Thursday, April 30, 2009

See how the waters close about me!

Given the torrential thunderstorms and widespread flooding we experienced in Houston, TX this week, Psalm 68 has been a frequent prayer of mine. The following verses are from the translation by Ronald Knox.

O God, save me; see how the waters close about me, shoulder-high! I am like one who sticks fast in deep mire, with no ground under his feet, who has ventured out into mid-ocean, to be drowned by the storm.

Listen to me, O God, full of mercy as thou art, faithful as thou art to thy promise of aid. Save me from sinking in the mire, rescue me from my enemies, from the deep waters that surround me; let me not sink under the flood, swallowed up in its depths, and the well's mouth close above me.

Listen to me, Lord, of thy gracious mercy, look down upon me in the abundance of thy pity; do not turn thy face away from thy servant in this time of trouble, give a speedy answer to my prayer. Draw near in my distress and grant deliverance; relieve me, so hard pressed by my enemies.

Let thy help, O God, sustain me. I will sing in praise of God's name, herald it gratefully...

The Lord listens to the prayer of the destitute; he does not forget his servants in their chains.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Faithful Echo of God

Today is the memorial of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the French priest whose love for and devotion to our Blessed Mother is legendary. He was born January 31, 1673, and died April 28, 1716. If you're not familiar with St. Louis de Montfort and his spirituality, Fr. Patrick Gaffney, S.M.M. has written an excellent article called "An Overview Of The Life And Spirituality Of Saint Louis De Montfort" that's well worth reading. The Montfortian Religious Family has a Web site listing St. Louis' many writings, which are still widely read today, and Catholic Culture provides some links to those writings available on the Web. One of my favorite passages from the treasures of St. Louis follows. St. Louis, teach us true devotion to Mary so that she may help us become more like her, a faithful echo of God!

Mary is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary," she says "God." When St. Elizabeth praised Mary calling her blessed because she had believed, Mary, the faithful echo of God, responded with her Canticle, "My soul glorifies the Lord." What Mary did on that day, she does every day. When we praise her, when we love and honor her, when we present anything to her, then God is praised, honored and loved and receives our gift through Mary and in Mary.

~St. Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, #225

Monday, April 27, 2009

St. Faustina and the Present Moment

O Jesus, I want to live in the present moment, to live as if this were the last day of my life. I want to use every moment scrupulously for the greater glory of God, to use every circumstance for the benefit of my soul. I want to look upon everything from the point of view that nothing happens without the will of God. God of unfathomable mercy, embrace the whole world and pour Yourself out upon us through the merciful Heart of Jesus.

St. Faustina in Divine Mercy in My Soul, #1183

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Conditions of the Risen Life

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

We think of the Risen Life in man as a summer of Christhood in the world, a splendor of flower and fruit, a harvesting of love; and so it is, but not unconditionally. Christ has told us himself what the condition is: that the seed must be buried, must be buried deep down in the darkness, under men's feet, under the weight of the earth. That it must be subjected to the winter, to the season of frost and iron, of long darkness and short light. That it must accept the preordained measure, the slow pace and long pause in the periods of growth. It is only on this condition that it can bear fruit.

It is only on the condition that Christ dies that he rises from the dead; it is only because he surrendered himself to death, that we can live the splendor of his Risen Life.

Caryll Houselander in The Risen Christ

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our Lady of the Resurrection

No deep disguise
could hide Him from
her waiting love.
Before He came
her arms were wide
to welcome Him;
and as dawn burst the bonds of night,
He laid His glory on His Mother's breast.

"Our Lady of the Resurrection" by Sr.Mary Julian Baird, R.S.M. in The Refuge of Beauty, A Book of Marian Poems

Friday, April 24, 2009

By the light of the Psalms

For several years now, my dear friend Connie and I have given each other the same Christmas present, which is Chris Shea's yearly mini-calendar called "By the light of the Psalms." Each day's page, which measures a mere 3x3 inches, includes a short verse from the Psalms followed by a brief reflection or prayer. It's amazing how much wisdom can be packed into such a tiny space! I save all these pages once I tear them off because they make good scrap paper. But they often find their way into my Liturgy of Hours, my pocket or purse or onto my bathroom mirror or the little bulletin board above my kitchen sink. These two recent pages are keepers.

Save me, O God, for the waters are coming into my soul (Ps 69:1)
...sometimes I get in over my head.

O God, thou knowest my foolishness (Ps 69:5)
…and yet you love me still.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the light of Your most gracious word!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Festina Lente

Rivers that flow gently through the plains carry along large boats and rich merchandise, and rains that fall gently on open fields make them fruitful in grass and grain. But just as torrents and rivers that flood over the land ruin the neighboring countryside and are useless for commerce, so in like manner heavy, tempestuous rains ruin the fields and prairies. A job done too eagerly and hurriedly is never done well. We must make haste slowly according to the proverb: "Whoever is hasty runs the risk of stumbling and hurting a foot." We perform actions quickly enough when we do them well.

~from The Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales

In quiet and in trust your strength lies. ~Isaiah 30, 15

P.S. I remember "festina lente" from when I was taking Latin in high school. It means "make haste slowly" -- and it applies to me today as much as it did over 40 years ago!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Check These Out!

These two clips from YouTube are well worth viewing: Sound of Music/Central Station Antwerp and Susan Boyle. Both of these simply exhilarate me and make me glad just to be alive! I hope they do the same for you. Sing, dance, celebrate life!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The love I love
Came in the early dawning
Standing as still as light.

How could I ever have dreamed
So sweet a morning
After so dark a night?

Elizabeth Rooney

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Fifth Glorious Mystery

Seed of Eternal Life,
sown by love's flowering
in the heavy clay of our hearts,
rise in us;
be our soul's spring.

By the risen feet of Christ,
walking upon the delicate grass;
by the wakened hands of Christ,
touching the cool petals of flowers;
by the opened eyes of Christ,
looking with joy
on all created things;
teach us to wonder,
and to walk upon the earth
aware of earth's loveliness,
aware of the Being of God
in all that is.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery,
the Resurrection
by Caryll Houselander

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We can be sure that our devotion to Divine Mercy is authentic and pleasing to God when it leads us to works of mercy in our everyday lives. As Our Lord said to St. Faustina, to whom He revealed Himself as Divine Mercy, "I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it." (Divine Mercy in My Soul, #742).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2447) states: "The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. [Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3] Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. [Mt 25:31-46] Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God." [Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4]

The Scriptural basis for the corporal works of mercy is, of course, the parable in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus teaches his disciples about God’s criteria for the Last Judgement (Mt 25:35-42).

Scripture passages that provide a basis for the spiritual works of mercy include:

My brothers, if someone is detected in sin, you who live by the Spirit should gently set him right. (Gal 6:1)

Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. (Col 3:16)

Correct those who are confused. (Jude 23)

As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you. (Is 66:13)

Help carry one another’s burdens; in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)

Because you are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. (Col 3:12)

Pray constantly and attentively for all. (Eph 6:18)

As I reflected on the works of mercy earlier today, I thought about how important discretion is in my practice of them. Being discreet will keep me from embarrassing those on the receiving end as well as from being pleased with myself over my kindness to others. Our Merciful Lord told St. Faustina that our deeds of mercy should arise out of love for Him. Such love gives birth to discretion. So does remembering how merciful God is to me. As St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus said, "To me He has shown infinite mercy." Blessed be Jesus, our Divine Mercy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mary and the Resurrection

One of the treasured books of the Catholic Church is the Collection Of Masses Of The Blessed Virgin Mary. This set contains the Sacramentary (Volume I) and the Lectionary (Volume II) that can be used to celebrate a total of 46 Masses in honor of Our Blessed Mother. This collection is a rich source of prayer and lectio divina. Here is the Preface of the Mass, The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Resurrection of the Lord, one of four Masses for the Easter Season. Today I pray that the whole Church may share in Our Lady's "joy beyond all telling."

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere
to give you thanks.
At the resurrection of your Anointed One
you filled the heart of the Blessed Virgin
with joy beyond all telling
and wonderfully exalted her faith.

For it was in faith
that she conceived your Son,
It was in faith
that she awaited his resurrection.

In the strength of faith
she waited for that day of light and life
when the night of death would be ended,
the whole world would exult,
and the infant Church tremble with joy
at seeing again its immortal Lord.

Through him the angels of heaven
offer their prayer of adoration
as they rejoice in your presence for ever...


Friday, April 17, 2009

Come and Eat!

In one Resurrection account (John 21), Jesus prepares breakfast for His disciples. Having fished all night without success, they are weary, frustrated and hungry. First Jesus directs Peter to throw the net over starboard, which results in a large haul. Then Jesus cooks up some fish. "Come," He says to His disciples, "have breakfast." Once again, the Master becomes the servant, sensitive to the needs of his friends and responding to them with loving attention. They're hungry – what else to do but cook them a meal, which is precisely what our Lord does, simply and humbly. Do we realize that Jesus treats us the same way? Each and every day He invites us, "Come and eat."

When are hearts are heavy with care and sorrow, when our bodies are weary with pain, when we feel we can't take one more step and just want to sit down and call it quits, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When our days are drab and dreary and our nights dark and long, when our friends fail us and our enemies hound us, when we are distracted by the passing fancies of the world and have no hunger for spiritual things, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When our passions frighten us and our sins disgust us, when our lack of progress and growth discourage us, when life overwhelms us and self-pity and resentment creep in, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When we think that nobody understands us, when our lives appear to be useless and we doubt our ability to make a difference in this world, when we wonder why life has to be the way it is, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When the future looks bleak, when the unknown terrifies us, when fear and anxiety beset us, when our problems confound us, when peace eludes us, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

Knowing full well the hungers of our human hearts, Jesus provides for them all, carefully, tenderly, lovingly. In His Word, He feeds us with His truth and wisdom. In the Eucharist, He feeds us with His body and blood. In Reconciliation, He feeds us with His forgiveness and healing. In our human relationships, He feeds us with His friendship and joy. In our Father's creation, He feeds us with His beauty and delight. Day after day, we hear Jesus say to us, "Come and eat." Let us feast with Him at the table of love He sets for us in our daily lives. Then we will shout for joy, as did the first disciples of Christ, "It is the Lord!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rejoice, Mother of Light!

Mary, Mother of Light, by Robert Lentz
Rejoice, Mother of Light,
Jesus, the sun of justice,
overcoming the darkness of the tomb,
sheds his radiance over the whole world, alleluia.
The Church with her Easter antiphon "Regina Caeli" speaks to the Mother, to her who had the fortune to bear in her womb, under her heart, and later in her arms, the Son of God and our Savior. She took him in her arms for the last time when he was taken down from the Cross, on Calvary. Before her eyes, he was wrapped in the shroud and taken to the tomb. Before his Mother's eyes! And lo, on the third day the tomb was found empty… And even though the Gospels do not tell us anything about the visit of Christ's Mother to the place of his Resurrection, we all think, however, that she must somehow have been the first one present. She must have been the first to participate in the mystery of the Resurrection, because such was her right as Mother. ~Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Road to Emmaus

It seems to me there is one page of the Gospel for each one of us. Some weep with Mary Magdalene before the empty tomb and suddenly He appears: a man who pronounces their names in a low voice. Others put their fingers in the open wounds with Thomas. For my part, I have walked all my life with the two tired travelers who entered Emmaus in the evening. Christ was dead; they had lost everything. Only now, when the shadows of my life are deepening, do I understand what I wrote twenty years ago on this subject in my Life of Jesus: "Who among us is not familiar with the inn at Emmaus? Who has not walked on this road in the evening when all seemed lost? Christ was dead within us. They had taken Him from us – the world, the philosophers and sages, our passions. There was no Jesus for us on the earth. We followed a road, and Someone walked at our side. We were alone and yet we were not alone. It was evening. Here was an open door, the obscurity of a room where the flame from the fireplace lightened nothing but the trampled earth and made the shadows flicker. O broken bread! O breaking of the bread, consummated in spite of so much misery! 'Stay with us…the day declineth…' The day declineth, life is coming to a close. Childhood seems further away than the beginning of the world; and our lost youth means no more to us than the last sound in the dead trees of an unknown park…"

François Mauriac in The Son of Man

As we celebrate the liturgical seasons of the Church year with its multitudinous solemnities and feasts, I always go back to re-read certain spiritual books with well-marked passages that continue to feed my soul and speak to my inmost being. By now I know many of these passages almost by heart, yet they are remain new to me in their timelessness. One such treasured book is the slim volume by François Mauriac, The Son of Man. It totals only 123 pages yet overflows with riches on every page. Mauriac wrote this book at the age of 73, making him 53 years old when he penned the above poignant passage on the Gospel of Emmaus. He lived another 32 years after that, dying at the age of 85.

Today I pray especially for those who walk the road to Emmaus. O Christ our living bread, "consummated in spite of so much misery," let not such misery embitter us! May it turn us to You, our kind and merciful Jesus. May Your Easter joy fill us with hope. May Your Risen Love transform our hearts, making them confident in You and enlarging them with Your compassion. Yes, the day declines and the shadows lengthen, but You, our Morning Star, shine forever. As we prayed at the beginning of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, may Your light, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds forever. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!!!


Rejoice, heavenly pwers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

from the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Singing with our lives

The Easter proclamation spreads throughout the world with the joyful song of the Alleluia. Let us sing it with our lips, and let us sing it above all with our hearts and our lives, with a manner of life that is “unleavened”, that is to say, simple, humble, and fruitful in good works. ~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for Easter Sunday, 4/12/09

Monday, April 13, 2009

Christ our hope

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and nvincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place, especially where Christians suffer persecution because of their faith and their commitment to justice and peace. She invokes the hope that can call forth the courage to do good, even when it costs, especially when it costs. Today the Church sings “the day that the Lord has made”, and she summons people to joy. Today the Church calls in prayer upon Mary, Star of Hope, asking her to guide humanity towards the safe haven of salvation which is the heart of Christ, the paschal Victim, the Lamb who has “redeemed the world”, the Innocent one who has “reconciled us sinners with the Father”. To him, our victorious King, to him who is crucified and risen, we sing out with joy our Alleluia!

Urbi et Orbi, Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Easter 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009


He is not here!
He is risen, as he foretold!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Silence and Stillness

To Mary it was told at the beginning: And thy own soul a sword shall pierce. The disciples were not prepared; but she was prepared: she had known beforehand something of how it would be, how it must be; and having seen her own vocation in her Son's she was faithful to it to the end. But the end which is the folly of the Cross, this was not the end for her Son, nor for her in her prevision, nor for us. She saw, through the anguish and helplessness of death, the renewal of life; through the savage winter the coming of the spring. She saw, but more than that, she hastened its coming by the silence and stillness of her sorrow. And so it must be for us. To us too, to our dying world, he will come all so still: he will come if, but only if, our world can learn sufficiently to be still and silent and adoring, can learn to return in quiet of soul to its source, can become again a contemplative world.

Gerald Vann in The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Sorrow of the World

For the sorrow of the world
has become blessed,
because it has been loved.
Behold the wood of the Cross
on which hung
the Salvation of the world.
from "Passion"
by Gertrude von Le Fort

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Holy Thursday created these men"

Today, Holy Thursday, I pray in a special way for all priests, particularly those priests so influential in my own life -- the priest who baptized me sixty years ago ... the one who gave me our Lord Jesus in Holy Communion for the very first time ... the priests who have absolved me from my sins in the Sacrament of Penance over and over again, always with such kindness and compassion ... the ones who have counseled me in the ways of the Lord and encouraged me to grow in holiness and love, who have comforted me in my sorrows and supported me in my trials ... the priests who were my beloved spiritual fathers and have gone home to the Father ... the priest who is my spiritual father today, whose unflinching devotion to and undying passion for the Truth challenges me to settle for nothing less, whose wisdom enlightens my ignorance and whose love for our Lord increases my own ... the priests in our parish, especially my dear pastor who loves our parish family so much ... and all the priests in our world today, who strive to be faithful to their priestly vocation, who lovingly minister to us with our many needs, who show us the Father by their lives of love and sacrifice ... and the priests who are troubled, who doubt their calling and are tempted to abandon it, who struggle with their sins and imperfections, who are burdened with loneliness, who feel unappreciated or unloved. Thank you for all our priests, dear Jesus! Bless them and keep them happy in your service. Let them know how greatly you love them. Be their lasting peace and their sure refuge. Heal their brokenness, strengthen their resolve, enlighten their darkness and renew their faith in you. They are yours, all yours, and I entrust them with gratitude and joy to you, O Jesus, our High and Eternal Priest. Amem.

The Eucharist must not prevent us from considering the other sacrament which was instituted on Holy Thursday: Holy Orders. "Do this in remembrance of me." "Do this, as often as you drink [the cup], in remembrance of me."

The twelve apostles are the first twelve priests… Now they are ordained, the first members of an innumerable family. Holiness entered the world with Christ. The Church is holy and what matters to us the wretchedness of individuals, their falls, their betrayals? "The great glory of the Church," writes Jacques Maritain, "is to be holy with sinning members." Until the end of the world, the hands of a few chosen men will never cease to lift up "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"… The grace of Holy Thursday will be transmitted unto the end of time, unto the last of the priests who will celebrate the last Mass in a shattered universe. Holy Thursday created these men; a mark was stamped on them; a sign was given to them… Such is the immense stream of grace which has its source in the first priestly ordination of this sacred Thursday.

from Holy Thursday: An Intimate Remembrance, by Francois Mauriac

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


In his homily on Palm Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI reflected upon "the fundamental law of human existence" that our Lord Jesus formulated when he said: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (Jn. 12:24)

He who wants to have his life for himself, live only for himself, squeeze out everything for himself and exploit all the possibilities -- he is the one who loses his life. It becomes boring and empty. Only in abandoning ourselves, only in the disinterested gift of the "I" in favor of the "Thou," only in the "Yes" to the greater life, precisely the life of God, our life too becomes full and more spacious. Thus, this fundamental principle that the Lord establishes is, in the final analysis, simply identical with the principle of love. Love, in fact, means leaving yourself behind, giving yourself, not wanting to hold on to yourself, but becoming free from yourself: not getting preoccupied with yourself -- what will become of me -- but looking ahead, toward the other -- toward God and the people whom he sends to me. It is this principle of love that defines man's journey, it is once again identical with the mystery of the cross, with the mystery of death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ.

The Holy Father pointed out that our Yes "to the greater life" is an ongoing one that we must repeat over and over again through daily sacrifice and renunciation.

Dear friends, perhaps it is relatively easy to accept this grand fundamental vision of life. In concrete reality, however, it is not just a simple matter of recognizing a principle, but of living its truth, the truth of the cross and the resurrection. And for this, once again, just one big decision is not enough. It is surely important at some point to dare to make a fundamental decision, to dare the great "Yes" that the Lord asks of us at a certain moment in our life. But the great "Yes" of the decisive moment in our life -- the "Yes" to the truth that the Lord places before us -- must then be daily re-conquered in the everyday situations in which, again and again, we must abandon our "I," make ourselves available, when, at bottom, we just want to hang on to that "I." Sacrifice, renunciation, also belongs to an upright life. He who permits himself a life without this ever renewed gift of self, deceives people. There is no successful life without sacrifice. If I cast a retrospective glance on my own life, I must say that precisely those moments in which I said "Yes" to renunciation were the great and important moments of my life.

The mystery of life-through-death is an awful one. It is clearly formidable, difficult to undertake and arousing fear, dread or alarm. Who of us is ever completely ready and willing to give up our precious, little "I"? Not I! Who and what will "I" be without that "I" to which I so desperately cling? And the emptiness – my God, the emptiness! How I dread the emptiness! What will be left if I totally surrender my "I" to You? Nothing! Can I really trust You to fill me with Yourself? Are You there even now in that emptiness that I so foolishly strive to fill up with mere trifles and so fervently avoid at all costs, just waiting for me to let go of my "I" so that I may know and experience my utter nothingness and thus be free to be possessed by You alone?

This is indeed an awful mystery, filled with awe and exceedingly great. The life-through-death that our Beloved Lord speaks of is no ordinary life – it is the abundant life that He Himself came to give us (Jn 10:10), "the prize of God's upward calling" (Phil 3:14). It is the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, for which I can gladly count everything as loss because of its supreme worth (Phil 3:8). It is the life of infinite love, the love of the Father for the Son – "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son!" (Jn. 3:16) -- and the love of the Son for the Father, love that emptied itself and was obedient unto death and yet could never die but gushes forth unceasingly in the splendor of the Resurrection.

"Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all!"
by Isaac Watts, published 1707

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weep if you can...

And lonely,
So tired
The heart aches.
Meltwater trickles
Down the rocks,
The fingers are numb,
The knees tremble.
It is now,
Now, that you must not give in.

On the path of the others
Are resting places,
Places in the sun
Where they can meet.
But this
Is your path,
And it is now,
Now, that you must not fail.

If you can,
But do not complain.
The way chose you--
And you must be thankful.

by Dag Hammarskjöld

His Will is Truth and Love

In his homily for Palm Sunday this past weekend, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Olives as it appears in the gospel of St. John.

There is first of all the statement, "My soul is troubled" (12:27). Here Jesus' fear appears, which is amply illustrated by the other evangelists -- his fear in the face of the power of death, in the face of the entire abyss of evil that he sees and into which he must descend. The Lord suffers our anxieties together with us, he accompanies us in the last anxiety until we come to the light. Then there follow, in John, Jesus' two questions. The first is only expressed conditionally: "What will I say, 'Father, save me from this hour?'" (12:27). As a human being, Jesus also felt driven to ask that he be spared the terror of the passion. We too can pray in this way. We too can lament before the Lord like Job, present all our questions that arise in us in the face of the injustice in the world and the problems affect us personally. Before God we must not take refuge in pious phrases, in a world of make-believe. Praying also means struggling with God, and like Jacob we can say to him: "I will not let you go until you have given me a blessing!" (Genesis 32:37). But then there is Jesus' second request: "Glorify your name!" (John 12:28). The Synoptic Gospels put this request in this way: "Not my will but your will be done!" (Luke 22:42). In the end, God's glory, his lordship, his will is always more important and more true than my thoughts and my will. And this is what is essential in our prayer and in our life: understanding this right order of reality, accepting it interiorly; trusting in God and believing that he is doing the right thing; understanding that his will is the truth and is love; understanding that my life will be a good life if I can learn how to conform to this order. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly entrust ourselves to God. It is in this way that his kingdom is realized.

"His will is the truth and is love," the Holy Father states. When I think otherwise, it's usually because I'm caught up in my own small world where my ego runs amok, causing me to be focused on myself, obsessed with my agenda, and convinced that I know what's best for others and myself. But when I look beyond myself and lift up my eyes to the holy hill of Calvary, where Truth and Love were crucified, then I find my Beloved Jesus, who enables me to pray with him, in glad and confident surrender: "Father, glorify your name!" (Jn. 12:28)

Monday, April 6, 2009


WWJD? What would Jesus do, we often ask ourselves. Let this week called "holy" tell us. He, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, would

empty himself

wash the feet of those whom he loved

give his body and blood to those who would deny him

call them his friends and give them his peace

kiss a traitor

sweat blood and tears

cry out in anguish to his Father, begging deliverance yet surrendering all into his loving hands

be despised and rejected, oppressed and condemned, an object of reproach, a laughingstock to his neighbors, and a dread to his friends

bear our infirmities and endure our sufferings

become a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief

be tempted as we are, in every respect, yet without sinning

give his back to those who beat him

speak the truth

accept the help of a stranger

comfort the sorrowing

carry his cross

forgive his persecutors

promise paradise to a thief

learn obedience from what he suffered

give us his mother

surrender himself to death to take away the sins of many

lay down his life for us in infinite love that we may live with him forever

be raised high and forever greatly exalted

We know, O Jesus, we know what you would do! O Crucified Lord and Risen Savior of the World, help us to do likewise, that through us the whole world may know that truly, you are the Son of God!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

You were clad with purple,
you put on a scarlet cloak
as a sign of shame, in the thoughts
of Pontius Pilate's soldiers.

Take me from the haircloth of sin,
the red-purple, the color of blood,
and clothe me with the joyous garment
you once put on the first humans.

With the tearing of the veil
on account of Adam's debts
tear my ingrained meanness,
destroy the bond of my life's sins.

I believe with all my soul
and adore you, O only Son,
forgive me the faults I committed;
may my past sins not be remembered!

To the thief on your right
you opened the door of the Garden of Eden;
remember me also when you come back
with the royal power of your Father.

May I too hear what causes us to exult,
the answer pronounced by you:
"Today you will be with me in Paradise,
in your primordial homeland."

Nerses Snorhali, 12th-century monk and pastor

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fourth Station, Jesus Meets His Mother Mary

Again tradition tells us of a meeting of mother and son on his way to execution. She was so much the center of the beginning of this redemptive mystery; she was with him for many of his preaching and healing adventures; she would stand beneath the cross at the end. Isn't it likely that the one who is the model of faith and solidarity would also take part in this last journey?

From the beginning, Mary shared the lot of her child, including his call to prophecy, his rejection and sufferings. She loved what he loved - the place where the proud are overthrown in the conceit of their hearts, where the hungry are fed and the rich sent away empty, where the meek and the lowly live with dignity while the powerful are dethroned. She was pierced by the sword of truth so that the hearts of many might be revealed. In her solidarity with Jesus who suffered the dispassionate gaze of strangers, she images all who stand in solidarity with those whose pain is public. She stands with the women who have illegitimate children, the ones who contract AIDS, the men and women marginalized because of their sexuality. And she stands with all who befriend them.

We stand together and commit ourselves to compassion, to openness and to accepting suffering in our lives rather than inflicting it. We pray to be faithful to the word of kindness and courtesy, to forgiveness and silent mutual love. We pray to have the courage to offer our support to those who struggle to live.

St. Stephen the Witness Student Center, Cedar Falls, IA

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Way of the Holy Cross

If you carry your cross cheerfully, it will carry you, and bring you where you wish to go, to the place where there will be an end to the suffering which can never end on earth. If you carry it grudgingly you will make it a heavy burden, and feel its weight the more, and yet you must bear it all the same. And if you cast away one cross, you will certainly find another and perhaps a heavier cross.

Do you think you can escape what no mortal man ever yet failed to meet? Was ever any one of the saints without his cross and trial upon earth? Even Jesus Christ our Lord, as long as He lived, was never for one hour free from the anguish of His passion. For "it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, that He might enter into His glory." How then can you look for any other way than this royal way, the way of the holy cross?

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, Bk II, Ch XII

Thursday, April 2, 2009

His Mother, First Martyr

On the Via Dolorosa and on Golgotha is his Mother, first Martyr. And with the heart of his Mother, to whom he consigned as his testament from the Cross every disciple and every man, we contemplate, with emotion, Christ's sufferings, learning from him obedience until death, even death on the Cross, learning from her to accept every man as our brother, to be with her near the innumerable crosses to which the Lord of glory is still unjustly nailed, not his glorious Body but the suffering limbs of his mystical body.

Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Everything depends on the Cross

Thus you see everything depends upon the cross, and all our hope lies in dying on the cross. There is no way to life and to real peace of heart but the holy cross and of daily mortification. Go where you will, try what you will,you will not find a grander way, or a safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order all your life as you like to think fit, still you will find that you will always have something to suffer, by your own choice, or by necessity, and so you will always find a cross. For either you will have bodily pain to bear or some trouble of the spirit.

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, Bk II, Ch XII