A Time to Pray, Pray, Pray–Our Lady of Zeitoun

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

Today is a Great and Glorious Day

Today is a great and glorious day, a day in which to love with all praise and thanksgiving our Lord and His Most precious Mother. Today two holy events meet, the Ascension of the resurrected Jesus and the first of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13th in Portugal.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s address  in Portugal:

In truth, the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a monocultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. In such circles are found some believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which builds barriers before Christian inspiration. And yet, dear brothers, may all those who defend the faith in these situations, with courage, with a vigorous Catholic outlook and in fidelity to the magisterium, continue to receive your help and your insightful encouragement in order to live out, as faithful lay men and women, their Christian freedom.

In Times of Darkness – The Cross

A Prayer for the World

Lord Jesus, let flow from Your precious wounds opened in Your Crucifixion and Death on the Cross, a fresh torrent of Love and Mercy upon the world.  Like stars lighting up the sky as did the Star of Bethlehem, let Your Light proceed from the nail holes in that eternal Wood on which you hung.  Planted Now in Heaven, may that Tree bear fruit ever sweet and fresh to the world for whose Sin You willingly died. Amen.

Words of Jesus to St. Faustina

“All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be a great darkness over the whole earth. Then the sign of the Cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.”

15 Prayers of St. Bridget


Celebrating My Feastday!

My middle name is Concetta.  Growing up my mom translated it as “Constance” which I always liked because I felt called to be “constant” in my faith.  I think that helped me try harder.  This year I looked up “Concetta” and found:

CONCETTA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian

Italian cognate of CONCEPCIÓN

CONCEPCIÓN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Spanish

Pronounced: kawn-thep-THYON (Spanish), kawn-sep-SYON (Latin American Spanish)

Means “conception” in Spanish. This name is given in reference to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

What a gift this late in life to find yet another call on my life.  I’ve worn the Miraculous Medal since childhood and now I feel a bit closer to the mystery of what God has in mind for me. So I celebrate this day in an even more personal way.

That brings me to the other side of celebration. As I was heading off to Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and my Feastday, I was greeted by an icy driveway, and lots of slipping and sliding.  Treacherous as the roads and walks were,though, what a delight it was to make it through the church doors and have my heart lifted by the stalwart souls packing the pews. Sacrifice and celebration seem to go hand in hand.

The winds are still blowing outside and now the roads are littered with tumble weed.  What joy! Crazy as it my seems, when it costs me a bit,  I value the moment all the more.

Who Do You Worship?

Can’t say it any better than Mel Gibson, Tim Hughes and Jim Caviezel:

Loosing the World of Face to Face?

How much of your world is face to face?  Twitter, Facebook,virtual networking, email; all “thin community”.  “Thick community” is eye to eye, face to face and human.

Os Guinness says that four things are important to humans: meaning, belonging, identity (Who am I?) and  purpose (What am I here for?) Reminding me of Socrates’ “The unreflected life is not worth living.” Guinness writes:

“We are, quite literally, spread thin across space and time, potentially everywhere and nowhere at once. We thus tend to have, in the words of Gilbert Meilaender, ‘not an individual identity, but fragments of experience; not the narrative of a life that is in some sense a whole, but a decentered flow of experience.’ “

As I peek in on Facebook, I leave feeling as though I don’t know anyone anymore, just shouts and waves as comments and faces rush by. (Twitter’s even worse!)  Am I alone in feeling this?

Guinness has an engaging discussion:  “Survival of the fastest: Living sanely when life is fired point blank.” on the Veritas Forum .

Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

A Prayer written by St. Ephrem the Syrian:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Lady of Fatima for Today

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

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

The Silent Spring: Feminism – Planned Parenthood – The Pill

Humanae Vitae could be called, “Truth and Consequences.”  With prophetic clarity, Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Letter on the Regulation of Birth, delineated the changes that would overtake society with the  artificial control of birth.

In 2008 the German Federal Statistics Office’s vice-president,Walter Rademacher, was quoted by Agence France-Presse saying: “The fall in the population (of Germany) can no longer be stopped.” Life Site News reported “The population losses faced by Germany reflect a trend occurring across Europe–The European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat has predicted an overall drop in Europe’s population of 7 million people by 2050.

The Population Reference Bureau’s 2008 World Population data sheet and its summary report offer detailed information about country, regional, and global population patterns.”Nearly all of world population growth is now concentrated in the world’s poorer countries,” said Bill Butz, PRB’s president. “Even the small amount of overall growth in the wealthier nations will largely result from immigration.”

Some points of interest: NoSpeedBumps writes :

… Germany has one of the largest populations of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, with a Muslim community of over 3 million. That trend is expected to continue, leading some demographic trend-watchers to warn that the country is well on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050, Deutsche Welle reported.

The Brussels Journal reported last month that one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families by 2025. There are an estimated 50 million Muslims living in Europe today–that number is expected to double over the next twenty years.

With the fanaticism of religious zealots, Feminism and Planned Parenthood, continue to preach their doctrines that would set mankind free to just “be” without the hindrance of Faith, God, or social pressure.  Am I paranoid wondering how free or tolerated, non-muslims will be in a world with the new demographics of 2050. Even One World enthusiasts might wonder, can the nations hold their own, their own identity or posterity and even faith?

The next generation faces many decisions and morality matters.  Truth and consequences oblige even those who are disinterested, too busy to care, or otherwise engaged in life pursuits.

Weapons of War – Hot Coals

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 end
of their resources……..when they heard that Aslyn was
“on the move”.  Of course, they still had great battles
ahead 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.

Susan Boyle – Beauty Beyond Skin-deep

The Anchoress writes: Why Susan Boyle matters so much.

I’ve given it is some thought, too.  My take goes like this.  We all feel at some level like nobodies in need of affirmation.  Some of us live our entire lives trying hard, but unsure even of our successes.  I know my strengths, but they are not necessarily in demand.  Sometimes, I’m the only one clapping, and then again, I wonder why I bother at all.  As long as we’re living, as long as we’re still trying, at least, we are in the game. We haven’t given up. Now, to me, Susan is like Judgment Day.  Finally, we find out Someone is aware; Someone notices; Someone is clapping loudly and eternally.

I hope and pray Susan doesn’t get messed up since she is so beautiful just as she  is.

Listen again

Prepared by Repentance -Enabled by Faith

At Easter, we see the Resurrected Lord and are bathed in the Light of His conquering Love.  The Church places Jesus before the eyes of our hearts.  It is precisely because, only a few days ago, we beheld His pain and suffering, His Love unto Death, that we can grasp the triumph of His Love, this Agape.

Carmel is a reminder that Love  must be lived to be authentic.  Not that we can live it with perfection, though that is the Call, but that we try day by day in all humility.  For me, it is always beginning anew.  Repentance prepares us and faith enables us.

The Secular Carmelites share in Meditations from Carnel the words of  Pere Jacques:

“We are at Carmel only for this:  to love!
To love, of course, requires that we give proof of our love.  This love expresses itself in constant prayer.  I say “constant,” because this state of prayer must be our life not for only two hours a day, but all day long.  Our life must be a constant, silent prayer that rises unceasingly to God.  That is what constitutes our duty in life.
We must not confuse this state of prayer with religious sentimentality, or with pious feelings unrelated to authentic prayer, which can sometimes be piercingly painful.  That love, which is our life’s duty, must express itself in vibrant, zealous deeds, all aspects of which compel our careful consideration.
Only with deepest humility can we recognize how far we are from our goal.  Only those souls who have attained a lofty level of holiness can truly acknowledge how far they still are from their total fulfillment.  For example, the Cure of Ars considered himself more wretched than the notorious sinners to whom he ministered.  He realized that many of these fallen souls, had they received the same graces that he had received, would perhaps surpass him in holiness.  Only with humility can we recognize the torpor of our love.
Prayer is our primary duty.  Prayer is the reason why God has placed us on earth.  We learn truly to prayer, when we are in the presence and company of Christ.  Therefore, we must contemplate Christ for long periods of a time and seek him our persistently.  Consider those closest to Christ.  Saint John the Apostle grasped what was indispensable for a clear understanding of his master.  John never tired of probing and querying Christ.  We can see how John thus gained richer insights and fuller explanations, precisely because he went to the bother of approaching and asking Christ to clarify each day’s lesson.  I picture John, walking close behind Christ, as he made his way about the Holy Land.  Thus, John came to gain a wealth of intimate knowledge, which the other apostles did not acquire.  Herein lies the explanation for the special character of the fourth Gospel.  While the other apostles traveled across the then known world on their missionary journeys, John’s unique apostolate was to remain close to the Virgin Mary, whom Christ had entrusted to him.  Thus were these two great souls conjoined in love and prayer”.
In silent solitude, let us seek to realize that we truly can be in contact with God.  It is God whom we should aim to encounter in prayer.  It is God who is both the breath and the fulfillment of our life.  Amen.”

Holy Saturday – Ancient Homily

From an Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
Source Universalis

Console Jesus in the Garden


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Holy Thursday – Agony

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

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

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

Wired for Sound & Listening

There is no doing justice to one of Fr. Jeff’s homilies, but not to try is to leave you without the tickling touch of heaven.  He usually is very personal with bits and pieces from his life, this time as a national guard chaplain.  Last week brought the realities of the motor pool to bear on his celebration of the Mass.  He went head to head with the jet sounds of an air pump.  He eventually had to scrap a “really wonderful sermon” (laughing at his humility) in the loosing battle for volume dominance.

The experience was not without its reward.  Fr. Jeff came away thinking of the noisy society that clamors with sound bites and distraction for our conscious attention, while actually driving us to distraction and semi-consciousness.

Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back. (Isaiah 50:4-5)

With the words from the scripture still echoing in our ears, Fr. Jeff reminded us of the still small voice that morning after morning speaks to us and the Lord who “opens my ear that I may hear.”

All this week, we will be hearing the salvation story retold once again. Will it be received as so much noise, something we’ve heard before with no special clarity of nuance or message.  Will we “hear the subtleties of the orchestra for the life of our soul and hearts.”

Here again, Fr. Jeff got personal.  This time it was the $40 ear buds he was coaxed to buy with promises of sounds he’d never heard before. “Sure”, he thought somewhat cynically, but took the bait, none-the-less.  He sprang for the pricey thingies.

Once wired for sound, Fr. Jeff listened to his music and heard sonorous sounds he’d never heard before, nuances and subtleties, tone and clarity.  He’d paid the price, and it was worth every penny !  For us in church this morning, it was a clarion call to listen again, to incline an an open ear.  I think of the young apostle John with his ear to our Lord’s heart at the Last Supper.

Jesus’ story is the same year after year but there are subtleties and an ever newness for us this brand new day.  Be conscious, by a prayer and an act of the will! “Morning after morning, he opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back”

Waste Not – Want Not – Forever

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.”

My Desires Are Infinite – Carmel

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!”

Meditations from Carmel:

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

Hidden Grace of the Sacrament

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

Happier Than the Blessed Mother?

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

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

Making the Ordinary Holy

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

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

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

"Here are my little rubrics:

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


Something Bigger Than Ourselves

I’m thinking about Fr. Jeff’s homily.  He was serious today, though he always is,so much so, it makes me laugh hearing his mental gymnastics.  Today he got straight to the point, however.  The point being: haven’t we all felt a part of something bigger than ourselves?

Some times changes in direction happen quickly, even with just one impulsive decision.  I guess all the other choices in our lives leads us to make that decision, so impulsive or not, it’s more than happenstance, it’s who we are at the moment. With that said, Fr. Jeff spoke of God breaking into the world He had created and wanting, at this moment in Time, to renew it.  He offers a Covenant, which if lived out in the lives of this people, peculiar to the Lord, His Chosen People, would cause all peoples to look on them and desire their God.

Fr.Jeff said, “God’s modus operandi has not changed. Human history is repeating this scenario day after day.” We are called to live exemplary lives.  What a dreamer God must be!  That’s the vision, though.  When Jesus faced the pharisees and said “I Am” they had a choice to make.  They could recognize Him as God, the new Moses, and follow Him…….. or stone him.  You know how it goes from here, from bad to worse.  “Stone him!” they say.” Later it becomes, “Crucify him!”

Jesus confronts us,when we least expect it, and confounds us, as he did the pharisees.  We are unprepared at many junctures in our lives and being unprepared, caught of guard, or rebellious, with the pharisees and mob, we holler, “Stone him!”  Thankfully, moments of reflection follow in our lives, changes in course, second chances.  The Jews got it wrong, but St. Paul promises a day when their blindness will end.  The Church is the New Israel, a second chance at Covenant.  We, too, have a hard time getting it right, but we have the promise made to the Church, “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”Matthew 16:18

The Reading from Genesis 17:3-9 was:

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him:
“My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations.
No longer shall you be called Abram;
your name shall be Abraham,
for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
kings shall stem from you.
I will maintain my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
throughout the ages as an everlasting pact,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you
and to your descendants after you
the land in which you are now staying,
the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession;
and I will be their God.”

must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

God also said to Abraham:
“On your part, you and your descendants after you

The Gospel was:

Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
John 8: 51-59


Dark Days Ahead

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.

Glance of Heaven

vladimir1

Virgin of Vladimir copyright J.Nelander

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

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

Morning – A Time for Prayer

Psalm 143: 8-11

In the morning let me know your love
For I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk;
To you I lift up my soul.

Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
For you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
In ways that are level and smooth.

For you name’s sake, Lord, save my like;
In your justice save my soul from distress.

Meditation from Carmel

God does not ask a great deal from us.  A brief remembrance from time to time. A brief act of adoration occasionally to ask Him for his grace,or offer Him your sufferings.  At other times to thank him for the graces He has given you and is giving you. In the midst of your work find consolation in Him as often as possible. During your meals and conversations occasionally lift up your heart to Him The least little remembrance of Him will always be most agreeable.  You need not shout out.  He is closer to us than we may think.

A meditation by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Letter 9 –  page 69)

The Whole Truth – Make it Plain, Brother!

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!”

Joan of Arc – A Prayer For Lent

Asked at her trial if she was in God’s grace:

“If I am not, may God put me there, and if I am, may God so keep me! I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I was not in His grace.”

Mark Twain said of her:

“She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honest was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; … she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true in an age that was false to the core; … she was of a dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation…”