Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Benefits of Abstinence

"In former days, when the people of the Hebrews and all the tribes of Israel were oppressed for their scandalous sins by the grievous tyranny of the Philistines, in order that they might be able to overcome their enemies, as the sacred story declares, they restored their powers of mind and body by the injunction of a fast. For they understood that they had deserved that hard and wretched subjection for their neglect of God's commands, and evil ways, and that it was in vain for them to strive with arms unless they had first withstood their sin. Therefore abstaining from food and drink, they applied the discipline of strict correction to themselves, and in order to conquer their foes, first conquered the allurements of the palate in themselves. And thus it came about that their fierce enemies and cruel taskmasters yielded to them when fasting, whom they had held in subjection when full. And so we too, dearly beloved, who are set in the midst of many oppositions and conflicts, may be cured by a little carefulness, if only we will use the same means. For our case is almost the same as theirs, seeing that, as they were attacked by foes in the flesh so are we chiefly by spiritual enemies. And if we can conquer them by God's grace enabling us to correct our ways, the strength of our bodily enemies also will give way before us, and by our self-amendment we shall weaken those who were rendered formidable to us, not by their own merits but by our shortcomings."

-- From a sermon by St Leo the Great

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All life is a choice

"All life is a choice, and that is a fact. Every act we do is a choice, conscious or unconscious. I put it to myself in this way: A successful life is a life where, on the whole, the choices are coordinate, leading to a definite end; an unsuccessful, the life where, on the whole, the choices are haphazard, leading to various and sometimes conflicting ends differing at different periods, or to different ends pursued simultaneously and therefore pulling against each other. Again, there may be no specific end in view at all, and people just go on living as chance and opportunity and passing inclination dictate. One can pursue happiness, success in a career, money, the arts, or one pursue God. I don't think one can pursue anything else very violently if one is really pursuing God - I suppose that is why people break off and become priests and religious.

Anyway, the great thing is to live at one's best whatever one is doing, and to get the right medium. Of course, I expect some people live most easily in the material world and like dealing with material things; comfort - that's their real object. 'Those were the days,' they say regretfully, remembering the fleshpots of Egypt at some particular period of their lives. Oh, well, we all have our fleshpots hidden away in a corner, I expect, so we need not be too critical of other people's. "

-- A Nun's Answer by A Carmelite Nun

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Persevere and go along they way of humble submission to God's good pleasure

"The real test and end of prayer is union with God, and the real test of that is acceptance of His will. But there is no denying that this is not the inevitable result of prayer; there is a type which, practically speaking, appears to lead no one any farther. Our Mother begged me quite severely on no account to practise that sort; she said it was no good at all in the religious life. It may be a source of great pleasure to those practising it, but they keep it, as it were, in a separate compartment of their head, or their heard, or somewhere, and it never gets anywhere near the will, either God's or their own. She said that Christ did not teach us to pray like that: He taught us to pray, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,' and we poor mortals just could not imagine how perfectly it was done in heaven because it was so far above us. Still, we could struggle towards it, towards the perfection of surrender to the will of God that is, and that was the whole use and meaning of things like holy poverty, and mortification, and detachment.

Prayer itself and its effects must keep constantly in step, and where the prayer begins to leave the effects far behind, so that we are practising a prayer, not one or two, but four or five degrees beyond our display of practical virtue, it is time to do something about it or we run the danger of ending up in delusion. She pointed out that the proper way was not in the least to slow down or stop the prayer, but only to speed up the practice of virtue.

Then she became quite serious; she began to tell me about the people who have real difficulty praying, and real darkness in their souls. It sounded quite awful as she described it; awful and yet marvelous. Of course, one reads St John of the Cross, but that is a saint writing about wonderful experiences in the Middle Ages, and this was an old nun talking of that she seemed to think quite every day happenings... She  described how such people will sit in church or choir for an hour on end, trying to concentrate, trying to find their way to God through the dark, and everything remains completely blank. They can, of course, still pray vocally, but they do not want to pray vocally. They could, of course, meditate, but unfortunately they do not want to mediate. What they want - and want with their whole souls - is to find God: to find Him in heaven, or to find Him within themselves, they do not care where or how, so long as they find Him. And they cannot.

But if they persevere, one day, she said, they will. If they go on quietly stepping along they way of mortification, of patience, of humble submission to God's good pleasure; if they follow the star which is leading them, even though it is always unaccountably disappearing over the edge of their world; if they follow it, not only trying to pull it down to them but by climbing slowly and painfully towards it, towards the clearer skies above, it will lead them to that real communion with God for which their souls long. All paths in prayer lead to Him, provided that they are the up-paths of solid virtue, and not mere cul-de-sacs of pious fancy and the end of which we shall find nothing more exciting than ourselves."

--  A Nun's Answer by A Carmelite Nun

Monday, March 28, 2011

We give everything

"Religious life can easily be a heaven on earth, but only for the man who lives it perfectly. And although much has been written on the fine art of acquiring perfection, all spiritual writers seem to agree on one big point. If a religious can obey, he can find perfect happiness. If he cannot obey, then he only nails himself to his own cross (by his own hand) and hangs over forever on the left side of Christ. Religious life demands greatness; and a man is never greater than he he bows his head in submission to another.

Obedience is the big vow. Obedience is the problem. In our monasteries we are not free to do what we want, or have what we like. We are pledged to obedience and there is a solemn vow to remind us of it. It is a vow that makes us say 'yes' when we would like to say 'no.' But when we take this vow, we offer to God one of our most priceless possessions: our free will. It is a perfect gift, one that God would never force from us. It is the last word, the limit. When we give this, we give everything. But it is only too bad that its worth is lost to many young men who, possessing all the other needed talents and dispositions, find themselves balking at that they call, 'this business of taking orders.'


Actually, there is a probably not a single man on the face of this earth who is free from the obligations of taking orders. Every subject has a boss who in turn has a boss, who in turn has another boss. It is the same in both lay and clerical circles. So we men in a monastery figure that since we must take order from someone, we might just as well make a good thing of it. We might just as well gain merit for our troubles."

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard C Madden, ocd

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Be guided by the hidden light of the Holy Ghost

"We have to remind ourselves, over and over again, that prayer is not an isolated thing, at thing to be sought by itself, a kind of pleasurable accomplishment like music, pr painting or literature, or anything of that kind. It is not something in which we lose ourselves for our own pleasure, though from the way most of us behave when we temporarily lose the pleasure, one might almost be tempted to think that we were no more than amateurs, enjoying and playing with the beauty of an art for the sake of the beauty and the happiness it gives, but without any real knowledge of it, without any genuine proficiency in it, without depth or meaning or understanding.

To pray means to be brought within the life of Christ: to suffer, to love, to win souls with Him. It means to be enmeshed for ever in the will of the Father, to be guided by the hidden light of the Holy Ghost. The suffering of Christ is a very real suffering; the will of God often runs counter to our own; and to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit will often mean to set aside all selfish considerations for the sake of an eternal principle and a divine charity."

-- The Nun's Answer by A Carmelite Nun

Saturday, March 26, 2011

God's love has the power to make every burden light

"There is a strong element of surprise in chastity. A religious is surprised that he is able to take a vow of chastity; other people are surprised that he is able to keep it. But in spite of everything, chastity is possible. And it is entirely satisfying.


I suppose the first and most salient reason for our choice is that Christ Himself lived a celibate life. We love Christ. Because we love Him, we try to make ourselves like Him in every respect. He is our model, so we strive to imitate Him not only in the things He chose to do, but also in the things He chose not to do. Christ lived a celibate life - this is good enough for us. If there were no other reasons, this alone would be sufficient.

Getting along into the realm of practicality (and how the world loves that word 'practical' - it is so broad), we find many good, solid reasons to give the person who asks 'why?' First of all, saving souls is a full-time job. It occupies either directly or indirectly every waking moment (and our dreams at night). Every single one of us is most definitely aware that in our life no other system could work. We cannot afford to shoulder obligations which by their very nature would take us away from our apostolate. We have enough as it is. Why, the wife of almost any good physician would tell us that her husband is more consistently a doctor than he is a husband or a father.


Just suppose that we were not bound to live a life of celibacy. Suppose we were all married men. That would automatically bring thirty women under our roof. And presuming that we would lead good Catholic lives, suppose we all had a family of five or ten children! We laugh to think of the intrigue, the confusion, the heart-breaking chaos that would surely descend upon our haven of prayer and work. Maybe this seems silly. Maybe it is no reason at all. But it certainly is something to think about. Maybe that is why some non-Catholic clergymen are beginning to embrace the celibate state. They are beginning to see that in laboring for God, it is the only thing that works.

Yet, people who are forced to live in the fiery midst of a carnal world still look askance at us when we go by. Many question us and our motives, probably because they could not live like this themselves. And they harbor doubts because the have overlooked the battering but soothing dynamism that is the grace of God. They have forgotten that God's love has the power to make every burden light.

We do not say it is easy. But when we pluck the cross from the little Calvarys within our hearts, there is method to it. We are not seeking comfort or personal satisfaction, because there is no room for that in God's plan for us. So we turn our heads forward and upward, comprehending full well the enormity of our task. We must live and work in the midst of others' suffering, so we do not wish to be without suffering ourselves. In our labors we must come face to face with the full-cupped loneliness of men. We do not want to be without loneliness ourselves. We want to walk unafraid and unashamed at the side of those who need us and to be able to say, 'You have suffering, so have we. You have loneliness, so have we. We we shall forget our problem; let us turn to yours. Let us heal yours, for ours can wait for eternity.'"

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard Madde, ocd

Friday, March 25, 2011

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

"The mysteries of God are unsearchable, as is especially declared in the prophetical words: What man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is?  Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us.  And hence we may gather, from the words and works of our Lord and Saviour, that there was a special purpose of God in the fact that she who was chosen to bring forth the Lord was espoused to a man.  Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused?  Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that the Holy One was conceived in fornication.

And the Angel came in unto her.  Let us learn from his Virgin how to bear ourselves: let us learn by her devout utterance; above all let us learn by the holy mystery to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses.  Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us.  She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and was found only by an Angel.  There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip; and the Angel saluted her."

-- From a homily by St Ambrose

** Painting by Peter Paul Rubens

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feast of St Gabriel Archangel

"Consider that this Angel was not one of lesser rank, even though such are, on one account or another, often sent on embassies to this earth.  That he was an Angel of greater rank is indicated by his name which signifieth: Strength of God : and by the fact that he was sent, not by some Angel perhaps more excellent than he (as is usual), but from God himself.  Therefore for this reason it is said: From God.  Or, it might be for another reason, namely, lest it should be thought that God had discourteously revealed his counsel to any of the blessed spirits, except only the Archangel Gabriel, before he did so to the Virgin.  For Gabriel alone was found so eminent among his compeers as to be held worthy both of such a name and message.

Neither do his name and his message disagree.  For whom did it more behove to announce Christ, who is the Power of God, than him who is honoured by a like name?  For what else is power than strength?  Neither doth it appear to be unbecoming or unseemly that the Lord and his messenger should be known by a like title.  Christ is called the power or strength of God in a very different sense from that in which this appellation is given to the Angel.  In the Angel it is but a name.  In the case of Christ, it is also an eternal attribute."

-- From a homily by St Bernard of Clairvaux

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spirit of the Lenten Season

There are two guiding principles for the observance of Lent. During this season, the faithful are to grow in their love of Jesus Crucified, and they are to practice extra penance for their own and other people's sins. Both aspects of Lent deserve some explanation.
Love of Jesus Crucified. The spirit of Lent is the spirit of Christ Crucified. Therefore, whatever enables us to better understand Christ's Passion and Death, and deepens our responsive love for His great love toward us should be fostered during the Lenten season. Some recommendations:
  1. Meditation on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion.
  2. Spiritual reading of books like Goodier's Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Abbot Marmion's The Way of the Cross, Edward Leen's Why the Cross?, Fulton Sheen's Seven Words on the Cross.
  3. Recitation of prayers like Soul of Christ Sanctify Me.
  4. Besides making the daily Way of the Cross, encouraging others to make the Stations at least on Fridays during Lent.
  5. Having some symbol of Christ's Passion, like the crucifix or picture of the crucifix within easy eye vision to remind us of the Passion at odd moments of the day.
  6. Having some short aspiration which is recited (at least mentally) a few times during the day, like, "My Jesus Crucified," or "Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death, have mercy on us."
  7. Occasionally reciting the Litany of the Precious Blood.
  8. Spending some extra time before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Our Lord to grow in the understanding of His continued Passion now in the Church, which is His Mystical Body on earth!
  9. Making an occasional entry into one's spiritual journal about, "How much the Passion of Christ means to me."
Reparation for Sin. In practicing penance, we should keep in mind that there are two levels of reparation we are to practice, for our own and other people's sins. We are to expiate the guilt incurred by failing in one's love for God. And we are to repair the harm done by disobeying the will of God.
On the first level, our penance should be the practice of a deeper and more generous love for God
  • By making acts of divine love.
  • By doing our ordinary work with more selfless love for God.
  • By putting our heart more sincerely into whatever we are doing, and periodically telling our Lord we are doing it out of love for Him.
  • By deciding before Lent, what form(s) of charity I will practice towards those with whom I live or work. There is no more pleasing love of God, as expiation, than the selfless love of others whom God puts into my daily life.
  • By going through the spiritual and corporal works or mercy, and selecting one or more on which I wish to concentrate during Lent, as my form of penance-as-love, offered to the loving but offended God.
On the second level, our penance should strive to endure some pain in order to expiate the sinful pleasure that is always the substance of sin. This can take on a variety of forms, and no two people are the same in this matter. The following are merely examples.
  • More frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance during Lent.
  • More frequent attendance at Mass.
  • Less time spent in eating, or eating less food, or getting up earlier than usual.
  • Sacrifice of some hours per week that would otherwise have been spent in watching television, listening to the radio, reading secular newspapers, magazines, or fiction.
  • Walking, instead of driving, and walking upstairs instead of using an elevator.
  • Doing without some delicacy at table, or not eating between meals.
  • Getting up promptly in the morning, and retiring in good time at night.
  • Answering letters or writing to persons who would appreciate hearing from us.
  • Gauging one's time in telephone conversation or conversation in general.

-- A Brief History of Lent by Fr John A Hardon, SJ
Written for the Marian Catechist, 1989

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Solitude purifies

"If persons enter into solitude and taste its fruits, one certain effect is that they will no longer see as they saw before, no longer behold themselves, others, or God as they did formerly. Solitude provides another way of seeing. We will be given new lenses to in-sight. Our eyes will have been purified by the mystery of solitude changing the heart and therefore changing the vision. The obvious is always to be discovered anew! The mystery of solitude purifies the sight, the seeing, the beholding of each person, when we are open to discovering and to receiving. When solitude brings us to God, God brings us into new vision. 'Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things..." (Ps 119:18)"

-- Sounding Solitude by Sr Mary Paul Cutri, ocd

Monday, March 21, 2011

He is waiting for you on the altar

"Go to Jesus. He loves you and is waiting for you to give you many graces. He is on the altar surrounded by angels adoring and praying. Let them make some room for you and join them in doing what they do."

-- St Mary Joseph Rosello, Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The love love of God lies in the grace-aided will

"It would also be a grievous error to conceive the love of God as anything which essentially involves sense-emotion or feeling. The love love of God lies in the grace-aided will; it presupposes and the intellect insofar as the will needs its cooperation to love, for the will is a blind faculty; but in practice one need only attend to the will. A very high degree of love of God is quite compatible with an absence of any feeling of emotion, and even with the presence of a feeling of distaste for the service of God. We have only to remember our Lord's prayer in the Agony at Gethsemani to realize that. In fact, if one is going to achieve the heights of the spiritual life, it is necessary to pass through a stage where one's apparent spiritual activity is reduced to a dry act of willingness to conform one's self to God's Will, in the darkness of a sheer decision to believe in God without light of any sort. This does not mean that the emotions have not their part to play in the spiritual life. On the contrary, they can be a most effective aid to the real agent, which is the will working by faith."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Solemnity of St Joseph

"Why was the Lord conceived of a virgin already espoused, rather than of one as yet unpledged to a man?  For one thing, because from the genealogy of Joseph, the lineage of Mary as a descéndant of David, and thus of her Child, could be the more easily established.  For another, because by this betrothal Mary would be saved from being stoned by the Jews as an adulteress.  Again, because thereby Mary was given a guardian during the flight into Egypt.  To these reasons the Martyr Ignatius addeth another, namely; that the virgin birth might take place unknown to the devil, who would naturally suppose that Mary had conceived by Joseph.

Before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.  That is, she was found so to be by Joseph, not by any one else, for he already had almost an husband's privilege to know all that concerned her.  But when it is said: Before they came together: it doth not follow that they ever did come together carnally.  The Scripture is to be understood merely in the sense that up to this time they had not done so."

-- From a homily by St Jerome

Friday, March 18, 2011

The bond of all perfection is love

"On the cross, Christ 'summed up' in one sacrificial act His whole life and His whole love. In His life and death, He 'sums up' the whole life and destiny of His Church, and also the whole life and death of each member of that Church. There is, of course, individual diversity between the members but there is also a fundamental unity of pattern. To see it, one must first look below the surface of the individuating differences to observe the common pattern, and then stand back far enough from the complete unity to see it as a whole; for unless something of the consummation be glimpsed, there is difficulty in seeing the full significance of the individual destiny and of the common bond.

For the common bond - the bond of all perfection - is love, and the magnificence of the whole is the unity of love. The model according to which the whole is designed is the Blessed Trinity itself - that they may be one as we also are one. And the final consummation and achievement of the whole is summed up one one daring pregnant phrase of St Augustine: And there shall be one Christ loving Himself. For 'no one can love the Father unless he love the Son and he who loves the Son... loves also the members of the Son. And by loving he too becomes a member; through love he enters into the unity of the Body of Christ - and there shall be one Christ loving Himself - for when the members love one another, the body loves itself.'"

-- This Tremendous Lover by Fr Eugene M Boylan, ocso

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prayer for the unemployed

O Saint Joseph, we pray to you for those who are out of work, for those who want to earn their living or support their families.

You who are the patron of workers; grant that unemployment may vanish from our ranks; that all those who are ready to work may put their strength and abilities in serving their fellowmen and earn a just salary.

You are the patron of families; do not let those who have children to support and raise lack the necessary means. Have pity on our brothers and sisters held down in unemployment and poverty because of sickness or social disorders. Help our political leaders and captains of industry find new and just solutions. May each and every one have the joy of contributing, according to his abilities, to the common prosperity by an honorable livelihood. Grant that we may all share together in the abundant goods God has given us and that we may help underprivileged countries. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ask St Therese to accompany you

"St Therese wrote that the four Gospels were her greatest treasure. There she came to know Jesus Christ more profoundly and to love Him more deeply. She wrote, 'I wanted to love, to love Jesus with a passion, giving Him a thousand proofs of my love while it was possible. I copied out several passages on perfect love, on the reception God will give His Elect at the moment He becomes their Reward, great and eternal and I repeated over and over the words of love burning in my heart' (Story of a Soul, 102-3).

The beautiful relationship that she had with Jesus can in some measure be ours. St Therese invites us to join her in reflecting God's Word in Lent, to allow God's Word to touch us in transforming ways. As we meet God's Word each day and join that Word to St Therese's reflection, we will be drawn into prayer. [...] Our heart may wish to praise the Lord or simply be thankful for all that we have received. We may find ourselves resting with a word or a phrase over a period of time because the word engages our heart.

Our prayerful mindfulness of a word or a phrase is truly a form of lectio divina, an ancient form of prayer in which God's Word is central. The experience of God's Word in lectio is live giving, providing a way of bonding with God's love.

St Therese invites us to sit or to kneel and to put ourselves in the presence of God. God is always with us but we need to become mindful of His loving  presence within us. From that act of faith, we can begin our Lenten meditation. Ask St Therese to accompany you and to help you to draw closer to the living God Who is Christ Jesus, the Lord."

-- A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St Therese of Lisieux by Fr John F Russell, OCarm

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent can become a period of renewal

"As the Season of Lent is a call to conversion through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, John of the Cross, with his added insistence on conversion, is a good guide for the Season of Lent. For John of the Cross, conversion takes place when God calls the faithful to replace their usual way of finding fulfillment in life, with God himself.

Thus, with the guidance of John of the Cross, Lent can become a period of renewal, a period where we reorder our priorities from many things to one: God alone. We still have our work to do and obligations to fulfill, but throughout Lent we can learn to be for God alone and to find out reward in God alone.

Such an undertaking cannot be done by mere human willing; we need the help of God, which comes primarily through prayer. Lent and prayer go together like labor and energy. Without the energy that comes from food, we would have a hard time getting out labor done. The same is true with ordering our lives around God during Lent. Without the energy that comes from encountering God in prayer, we will not have the energy to center our lives around God alone, much like Elijah could not continue the journey to Mount Horen unless he ate the food given to him by an angel. Like Elijah, and in the words of John of the Cross, 'Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation.'

We can see that prayer is seeking God from the heart in one's spirit in order to commune with him who is pure spirit. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth (Jn 4:24). Thus, we must seek God in our spirit, created in his image and likeness, so that we can commune with Him who is spirit."

-- A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St John of the Cross by Fr George Mangiaracina, ocd

Monday, March 14, 2011

Your Cross

The everlasting God has
in His wisdom foreseen
from eternity the cross
that He now presents to you
as a gift from His inmost heart.
This cross He now sends you
He has considered with His all-knowing eyes,
understood with His divine mind,
tested with His wise justice,
warmed with loving arms
and weighed with His own hands
to see that it be not one inch too large
and not one ounce too heavy for you.
He has blessed it with His holy Name,
anointed it with His consolation,
taken one last glance at you
and your courage,
and then sent it to you from heaven,
a special greeting from God to you,
an alms of the all-merciful love of God.

--St Francis de Sales

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jesus is waiting for you

“Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless. Say to him: ‘You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus. I have only you. Come to my aid ...’ And then go your way. And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage. It is enough to have told our good Lord. He has an excellent memory.”

-- St Mary of the Cross (Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent, a time of unselfish sacrifice

"Love makes sacrifice a pleasure
Once again we are in the season of Lent. Lent carries different meaning for different people. To us Catholics it should be a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, who laid down his life on the cross for us. There is no greater love than that ultimate sacrifice of Christ.
To some of us fasting, abstinence, the way of the cross and prayer are what Lent is all about. To others it is a time of abstinence from the pleasures of our senses. This may be true to some extent but these acts are in a way are for our own selfish purposes and nothing more.
Christ did not die on the cross for his selfish needs. No one in his right mind will allow himself to be crucified for his selfish reasons. As the followers of Christ, we are asked to emulate that ultimate sacrifice of Christ, the crucifixion.
We need not literally lay down our lives for others but we can sacrifice some precious possessions of ours - our time, energy and wealth for the betterment of fellow mankind. At the same we can give up something which we all possess in abundance - pride, selfishness, ego, anger and greed which impede our endeavors to serve others.
Do we see Jesus in people whom we meet daily – our spouse, our children, our parents, our boss and fellow colleagues in the office, the poor and hungry, the sick and the dying, the handicapped, the sinner, the orphans, our priests and clergy and even our enemies?
Are we willing to forgive and offer our hand of friendship to our enemies and those who sin against us? Are we sensitive to the needs of others around us, or do we close our eyes and ears to their cries of plea? Are we willing to go down to the level of the downtrodden to help them? Are we willing to patiently listen to those in distress? Are we willing and brave enough to speak out against injustice wherever it occurs?
These are some issues we must ponder during this season of Lent. We must consider them in the light of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the crucifixion.
The real meaning of Lent is sacrifice, not for our well-being but that of others. Fasting, abstinence and prayer are just a means to achieve that goal.
We are asked to become holy and like Mother Teresa,our holiness in God,must be for the benefit of others."
-- Originally published 21 February, 2007, by Dr Chris Anthony
Catholic Online

Friday, March 11, 2011

His love is true and totally reliable

"Confidence and trust are almost synonymous, but not quite. Confidence usually bears the connotation of self-reliance or self-confidence, while trust as a supernatural virtue entails primarily a warm personal reliance on the Lord. It can be said that confidence is trust in self, while trust is confidence in God.

Faith assures us that a true love like God's is totally trustworthy, that his love is true and totally reliable. He will never forsake us, though we may forsake him. If we really trust God, we're willing to have our confidence in God put to the test to prove its genuineness and maturity. This type of trust features a quality of readiness for the trials of conflict, frustration, loss, or failure - all under God's guiding hand.

Yet, when fear of failure is the issue because of lack of confidence, experience shows that the soul who trusts the Lord will fail far less frequently than one who distrusts him.In the words of the saintly preacher Mcduff, 'Trust God where you cannot trace him. Do not try to penetrate the cloud that he brings over you; rather, look to the rainbow that is over it. The mystery is God's; the promise is yours.'"

-- Pathways of Trust: 101 Shortcuts to Holiness by John H Hampsch, CMF

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I have but one desire: to see Thee reigning in me

"My Good Master... I have but one desire; it is to see Thee reigning in this being which Thou has given me and always more and more that this breath of my soul, which is part of God, remain pure with a divine purity, and that my body might be animated by Him to a completely spiritual life."

-- The Life of Gabrielle Lefebvre by Fr Le Crom

** Painting titled The Soul Guided by Christ by Francisco Martínez, photo © Michel Zabé

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

"From these precepts it is evident that our every action should be directed towards the attainment of an interior life, which alone giveth true happiness. For if contrariwise we seek our reward in outward things, we shall be conformed to the fashion of this world, and thus forfeit God's promise of happiness, to wit, that we shall be conformed to the image of his Son. Such happiness, inasmuch as it concerneth inward things, is all the more certain and enduring. Howbeit, the special teaching of this passage is this: That vainglory can come forth, not only from worldly elegance and human pretensions, but even from a condition of sad countenance and dirty disfigurement. Furthermore, the latter kind of vainglory is the more dangerous, in that it deceiveth under the pretence of an humble service of God.

On the one hand, whosoever sheweth unbridled indulgence, whether in bodily comforts and dress, or in other forms of elegance, thereby standeth manifestly convicted as a follower of the pomps of this world. Nor doth such an one, by his pretence of godliness, deceive anybody. On the other hand, whosoever from choice, and not of necessity, professeth Christianity in such wise as to draw attention unto himself by reason of his seeming humility, or his particular disregard for outward things, this man is to be judged from the fashion of his other behaviour, as to whether therein he sheweth a desire for mortification, or rather for vainglory. For the Lord biddeth us beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. Rather, as he saith, by their fruits shall ye know them.

Now here is the test of the seeming godliness of such folk. When some adversity bringeth upon them the loss of the advantages which they had gained, or sought to gain, by their profession of godliness, then it must needs appear whether they be wolves in sheep's clothing, or sheep in their own. Nevertheless, a Christian should not seek to tickle the fancy of other folk by a parade of elegance, on the plea that hypocrites do seek to beguile the unwary by a display of frugality. For sheep should not lay aside their own clothing because wolves do sometimes falsely assume the same."

-- From a homily by St Augustine

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Feast of the Holy Face

O Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead ... but now it has become for me as if it were the Face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy Infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.

The tears which well up abundantly in Thy Sacred Eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravished my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.

-- St Thérèse of Lisieux

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Will Remain With You...

You reign at the Father's right hand
In the kingdom of his eternal glory
As God's Word from the beginning.

You reign on the Almighty's throne
Also in transfigured human form,
Ever since the completion of your work on earth.

I believe this because your word teaches me so,
And because I believe, I know it gives me joy,
And blessed hope blooms forth from it.

For where you are, there also are your own,
Heaven is my glorious homeland,
I share with you the Father's throne.

The Eternal who made all creatures,
Who, thrice holy, encompasses all being,
In addition has a silent, special kingdom of his own.

The innermost chamber of the human soul
Is the Trinity's favorite place to be,
His heavenly throne on earth.

To deliver this heavenly kingdom from the hand of the enemy,
The Son of God has come as Son of Man,
He gave his blood as the price of deliverance.

In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced,
The kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together.
Here is for us the source of life.

This heart is the heart of the triune Divinity,
And the center of all human hearts
That bestows on us the life of God.

It draws us to itself with secret power,
It conceals us in itself in the Father's bosom
And floods us with the Holy Spirit.

This Heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle
Where it remains mysteriously hidden
In that still, white host.

That is your royal throne on earth, O Lord,
Which visibly you have erected for us,
And you are pleased when I approach it.

Full of love, you sink your gaze into mine
And bend your ear to my quiet words
And deeply fill my heart with peace.

Yet your love is not satisfied
With this exchange that could still lead to separation:
Your heart requires more.

You come to me as early morning's meal each daybreak.
Your flesh and blood become food and drink for me
And something wonderful happens.

Your body mysteriously permeates mine
And your soul unites with mine:
I am no longer what once I was.

You come and go, but the seed
That you sowed for future glory, remains behind
Buried in this body of dust.

A luster of heaven remains in the soul,
A deep glow remains in the eyes,
A soaring in the tone of voice.

There remains the bond that binds heart to heart,
The stream of life that springs from yours
And animates each limb.

How wonderful are your gracious wonders!
All we can do is be amazed and stammer and fall silent
Because intellect and words fail.

And I Remain With You

-- St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An empty pocket here might possibly assure us a full pocket up in heaven

"We do not worry about paying bills because the majority of us never even see them. We can eat at our frugal tables without knowing the price of an egg. Our simple needs are provided by many kind souls who slip little white envelopes under our front door and then scurry back to the grind of getting a little something for themselves. No, we never realized how rich we could be until we took upon ourselves the life of poverty.


As Carmelites we have received poverty as our heritage, from a foundress who was herself pre-eminently poor. St Teresa loved poverty, and when food and clothing began coming through the turn with stern regularity, when she became deprived of deprivation, she felt as if she had lost 'a great many golden trinkets.' And when things were not quite so miserably poor as usual, the nuns would say anxiously to Teresa, 'Mother, we do not seem to be poor any more.' They were not crazy; only different.

No, we are not rich. We never shall be, for we live by alms. It is a rather haphazard way of life, especially when a Loan Company asks for security, but it was always worked. And many times it is the poor old widow who in saying good-by palms a crumpled dollar bill in our hand. We know she needs it; we know she will feel its loss. But we also know that she needs far more than any dollar bill the tremendous blessings of God that will be hers because of her generosity.

So we friars don't worry if there's a hole in our pocket. What is wrong with a hole as long as there are no pennies to slip through? A hole in a pocket means the pocket is empty. And an empty pocket here on earth might possibly assure us a full pocket up in heaven."

-- Men in Sandals by Richard Madden, ocd


In the cloister it is not unusual to receive many treats for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, etc. People are so generous that they overwhelm us with many goodies: cakes, pastries, ice cream, cookies, candies... I call them Diabetic Holidays. While so many people in the world suffer and struggle for a piece of bread, God, in His infinite generosity, allows many souls devoted to His serving to not feel a pinch. What is a hard straw bed, some cold or (heat), a bare floor, a lack of menu to choose from, when day after day we see God's generous bounty in the sacrifice of His people?

Thank you for your spiritual and financial support of cloistered (and active) religious communities. May God reward you abundantly for your generosity!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our spiritual needs come befor

"One frequent cause of disappointment, especially in our prayers of petition, is that God does not give us what we want, but that we need. 'Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things' (Mt 6:32). In such a case, we are disappointed because our priorities may be misplaced and our value system inverted.

Occasionally we should ask ourselves what our priorities really are. To help us refocus, Jesus advises: 'Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well' (Mt 6:33). Attaining this holiness ('righteousness') should leave us immune to disappointment, because when we have God and his love (manifested by his beneficence toward us), we have everything we need, spiritually. The answers to our physical needs come as an unfailing bonus.


Our spiritual needs come before, not instead of, our physical needs. Thus, really trusting in God's promised provisions for our life-needs, with spiritual goals at the top of our shopping list, will immunize us against any disappointment. When our wants are subordinate to our needs, especially our spiritual needs, the art of trusting God without disappointment is the inevitable result, and the reward that awaits us is equally inevitable. It is the one that Paul was allowed to preview: 'No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him' (1 Cor 2:9)."

-- Pathways of Trust: 101 Shortcuts to Holiness by John H Hampsch, CMF

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart for the first Friday of the month

Adorable Heart of Jesus, glowing with love for us and inflamed with zeal for our salvation: O Heart! ever sensible of our misery and the wretchedness to which our sins have reduced us, infinitely rich in mercy to heal the wounds of our souls, behold us humbly prostrate before Thee to express the sorrow that fills our hearts for the coldness and indifference with which we have so long requited the numberless benefits that Thou hast conferred upon us. With a deep sense of the outrages that have been heaped upon Thee by our sins and the sins of others, we come to make a solemn reparation of honor to thy most sacred majesty. It was our sins that overwhelmed Thy Heart with bitterness; it was the weight of our iniquities that pressed down Thy face to the earth in the Garden of Olives, and caused Thee to expire in anguish and agony on the cross. But now, repenting and sorrowful, we cast ourselves at Thy feet, and implore forgiveness.

Adorable Heart of Jesus, source of true contrition and ever merciful to the penitent sinner, impart to our hearts the spirit of penance, and give to our eyes a fountain of tears, that we may sincerely bewail our sins now and for the rest of our days. Oh, would that we could blot them out, even with our blood! Pardon them, O Lord, in Thy mercy, and pardon and convert to Thee all that have committed irreverences and sacrileges against Thee in the sacrament, of Thy love, and thus give another proof that Thy mercy is above all Thy works. Divine Jesus, with Thee there are mercy and plentiful redemption; deliver us from our sins, accept the sincere desire we now entertain, and our holy resolution, relying on the assistance of Thy grace, henceforth to be faithful to Thee. And in order to repair the sins of ingratitude by which we have grieved Thy most tender and loving Heart, we are resolved in the future ever to love and honor Thee in the most adorable Sacrament of the Altar, where Thou art ever present to hear and grant our petitions, and to be the food and life of our souls. Be Thou, O compassionate Jesus! our Mediator with Thy heavenly Father, Whom we have so grievously offended, strengthen our weakness, confirm these our resolutions of amendment, and as Thy Sacred Heart is our refuge and our hope when we have sinned, so may it be the strength and support of our repentance, that nothing in life or death may ever again separate us from Thee. Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Glorious St Joseph, make us a family of saints

Glorious Saint Joseph! Thou to whom God confided the care of the two persons He most loved on earth, forget not that we too have been entrusted to thy care.

Thou who art our protector and our father, deign to take our interests into thy own hands, but above all, watch over all that concerns our souls.

O virtuous guardians of the Holy Family, by thy powerful intercession, make us a family of saints. And since to merit thy favors, we must strive to imitate thy virtues, obtain for us all a sincere will to walk in thy footsteps and to be like thee, full of love for Jesus and Mary and faithful to all our other duties.

Thou art too jealous of the glory of God and our salvation to refuse to receive our prayers.

O beloved head of the Holy Family, graciously hear us.