenly realized that the controlling thought that day had not been the thought of death. And now, in writing this little essay, it all comes back. I remember where I have been, and where I will be again, and where we will all be.

God bless you Richard John Neuhaus for being a part of my living and laying the ground work for my dying. No doubt we’ll meet someday and know each other in our depths of being;simply a glance will unleash a new joy and speak volumes of God’s mercies and designs.


Please Pray With Me

A Prayer Request:

Hello to all:

Update on David:  As most of you know, the petscan was negative, which was truly good news.  This means the cancer has not metastasized into any of his major organs.  So, today was the next step – surgery – to remove more tissue from the site and then determine if the lymph nodes are affected.   Surgery took 4 ½ hours and was supposed to take two.  They had to call in a plastic surgeon to help close the wound, due to the size and placement on his back.  They ended up taking biopsies from four different lymph nodes – so he has dressings and stitches and gauze pads all over his back, under his arm pits, and on either side of his neck.  He is a mess!   We left the house at 6:15 a.m. and got home at about 4:45 p.m.  – so it was a long day.

The good news:  The lymph nodes were benign in the preliminary labs.  Final labs will not be in for a few more days, but the surgeon was confident that they are clean “for now.”

The bad news:  Because the initial site was so deep, they are still going to refer him to an oncologist and he will probably have to go through chemo.  Unlike other cancers, melanoma can crop up at any time and in any place (including internal organs) – even years down the line.  There isn’t that “5 year rule” with melanoma.   With other cancers, if you are cancer free for five years, you’re “cured.”  There is no “cure” for this.  He will always have to be checked closely and will have to be diligent whenever there are any external signs.   With the internal signs, sometimes you don’t know until it’s too late.  So the surgeon was not Mr. Sunshine.  He was very cautious and totally neutral.  It was very hard to read him.  The only optimistic thing he said was that Melanoma, unlike other cancers, can often be surgically removed – even from internal organs – without spreading.  So, he said it is one of those cancers where you “never give up hope.”

We will see the oncologist next week.  I will be anxious to hear what they say.    Overall, we feel good and we feel optimistic … but I know David is scared about the chemo and I didn’t leave today feeling like “this is over.”   He is in good spirits and fairly doped up on vicadin at the moment.  In fact, he’s sort of dancing (rather stiffly) to Earth Wind & Fire in the living room with Thomas at the moment.  I just had to yell at him to sit down and be still.   Gees.  What a dummy.

Tonight we have spent a lot of time on the phone to Kaiser dealing with the bleeding.  The major site just keeps soaking through and we aren’t sure what that means.  I’m supposed to be watching for signs of shock, but they don’t want us messing with the bandages.  So, I have a feeling we will have to go back in tomorrow to have it looked at, just to make sure everything is o.k.   He is obviously not in shock at the moment.   Then again… it could be a long night.

For now… all is well!!!

XOXOXOXO

Thanks for your care and concern,

Relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

In celebration of Theresian Feastday, the reliquary containing the bones of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is carried in procession from the Carmelite convent to the Basilica. As the candlelight procession proceeds through the streets, “Mon Ciel, je le passerai a faire du bien sur la terre” , “I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth” is sung in the convent.

Litany of St. Therese of the Child Jesus recorded by Richard Garnaut.

On Jesus Christ's Descent into Hell

From the Dolorous Passion of Jesus – Visions of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich.

Our Lord, by descending into Hell, planted (if I may thus express myself), in the spiritual garden of the Church, a mysterious tree, the fruits of which—namely, his merits—are destined for the constant relief of the poor souls in Purgatory. The Church militant must cultivate the tree, and gather its fruits, in order to present them to that suffering portion of the Church which can do nothing for itself. Thus it is with all the merits of Christ; we must labour with him if we wish to obtain our share of them; we must gain our bread by the sweat of our brow. Everything which our Lord has done for us in time must produce fruit for eternity; but we must gather these fruits in time, without which we cannot possess them in eternity. The Church is the most prudent and thoughtful of mothers; the ecclesiastical year is an immense and magnificent garden, in which all those fruits for eternity are gathered together, that we may make use of them in time. Each year contains sufficient to supply the wants of all; but woe be to that careless or dishonest gardener who allows any of the fruit committed to his care to perish; if he fails to turn to a proper account those graces which would restore health to the sick, strength to the weak, or furnish food to the hungry! When the Day of Judgment arrives, the Master of the garden will demand a strict account, not only of every tree, but also of all the fruit produced in the garden.

Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

A Prayer written by St. Ephrem the Syrian:

Grant forgiveness, O Lord, send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will. Sanctify my heart that has become a den and dwelling-place of demons.

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.

Therefore I condemn myself and admit that I deserve all manner of punishment and torture. How many times hast Thou enlightened my darkened mind; yet every time I return again to base thoughts! My whole body trembles when I contemplate this; yet every time sinful sensuality reconquers me.

How shall I recount all the gifts of Thy grace, O Lord, that I the pitiful one have received? Yet I have reduced them all to nothing by my apathy — and I continue on in this manner. Thou has bestowed upon me thousands of gifts, yet miserable me, I offer in return things repulsive to Thee.

Yet Thou, O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me be burned without having ripened on the field of life. Snatch me not away unprepared; seize not me who have not yet lit my lamp; take not away me who have no wedding garment; but, because Thou art good and the lover of mankind, have mercy on me. Give me time to repent, and place not my soul stripped naked before Thy terrible and unwavering throne as a pitiful spectacle of infamy.

If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

THE SIDE OF JESUS OPENED

My day began with a the passage I quote below from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Venerable Catherine Anne Emmerich.  I marvel at the mercy  of God revealed once again in the conversion of the soldier who opened the side of Jesus. In my meditation, that wound in the side of Jesus is my refuge washing me in the blood and water that poured out upon the world.

THE SIDE OF JESUS OPENED. THE LEGS OF THE THIEVES BROKEN. Whilst these events were taking place in Jerusalem, silence reigned around Calvary. The crowd which had been for a time so noisy and tumultuous was dispersed; all were panic-stricken; in scene that panic had produced sincere repentance, but on others it had had no beneficial effects. Mary, John, Magdalen, Mary of Cleophas, and Salome had remained, either standing or sitting before the Cross, closely veiled and weeping silently. A few soldiers were leaning over the terrace which enclosed the platform; Cassius rode up and down; the sky was lowering, and all nature wore a garb of mourning. Six archers soon after made their appearance, bringing with them ladders, spades, ropes, and large iron staves for the purpose of breaking the legs of the criminals, in order to hasten their deaths. When they approached our Lord’s Cross, his friends retired a few paces back, and the Blessed Virgin was seized with fear lest they should indulge their hatred of Jesus by insulting even his dead body. Her fears were not quite unfounded, for when they first placed their ladders against the Cross they declared that he was only pretending to be dead; in a few moments, however, seeing that he was cold and stiff, they left him, and removed their ladders to the crosses on which the two thieves were still hanging alive. They took up their iron staves and broke the arms of the thieves above and below the elbow; while another archer at the same moment broke their legs, both above and below the knee. Gesmas uttered frightful cries, therefore the executioner finished him off by three heavy blows of a cudgel on his chest. Dismas gave a deep groan, and expired: he was the first among mortals who had the happiness of rejoining his Redeemer. The cords were then loosened, the two bodies fell to the ground, and the executioners dragged them to a deep morass, which was between Calvary and the walls of the town, and buried them there. The archers still appeared doubtful whether Jesus was really dead, and the brutality they had shown in breaking the legs of the thieves made the holy women tremble as to what outrage they might next perpetrate on the body of our Lord. But Cassius, the subaltern officer, a young man of about five-and-twenty, whose weak squinting eyes and nervous manner had often excited the derision of his companions, was suddenly illuminated by grace, and being quite overcome at the sight of the cruel conduct of the soldiers, and the deep sorrow of the holy women, determined to relieve their anxiety by proving beyond dispute that Jesus was really dead. The kindness of his heart prompted him, but unconsciously to himself he fulfilled a prophecy. He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus. The Blessed Virgin and her companions were still standing near, with their eyes fixed upon the Cross, but when Cassius thrust his lance into the side of Jesus they were much startled, and rushed with one accord up to it. Mary looked as if the lance had transfixed her heart instead of that of her Divine Son, and could scarcely support herself. Cassius meantime remained kneeling and thanking God, not only for the graces he had received but likewise for the cure of the complaint in his eyes, which had caused the weakness and the squint. This cure had been effected at the same moment that the darkness with which his soul was previously filled was removed. Every heart was overcome at the sight of the blood of our Lord, which ran into a hollow in the rock at the foot of the Cross. Mary, John, the holy women, and Cassius, gathered up the blood and water in flasks, and wiped up the remainder with pieces of linen.* Cassius, whose sight was perfectly restored at the same moment that the eyes of his soul were opened, was deeply moved, and continued his humble prayer of thanksgiving. The soldiers were struck with astonishment at the miracle which had taken place, and cast themselves on their knees by his side, at the same time striking their breasts and confessing to Jesus. The water and blood continued to flow from the large wound in the side of our Lord; it ran into the hollow in the rock, and the holy women put it in vases, while Mary and Magdalen mingled their tears. (Chapter 48)

St. Faustina gave us this prayer from Jesus:

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.”

Blazing Anger – Triumphant Day

The crew of Divine Office.org in a “chatter & cheese” segment (spontaneous sharing after prayer), brought up a certain delight in God’s burning anger that we have been hearing about in the readings from the Book of Revelation for the last week or so.  The delight springs from a desire for justice that has been long awaited by the saints, martyrs, and, now by us in this Age.  Finally, the raging anger and wrath of God lays low all His enemies who throughout time have set themselves against Him, and caused suffering for His People.

One prevalent thought that emerged in the discussion voiced the notion that this Day of Wrath was in fact the Day of the Cross-the Crucifixion and Death of our Lord Jesus- the Day an unsuspecting Satan was conquered for all time and Eternity by the bloody sacrifice on Calvary.

“Then I saw the heavens opened, and there was a white horse; its rider was (called) “Faithful and True.” He judges and wages war in righteousness. His eyes were (like) a fiery flame, and on his head were many diadems. He had a name  inscribed that no one knows except himself. He wore a cloak that had been dipped in  blood, and his name was called the Word of God.” Rev. 19:11-13

The discussion voiced another light, “The One on the Horse is Jesus.” Chris, said, “Maybe that battle was fought and won.” This Mystery, still unfolding in the world and in the Church in Time is one of triumph and exaltation of the King of Kings who is at hand and enthroned in Heaven and in His Church.

Another thought reflected the idea of transformation, transformation through the sacraments, through Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders.  “Burning anger is transformative, purifying.” We are transformed, become new creatures and are yet being fit for the Kingdom, here and yet to come, already but not yet, ”Yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

I image the Mystery of it in this way: it is as a block buster movie being made; when complete, the movie is presented as a whole, but in the process of becoming, it is made up of bits and pieces filmed at different times and different places, yet all part of the complete work and necessary to it.  We are being spliced into the triumphant victory of the Day of the Lord, so to speak, as each of us contributes her/his part.

Maranatha!

Joseph the Worker – May 1st

Better than the politics of this day celebrated elsewhere as May Day, is the memorial of Joseph the Worker remembered in the Church.

May St. Joseph the worker keep us united to Jesus and the Church as our days of trial test our faith and fidelity. May we never think our smallest most menial tasks lack infinite worth in the hands of heaven.

Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph, by the work of your hands and the sweat of your brow, you supported Jesus and Mary, and had the Son of God as your fellow worker. Teach me to work as you did, with patience and perseverance, for God and for those whom God has given me to support. Teach me to see in my fellow workers the Christ who desires to be in them, that I may always be charitable and forbearing towards all. Grant me to look upon work with the eyes of faith, so that I shall recognize in it my share in God’s own creative activity and in Christ’s work of our redemption, and so take pride in it. When it is pleasant and productive, remind me to give thanks to God for it. And when it is burdensome, teach me to offer it to God, in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world. (Note: This prayer was taken from the booklet “Devotions to Saint Joseph” by Brian Moore, S.J., printed and published by the Society of St. Paul.)

Console Jesus in the Garden


From Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux:

How can a soul so imperfect as mine aspire to the plenitude of
Love? What is the key of this mystery? O my only Friend, why dost
Thou not reserve these infinite longings to lofty souls, to the
eagles that soar in the heights? Alas! I am but a poor little
unfledged bird. I am not an eagle, I have but the eagle's eyes and
heart! Yet, notwithstanding my exceeding littleness, I dare to
gaze upon the Divine Sun of Love, and I burn to dart upwards unto
Him! I would fly, I would imitate the eagles; but all that I can
do is to lift up my little wings--it is beyond my feeble power to
soar. What is to become of me? Must I die of sorrow because of my
helplessness? Oh, no! I will not even grieve. With daring
self-abandonment there will I remain until death, my gaze fixed
upon that Divine Sun. Nothing shall affright me, nor wind nor
rain. And should impenetrable clouds conceal the Orb of Love, and
should I seem to believe that beyond this life there is darkness
only, that would be the hour of perfect joy, the hour in which to
push my confidence to its uttermost bounds. I should not dare to
detach my gaze, well knowing that beyond the dark clouds the sweet
Sun still shines.

So far, O my God, I understand Thy Love for me. But Thou knowest
how often I forget this, my only care. I stray from Thy side, and
my scarcely fledged wings become draggled in the muddy pools of
earth; then I lament "like a young swallow,"and my lament
tells Thee all, and I remember, O Infinite Mercy! that "Thou didst
not come to call the just, but sinners."

Yet shouldst Thou still be deaf to the plaintive cries of Thy
feeble creature, shouldst Thou still be veiled, then I am content
to remain benumbed with cold, my wings bedraggled, and once more I
rejoice in this well-deserved suffering.

O Sun, my only Love, I am happy to feel myself so small, so frail
in Thy sunshine, and I am in peace . . . I know that all the
eagles of Thy Celestial Court have pity on me, they guard and
defend me, they put to flight the vultures--the demons that fain
would devour me. I fear them not, these demons, I am not destined
to be their prey, but the prey of the Divine Eagle.

O Eternal Word! O my Saviour! Thou art the Divine Eagle Whom I
love--Who lurest me. Thou Who, descending to this land of exile,
didst will to suffer and to die, in order to bear away the souls
of men and plunge them into the very heart of the Blessed
Trinity--Love's Eternal Home! Thou Who, reascending into
inaccessible light, dost still remain concealed here in our vale
of tears under the snow-white semblance of the Host, and this, to
nourish me with Thine own substance! O Jesus! forgive me if I tell
Thee that Thy Love reacheth even unto folly. And in face of this
folly, what wilt Thou, but that my heart leap up to Thee? How
could my trust have any limits?

I know that the Saints have made themselves as fools for Thy sake;
being 'eagles,' they have done great things. I am too little for
great things, and my folly it is to hope that Thy Love accepts me
as victim; my folly it is to count on the aid of Angels and
Saints, in order that I may fly unto Thee with thine own wings, O
my Divine Eagle! For as long a time as Thou willest I shall
remain--my eyes fixed upon Thee. I long to be allured by Thy
Divine Eyes; I would become Love's prey. I have the hope that Thou
wilt one day swoop down upon me, and, bearing me away to the
Source of all Love, Thou wilt plunge me at last into that glowing
abyss, that I may become for ever its happy Victim.

O Jesus! would that I could tell all _little souls_ of Thine
ineffable condescension! I feel that if by any possibility Thou
couldst find one weaker than my own, Thou wouldst take delight in
loading her with still greater favours, provided that she
abandoned herself with entire confidence to Thine Infinite Mercy.
But, O my Spouse, why these desires of mine to make known the
secrets of Thy Love? Is it not Thyself alone Who hast taught them
to me, and canst Thou not unveil them to others? Yea! I know it,
and this I implore Thee! . . .

I ENTREAT THEE TO LET THY DIVINE EYES REST UPON A VAST NUMBER OF
LITTLE SOULS, I ENTREAT THEE TO CHOOSE, IN THIS WORLD, A LEGION OF
LITTLE VICTIMS OF THY LOVE.
(The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Ame)


Holy Thursday – Agony

How are we to understand the Agony in the Garden?  Sweating drops of blood is beyond the ordinary experience of the sinner or saint.  Look at those who suffer well for a glimpse into the mystery.

St. Therese of Lisieux experienced her first hemorrhage on Holy Thursday 1896.  In her Story of a Soul we read something of her agony:

For several days, during the month of August, Therese remained, so to speak, beside herself, and implored that prayers might be offered for her. She had never before been seen in this state, and in her inexpressible anguish she kept repeating: “Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agonising! If one only knew!” One night she entreated the Infirmarian to sprinkle her bed with Holy Water, saying: “I am besieged by the devil. I do not see him, but I feel him; he torments me and holds me with a grip of iron, that I may not find one crumb of comfort; he augments my woes, that I may be driven to despair. . . . And I cannot pray. I can only look at Our Blessed Lady and say: ‘Jesus!’ How needful is that prayer we use at Compline: ‘Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata!’ (‘Free us from the phantoms of the night.’) Something mysterious is happening within me. I am not suffering for myself, but for some other soul, and satan is angry.” The Infirmarian, startled, lighted a blessed candle, and the spirit of darkness fled, never to return; but the sufferer remained to the end in a state of extreme anguish. One day, while she was contemplating the beautiful heavens, some one said to her: “soon your home will be there, beyond the blue sky. How lovingly you gaze at it!” She only smiled, but afterwards she said to the Mother Prioress: “Dear Mother, the Sisters do not realise my sufferings. Just now, when looking at the sky, I merely admired the beauty of the material heaven–the true Heaven seems more than ever closed against me. At first their words troubled me, but an interior voice whispered: ‘Yes, you were looking to Heaven out of love. Since your soul is entirely delivered up to love, all your actions, even the most indifferent, are marked with this divine seal.’ At once I was consoled.”