Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial of Bl Elia of St Clement

"Blessed Elia of St. Clement was born in Bari, 17th January 1901, to deeply Christian parents. At her baptism she was given the name Theodora, gift of God. In the brief course of her life on earth she lived up to her name. On 8th April 1920 (then Feast of St. Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule), she entered the Carmel of St. Joseph in Bari. She received the habit on 24th November of the same year, the feast of St John of the Cross. On 8th December 1924 she wrote in her own blood her act of total and definitive offering to the Lord with the vow to embrace the "most perfect". She died on Christmas day 1927. On 19th December 2005 Pope Benedict XVI signed the Decree of Beatification. She was proclaimed Blessed in Bari Cathedral on 18th March 2006."

-- From the Discalced Carmelite Proper

"O sweet hiddenness, I love to pass my days in your shadow and to consume thus my existence, for love of my sweet Lord. At times, thinking of those eternal rewards, so great compared to the slight sacrifices of this life, my soul remains in wonder, and seized by an ardent longing, it throws itself on God, exclaiming: “Oh my good Jesus, I want to reach my goal, the gates of salvation, no matter what the cost. Do not deny me anything; give me suffering. May this be the most intimate martyrdom of my poor heart, hidden from every human glance: a rugged cross is what I ask of you. I want to pass my days here below hanging from this cross.”"

-- From the letters of Bl Elia of St Clement, ocd

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church

"The Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son, created the universe, who guided the People of Israel through history and spoke through the Prophets, who in the fullness of time cooperated in our redemption, came down at Pentecost upon the nascent Church and made her missionary, sending her out to proclaim to all peoples the victory of divine love over sin and death.
The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Without him what would she be reduced to? She would certainly be an important movement in history, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps a sort of humanitarian agency. And to tell the truth she is considered such by those who do not see her from a perspective of faith. Yet, the reality is that in her true nature and also in her authentic presence in history, the Church is ceaselessly formed and guided by the Spirit of her Lord. She is a living body, whose vitality is, precisely, the fruit of the invisible divine Spirit."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Coeli address on Mary 31, 2009, Solemnity of Pentecost

"Dear friends, let us too learn at the school of Mary to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to listen to his inspirations and to follow them with docility. He makes us grow in accordance with the fullness of Christ, in accordance with those good fruits which the Apostle Paul lists in his Letter to the Galatians: "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22). I hope you will be filled with these gifts and that you will always walk with Mary, in accordance with the Spirit..."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, address on Mary 30, Marian Vigil

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Lord will accept the last even as the first

If any man be devout and love God,
let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.

If any man be a wise servant,
let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.

If any have labored long in fasting,
let him now receive his recompense.

If any have wrought from the first hour,
let him today receive his just reward.

If any have come at the third hour,
let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
let him have no misgivings,
because he shall in no wise be deprived.

If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
let him draw near, fearing nothing.

If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
let him also be not alarmed at his tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor,
will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour,
even as unto him who has worked from the first hour.

And He shows mercy upon the last,
and cares for the first;
and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds,
and welcomes the intention,
and honors the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord,
and receive your reward,
both the first and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together,
hold high festival.

You sober and you heedless,
honor the day.

Rejoice today,
both you who have fasted
and you who have disregarded the fast.

The table is fully laden;
feast sumptuously.

The calf is fatted;
let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy the feast of faith;
receive all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one weep for his iniquities,
for pardon has shone forth from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the Savior's death has set us free:
he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into hell, he made hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of his flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried:
"Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions."

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

-- From an Easter Sermon by St John Chrysostom

Monday, May 9, 2011

He who desires nothing but God does not walk in darkness

"He who desires nothing but GOD does not walk in darkness, however blind and poor he may think himself to be. He that is not presumptuous, nor desires his own satisfaction has no need to falter or fret over anything. You are progressing well, remain in peace and joy. Who do you think you are to be anxious about yourself? You will only get yourself into a fine state!"

-- From the letters of St John of the Cross

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Let God's people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ

I. We Must All Be Partakers in Christ's Resurrection Life
In my last sermon, dearly-beloved, not in- appropriately, as I think, we explained to you our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby the life of believers contains in itself the mystery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at the feast is celebrated by our practice. And how useful this is you yourselves have proved, and by your devotion have learnt, how greatly benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms. For there can be hardly any one who has not profited by this exercise, and who has not stored up in the recesses of his conscience something over which he may rightly rejoice. But these advantages must be retained with persistent care, lest our efforts fall away into idleness, and the devil's malice steal what God's grace gave. Since, therefore, by our forty days' observance we have wished to bring about this effect, that we should feel something of the Cross at the time of the Lord's Passion, we must strive to be found partakers also of Christ's Resurrection, and "pass from death unto life," while we are in this body. For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning. But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions. We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness. Let the old sink, that the new may rise; and since, as says the Truth, "no one can serve two masters," let not him be Lord who has caused the overthrow of those that stood, but Him Who has raised the fallen to victory.
II. God Did Not Leave His Soul in Hell, Nor Suffer His Flesh to See Corruption
Accordingly, since the Apostle says, "the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven," we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impossibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days' delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days. The Saviour's Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separated.
III. Christ's Manifestation After the Resurrection Showed that His Person Was Essentially the Same as Before
And then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based. And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord's Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostles not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed. For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God's only Son to be both Word and Flesh.
IV. But Though It is the Same, It is Also Glorified
The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly. beloved, does not disagree with this belief, when he says, "even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more." For the Lord's Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power. The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist: the body was made impassible, which it had been possible to crucify: it was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it. And properly is Christ's flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory. But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ's body, when he says of all spiritual Christians "wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh." Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us. We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.
V. Being Saved by Hope, We Must Not Fulfil the Lasts of the Flesh
Let us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things. Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal. For although "by hope we were saved," and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow. And so, when the Apostle says, "make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof," we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands, but because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognize that we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind's control. And hence the same Apostle says in another place, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it;" in so far, of course, as it must be nourished and cherished not in vices and luxury, but with a view to its proper functions, so that nature may recover herself and maintain due order, the lower parts not prevailing wrongfully and debasingly over the higher, nor the higher yielding to the lower, lest if vices overpower the mind, slavery ensues where there should be supremacy.
VI. Our Godly Resolutions Must Continue All the Year Round, Not Be Confined to Easier Only
Let God's people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ, and with all vigilance understand by Whom they have been adopted and Whom they have adopted. Let not the things, which have been made new, return to their ancient instability; and let not him who has "put his hand to the plough" forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind. Let no one fall back into that from which he has risen, but, even though from bodily weakness he still languishes under certain maladies, let him urgently desire to be healed and raised up. For this is the path of health through imitation of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, notwithstanding the many accidents and falls to which in this slippery life the traveler is liable, his feet may be guided from the quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is written, "the steps of a man are directed by the Lord, and He will delight in his way. When the just man falls he shall not be overthrown, because the Lord will stretch out His hand." These thoughts, dearly-beloved, must be kept in mind not only for the Easter festival, but also for the sanctification of the whole life, and to this our present exercise ought to be directed, that what has delighted the souls of the faithful by the experience of a short observance may pass into a habit and remain unalterably, and if any fault creep in, it may be destroyed by speedy repentance. And because the cure of old-standing diseases is slow and difficult, remedies should be applied early, when the wounds are fresh, so that rising ever anew from all downfalls, we may deserve to attain to the incorruptible Resurrection of our glorified flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever.

-- Sermon LXXI: On the Resurrection I by St Leo the Great

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Divine Mercy Sunday and Beatification of John Paul II

Jezu, ufam Tobie!
John Paul II, ora pro nobis!

Trust - Completely Trust in Jesus

Trust in Jesus is the essence of the message of mercy. When we go to a public fountain, we can draw water from it as long as we have a vessel or container of some kind to put the water in. If our vessel is small, we can only bring back a little water; if it’s large, we can bring back a lot. And anyone with a vessel can draw water from the fountain. The water is there for us, and no one is excluded. All we need is a vessel.

So it is with God’s mercy. In repeated revelations to St. Faustina, Our Divine Savior makes it clear that the fountain is His Heart, the water is His mercy, and the vessel is trust.

I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust (Diary, 1520). On the cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls — no one have I excluded! (1182). I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: "Jesus, I trust in You" (327). The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive (1578).

In the Diary of St. Faustina, we hear Our Lord reminding us that we can depend upon His love … that He alone is worthy of our trust: I never reject a contrite heart (1485). Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul (1777).

But there is more to trust than just believing that God is trustworthy. We have to act upon that belief. Trust involves a turning back to God, a real conversion of our whole lives to God, repenting of our sins and forgiving others. Trust is a living faith.

Trust means that we agree to let God be God, instead of trying to be God ourselves. (Trust is the antidote to the first sin of Adam!) It means that we agree that God can write the script of our lives, instead of insisting on our own script. It means that we agree with the great pledge we make in the Our Father: “Your will [not mine] be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It means that even in our moments of agony we agree with the cry of Jesus in the Garden, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Lk 22:42).

God is Mercy itself, and we are called to practice the ABC’s of mercy (Ask for His Mercy, Be merciful to others, Completely trust in Jesus). As we do, our trust in Jesus is the vital ingredient. We don’t simply ask for mercy, nor do we simply try to be good to other people. We ask with complete trust, and Our Lord fills us with grace so that we can be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful.

I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls (1074).

Copyright © 2011 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.