Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Path Of Beauty

Pope Benedict XVI continued to speak about prayer today in his Wednesday audience. The Holy Father explained how being open to beauty, artistic beauty in particular, can lead us to God who is Supreme Beauty. Here are a few snippets from the Pope's address today.
"Artistic beauty can lead the human heart to God... Art is capable of making visible our need to go beyond what we see and it reveals our thirst for infinite beauty, for God... this “path of beauty” can be “an open door on the infinite... there are artistic expressions that are true paths to God, the supreme Beauty, and  these works can help nurture our relationship with Him in prayer."
I think that this is a form of prayer that we do not readily recognize. Think about a time when you have looked upon a beautiful painting, sculpture, or read a beautiful poem, listened to a song or piece of classical music. These works do not even have to be religious in nature, but if they move our hearts and minds to God, they are a form of prayer, a type of meditation or even contemplation.
This makes me think about an earlier age when many people, unable to read, relied on the artwork of stained glass windows to help them understand the various passages in Scripture. Have you ever really looked at or noticed the Biblical scenes depicted in your parish's windows? Our late pastor often referred us to the various windows in our church during his homilies. One of his favorites being that depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
When art in its various forms takes us beyond ourselves, it has the potential of being a pathway to God. Prayer is God communicating with us and our listening and communicating with Him, why not allow Him to speak to us through beautiful works of art?
The Holy Father gave some of his own personal experiences with this which you can read in the full text of his general audience.
So go ahead and let beauty lead you to Supreme Beauty, God Himself.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Called As Heralds Of Truth

When I call myself a practicing Catholic, that entails many things, not just showing up for Sunday Mass. I think one of the aspects of practicing Catholicism that often gets overlooked or perhaps misconstrued is speaking out in defense of the truth. This is not always an easy thing to do, especially in today's cultural climate of "political correctness".
The saying goes: "The truth hurts." Well sometimes it does, even if we don't mean it to, but not speaking out in defense of the truth can also have far reaching and damaging implications and repercussions. Jack Nicholson in his famous line from the movie, A Few Good Men, shouts to a courtroom full of people: "You can't handle the truth!" That too is often true. However, the truth hurting, or not being able to handle it should not keep good, faithful Catholics from seeking and defending the truth. Unfortunately many do keep quiet because making waves is not a comfortable thing to do.
Well in the spirit of all this and in keeping with practicing what I blog, I am going to speak out in defense of a truth many would like to ignore or refute.
Since 2002 our Church has been rocked by the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Much effort  and many a rock has been overturned to expose priests who are or have been guilty of sexually abusing our children and these efforts are needed. However, in the course of these efforts a witch hunt has also ensued. It is no longer sufficient to bring the guilty to justice as they should be, but the pendulum has swayed completely over to the other side to where a priest is presumed guilty until proven innocent. Sometimes the proving innocent part gets thrown out altogether as in the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. I have written of Fr. MacRae's case here before, but for the few who may not know of him, he is a priest from the Diocese of New Hampshire who is currently serving a 67 year prison sentence for abuse crimes he did not commit. Fr. Gordon was offered a plea bargain that would have had him out of prison, but he refused it because the charges against him were false. The judge at his trial cited him as having no remorse.
I do not make my statement of faith in Fr. MacRae's  innocence lightly. Truth be told, I am a bit of a cynic and skeptic by nature, but the evidence for Father Gordon's innocence is much stronger than the evidence against him which looks more like a block of Swiss Cheese than it does a solid body of evidence. But as I have encouraged you before, do not take my word for it; go read it for yourself. A good place to start is at Father Gordon's blog, These Stone Walls.
While Fr. MacRae's case is one that is coming more into the spotlight. praise God, it is not the only one like it. As I said before, a witch hunt has ensued, and it has been started in large part, by the mainstream media, and organizations like SNAP(The  Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests). Their agenda is not is not to help those who truly are victims of abuse by priests. In the case of the media it is sensationalism to sell more papers, or gain more viewers; it is also another chance for them to attack the Catholic Church. The agenda of SNAP is not sincere compassion for victims, but emotional manipulation and they too have a transparent hatred for the Catholic Church.
Every citizen of this country is entitled to due process which when it is carried out properly, ensures that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae and many other priests, due process has been heinously abused, if not ignored altogether, and that my friends is as serious an injustice as the real abuse of our children.
The one responsible for orchestrating this injustice is none other than Satan himself; no one hates our priests and the Catholic Church more than he does. So while individual priests are being attacked, Satan's real goal is the destruction of the Catholic Church by doing away with its priests. Satan knows: No priests~no Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith; its destruction would be imminent without it. Satan knows it, and we need to remember it!
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St John the Baptist's Martyrdom. No one was a better herald of the Truth than he was (along with perhaps St Paul). John was not afraid to tell Herod of the sins he was committing, and he wasn't afraid to speak the truth to anyone else who would listen either. We, as practicing Catholics, need to follow the example of John. We must decrease in our pride and our fear, so that the Truth, Jesus Himself will increase. Our priests act in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. When we defend the truth and speak out for the innocent among them, we speak out for Christ and defend the Church He began.
We are called to be heralds of truth and justice. It is time to stop keeping quiet when and where we see injustice being done.
I am not the only one speaking out for Fr. Gordon MacRae and the injustice going on against innocent priests. My friend and fellow Catholic blogger,Mary at The Beautiful Gate has written two excellent posts about Fr. Gordon's case. As a New Hampshire resident, Mary has found more on this case than many of the rest of us have been able to come across. I encourage you to read her posts Fr. Gordon MacRae~Scaling The Walls of Injustice and Fr. Gordon MacRae~Balancing the Scales of Justice.
I also encourage you to watch the clip from EWTN's The World Over where Raymond Arroyo speaks with Bill Donahue of the Catholic League. Bill Donahue has written and spoken much on Fr. Gordon's case and he has more than a few harsh but justifiable words for SNAP.
I began writing about Fr. Gordon MacRae back in 2009 when I first found his story at Priests in Crisis. You can find the other posts I've written about him by typing his name in the "Search This Blog" box at the top of my left sidebar.
In Fr. Gordon's post last Wednesday, he began the post with the quote: "These are the times that try men's souls." Indeed they are, and perhaps they are times that are trying the souls of our priests even more so.

Mary, Queen of the Apostles, obtain for us many holy and faithful priests, and intercede for those unjustly accused.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Obstacles To Grace

James Tissot's: Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

Last week we heard Peter answer Jesus' question, "Who do you say I am?" He answered it by telling Jesus that he believed that Jesus was and is the Messiah. OK, so Jesus takes things a step further in this week's Gospel by telling Peter and the other Apostles that He will soon go to Jerusalem where He will be handed over to suffer and die. Well our dear, impetuous friend Peter is having none of that and he goes so far as to tell Jesus so~"God forbid, Lord, that this should happen to you!" It seems Peter's answer of Jesus being the Messiah was right for the wrong reasons, so wrong in fact that Jesus tells Peter: "Get Thee behind Me, Satan; you are an obstacle to Me!"
Peter, as were probably all the Apostles, was of the mindset of Messiah as warrior. They didn't quite understand the reality of Jesus' mission and all that it entailed. They couldn't see that the Cross was His weapon for this particular battle. Jesus chose this weapon, and chose to die by it for our salvation.
Jesus hands us our mission in today's Gospel as well, and He hands us the same weapon, that of the cross. It will be different for each of us. Some of us may have more than one.
Peter didn't realize it at the time, but what Jesus may have meant in telling him he was an obstacle to Him was that in reality Peter was an obstacle to grace, the grace that would stream from his wounds and Precious Blood. Peter was an obstacle to the grace that would lead to his salvation.
How often are we an obstacle to this grace that Jesus wants to bestow on us? The culture today tells us to do all that we can to escape suffering, and to do all that we can so that we are not inconvenienced in the slightest way. The world does not understand the Cross and it runs from it.
As Christians we know the value and redemptive nature of suffering, but it is still very easy to want to put down our crosses and follow the ways of the world. But oh, the grace we lose when we do this.
I am not saying to go and hunt down suffering, but as Catholic Christians, we need to learn to accept it when it comes, uniting it to Jesus' suffering. This draws down great graces, not only for us, but for others as well.
Our Lord may not ask us to suffer in great ways, but there are countless little inconveniences that we must endure every day. When they come, let us not put up the obstacles of pride, anger and irritability. Let us ask Jesus to tear down these obstacles that keep us from Him and all the grace with which He wishes to lavish us.
When it gets tough to do this, let us just remember that it is our salvation that is at stake. The Crown of the Cross is eternal life in our heavenly home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

People Get Ready

I have been thinking a lot about fear these last few days, not because I am afraid, but because a great many others seem to be. It has got me to wondering about two things: 1) Why am I not afraid?, and 2) Why do so many seem to be afraid?
This last week and the next few days have brought and will bring my part of the country a few surprises. On Tuesday, we here in the Northeast experienced what may have been our first earthquake. Here in NJ it amounted to nothing more than a 30 second tremor.  A little freaky I have to admit, but nothing to go into a panic over, but you'd be surprised (or maybe not) at the overboard reactions of some.
This weekend, hurricane Irene is planning to visit. Again here in NJ we will probably get lots of wind and rain, but yet there are those around me who seem to feel the end is near. I don't know, maybe it is, but that's my point exactly~even if it is, I am not afraid and I know why. I am ready, not perfectly, but enough so that I know in Whom and where my faith lies.
So it occurred to me that if this is why I am not afraid, it is probably the same reason why so many are afraid. These fearful souls are not ready, they have put their faith  and trust either in themselves, or are of the belief that all of life is random and we are just victims of circumstance.
Today's Gospel about the ten virgins is a perfect example of how being ready can alleviate our irrational fears. Five virgins were ready and prepared in advance with the needed oil to meet the Bridegroom, and five were not~they became fearful when they were locked out of the wedding feast.
I did a search to see how many times the phrase "Do not fear" appears in Sacred Scripture; it turns out that it appears 365 times! That is pretty much a daily reminder, one for each day of the year, that if we put our faith and trust in God, who is in control of everything, we have no reason to fear.
So earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, while they can be devastating, and by no means am I trying to minimize the suffering many endure from natural disasters, there is hope in the face of all of it. That hope is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who told us not to fear many of those 365 times because He promised to be with us always.

*Musical Note: I don't usually post secular music, but this soulful version of People Get Ready by Rod Stewart with Jeff Beck on guitar is a good one and fits well with the theme of my post, so don't be afraid to enjoy this one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

St John of Avila"The Church's Newest Doctor

Pope Benedict XVI has declared that he will soon give the high honor of Doctor of the Church to St John of Avila. He is not to be confused with St John of the Cross who was named a Doctor of the Church in 1926, although the two did know each other.
There are three important criteria for a saint to be named a Doctor of the Church; they are:

  • holiness
  • insight into doctrine 
  • and an extensive body of spiritual writing
John of Avila wrote extensively on what is called his theology of the priesthood and fought for reforms of the priesthood during the tumultuous 15th century. He was denounced to the Inquisition in 1531 and sent to prison for a year; it was during this time that he began his major work,  Audi, filia (Listen O Daughter), a guide to the spiritual life, written for a young woman who was living a consecrated life under his direction. While in prison, he also studied the writings of St Paul and is quoted as saying: "I have heard St Paul interpreting St Paul."
St John of Avila is the patron of parish priests in Spain. His feast day is May 10.
Until now, not much has been known about St John of Avila; we don't really hear him referred to much, at least not in North America. With his elevation to Doctor of the Church, I think we will be hearing more about him, and like the other 33 Doctors of the Church, we will learn much from his writings.

St John of Avila on the Priesthood
The Blessed Virgin Mary gave the Word of God his being as a man, begetting him from her most pure blood and becoming his true natural mother. In this no one was, is, or will be her equal. But the sacramental being which the priest gives to God made man, through so exalted a means is similar to what Mary gave. It is a being that at first the Word did not have.6
Since by the power he exercises, the priest has the supreme dignity of acting as mediator between God and man, he must be holy. The Old Testament required holiness for priests who would instruct and offer sacrifice but would not have the sublime dignity of the New Testament priest: "The priests of the Lord offer incense and bread to God; therefore they shall be holy to their God" (Lev. 21:6). Avila interprets the "offering of incense to God" as a reference to the priest's role as mediator. Christ is the only true Mediator and the great High Priest, but the priest shares in Christ's priesthood and thus, at the altar, represents Christ as he offers himself to the Father.7 For this, the priest must live in loving intimacy with the Lord, and be conformed to his image. The other side of his role as mediator is to care in Christ's name for those committed to his care. These he must love more than earthly fathers love their children.
Links of Interest
On the life of St John of Avila (lengthy but worth a perusal)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Marian Novena For Fr. Gordon MacRae

One of the blogs I look forward to reading each Wednesday is These Stone Walls, written by Fr. Gordon MacRae. Fr. Gordon  is presently serving what amounts to a life sentence in a New Hampshire prison for crimes of sexual abuse he did not commit, but don't take my word for that; you can read his case on These Stone Walls. If Fr. Gordon had pleaded guilty to these crimes, he would be a free man today. Sickly ironic, don't you think?
When I first heard about Fr. Gordon MacRae's case, I was tempted to chalk it up to another guilty priest claiming his innocence, but the more I read, the more I could see the holes in the case against him.
 I first heard about this priest's story  from a site called Priests in Crisis. Along with Fr. Gordon's story, I read about becoming a spiritual mother for priests. After much prayer about not only the validity of Fr. Gordon's story, but also about becoming a spiritual mother to a priest, I signed up with the organization that assigns women a priest to pray for each year~Opus Sanctorum Angelorum. So in effect, Fr. Gordon, without his knowing it, had something to do with my taking on this prayerful role for our priests.
Fr. Gordon posts to These Stone Walls every Wednesday, a blog which he has never seen as there is no internet access for prisoners. There are several dedicated ladies in various parts of the world who take care of the actual posting once father mails his post to one of them. Comments are read to him over the phone and also mailed to him. If you have never visited These Stone Walls, I encourage you to do so. Fr. Gordon writes on a variety of topics and all things considered, is quite able to maintain his sense of humor.
This injustice is happening to more than one priest and the statistics on it are frightening.
While the thought of anyone, priest or not,  abusing another another human being, especially a child, repulses and angers me beyond words, I do not believe every priest accused is guilty, and they should not be presumed guilty until proven innocent.(The attempt at the proven innocent part seems to often get left by the wayside.) I also believe the truly guilty should be punished along with the bishops who try to cover for the guilty.
Part of the reason for this post was to make others aware of Fr. Gordon's case, but the heart of the matter is to ask my readers and anyone who stumbles upon this post to join in a novena for Fr. Gordon that will begin tomorrow, August 22 (The Feast of Mary's Queenship) . You can read more about the nine day novena over at Esther's blog, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
Mary at The Beautiful Gate also has written a wonderful post on Fr. MacRae's case titled Fr. Gordon MacRae~ Scaling the Walls of Injustice.
One of the ironic aspects of my return to the Church is that it occurred in 2002 at the height of the sexual abuse scandal. It would have been a seemingly perfect excuse not to return, but the thought never crossed my mind. While I knew what was going on, God also gave me some temporary spiritual shields and protected me from those antagonizing thoughts.
Satan is having a field day with this scandal. He knows the way to ruin the Church is to do away with our priests~no priests, no Mass. No Mass, no Jesus in the Eucharist. We need to pray for our priests, those who are in crisis, and those who are not. They need our support, prayers and encouragement. They are on the front lines of this battle. Please consider joining in the novena for Fr. Gordon.
Let us entrust him and all our priests to Our Lady's loving protection as we celebrate the feast of Mary's Queenship.
Our Lady Queen of Apostles, obtain for us holy and faithful priests. 

Making Jesus Present

I will begin this reflection by telling you that much of it was inspired by the homily given by one of our young deacons at Mass today.
The theme of the deacon's homily was making Jesus present and how we are called to do that. He also gave a brief crash course in apologetics and the Magesterium. The backdrop for all of this was today's Gospel in which Jesus asks the Apostles the all important question: "Who do you say I am?" Peter instantly becomes the spokesperson for the group, inspired by the Father and responds with his act of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus' response to Peter is to give him a mission. In telling Peter that upon him he will build His Church, the Church that will take its blows but which the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against, Jesus is telling Peter that he is to make Him present. The other Apostles will be drawn into this mission on Holy Thursday with the institution of Holy Orders and the Eucharist, as has and will be every priest, bishop, cardinal and pope since Peter.
I reflected a bit more on this theme of making Jesus present during my midnight Holy Hour. I felt drawn to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary during that hour and as I meditated on each one I saw not only how Jesus makes Himself present, but also how Mary, John the Baptist and the Apostles made Him present. I could see in these mysteries and through the key players in them, examples of how we are called to make Jesus present.
John the Baptist, at the Baptism of Jesus tell those present to "Behold the Lamb of God", Mary at the Wedding Feast, by urging Jesus to begin His public ministry by performing that first miracle made Him present as the Messiah to those who witnessed the miracle of the changing of water into wine. Jesus commands all of us to make Him present by telling us to repent and believe in the Gospel. Jesus is the Gospel. If we believe in Him, it is hard not to spread this good news to others. In the Transfiguration, Jesus reveals His glory and His divinity to Peter, James and John; they are told by the Father to listen to His Beloved Son, and Jesus commands them to put off telling anyone of this until after His Resurrection. Finally in the Institution of the Eucharist, our priests are given the mission to make Jesus truly present on our altars every time Mass is offered.
There are many ways we can make Jesus present to others in our daily lives, but first we too have to answer His question: "Who do you say I am?" If we can respond as Peter did, we will be open to the ways in which Jesus is calling us to make Him present, thereby building His Kingdom here on earth.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Assisting Worthily At Mass From St John Eudes

St John Eudes was born in 1601 and became a priest, missionary and preacher. He fought against Jansenism, the heresy of his day. In addition to founding two religious orders, he is also known for promoting great devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Here is some good advice on how we should assist worthily at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from this saint whose feast we celebrate today.

You should adore our Lord Jesus Christ, who makes himself present to us on the altar, so that we might offer him the homage and adoration we owe. Pray that just as he changes the lower earthly nature of bread and wine into his body and blood he might change and transform also the sluggishness, coldness and dryness of our earthly and arid heat into the fire, tenderness and agility of the holy divine affections and dispositions of his divine and heavenly heart. Then you should remember that Christians are one with Jesus Christ, as members with their head... They should also be there as hosts and victims who are but one host just as they are one priest with Jesus Christ. They need to be immolated and sacrificed with the same Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

St John Eudes, pray for us! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Assumption And The Promise Of Things To Come

Reflecting on today's Solemnity, I kept returning to one thought~that Mary's Assumption into Heaven is a promise of what awaits us. I don't mean necessarily in the way she "died", but that she resides now in heaven body and soul, as does her Son. While there are many souls in heaven, there are only two who are there body and soul, and those are Jesus and Mary.
I like to think and reflect on this sometimes. God loved humanity so much that he took on a human body through that of another human body, thereby sanctifying humanity. God loves humanity so much that He has promised to return our bodies to us, glorified, at the end of time.
The Assumption of Mary is a beautiful reminder of what God has in store for those who love Him.

Prayer To Our Lady Assumed Into Heaven
Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen. We join them in praising you and bless the Lord who raised you above all creatures. With them we offer you our devotion and love. We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and needs, and we take comfort from the faith in the coming resurrection. We look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
(Prayer courtesy of Catholic Online)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How To Approach Jesus In Prayer

I have always loved the account of the Canaanite Woman. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best examples of intercessory prayer. This woman comes to Jesus in her desperation, knowing full well as a Canaanite, a non-Jew, He may not even give her the time of day. And at first that is exactly what happens.
As the story continues, we see her persistence; she was not having any of Jesus' silence, nor was she put off by his seemingly rude remarks (if I can be so bold as to say Jesus was rude.). She continued to plead with Him in all humility for help from Him for her daughter.
Jesus recognizes her humility and her faith that Jesus is who He says He is for she calls Him "Lord, Son of David."
Sometimes in our prayer, whether it be for ourselves or others, we can become easily dejected and frustrated if we do not hear from God immediately or in the way we expect. However, sometimes I believe God wants to test our faith a bit; it is as if He were saying to us "How important is this to you, how badly do you want or need this, and do you trust me to answer according to my will for you in the way that is best for your salvation and that of those for whom you pray?" That is the faith of the Canaanite Woman; She is a beautiful example of how to approach Jesus in prayer~with humility and persistence, and always recognizing Him as Lord.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Conversation In The Silence

During his Wednesday audience this week, the Holy Father spoke about the importance of silence in our spiritual lives. He explained how monasteries are oases conducive to silence, prayer and meditation. This being the case, many religious communities build their monasteries in wooded and pastoral settings. The Holy Father also went on to say that God speaks to us in the silence, but we need to know how to listen to Him.
Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on this topic are ones I can truly relate to because I crave silence in my life. This craving is part of the reason I make a silent retreat once a year. It is in those six days of silence that I hear God the loudest. While I would love to live that retreat life 365 days a year, I know that is not possible, but I still need silence in my daily life. I find it sitting in church before the tabernacle or in my parish's Adoration Chapel. Since I live alone, I can also find it at home, but that means resisting the temptation to fill the silence with TV or stereo.
Our prayer life is a conversation with God; it is a dialogue, but it is the one conversation that takes place in the silence.
If we are to hear what God wants to say to us, we must learn to be still, patient, and allow Him to be God, or as a spiritual director once told me, "Be aware, alert, and attentive." We may not hear Him immediately, but if we are persistent in our silent prayer, we will hear him.
So be still and know that He is God and enjoy the conversation in the silence.
All this talk of silence made me think of the hymn, You Are Mine so allow me to break your silence for five minutes with this beautiful version of that hymn.

*Text of Pope Benedict's Wednesday Audience

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's My Patronage?

Mary of The Beautiful Gate has tagged me for this very heavenly meme. Assuming you are a saint, and your cause has been executed, your miracles confirmed, your date on the calendar established, all that is required is to select that of which Holy Mother Church will name you Patron (ess).

Here are the rules:
*Name your patronage
*Tag 5 other saintly bloggers
*Give link to your nominator's post.

Well, let's see. The fact that I have made it through the pearly gates and past St Peter is a miracle in itself. I wonder if that would count as the first miracle attributed to my cause. Now past that, looking back at my life and especially my spiritual life, I guess I would have to say my patronage would be Patroness to the Spiritually Wounded. 
All of us are to some degree spiritually wounded, but some more than others and in different ways. My spiritual wounds manifested themselves in the form of my numbing myself spiritually and emotionally. As someone who has been the recipient of Christ's healing of my heart and soul, I desire the same for others. Since my healing began almost nine years ago, I have worked in a ministry (Rachel's Vineyard) that brings Christ's healing to those who have been deeply wounded spiritually and emotionally. Perhaps God and Holy Mother Church would feel that I should continue this in my saintly state.
As Mary related in her post about remembering her physical suffering during her years of chronic illness, I can remember what it  is like to wander through life spiritually and emotionally numb. I would greatly desire to intercede on these souls' behalf that God would use the same jackhammer He used on my high and thick walls   on theirs.

I invite the following bloggers to name their patronage:
Randy at Fishers of Men (blame Mary for this one, Randy and welcome to the world of memes :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

God In The Unexpected

You are the God of the unexpected, the God of surprises. You come to me in countless ways.
I see You in a sunrise, in the crash of ocean waves, and in the gentle breeze that seems to be Your breath on my face. These are the things in which I have come to expect You.
Just when I seem comfortable in knowing just where You will be, You come in ways unexpected~ the smile of a stranger, the embrace of a friend, or in the words of a song.
Relationship with You is never routine; You keep it fresh and alive, and You always seem to know what will get my attention.
I don't need earthquakes or lightning bolts. You have taught me to hear You in the silence and in the soft whisper of the wind.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Am Here

Our Lord has bestowed upon me a bittersweet grace of sorts in my devotion to His Sacred Heart. He has allowed me to become aware of the coldness and indifference so many have toward Him. There are times I walk into church for Sunday Mass and people are talking amongst themselves or reading a bulletin, and all I can think is: "If they only realized Who it is they ignore in these precious moments before Mass begins." Jesus is there in the tabernacle and so many ignore His presence.
When I first began to notice this, I found myself prone to standing in judgement. Now I just pray for these souls and ask Jesus to allow me to love Him for those who do not. I don't really think it is a case of these people not loving Jesus, but ignorance. Nonetheless, this still wounds His Heart.
This is just one small instance, but one that saddens me. I use it and offer it to Jesus as an interior mortification. There are many in our world though who choose not to love Our Lord and blatantly profane, neglect and outrage Him. It is for these souls too, that we must make reparation to Our Lord's Sacred Heart; those of us who choose to love Him and are devoted to His Sacred Heart must love Him for those who do not.
I came across this beautiful poem on the Sacred Heart Devotion site. It expresses what it is I wish to tell Jesus in response to His plea for love from His people~ I am here.
On this First Friday, let us make reparation for all the outrages, neglect and profanations made against Our Lord's Sacred Heart and let Him know, that we who love Him, are here.


O Lord of Life,

I have heard You crying day and night
Outside the hearts of Your people. You call out to them and wait for their answer! "See my love for you?" You cry. "Hear my love for you?", You moan. "Open the door of your hearts to Me", You beg. "Without Me you are lost. "Within Me you are found." I feel Your pain echoed in my heart And my heart cries out for You. I am here for You, my Lord. Take me! As You enter my heart My soul is flooded with Your Life. The deep waters of my love stir And as fountains, spring forth In Joy and Peace and Longing. "Where are my people?" You cry to me. "Can they not hear my cries?" I am here, I whisper. "My Love brings them Life", You tenderly cry. "Why is this so Hard?" As Your heart is pierced once again Your tears wash through my soul And spring forth fertile ground. You hand me the keys. "Open their hearts for Me",  Your Sacred Heart sighs. I am here, I whisper.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Hem Of His Garment

One of my all time favorite Scripture passages, and one that holds great meaning for me personally, is about the Woman with a Hemorrhage. It is often told in conjunction with the account of Jairus' Daughter. (see Luke 8:40~48). No matter who this woman went to, she could not be healed. It was not until she met the Divine Physician that her healing could occur. Shame accompanied this woman for twelve years because of her condition.
In my own life shame and guilt over an abortion I had accompanied me for 14 years until a friend invited me to return to my faith. It was through his gentle explanation about relationship with Jesus that I was able to seek the help I needed in returning to Christ and His Church. I was much like this woman at that time. I was afraid to approach Jesus, but new I had to risk it. If everything my friend said was true, then Jesus was my only answer. My friend was right. Five months later I signed up to make a Rachel's Vineyard retreat and it was on that weekend I met Jesus as if for the first time and felt His touch through the compassion of His priests and others who had traveled this same or similar road,
The song One Touch (Press) by Nicole C. Mullen is a beautiful interpretation of this Scripture passage. The healing this woman experienced is one I can relate to and it is there for all and any who need it. It just takes one touch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Glories Of Mary

The month of August begins the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Church in her wisdom also begins this month dedicated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart by celebrating the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori. This great saint and Doctor of the Church wrote extensively on devotion to our Blessed Mother. One of his most prolific works is called The Glories of Mary. It is divided into two parts; the first is the saint's commentary on the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), the second part is is commentary on Marian feast days.
The saints and Doctors of the Church have so much to teach us. Reading St Alphonsus' writings, as well as St Louis de Montfort's, I believe will instill the sparks of devotion to the souls who have none and increase devotion in the soul who already has devotion to Our Lady; their writings are that powerful. Whenever I feel my devotion to Mary needs a little jump start, I turn to the writings of these two saints.
In honor of St Alphonsus Liguori's feast today, I leave you with an excerpt from The Glories of Mary. (You can click the link to read more.)

Mary Is Our Life: She Obtains Pardon for Our Sins
JUST as the soul gives life to the body, so grace gives life to the soul. And so our Lady, obtaining grace for sinners through her intercession, brings back life to their souls.
They who find me find life, and win favor from the Lord (Prv. 8:35). All you who hunger for the Kingdom of God, honor the most Blessed Virgin Mary and you will find life and eternal salvation. 
St. Bernardine of Siena says that the reason why God did not destroy the human race after the first sin was His singular love for this holy Virgin, who was eventually to be born of the race.
Indeed, he says, all the mercies granted under the old dispensation were no doubt granted only in consideration of this most Blessed Lady.
In the Song of Songs (6: 10) Mary is called the dawn: Who is she that comes forth as the dawn? Dawn is the end of night and the beginning of day; the Blessed Virgin is the dawn of day, because she is the end of vice. 
When devotion to Mary begins in anyone, it produces the same effect that our Lady's birth produces in the world: it ends the night of sin and leads a person along the bright path of virtue.
St. Germanus once said in a sermon that to pronounce the name of Mary with affection is a sign of life in the soul, or at least a sign that life will soon return there.
Do not be afraid (Bernardine de Bustis encourages every sinner), even if you are guilty of every crime possible. Go with trust to this most glorious Lady.
You will find her hands filled with mercy and bounty. She longs to do you good much more than you could ever long to receive good from her.
No sinner who turns to this compassionate Lady should ever be afraid of being spurned --- she is the very Mother of Mercy and, because she is, it is her ambition to save the most miserable of all.
Mary is the ark which saves from eternal destruction anyone who takes shelter in it. 

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.