Sunday, February 28, 2010

Please pray for the Carmelites in Chile

I received news through the kindness of Sister MJ that the Carmelite sisters in Auco (St Teresa of the Andes' community) are well after the earthquake but that they have suffered damages in their roof and items (broken statues, etc.). Other Carmelite communities have suffered damages, and so far there are no news from the community in Concepción, one of the hardest hit cities who had yet another earthquake this morning. I have written to Mother Prioress in Auco to ask how we can help them. Please, do NOT send cash or international money order to the sisters. Currency of these types always get stolen/confiscated by the postal service there. In the past I tried sending money to them and it was stolen every single time. It was then that Mother told me about wire transfer. I'm guessing that the Red Cross has gone to help those suffering most. But money's needed to repair the tile roof and other broken items, and get new statuary, etc., of which the Carmelites are very fond of. As soon as I get additional news I will post them here in the blog. For now, please continue to offer prayer and sacrifice for our Carmelites in Chile, all those who are suffering, and the faithful departed.

God reward you!

Our Lady of Mt Carmel and all Carmelite saints, pray for them! St Joseph, pray for them!

From now on suffering is linked to love

"In the Old Testament, God often shows His compassion and His tenderness towards man who is suffering. But the coming of the Saviour on earth marks in a more poignant fashion the solidarity of God with suffering humanity. The Gospel shows us Jesus ceaselessly bringing Himself near to the miseries of His contemporaries. Suffering moves Him, touches Him, upsets Him, sometimes to tears. Disregarding custom, we see Him go before the lepers, the untouchables of the time, to put His hands in their wounds and cure them. The suffering of hearts inspires profound compassion in Him, as in the scene of the widow of Naim weeping over the death of her only son. He draws all of those in pain towards His Heart open to all suffering: Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you(Matt. 11: 28).

But God wished to go further: by becoming man, He put Himself also among the number of the suffering. Jesus wished to be born in a wretched stable; He worked hard to gain His daily bread; He knew hunger, thirst, the weariness of long journeys on foot (cf. John 4: 6); for three years, He did not have a home, not even a rock on which to rest His head (cf. Matt. 8: 20); He suffered the misunderstanding of men, their mockeries; they treated Him as a man given over to wine and good food. The truth and the depth of His fear of suffering appears particularly in the prayer in Gethsemani: My God, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me! In the passion, physical and mental pain reach their paroxysm. Finally, Our Lord wished to join man in the mystery of death. All men who suffer can say in facing the Crucified: "He too has suffered."

But if Jesus passed through the abyss of suffering, it was to transfigure it and give it a completely new dimension: from now on suffering is linked to love. If it remains a great evil in itself, suffering has become the most solid foundation of the essential possession of man, that is to say, eternal salvation. It permits us to be tied to Jesus in the work of the Redemption. A consequence of sin, it becomes, by the power of God, the means of our moral recovery."

-- From the spiritual letter of November 21, 1996, by Dom Antoine Marie, osb. Reproduced with permission through the kindness of Fr Jacques Marie, osb.

** Dom Antoine is a benedictine priest at Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey in Flavigny.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mary comes to a heart that wants to love her

"Love Mary! She is lovable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity."

-- St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, CP

** Those following the 1962 Liturgical Calendar and those living in Italy observe today the memorial of St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Francis Possenti (1838-1862) entered the Passionist monastery in Morovalle in 1856, where he received the name of Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Gabriel was a joyous young man who loved prayer and the poor. He died of tuberculosis 6 years later. St Gemma Galgani had a great devotion to him.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ven Teresa of the Child Jesus of Prague (Mira García)

Teresa was born in Algueña (Alicante, Spain), on 26 September 1895. On 5 April 1915, she entered the noviciate of the Teresian Carmelite Missionaries in Tarragona. Teresa loved the Church and committed herself to serving its weakest members: the children, on whom she poured out goodness and tenderness. Some are still alive, witnesses who remember her and venerate her, considering her still "present" in their lives. Teresa was a model of equilibrium and unity in the tragic Spanish civil war (1936-1939). She died in Novelda (Alicante), on 26th February 1941.

Her motto, which characterized her, was "to do good to everyone", without distinction of creed or party, placed her in the footsteps of Jesus who "passed by doing good". We could sum her up as "loving God and neighbour", welcoming, simple and kind. Her virtue has been proclaimed heroic (Rome, 17th December 1997).

-- Adapted from the Teresian Carmelite Missionaries website

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prayer to the Shoulder Wound of Jesus

"O Loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy Flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other Wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.
It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and Our Lord answered: 'I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound, which was more painful than the others and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through Its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins.'"

Imprimatur: Bishop Thomas D. Beaven, Springfield, MA

Memorial of St Avertanus

"According to the Catalogue of the Saints of the Carmelites, the actual compilation of which is dated between the end of the XIV century and the beginning of the XV, Avertanus was born in the diocese of Limoges (France), in a place that no one has been able to identify. He entered the Order of Carmelites as a lay brother and immediately became known for his exceptional virtues. Having come into Italy on pilgrimage to the various sanctuaries of the peninsula, he worked numerous miracles there and then, while he was returning to his fatherland, he died at Lucca and was buried in the old church of the hospice of St. Peter outside the walls. Miracles, attested by pictures extant in the church of St. Peter and in the cathedral of Lucca, were worked over his tomb.

The year of death of St. Avertanus seems to have been in the XIII century, to judge from the antiquity of these pictures, which were «ancient» at the end of the 1300's or the beginning of the 1400's, and from the existence of an inscription (s. V/e/rtanus) thought to be not before the XII cent. and not after the XIII; finally, in 1325 there was reputedly a hospital dedicated to him. Moreover, the fact that he was buried in the hospice of St. Peter, and not with the Carmelites of Lucca, would date the death of Avertanus before 1284, the year in which the religious obtained the church of Santa Maria del Corso, outside the gate of St. Donatus, near the hospital.

Another problem is posed by the exhumation of his body. The inscription which speaks of it is of genuine humanistic tenor and was carved on his marble tomb, which is attributed to Matthew Civitali (1436-1501). In the inscription it is said that the exhumation (made nuper, i.e., recently) came about through the efforts of Graecus Johannes Lucensis origine / John, the Greek, born in Lucca/ — who also had the body of the Bl. Romaeus placed in the same tomb of St. Avertanus. Now, the only bishop of Lucca by the name of John, in the period that goes from 1100 to 1646, was the Franciscan, formerly bishop of Bethlehem, John of Fucecchio, initially auxiliary and then, from 1383 to 1393, bishop. The body of St. Avertanus was transferred to the cathedral in 1513, then in 1646 brought back to the church of St. Peter, reconstructed within the walls; and finally, in 1806, it was placed in the church of SS. Paulinus and Donatus, where it is preserved still today.

His name was introduced into the calendar of the Carmelite missal in 1514, for Feb. 25. His office was made obligatory by the general chapter of the Order (1564) and sanctioned by the Holy See (1609); the proper lessons were approved by the S. Congregation of Rites on May 12, 1672. On July 16, 1828, the office and Mass were extended to the entire archdiocese of Lucca. The Life of St. Avertanus, written in a later epoch by the Carmelite, Segero Pauli, and also published by the Bollandists, is an imaginative reconstruction.

About Bl. Romaeus, buried with Avertanus, any item worthy of notice is lacking. He reputedly died a few days after St. Avertanus, on March 4, and was buried at the side of his friend."

-- Biography by Louis Saggi, OCarm

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Penance and Reparation, part II

"If we ask, why penance and reparation, the first answer is: Because God wants it.

But if we press the question: Why does God want it? Then we must say, because in His mysterious wisdom, His justice requires it. We may legitimately say, without really understanding it, that He has no choice. Having given us a free will, if we abuse liberty, we must use our freedom to repay to God the love we have stolen from Him (which is penance) and repair the damage we have done (which is reparation).

Notice, all along I have been using the first person plural, "we", because penance and reparation are owed to God not only because I have individually sinned, but because we human beings have sinned and are sinning, in our day, on a scale never before conceived in the annals of history.

We know better than Cain after he killed his brother, Abel. We are our brother's keepers. We are mysteriously co-responsible for what other people do wrong. There is a profound sense in which all of us are somehow to do penance and make reparation, not only for our sinful misdeeds, but for the sins of our country and, indeed, for the sins of the whole human race.

We return to our question: Why penance and reparation? Because, in Christ's words, "Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish".

Is it any wonder that on Pentecost Sunday, after Peter preached his sermon, and rebuked the people for their sins, and they asked him, "what must we do," his first word to the multitude was the imperative verb, "Repent!"

Is it any wonder that Our Lady of Fatima's message to a sinful world in our day, may be summarized in the same imperative, "Do penance."

Indeed, the calamities that we have so far seen in this present century: two world wars with more casualties than in all the previous wars of history, and the threat of a nuclear holocaust that hangs over us like a tornado cloud. All of this is God's warning to do penance and reparation. Why? Because God is not mocked.

You do not offend God with impunity. You do not sin without retribution. You do not ignore the will of the Almighty and expect the Almighty to ignore what you do.

What bears emphasis, however, is that this retribution is either to be paid willingly, with our penance and reparation, or will be paid unwillingly within the divine punishment.

The divine logic is simple, awfully simple, and all we have to do is learn what God is telling us. Either we do penance and reparation because we want to, or we shall suffer (against our will) the consequences of our sins in this life, and in the life to come.

But remember, this penance and reparation is to be done not only for what we have personally done wrong. It is for all the pride and lust, for all the cruelty and greed, for all the envy and laziness and gluttony of a sin-laden human family.

God is merciful and in fact as our Holy Father has told us, Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of divine mercy. But God's mercy is conditional. It is conditional on our practice of penance and reparation."

-- Penance and Reparation: A Lenten Meditation Fr John A Hardon, SJ
Copyright © 2003 by Inter Mirifica

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lent invites us to look at our lives

"There seems to be an awful amount to Lent; it may seem quite complicated on the page. Over the centuries the Church has simplified the Lenten observance to three: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Prayer is coming before God in our creatureliness, in our beauty and our disfigurement to seek a relationship with our Father, with Jesus our brother and Son of God, with the Holy Spirit who gives life to all our activity. Without reflection and prayer, our Lent will not go anywhere. We need to seek God in silence so that we may listen to him and to the truth of the Gospel, to respond to it and to gaze on its challenge or beauty, Fasting is a most ancient form of penance; many of us have been impressed by the dedication of Moslems to fasting. Fasting can serve as a symbol of what we are determined to do or avoid in Lent. What should we do for Lent? Which is better to give up something or to choose something to do? It depends. We need to go back to our check-up. Each of us could have a different result of a medical examination. The doctor might prescribe medicine for some people, recommend diets or activities for others. When we look at the various areas of our spiritual lives, which I put under the headings of head, heart, chest, stomach and limbs, we will see where our weaknesses are, and then we can choose what is most beneficial for our spiritual growth. There are more Lenten practices than giving up sweets, smoking or alcohol, or attending Mass more often in the week. What would be good for you? Fasting will cover what we need to do or avoid that will make us more spiritually healthy; it will necessarily involve what may be somewhat unpleasant, difficult or painful. That saint of common sense, the 16th century Teresa of Avila spoke of those who claimed that their health would suffer if they fasted; she said that to keep in what should not be said, was a fast that everyone could practice. Lenten practices need some imagination.

Finally, almsgiving is the aspect of penance that invites us to look after those who are poor in any way. We are familiar with giving money for charity. School charities are surely a most important feature of education. It invites pupils to look to the needs of others. It gives very important possibilities for bonding between pupils and with their teachers. The commitment to a charity is more than the money that may be raised. We learn about the situation of others for whom we may be raising funds. We may not have much money and may not be able to give much to charity, it is important to give at least a little. But there is something that all of us have to give, which is our time. I know that people say that our society is time poor. Yes. But all could give some time to others, over and above our duties. It might be as little as an hour or two per week that we commit to some needy people, to an organisation of group that serves the community or Church.

So this Lent invites us to look at our lives, to see what our weaknesses are. Then we can engage in the three classical forms of penance: prayer, fasting and almsgiving in accordance with our possibilities."

-- The meaning of Lent with some Carmelite insights by Christopher O'Donnell, OCarm

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feast of the Chair of St Peter

"Out of the whole world on man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God's people many bishops and many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says:
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your preeminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they sent down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told:
To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church."

-- From a sermon by St Leo the Great

** The painting is by Pietro Vennucci Perugino

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seven themes found in the Lenten liturgy

"In the next six weeks there are seven themes that continually emerge in the prayers and readings for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Lent is a time for penance. We need to be prepared to what we do not feel like doing. There are certain features of our lives, of our personalities that we would be better without; there are aspects of our personalities that are not beautiful or helpful for ourselves and others. Some of these are quite simply sins. Sin? Not an in-word today. At penitential services in Lent and before Christmas I frequently hear people say, “It’s six months—or even several years—since my last confession. I do not have any sins.” I feel like saying, ask your husband, wife, children, parents, or work colleagues if you are really without sin. The person may not have committed murder of adultery, but they will probably have many features of their lives which are not adding to the sum of human happiness or indeed to their own well-being. So there is firstly a need for penance, which is a matter of seeing what road we are on. We go astray in many ways, and strangely the smaller the faults, the more difficult it can be to eliminate them. Penance is being alert to our failings and a willingness to do something about them. The second theme is conversion. This means turning away from what is sinful or dangerous. The other side of conversion is a third theme of returning to God. We should view our behaviour and our lives in the mirror of the teaching of Jesus. Fourthly, we have to have an attitude to our failings and sin. This is sorrow. A feature of contemporary society is the lack of sorrow for evil-doing. Politicians and Church leaders hate saying sorry we know, but many people go around doing harm, even if in small ways, without any regrets. Sorrow for sin and for the evil in our lives is essential for spiritual health.

However, these four themes of penance, conversion, returning to God and sorrow for sin are not fully within our power. The Christian view is that we cannot really do much that is of value except with God’s help. Our spiritual health depends on God’s gift. Hence the fifth theme is redemption: God saves us. He will not do it without our co-operation. To recall a earlier text, we have to be willing to allow God to recreate our hearts and cleanse our inner being. The redemption we need arises from the sixth Lenten theme, the passion of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save us; he taught and healed, before dying for us. The passion of Jesus is a truth that teaches God’s love for us, the reality of sin. Contemporary spirituality neglects too much the Cross of Christ; the Stations of the Cross are not nearly so popular today. The seventh Lenten theme is baptism. The weeks of Lent are a final preparation for the sacrament. They are also a time when we should reflect on our own baptism. What does the sacrament mean to us? Three ideas might be noted: baptism brings us into the family of God, with relationships to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism then brings us into the Church, the Christian community, with an obligation to love and serve. Thirdly, baptism draws us in imitation and discipleship of Jesus.

These seven themes found in the Lenten liturgy can give us a new vision of ourselves. Once they are pointed out, then we can hear them with new ears: penance, conversion, returning to God, sorrow for sin, redemption, the passion of Jesus and baptism will feature in the prayers and readings, with ever new lights and insights. But we will not plumb their depths without reflection. A lot of teaching is about facts; we can with more or less difficulty process information. There were two world wars in the 20th century: 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. Anyone who does not know this is ill-informed. Anyone denying them is plain wrong. But a lot of education is about attitudes and values. Generosity and open-mindedness have to be communicated in education, but these involve owning and valuing them, similarly with the values of Lent. You could have a page for noting these themes as we hear them at Masses during Lent. They could be the subject of prayer and reflection so that we have a new acceptance and esteem for them."

-- The meaning of Lent with some Carmelite insights by Christopher O'Donnell, OCarm

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bls Jacinta and Francisco Marto

Francisco was born 11 June 1908, the sixth of seven children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto. He was a handsome boy, with light hair and dark eyes. He loved games and other children, yet without the spirit of competition. He would not complain when treated unfairly, and gave up a treasured possession (a handkerchief stamped with the image of Our Lady) rather than contend for it. He was a peacemaker, but courageous, as his conduct under questioning by the Mayor would later show. He also had a mischievous turn. He was known to drop strange and inedible objects in his sleeping brother’s mouth. He had a love for nature, and animals in particular. He played with lizards and snakes, and would bring them home, to his mother’s chagrin. Once he gave a penny, all the money he had, to a friend for a captured bird, only to set the bird free. He played a reed pipe, to which Lucia and his sister Jacinta would sing and dance. In short, he was a kind, gentle boy, not yet a Saint, but one predisposed by God for the graces soon bestowed on him.
Alone among the three, Francisco never heard the Lady’s words, although he saw her and felt her presence. After the first apparition, Lucia conveyed the Lady’s message to him, that he would go to heaven if he prayed many Rosaries. In the second apparition, Lucia asked to be taken to heaven, and the Lady replied that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken soon, but Lucia would have to wait for a time. (She is still alive.)
In the third apparition, the children were given a secret, including a vision of hell, which so changed them that they became more like adults than children. At this time the Mayor of the district, Artur de Oliveira Santos, a Freemason, devised a scheme to discredit the apparitions by terrorizing the children. He tried to bully them into admitting they lied, threatened to boil them in oil if they withheld the Lady’s “Secret” (Francisco showed extravagant courage in anticipation of going to heaven), and jailed them to keep them from their appointment with the Lady on the day of the fourth apparition (August 13). They kept their appointment two days later.
For the fifth apparition, tens of thousands attended, having been alerted by the press to the Mayor’s controversy with the children. Among the curious was a seminary professor from Santarem, Dr. Manuel Formigao, who questioned the children afterward and became convinced of their veracity.
When the public learned of a miracle promised for the next appointed day, many resolved to be there, and on October 13 perhaps 70 thousand people were present for the miracle of the sun.
After the apparitions ended, Francisco was enrolled in school but played truant as often as possible. He preferred to spend time praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Francisco answered, "I don't want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven."
In August 1918, when World War I was nearing an end, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza. They had short reprieves, but their decline was inevitable. In April of the following year, Francisco, knowing his time was short, asked to receive the Hidden Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. The next morning, April 4th, at ten o’clock, he died with a glow on his shrunken face. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery in Fatima, across from the parish church, and later translated to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria.

-- From EWTN

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Crown of Thorns

"The thorns, with which the adorable head of our Lord was crowned, were not planted upon earth by the paternal hand of God, but they were maliciously sowed by a treacherous enemy. From the Gospel we learn that this enemy was the Devil, and the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve was the noxious seed. The curse of God made them grow long and sharp. These thorns and thistles were more intended to prick the sinner's conscience than the callous hand of the industrious laborer. This is the wise reflection of St. John Chrysostom: "when God said to our fallen parents: Cursed is the earth in thy work; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." He intended to signify: thy conscience O sinner, shall never cease producing thorns and stings which will prick thy guilty soul. (St. John Chrys. in Mark 10:19) The thorns of this accursed earth are therefore the figures of our sins. They are the brand of God's malediction impressed on the forehead of sinners. Even the learned Protestant Grotius discovered this truth and said: "The curse of sin was the origin of thorns." "Maledictio in spinis Coepit." (Grot. comm. in Mark 15:17) 

Now our Lord Jesus Christ, being the second Person of the most adorable Trinity, essential holiness in human flesh, 
Verbum Caro factum and the most cherished object of the eternal predilection of His heavenly Father, could never be defiled by the least shadow of sin and consequently He never could be subject to the malediction of God. In His infinite mercy He could however consent to experience the temporary effects of both. Jesus could assume and wear for our sake the infamous badge of sin. He could in mercy for us taste and drink the loathsome bitterness of the cup filled up to the brim with the gall and vinegar of God's malediction.

Our Divine Redeemer did in fact consent to wear during His whole mortal life, the sinner's garb and He daily drank in large doses the disgusting potion squeezed from the corrupted hearts of sinful men as from sour grapes by the weight of God's anathema. But because the large and deep vessel containing the poison of sin was not exhausted, being daily and hourly replenished by new crimes; so our dear Lord was obliged to make a most painful effort in order to drain it all at once and completely during His bitter Passion. This heroic act was accomplished in the garden of Gethsemani wherein He was so copiously drenched with the large chalice of sin that He was cast into a deadly swoon and His life's Blood was forced out from every pore of His agonizing Body.

Now we should attentively observe that the same plan was followed by our merciful Redeemer in wearing the filthy badge of sin. Having once assumed it in His incarnation with our human nature, He had to wear it continually during His whole mortal life. At the time, however, of His Passion our Lord had to be publicly and solemnly installed as the King of Sinners and Sorrows. Oh! the grand and sublime mystery of the Crown of Thorns.

It was then in the city of Jerusalem, the capital of Judea, it was in the hall of Pilate, the Roman Governor, that our Divine Lord chose to be crowned with thorns and to assume the full uniform of sinner and the infamous wreath of sin. It was on this memorable occasion that the great and eternal Son of God the Incarnate Word was installed as the King of Sinners and consequently as the man deepest in infamy and greatest in sorrow: "Despised and the most abject of men! ..." Our sins are Jesus' Crown of Thorns. "
Corona ex spinis peccata sunt... (Theopil. in Matt. 27) Thorns being the offshoot and the stigma of God's malediction against sin, hence, by consenting to be crowned with thorns, our merciful Lord voluntarily became the responsible head and the willing victim of God's anathema directed and intended for sinners only. It is thus according to St. Paul that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." (Gal. 3:13) Hence, by wearing the Crown of Thorns, our most holy Redeemer received upon His adorable head the curse pronounced by the irritated justice of God against our sinful race, and through this act of mercy He shielded us from its terrible blow. "In corona spinea maledictum solvit antiquum," says Origen.

Our merciful Savior effected still more in our behalf. Thorns and thistles, as we have remarked, are the principal offshoot of God's curse against sin. Now by consenting to take these sharp thorns upon His adorable head, He removed this malediction and changed it into a blessing for mankind. In this way our Lord Jesus Christ diminished the quantity and the intensity of our temporal sufferings; and through His blessing, grace and example, He rendered all our labors and toils meritorous of eternal reward. Children of sinful parents, conceived and born in sin, we have indeed much to suffer yet; but had not our blessed Lord come to our relief our temporal sufferings should have been by far more numerous in quantity and more intense in quality as daily experience testifies among Infidel and Pagan nations. Moreover we should have been condemned to pass from temporal to eternal misery. Through His merciful Crown of Thorns our Savior has removed from mankind the brand of everlasting infamy and has secured for His faithful servants the diadem of heavenly glory. "
In that day, the prophet Isaias says, the Lord of Hosts shall be a crown of glory, and a garland of joy to the residue of His people." (Is. 28:5) Hence St. Jerome could with reason say that: Through the merit of the thorny crown of Jesus' head we have acquired a right to the diadem of the heavenly kingdom. "Corona spinea capitis ejus diadema regni adepti sumus." (In Marc. 15)

In all our sufferings then let us look up to the King of Sorrows crowned with thorns. This should be done more especially when by irksome neuralgia, and severe headaches, we are invited to bear a share of the thorny crown of our Divine Master. St. Bernard justly remarks that: "Christians should be ashamed to be too delicate members of a Divine head crowned with thorns." We should however acknowledge that persons afflicted with these sufferings deserve more charitable compassion than they do generally receive. These afflictions being internal and invisible do not excite to commiseration those especially who had never experienced their painful and saddening effects. We should also reflect that headaches are often caused by an overflow of blood to the head which produces a flush on the face and this is mistaken by many superficial observers for a sign of vigorous health. Hence compliments are offered which to the ears of the sufferer sound like irony. Moreover these painful attacks of the head are naturally the cause of mistakes and of awkward failures, which bring upon their victim ridicule and undeserved humiliations. The best and perhaps the only comfort and consolation on these mortifying occasions, will be a devout glance at Jesus crowned with thorns and mocked in the hall of Pilate. He is fully aware of our sufferings and trials. He suffered more than we do both in physical pain and in humiliations. Our Lord can compassionate our misery and will abundantly reward our humility, meekness and patience.

In the lives of the Fathers of the Desert, we read that St. Pacomius towards the end of his life, while suffering intense pain in his head and oppressed with interior anguish of mind, had recourse to prayer to obtain some relief and consolation from God. On this occasion our Lord appeared to him accompanied by many holy Angels and wearing a Crown of Thorns but at the same time shining with dazzling glory. Surprised at the heavenly vision the suffering servant of God prostrated himself with his face to the ground when one of the Angels very affectionately raised him up and informed him that Jesus Christ had come to console him in his affliction. Our Lord then spoke to Pacomius words of heavenly comfort encouraging him to bear his trials and sufferings with resignation, assuring him that they were intended for the purification of his soul, and for a great increase of merit which was soon to be crowned with corresponding glory and bliss for all eternity in Heaven."

-- The Mystery of the Crown of Thorns by A Passionist Father

** Traditionally, the first Friday in Lent is dedicated to the Crown of Thorns.

** Art by Bryan Lynch

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Penance and Reparation, part I

"Penance and reparation are the consequence of sin. Or again, penance and reparation are the price we have to pay for our own and other people's sin. Penance and reparation, finally, are what God requires from sinners as a condition for showing them His mercy.

In order to better understand the meaning of penance and reparation, we have to look for a moment at what happens whenever we sin. Two things happen:
  • First: we incur guilt before God for the self-will that caused us to sin. We become more or less separated or estranged from God, depending on the gravity of our sin.
  • Second: We deserve punishment for the disorder we cause by our sinful conduct. We become liable to suffering pain, again more or less pain, depending on how seriously we have done wrong.
Against this background, we can more easily see the meaning of penance and reparation.

  • Penance is the repentance we must make to remove the guilt, or to reinstate ourselves in God's friendship.
  • Reparation is the pain we must endure to make up for the harm we brought about by our self-indulgence when we sinned.
What then do penance and reparation have in common? They have this in common, that they are absolutely necessary if the justice of God is to be satisfied after we have offended the divine Majesty. They also have this in common, that God now has a right to demand more of us than He would have required had we not committed sin. The word more is basic to any correct understanding of penance and reparation.

But if penance and reparation have this in common, how do they differ? They differ, as we have seen, in the two different ways that we do wrong whenever we sin. Because we have failed in loving God, we now owe Him more love than He would have required had we not offended Him. We did wrong by our willful love of self. So now we have to make up by our selfless love of God. This is Penance.

And because we have brought disorder into the world by our sins, we must undergo pain to undo this harm we have caused. This is reparation."

-- Penance and Reparation: A Lenten Meditation Fr John A Hardon, SJ
Copyright © 2003 by Inter Mirifica

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

"Let the one truly possessed by the love of Christ keep his commandments. Who can express the binding power of divine love? Who can find words for the splendor of its beauty? Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us. Love unites us to God; "it cancels innumerable sins," has no limits to its endurance, bears everything patiently. Love is neither servile nor arrogant. It does not provoke schisms or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others. By it all God's chosen ones have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him. Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God's will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life's blood for us -- he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.

See then, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection. Who are worthy to possess it unless God makes them so? To him therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach. Every generation from Adam's time to ours has passed away; but those who by God's grace were made perfect in love and have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed. "Take shelter in your rooms for a little while," says Scripture, "until my wrath subsides. Then I will remember the good days, and will raise you from your graves."

Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and in the observance of God's commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins. Scripture pronounces "happy those whose transgressions are pardoned, whose sins are forgiven. Happy the one," it says, "to whom the Lord imputes no fault, on whose lips there is no guile." This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever.

Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has "offered the opportunity of repentance" to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God's message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God's forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God's people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God's grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: "As I live," says the Lord, "I do not wish the death of the sinner but the sinner's repentance." He added this evidence of his goodness: "House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, `Father,' and I will listen to you as to a holy people."

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarreling and jealousy which only lead to death.

We should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride, and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: "The wise must not glory in wisdom nor the strong in strength nor the rich in riches. Rather, let the one who glories glory in the Lord, by seeking him and doing what is right and just." Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. "Be merciful," he said, "so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving."

Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: "Whom shall I look upon with favor except the humble, peaceful one who trembles at my words?"

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings."

--From a letter of St Clement I to the Corinthians

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feast of the Holy Face

Jesus, Your ineffable image
Is the star which guides my steps.
Ah, You know, Your sweet Face
Is for me Heaven on earth.
My love discovers the charms
Of Your Face adorned with tears.
I smile through my own tears
When I contemplate Your sorrows.

Oh! To console You I want
To live unknown on earth!
Your beauty, which You know how to veil,
Discloses for me all its mystery.
I would like to fly away to You!

Your Face is my only homeland.
It's my Kingdom of love.
It's my cheerful meadow.
Each day, my sweet sun.
It's the Lily of the Valley
Whose mysterious perfume
Consoles my exiled soul,
Making it taste the peace of Heaven.

It's my Rest, my Sweetness
And my melodious Lyre
Your Face, O my Sweet Savior,
Is the Divine Bouquet of Myrrh
I want to keep on my heart!

Your Face is my only wealth.
I ask for nothing more.
Hiding myself in it unceasingly,
I will resemble You, Jesus
Leave in me, the Divine Impress
Of Your features filled with sweetness,
And soon I'll become holy.
I shall draw hearts to You.

So that I may gather
A beautiful golden harvest,
Deign to set me aflame with Your Fire.
With Your adorned mouth,
Give me soon the Eternal Kiss!

-- Canticle to the Holy Face by Thérèse of Lisieux

** On 17 April, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (also known as Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras). Sr Maria Pierina de Micheli (1900-1945) reported that Jesus appeared to her and asked her that a feast be established on this day in honor of his Holy Face.

In traditional Carmels, today is a day of penance and a holy hour, in addition to the two daily hours of mental prayer, is prayed in reparation for the offences committed on this day (the New Orleans carnival comes to mind) and in preparation for the penitential season of Lent.

Monday, February 15, 2010

God: the goal of human desire

"'Our hearts are restless,' wrote St. Augustine, and that truth remains fundamental to the human condition. Human restlessness, human desire, human yearning - none of it ever seems finally and fully satisfied. The baby beginning to crawl and explore the environment is an expression of human restlessness; the journeying of the first Carmelites who left their homes to gather in a valley on Mount Carmel was fuelled by the same desire. We are truly pilgrims.

We humans never have enough because, with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, we choose all. And we will never rest until we get it. The Carmelite tradition recognises this hunger in the human heart and says we are made this way. We are made to seek and search, to yearn and ache, until the heart finally finds something or someone to match the depth of its desire, until the heart finds food sufficient for its hunger. We name that food, that fulfilment, that goal of human desire, God. Carmelites have been intentionally pursuing that elusive, mysterious fulfilment for 800 years. 'I wanted to live,' wrote St. Teresa of Avila, 'but I had no one to give me life...'

We believe that, named or not, every human being is on this quest. We can assume this: that every student in our school, every member of our parish, every pilgrim to our shrine, every candidate in our seminary has an openness to the transcendent mystery we name God. Time and time again the desire will be denied, the hunger temporarily satisfied, the yearning stifled, distracted, weak. But we know it is there and it will emerge in one form or another. Our tradition has the power, the language, the imagery to help illumine what people are experiencing in their innermost being.

The Carmelite tradition attempts to name the hunger, give words to the desire, and express the journey's end in God. The human heart will forever need this clarification of its wants. Carmel has wanted the same thing and will walk with anyone who is met along the way. We cannot satisfy their hunger, but can help them find words for it and know where it points. We can do it, and have done it, in art, in poetry and song, in counselling and teaching, in simply listening and understanding. And we can warn people that eventually all words fail and at times all we have is the desire itself."

-- Seasons of the Heart by Fr John Welch, OCarm

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The highest perfection: conformity with the will of God

"The highest perfection consists not in interior favours or in great rapture, but in bringing of our wills so closely into conformity with the will of God that as soon as we realize that He wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might."

-- St Teresa of Avila

** Painting by Greg Olsen

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Perform all actions well in order to please God

"Many believe that they never do real penance for their sins unless they perform some form of corporal austerity. We know, however, that he does much penance for his sins who diligently strives to perform all his actions well in order to please God, for this is of great perfection and merit."

-- St Francis de Sales

** Photo by Ilona Wellman

Friday, February 12, 2010

May I welcome you, Lord!

Welcome to you, Lord! The fruits of the earth are offered to those who opened the hands willingly. You come, make yourself a personal gift and become a cross for me, how I am wretched, Lord! I am capable of suffering when you come, I am able to feel the weigh of your burden. And holiness is to receive you. You that descended because I did not make the effort to climb. May my life kneel: then, on the bare ground I will understand the mystery of the gift made to my land.
-- Servant of God Anastasio Cardinal Ballestrero, ocd (Fr Anastasius of the Holy Rosary)
translated by ocdsister

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes

"I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place....

The third time I went the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realise she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there a sufficient amount for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.

I went back each day for two weeks and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception."

-- From a letter from St Marie-Bernarde (Bernadette) Soubirous

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

** The girl kneeling in the grotto is St Bernadette.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Memorial of St Scholastica

"The worshipful Scholastica, the sister of our Father Benedict, was hallowed unto the Lord Almighty from a child.  Her custom was to come to see her brother once every year.  And when she came, the man of God went down unto her, not far from the gate, but, as it were, within the borders of the monastery.  And there was a day when she came, as her custom was, and her worshipful brother went down to her, and his disciples with him.  Then they passed the whole day together, praising God, and speaking one to the other of spiritual things.  And when the night came, they brake bread together.  And while they were yet at table, and conversed together on spiritual things, the hour was late.  Then the holy woman his sister besought him, saying : Leave me not, I pray thee, this night, but let us speak even until morning of the gladness of the eternal life.  He answered her : What is it that thou sayest, my sister?  I can by no means remain out of my cell.  Now the firmament was so clear that there were no clouds in the sky.  Then the holy nun, when she had heard the words of her brother, that he would not abide with her, clasped her hands on the table, and laid her face on her hands, and besought the Lord Almighty.  And it came to pass that when she lifted up her head from the table, there were great thunderings and lightnings, and a flood of rain, insomuch that neither the worshipful Benedict nor the brethren that were with him could move as much as a foot over the threshold of the place where they sat.

Now when the holy woman laid her head in her hands upon the table, she wept bitterly, and as she wept, the clearness of the sky was turned to a tempest.  As she prayed, immediately the flood followed.  And the time was so, that she lifted up her head when it thundered, and when she had lifted up her head, the rain came.  When the man of God saw that he could not return to his monastery, because of the lightnings, and thunderings, and the great rain, he was sorrowful and grieved, saying : Almighty God forgive thee, my sister ; what is this that thou hast done?  She answered him : Behold, I besought thee, and thou wouldest not hear ; I besought my God, and he hath heard me ; if, therefore, thou wilt, go forth, leave me alone, and go thy way to thy monastery.  But he could not, and so he tarried in the same place, not willingly, but of necessity.  And so it came to pass that they slept not all that night, but fed one another with discourse on spiritual things.

And when the morning was come, the worshipful woman arose, and went unto her own cell, and the man of God went back to his monastery.  And, behold, after three days he was sitting in his cell, and he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and saw the soul of his sister, delivered from the body, fly to heaven in a bodily shape like a dove.  Wherefore he rejoiced  because of the glory that was revealed in her, and gave thanks to Almighty God in hymns and praises, and made known to the brethren that she was dead.  He commanded them also to go and take up her body, and bring it to his monastery, and lay it in the grave which he had made ready for himself.  Whereby it came to pass that they twain who had ever been of one mind in the Lord, even in death were not divided."

-- Second Book of the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We must be simple in spirit and action

"God is a simple Being in Whom there are no parts. Hence, if we want to become as much like Him as possible, we must strive to become by virtue, what He is by nature, that is, we must be simple in spirit and action, natural in speech and behavior, without sham or deception. Our exterior must always be in conformity with our interior and only and always we must have no other intentions in mind than to please God."

-- St Vincent de Paul

Monday, February 8, 2010

Memorial of St Josephine Bakhita

"I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!"

"When a person loves another dearly, he desires strongly to be close to the other: therefore, why be afraid to die? Death brings us to God!"

-- St Josephine Bakhita

** To learn more about this "daughter of the Sudan", visit this site.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I wish to make you a confidence

Listen, my Jesus, I wish to make you a confidence ...
You know me well
and not hidden to you is my overall helplessness.
Well, it is precisely the weakness that leans to the fortitude
helplessness to the power of God ...
in short, it is my own smallness
that makes me happy and makes me live in You!

-- Bl Elia of St Clement, ocd
translated by ocdsister
** Painting by Greg Olsen

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I praise

I praise Thy forgiveness, that has addressed me so long,
I praise Thy tenderness that was your glory, Thy compassion that called me, Thy kindness that welcomed me, Thy mercy that has forgiven my sins, Thy goodness that has been manifested beyond my merits, Thy patience, which has protected me, Eternity that should preserve me, Truth that will give me the reward.

-- Lodo... by Valeria Carta, ocds
translated by ocdsister

** Valeria Carta (1944-1984) was an Italian lay woman. She left school after fifth grade and at the age of 12 she began to work as a domestic worker. In 1960 she was diagnosed with transverse myelitis (a neurological disorder), and from that time her life became a real calvary, going from one nursing home to another. In 1969 she entered the Discalced Carmelite Third Order, having a great love for St Teresa, St John of the Cross and St Thérèse. My understanding is that her cause has been introduced.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Memorial of St Agatha

For a biography of St Agatha, please visit this site.


"My fellow Christians, our annual celebration of a martyr's feast has brought us together. She achieved renown in the early Church for her noble victory; she is well known now as well, for she continues to triumph through her divine miracles, which occur daily and continue to bring glory to her name.
   She is indeed a virgin, for she was born of the divine Word, God's only Son, who also experienced death for our sake. John, a master of God's word, speaks of this: 
He gave the power to become children of God to everyone who received him.
   The woman who invites us to this banquet is both a wife and virgin. To use the analogy of Paul, she is the bride who has been betrothed to one husband, Christ. A true virgin, she wore the glow of a pure conscience and the crimson of the Lamb's blood for her cosmetics. Again and again she meditated on the death of her eager lover. For her, Christ's death was recent, his blood was still moist. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ. It bears the indelible marks of his crimson blood and the shining threads of her eloquence. She offers to all who come after her these treasures of her eloquent confession.
   Agatha, the name of our saint, means "good." She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. She was also given as the gift of God, the source of all goodness to her bridegroom, Christ, and to us. For she grants us a share in her goodness.
   What can give greater good than the Sovereign Good? Whom could anyone find more worthy of celebration with hymns of praise than Agatha.
   Agatha, her goodness coincides with her name and way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds, and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. Agatha, her mere name wins all men over to her company. She teaches them by her example to hasten with her to the true Good, God alone."

-- From a homily by St Methodius of Sicily

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I want to imitate You in virtues

"Since, O my God, You inspire me to make myself like you in everything, as much as I can, I want particularly to imitate You in those virtues that are so pleasing to Your most loving Heart, namely: humility, meekness, and obedience."

-- From the Resolutions of St Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, ocd (Redi)

Immaculate Mary, meek and humble of heart, Make our hearts like unto the Heart of Jesus. (From the Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

** Madonna of Humility icon by Simon Ushakov

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Life unfolds as an ongoing process

"A spiritual biography attempts to lay bare the outline of the growing awareness of God's 'working' in a human life. It is the history of the struggle to accept oneself out of God's hand and hence also the history of blockages, fears, and repressions. In many ways, after all, we hold all sorts of things at bay in the hope of saving ourselves by the skin of our teeth: We want to understand and control, plan and organize our life. We resist the 'uncertainty' of the unmerited  miracle of a life when we dare entrust ourselves to the mystery of the creative hand of God. Having been created after God's image, life unfolds as an ongoing process in which we progressively grow towards complete likeness with this image. In that way we become the persons we essentially are. For God to see, after all, is the same as to create and love. A spiritual biography, accordingly, describes the growing consciousness which God's mysterious 'working' brings into light. This is the story of the indescribable miracle which occurs in a person 'in life as it is.'"

-- Encountering God in the abyss: Titus Brandsma's spiritual journey by Constant Dölle

** Photo from pixdaus

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
     Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright out souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
     The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried
 the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance o the true light a we hasten to meet him.
     The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.
     The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendor, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.
     Through Simeon's eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
     By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in its honor."

-- From a sermon by St Sophronius

** This feast is also known as the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

Monday, February 1, 2010

Memorial of Bl Candelaria of St Joseph

"She was born Susana Paz Castillo-Ramírez in 1863. She enthusiastically welcomed the call of God to holiness, and since her youth, stood out in practicing living and effective charity, with which she cared for, consoled and healed the sick and wounded that strife had left on the streets of her birth city. Encouraged by Father Sixto Sosa, later bishop of Cumana, she consecrated herself to the service of the sick of San Antonio Hospital, founded in 1903.

Later, she began the foundation of a new religious congregation, dedicated to serving the poor. The congregation was definitively established in 1910 with the name "Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of Altagracia de Orituco." Afterward, the congregation was affiliated to the Carmelite Order, and was called the Third Order of Regular Carmelites. Today they are known as the Venezuelan Carmelite Sisters or Carmelites of Mother Candelaria.

With great tenacity and enthusiasm, in spite of the economic straits of the congregation, and the general scarcity of resources, Mother Candelaria performed a widespread, attentive labour to those wounded by wars and the poorest sick people, showing a great trust in Divine Providence, and an intense love for the most needy.

Because of her ardent love for God and her generous and selfless surrender to the poor, under the direction of the bishops and in the company of the religious of her congregation, this new Venezuelan blessed is today an example of virtues, standing out among them, her living and intense faith in Jesus Christ, our only saviour; her union with and love for the Church, particularly the Venezuelan bishops, and her lively charity for the poorest.

The beatification of Mother Candelaria of St. Joseph took place on April 27, 2008, in Caracas, Venezuela."

-- Biography from the OCarm Generalate webpage.


"We should offer everything to glorify God who sends us sorrows because He loves us. We should remember the most sacred Passion of our good God, and when He makes us similar to Him [semejantes: cf "in His image"], this should animate us to suffer even more. The pains that we suffer in this life are symbols of the eternal life."

-- From the letters of Bl Candelaria of St Joseph
translated by ocdsister