Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It is up to me to answer for the great deeds of divine love

"God has given me so many gifts, so much strength and power, so great a richness in maturity and grace that there are no words to express - much less to measure - my gratitude. Now it is up to me to make answer for the great deeds of divine love. And in freedom. For God compels nobody - just as I myself cannot compel a beloved person to do anything. It must be out of love." -- Bl Karl Leisner

-- The Victory of Father Karl by Otto Pies, SJ

Memorial of St Jerome

"St Jerome, son of Eusebius, was born at Stridonium in Dalmatian in 329, during the reign of Emperor Constantine. He was baptized at an early age in Rome, in which city he was instructed in the liberal arts by Donatus and other learned men. Without a proper guide he neglected to lead a virtuous life, as he later confessed and bitterly lamented.

Desirous of further knowledge, Jerome decided to travel. In his first journeys he was led by the mercy of God into the paths of virtue and salvation. He first visited Gaul, where he met some learned, pious men, and he copied many sacred books with his own hand. He arrived at Trier shortly before the year 370, and it was in this city that the sentiments of piety which he had imbibed in his early youth were awakened, and his heart was entirely converted to God. He then proceeded to Greece, where he studied oratory and philosophy, and made friends with some of the greatest theologians. He studied under St Gregory of Nazianzen at Constantinople, by whom he was taught sacred learning, and then he returned to Rome to answer God's call. After making a vow of celibacy, he went to Antioch; then fled to the wild Syrian desert, where he spent four years reading the Scriptures, contemplating heavenly beatitude, and constantly afflicting his body by abstinence, weeping, and every kind of penance. His health impaired, he left the desert and went to Antioch, where he received Holy Orders from the hands of Paulinus, Patriarch of that city, before the end of 377. He then returned to Rome to settle the disputes that had arisen between certain Bishops, and Pope Damasus engaged him to assist in writing his ecclesiastical letters. After the Pontiff's death, envy and calumny were hurled against St Jerome. His reputation was attached most outrageously. After staying several years in Rome, St Jerome, yearning for solitude, returned to the East in 385. He visited St Epiphanus at Cyprus, and then stopped in Antioch on his way to Palestine. The following spring he went to Egypt to improve himself in sacred learning and in the perfect observances of the monastic life, after which he returned to Palestine.

According to St Augustine, St Jerome had a remarkable knowledge not only of Latin and Greek, but also of Hebrew and Chaldaic, and had read almost every author. He translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew, and, at the command of Pope Damasus, the New Testament from the Greek. Besides this, he translated into Latin the writings of many learned men, and enriched Christian learning from his own pen.

The Pelagians the year following the Council of Diospolis, in 416, sent bandits to Bethlehem to assault the holy Monks and Nuns who lived under the direction of St Jerome. The Saint escaped with great difficulty. He became the target of hatred of all the enemies of the Church. Having reached the age of ninety-one, and being renowned for learning and holiness, St Jerome passed to his heavenly reward on September 30, 420, during the reign of Emperor Honorius. His body was buried at Bethlehem, but was later translated to the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome."

-- Heavenly Friends: a saint for each day by Rosalie Marie Levy

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feast of the Archangels

"We speak of nine orders of Angels, because we know, by the testimony of Holy Scripture, that there are the following: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. Nearly every page of Scripture witnesses to the fact that there are Angels and Archangels. The prophetic books, as has been noted often, speak of Cherubim and Seraphim. Four more orders are enumerated by Paul the Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, when he says, "Above every Principality and Power and Virtue and Domination." And again writing to the Colossians, he says, "Whether Thrones, or Powers, or Principalities, or Dominations." When, then, we add the Thrones to those he mentions to the Ephesians, there are five orders, to which are to be added Angels, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, certainly making nine orders of Angels in all.

It must be realized that "Angel" is the name of their office, not of their nature. For the holy Spirits of the heavenly homeland are always Spirits, but they cannot always be called Angels; they are Angels only when they are announcing something. And so the Psalmist says, "He who makes spirits His Angels," as if he said plainly that, when He wills, He uses as Messengers those Spirits who are always His. Those who announce less important things are called Angels, and those who announce the highest things are called Archangels. And so not any Angel but the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary; for this ministry, it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he was to announce the greatest news of all. These Archangels are also given special names to describe their particular virtue. For Michael means "Who is like to God?" Gabriel means "Strength of God," and Raphael "Medicine of God."

Whenever something is to be done needing great power, Michael is sent forth so that from his action and his name we may understand that no one can do what God can do. Hence that old enemy who through pride desired to be like God, saying, "I will scale the heavens, above the stars I will set up my throne, I will be like the Most High," is shown at the end of the world, left to his own strength and about to undergo the final punishment, as destined to fight with Michael the Archangel, as John says, "There was a battle with Michael the Archangel." Similarly, Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called "Strength of God" came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air. And Raphael is interpreted, as we said, "Medicine of God," for when he touched the eyes of Tobias to do the work of healing, he dispelled the night of his blindness."

-- From a sermon by Pope St Gregory from the nocturn of the Dedication of St Michael the Archangel

***

Why not read today the Scripture passages on these Archangels. I assure you it won't take but a few minutes.

Michael: New Testament, Book of Revelation (Apocalypse), Chapter 12
Raphael: Old Testament, Book of Tobit, Chapter 12
Gabriel: New Testament, Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1

Patronages:

Michael - grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness
Raphael - apothecaries, pharmacists, nurses, physicians, nightmares, travelers
Gabriel - communications workers

Monday, September 28, 2009

Die to yourself so you can rise with Christ

"... God's love is so immense, its power so limitless, its embrace so tender and intimate, that Love Himself brings forth life.

-o-

... being configured to Christ means exposing the weakest parts of who we are so that God can make us strong; it means becoming blind to the ways of this world so that Christ can lead us; it means dying to ourselves so that we can rise with Christ."

-- Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers in his foreword to From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton by Sr Caroline Hemesath, OSF

Eucharistic King, You changed my life and made my soul hungry for the Bread of life

"O Jesus, my Eucharistic King! In the desert of my life you appeared to me, you manifested your splendor, your greatness, your beauty. You changed my life, and dispersed all my enemies; you made my soul hungry for the Bread of life, and thirsty for your precious Blood. Well I remember the day you gave yourself entirely to me, my heart was beating fast, and I could hardly breathe. I feared that my excitement would disturb you while resting within my soul. Now that I possess you, let me say what I find in you.

Jesus Christus Hodie! Jesus Christ is today in the Divine Eucharist. Can we pronounce this word without feeling a sweet honey on our lips? A burning fire through our veins? Divine Eucharist! Our tongue is inarticulate; only our hearts have a secret sigh: Jesus Christ today!

I am weak today; I need help from above to stand on my feet; Jesus, coming from heaven, is made Bread of the strong. I am poor today; I need a shelter, and Jesus becomes the House of God, the celestial threshold, the Eucharist.

I am hungry and thirsty today; I need food to restore my heart, and Jesus becomes Wheat of the elect. Yes, I love Jesus, I love the Eucharist. Jesus today, means Jesus with me! This morning, at the altar, He came to me; He is mine, I adore Him. Tenui eum nec dimittam."** -- Ven Augustine Mary of the Blessed Sacrament, ocd

-- Herman, Flower of Israel by Don Amedeo Rodino


**"I have taken hold, and I will not let go." From the Song of Songs.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let us overflow with respect and love for one another

[Speaking of war]


"Moreover, in the hearts of those whom it unites, camaraderie arouses and nourishes two very strong feelings: a sense of empathy, accompanied by an instinct of devotion.


Without realizing it comrades who suffer from the same burden empathize with one another. Precisely because empathy is a form of charity, it generates spontaneous reflexes of devotion - sometimes even heroic devotion - that lead comrades to rescue one another. Moreover, since war is the harshest collective ordeal, it gives rise to the most ardent and enduring camaraderie. Comrades love one another strongly because they suffer intensely. Absorbed in distress, differences apparent in civilian life disappear. There remain only human beings, equally hurt in their innermost sensitivities and equally exposed to the same serious threats, as together they strive for the same goal. Their union grows deeper in this communion with the same ordeal.


We are now living through such months of ordeal! Therefore, let us overflow with this strong spirit of true camaraderie, which teaches us to respect one another, to love one another, and to help one another for the rest of our lives."


-- Fr Jaques of Jesus, ocd
Cited in Père Jacques: Resplendent in Victory by Francis Murphy, SJ

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Your heart communicates directly with the Heart of Christ in the blissful adoration of simple regard

"We cannot see Christ and remain as we are. We cannot exchange a look with Christ and not be overcome with a total conversion.


This is what I would like to help you to do: to lead you to Christ so that you might, in the silence of retreat, exchange that glance with Christ; a true, living, and real contact that is not the fruit of the imagination, but rather reaches the heart of things as they are. Christ is a living being who is here, there, and everywhere. To see Christ, we must become poor. Riches drag down the soul. One has to become small in stature, that is, detached from the goods of this world, for such riches foster earthly desires. As you are well aware, Saint john of the Cross warns: ”Whether one is attached to earth by a silken thread or a old cable, the result is the same: one cannot soar to the heights.” One attachment, however small, that violates obedience, poverty, or chastity, and draws us away from God, may be nothing by worldly standards. Nonetheless, that attachment comes between God and ourselves and impedes our ascent toward sanctity.


Christ is all in all. Through him, all is made; through him all comes to us. Therefore, we must see Christ. I stress this point; we must truly see Christ. I sometimes think that we should define the term Christian as “Someone who has seen Christ.” There are only a few genuine Christians, because only a few souls have seen Christ. Countless baptized persons, including even ordained priests and professed religious, remain lukewarm in spirit. Such tepid souls do not pulsate with life nor are they enthusiastic enough to give their life for Christ. They have never seen Christ. Their knowledge of the Lord is verbal, not vital. However, we must strive to love Christ passionately and prepare to see him face to face when we die. The soul that neither misses Christ now nor longs to see him at life’s end does not honestly love him. To make such a claim would be a lie. When we love someone, we long to see that person, even at the risk of death. All the more so, given him limitless love, we want to long to see Christ face to face.


Let us now turn our attention to Saint John of the Cross. In his splendid writings, he explains how the person who loves God gradually pierces the veil that keeps us from seeing the Lord. Eventually, the moment comes, when that veil is totally sundered and the person goes forth to our beloved God.


When I speak of seeing Christ, I mean the mysterious, misty vision of faith, which is the fruit of the prayer of simple regard and not the result of any activity on our part. I mean the experience of being “swept up” by Christ himself. When we have diligently devoted ourselves to charity, obedience, service, and self-control, and when Christ has seen the constancy of our commitment, then he himself comes to us. On that day, we become enveloped in the divine being and ecstatically discover the presence of God himself. We know that the Lord is there. He speaks to us, but not in words. The human heart communicates directly with the heart of Christ in the blissful adoration of simple regard. This heartfelt vision of Christ compels the soul so to love Christ and so to make him loved that nothing else on earth can inspire greater love than the Lord. Wealth then is as nothing and poverty is prized precisely because is allows us greater intimacy with Christ. No other comfort, no other countenance and no other solace suffices. Christ alone provides satisfaction.


How glorious is this intimacy with Christ!"


-- Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Père Jaques edited by Francis J Murphy

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weakness is no hindrance to love

"God loves us more than we realize or can ever repay Him. Remember weakness is no hindrance to love: in our relations with God it is even an enormous strength. Let us remain, then, united in weakness, in prayer, and in the desire to belong wholly to God."


-- They Speak by Silences by A Carthusian

There is no better way of living Christ's life than to imitate Mary

"From the earliest beginnings of the Order, the Carmelites have cultivated devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. They took her for their patron and tried to model their life on hers. The Carmelites were hermit solitaries, like Elias [Elijah], and were related through him to the tradition of the Old Testament. They participated in the spirit of the New Testament through Mary and tried to imitate her interior life. They knew that there is no better way of living Christ's life than to imitate Mary, because Mary is all for Jesus, as Jesus is all for God.


Carmelite friars and nuns, therefore, strive to live in intimate union with Mary. They have recourse to her in all their activities, begging her to enlighten and direct them. They take care to remain under her guidance, so that she may protect and defend them. They entrust themselves to her in all their needs of body and soul, and they especially take her as a guide in the way of contemplation. In short, they expect from her that she will form Christ in them."


-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by François Jamart, ocd

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The call to be contemplatives is one addressed to all people



“In 1983 at the conclusion of his twelve years as Prior General [of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance], Fr Falco Thuis published a book entitled In Wonder at the Mystery of God in which he presented a rather fresh approach to contemplation based upon what he had experienced during his time as General. Early in the book he writes: ‘every man ought to be a contemplative.’ His point is that in the midst of a frenetic world which is regarded by many as an end in itself, all are called to become aware of what is transcendent in others. He states strongly that contemplation can never be about detachment from life or alienation from reality, but goes on to give a useful if somewhat novel definition of contemplation: ‘It [contemplation] is a technical term for that vital reality which leads every man to the discovery of what it means to be himself.’ … In other words, it is only when I am living in right relationship with God and thus with others, that I can come to know who I am and what my place in the world should be.

This goes on to emphasise that continual attention to the word of God is vital for this awareness to grow. He points out that in Gaudium et Spes, no 36, it is clear that what God has created is both good and beautiful, and so in everyday reality humankind must be encouraged to see the hand of the creator at work. He states that deep within the being of every person, there is a strong sense of incompleteness which causes the individual to always want more out of life. This, he contends, is the longing that only union with God can satisfy, and the longing itself is the beginning of contemplation. This desire for more in the depth of the person’s being is answered by the presence of the Holy Spirit who imparts the gift of wisdom. Most importantly from our perspective, he expresses the conviction that contemplation is open to all people. He writes: ‘Contemplation is attained… by every baptised person who has responded positively to the divine plan in his regard.’ He also points out that this treasure is frequently to be found in ordinary people who put it into practice in the little details of their daily lives.

So, as we reflect more and more on what contemplation is, we realize that the call to be contemplatives is one addressed to all people. I keep emphasizing this point for it is a point that is not always appreciated, and is a gift from God through Carmel for all the baptised.”

-- From the essay Eucharist and Contemplation by Brian McKay, O Carm, in Hidden Riches: The Eucharist in the Carmelite Tradition


Trust in God's mercy: live in the present moment for the greater glory of God

"Today the Lord said to me, 'My daughter, My pleasure and delight, nothing will stop Me from granting you graces. Your misery does not hinder My mercy. My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater the right to My mercy; (urge) all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My mercy, because I want to save them all. On the cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by all the lance for all souls - no one have I excluded!'

[Words of St Faustina:]

O Jesus, I want to live in the present moment, to live as if this were the last day of my life. I want to use every moment scrupulously for the greater glory of God, to use every circumstance for the benefit of my soul. I want to look upon everything, from the point of view that nothing happens without the will of God.

God of unfathomable mercy, embrace the whole world and pour Yourself out upon us through the merciful Heart of Jesus."


-- Divine Mercy in My Soul by St Faustina Kowalska

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memorial of St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Today we celebrate the memorial of St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. If you haven't done so yet, try to watch the film Padre Pio: Miracle Man. It'll make you see Padre Pio in a completely different light. For a biography of this modern saint, click here.

St Padre Pio, pray for us!

**********

"O father, why are you so distraught and so full of worries over your spirit? Calm yourself because Jesus is with you and is happy with you. It torments my soul to know that you are in so much spiritual suffering. O, how I have prayed and continue to pray to our Lord, who makes me feel in my heart that He has always been with you, and that, indeed, He has doubled His graces, His preferences, His predilections toward your soul.

Therefore, how can you allow yourself to be persuaded that the calamities that roar about you are from God and that, in large measure, you are their cause? O father, do not be afraid, I beg you. You are not in the least bit guilty for these howling tempests. You must have no fear for your soul; Jesus is with you and you are most dear to Him. This is the whole truth before God. Calm down and let the Lord test you as He will, because everything shall come to pass for your sanctification.

**********

At these moments, more than ever, when the whole world troubles and weighs on me, I desire nothing other than to love and to suffer. Yes, my father, even in the midst of so much suffering I am happy because it seems as if my heart is beating with Jesus' heart. You can only imagine how much delight is infused in a heart that knows, almost with certainty, that it possesses Jesus.

It is true that the temptations I am subjected to are very many indeed, but I trust Divine Providence will not let me fall into the tempter's snares. It is also true that quite often Jesus hides Himself, but what does that matter; with your help I will try to remain close to Him, having your assurance that I am not abandoned but merely toyed with by Love.

O, how long for someone to help me temper my anxieties and the flames that disturb my heart at these moments."

-- Secrets of a Soul: Padre Pio's Letters to his Spiritual Directors edited by Gianluigi Pasquale, OFM Cap

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Followers gadget not working properly

I just noticed that the gadget that shows the followers and allows readers to join the blog is not working properly. I have reported the problem to Blogger, but you can also help by letting them know which blogs are also giving you this problem. The reporting form is found here. It only takes seconds to fill out, and you may leave blank whatever you don't know how to answer. It seems that there are many blogs having this problem since early September.

The Recent Comments feature is apparently not working, either. I'll see what I can do about that as time allows. Meanwhile, thank you for your patience while these bugs are fixed.


Obedience will make you a saint

"It is one thing to trust God and Jesus as the Son of God as faithful guides on the way to eternal life, but it is something else entirely to trust the people who exercise authority in God's name. There is no way around the dilemma, because Gods plan of redemption is incarnation, that is, salvation mediated through human beings, beginning with Jesus Christ. Authentic Christianity requires obeying the human authorities duly appointed. How do we know that we can trust these weak human beings to lead us faithfully to God?
-o-
Obedience to the legitimate religious authority is obedience to God no matter who holds the office, saint or sinner. But in the other hand, the bad example of the superior is no excuse for the disciple.
-o-
[T]he sinfulness and errors of those in authority do not invalidate the authority. Jesus does not say we have to trust the one in authority whom we obey. Hopefully the leader will earn our trust by faithfulness and good example, and that improves the experience of obedience dramatically. But it is not necessary to trust the religious authority in order to obey and to receive the blessings of obedience.

Problems arise when people fail to make the distinction between trust in and obedience to religious authorities. Since 2002, the media has carried many stories of Catholics who have left the church because of the failure of some bishops to respond honestly and appropriately to the clergy abuse scandal. We know that through history monks have left monasteries and sometimes solely because of the poor leadership or sinful conduct of abbots. Laity have left the church because of pastors.

But we are not required to trust our religious leaders unless they earn our trust by their conduct. The requirement for salvation is faith, which means trust in God. Applied to the church and religious life, this means we are called to trust in God to carry out the divine plan and purpose for the church and its members through whatever human leaders God happens to have placed in charge.

Saint Benedict foresaw that some abbots might be saints and others might be scoundrels, and that bad abbots could create anxiety among their subjects. But he is reassuring: if you obey those God has placed in authority you will be obeying God, and God will sanctify you. In other words, he presents God as saying: You don't have to trust anyone but me - not the abbot, not the bishops, not even the pope. You need to obey them in the legitimate exercise of their office, and to trust them when you can. The obedience will make you a saint, no matter what they do. I can work out my plans, whoever is in charge on earth. It may not be pretty, but it will be effective. Trust me."

-- Don't Trust the Abbot: Musings from the Monastery by Abbot Jerome Kodell

Monday, September 21, 2009

Excellent post on Hermann Cohen

Ms Vidal, from Fountain of Elias, has provided an excellent post on Hermann Cohen, also known as Fr Augustine Mary of the Blessed Sacrament. She refers to an article that is the best I have ever seen on him. Like Edith Stein, he is usually referred to by his birth name, as he was a very famous pianist prior to his conversion and entrance to Carmel. I recently posted excerpts from his writings, in case you would like to go back and check them out: You led me into solitude to speak to my heart and I invite you all to this Banquet of the Sacrament of His Love. I have another post from his writings scheduled for 28 September.

I encourage anyone suffering, because a friend or relative is living a rambunctious life, to pray to Fr Augustine Mary for their conversion. This prayer for his intercession is taken from The Story of Hermann Cohen by Tadgh Tierney, ocd.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin Mother, who at the grotto of Lourdes restored to health Fr. Augustine of the Blessed Sacrament that he might serve you faithfully in your Order of Carmel, obtain, we pray, from the Blessed Trinity the grace (mention your intention) through the intercession and merits of your devoted servant whose joy was to suffer for Jesus and to whom it was granted in answer to his heartfelt prayer, to consecrate his life in its entirety to God's will, service and glory.


Mary Mother of God, glorify, we beseech you, this your servant who through the redeeming power of Christ present in the Holy Eucharist, was brought to the knowledge of the Truth.


Make known, we pray, this apostle who was fired with devotion to the Sacrament of your son's love. May he bestow upon us, priests and laity alike, his burning zeal that the Divine Presence in the Eucharist be adored, the Mass celebrated with reverence and sincerity, Holy Communion received frequently and with devotion.


Grant that forthwith throughout the world and especially among your chosen people, Israel, there may be established the Eucharistic Kingship of the son of David, the Living Bread who came down from heaven in he womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

-o-
On a personal note, I am finally at my parents' home. According to my specialists I am to rest a lot, eat a particular diet, and take it easy while taking a lot of medications and supplements for at least three months. Then I need to go for a follow-up. I have a nice phamacopoeia... Thanks be to God, I am able to live a life of quiet and recollection at home, with a very nice collection of books for spiritual reading at my leisure. I am truly blessed. Please pray for all people suffering from chronic and catastrophic diseases, that they may have the support, especially spiritual, to withstand their times of trials and purification. The battles with health insurance companies to pay for treatments and tests are sometimes worse than the side effects and symptoms of the conditions suffered. We are the Church Militant, and as such we are called to pray for and help each other in our journey Home. God reward you for your prayers!

Finally, I recently came upon the book, Don't Trust the Abbot: Musings from the Monastery by Abbot Jerome Kodell. It is such a good read! I haven't finished it yet but it is definitely a pass-it-on type of book. It just came out, so I'll post a only few excerpts for your perusal, lest Liturgical Press comes after me with a vengeance.

Many blessings!

Feast of St Matthew

"The feast of the holy apostle Matthew brings to mind his memorable call and his glorious work. It was a great hour indeed in Matthew's life when Jesus approached the tax-gatherer's desk, gazed into his eyes and said: 'Follow Me.' We need not hold that these words came to him wholly unprepared. Matthew had already known Jesus. Perhaps he had been at the Jordan with John the Baptist and was baptized. Then he became a zealous listener to Jesus' preaching in Galilee. And now the Master says to him: 'Follow Me." And he followed.

It was not a resolution easily made to give up a goodly position, to leave a pleasant family, and to plunge into an unknown future. Yet Matthew followed. It was a hard but happy exchange he was making. For he received in return the friendship of Jesus, the glory of apostleship, the honor of an evangelist. For a tax-gatherer's table he would receive a judgment seat over Israel, for its load of wares, immortal souls; in place of money, heavenly treasures became his portion!

Follow Me! The words bring to mind my vocation. I too was called. Also to me Jesus said: Follow Me. At baptism He first invited me, and often He has repeated that invitation. Many an event in life is a call from God. (...) Is there, however, a common calling, one given to all, whether priests, laymen, married, or nuns? St Ignatius says: 'Yes - to praise God, to serve Him and to save one's soul.' A familiar phrase. We are called to belong to the family of God. As the apostle Paul proclaims on apostle feasts: 'You are now no longer guests and strangers, you are citizens of God's people, members of His family.'

We are called to be children of God, already a high end; yet not the highest. The highest is that we are called to be numbered among Christ's members, incorporated most intimately into Him. We are cells in Christ's Mystical Body, His divine life should diffuse itself in us. Such is the highest purpose of our calling. In itself it makes little difference what particular role in Christ's Body I play or what portion of the Body's work falls to me. The important thing is that Christ's strength is operative in me, that Christ spreads Himself through me. This calling is a grace, a gift, but also a duty. It is bound up inextricably with my cooperation. Linked to the great central power station, I must allow that power to operate. I must identify myself with Christ in every action. Such is the tremendous task assigned me."

-- The Church's Year of Grace by Dr Pius Parsch


Today we celebrate the feast of St Matthew, apostle. Please pray for all religious, priests, deacons, nuns, and missionaries around the world who have left their homes, families, friends, and countries to "Follow Him."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Teach me the joy of living in your presence

"Lord, I remember all the dirty pranks I did in the past, I remember what damnable situations I got myself into, and into which I thrust others. When I look at myself, I am ashamed. But You, You tore me away from all that... You pardoned me everything and brought me back to life."

-o-

"Fear? Fear of You? No my God, too often have You saved me, too often have You made me know your pity. Lord, it is true, I abandoned You... I wanted to be rid of You. I dropped You coldly, I did not want to listen to You any longer. And as You did to Peter, You held out your hand to me, and said to me: 'Come back, you can't live without Me.' I knew it was true that I could not live without You. You were there again; deep down You had never left me; without reproaching me You reminded me that You loved me."

-o-

"My God, do not permit me to use the thousand and one little things of our life to seek myself or satisfy my thirst for compliments. Teach me purity of heart, the true joy of living in your presence, in your Love. Lead me toward the essential. Let your goodness explode in me and leap beyond the limits placed by my egoism. Let the happiness of living and loving overflow so powerfully from my heart, that it will propel me toward others." -- Sr Frances of the Redemption, ocd

-- Fascinated by God: The Spiritual Adventure of a Hippie translated by Sr Miriam of Jesus, ocd

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I invite you all to this Banquet of the Sacrament of His Love

"In the Sacrament of His Love, Jesus is the only object of my life, of my songs, of my affection; to this Mystery I am indebted for all that I have...

My brethren, I invite you all to this Banquet. Once we taste it, all other food will be vapid! Young men of the world, I know your deceitful pleasures; I know of your pompous meetings that are resplendent for a moment and then followed by deadly sadness; I know what you are longing for; I have tasted your joys, and now I challenge you to deny that they leave behind anything but phantasms of sorrow and prostration!

Really, after feeding at this Table of the King of kings, all riches of the world are worthless to me. Since Jesus dwells within my soul, your palaces are miserable huts. Seeking light in the Tabernacle, all wisdom of the world is folly; sitting at the Spousals of the Lamb, all other feasts are gloomy; after reaching this port of salvation, I see you tossed on the ocean of human passions, but I can only wave my hand and call you to these shores. If you wish, I will be your pilot, for I know the seas and have endured many a tempest." -- Ven Augustine Mary of the Blessed Sacrament, ocd

-- Herman, Flower of Israel by Don Amadeo Rodino

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the midst of that night, in my darkness



In the midst of that night, in my darkness,
I saw the awesome sight of Christ
opening the heavens for me.
And he bent down to me and showed himself to me
with the Father and the Holy Spirit
in the thrice holy light --a single light in three, and a threefold light in one,
for they are altogether light,and the three are but one light.
And he illumined my soul
more radiantly than the sun,
and he lit up my mind,
which had until then been in darkness.
Never before had my mind seen such things.
I was blind, you should know it, and I saw nothing.
That was why this strange wonder
was so astonishing to me,
when Christ, as it were, opened the eye of my mind,
when he gave me sight, as it were,
and it was him that I saw.
He is Light within Light, who appears
to those who contemplate him,
and contemplatives see him in light
--see him, that is, in the light of the Spirit...
And now, as if from far off,
I still see that unseeable beauty,
that unapproachable light, that unbearable glory.
My mind is completely astounded.
I tremble with fear.
Is this a small taste from the abyss,
which like a drop of water
serves to make all water known
in all its qualities and aspects?...
I found him, the One whom I had seen from afar,
the one whom Stephen saw
when the heavens opened,
and later whose vision blinded Paul.
Truly, he was as a fire in the center of my heart.
I was outside myself, broken down, lost to myself,
and unable to bear the unendurable brightness of that glory.
And so, I turned
and fled into the night of the senses.


Simeon the New Theologian (949-1032)



You led me into solitude to speak to my heart

"My adorable Jesus! You have led me into solitude to speak to my heart; nights and days pass delightfully in celestial conversation with your adorable presence with the sentiments of today's Communion of God with one of His poor creatures. I lovingly kiss the walls of my cell, where my thoughts are not perturbed, where I breathe only to love your divine Sacrament, where free from earthly ties, far from material affections, disentangled from the bondage of my senses, like a dove I fly to your Tabernacle, there to enjoy the light of your grace and burn in the flames of your love. At the salutary shade of that Tree of Life, I smell its flowers, I taste its fruits; I am enchanted by the sound of your voice; I rest, full of love and happiness, at the feet of my Beloved.

Let those that have known me in the past come here and realize that they neglect a God Who died for love of them. Come, you souls of the world, before this often despised Love; if you no longer see me seeking honors and applauses, it is because I have found glory and honor at the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. Let them come, my Jesus, let them feel how you change our heart!

O my poor friends of the world, if I never again sit at your sumptuous banquets, it is because I feed on immortality at another Banquet, and I exalt with the Angels of Heaven; it is because I have found the Supreme Good; yes, I have found my Beloved! He is mine. I possess Him, and no one will separate me from Him.

Pitiful riches, sad pleasures, empty honors! After my eyes saw the light, and my heart beat with the Heart of God, oh, how I wept at your blindness in pursuing things unable to satisfy your heart!

Come to this Celestial Banquet, prepared by the Eternal Wisdom; come, approach! Our Divine Savior is always present on His throne in our Churches waiting for you. Come to His feet, give Him your heart, and you will taste the sweetness of His love. - Jesus, my love! would that they knew how happy I am! If faith didn't teach me to believe in the blessedness of Heaven, I wouldn't think of happiness grater than this Eucharistic Love. Oh, delightful Peace, O beatitude, O joy!" -- Augustine Mary of the Blessed Sacrament, ocd

-- Herman, Flower of Israel by Don Amedeo Rodino

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feast of St Albert of Jerusalem

Albert Avogadro was born about the middle of the twelfth century (~1149) in Castel Gualteri in Parma, Italy. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross at Mortara (Mortoba) and was elected their prior in 1180. Named Bishop of Bobbio in 1184, and of Vercelli in 1185, he was made Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1205. Because Jerusalem was in the hands of Muslims and there was open persecution of Christians, Albert took residence in Acre (now called Akko), a northern port city. There, in word and example, he was the model of a good pastor and peace-maker. While he was Patriarch (1206-1214) he was approached by a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel (which overlooks Acre) who asked him to write a Rule of life for them. According to tradition, Albert was approeached by St Brocard, the superior of the group. The Rule written by Albert regulated the monastic-heremitical life of the brethren by mandating a long period of fasting, abstinence from meat, silence, solitude, and the meditation of Scripture. Albert was called to the Laternal Countil of 1215, but he was murdered during a procession at Acre on September 14, 1214 (Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross) by the Master of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit.

To learn more about Albert you may read this article.

If you've never read the Rule of St Albert, also known as the Carmelite Rule, here it is. It is the shortest of religious rules, and the one that we Carmelites strive to live faithfully every day.

1
Albert, called by the grace of God to be Patriarch of the Church of Jerusalem, greets his beloved sons in Christ, B. and the other hermits living in obedience to him near the spring on Month Carmel: salvation in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
2
Many times and in different ways the holy Fathers have laid down that everyone—whatever be their state in life or the religious life chosen by them—should live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve him zealously with a pure heart and a good conscience.
3
Now then you have come to me seeking a formula of life according to your purpose, which you are to observe in the future.
4
The first thing I lay down is that you shall have a prior, one of yourselves, chosen by the unanimous consent of all, or of the greater and more mature part. All the others shall promise him obedience fulfilling it by deeds, as well as chastity and the renunciation of property.
5
You can take up places in solitary areas or in sites given to you, one suitable and convenient for your observance in the judgement of the prior and the brothers.
6
Moreover, taking account of the site you propose to occupy, all of you are to have separate cells; these are to be assigned by the prior himself with the agreement of the other brothers or the more mature of them.
7
You are, however, to eat in a common refectory what may have been given to you, listening together to a reading from holy Scripture, if this can conveniently be done.
8
No brother is permitted to change the place assigned to him or exchange with another, unless with the permission of the prior at the time.
9
The prior’s cell shall be near the entrance to the place so that he may first meet those who come to the place and everything afterwards may be done as he wills and decides.
10
All are to remain in their cells or near them, meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and being vigilant in prayers, unless otherwise lawfully occupied.
11
Those who have learned to say the canonical hours with the clerics should do so according to the practice of the holy Fathers and the approved custom of the Church. Those who do not know the hours are to say the Our Father twenty-five times for the night office—except for Sunday and solemn feasts when this number is doubled, so that the Our Father is said fifty times. It is to said seven times for the morning Lauds and for the other Hours, except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times.
12
None of the brothers is to claim something as his own; everything is to be in common and is to be distributed to each one by the Prior—that is, the brother deputed by him to this office— having regard to the age and needs of each one.
13
You may have asses or mules according to your needs and some provision of animals or poultry.
14
An oratory is to be built as conveniently as possible in the midst of the cells; you are to gather daily in the morning for Mass, where this is convenient.
15
On Sundays, or other days if necessary, you shall discuss the welfare of the group and the salvation of souls; at this time excesses and faults of the brothers, if such come to light, are to be corrected in the middle way of charity.
16
You are to fast every day except Sundays from the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross until Easter Sunday, unless illness or bodily weakness, or other just cause counsels a lifting of the fast, since necessity has no law.
17
You are to abstain from meat, unless it is to be taken as a remedy for illness or bodily weakness. Since you must more frequently beg on journeys, in order not to burden your hosts you may eat food cooked with meat outside your own houses. At sea, however, meat may be eaten.
18
Since human life on earth is a trial and all who want to live devotedly in Christ suffer persecution; your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. You must then with all diligence put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand up to the ambushes of the enemy.
19
Your loins are to be girded with the belt of chastity; your breast is to be protected by holy thoughts, for the Scripture says, holy thoughts will save you. Put on the breastplate of justice, so that you may love the Lord your God from your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength, and your neighbour as yourselves. In all things take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the darts of the evil one; without faith, indeed, it is impossible to please God. The helmet of salvation is to be placed on your head, so that you may hope for salvation from the one Saviour, who saves his people from their sins. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is to dwell abundantly in your mouths and hearts. So whatever you have to do, is to be done in the word of the Lord.
20
You should do some work, so that the devil will always find you occupied and he may not through your idleness find some entrance to your souls. In this matter you have both the teaching and the example of Blessed Paul the Apostle; Christ spoke through his mouth; he has been set up and given by God as a preacher and teacher of the nations in faith and truth; in following him you cannot go wrong. In work and weariness, he said, we have been with you, working day and night so as not to be a burden to you; it was not as though we had no right, but we wished to give ourselves as a model for imitation. For when we were with you, we gave this precept: whoever is unwilling to work shall not eat. We have heard that there are restless people going around who do nothing. We condemn such people and implore them in the Lord Jesus Christ that working in silence they should earn their bread. This is a good and holy way: follow it.
21
The apostle therefore recommends silence, when he tells us to work in it; the prophet too testifies that silence is the promotion of justice; and again, in silence and in hope will be your strength. Therefore we lay down that from the recitation of Compline you are to maintain silence until after Prime the following day. At other times, though silence is not to be so strictly observed, you are to be diligent in avoiding much talking, since scripture states and experience likewise teaches, sin is not absent where there is much talking; also he who is careless in speech will experience evil, and the one who uses many words harms his soul. Again the Lord says in the gospel: an account will have to given on the day of judgement for every vain word. Each of you is to weigh his words and have a proper restraint for his mouth, so that he may not stumble and fall through speech and his fall be irreparable and fatal. He is with the prophet to guard his ways so that he does not offend through the tongue. Silence, which is the promotion of justice, is to be diligently and carefully observed.
22
You, Brother B., and whoever is appointed Prior after you, shall always keep in mind and practice what the Lord said in the Gospel: Whoever wishes to be greater among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first must be your slave.
23
And you too, the other brothers are humbly to honour your prior, and rather than thinking about him, you are to look to Christ who set him as head over you; he said to the leaders of the Church, whoever hears you hears me, and whoever despises you despises me. Thus you will not judged guilty of contempt, but through obedience you will merit the reward of eternal life.
24
I have written these things briefly to you establishing a way of life for you, according to which you are to conduct yourselves. If anyone does more the Lord himself when he comes again will repay him. You are, however, to use discretion, which is the moderator of virtue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Habitual contact with Christ by faith and love merit a special grace

"The Carmelite must keep himself habitually united with Christ, not only to adore Him and to love Him, but to familiarize himself with His thoughts, desires and sentiments. He will ask Jesus to work in him; he will surrender himself to the action of His spirit; he will keep himself under His influence and be guided by Him alone. He will thus reproduce himself the virtues of Christ and be for Him 'another humanity in which He relives all His mystery.' In every circumstance he will ask himself what Jesus would have done and what He would have thought, begging Him to enlighten him, to fortify him by His Spirit so as to fashion his conduct according to the pattern of the divine Master.

The union with Christ, this life in Him and by Him is, without question, the best way to practise the Carmelite life. For it is in this way that the soul is inspired in everything by the spirit of Christ and makes efforts to imitate Him, renouncing its own spirit and denying itself. In this way the spiritual life is greatly simplified. Moreover, this habitual contact with Christ by faith and love merit for the Carmelite a special grace, a more abundant participation in the virtus Christi (the strength of Christ) which helps him the better to realize the Carmelite ideal."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows



Today we celebreate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. This devotion has been practised since at least the middle of the 14th century and commemorates the following sorrowful events in the life of Our Lady and Christ:

1. The prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:34-35);
2. The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13-21);
3. The Loss of Jesus for Three Days (Lk 2:41-50);
4. The Ascent to Calvary (Jn 19:17);
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (Jn 19:18-30);
6. Jesus Taken Down from the Cross (Jn 19:39-40);
7. Jesus Laid in the Tomb (Jn 19:39-42).


******

"In the first rank is the Virgin Mary, full of grace, the Mother of the Savior. She, accepting the announcement from on high, the Servant of the Lord, Spouse of the Spirit and Mother of the Eternal Son, manifests her joy before her cousin Elizabeth who celebrates her faith: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...henceforth all generations will call me blessed." She has grasped, better than all other creatures, that God accomplishes wonderful things: His name is holy, He shows His mercy, He raises up the humble, He is faithful to His promises. Not that the apparent course of her life in any way departs from the ordinary, but she meditates on the least signs of God, pondering them in her heart. Not that she is in any way spared sufferings: she stands, the mother of sorrows, at the foot of the cross, associated in an eminent way with the sacrifice of the innocent Servant. But she is also open in an unlimited degree to the joy of the resurrection; and she is also taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. The first of the redeemed, immaculate from the moment of her conception, the incomparable dwelling-place of the Spirit, the pure abode of the Redeemer of mankind, she is at the same time the beloved Daughter of God and, in Christ, the Mother of all. She is the perfect model of the Church both on earth and in glory. What a marvelous echo the prophetic words about the new Jerusalem find in her wonderful existence as the Virgin of Israel: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."(48) With Christ, she sums up in herself all joys; she lives the perfect joy promised to the Church: Mater plena sanctae laetitiae. And it is with good reason that her children on earth, turning to her who is the mother of hope and of grace, invoke her as the cause of their joy: Causa nostrae laetitiae."

-- Gaudete in Domino by Pope Paul VI


******

"[On] the feast of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, I thought it was a little like your own feast, my dear little Mama, so I prayed for you with fervor! You did feel that, didn't you? I placed your soul in that of Our Lady of Sorrows and asked her to console you. At the back of the cloister we have a statue of the Mater Dolorosa, to whom I have a great devotion. Every night I go to speak to her of you; tonight I said my little word to her before coming up to write you. I love those tears of the Virgin so much, I unite them to those my poor Mama sheds when thinking of her Elisabeth. Oh, you see, if you could read my soul, if you saw all the happiness I enjoy in Carmel, happiness so profound that I understand better each day, happiness that God alone knows! Ah! what a beautiful part He has given to His poor little one! If for one instant you could see all that, oh! my little Mama, you would have to rejoice. Since I had to have your 'fiat' to enter this corner of Heaven, thank you again for having pronounced it so courageously. If you knew how God loves you! and how your daughter cherishes you more than ever!"

-- I Have Found God: Complete Works [of] Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol 2


******

"Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus - who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours - gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!

Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his."

-- From a sermon by St Bernard of Clairvaux