Longinus, Soldier Saint

Longinus,
You, who beheld Life,
As your Savior
Hung between Heaven and Earth,
Dying on His Cross,
Your heart came alive
At the sight of the Mother’s agony.

The thrust of your spear
Lanced the heart of the Christ
And pierced your own
To let Him enter,
He, who would henceforth,
Possess you in contemplation.

His blood, falling upon weak and worldly eyes,,
Touched in you, the pagan,
Opening eyes blind to the things of God,
With the sight of the Holy.

Your life became a contemplation
Of the Dying and the Rising,
Did you fall into a sleep,
As the angels descended to roll away the stone?
Did premonitions of sacred mystery stir you,
Wakening the soldier witness soul,
To serve not merely an emperor,
But True God?

The Cassius of the Crucifixion
Died, only to open his eyes in faith,
And live, henceforth a new man,
With a story of Blood and Water,
And New Life,

copyright 2014 Joann Nelander

Joann Nelander
lionessblog.com

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary–Mary the Dawn–Video

Mary painting

Mary, Un-doer of Knots

O loving Mother Mary,
Un-doer of Knots,
Look upon the jumble of my life,
And work the wonder
Graced by God to thee

It is said that He Who Is
Writes straight
With crooked lines.
May He Who is the Author of Life,
And Creator
Of my all too brief story,
Allow you to edit these pages.
Untangle the chaos
With your sweet simplicity.

Place Your Child upon my breast;
So may the beating of His heart
Set the rhythm of mine,
That it be in tune
With the eternal chorus,
Singing My God’s praises,
All for the glory
Of He of Whom the angels
Serenade in a perpetual,
"Holy, Holy, Holy! "

Copyright 2013 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

Bless This House

Bless this house,
This simple abode,
Where You,Jesus,
Take Your rest.

Blessed Mary, Mistress,
Of the little house,
Now at Loretto,
You labored in love,
With Love at your side,
And always in your heart.

Your labor hallowed the walls
Of your domain,
The domicile of Peace.
Now, purify, all under my roof,
That my house may rest
In solidarity.

Bless my every labor.
Make this earthly tent
Strong against the foe,
And a sanctuary
For Your Son.

 

©2012 Joann Nelander All rights reserved

The Assumption of Mary

From the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII
Your body is holy and excelling in splendor

In their homilies and sermons on this feast the holy fathers and great doctors spoke of the assumption of the Mother of God as something already familiar and accepted by the faithful. They gave it greater clarity in their preaching and used more profound arguments in setting out its nature and meaning. Above all, they brought out more clearly the fact that what is commemorated in this feast is not simply the total absence of corruption from the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary but also her triumph over death and her glorification in heaven, after the pattern set by her only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus Saint John Damascene, preeminent as the great preacher of this truth of tradition, speaks with powerful eloquence when he relates the bodily assumption of the loving Mother of God to her other gifts and privileges: “It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was necessary that she who had carried the Creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was necessary that the bride espoused by the Father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was necessary that she, who had gazed on her crucified Son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving him birth, should contemplate him seated with the Father. It was necessary that the Mother of God should share the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople considered that it was in keeping not only with her divine motherhood but also with the unique sanctity of her virginal body that it was incorrupt and carried up to heaven: “In the words of Scripture, you appear in beauty. Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely the house of God, so that for this reason also it is henceforth a stranger to decay: a body changed, because a human body, to a preeminent life of incorruptibility, but still a living body, excelling in splendor, a body inviolate and sharing in the perfection of life.”

Another early author declares: “Therefore, as the most glorious Mother of Christ, our God and Savior, giver of life and immortality, she is enlivened by him to share an eternal incorruptibility of body with him who raised her from the tomb and took her up to himself in a way he alone can tell.”

All these reasonings and considerations of the holy Fathers rest on Scripture as their ultimate foundation. Scripture portrays the loving Mother of God, almost before our very eyes, as most intimately united with her divine Son and always sharing in his destiny.

Above all, it must be noted that from the second century the holy Fathers present the Virgin Mary as the new Eve, most closely associated with the new Adam, though subject to him in the struggle against the enemy from the nether world. This struggle, as the first promise of a redeemer implies, was to end in perfect victory over sin and death, always linked together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Therefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part of this victory and its final trophy, so the struggle shared by the Blessed Virgin and her Son was to end in glorification of her virginal body. As the same Apostle says: When this mortal body has clothed itself in immortality, then will be fulfilled the word of Scripture: Death is swallowed up in victory.

Hence, the august Mother of God, mysteriously united from all eternity with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a virgin inviolate in her divine motherhood, the wholehearted companion of the divine Redeemer who won complete victory over sin and its consequences, gained at last the supreme crown of her privileges—to be preserved immune from the corruption of the tomb, and, like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of heaven, there to sit in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the ages.

Mary, The Violin

Mary, Virgin, Mother of God,
The perfectly fashioned,
And tuned instrument,
A violin,
In the hands of God,
As He plays His music
For the Son.

©2012 Joann Nelander

The Salvation and Sanctification of Souls

From the Letters of Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Apostolic zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls

The burning zeal for God’s glory that motivates you fills my heart with joy. It is sad for us to see in our own time that indifferentism in its many forms is spreading like an epidemic not only among the laity but also among religious. But God is worthy of glory beyond measure, and therefore it is of absolute and supreme importance to seek that glory with all the power of our feeble resources. Since we are mere creatures we can never return to him all that is his due. The most resplendent manifestation of God’s glory is the salvation of souls, whom Christ redeemed by shedding his blood. To work for the salvation and sanctification of as many souls as possible, therefore, is the preeminent purpose of the apostolic life. Let me, then, say a few words that may show the way toward achieving God’s glory and the sanctification of many souls.

God, who is all-knowing and all-wise, knows best what we should do to increase his glory. Through his representatives on earth he continually reveals his will to us; thus it is obedience and obedience alone that is the sure sign to us of the divine will. A superior may, it is true, make a mistake; but it is impossible for us to be mistaken in obeying a superior’s command. The only exception to this rule is the case of a superior commanding something that in even the slightest way would contravene God’s law. Such a superior would not be conveying God’s will.

God alone is infinitely wise, holy, merciful, our Lord, Creator, and Father; he is beginning and end, wisdom and power and love; he is all. Everything other than God has value to the degree that it is referred to him, the maker of all and our own redeemer, the final end of all things. It is he who, declaring his adorable will to us through his representatives on earth, draws us to himself and whose plan is to draw others to himself through us and to join us all to himself in an ever deepening love.

Look, then, at the high dignity that by God’s mercy belongs to our state in life. Obedience raises us beyond the limits of our littleness and puts us in harmony with God’s will. In boundless wisdom and care, his will guides us to act rightly. Holding fast to that will, which no creature can thwart, we are filled with unsurpassable strength.

Obedience is the one and the only way of wisdom and prudence for us to offer glory to God. If there were another, Christ would certainly have shown it to us by word and example. Scripture, however, summed up his entire life at Nazareth in the words: He was subject to them; Scripture set obedience as the theme of the rest of his life, repeatedly declaring that he came into the world to do his Father’s will. Let us love our loving Father with all our hearts. Let our obedience increase that love, above all when it requires us to surrender our own will. Jesus Christ crucified is our sublime guide toward growth in God’s love.

We will learn this lesson more quickly through the Immaculate Virgin, whom God has made the dispenser of his mercy. It is beyond all doubt that Mary’s will represents to us the will of God himself. By dedicating ourselves to her we become in her hands instruments of God’s mercy even as she was such an instrument in God’s hands. We should let ourselves be guided and led by Mary and rest quiet and secure in her hands. She will watch out for us, provide for us, answer our needs of body and spirit; she will dissolve all our difficulties and worries.

Home, Hearth and Throne

Mother Mary,
You were with Jesus
From the instant
Of His Incarnation.
With your “Fiat”,
The Promise
Became a Man,
Dwelling with you,
In profound peace
And humility.

It was you
Who knew
This first intimacy,
Who cherished and adored.
Who waited upon Him,
With heart,
And mind,
And body.

The only eyes
That could see Him
At this tender age,
Were yours,
As you gazed on Him
With the eyes
Of your intellect
And soul.

An inward glance
Set your Immaculate Heart ablaze,
As you became,
Home and hearth,
And throne,
For a Child of one cell,
Growing and destined
To rule the world,
As He had reigned
From eternity.

A Man like no other
And, yet,
Intimately,
One with all.

Open our eyes
To your Son.
With the Centurion,
Who presided
Over the Crucifixion
Of the Christ,
And opened His Side,
End our idolatry,
So we, too, cry
“My Lord and my God.”

Mother Mary,
Behold your Son
In me.
Prepare me to be
Home and hearth
And throne,
For Christ alone.

©2012 Joann Nelander

Thanksgiving Kiss

 

O, Mary, thank you for Your Child.

See my empty arms.

See my open heart.

Place your Treasure

In my embrace.

 

He smiles at me,

As I push aside  His swaddling,

To gaze in awe

On the Babe of my redemption.

 

Mystery of mysteries,

Mercy of God,

You’ve come to me.

You’ve come for me

I dare a kiss on Your sweet brow,

My Emmanuel.

 

© 2011 Joann Nelander

Virgin Mary Consoles Eve

This painting is so consoling, I just have to share it again since Advent brings us closer and closer to the precious moment of our Savior’s birth.  He comes to save Fallen Man, and with such a gentle hand.

“Virgin Mary Consoles Eve”


Crayon and pencil by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO
Copyright 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

Thinking with Fr. John A. Hardon, S,J., S. T. D. – Real Presence

Mary was the first tabernacle.

At the Last Supper Jesus, the Christ, ordained and empowered His Apostles to do what, until then, only He could do, make Himself present, in His humanity, to the world.

What the senses can not perceive, the believing heart receives as total gift, total God, in His Holy and eternal Humanity, not just Spirit, but human flesh and blood, along with the power to make Him present in the world and to the world through out Time.

Mary received, and by her body, in her body, made Him present as gift from God the Father. In her Immaculate body, at Her faith response,”Fiat secundum tuum.” God became Man, and Mary was His Tabernacle, the Ark of the New Covenant, in fulfillment of the Old Covenant.

Reality challenges the mind and senses to believe God.
“And the virgin shall be with Child.”
“This is My Body…This is My Blood.”

God enters Time and remains in Time, coming unto his own and so remaining “Emmanuel”, “God with us” for all Time until earth and the heavens be no more, made new, as promised, a New Heaven and a New Earth. And God remaining Man throughout eternity with the Virgin at His side with the children He gave her from His Cross.

New Adam

I read these lines from the 33rd Day of Total Consecration to Jesus by St. Louis Marie de Montfort:

Our Blessed Lady is the true terrestrial paradise of the New Adam, and the ancient paradise was but a figure of her. In this earthly paradise we have riches, beauties, rarities and inexplicable sweetness, which Jesus Christ, the New Adam has left here; it was in this paradise that He took His complacence for nine months, worked His wonders and displayed His riches with the magnificence of a God. It is in this earthly paradise that there is the true tree of life, which has borne Jesus Christ, the Fruit of Life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which has given light unto the world. There are, in this divine place, trees planted by the hand of God, and watered by His Divine Unction, which have borne and daily bear fruit of divine taste. It is only the Holy Ghost, Who can make us know the hidden truth of these figures of material things. The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of the Fathers, also styles the Blessed Virgin the Eastern Gate, by which the High-Priest, Jesus Christ, enters the world, and leaves it. By it, He came the first time, He will come the second, by it.

They inspired these thoughts, though I haven’t even touched on Mary yet:

Where on this Earth has Jesus passed that flowers failed to bloom?
What on Earth has Jesus passed that succumbed to Adam’s doom?
When on this sad Earth did Jesus pass and desert’s dust remain?
Only if our fallen wills prevail, can Jesus come in vain.

When Jesus passed did flowers bloom and birds begin to sing?
When Jesus passed did children run to jump into his arms?
When Jesus passed did fallen men find strength to rise again?
When Jesus passed and left this world, once worst for Adam’s Sin,
Did Gates fling wide at Sin’s stemmed tide and Paradise begin again?

Total Consecration To Jesus

Here for audio podcast of 33 Day Total Consecration to Jesus

TotusTuus – St. Louis De Montfort

Explanation of Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary:

Prayer to Mary — From iPieta

When Mary is done perfecting her Son in us, we will be among her merits, shining before the throne of God.

Prayer to Mary, by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort

Hail MARY, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father. Hail MARY, admirable Mother of the Son. Hail MARY, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost. Hail MARY, my Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign. Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul. Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am Thine by justice. But I am not yet sufficiently Thine. I now give myself wholly to Thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If Thou seest anything in me which does not belong to Thee, I beseech Thee to take it and make Thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine.

Destroy in me all that may displease GOD; root it up and bring it to nought. Place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to Thee. May the light of Thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind. May Thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may Thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination. May Thy continuous sight of GOD fill my memory with His presence; may the burning love of Thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine. May Thy virtues take the place of my sins; may Thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of GOD and make up for all that is wanting in me. Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but Thine to know JESUS and His Divine Will; that I may have no other soul but Thine to praise and glorify GOD; that I may have no other heart but Thine to love GOD with a love as pure and ardent as Thine.

I do not ask Thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotions, or spiritual pleasures. It is Thy privilege to see GOD clearly; it is Thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is Thy privilege to triumph gloriously in Heaven at the right hand of Thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men and demons. It is Thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of GOD, just as Thou willest. Such, O heavenly MARY, is the ʻbest partʼ, which the Lord has given Thee, and which shall never be taken away from Thee, and this thought fills my heart with joy. As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was Thine, to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures, to suffer joyfully without human consolation, to die continually to myself without respite, and to work zealously and unselfishly for Thee until death, as the humblest of Thy servants. The only grace I beg Thee, for me, is that every moment of the day, and every moment of my life, I may say, “Amen, so be it, to all that Thou art doing in Heaven. Amen, so be it, to all Thou didst do while on earth. Amen, so be it, to all Thou art doing in my soul,” so that Thou alone mayest fully glorify JESUS in me for time and eternity. Amen.

Sent from my iPod

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – Dec. 8th

Podcast for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

H/T  the Jesuits in Britain.

Visit pray-as-you-go.org for a marvelous prayer experience.  Get God on your pod.

Scriptural Rosary Podcast – the Joyful Mysteries

A simple podcast presentation of the Joyful Mysteries with a Scripture reading before each Hail Mary:

The Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries with Holy Scripture

The Annunciation
The Visitation
The Nativity
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

Our Lady of Fatima for Today

On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Vrgin Mary, who we now honor as Our Lady of Fatima, our Lady of the Rosary, appeared for the first time to the three seers, Francisco, Jacinta & Lucia at the Cova Da Iria, Fatima, Portugal. She asked that the Rosary be said to obtain peace for the world and to end the war.

The world still needs the peace that Our Lady promises in answer to this powerful prayer. If war was the punishment for unrepented sin in 1917, what do we risk today by abortion ,euthanasia, and unchaste lives? Mercy is still God’s choice if we would but choose Him and begin to live a lifestyle of holiness. He is still sending His own Mother to help us and form us for her Son.

Happier Than the Blessed Mother?

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

Speaking of that Blessed Mother, I must tell you of one of my
simple ways. Sometimes I find myself saying to her: “Dearest
Mother, it seems to me that I am happier than you. I have you for my Mother, and you have no Blessed Virgin to love. . . . It is
true, you are the Mother of Jesus, but you have given Him to me; and He, from the Cross, has given you to be our Mother–thus we are richer than you! Long ago, in your humility, you wished to become the little handmaid of the Mother of God; and I–poor little creature–am not your handmaid but your child! You are the Mother of Jesus, and you are also _mine!”_

Making the Ordinary Holy

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

Questioned as to her method of sanctifying meals, she answered:

"In the refectory we have but one thing to do: perform a lowly
action with lofty thoughts. I confess that the sweetest
aspirations of love often come to me in the refectory. Sometimes I
am brought to a standstill by the thought that were Our Lord in my
place He would certainly partake of those same dishes which are
served to me. It is quite probable that during His lifetime He
tasted of similar food--He must have eaten bread and fruit.

"Here are my little rubrics:

"I imagine myself at Nazareth, in the house of the Holy Family.
If, for instance, I am served with salad, cold fish, wine, or
anything pungent in taste, I offer it to St. Joseph. To our
Blessed Lady I offer hot foods and ripe fruit, and to the Infant
Jesus our feast-day fare, especially rice and preserves. Lastly,
when I am served a wretched dinner I say cheerfully: 'To-day, my
little one, it is all for you!'"


Update: Our Lady of Kibeho

EWTN’s Sunday Night:Live with Fr. Groeschel featured  – Our Lady Appears in Rwanda.  Guest: Immaculee Illibagiza

Recently, I wrote about Immaculee , her book, Left to Tell and about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho that preceded and  predicted the Rwandan genocide nine years before it occurred. The images of the apparition were  graphic and terrorizing as was the genocide.

In Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza tells her story of her experience of the Rwandan genocide. In 1981, many years prior to the Rwandan events( to which the world turned a blind eye,) Our Lady made them known through a series of apparitions (approved by the Church) to seven children, Alphonse, Anathalie, Marie Claire, Agnes, Stephanie and Vestine and Emanuel, a young pagan, known as ‘Sagastasha’ at the time of the revelations.

The Shrine of Our  Lady of Kibeho has been given Church approval. Sean Bloomfield writes:

Although Rwanda was graced by a divine visitation during the eighties, the nineties brought quite the opposite: a gruesome genocide in which a million men, women and children were brutally killed, often by friends and neighbors, in only 100 days. The message of Kibeho, however, is intrinsically tied to this tragic event.

It was not until after the war that the Catholic Church made a definitive ruling about the apparitions. Only three of the seven alleged visionaries gained Church approval:

  • Alphonsine Murmureka
  • Nathalie Mukamazimpaka
  • Marie Claire MukangangoThese seers were the first three young people to report experiencing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, who called herself Nyina wa Jambo, which translates to Mother of the Word.
  • Glance of Heaven

    vladimir1

    Virgin of Vladimir copyright J.Nelander

    We are flesh and blood not angels.  We need to see, and touch and feel in-order to experience and learn.  The writers of Icons recognize that we need a bit of Heaven in the  here and now.

    St. James Pray For Me gives some insight and a bit of history and tradition.

    St. Joseph's Day – The Man Behind the Day

    Who is St. Joseph? Scripture says little about this man and yet we honor him with titles such as Patron of the Universal Church and Patron of a peaceful death.  The Bible simply calls him “just.” Mt 1;19  All we actually need to know is that Joseph is God’s choice.

    God knows a man as he actually is in his heart of hearts from the moment God calls him by name, before he is conceived in the womb, until God calls him to Himself. Every moment, every thought, every movement of the heart, nothing hidden or forgotten, and, knowing all, God chose Joseph. He chose Joseph for Mary. He chose Joseph for Jesus. Knowing Joseph’s heart, God called Joseph “just” which means right with God.

    Our generation places little value on “just.” It has no glitz. Give us “world renowned” and “phenomenally successful.” “Just” is just so unimpressive. If “just” were only as common as it sounds.

    Today’s celebration will go unnoticed and unreported by the world, but the courts of Heaven ring with Joseph’s name this day. Jesus and Mary embrace him, sharing with saints and angels, their memories of his obedience to the Will of God, his humility, his protective care, his kindness and the sacrificial love that reigned over their home and their life together. Who remembers St. Joseph?  God remembers St. Joseph.  The God-Man remembers St. Joseph, and called him “Abba”, no doubt.

    Our Lady of Kibeho and a Worthy Lenten Intention

    In Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza tells her story of the Rwandan genocide. In 1981, many years prior to the Rwandan events( to which the world turned a blind eye,) Our Lady made them known through a series of apparitions (approved by the Church) to seven children, Alphonse, Anathalie, Marie Claire, Agnes, Stephanie and Vestine and Emanuel, a young pagan, known as ‘Sagastasha’ at the time of the revelations.

    Approved apparition of Our Lady of Kibeho

    In this present day, many of the people who where imprisioned after the genocide are being released and returning home.  The time for healing is upon the village people of Rwanda. If  this suffering country is to go forward with one heart, a healed and merciful heart, much prayer and forgiveness is needed.  Only prayer can win this spiritual battle. A worthy Lenten prayer intention!

    Making the Connection – My Rosary, My Weapon

    The Anchoress had an encounter with Mystery.  Seems the little children of Fatima, Jacinta and Francisco,  now beatified by John Paul II, want to get the word out;  the Rosary is our weapon!

    Indeed, it is!  If you remember, the apparitions at Fatima occurred immediately before the Bolshevik Revolution.  Russia had little world power.  No one saw it as a menace when the Blessed Virgin Mary gave us her prophetic message,  that WW I would soon end but a far worse war would follow if our Lady’s warning was not heeded and Russia consecrated to her Immaculate Heart:

    You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

    The whole world is still at risk and in error.  Those who faced down the enemies of Faith have clung to their rosaries.  In Ukraine, blood and beads battled for the soul of that country. The Ukrainian Bishop of Lutsk, Markijam Trofimiak, wrote: A Monument to Heroism in Ukraine. He recounts:

    Once at a symposium, I was asked: “Should it ever be decided to erect a monument in the Ukraine  to the person who has made the greatest contribution to safeguarding the faith in this land, to whom would it be justly dedicated?”. I pondered awhile before answering. In a flash, the faces of well-known priests who survived the concentration camps, Soviet prisons and years of physical and moral terror passed before my eyes. The witness to faith of these priests surpasses what we are accustomed to call “heroism”. Although remembering their undeniable merits, I answered: The monument would have to be dedicated to an elderly woman with the Rosary in her hands“.


    LENT for the Soul

    Message From Pope Benedict XVI for LENT 2009

    “He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2)

    “The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community. The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.”

    …………………………..

    Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (Encyclical Veritatis splendor.)  May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Causa nostrae laetitiae (Cause of our joy,) accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a “living tabernacle of God.”

    Searching with Mary

    Paraphrased from The Holy Rosary Narrated, distributed by Keepthefaith.org and narrated by Fr. Hugh Thwaites:

    A reflection on the Fifth Joyful Mystery – The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

    “The whole human race are either Mary’s children or potentially her children because when we’re baptized,  we are baptized into Jesus and become her children.  For the rest,  her motherly heart searches,  and cannot rest until she sees her children safe in Heaven.”

    If you look closely at an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, you will notice the small sandal hanging from the foot of the Infant Jesus, who is safe in His Mother’s arms.  This represents those who Mary also holds if only by a thread.

    olophbig4

    olophsm1

    Remembering Michael

    Amy Welborn shares not only her grief but her gratitude for all that is Michael.  Amy writes:

    “How can I, even as I acknowledge the crushing, puzzling, confusing loss and my shattered heart  – for even Jesus wept –  how can I say that I love him and that I believe all this stuff we both said we believed is actually true – and not allow some gratitude, albeit limited and struggling gratitude – to creep into my soul, for that thing, which is not a small thing, but a great thing?”

    It will be a good day to die when someone who knows me intimately can write:

    He prayed the Office almost every day of the last 25 years or so. Prayed the rosary every day for longer. Went to Mass almost every day.

    He prayed, and knew intimately all those words I have been praying – or trying to pray – so intensely over the past week.

    Thirsting for God. Rescuing from the snares of the enemy. Letting Christ live in me, being consumed, taken over by Christ, the Risen One,  alive in Him. Praying for that. Every day. Asking God for mercy, for forgiveness, for peace. For the total embrace of Love.

    Living in the Womb

    I should be in bed.  It’s too early for this, but if I don’t share it, I won’t be able to get back to bed as I still imagine I will do.  I was listening to a rosary reflection on the Visitation.  Here in essence is what was said:

    Our Lady, now expecting,  goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  We can be sure that during the journey and the months she was caring for Elizabeth, Mary never forgot the baby growing within her.  Jesus, being fashioned, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; that’s an image of what happens to us in our life of grace. That intimate fashioning is what my whole life as a christian is to be.

    When we are in the state of grace, we have the Holy Trinity living in us.  We, however, can be so caught up in daily life and its demands,  that we don’t think of that at all.  If we did, we’d be aware of the movements of grace within, and so be motivated more by grace than by nature.  Jesus being fashioned by God in the womb of His Mother Mary; to be in touch with this mystery is not to leave Jesus alone, as it were, but to be with Him as Mary was.  The reality of our life of grace is that,  like Jesus, we are very dependent on Mary.  It is our Father’s plan: to be fashioned by God in intimate dependence on Mary into a perfect likeness of Jesus.  This is the essence of our whole life of  in the Spirit.  Our entire life is now wrapped up in loving God.  In Mary,  for the first time, God is adequately loved by a creature.

    Irked by the Mother of God?

    It amazes me that the Mother of Jesus has come to be such a contentious figure.  Some time ago, I painted Our Lady with the Child Jesus in her arms.  It showed at the Parker Gallery in CO.   A church met in the same building, so members of the congregation would stop by to see the artwork after services.  One Sunday only a young girl, about 9 years old, wondered  from painting to painting,  until she came to Mother and Child.  She stood before it a moment considering the painting and then to my astonishment made a disdainful sound, “Psst!” motherchild12 Then,  the child tossed her head and left abruptly.  The gesture seemed beyond her years.  Wouldn’t you expect an image of a mother and a child to touch a soft spot in a young and tender heart? Instead,  it struck like a rock bouncing off unyielding ground.   I remembered the lyrics of a song from South Pacific:

    You’ve to to be taught before it’s too late,

    Before you are six or seven or eight

    To hate all the people your relatives hate,

    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    Prejudice can effect, or more accurately,  infect us at any age or stage.  It’s sad when it blinds us to goodness; saddest when it makes us immune to holiness, which, I guess,  it always does.