Monday, January 31, 2011

True brotherhood is precious

How beautiful, how noble is a band of brothers, friends...
Friendship for a lifetime, for a life that never ends,
Dedicated to a much, much larger life than theirs,
To a world-Church that's open to everyone who shares
In the mystery of Communion, built on faith and always open
To the healing of whatever tears the fabric of our peace:

Peace transcendent! overcoming human failings and the hurts
That our kind cannot escape;
Brothers find a strategy to put things back in place,
In a band of honest brothers, a noble band of friends.

A brother you can go to when your heart is broken up
By the darkness of the conflicts that are mankind's sorry lot;
For counsel, and the quieting of passions surging up
Into jealousy or anger, which can only call us back
To the mercy of the Christ, and all that He has taught.
Brothers, friends to share your thoughts with, however late the day,
Mentors, soothers, insight-givers to guide you on the way.
How blest the man with brothers who can give you what you need!

A brotherhood of noble men and noble women too,
Grouped around a Virgin Mother, with sisters, fathers,
Sons and daughters, cousins, all who grew
Into the Vine of Jesus Christ, now risen from the dead,
Fathered in a Upper Room, all wrapped in silent prayer
For a "Paraclete" He promised--to watching, waiting trust
Until His living Spirit overcame them in a gust
Of wind and flame, and Gospel fervor, turning into faith and love,
Making that noble band into the Kingdom from above
Of light most blessed, love most simple,
Koinonia once and always for the ages that are coming...

That noble band of brothers bearing fruit of apostolic charity,
Springing from the root of Jesus, seed of Mary, shoot of Jesse;
Source of gifts that ever flow from the Pentecostal brotherhood,
That noble band of friends.

Ah brothers, how we miss you in our far-off mission land,
Your gifts of understanding, your hearty grasp of hand--
True brotherhood is precious, much more precious than it seems.
Thank you for your brotherhood, today and yesterday
And celebrate it always,
For the Son of God is Brother to us all along the way.

-- Brotherhood by Br Denis Read, ocd

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Te Deum laudamos

TE DEUM laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
O GOD, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.

Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.  
Everlasting Father, all the earth doth worship Thee.

Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi Caeli et universae Potestates;  
To Thee all the Angels, the Heavens and all the Powers,

Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:  
all the Cherubim and Seraphim, unceasingly proclaim:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.  
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!

Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.  
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.

Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,  
The glorious choir of the Apostles,

Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,  
the wonderful company of Prophets,

Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.  
the white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.

Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,  
Holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge Thee:

Patrem immensae maiestatis:  
the Father of infinite Majesty;

Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;  
Thy adorable, true and only Son;

Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.  
and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.  
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!

Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.  
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.  
Thou, having taken it upon Thyself to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.

Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Thou overcame the sting of death and hast opened to believers the Kingdom of Heaven.

Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.  
Thou sitest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.

Iudex crederis esse venturus.  
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.

Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.  
We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.

Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.  
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thine inheritance!

R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
V. Every day we thank Thee.

R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yea, forever and ever.

V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.

R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
V.We praise thee, O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Churubin and Seraphin continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;        
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy Glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;        
The Father, of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.      
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the Glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.        
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name, ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.

R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have hoped; let me never be put to shame

Saturday, January 29, 2011

O Beata Virgo Maria

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration? Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and, receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses.

Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted.

T ake our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection.

B e thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end.


-- Written by Bishop Fullbert of Chartres (ca 951- ca 1029)


This prayer has been incorrectly attributed to St Augustine.

Remember, Saturdays are traditionally dedicated to Our Lady. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Memorial of St Peter Nolasco

A merchant and a gentle man, St. Peter Nolasco was holy in a radical sense. With a small group of friends and fellow workers with whom he had been associated for some time, he founded the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy for the Redemption of Captives in 1218. Because of his liberating activity, he was and remains within the church and for the world, the living image of Jesus surrendering himself to the point of death to save and redeem captives, sinners and the lost of this earth.
Being a merchant, a bourgeois born around 1180, he begins to work hard at the beginning of the 13th century. Differently from Francis of Assisi, Peter does not feel the need to break with all forms of money, wealth and buying and selling in order to reach Christ’s radical poverty. He comes to the same conclusion but in a radically different way: he encounters Jesus in the very heart of his business, he meets him in the captives, in the Christian slaves in Moslem lands. This leads him to the center of the social and religious conflict dividing the known world at the time.
Peter was building the lines of a new movement dedicated mostly to the liberation of captives. He was a man of his time, touched to the quick by the problems of his age and responding to them creatively. Jesus’ Gospel began in Galilee, but it keeps on being actualized on earth. Nolasco’s good news has its beginning in Barcelona, between the 12th and the 13th centuries, but it lives on with all its value for mankind.

-- From the webpage of the Mercedarian Fathers

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Te splendor et virtus Patris

O Jesu! life-spring of the soul!
The Father's power and glory bright!
Thee with the Angels we extol;
From thee they draw their life and light.

Thy thousand thousand hosts are spread
Embattled o'er the azure sky;
But Michael bears thy standard dread,
And lifts the might Cross on high.
He, in that sign, the rebel powers
Did, with their dragon prince, expel;
And hurled them from the heavens' high towers,
Down, like a thunderbolt, to hell.
Grant us, with Michael, still, O Lord,
Against the prince of pride to fight;
So may a crown be our reward,
Before the Lamb's pure throne of light.

To God the Father praise be done,
Who hath redeemed us through his Son;
Anoints us by the Holy Ghost,
And guards us by the Angel host. 

-- Hymn by Pope Urban VIII

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I seek alms of love for Jesus

"Allow me, since I have often sought your charity for poor children and for all the abandoned poor, to solicit your attention and cooperation today in favor of the most abandoned of all the poor: the Blessed Sacrament. I seek alms of love for Jesus in his Holy Sacrament... for the love of Mary Immaculate and for the love of this neglected Heart, I ask you to become a 'Mary' of all abandoned tabernacles."

-- Blessed Manuel González-García

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

"We have this day heard read out of the Acts of the Apostles how that the Apostle Paul, from being a persecutor of the Christians, was changed into a preacher of Christ.  Christ laid low the persecutor, that he might raise him up a teacher of his Church.  He smote and healed him; he slew and made him alive again.  For the Lord Christ is that Lamb that was himself slain by the wolves, and that now turneth the wolves into lambs.  Now was fulfilled in Paul that which was clearly spoken in prophecy by the patriarch Jacob, when he blessed his children, laying his hands indeed on them which then were, but looking forward to the things which were yet for to come.  Paul beareth witness of himself that he was of the tribe of Benjamin; and when Jacob blessed his sons, and came to bless Benjamin, he said: Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.

What then?  Is Benjamin a wolf that shall ravin for ever? God forbid.  For as saith the Scripture: In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.  This is exactly what was fulfilled in the Apostle Paul.  If it please you, we will now consider how in the morning he devoured the prey, and at night divided the spoil.  Here morning and evening are put for the beginning and the end.  So we may read, In the beginning he shall devour the prey, and at the end he shall divide the spoil.  First, then, in the beginning, he devoured the prey.  So it is written that he received letters from the chief priests and went forth, that wheresoever he should find any Christians, he might bring them bound unto the priests, that they might be punished.

He went breathing out threatenings and slaughter, yea truly, devouring the prey.  When also they stoned Stephen, the first Martyr that laid down his life for Christ's Name's sake, Saul was consenting unto his death, and, as though it contented him not to stone him, he kept the clothes of all them that did it, urging them on more than if he had joined them.  So in the morning he devoured the prey.  How in the evening did he divide the spoil?  Struck down by the voice of Christ from heaven, ravining no more, he falleth upon his face, cast down to be raised up, smitten to be healed."

--From a sermon by St Augustine

Monday, January 24, 2011

Evening hymn to Our Lord

The Sleep of the Infant Jesus
Goodnight, Sweet Jesus,
Goodnight, goodnight.

Goodnight, Sweet Jesus,
Guard us in sleep,
Our souls and bodies,
In Thy love keep.

Waking or sleeping,
Keep us in sight,
Dear gentle Saviour,
Goodnight, goodnight.

Goodnight, Dear Jesus,
Goodnight, goodnight.

Goodnight Sweet Jesus,
Pray that each day,
Of our lives mortal,
Thus pass away.

Thy love o'er watching,
Guiding our right,
Dear gentle saviour,
Goodnight, goodnight.

Goodnight Dear Jesus,
Goodnight, good night!

-- Written by Monsignor Curry

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Decalogue against temptation

  1. Do not forget that the devil exists.
  2. Do not forget that the devil is a tempter.
  3. Do not forget that the devil is very intelligent and astute.
  4. Be vigilant concerning your eyes and heart.  Be strong in spirit and virtue.
  5. Believe firmly in the victory of Christ over the tempter.
  6. Remember that Christ makes you a participant in His victory.
  7. Listen carefully to the word of God.
  8. Be humble and love mortification.
  9. Pray without flagging.
  10. Love the Lord your God and offer worship to Him only.

-- The Great Tempter by Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Memorial of Sts Vincent and Anastasius

"Vincent was born at Huesca in Granada in Spain.  He was early turned to study, and learned sacred letters from Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa.  He was accustomed to deliver discourses for this Prelate, who, owing to an impediment in his speech, was not able to preach himself.  This coming to the ears of Dacian, Prefect of the province under Diocletian and Maximian, he caused Vincent to be arrested at Saragossa, and brought before him at Valencia in bonds.  The saint was scourged, and afterward tormented on the rack, in presence of numerous spectators, but neither torture, threats, nor fair words could bend his resolution.  He was then laid on a grating over hot coals, his flesh mangled with iron hooks, and white-hot plates of metal applied to the wounds.  The still breathing remains were taken back to a prison, and laid on broken potsherds, that the agony of his naked body might prevent his sleeping from exhaustion.

As he lay in his dark cell, a glorious light suddenly filled the prison, to the astónishment of all who saw it.  The gaoler informed Dacian, who caused the martyr to be brought out and cared for in a soft bed, hoping that though he had failed to move him by cruelty, he might seduce him by pretended kindness.  But the indomitable soul of Vincent, armed with faith and hope in Christ Jesus, remained unconquered even to the end, and triumphing over the fire, the steel, and the cruelty of the tormentors, passed away to receive the victorious crown or martyrdom in heaven on the 22nd day of January.  His body was thrown out unburied.  A raven perched upon it and kept off with his beak, claws, and wings both the other birds and a wolf, which came to prey on it.  Dacian then had it thrown into the sea, but by the will of God it was washed up again, and the Christians took and buried it.

Anastasius was a Persian monk who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Places at Jerusalem in the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, during which journey he endured bonds and stripes on account of his confession of Christ at Caesarea, in Palestine.  Soon after his return, he was arrested by the Persians for the same cause, and, after enduring divers torments, he and seventy other Christians were beheaded by order of King Chosroes.  His relicks were first carried to Jerusalem, to the monastery in which he had made his monastic profession, and afterwards to Rome, where they were laid in the monastery of Saints Vincent and Anastasius."

-- Taken from the Breviary of St Pius X (1955 ed)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Servant of God Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory

"Mother M. Angeline Teresa (Bridget Teresa McCrory) was born on January 21, 1893 in Mountjoy, County Tyrone, Ireland. When she was seven years of age her family migrated to Scotland and at the age of nineteen she left home to become a Little Sister of the Poor, a Congregation engaged in the care of the destitute aged. She made her Novitiate in La Tour, France and after Profession she was sent to the United States.
In 1926, Mother Angeline was appointed Superior of a Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx, New York. During an annual retreat in 1927, she felt an urge to reach out to do more for the aged for whom she cared. She felt that the European way and many of the customs in France did not meet the needs or customs of America. She also felt that old age strikes all classes of people, leaving them alone and frightened.
Being unable to effect any necessary changes in her present situation, Mother Angeline sought advice and counsel from Patrick Cardinal Hayes of New York. Not only did he encourage her, but he likewise felt more could be done for the aged people in the New York area. Eventually, this need was recognized in the United States. In order to accomplish what she felt called to do, and with the blessing of the Cardinal, Mother Angeline and six other Sisters withdrew from the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor and were granted permission from Rome to begin a new Community for the care of the aged incorporating Mother Angeline’s ideals.
Thus, though the inspiration Mother received from the Congregation dedicated to the aged poor, she was now able to further develop this needed apostolate with new methods. From the very start, the Carmelite Friars in New York took a deep interest in Mother and her companions. In 1931 the new Community became affiliated with the great Order of Carmel and became known as “Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.”
On January 21, 1984, Mother Angeline Teresa the Foundress, went to her eternal reward. She had the great consolation of seeing the Congregation beyond her expectations. Her daughters in Carmel remember her by her famous words: "If you have to fail, let it be on the side of kindness. Be kinder than kindness itself to the old people." Mother Angeline Teresa is laid to rest in the Congregation's cemetery at St. Teresa's Motherhouse in Germantown, NY. Her cause for beatification and canonization is being investigated in Rome."
-- From the website of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Presence of the living God

"You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

These words of St. Augustine echoed in the mind and heart of some pilgrims and hermits from Europe as they settled in the land of Jesus and Mary about the year 1200. These men, who were searching for a deeper awareness and understanding of the living God, became the first Carmelites. They imitated the prophet Elijah by living on Mount Carmel.

They deeply believed that God is always present among us. This was the basic insight that Jesus taught in His sharing among the people. God treasures every individual with a personal and everlasting love. In the words of St. John's Gospel 3: 16: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life."

God has first loved us and continues to share that love with us day by day in so many personal ways. God is always with us, caring for us, supporting, and providing for us in all our needs. As the first Carmelites strove to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to follow His example, this fundamental message of the Gospel became paramount.

Carmelites have this ideal: to seek and search for God, to give and spend time with God (vacare Deo is the traditional Latin phrase), to be with God by their commitment to follow Jesus, and thus "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all you mind." (Luke 10:27)

This ideal excites and inspires us still. It opens a horizon that calls, provokes, and challenges us to try to empty ourselves so that we might be filled with the God who created us, guides us, and speaks to us today. (Psalm 94)"

-- Fr. John Malley, O.Carm.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dedication to Mary, Our Mother

Pray for us ever, Holy Mother of God.
Pray for us, whatever be our cross,
as we pass along our way.
Pray for us, and we shall rise again,
though we have fallen.
Pray for us when sorrow,
anxiety or sickness comes upon us.
Pray for us when we are prostrate
under the power of temptation.

-- Composed by John Henry Cardinal Newman

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Night prayers of Carmel

Paiting by José Gil de Castro

Dear Mother of Carmel, we ask you to commend to your divine Son all the cares and anxieties of those who have asked our prayers. Succour and restore the suffering in body and mind, pity those who are tried by ill health and disease, give them light in darkness and, in your great compassion for the afflicted and unhappy, lead them close to the strength of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.We commend to your safe keeping our parents, relatives, and friends and all who have done good to us for the sake of your holy name. Guard them from temptation and surprise and keep them from evil and misfortune. 
At your feet may we learn the true spirit of Carmel. May our hearts burn with the zeal of St. Elias; we implore the childlike trust in you of St. Simon Stock; we would crave the undaunted desires of St. Teresa, the mystic love born of suffering of St. John of the Cross and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, the courage and shining purity of St. Albert and St. Andrew. In simplicity with St. Thérèse may our souls grow in trust and deepen in love.
We ask you for vocations: lead other sons and daughters into your land of Carmel. Be our right hand in our weakness: give us greater trust in your promise of blessing and protection: ever renew in us the true spirit of our vocation: desert not your own; give us courage to build anew; quicken our desire to grow and increase and grant us good success.
Let us give God thanks for all his gracious gifts. Blessed be the Most Holy Trinity. May holy Mary and all the angels and saints of God be praised now and for evermore.
-- Fr. Malachy Lynch, O.Carm (adapted)

Monday, January 17, 2011

You greater than all the treasures of the earth

".....Oh Jesus, I see You greater than all the treasures of the earth. Yes, my sweetest God, my most lovable Jesus: to my eyes You are greater than the greatest treasures on earth. How gladly I would unite with Your Angels! How gladly I would be consumed in Your praises! How gladly I would remain always before You! But what do I say when I speak of You? ... I say what I can, never what I ought. And if I do not know how ... will I stay silent? No, because my Jesus must be loved, honored by everyone! ... Do not look at what I say with my mind, look inside of me."

-- Words of St Gemma Galgani during an ecstasy

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Behave in such a way that you glorify and love the heavenly Father

"Beloved daughter of Jesus,
May Jesus and our Mother always smile on your soul, obtaining for it, from Her most holy Son, all the heavenly charisms!
I am writing to you for two reasons: to answer some more questions from your last letter, and to wish you a very happy names-day in the most sweet Jesus, full of all the most special heavenly graces. Oh! If Jesus granted my prayers for you or, better still, if only my prayers were worthy of being granted by Jesus! However, I increase them a hundredfold for your consolation and salvation, begging Jesus to grant them, not for me but through the heart of his paternal goodness and infinite mercy.
In order to avoid irreverence and imperfections in the house of God, in church -- which the Divine Master calls the "house of prayer" -- I exhort you in the Lord to practice the following:
Enter the church in silence and with great respect, considering yourself unworthy to appear before the Lord's Majesty. Among other pious considerations, remember that our soul is the temple of God and, as such, we must keep it pure and spotless before God and his angels.
Let us blush for having given access to the devil and his snares many times (with his enticements to the world, his pomp, his calling to the flesh) by not being able to keep our hearts pure and our bodies chaste; for having allowed our enemies to insinuate themselves into our hearts, thus desecrating the temple of God which we became through holy Baptism.
Then take Holy Water and make the Sign of the Cross carefully and slowly.
As soon as you are before God in the Blessed Sacrament, devoutly genuflect. Once you have found your place, kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to Him along with those of others. Speak to Him with filial abandonment, give free rein to your heart, and give Him complete freedom to work in you as He thinks best.
When assisting at Holy Mass and the sacred functions, be very composed when standing up, kneeling down, and sitting, and carry out every religious act with the greatest devotion. Be modest in your glances; don't turn your head here and there to see who enters and leaves. Don't laugh, out of reverence for this holy place and also out of respect for those who are near you. Try not to speak to anybody, except when charity or strict necessity requests this.
If you pray with others, say the words of the prayer distinctly, observe the pauses well, and never hurry.
In short, behave in such a way that all present are edified by it and, through you, are urged to glorify and love the heavenly Father.
On leaving the church, you should be recollected and calm. Firstly take your leave of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; ask his forgiveness for the shortcomings committed in his Divine presence and do not leave him without asking for and having received his paternal blessing.
Once you are outside the church, be as every follower of the Nazarene should be. Above all, be extremely modest in everything, as this is the virtue which, more than any other, reveals the affections of the heart.
Nothing represents an object more faithfully or clearly than a mirror.
In the same way, nothing more widely represents the good or bad qualities of a soul than the greater or lesser regulation of the exterior, as when one appears more or less modest.
You must be modest in speech, modest in laughter, modest in your bearing, modest in walking. All this must be practiced, not out of vanity in order to display one's self, nor out of hypocrisy in order to appear to be good to the eyes of others, but rather, for the internal virtue of modesty, which regulates the external workings of the body.
Therefore, be humble of heart, circumspect in words, prudent in your resolutions. Always be sparing in your speech, assiduous in good reading, attentive in your work, modest in your conversation.
Don't be disgusting to anybody but be benevolent towards all and respectful towards your elders. May any sinister glance be far from you, may no daring word escape your lips, may you never carry out any immodest or somewhat free action; never a rather free action or a petulant tone of voice.
In short let your whole exterior be a vivid image of the composure of your soul.
Always keep the modesty of the Divine Master before your eyes, as an example; this Master who, according to the words of the Apostle to the Corinthians, placing the modesty of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with meekness, which was his one particular virtue and almost his characteristic: "Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ" [Douay-Rheims, 2 Corinthians 10:1], and according to such a perfect model reform all your external operations, which should be faithful reflections revealing the affections of your interior.
Never forget this Divine model, Annita. Try to see a certain lovable majesty in His Presence, a certain pleasant authority in his manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in walking, in contemplating, speaking, conversing; a certain sweet serenity of face.
Imagine that extremely composed and sweet expression with which he drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to the solitude and deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink and their domestic duties.
Thus let us try to imitate, as far as we possibly can, such modest and dignified actions. And let us do our utmost to be, as far as possible, similar to him on this earth, in order that we might be more perfect and more similar to him for the whole of eternity in the heavenly Jerusalem."

-- From a letter by St Padre Pio to his spiritual daughter Annita Rodote

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The authentic meaning of poverty

"The poor person is the one who has been converted to God and puts all his faith in him, and the rich person is one who has not been converted to God and puts his confidence in idols: money, power, material things ... Our work should be directed toward converting ourselves and all people to this authentic meaning of poverty."

-- Oscar Romero by Marie Dennis et al

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our whole life is a life of gratitude

The solitary life then is the life of one drawn by the Father into the wilderness there to be nourished by no other spiritual food than Jesus. For in Jesus the Father gives Himself to us and nourishes us with His own inexhaustible life. The life of solitude therefore must be a continual communion and thanksgiving in which we behold by faith all that goes on in the depths of God, and lose our taste for any other life or any other spiritual food.We live in constant dependence upon this merciful kindness of the Father, and thus our whole life is a life of gratitude – a constant response to His help which comes to use at every moment." 
-- Thoughts in Solitude by Tomas Merton

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

"John knew Jesus even before he came to be baptized of him in Jordan, as we perceive by the words: I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?  Behold, let us see how he came to know that Jesus was the Lord, even the Son of God.  How do we prove that John knew Jesus to be the one who should baptize with the Holy Ghost?  Before the Lord came to the river, when many betook themselves to John to be baptized of him, the Baptist said: I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  This, then, he already knew also.

But John also saith: I knew him not.  Now, how are we to explain this without calling John a liar?  And God forbid that we should ever even think anything of the kind.  Was it not that when the Dove descended on Christ, John then for the first time knew him to have a certain peculiar attribute, namely, that, whosoever should baptize with the Baptism of Jesus, whether they were themselves just or unjust, the virtue of the Sacrament should proceed, not from them, but from him on whom abode the Dove; so that he is the real Baptizer in every Christian Baptism until the end of time.  And it is in this sense that it is said of him : The Same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  Whether it be Peter, or Paul, or Judas, that performeth the ceremony, the real Baptizer and effectual worker is Christ.  For if the holiness of the Baptism depended on the holiness of the particular offíciator, no two Baptisms would be exactly alike, and every one would be supposed to be more or less regenerated according as the minister who baptized him was more or less of Saint.

Now, my brethren, understand me.  The Saints themselves, those good men who appertain to the Dove, those good men whose portion is in Jerusalem, those good men in the Church, of whom the Apostle saith: The Lord knoweth them are his: those good men differ one from another by diversities of graces, and are not all of the same worthiness.  Some are holier than others.  Supposing then (for the sake of argument) that A is baptized by B, a righteous and holy man; and C is baptized by D who is a man less worthy in the sight of God, and hath attained only a lower degree in godliness, and is not so chaste, and whose life is not so good as B's; yet A and C receive just the same thing.  And how is this, unless it be that it is Christ himself who is the effectual Baptizer?"

-- From a homily by St Augustine

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gratitude for the Inestimable Benefit of our Redemption

"Let us now consider the supreme benefit of divine love, the redemption of man. But I feel myself so unworthy, so unfitted to speak of such a mystery that I know not where to begin or where to leave off, or whether it were not better for me to be silent altogether. Did not man, in his lethargy, need an incentive to virtue, better would it be to prostrate ourselves in mute adoration before the incomprehensible grandeur of this mystery than vainly essay to explain it in imperfect human language. It is said that a famous painter of antiquity, wishing to represent the death of a king's daughter, painted her friends and relatives about her with mournful countenances. In her mother's face grief was still more strongly depicted. But before the face of the king he painted a dark veil to signify that his grief was beyond the power of art to express.
Now, if all that we have said so inadequately expresses the single benefit of creation, how can we with any justice represent the supreme benefit of Redemption? By a single act of His will God created the whole universe, diminishing thereby neither the treasures of His riches nor the power of His almighty arm. But to redeem the world He labored for thirty-three years by the sweat of His brow; He shed the last drop of His Blood, and suffered pain and anguish in all His senses and all His members. What mortal tongue can explain this ineffable mystery? Yet it is equally impossible for me to speak or to be silent. Silence seems ingratitude, and to speak seems rashness. Wherefore, I prostrate myself at Thy feet, O my God, beseeching Thee to supply for my insufficiency, and if my feeble tongue detract from Thy glory, while wishing to praise and magnify it, grant that Thy elect in Heaven may render to Thy mercy the worship which Thy creatures here below are incapable of offering Thee.
After God had created man and placed him in the delights of the terrestrial paradise, by the very favors which should have bound him to the service of his Creator he was emboldened to rebel against Him. For this he was driven into exile and condemned to the eternal pains of Hell. He had imitated the rebellion of Satan; therefore, it was just that he should share his punishment.
Having brought such misery upon himself, man became the object of the divine compassion, for God was more moved by the condition of His fallen creature than He was indignant at the outrage offered to His goodness. He resolved to restore man and reconcile him with Himself through the mediation of His only Son. But how was reconciliation effected? Again, what human tongue can express this mercy? Through our Mediator Christ such a friendship was established between God and man that the Creator not only pardoned His creature and restored him to His grace and love, but even became one with him. Man has become so one with God that in all creation there is no union that can be compared to this. It is not only a union of grace and love, but it is a union of person also. Who could have thought that such a breach would be so perfectly repaired? Who could have imagined that two beings so widely separated by nature and sin should one day be united, not only in the same house, at the same table, and in a union of grace, but in one and the same person [that is, in Christ]?
Can we think of two beings more widely separated than God and the sinner? Yet where will we find two beings more closely united? "There is nothing," says St. Bernard, "more elevated than God, and nothing more base than the clay of which man is formed. Yet God has with such great humility clothed Himself in this clay, and the clay has been so honorably raised to God, that we may ascribe to the clay all the actions of God, and to God all the sufferings of the clay." (Super Cant. Hom. 59 et 64)."

-- The Sinner's Guide by Ven Louis of Granada, op

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teach me how to praise Thee worthily

""Praise the Lord, O my soul, in my life I will praise the Lord; I will sing to my God as long as I shall be."[13] Who will grant, O God, to my full heart to fulfill before my death its desire for Thy praise? Who will grant me worthily to praise, in my day, the beloved Lord whom my soul loveth?
Ah, tender Lord, would that there issued from my heart as many sweet tones as ever have issued from sweet harpings, as many as there are leaves and blades of grass, would that they were all addressed on high to Thee in Thy heavenly court, so that a song of such a delightful and unheard of praise might burst from my heart, as would be pleasing to the eyes of my Lord, and full of joy to all the heavenly host!
Ah, beloved Lord, although I am not worthy to praise Thee, still my soul desires that the heavens should praise Thee, when, in their ravishing beauty and sublime splendour they are lit up with the multitude of glittering stars; and the fair delightful meadow, when, in all the bliss of summer it glistens afresh in blithesome beauty, in manifold flowery adornment; and all the sweet thoughts and fervent desires that ever a pure and affectionate heart conceived for Thee when it was encompassed by the refreshing summer delights of Thy illuminating Spirit.
Lord, when I but think of Thy high praise, my heart is ready to melt in my breast, my thoughts wander from me, speech fails me, and all knowledge escapes me. Something shines in my heart beyond the power of words, when I will needs praise Thee, O infinite Good; for, if I take the fairest creatures, the most exalted spirits, the purest beings, Thou yet surpassest them all unspeakably. If I enter the deep abyss of Thy goodness, there all praise disappears in its own littleness.
Lord, when I behold living forms of beauty, creatures gentle and engaging, they say to my heart: Oh, see how right gracious He is from whom we emanate, from whom all that is beautiful has issued! If I traverse heaven and earth, the universe and the abyss, wood and grove, mountain and valley, lo! they one and all fill my ears with a rich canticle of Thy unfathomable praise. Then, when I mark with what infinite beauty and harmony Thou orderest all things, both evil and good, I am dumb and speechless.
But, Lord, when I remember that Thou Thyself art this praiseworthy good which my soul has chosen out solely for herself, as her one only and undivided love, my heart, for praise, is like to burst within me, and to cease its throbbings. Oh, tender Lord, have regard, therefore, for the great and ardent desire of my heart and soul, and teach me how to praise Thee worthily, and how to serve Thee acceptably before I depart hence, for this is what my soul thirsts after in my body."

-- A little book of eternal wisdom by Bl Henry Suso, op

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Cedar Tree

In the beginning, in the unbeginning
of endlessness and of eternity,
God saw this tree.
He saw these cedar branches bending low
under the full exhaustion of the snow.
And since He set no wind of day to rising,
this burden of beauty and this burden of cold,
whether the wood breaks or the branches hold
must be of His devising.

There is a cedar similarly decked
deep in the winter of my intellect
under the snow, the snow,
the scales of light its limitations tell.

I clasp this thought: from all eternity
God who is good looked down upon this tree
white in the weighted air,
and of another cedar reckoned well.
He knew how much each tree, each twig could bear.
He counted every snowflake as it fell.

-- The Cedar Tree by Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit, ocd (better known as Jessica Powers, her lay name)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Faithful heart

Faithful heart
What more can one life ask
One hand to hold along life's path
Share with me this vow
And for all time
Our souls will be entwined

I give this love, I live this love
No greater joy is mine
Storms will come, but we will never part
For each of us bequeath a faithful heart

I give this love, I live this love
No greater joy is mine
Storms will come, but we will never part
For each of us bequeath a faithful heart

This beautiful song is by Libera, my favorite choral group. While it is very likely that the song is of a romantic nature, try to listen to it thinking of God and His relationship with us.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Our love for one another is an overflow of the love for God

"Saint John tells us that we have to love one another because love is of God. Then he goes on to tell us that God is love. Now the importance of this, of course, is that each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God. God is love; that means we are created in the image and likeness of love. We are made to love and be loved.
Love is something that we cannot initiate, however. Saint John makes that very clear at the end of the reading when he tells us, "Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us and that He has sent His Son as the expiation for our sins." Love comes from God, and He puts the love into our hearts. Then, with the love that God gives to each one of us, we are able to love one another. Our love for one another is really an overflow of the love for God.
So if we want to be able to love one another more, we have to love God more. It is just that simple. There is that hierarchy of love that I have many times mentioned. For those with marriage and a family: if you want, first, to love your children more, you need to love your spouse more because your love for your children flows from your love for your spouse. But if you want to love your spouse more, you must love God more because your love for your spouse will flow from your love for God. If you want to be able to love anybody, you have to be able to love God. God loves all of us so He puts the love into all of us so that we can love.
But for most of us, love is a selfish thing - in many ways, at least; it is not perfected. We love other people in a couple of different ways. First of all, we think we are in love when we have gushy feelings. That is not what love is all about. It is not an emotion; it is a virtue. Love seeks the good of the other always and in all things. This is why Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies. If we love our enemies, we are probably not going to have gushy feelings toward them or romantic ideas. That is not what love is about. But we are to do what is best, even for our enemies. That is what He is requiring of us.
He calls us to love, but if we want to love perfectly we need to overcome the emotional part, and we also need to overcome the other element, that is, the selfishness. We will do something good for someone else because we want something in return. Everything that we do is usually calculated out a little bit. "How is this person going to think of me? What am I going to get in return for this? What is it that I am going to get from this?" Everything is about the self. Until we are perfect, every single thing that we do has something of the self in it. But we need to be striving for perfect love. We may start out with a good intention to simply do something good for another person without seeking any kind of recognition or accolades of any variety. But we know our humanness well enough. And it takes about 30 seconds to a minute (if we are really getting good at it) before we start thinking: "Well, this person better notice what I'm doing for them!" or "What am I going to get from this?" or "Maybe they'll do this for me." We see how quickly even our best intentions turn selfish. Love is selflessness. But most of us are so filled with selfishness that we do not know how to love. It is there; we have the capacity to do it; we just do not know how.
That is why Jesus, in the Gospel reading, would look at His disciples when they come with the suggestion to feed these people - of course, it is exactly what He had been doing, not in their bellies but in their minds. (He had compassion on them so He taught them at length, Saint Mark tells us) - and say, "Give them something yourselves." In other words, "Give yourselves." They did not understand. "Are we to spend 200 days' wages to be able to feed these people?" they asked. Jesus then works the miracle to be able to feed them, to be able to show by the twelve baskets that are gathered up that He is the Messiah for the twelve tribes of Israel. They are to recognize that this is similar to the manna in the desert that fed the twelve tribes for all those days, but that it is much more than that. It is He who feeds them, and He feeds them with Himself. But they do not understand that. There is the second miracle of the loaves and fishes in which they gather seven baskets to be able to show that He is the Messiah for the whole world, for the Gentiles, the seven that makes up the fullness of the whole thing. But they missed that one too; they did not understand.
What about us? Jesus continues to feed us. He feeds us with His teaching. Much more importantly, He feeds us with Himself; He gives Himself entirely. Then He commands us to love. In other words, "Give yourself entirely. Do for others what I have done for you." That is exactly what He tells us: to love one another as He has loved us. And so that means to be an example, to teach, to feed, to give ourselves - not to have gushy, romantic feelings but to give. And that hurts; it does not feel good most of the time. But He did not ask us to have good feelings about other people; He commanded us to love them.
So we need to look at the people that we do not like very well. We even need to look mostly at the people that we love the most. How do we treat them? Are we truly seeking their good? Are we pouring ourselves out? Are we giving of ourselves? Are we doing for them what Our Lord does for us? We come every morning and Jesus gives Himself entirely to us. He feeds us, and then He asks that we would go out into the world and do the same. After receiving Jesus today in Holy Communion, ask yourself if you are doing for others what the Lord has just done for you. Then ask Him how you can do it more perfectly so that each day we can continue to grow in love until it is perfected, until there is nothing selfish remaining, and our whole life, then, is offered as a sacrifice for others the way that Jesus' life is offered for us."

-- From a homily by Fr. Robert Altier, ocds (January 8, 2002)

Friday, January 7, 2011

How well do we know Him?

"My concern with the Gospels is to see the Face which through all the centuries has looked out from them upon men. The object is not to prove something but to meet someone--that we should know Christ Jesus, know him as one person may know another. As Christians we love him, try to live by his law, would think it a glory to die for him. But how well do we know him?"

-- To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Epiphany of the Lord

"The Magi thanked King Herod, bowed and left his presence. The captain of their guard assembled the men and they started for Bethlehem. As soon as they left the palace grounds and went through the western gate of the city, the star shone again - even though it was daylight. Tears streamed down their faces and their lips moved silently in prayerful thanks. It was not a fools' journey after all! God was just trying their faith, making it stronger through trials. The pressure of joy on their hearts almost hurt. It was no trial to them then when the sstar led to a little one-room house; no scandal to their great faith when they saw in the doorway a simple carpenter, with shavings of wood on his apron, and a little girl mother with her baby in her arms! The star was there. It was enough. At a signal their guard of honor dismounted and formed a double line to the little doorway. Mary and Joseph withdrew into the house. The Magi came in with their gifts. They were enthralled by her beauty and gracious simplicity as she made them welcome. They offered their gifts, and then falling down on their knees, they adored!

O my King, what a beautiful scene to see those great men on their knees before You! They didn't kneel before Herod for all his trappings of wealth and majesty. But they knelt before You in that simple, unadorned little room. 'Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen.'  They now had the substance because they had You. Their faith was the evidence. (...) Faith made them find You.

Dear Master, faith is a light. With it I can see in the darkness of doubt, scepticism, cynicism and sorrow. Increase my faith; make bright my lamp that I may see. Let me be like the Magi and never be scandalized by appearances! Let me see and love You in the Eucharist, see and embrace You in the Sacrament of the present moment, see and praise You in the beauties of nature and persons. Let me see and love You in the sorrows and the joys that come my way!"

-- My Meditation on the Gospel by Fr James E Sullivan

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Let us do everything we can to grow in holiness and to unite ourselves with Him

"Saint John tells us that God has given us a commandment; and the commandment, he tells us, is that we are to believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another just as He commanded us. When we look at the commandment of Christ, it is to love one another as we have been loved by Him, which means to love in a self-sacrificing manner, to look at the crucifix and to be able to see how He loved us. Of course, in this holy season, we can also look at the manger and be able to see once again the way that He loved us. He gave everything; He sacrificed it all for us. He was willing to come into this world as one of us, to be born in the most humble of conditions, and to die in the most humble of conditions.

So when we consider His love for us and that we are first and foremost to believe in Him, which is the first critical point, it is to believe as we have spoken many times not only in Who He is but in what He is all about. That is, it is not enough to believe at an arm’s distance and say, “Well, I guess I can believe that Jesus is God.” So what? What difference does that make in our lives? We have to remember, as Saint James makes very clear, that even the devils believe and they tremble, but that does not get them out of hell. And so to believe in the Name of God’s only Son is to believe in the fullness of the Person of Jesus Christ – that He is the fullness of truth, that He is the way, that He is the life – and then we are to love as He has commanded us to love, which is to love one another and to love Him as He has loved us, to give ourselves entirely as He has given Himself to us, which is really the same thing as saying to believe wholly in Who He is, to have faith in Him, because to have that faith in Him is to believe everything that He is and that He teaches.

On one level, it is as simple as can be. He is not asking anything that is beyond our ability to do, but what He is asking, because of our sinful nature, is fairly heroic on our part. To die to self does not come naturally to any one of us; to live for others is not an easy thing for us either. In fact, even as much as we try sometimes to live for others, if we really dissect things that we do, we are probably going to find that in our attempt to live for others we are really seeking the self anyway. Somewhere underneath there, there is almost always going to be some element of selfishness. And so we realize that we are not loving the way that we have been commanded to love. It is to get the self out of the way and to be able to put ourselves at the service of others, to spend our lives for others, or, as Saint Paul says, “to be poured out like a libation” so that nothing is left of the self. When nothing is left of the self then it can be filled up with Jesus Himself, and then we can truly live the life of Christ.

That is possible only when we are already striving to live the life of Christ, that is, doing everything we can to grow in holiness and to unite ourselves with Him so that He can live in us and through us. It is to try to get ourselves out of the way and to love Him, first and foremost; and then, flowing from our love for Him, to love one another. That is our call. That is the commandment that Our Lord has given us and it is reiterated here by Saint John. It is made exceedingly clear for us. When it all boils down, it is two things: Believe in Jesus Christ, that is, the fullness of Jesus Christ (that includes the Church He founded and all that She teaches, because the Church is Jesus Christ) and love. That is all it comes down to. Or, Saint Augustine makes it even more easy as he says, “Love, and do what you will,” because love never does what is wrong. Love always seeks the truth and it always seeks what is best. Therefore, if we just simply focus on the love, to love as we have been loved, everything else will fall into place. But it still means to get the self out of the way and to love as we have been commanded."

-- From a homily by Fr. Robert Altier, ocds (January 5, 2004)