Prayers Forever Answered

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...

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Saints have prayed prayers,

Prayers hanging over Time,

Still being answered:

“God protect Your Church.”

“God spare Your People.”

“God forgive Sin.”

“God make holy.”

“God preserve and enlighten.”

Prayers that never end

Prayers forever answered.

 

by Joann Nelander

The Thought of Heaven

From The Sinner’s Guide
By Venerable Louis de Granada

The Thought of Heaven, the Third of the Four Last Things

A motive no less powerful than those we have enumerated is the thought of Heaven. This is the reward of virtue, and in it we must distinguish two things: the excellence and beauty of the abode promised us, which is no other than the empyreal heavens, and the perfection and beauty of the Sovereign King who reigns there with His elect.

But though no tongue can fully express the splendor and riches of the heavenly kingdom, we will endeavor to describe its beauty as well as our limited capacities will allow. Let us, therefore, first consider the grand end for which it was created, which will enable us to conceive some idea of its magnificence.

God created it to manifest His glory. Though “the Lord hath made all things for himself,” (Prov. 16:4) yet this is particularly true of Heaven, for it is there that His glory and power are most resplendent. We are told in Scripture that Assuerus, whose kingdom included one hundred twenty-seven provinces, gave a great feast, which lasted one hundred eighty days, for the purpose of manifesting his splendor and power. So the Sovereign King of the universe is pleased to celebrate a magnificent feast, which continues, not for one hundred eighty days only, but for all eternity, to manifest the magnificence of His bounty, His power, His riches, His goodness.

It is of this feast that the prophet speaks when he tells us, “The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees.” (Is. 25:6). By this we are to understand that He will lavish upon His elect all the riches of the heavenly country and inebriate them with unutterable delights. Since this feast is prepared to manifest the greatness of God’s glory, which is infinite, what must be the magnificence of this feast and the variety and splendor of the riches He displays to the eyes of His elect?

We will better appreciate the grandeur of Heaven if we consider the infinite power and boundless riches of God Himself. His power is so great that with a single word He created this vast universe, and with a single word He could again reduce it to its original nothingness. A single expression of His will would suffice to create millions of worlds as beautiful as ours, and to destroy them in one instant.

Moreover, His power is exercised without effort or exertion; it costs Him no more to create the most sublime seraphim than to create the smallest insect. With Him, to will is to accomplish. Therefore, if the power of the King who calls us to His kingdom be so great; if such be the glory of His holy Name; if His desire to manifest and communicate this glory be so great, what must be the splendor of the abode where He wills to display, in its fullness, His divine magnificence?

Nothing can be wanting to its perfection, for its Author is the Source of all riches, all power, and all wisdom. What must be the beauty of that creation in the formation of which are combined the almighty power of the Father, the infinite wisdom of the Son, the inexhaustible goodness of the Holy Spirit?

Another consideration no less striking is that God has prepared this magnificence not only for His glory, but for the glory of His elect. “Whosoever shall glorify me, him will I glorify.” (1Kg. 2:30). “Thou hast subjected all things under his feet,” cries out the psalmist (Ps. 8:8); and this we see verified in the most striking manner among the saints. Witness Josue, whose word arrests the sun in its course, thus showing us, as the Scripture says, “God obeying the voice of man.” (Jos. 10:14). Consider the prophet Isaias bidding King Ezechias choose whether he will have the sun go forward or backward in its course, for it was in the power of God’s servant to cause either. (4Kg. 20:9).

Behold Elias closing the heavens, so that there was no rain but at his will and prayer. And not only during life, but even after death, God continues to honor the mortal remains of His elect; for do we not read in Scripture that a dead body which was thrown by highwaymen into the tomb of Eliseus was brought to life by contact with the bones of the prophet? (4Kg. 13:21). Did not God also honor in a marvelous manner the body of St. Clement? On the day that this generous defender of the Faith suffered, the sea was opened for a distance of three miles to allow the people to pass to the place of martyrdom to venerate the sacred remains. Is it not from a like motive that the Church has instituted a feast in honor of St. Peter’s chains, to show us how God wills to honor the bodies of His servants, since we are to reverence their very chains?

A still more marvelous proof of this was the power of healing the sick communicated to the shadow of the same Apostle. Oh! Admirable goodness! God confers upon His Apostle a power which He Himself did not exercise. Of St. Peter alone is this related. But if God be pleased thus to honor the saints on earth, though it is but a place of toil and labor, who can tell the glory which He has reserved for them in His kingdom, where He wills to honor them, and through them to glorify Himself?

The Holy Scriptures teach us also with what liberality God rewards the services we render Him. We are told that when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord: because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is by the sea shore; thy seed shall possess the gates of their enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:16-18). Was not this a reward befitting such a Master? God is sovereign in His rewards, as well as in His punishments.

We read also that David, reflecting one night that while he dwelt in a house of cedar, the Ark of the Covenant was kept in a poor tent, resolved to build it a more fitting habitation; and the next day the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to promise, in His name, the following magnificent reward: Because thou hast thought of building me a house, I swear to thee that I will build one for thee and thy posterity which shall have no end, nor will I ever remove my mercies from it. (Cf. 2Kg. 7). We see how faithfully His promise was fulfilled, for the kingdom of Israel was governed by the princes of the house of David until the coming of the Messias, who from that time has reigned, and shall reign for all eternity.

Heaven, then, is that superabundant reward which the faithful will receive for their good works. It is the manifestation of the Divine munificence, and of its greatness and glory we ought to have a lively appreciation. Another consideration which will help us to form some idea of the eternal beatitude promised us is the price which God, who is so liberal, required for it. After we had forfeited Heaven by sin, God, who is so rich and magnificent in His rewards, would restore it to us only at the price of the Blood of His Divine Son. The death of Christ, therefore, gave us life; His sorrows won for us eternal joy; and, that we might enter into the ranks of the celestial choirs, He bore the ignominy of crucifixion between two thieves.

Who, then, can sufficiently value that happiness to obtain which God shed the last drop of His Blood, was bound with ignominious fetters, overwhelmed with outrages, bruised with blows, and nailed to a cross? But besides all these, God asks on our part all that can be required of man. He tells us that we must take up our cross and follow Him; that if our right eye offend us we must pluck it out; that we must renounce father and mother, and every creature that is an obstacle to the Divine will. And after we have faithfully complied with His commands, the Sovereign Remunerator still tells us that the enjoyment of Heaven is a gratuitous gift. “I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end,” He says by the mouth of St. John (Apoc. 21:6); “to him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

Since God so liberally bestows His gifts upon the sinner as well as the just in this life, what must be the inexhaustible riches reserved for the just in the life to come? If He be so bountiful in His gratuitous gifts, how munificent will He be in His rewards?

It may further help us to conceive a faint image of this eternal glory to consider the nobility and grandeur of the empyreal Heaven, our future country. It is called in Scripture the land of the living, in contrast, doubtless, to our sad country, which may truly be called the land of the dying. But if, in this land of death inhabited by mortal beings, so much beauty and perfection are found, what must be the splendor and magnificence of that heavenly country whose inhabitants will live forever?

Cast your eyes over the world and behold the wonders and beauties with which it is filled. Observe the immensity of the blue vault of heaven; the dazzling splendor of the sun; the soft radiance of the moon and stars; the verdant beauty of the earth, with its treasures of precious metals and brilliant gems; the rich plumage of the birds; the grandeur of the mountains; the smiling beauty of the valleys; the limpid freshness of the streams; the majesty of the great rivers; the vastness of the sea, with all the wonders it contains; the beauty of the deep lakes, those eyes of the earth, reflecting on their placid bosoms the starry splendor of the heavens; the flower-enameled fields, which seem a counterpart of the starlit firmament above them. If in this land of exile we behold so much beauty to enrapture our soul, what must be the spectacle which awaits us in the haven of eternal rest?

Compare the inhabitants of the two countries, if you would have a still stronger proof of the superiority and finite grandeur of the heavenly country. This earth is the land of death; Heaven is the land of immortality. Ours is the habitation of sinners, Heaven the habitation of the just. Ours is a place of penance, an arena of combat; Heaven is the land of triumph, the throne of the victor, the “city of God.” “Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God.” (Ps. 86:3). Immeasurable is thy greatness, incomparable the beauty of thy structure. Infinite thy price; most noble thy inhabitants, sublime thy employments; most rich art thou in all good, and no evil can penetrate thy sacred walls. Great is thy Author, high the end for which thou wast created, and most noble the blessed citizens who dwell in thee.

All that we have hitherto said relates only to the accidental glory of the saints. They possess another glory incomparably superior, which theologians call the essential glory. This is the vision and possession of God Himself. For St. Augustine tells us that the reward of virtue will be God Himself, the Author of all virtue, whom we will untiringly contemplate, love, and praise for all eternity. (City of God, 22, 30). What reward could be greater than this? It is not Heaven, or earth, or any created perfection, but God, the Source of all beauty and all perfection. The blessed inhabitants of Heaven will enjoy in Him all good, each according to the degree of glory he has merited. For since God is the Author of every good that we behold in creatures, it follows that He possesses in Himself all perfection, all goodness, in an infinite degree. He possesses them, because otherwise He could not have bestowed them on creatures. He possesses them in an infinite degree, because as His Being is infinite, so also are His attributes and His perfections.

God, then, will be our sovereign beatitude and the fulfillment of all our desires. In Him we will find the perfections of all creatures exalted and transfigured. In Him we will enjoy the beauty of all the seasons – the balmy freshness of spring, the rich beauty of summer, the luxurious abundance of autumn, and the calm repose of winter. In a word, all that can delight the senses and enrapture the soul will be ours in Heaven. “In God,” says St. Bernard, “our understandings will be filled with the plenitude of light; our wills with an abundance of peace; and our memories with the joys of eternity. In this abode of all perfection, the wisdom of Solomon will appear but ignorance; the beauty of Absolom deformity; the strength of Samson weakness; the longest life of man a brief mortality; the wealth of kings but indigence.”

Why, then, O man, will you seek straws in Egypt? Why will you drink troubled waters from broken cisterns, when inexhaustible treasures, and the fountain of living water springing up into eternal life, await you in Heaven? Why will you seek vain and sensual satisfactions from creatures, when unalterable happiness may be yours? If your heart craves joy, raise it to the contemplation of that Good which contains in Itself all joys. If you are in love with this created life, consider the eternal life which awaits you above. If the beauty of creatures attracts you, live that you may one day possess the Source of all beauty, in whom are life; and strength, and glory, and immortality, and the fullness of all our desires. If you find happiness in friendship and the society of generous hearts, consider the noble beings with whom you will be united by the tenderest ties for all eternity. If your ambition seeks wealth and honors, make the treasures and the glory of Heaven the end of all your efforts. Finally, if you desire freedom from all evil and rest from all labor, in Heaven alone can your desires be gratified.

God, in the Old Law, ordained that children should be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, teaching us thereby that, on the day of the general resurrection which will follow the short space of this life, He will cut off the miseries and sufferings of those who, for love of Him, have circumcised their hearts by cutting off all the sinful affections and pleasures of this world. Now, who can conceive a happier existence than this, which is exempt from every sorrow and every infirmity?

“In Heaven,” says St. Augustine, “we shall cease to feel the trials of want or sickness. Pride or envy will never enter there. The necessity of eating or drinking will there be unknown. The desire for honors will never disturb our calm repose. Death will no longer reach body or soul, united as they will be with the Source of all life, which they will enjoy throughout a blessed immortality.” (Soliloq., 35). Consider, moreover, the glory and happiness of living in the company of the angels, contemplating the beauty of these sublime spirits; admiring the resplendent virtue of the saints, and the rewards with which the obedience of the patriarchs and the hope of the prophets have been crowned; the brilliant diadems of the martyrs, dyed with their own blood; and the dazzling whiteness of the robes with which the virgins are adorned.

But what tongue can describe the beauty and the majesty of the Sovereign Monarch who reigns in their midst? “If by daily enduring fresh torments,” says St. Augustine (Manual., 15), “and even suffering for a time the pains of Hell, we were permitted for one day to contemplate this King in all His glory and enjoy the society of His elect, surely it would be a happiness cheaply purchased.”

What, then, can we say of the happiness of possessing these joys for all eternity? Conceive, if you can, the ravishing harmony of the celestial voices chanting the words heard by St. John: “Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.” (Apoc. 7:12). If the harmony of these voices will cause us such happiness, how we will rejoice at the unity that we will behold between soul and body! And this concord will be still more marked between angels and men, whilst between God and men the union will be so close that we can form no adequate idea of it. What glory, then, will it be for the creature to find himself seated at the banquet of the King of kings, partaking of His table-that is, of His honor and His glory! Oh! Enduring peace of Heaven! Oh! Unalterable joy! Oh! Entrancing harmonies! Oh! Torrents of celestial delight, why are ye not ever present to the minds of those who labor and combat on earth?

To Greater Heights

Lift me to Your shoulder;
Carry me, henceforth.
I can see all things in a new way,
From my throne above the world.
Your Shepherd’s crook in view,
A sign of assurance,
Calming the sea, defeating the flesh,
Vanquishing the Foe.
Perched in Paradise,
I ride above the storm.
Battles won by stillness,
Flames quenched by Water from the Rock.
Carrying the one You love,
Bearing Your burden,
Loving Your labor,
Loving me.
I see the wound of Your Cross.
I see Blood,and Bone,
And I see me,
Carved in Your bruised
And beaten flesh,

Lifted to Your shoulder,
You carry me,
Onward and upward,
Unto greater heights,
Cross and throne,
One in God alone.

© 2012 Joann Nelander

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

Under My Roof

O my Lord,
My Friend,
Your saints labored so
To remove the roof
That stood between You
And their friend in need.

Here in this morning,
It was You,
Who labored,
In Your Sacrifice.

To enter under my roof,
You forgave me,
That nothing
Might stand in the way
Of Your coming to me,
In my need.

To my delight.
I am ,now, tabernacle,
Ciborium and chalice.
I hold You,
Body,mind soul
And divinity.
Under my roof.

Here in my heart,
You labored,
And now rest.
What joy!
What sweetness,
Having You
For this moment
Of holy time,
That I may be healed.

©2012 Joann Nelander All rights reserved

What the Catholic Vote Looks Like

Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.

RAnn of This That and the Other Thing hosts this  Catholic Carnival.

To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week.

 Make sure that post links back to  Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. Don’t forget to leave a link to your post at RAnn’s site.
Here are my contributions from the past week:

Graced to Be

I offer You, O Lord,
The ground of my being,
The deep from wither
My thoughts and prayers arise.

O Holy Spirit,
Hover over the abyss within,
To grace the land
Rising out of my chaos,
Like the signal blessing
Of the dove of peace,
And a new beginning
Over the waters
After the Flood.

Free me from sin and disorder,
That my unique soul
May shout for joy,
Even for the wonder
That I am,
That You rejoice
To reveal me to be
In true humility,
That I may awaken
To give You due
Honor and praise.

Break up the clods
Of my ignorance
And self-satisfaction.
Plow my field cross hatch,
Plant my furrows with gospel seed.
Water me
That I may be a garden
Of hidden delights,
And a comfort to You
In Your rest.

Check out My Books

http://www.blurb.com/books/3549444

Truth’s Army, Truth’s Bride

Truth was never far away.
It stood erect,
And with resolve,
Waited for the moment
Of my will’s consent.

It was relentless,
Devoid of error,
Stalwart and persistent.

Truth was the beacon
On the high mountain.
It appealed to me
On the level of the good.

It drew me
As home beckons the lost.
I journeyed closer,
But as the light
Revealed my tatters
I drew back,
Trapped by my choices.

Truth is a wedding garment,
That clothes inwardly,
As well as out.
My espousals never produced
A marriage of Truth and the holy.
In its stead, I’d wed
What I wanted.
Now, I feared our distance,
And what I had become.

Desiring the right,
Even if I was wrong,
I gathered courage to my breast
And risked all in the quest.

I shed my rags
And found a covering of prayer,
A robe of humility,
And came to Love
In holy fear.

Now, I am
Full of resolve,
A stalwart knight
On Truth’s high mountain,
Carrying lighted torch
To the Dark Valley,
Into caverns of deception.

Standing tall before the Foe,
Truth girds my waist,
And undertakes to speak
Light in the darkness.

I am become an army
On the plain,
As Truth marches not alone.
It goes forth,
Drawing with it men of valor,
Choosing the death of Pride,
And living as Truth’s Bride.

©2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

You Are the Music

Jesus, You are the music
Playing on the stage of my life.
You are the witness of my acts.
You are my faithful critic.

You behold and hold
My life up to Your Light
That its rays may reveal
The holes in my performance.

Thus seeing,
I wisely turn, and say,
Heal me.
Help me.
Act on my behalf,
For I still don’t know
How Love lives my life,
And plays in me,
Save You direct me.

©2012 Joann Nelander

Ceaseless Prayer

Ceaseless the prayer You desire of me.
Your Eyes behold me.
You wait for me to lift my eyes
From the world
To gaze heavenward,
To behold You smiling upon me.
You long for our eyes to meet
In an exchange of love
And longing.

Ceaseless prayer is no less
Than a return of Love’s attention,
Glances passed one to the Other,
Constancy of care,
Attentive watchfulness.

Hearts speak in wordless knowing
All the while willing to know and be known.
The Greater gifting the lesser
With nothing less than His own Life.

The world becomes a room
Filled with the Light You shed
As I become a candle
Held in the Hand of God,
Melting in a pool,
Readied for a new mold,
True to the goodness
God gives me,
As He beholds
His creation from eternity
And says throughout Time
“It is good. ”

©2012  Joann Nelander

All rights reserved

Pope John Paul II Quotes- Speaking on "Mary Co-Redemptrix"

"To Our Lady—the Coredemptrix—St. Charles turned with singularly revealing accents. Commenting on the loss of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple, he reconstructed the interior dialogue that could have run between the Mother and the Son, and he added, “You will endure much greater sorrows, O blessed Mother, and you will continue to live; but life will be for you a thousand times more bitter than death. You will see your innocent Son handed over into the hands of sinners . . . You will see him brutally crucified between thieves; you will see his holy side pierced by the cruel thrust of a lance; finally, you will see the blood that you gave him spilling. And nevertheless you will not be able to die!” (From the homily delivered in the Cathedral of Milan the Sunday after the Epiphany, 1584). (3)

From address on World Youth Day:

March 11, 1985

"At the Angelus hour on this Palm Sunday, which the Liturgy calls also the Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, our thoughts run to Mary, immersed in the mystery of an immeasurable sorrow.

Mary accompanied her divine Son in the most discreet concealment, pondering everything in the depths of her heart. On Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, in the vastness and in the depth of her maternal sacrifice, she had John, the youngest Apostle, beside her . . . .

May Mary our Protectress, the Co-redemptrix, to whom we offer our prayer with great outpouring, make our desire generously correspond to the desire of the Redeemer."

Guayaquil, Ecuador, on January 31, 1985:

"Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the “yes” of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption; . . . Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she “lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58) . . . .

In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ “to gather into one all the dispersed children of God” (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity . . . .
The Gospels do not tell us of an appearance of the risen Christ to Mary. Nevertheless, as she was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of his Resurrection. In fact, Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son. "

Speaking of  St. Bridget of Sweden (October 6, 1991), the John Paul stated:

"Birgitta looked to Mary as her model and support in the various moments of her life. She spoke energetically about the divine privilege of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She contemplated her astonishing mission as Mother of the Saviour. She invoked her as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Coredemptrix, exalting Mary’s singular role in the history of salvation and the life of the Christian people"

Papal audience of May 29, 1996

"Dearest brothers and sisters, in the month of May we raise our eyes to Mary, the woman who was associated in a unique way in the work of mankind’s reconciliation with God. According to the Father’s plan, Christ was to accomplish this work through his sacrifice. However, a woman would be associated with him, the Immaculate Virgin who is thus placed before our eyes as the highest model of cooperation in the work of salvation. . . .

The “Yes” of the Annunciation constituted not only the acceptance of the offered motherhood, but signified above all Mary’s commitment to service of the mystery of the Redemption. Redemption was the work of her Son; Mary was associated with it on a subordinate level. Nevertheless, her participation was real and demanding. Giving her consent to the angel’s message, Mary agreed to collaborate in the whole work of mankind’s reconciliation with God, just as her Son would accomplish it.

Feast of Corpus Christi, June 5, 1983

"Born of the Virgin to be a pure, holy and immaculate oblation, Christ offered on the Cross the one perfect Sacrifice which every Mass, in an unbloody manner, renews and makes present. In that one Sacrifice, Mary, the first redeemed, the Mother of the Church, had an active part. She stood near the Crucified, suffering deeply with her Firstborn; with a motherly heart she associated herself with his Sacrifice; with love she consented to his immolation (cf. Lumen Gentium, 58; Marialis Cultus, 20): she offered him and she offered herself to the Father. Every Eucharist is a memorial of that Sacrifice and that Passover that restored life to the world; every Mass puts us in intimate communion with her, the Mother, whose sacrifice “becomes present” just as the Sacrifice of her Son “becomes present” at the words of consecration of the bread and wine pronounced by the priest. "

Great Jubilee Year

"Daughter of Abraham in faith as well as in the flesh, Mary personally shared in this experience. Like Abraham, she too accepted the sacrifice of her Son, but while the actual sacrifice of Isaac was not demanded of Abraham, Christ drank the cup of suffering to the last drop. Mary personally took part in her Son’s trial, believing and hoping at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:25).

This was the epilogue of a long wait. Having been taught to meditate on the prophetic texts, Mary foresaw what awaited her and in praising the mercy of God, faithful to his people from generation to generation, she gave her own consent to his plan of salvation; in particular, she said her “yes” to the central event of this plan, the sacrifice of that Child whom she bore in her womb. Like Abraham, she accepted the sacrifice of her Son."

Read Dr. Mark Miravalle here for more

I Call You Friends

God has given us
A special place in His Heart.
He calls us “Friend.”

Do not doubt Him,
By judging yourself or others
Before the time of Judgment.

Wait upon God working in you and me
For our good, blessing,
And finally our perfection.

Strive to be a friend of God.
Be a good steward of His friendship,
And this precious time
Working in His Vineyard.

My God

When is the salutation “My God”,
More realized
Than when Jesus embraces us
In the reception of Eucharist?

St. Monica’s Dying

From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop
Let us gain eternal wisdom

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you knew that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. We had gone there after a long and wearisome journey to get away from the noisy crowd, and to rest and prepare for our sea voyage. I believe that you, Lord, caused all this to happen in your own mysterious ways. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead. We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth–for you are the Truth–what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man. We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.

That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said: “Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?”

I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: “Where was I?”

We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gaze steadily upon us and spoke further: “Here you shall bury your mother.” I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: “Look what he is saying.” Thereupon she said to both of us: “Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.” Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.
O God,
who console the sorrowful
and who mercifully accepted
the motherly tears of Saint Monica
for the conversion of her son Augustine,
grant us, through the intercession of them both,
that we may bitterly regret our sins and find the grace of your pardon.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Work of Love

Make of every heart
A tabernacle,
A holy space,
Home to Thee,
An ark,
A Mercy seat,
Where Cherubim
Spread their wings
And constantly adore.

May heaven alight
On one who prays,
And rest on that blessed soul,
As Pentecost anew.

Across the face of the earth
Find hallowed home,
Ciborium for Thy Blood,
Chalice to cup Thy loveliness,
And priestly hands to hold Thee aloft,
To smile upon Your world in dire need.

Be,  O, Bread of angels,
Ever present on Your altar,
Closer than my breath,
Friend and companion
Light and Bridegroom,
All in all,
Everywhere and everyone
Transforming,
Sinner to saint,
And temple of Your Holy Spirit.

©2012 Joann Nelander

 

Come Forth

Call to me, loudly command,
When you call me forth
From the grave of my sin,
I rejoice.

When, on the Last Day,
You call me forth from the tomb,
From my burial rest,
I shall jubilantly rejoice.

With the saints,
And angels to cheer me,
Invite and speak my name,
Command, “Come forth!”
Death shall cower and fall away,
And the perfume of sanctity
Attend me.

My cloud of witnesses
Testify to Your many mercies
Showered and shown me.

Then shall my heart sing
And the feet of my testimony dance
To the music of Your Kingdom
And the song of Mary,
Who sang lullabies in my rest
Upon Your breast.

©2012 Joann Nelander

Jesus, Haven of My Soul

Jesus, I place myself
In the holy confines
Of Your Sacred Heart.
Heart of my heart,
Draw heaven to me.

Surround me with friends
Of Your choosing,
That my mind might be full
Of the conversation of saints.

The world is so much with me.
It is temptress and shallow.
I long for the deep
Of Your thoughts,
To speak peace and refuge
In my wilderness.

You are the haven of my soul,
The Paradise once lost,
But now given
With my Daily Bread.

Exile holds no fear
For You surround me.
You are my consolation
And marrow of my bones,
Strength of my strength.

Your Holy Spirit comes to me
And turns my tears to laughter.
In a valley of vanity and pride,
Your Humanity and Humility
Take me by the hand and heart
To lead me home.

©2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

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.

Death is Strong – Love Stronger

From a treatise by Baldwin, bishop of Canterbury
Love is as strong as death

Death is strong, for it can rob us of the gift of life. Love too is strong, for it can restore us to a better life.

Death is strong, for it can strip us of this robe of flesh. Love too is strong, for it can take death’s spoils away and give them back to us.

Death is strong, for no man can withstand it. Love too is strong, for it can conquer death itself, soothe its sting, calm its violence, and bring its victory to naught. The time will come when death is reviled and taunted: O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?

Love is as strong as death because Christ’s love is the very death of death. Hence it is said: I will be your death, O death! I will be your sting, O hell! Our love for Christ is also as strong as death, because it is itself a kind of death: destroying the old life, rooting out vice, and laying aside dead works.

Our love for Christ is a return, though very unequal, for his love of us, and it is a likeness modeled on his. For he first loved us and, through the example of love he gave us, he became a seal upon us by which we are made like him. We lay aside the likeness of the earthly man and put on the likeness of the heavenly man; we love him as he has loved us. For in this matter he has left us an example so that we might follow in his steps.

That is why he says: Set me as a seal upon your heart. It is as if he were saying: “Love me as I love you. Keep me in your mind and memory, in your desires and yearnings, in your groans and sobs. Remember, man, the kind of being I made you; how far I set you above other creatures; the dignity I conferred upon you; the glory and honor with which I crowned you; how I made you only a little less than the angels and set all things under your feet. Remember not only how much I have done for you but all the hardship and shame I have suffered for you. Yet look and see: Do you not wrong me? Do you not fail to love me? Who loves you as I do? Who created and redeemed you but I?”

Lord, take away my heart of stone, a heart so bitter and uncircumcised, and give me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a pure heart. You cleanse the heart and love the clean heart. Take possession of my heart and dwell in it, contain it and fill it, you who are higher than the heights of my spirit and closer to me than my innermost self! You are the pattern of all beauty and the seal of all holiness. Set the seal of your likeness upon my heart! In your mercy set your seal upon my heart, God of my heart and the God who is my portion for ever! Amen.

Scary – “Lost Works” from Sermons of the Cure of Ars

LOST WORKS

How is it, my dear brethren, that so few Christians behave with one end only in view — to please God? Here is the reason, pure and simple. It is just that the vast majority of Christians are enveloped in the most shocking ignorance, so that, humanly speaking, they really do the very best they can.

The result is that if you were to compare their intentions with those of pagans, you would not find any difference. Ah, dear Lord, how many good works are lost for Heaven! Others who are a little better informed are interested only in the esteem of their fellow men, and they try to dissemble as much as they can: their exterior seems good, while interiorly they are filled with duplicity and evil. Yes, my dear brethren, we shall see at the Judgment that the largest section of Christians practiced a religion of whim or caprice only — that is to say, the greatest number of them practiced their religion merely from motives of routine, and very few sought God alone in what they did.

St Michael the Archangel

A poem honoring St. Michael the Archangel

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.

When the world cracked because of a sneer in heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.

Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.

When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.

Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.

He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the word.

by G K Chesteron

Audio or Video of Divine Mercy Chaplet

Click here for Audio of Chaplet of Divine Mercy or  Video of sung Chaplet

Incredible Miracle: U.S. Marine Saved by Saint Michael

Dear Mom,

I am writing to you from a hospital bed. Don’t worry, Mom, I am okay. I was wounded, but the doctor says that I will be up in no time.

But that’s not what I have to tell you, Mom. Something happened to me that I don’t dare tell anyone else for fear of their disbelief. But I have to tell you, the one person I can confide in, though even you may find it hard to believe.

You remember the prayer to Saint Michael that you taught me to pray when I was little: “Michael, Michael of the morning,…” Before I left home for Korea, you urged me to remember this prayer before any confrontation with the enemy. But you really didn’t have to remind me, Mom. I have always prayed it, and when I got to Korea, I sometimes said it a couple of times a day while marching or resting.

Well, one day, we were told to move forward to scout for Commies. It was a really cold day. As I was walking along, I perceived another fellow walking beside me, and I looked to see who it was.

He was a big fellow, a Marine about 6’4” and built proportionally. Funny, but I didn’t know him, and I thought I knew everyone in my unit. I was glad to have the company and broke the silence between us:

“Chilly today, isn’t it?” Then I chuckled because suddenly it seemed absurd to talk about the weather when we were advancing to meet the enemy.
He chuckled too, softly.

“I thought I knew everyone in my outfit,” I continued, “ but I have never seen you before.”

“No,” he agreed, “I have just joined. The name is Michael.”

“Really?! That’s mine, too.”

“I know,” the Marine said, “Michael, Michael of the morning….”

Mom, I was really surprised that he knew about my prayer, but I had taught  it to many of the other guys, so I supposed that the newcomer must have picked it up from someone else. As a matter of fact, it had gotten around to the extent that some of the fellows were calling me “Saint Michael.”

Then, out of the blue, Michael said, “There’s going to be trouble ahead.”

I wondered how he could know that. I was breathing hard from the march, and my breath hit the cold air like dense clouds of fog. Michael seemed to be in top shape because I couldn’t see his breath at all. Just then, it started to snow heavily, and soon it was so dense I could no longer hear or see the rest of my outfit. I got a little scared and yelled, “Michael!” Then I felt his strong hand on my shoulder and heard his voice in my ear, “It’s going to clear up soon.”

It did clear up, suddenly. And then, just a short distance ahead of us, like so many dreadful realities, were seven Commies, looking rather comical in their funny hats. But there was nothing funny about them now; their guns were steady and pointed straight in our direction.

“Down, Michael!!” I yelled as I dove for cover. Even as I was hitting the ground, I looked up and saw Michael still standing, as if paralyzed by fear, or so I thought at the time. Bullets were spurting all over the place, and Mom, there was no way those Commies could have missed at that short distance. I jumped up to pull him down, and then I was hit. The pain was like a hot fire in my chest, and as I fell, my head swooned and I remember thinking, “I must be dying…” Someone was laying me down, strong arms were holding me and laying me gently on the snow. Through the daze, I opened my eyes, and the sun seemed to blaze in my eyes. Michael was standing still, and there was a terrible splendor in his face. Suddenly, he seemed to grow, like the sun, the splendor increasing intensely around him like the wings of an angel. As I slipped into unconsciousness, I saw that Michael held a sword in his hand, and it flashed like a million lights.

Later on, when I woke up, the rest of the guys came to see me with the sergeant.

Saint Michael

“How did you do it, son?” he asked me.

“Where’s Michael?” I asked in reply.

“Michael who?” The sergeant seemed puzzled.

“Michael, the big Marine walking with me, right up to the last moment. I saw him there as I fell.”

“Son,” the sergeant said gravely, “you’re the only Michael in my unit. I hand-picked all you fellows, and there’s only one Michael. You. And son, you weren’t walking with anyone. I was watching you because you were too far off from us, and I was worried.

Now tell me, son,” he repeated, “how did you do it?”

It was the second time he had asked me that, and I found it irritating.

“How did I do what?”

“How did you kill those seven Commies? There wasn’t a single bullet fired from your rifle.”

“What?”

“Come on, son. They were strewn all around you, each one killed by a swordstroke.”

And that, Mom, is the end of my story. It may have been the pain, or the blazing sun, or the chilling cold. I don’t know, Mom, but there is one thing I am sure about. It happened.

Love your son,

Michael

The prayer to Saint Michael mentioned in the story titled, Incredible Miracle: U.S. Marine Saved by Saint Michael, seems to be this one:

Michael, Michael of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today,
And in time of temptation
Drive the devil away.
Amen.

Art credit

Live streaming video from Medjugorje

Live streaming video from Medjugorje

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

King of All Nations

Cover your eyes,
Lest you look on evil.
Stop your ears
Lest the fowl word assail.

The unthinkable
Has come to pass.
The forbidden
Have come to be.

The very air carries
The Tempter’s brood,
Sinister, in cloaked deceit.
Evil snakes in high places,
Surreptitious, in plans and plottings.

Look, and you will not see
The Perpetrator.
Sound the alarm,
But to meet mock outrage,
And the blind eye.

The pot once simmering
Has come to a boil,
No lid to contain,
No effort to constrain.

Prepare ye!
Prepare Ye!
With prayer,
And fasting,
Prepare ye!

From the Four Corners
Trumpet blasts,
Herald of battle,
A call to arms.

Arrows, tipped with prayer,
Fly heavenward,
Rising to hail the Almighty,
To bid bright Michael
To storm.

Let them descend as rain
To pierce the heart of Darkness
To rout the Foe
On the Terrible Day,
The Day of the Lord.

Mercy opens His Breast,
Revealing a Heart of Love.
Justice clothes the anawim
In plated armor.

Light from light
Fills the Earth
As Pentecost,
And Genesis meet.

A New Heaven
And New Earth to come,
As the King of All Nations
Arises in the East,
Prepared to mount His throne.

Prepare ye!
Prepare Ye!
With prayer,
And fasting,
Prepare ye!

©2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

Awake O Dreamer, Blaphemer

Man in his pride knows best.
So says the arrogant spirit
Because God made you
In His image,
You crack the door
Of your sciences,
For less than a peek,
And marvel at your prowess.
In awe, you assume
The accomplishment your own.

No thanks for eyes, ears,,
The touch, the smell,
The faculties of intellect
And will.

Mine, all it mine you say,
And set out in sinful disregard.
No honor to the Name,
Simple blasphemy your frame.

Wake up, O Dreamer
You revel in your ignorance,
While angels wait
To open your swollen,
Lustful eyes,
To your shame
And repentance.

O, Man,
Humbly gaze on Truth,
And purity’s delight.
Say but the word
That your soul may be healed.

©2012 Joann Nelander

People of Praise

Your people praise you, O Lord.
As points of light,
Scattered about
The surface of the Earth.
Together with angelic choirs,
That dot the firmament,
Your children sing.

With fish, and bird,
With rivers and seas,
With mountains,
And heavenly heights,
Creation sings in chorus,
Affirmation,
Acclamation,
And affection,
In sanctifying hosannas,
That fall as bountiful rain,
To water man and beast
With fruitful exaltation,
Multipling our delight,
As we magnify our God.

We are your mothers,
Fathers, sisters,
Brothers, friends
Of Your fold,
Returning praise,
And worship due
The Most High Lord
Of all creation.
In Your Light we
Become Your Light.

© 2012 Joann Nelander