RAnn of This, That and the Other Thing graciously hosts Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival giving Catholic bloggers a chance to share their favorites posts with one another. Join the fun, and leave a comment , won’t you? This week my contribution is my efforts at chinese brush painting of Colorado mountains and waterfalls:
O Captain of my heart
On Love’s Tree
You penetrate the Lie.
You, victorious in Death,
Descend, piercing the Earth
To ransom Adam’s seed.
Scale my stony ramparts;
Pull down vanity’s tower;
Besiege the Gates of Hell.
Trumpet Your holy rage.
As with thundering steed and burnished sword,
Capture and hold fast my soul.
Call “Beloved” Your desolate one;
Call “Espoused” she who mourns
Her innocence’s demise.
Circle me about with Promise.
Covenant me in Blood Sacrifice.
Ascend on high with wedded bride..
O, Love Divine, make me Thine!
by Joann Nelander
Hold a thought in your heart today:
“Let your heart be an altar.” Saint Peter Chrysologus
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Lent means that spring is just around the corner. Looking at my garden, it was obvious that it was in need of some serious tender loving care. All I had the energy for was to uproot a few of the hundreds of weeds, but I did begin. Immediately, a thought interrupted my picking. “Many souls are dead and don’t even know it.” Surprised by the seriousness of the pronouncement, I turned to the Lord, “Why is that, Lord?”
“Look at the weeds you’re uprooting; they look healthy and well, don’t they? Yet, you know they’re counterfeits; you root them up. Many people no longer know what’s good for them. They opened their soil to the world and allowed the world to decide what grew in them; no questions asked!
Empty places invite weeds. Weeds take the place of authentic, productive life. Soon they choke out the good by sheer numbers and their greedy appetites. Weeds look pretty good for a while. It isn’t until you miss the flowers and the fruit, that you notice something has gone awry. In life, people are like gardens. Some are dying but still look good. Sin like weeds is deceptive. People are kept busy and entertained by counterfeit life. Yet they are loosing ground to the world. They are losing the reward of their time and effort. Their work and play have no eternal end, just transitory vigor and flash. It’s really death wrapped in greenery.
This morning I weeded my entire garden. I also went to confession.
Save us, Lord, collect us together from among the nations. Alleluia.
Psalm 105 (106)They mingled themselves with the peoples,and learned to do as they did.They served the same idolsuntil it became their undoing.They sacrificed their own sonsand their daughters to demons.They poured out innocent blood.The blood of their own sons and daughterswas sacrificed to the idols of Canaan.Their blood polluted the land,and their actions defiled them.They devoted themselves to whoring.The Lord blazed out in anger against his own people,He detested his own chosen race.He gave them into the hands of foreigners.They were conquered by those who hated them.
These words from today’s Office of Readings, I find frightening in light of our society. We are blessed by the knowledge that God, who is near to us, has blessed us, giving us His Son and sending us His Holy Spirit. Sinners get to live as saints should they so desire. What does our society reveal about our desires.
What does our society testify about us as a people? Gifts, even gifts of God, can be squandered by prodigal sons and daughters. His greatest gift, life, we subject to pluralistic debate and countermand by man-made law. ‘Choice’ is elevated above conscience and morality and enshrined as a god to be fed by money-making mills. Is this license the best we can do with the gift of life in a land of freedom and liberty?
Facts about fetal pain.
More facts about fetal pain.
Facts about maternal pain.
Spengler unmasks and allows a peek at the inner workings that he wrapped in the pseudonym. It’s all very interesting and I’m just beginning to digest it. At first read, I respond to the klunk on my musing surface to a piece of Spengler’s journey to open identity.
Spengler writes of his time in a cult, “The question, of course, is what were a group of young Jews doing in the company of a cult leader with a paranoid view of the world and a thinly disguised anti-Semitic streak.” In part, he answers, “There existed a science of mind, LaRouche claimed, that would enable the adept to reach the right conclusion.” and more, Larouche claimed to trace a tradition of secret knowledge across the ages, from Plato and Plotinus, through the Renaissance, and down to the German scientists and philosophers of the nineteenth century. Of course, that raises a question: If there exists this kind of knowledge, then why isn’t it universally shared? The reverse side of the gnostic page is paranoia: There must be a cabal of evil people who prevent the dissemination of the truth.”
It reads like gripping fiction, reminding me, with my fully accepted Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Gen 3: 4-5, “You certainly will not die! No God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”
I would tend to run afraid for my soul. The scenario would rouse a voice that speaks to me, that I know would say, “At first blush, you will blush and then you will no longer blush, as headlong you pursue a dream or call it temptation. With heady glee, forbidden pleasure will be recast for the ‘good’ it promises. Soon you will become like gods in your private reveries or privy little worlds; not only knowing what is good and what is bad, but you will have known good and bad in that intimate way of knowing that spoils the good like food gone bad. Throwing your whole self into pursuit of what might be tasty and alluring, knowledge itself will be your cavorting and you ravenous. You will run after experience so as to judge by your own proclivities what delights, what titillates and what requires more of your self than you can give or share. What a god, indeed!
Have I gone too far? I tend to jump to conclusions and without input, I get stuck there. I’m still listening and will dive in again. “Confessions of a Coward” by Davis P. Goldman is a must read.
It touches me because for three years I trained at Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing and it was formation ground for me. My friends during those years were all Jewish. Their Jewishness was different from my Catholicism. An encounter with Thomas Merton’s “the Seven Storey Mountain,” began me on the life long practice of daily Mass and prayer. That set me in a direction in which I continue still today.
The Jewishness of my friends was expressed with more subtlety. There identity as Jews was perceptible, solid and unwavering. It raised a sense of admiration in me. I, however, can’t recall a single religious conversation.
Even today, in my prayers for them, I don’t know how to pray. Their faith is precious to me. I want to see it lived to the full. I guess I know they are a peculiar people whom God, not only cherishes, but for whom He plans providentially a future full of hope and abundant blessing. There seems to be in me a sense that God planted this seed, continues to water it and will bring it to marvelous fruition in His time. I pray for them wordlessly.
As for Spengler, my favorite part is:
Around 1985, the ugly awareness that I had spent almost a decade in a gnostic cult coincided with a dark time in my personal life. Deeply depressed, I sat at the piano one night, playing through the score of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and came to the chorale that reads: “Commend your ways and what ails your heart to the faithful care of Him who directs the heavens, who gives course and aim to the clouds, air and wind. He will also find a path that your foot can tread.” For the first time in my life, I prayed, and in that moment, I knew that my prayer was heard. That was a first step of teshuva—of return.
The truth is that I did not think my way into praying. I prayed my way into thinking.
“Cell phones, Blackberries, e-mail, laptops allowing people to bring their work anywhere, news arriving in perfectly condensed and filtered snippets via the Internet and TV, never before has communication been so instantaneous and information distributed so quickly. Never before have people been so connected.”
“One would assume that this preponderance of advanced communication technology would promote a well-informed and close-knit society. While this is true to some extent and there are many benefits to be gained from these technologies, award-winning author and journalist Maggie Jackson surprisingly has found that compared to past generations, we are in fact less capable of quality analytical thinking, more ignorant about many issues, and more fragmented as a community. Never before have we been so disconnected.” Source:Medical News Today
The subject caught my attention, so I guess I still am capable of attention. However, it caught my attention simply because it seems something is always vying for my attention. There’s that nagging feeling, I’m forgetting something; worse still, that I’m forgetting Someone.
I can’t complain because things are rather simple around here. Kids are off being mature adults. Only a husband and dog – neither demanding – have a real claim on my time. I’m not even as plugged in as the rest of society seems to be. I don’t walk around talking into space with a thing in my ear. Why, I’ve even got the computer under control. (Husband might seriously ???) So, I ask myself, “Why self? What’s our problem?”
Enter Maggie Jackson, who wrote, DISTRACTED: THE EROSION OF ATTENTION AND THE COMING DARK AGE (Prometheus Books). Medical News today writes:
Jackson’s definition of “attention” stems from studies in neuroscience that have identified a cognitive system comprised of three networks – awareness, focus, and executive attention (planning and decision making) – that work together to act as the “brain’s conductor, leading the orchestration of our minds.” The awareness and focus networks are systems responsible for gathering information about the environment, and the executive attention network is responsible for making decisions based on that information. Sustained attention is necessary for learning, deep thinking, emotional development, building relationships, and many other essential tasks. Attention is the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. Without it, it would be impossible to function in any meaningful way. In today’s world, this altered perspective has been greatly accelerated. Cell phones, e-mails, and numerous other devices compete for our attention. Because of this constant nagging, it becomes nearly impossible to utilize our capacity for sustained attention, and the implications are felt in business, the home, and society at large.
Jackson notes that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and once interrupted takes nearly half an hour to go back to the original task. Families and friends find it increasingly difficult to meet face-to-face and even more difficult to do so without interruption or willful multitasking. News segments bombard us with superficially simple pieces of information. We have essentially been ushered into a world of constant distraction in which reflective thinking and undivided attention (single-tasking) has become exceedingly rare.
Jackson further laments: “The erosion of attention is largely equivalent to the erosion of our society.”
Not to worry, forewarned is forearmed. Awareness is half the battle. Bewareness is the other half. The world is a little ditsy in its quest for self-awareness and I think, goes off the deep end into navel-gazing and self-absorption. Inner strength, on the other hand, stems from an inner joy. That’s what I don’t want to lose. The acronym JOY still works for me. When you’re frazzled, check your priorities: Jesus, Others, Yourself.
I needed solid footing and balance after the bombardment of an aberrant President and press. Stephen Prothero writing for USA Today says:
Now comes President Obama, who in January in his inaugural address spoke of this country as “a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” On April 6 in Turkey, Obama added that the United States “does not consider itself a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation” but “a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
It was just such that drove me in search of visual confirmation in Washington D.C. Now home from our Nation’s capital, I feel again on the cutting edge of a clandestine warfare coming of age and to light. Washington D.C. did indeed confirm that the United States of America was unarguably founded as a Nation established on Christian principals as document after document, monument of monument, Statesmen and heroes alike, testify to, in stone, and marble,valor and blood, recorded there for posterity, dramatically and historically. Homecoming, however, is returning to the fray. It is waking up each day to being unceremoniously attacked by the daily news of the madness that is Obama.
However, it not just Obama, that drives me to distraction, it’s the incessant kowtowing menagerie of his Orwellian Animal Farm. George Orwell, to his chagrin, aside from being proved right, can now see his book lived out in the American experiment. Eric Blair’s (George Orwell’s) satire is on parade for all to see and most of the animals are oblivious to the part they are playing in the threatening demise of our Nation as a Republic” of the People, by the People and for the People.
Americans are not perfect people. We are like all people, flawed; and, as foreseen by the Founding Fathers, we need our checks and balances to curtail our greed and self- centeredness, to keep an eye open and watch our backs as a People. Our checks and balances are gone. Our press is the servant of the President, our Congress is the servant of our President and our people seem content to worship at his feet. So much for balance.
Our weaknesses as individual’s who are capable of resenting one group or another within the American system are being used against us. We are being set against imagined “masters” despite the fact that our nation is the free-est on earth. All the “animals” set free by Obama’s Hope Machine, with childish idealistic and idyllic dreams can now High Five one another in the name of justice and progress, oblivious to the new chains being forged for their piggy hands and feet. Yes, power-hungry pigs, like Orwell’s, Napoleon, are on the prowl ready to become their new totalitarian dictators. The little happy piggies will some learn on their Animal Farm that “All Animals Are Equal But Some Are More Equal Than Others.” Oppression, call it what you will, even “the Audacity of Hope” is no less oppression. Martin Luther Jr.’s “I have a dream.” is being replaced by Obama’s dream which it best described as, “I have a nightmare.”
The Anchoress got some disparaging email in response to”See How These Christians Shove One Another. She was articulating “that we Christians are being ‘way too “earthbound” and over-worldly in the way we process and engage in politics.” The response of readers prompted her to print an email that she thought made her point, He says it so much better than I. In a nutshell, the writer said, in citing the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, “The Israelites did not attack Jericho head-on in a conventional way but chose instead the mystical path and gave the Holy Spirit room to do His work.
I’ve been struggling along these same lines. Blogging makes me painfully aware of it. I start the day with Mass and the Divine Office and come home to enter the fray. I bounce between the spiritual and not so spiritual with my own war of words. I read Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s “Render Unto Caesar” hoping to gain some footing. He confirmed the battle for me but didn’t give me my marching orders. I believe I need to use all the tools God has placed at hand.
The Rosary is called “a weapon” by those who know its power. Mass and the Divine Office are like heavenly dynamite empowered by the Holy Spirit. Faith turns up that power and places it in the hands of the angels to do battle in the realm the Apostle Paul tells us about. “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evils spirits in the heavens.” Ephesian 6: 12
I know, too, I have other tools at my disposal: thoughts, words, deeds. I know I mess up and will mess up, leading me back to prayer and repentance to begin again. Like Jesus on the Way of the Cross, I have to keep getting up and get myself up the mountain of Calvary for the Battle that wins the war. I don’t feel like a warrior, I think of myself as the little donkey carrying the Christ into Jerusalem for the climactic encounter between Good and Evil. That’s were I am and I am tired.
When I complained of being tired though the battle has hardly begun, a friend wrote me saying,
“Remember the Narnia series?Remember in “The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe”how the children were confused, frightened, at the endof their resources……..when they heard that Aslyn was“on the move”. Of course, they still had great battlesahead but Aslyn had arrived….. Have you had any such thoughts/feelings? I hope that it is not wishful thinking on my part.”
I don’t think it is wishful thinking. I think Aslyn is on the move. It doesn’t really matter if I fall on the battlefield. I’m on the right side and Christ is more than a Conqueror. He is a Savior and in His hands our efforts and prayers strike at the hearts of enemies with the same Mercy that bought me to His side.
The side of Christ is pierced that we all may enter. Today, Mercy Sunday, is a good day to think about that and the signature “Jesus I trust in you” that signs the Divine Mercy Image. I think of that signature as my name confirming Christ’s image in me.
With my weapons in hand, all I need is a battle cry. Semper Fidelis is a worthy battle cry. Cam Beck says,
What is left unsaid in the motto is also notable. The phrase is “Always faithful.” It isn’t “Sometimes Faithful.” Nor is it “Usually Faithful,” but always. It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute.
For me, it’s Jesus Christ who is Always Faithful.
Today’s Gospel: John 21: 1-14
Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
Gone fishin’! Peter needed a break. Getting back to the familiar seemed the thing to do. The other disciples followed the leader. It wasn’t really what they wanted. They wanted the Lord as evidenced by Peter being so besides himself at the realization that the man on shore was Jesus that He dressed for the occasion, putting clothes on to jump into the water.
I love this Gospel. Once more we see the humanity of Peter and the boys. This was the third time Jesus had to call on them to assure, reassure and otherwise comfort them. I can relate!
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)
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.”
Fr. Scott began his homily with the lyrics of a song by John Prine:
“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose.”
The sorrowful words left you thinking, “What a waste!”
Then came the true story a dying soldier during the Viet Nam War, who, though not a Catholic, asked for the Church’s blessing from the priest by his side. When a man is close to death, and this is his desire, it is one the Church gladly honors. The soldier said to the priest, “Father, don’t let that oil go to waste.” The priest didn’t waste a drop as he anointed the man at death’s door.
Father Scott was saying that in life we make choices that bear on how we end. This particular morning, in the closing days of Lent, Father implored, “Don’t waste Lent! Let’s make it last our entire lives; until we breathe our last breath.”
I’ll be headed out the door in a few minutes to attend the Mass. It amazes me that year after year I have been given the grace to participate in daily mass. It is a great blessing especially since I am no saint. I’m slogging it out here below hoping one day that Jesus will call me and bid me come to Him that with angels and saints I might be with Him forever.
Sometimes at communion, I am overjoyed but most often my feelings are like those expressed by the Little Flower. Would that my response also be as hers.
What can I tell you, dear Mother, about my thanksgivings after Communion? There is no time when I taste less consolation. But this is what I should expect. I desire to receive Our Lord, not for my own satisfaction, but simply to give Him pleasure. I picture my soul as a piece of waste ground and beg Our Blessed Lady to take away my imperfections–which are as heaps of rubbish–and to build upon it a splendid tabernacle worthy of Heaven, and adorn it with her own adornments. Then I invite all the Angels and Saints to come and sing canticles of love, and it seems to me that Jesus is well pleased to see Himself received so grandly, and I share in His joy. But all this does not prevent distractions and drowsiness from troubling me, and not unfrequently I resolve to continue my thanksgiving throughout the day, since I made it so badly in choir. You see, dear Mother, that my way is not the way of fear; I can always make myself happy, and profit by my imperfections, and Our Lord Himself encourages me in this path.”
Here is a site with much to offer by secular Carmelites . Their calling: “to listen to hear the whisper of God in the silence of our hearts. We seek Him, who we know loves us, and contemplate His wonders…… The meditations (& podcasts) are taken directly from the writings of the Church Doctors of Prayer, Mysticism, Confidence and Missionaries (Saints Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Thérèse of Lisieux) as well as many other Carmelites you may not have known before!”
Mother Isabel of the Sacred Heart
“My desires are infinite. . . I have often made them known: firstly, the salvation of souls, of all the souls now on earth and of those which will exist until the end of the world; then that divine love may reign in every soul; that those consecrated to God, especially priests, may reach the height of sanctity to which their vocation calls them; to obtain baptism for infants; that Purgatory may free its captives and may be closed for ever by souls being taught how to fly straight to heaven on leaving this world; that physical and bodily pain may be consoled, soothed, and to a great extent abolished. Yet these desires, like Saint Teresa’s become very grievous when I reflect that Jesus Himself could not obtain the salvation of all souls, nor make Himself loved by all, nor save them all from the tortures of Purgatory or from Limbo. I am troubled by the profound mystery of God s will being frustrated in His wishes by the contrary designs of His creatures, and I pray: “Father, since this is so, I entreat Thee to grant as far as possible the longings of the Heart of Jesus, for all His desires are mine,” and this brings me peace.
This was, for a long time, my only way of hearing Mass. When the sacred Host was up raised after the words of Consecration, I used to say: “Father, behold Thy beloved Son in “Whom Thou has set all Thy pleasure; hear Him!” This “Hear Him!” which expressed all my longings, meant: “Grant all He asks; realize all His desires!”
– Mother Isabel of the Sacred Heart
Thomas A’ Kempis’words in My Imitation of Christ are ever new speaking to the heart. Preparations of a soul are often given little regard in the world, so let’s draw apart from the world to consider the gift, the soul and the benefits of our Faith received:
Here in the Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present, my God, the man Christ Jesus, whence is obtained the full realization of eternal salvation, as often as You are worthily and devoutly received. To this, indeed, we are not drawn by levity, or curiosity, or sensuality, but by firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love. O God, hidden Creator of the world, how wonderfully You deal with us! How sweetly and graciously You dispose of things with Your elect to whom You offer Yourself to be received in this Sacrament! This, indeed, surpasses all understanding. This in a special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames their love. Your truly faithful servants, who give their whole life to amendment, often receive in Holy Communion the great grace of devotion and love of virtue. Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which only the faithful of Christ understand, which unbelievers and slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is conferred, lost virtue restored, and the beauty, marred by sin, repaired. At times, indeed, its grace is so great that, from the fullness of the devotion, not only the mind but also the frail body feels filled with greater strength. Nevertheless, our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored and pitied, when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved. He is our sanctification and redemption. He is our consolation in this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. This being true, it is lamentable that many pay so little heed to the salutary Mystery which fills the heavens with joy and maintains the whole universe in being. Oh, the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift, but rather falls into carelessness from its daily use! If this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries! But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places, that God’s grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world. Thanks be to You, Jesus, everlasting Good Shepherd, Who have seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body and Blood, and to invite us with words from Your own lips to partake of these sacred Mysteries: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Book 4: chapter 1
In today’s reading, Jer 11:18-20, Jeremiah wants revenge. He sees himself as a trusting lamb led to slaughter; although he knew he was in danger, he did not realize that his enemies were hatching plots against him. Jeremiah wants vengeance and he wants to be there to witness it in spades.
“Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!”
In today’s homily, Monsignor, asks, “How does Jesus take vengeance on His enemies?” Monsignor answers, “He dies for them!”
Christians imitate Jesus. Scripture directs us in dealing with our enemies:
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
- But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44
- If your enemy be hungry, give him food to eat, if he be thirsty, give him to drink;
- For live coals you will heap on his head, and the LORD will vindicate you. Proverbs 25:22
We are all in the same boat, we are all sinners, enemies of God, so long as we persist in Sin. Jesus, for his part, dies for us. He has prayed for his enemies, “Father, forgive them!” He has fed them, “Take and eat!” He has satisfied their thirst, “Take and drink!”
Jesus appeals to the heart of men. We can turn away. We can experience, with Jesus, rejection. In all these circumstances Jesus says pray. That prayer is powerful, whether it is prayer of praise, worship, thanksgiving, adoration, or petition.
If we could only see it with Heaven’s eyes as John did as he records in the Book of Revelation:
“And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev 5:8
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.”Rev 7:14
What is this washing of their robes, if it is not the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If it were referring to Baptism, they would not be doing the washing, whereas in Reconciliation we have an active role.
Jesus wants what’s best for each of us. He wants enemies (sinners) to feel the hot coals of prayer heaped upon them. To see ourselves as Jesus sees us when we sin can be distressing. Such a moment, though wrenching, is a moment of grace. Jesus desires a response of the heart that sends the sick and sorrowful to show themselves to the priest for healing and forgiveness.
Our revenge is to be like our Christ. Our revenge is to die to ourselves with our Christ. Our revenge is to see the enemies of Christ come forth from the confessional with tears of joy and thanksgiving in all humility; no longer enemies but as brothers.
What will it take? Prayer. All are called, moment by moment, while we live, “Repent and believe the Good News!” Mk 1:15
The Lenten readings are growing darker as Jesus approaches His hour
In Wisdom 2, we read:
The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright…
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
The Gospel of John, too, sounds an ominous note:
“Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near…But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.” John 7:1,10
Why did things have to go this way. Why the rejection? Why the Cross? And while we’re questioning; why do they sour for us?
Today, Fr. Michael, faced with these questions, asked one of his own (I’m paraphrasing.) Who made us judge and jury? Who confirmed us in our righteousness; which is, if honest, our self-righteousness?”
The Gospel of Light treads a path through every darkness and Darkness, itself. Without the stuff of darkness, weakness, war, tragedy and desperate dilemma, we go unchallenged, self-satisfied. We pursue our dreams and go willy-nilly, perhaps, even, to our own dissolution, seeing only the darkness around us, and none within. What we don’t like of Gospel or Church, we ignore or eliminate from our daily lives. “Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”
Until the unthinkable forces itself upon us and our decisions, we are content not to think but to ride the fence. The problems remain out there with “them.” If we do take a stand and speak the Gospel truth, we find what Jesus found: rejection and betrayal, even from within our families, the cruelest blow. It might not be explicit. It may be that no one has time to visit. Perhaps, the grand-kids are withheld and holidays less joyful. How doesn’t matter so much as that it happens. We are left on our Cross.
What to do? Look first to yourself. Question your ways and your motives. Repent, is the Gospel word for it. Then pray and wait. Wait upon God; first of all with praise and adoration, thanksgiving, and finally with petition. Place all the rest, loves ones and world, in the Tabernacle with the Lamb who was Slain and still lives. Then go on; “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” This is the Way until the end of the world and the coming of the Day.
From the Office of Readings – for Friday of fourth week of Lent from Easter Letter of Athanasias:
How fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed.
There are people I know and some I love who love and live by the “Follow your passion,” “Live your dream” “Make your heart sing” banality that doesn’t exactly float my boat. I love to stop and smell the roses so long as you don’t stay stopped! I like to know where I’m going and why. Some people are happy with promises of HOPE and CHANGE period! …..No, how? No, why? No, at what cost?
Sometimes the catchy slog is just sop. It may be time to “Follow the crowd…and go the other way!”
He says somewhere in this piece, “We’ve declared war on work” and we accepted as fact things that need to be challenged. The mainstream media, tv boards room decisions and slants , inane sit-coms have indoctrinated us so heaven is hype and a latte or iphone = heaven. Just watch Mike and listen up a bit (no place for the squeamish.)
From The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great: (with my italics noting promises and favors)
May my heart and my soul, with all the substance of my flesh, all my senses, and all the powers of my body and my mind, with all creatures, praise Thee and give Thee thanks, O sweetest Lord, faithful Lover of mankind, for Thy signal mercy, which has not only dissimulated the utterly unworthy preparation with which I have not feared to approached the super celestial banquet of Thy most sacred Body and Blood, but has added this gift to me, the most utterly vile and perfectly useless of Thy creatures. First, of having been assured by Thy grace that all who desire to approach this Sacrament, and who are restrained by fear from a timid conscience, who come to me, who am the least of Thy servants, led by humility, to receive this Sacrament with fruit to eternal life. Thou hast also added that Thou wilt not permit anyone whom Thy justice deems unworthy to abase themselves to ask counsel of me, O Supreme Ruler, Who, through Thou dwellest on high, regardest the humble. (CF. Ps. 112:5).
What prompted Thy mercy, when Thou sawest me approach so often unworthily, to suspend Thy judgment, and not to inflict on me the punishment I deserve? Thou willest to make others worthy by the virtue of humility; and though Thou couldst do so more effectually without my assistance, Thy love, looking upon my misery, made Thee effect this through me, so that thus I may be a sharer in the merits of those who, through my admonitions, enjoy the fruit of salvation.
But, alas this is not the only remedy which my misery requires; nor will one remedy satisfy Thy mercy, O most kind Lord! For (secondly) Thou didst assure my unworthiness that Thou wouldst consider whoever should expose their defects to me, with a contrite and humble heart, guilty or innocent, as I had declared them more or less guilty, and from henceforward Thy grace would so sustain them that They should never again be in such danger from their faults as they had been previously. And thus Thou hast relieved my indigence, which is so great that I have never even for a single day corrected myself as I ought, and yet Thou dost permit me to participate in the victories of others, when Thou, my good God, dost condescend, to give the grace of victory to Thine other more deserving friends through my words.
Thirdly. The abundant liberality of Thy grace has enriched my poverty of merit by this assurance – that whenever I promise a favor to anyone, or the pardon of any fault, through confidence in Thy mercy, Thy benign love will ratify my words and execute my promise as faithfully as if it has been confirmed by an oath of the Eternal Truth. Thou didst add further, that if anyone found that the salutary effects of my promises were deferred, they should continually remind Thee that I had promised this grace from Thee. Thus dost Thou provide for my salvation according to the words of the Gospel: “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2). And as, I alas, continually fall into the greatest faults, Thou desirest by this means to remit the punishment I deserve.
Fourthly. To solace my miseries, Thou hast assured me, amongst other things, that whoever recommend themselves humbly and devoutly to my prayers will certainly obtain all the fruits which they hoped to obtain by the intercession of any other person: in which Thou hast provided for my negligence, which prevents me from satisfying, not only for the prayers which are made gratuitously for the Church, but also for those of obligation; and Thou hast found the means of applying the fruit of them to me, according to the words of David “My prayers shall be turned into my bosom” (Ps 34: 13); making me participate in the merits of Thine elect, who shall ask these graces of Thee through my intermission, although I am utterly unworthy of it, and granting me a share in them to supply for my indigence.
Fifthly. Thou hast further promised my salvation by conferring these special favors on me, that whom ever with a good will, a right intention and a humble confidence, shall come to speak to me upon their spiritual advancement, should never leave me without being edified or receiving spiritual consolation. In this also Thou hast most suitably supplied for my indigence: for alas, I have wasted the talent Thou didst so liberally bestow on me by my useless words, but now I may gain some merit by what I confide to others!
Sixthly. Thy liberality, O Lord, has bestowed on me thus gift, more necessary than all – certify to me that whoever, in their charity, will either pray for me – the vilest of God’s creatures – or perform any good works, either for the amendment of my life, or the forgiveness of the sins of my youth, or the correction of my iniquity and malice, shall receive this reward from Thy abundant liberality – namely, that they shall nit die until, by Thy grace, their lives have been pleasing to Thee; and that Thou wilt dwell in their souls by a special friendship and intimacy.
And this Thou hast granted of Thy paternal tenderness, to assist my extreme indigence, as Thou knowest how many great corrections are needed for my innumerable sins and negligences. Thus, as Thy loving mercy will not permit me to perish, and, on the contrary by reason of justice, will not permit me to be saved with all my imperfections, Thou hast provided for me by means of the gains and merits of others.
Thou hast added to all these favors, my kind God, by an abundant liberality – that if anyone, after my death, considering with how much familiarity Thou didst communicate with my unworthiness while in this life, should recommend themselves humbly to my prayers, Thou wouldst hear them as willingly as if they invoked the intercession of any other person, provided that they had the intention of repairing their faults and negligences, and that they humbly and devoutly thanked Thee for five special benefits which Thou didst grant me.
First. For the love by which Thou didst freely choose me from all eternity, and which I declare to be the greatest of all the benefits which Thou hast bestowed on me: for as Thou wert not ignorant of, or rather didst foresee, the corrupt life which I should lead, the excess of my ingratitude, and how I should abuse Thy gifts, so that I deserve to have been born a pagan, and not an enlightened human being – Thy mercy, which infinitely exceeds our crimes, has chosen me, in preference to many other Christians, to bear the holy character of a religious.
Secondly. Because Thou hast drawn me blessedly to Thee; and I acknowledged it to be an effect of the clemency and charity which is natural to Thee, Who hast won, by the attractions of Thy caresses, this rebellious and stubborn heart, which deserves to be loaded with fetters and chains; and it has seemed as if Thou hadst found in me the faithful companion of Thy love, and that Thy greatest pleasure was to be united to me.
Thirdly. Because Thou hast united me so intimately to Thee; and I declare, as I am bound, that I am indebted for this only to Thy signal liberality, as if the number of the just was not great enough to receive the immense abundance of Thy mercies, not that I had better dispositions than others, but, on the contrary, that Thy charity might be the more signalized in me thereby.
Fourthly. That Thou hast taken pleasure and delight in dwelling in my soul; and this, if I may so speak, proceeds from the ardor of Thy love, which has deigned to testify, even by words, that it is the joy of Thy all – powerful wisdom to stop to one so dissimilar to Thee, and so utterly ungrateful.
Fifthly. That it has pleased Thee to accomplish Thy work happily in me; and, it is a favor which I have hoped with humble confidence from the tenderness of Thy most benign charity, and for which I adore Thee with gratitude, declaring, O sovereign, true, and only treasure of my soul, that I have in no way contributed to it by my merits, but that it is a true gift of Thy liberality.
All these benefits coming from Thine immense charity, and being so far above my nothingness, I am unable to give thanks for them worthily; but Thou has further assisted my misery, in exciting others, by the most condescending promises, to render thanksgivings to Thee, the merit of which may supply my deficiencies. For which may all creatures in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, glorify Thee and thank Thee continually!
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.
Spiritual Maxims, Page 36
The holiest, most ordinary, and most necessary practice of the spiritual life is that of the presence of God. It is to take delight in and become accustomed to His divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with Him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measure, especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even infidelity and sin. We must continually apply ourselves, so that all our actions, without exception, become a kind of brief conversation with God, not in a contrived manner, but coming from the purity and simplicity of our hearts.
So, if Alma is for you, check it out!
We have important moral and ethical problems to face in America and in the world. In order to make educated decisions, people need to be educated. Our present culture seems determined to keep the people, young and old, in the dark as to the life that lives and moves and has its being within a mother’s womb.
National Geographic will take you inside the womb, so that you can watch the reality. While Planned Parenthood, funded by U.S. dollars, enters into the most personal and profound decisions women can make, offers less than the reality. For the woman making a life changing decision, a decision that will impact, for better or worse, how she thinks and feels about herself and others,especially her own child, Planned Parenthood obscures the facts in favor of its own agenda. Planned Parenthood will, for instance, turn the monitor away from the pregnant mother during a sonogram procedure. Why trouble the client with the fact within the womb of their client, an actual picture of the truth, the infant/fetus growing within them. Why is that? Could it be that seeing is believing and believing can effect a decision to abort, when such a decision would effect the financial bottom line of this booming mega-business?
Our schools are no better. Values-free education is of no value when it comes to living a moral, ethical human life. Giving teenagers less than science, and telling them less than the actuality of pregnancy and person-hood is to fail them. We propagandize them, when we pretend they will not be effected by decisions that society makes for them in lieu of the education that can with present technology show them, in flesh and blood, not only the life in the womb, but abortion as it really is.
When the young teenager is aborted of the baby she carries within her, she sees it and feels it, and then has to live with it. What teacher, lawmaker, journalist or councilor has prepared her for this reality, rather than failed her in the name of compassion and/or convenience? False compassion leaves scars too deep to be helped by a brochure hastily given before dismissing the girl to make way for their next act of “mercy?”
The education needed for today’s moral and ethical decisions goes beyond the facts of pregnancy to the heavy lifting science touching on embryonic stem cell research. Here journalistic misinformation and purposeful skewing of the facts muddy the waters. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke of “The Evil of Embryo Destruction – In embryonic stem cell research, end does not justify the means.”
Commenting on journalistic integrity Chaput responses to the Denver Post:
In the debate over federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, some of the massive media coverage has been fair, accurate and thorough, but much of it — too much of it — has fallen short of reasonable journalistic standards.
By far the most troubling piece I’ve seen was the editorial, “Zealotry vs. science,” published by the Denver Post….. in this case, the Post used bombast and misleading information to argue its support for federally funded embryonic stem cell research in a way reminiscent of a not-very-bright bully.”
Ed Morrisey talks about the issue here with more from Archbishop Chaput
You don’t usually get to hear a Lutheran congregation holler an, “Amen” or “Preach it, Brother. ” Today was no different, but the minister seemed to want one. I was visiting with the Lutherans and the minister confessed that the one time he could remember that someone called out, “Amen, Brother”, it caught him so by surprise that it totally threw him into confusion. Now, however, Jesus was talking plain in the Gospel and the minister felt he could use a reminder from the pews to, “Make it plain; make it plain!” He was preaching John 3:16, “the Bible in a nutshell.”
The evening before, I heard a priest of the Roman Catholic Church preach it. He truly kept it simple. He said,
“Life is short. Hell is for Eternity. Think about it!” He sat down. That was it! Talk about nutshells.
My Lutheran friend said a bit more, before remembering his injunction to himself, “Make it plain!” The plain fact was that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” The minister said that the love He bore us was not the stuff of “warm fuzzies” but “agape”, that to die for love that willing died for all mankind; sparing not a drop of blood, or leaving a breathe unspent.
The sermon in my head reminded me, Jesus plainly and emphatically proclaimed that verse, now made famous by placards at football games and verse17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” However, not many people finish the message. Jesus’ “make it plain” message, was also recorded by John in chapter 3:18-19.
No “warm fuzzies” here, either, only the uncomfortable part of the Truth, John 3:18-19.
“Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.”
Jesus spoke the whole Truth and so should we because: “Life is short. Hell is for Eternity. Think about it!”
Archbishop Charles J, Chaput, speaking in Toronto -excerpt:
The “separation of Church and state” does not mean — and it can never mean — separating our Catholic faith from our public witness, our political choices and our political actions. That kind of separation would require Christians to deny who we are; to repudiate Jesus when he commands us to be “leaven in the world” and to “make disciples of all nations.” That kind of radical separation steals the moral content of a society. It’s the equivalent of telling a married man that he can’t act married in public. Of course, he can certainly do that, but he won’t stay married.
Getting to Nebraska, we passed a lot of dry, brown land. Colorful Colorado was a grayish tan. But here and there bright green fields told you things were ready to burst out at the first fall of rain.
On the surface things can look bleak. Beneath the surface, they are ready to pop. What I have to keep reminding myself is that life is thriving on planet Earth. God is in His heaven and that makes all the difference. Somewhere the bountiful and beautiful is happening, maybe not here, perhaps in distant, hidden places, but it’s happening and its abundant! While, there are dry spells, and dormant periods with things that go wrong, other things are so very right.
Change, for all my discomfort, is as ordinary as air. I know that if it’s happening, at very least, God is permitting it. He always has a plan and I don’t understand simply because He hasn’t run it past me. That does make even the present dilemma a work in progress – mysterious design and all that.
In the world or in the Church, it all hangs together. We are waiting for rain. John Paul II spoke of a Springtime for the Church and I believe that now, in this very dark hour, we are actually living it. Beneath the materialism and relativism and all those other ism’s, is a harvest in the making. It waits, perhaps, on laborers and a rain of prayer, but it none-the- less is hanging fire.
I find my Springtime in my prayer. Whether my experience of prayer is dry or consoling, doesn’t matter, anymore. I am praying. Day by day, I’m just doing it…. and I’m not alone in this. Whoever is waiting on change can actually move the hands of God in His heaven, turning the dreary grey of their waiting, into a poppin’ Springtime.
For me, it’s hidden but it’s happening. For each of us, it’s a “Just do it!” thing, hanging on a decision. What you don’t see, none-the-less, is building beneath the surface of our day to day. Days past, present and to come, days for forgiving, repenting, and imploring; all prayer, all the time. Springtime will come without me, but don’t want to miss it. I want to run through the fields and feel it in my soul.