Sunday, May 31, 2009

Solemnity of Pentecost

Sending out the Spirit, Egino Weinert

Come O Holy Paraclete,
And from your celestial seat,
Send your light and brilliancy.
Father of the poor, draw near:
Giver of all gifts, be here:
Come, the heart’s true radiancy.

Come, of comforters the best
Of the soul the sweetest guest,
Come in toil refreshingly.
In labor you are rest most sweet,
You are shadow from the heat,
Comfort in adversity.

Come O light more pure and blest,
Shine within the inmost breast
Of your faithful company.
Where you are not, we are naught:
Every holy deed and thought
Comes from your divinity.

What is soiled, render pure;
What is wounded, work its cure:
what is parched, fructify.
What is frozen, warmly tend:
What is rigid, gently bend:
Straighten what goes erringly.

Fill your faithful, who confide
In your power to guard and guide,
With your sevenfold mystery.
Here your grace and virtue send:
Grant salvation in the end,
And in heaven felicity.


The Pentecost Sequence

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vigil of the Solemnity of Pentecost

Salvador Dali, The Descent of the Spirit
Spirit of Jesus,
Pentecost Flame!
with the fire
of your love!
Alice Claire Mansfield

"The love we have celebrated..."

We come now to the close of the Easter season, which officially ends with Evening Prayer tomorrow, Pentecost Sunday. The prayer for this morning's Mass sums up in one short sentence the best way to continue to live the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as we move into Ordinary Time: "Almighty Father, let the love we have celebrated in this Easter season be put into practice in our daily lives."

"The love we have celebrated in this Easter season … love that has become incarnate and has made a dwelling-place within and among us… love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… love that washes feet and cooks breakfast and provides for all our needs, whether large or small, sublime or that is strong as death…Risen Love, which has conquered all things and remains with us forever, even to the end of time and beyond …

In her book The Risen Christ, Caryll Houselander says that our Lord Jesus has shown us how we are to lead the Risen Life, and that it is to be a life of love: "love that creates, love that fills up the measure of each life with joy. Love that is light and peace. Love that forgives and heals and sustains, that makes us one. Love that gives life to the world and gives beauty to life. Love that is food and clothing and water for thirst. Love that is bread. It is the love of the Eternal Father for his only Son, given to us, and it is given to us for ourselves and for one another."

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

George Matheson

Friday, May 29, 2009

Do you love me? Follow me!

The Gospel from today's Mass, John 21:15-19, reminds me of the magnificent homily Pope Benedict XVI gave at the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the many sacrifices that Pope John Paul so lovingly made as he faithfully responded to our Lord's call to follow Him and to feed His sheep. Looking back on this homily, it seems prophetic given Pope Benedict's election to the papacy a few days later on April 19. He also has made many sacrifices in his own life, especially in accepting God's will to be our current pope, and he has done so with much love, deep faith, and great serenity. Dear Lord, please bless them both, richly and abundantly!

"Grow, labor, suffer, and be glad"

Easter in me, triumphant Lord:
grow, labor, suffer, and be glad.
Repentecost, creative Breath:
speak to my heart and say,
"See, your God is with you and within you.
Tell Him how good He is."
"Prayer of the Church in Council"
Thomas Dobney, S.J.
published in Commonweal, June 1963

It's true, we really can find just about anything out there in cyberspace. The past couple of days the second line of the above prayer has been running through my mind over and over again. I couldn't remember the rest of it, so I googled it and within seconds found it in the archives for Commonweal magazine. It was published during the Second Vatican Council, which began on October 11, 1962 and ended on December 8, 1965. With Google at my fingertips, I've become less motivated to organize my files of articles, poems, prayers and quotes that I've been collecting since I was in high school. Perhaps I'll finally tackle this project when I retire from my retirement!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Into my heart's treasury
I slipped a coin
That Time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin, --
O better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.

"The Coin" by Sara Teasdale

Last night I slipped into my heart's treasury one of those coins about which the poet Sara Teasdale wrote. Yesterday morning while I was in our parish church setting up for the 9am Mass, a woman walked towards me with a big smile on her face. I smiled back even though I didn't recognize her, then veered off course to take care of something or other. Undeterred, this woman followed me, so I turned to speak with her – then had to stifle myself from shattering the silence with big whoops of joy! It was my dear friend Teresa from Corpus Christi! What a happy, lovely surprise!

The last time we saw each other was five years ago when Teresa came to Houston for my consecration as a virgin living in the world. Two years prior to that, she and her family had moved to Corpus Christi, so our contact these past seven years has been limited to email. I didn't know that she was coming to town and was absolutely thrilled to see her! When I moved to Houston 11 years ago, I met Teresa in a Bible study I joined in my parish. She and Connie, who also joined this study and who still lives here, warmly welcomed me into their hearts and homes, and we've been steadfast friends ever since.

Mass was about to begin but afterwards Teresa called Connie on her cell phone, and the three of us spent the rest of the day together, renewing and exulting in our friendship. We had so much to talk about and could barely keep up with each other! So much had happened since we had last seen each other – so much joy and laughter to share, some sorrows and hurts, unexpected growth from both victories and defeats – all shining evidence of God's wondrous love for us!

The best part of our time together was the beginning and the end. We had started with Mass, which is for all three of us the center of our lives as Catholics because here we adore the Lord who loves us so, we hear His holy Word, eat His Sacred Body and drink His Precious Blood, united forever in the Blessed Trinity, our eternal home. We ended our day by returning to our parish for adoration as we have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel around the clock. In fact, Connie and I keep the 3-4pm holy hour every Wednesday, thanks to Connie who always provides me with the necessary transportation. As the three of us knelt there together in silent prayer, I rejoiced in the glory of my two dear friends, Teresa and Connie, and thanked our dear Lord for bringing us together so many years ago and for keeping us united forever in His wondrous love. ALLELUIA!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Keep me ever by Thy Spirit

"Morning Carol" by Margaret Tarrant

God, who touches earth with beauty,
Make me lovely, too;
Keep me ever by Thy Spirit
Firm and strong and true.

Like the springs and running waters,
Make me crystal pure;
Like the rocks of towering grandeur,
Make me strong and sure.

Like the shining waves in sunlight,
Make me glad and free;
Like the straightness of the pine trees,
Let me upright be.

Like the arching of the heavens,
Lift my thoughts above;
Turn my dreams to noble action,
Ministries of love.

God, who touches earth with beauty,
Make me lovely, too;
Keep me ever, by your Spirit,
Pure and strong and true.

Mary Susan Edgar

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Yesterday, May 25, was the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. The Liturgy of the Hours provides us with this brief description of her life: "Born in Florence in 1566, she had a religious upbringing and entered the monastery of the Carmelite nuns there. She led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Her life was marked by many extraordinary graces. She died in 1607."

My own introduction to St. Mary Magdalene came through the Liturgy of the Hours many years ago. The second reading in the Office of Readings for her memorial is from her writings "On Revelation and On Trials." This reading provides us with a profound reflection upon the Holy Spirit, whom she calls "dispenser of the treasures which lay in the lap of the Father, and guardian of the deliberations which pass between the Father and the Son," and ends with this lovely prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit. Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word's delight come. Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforters of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasurers are contained. Come! As you descended upon Mary, that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace. Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity. Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you.

It's that last line that always cuts through my heart and soul and makes me ask myself: how much do I honestly want to be consumed in and by the Spirit of Jesus, Pentecost Flame?!

There are many articles on the Web about this Carmelite saint. One article at Catholic Online states that St. Mary Magdalene "saw her ecstasies as evidence of a great fault in her, not a reward for holiness." Another article at American Catholic ends with her dying words to her fellow sisters: ""The last thing I ask of you—and I ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—is that you love him alone, that you trust implicitly in him and that you encourage one another continually to suffer for the love of him." Both articles contain excellent information on the nature of true ecstasy.

Two quotes of St. Mary Magdalene that I found out there in cyberspace tell us much about her and her relationship with our Lord Jesus. In one quote, she says that "Our prayer must be humble, fervent, resigned, persevering, and deeply reverent, for we must reflect that we are in the presence of a God and speaking with a Lord before Whom the Angels tremble out of respect and fear." In spite of her familiarity with her Beloved Spouse and her long periods of dryness and desolation, she knew her place before God and rejoiced to be His creature and bride.

In the other quote, St. Mary Magdalene states that "A little drop of simple obedience is worth a million times more than a whole vase of the choicest contemplation." Such obedience is the height of true mystical experience and explains why this wise and holy woman was canonized. Her greatest ecstasy was to do God's will.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wait for the promise of the Father

These days between the Ascension and Pentecost are so full of hope as we wait for "the promise of the Father" (cf. Acts 4). "'I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever" (Jn 14:16). Here is a promise that fulfills all others, a promise beyond our fondest hopes and wildest dreams, a promise that will never fail and will never be broken. This promise is a person, the Spirit of truth, the Lord and Giver of Life, the bond of love who intimately unites the Father, Son and Spirit in the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Rightly does the Church spend these days in ardent prayer, as our Lord Jesus directed us to do when, upon ascending into heaven, He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost (cf. Acts 1). This gathering-in-prayer of the apostles with Mary, the Mother of Christ, was the first Pentecost Novena, made in obedience to our Lord. "All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers" (Acts 1:14).

On May 4, 1987, Pope Leo XII proclaimed in his encyclical Divinum Illud Munu (On the Holy Spirit): "We decree and command that throughout the whole Catholic Church, this year and in every subsequent year, a novena shall take place before Whit-Sunday (Pentecost), in all parish churches." Sr Elena Guerra, the founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Italy, urged Pope Leo XIII to lead the Church back to the Cenacle, and from 1895-1903 she was led by the Holy Spirit to write to him twelve confidential letters requesting a renewed preaching on the Holy Spirit. Because Pope Leo promoted the Pentecost Novena for the unity of Christian, this is a special time to pray that we may all be one as the Father and the Son are one (Jn 17:21). This is also an excellent time to read and ponder anew the seventeen chapter of John's Gospel, often called Christ's "high priestly prayer".

As I make my own Pentecost Novena this year, I am praying Pope John XXII's prayer to the Holy Spirit which he wrote for and prayed at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. Every line is a prayer in itself, and every phrase reveals to us something of how the Holy Spirit can transform us if we allow Him to seize us and work in us. Come, Holy Spirit, come!


perfect in us the work begun by Jesus:

enable us to continue to pray fervently in the name of the whole world:

hasten in every one of us the growth of a profound interior life;

give vigor to our apostolate so that it may reach all men and all peoples, all redeemed by the Blood of Christ and all belonging to him.

Mortify in us our natural pride, and raise us to the realms of holy humility, of the real fear of God, of generous courage.

Let no earthly bond prevent us from honoring our vocation, no cowardly onsiderations disturb the claims of justice, nor meanness confine the immensity of charity within the narrow bounds of petty selfishness.

Let everything in us be on a grand scale: the search for truth and the devotion to it, and readiness for self-sacrifice, even to the cross and death;

and may everything finally be according to the last prayer of the Son to his heavenly Father, and according to your Spirit, O Holy Spirit Of Love, which the Father and the Son desired to be poured out over the Church and its institutions, over the souls of
men and over nations.


Blessed John XXIII

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our Lady of the Ascension

O Mary,
from whom no cloud
but a mist of tears
hid the ascending Christ --
our Lady of Loneliness,
pray for us.

Sister Mary Julian Baird, R.S.M., The Refuge of Beauty: A Book of Marian Poems

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God is King!

Our refrain for the Responsorial Psalm from today's Mass is the same as yesterday's -- "God is king of all the earth." This happens now and then in the liturgy -- we repeat the same refrain a couple of days in a row. I don't know why the Church has chosen to do this, but I view it as a little sign that she is saying something significant and that I should heed her words. The Church is our mother, and a mother often repeats herself when she wants to make a point with her children.

So today Mother Church insists, "God is king of all the earth." A mighty God is He, a great king above all gods (Ps 95:3). He is the King of love and mercy! My Mother tells me to let the king of glory enter (Ps 24:7). He desires my beauty, He is my lord and I must pay homage to Him (Ps 45:12). Good and loving mother that she is, she herself leads me and all of us to Jesus our King, escorting us amid gladness and joy (Ps 45:15-16) through all the tottering kingdoms of this passing world into His everlasting Kingdom, where His love triumphs and His peace holds sway. Our King, Mother Church declares, is truly risen from the dead in unspeakable glory, never to die again. He is the Morning Star, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Rev. 22:16, 13). Yes, the Lord is King, my Mother exhorts me, and therefore I can and must have courage, be at peace, rejoice always, and forever give thanks!

Happy the people who acclaim such a king,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face!
Psalm 89:16

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Marian Prayer of St. Ildephonsus of Spain

Mother and Child by Riccardo Bianchi

Virgin Mary, hear my prayer:

through the Holy Spirit you became the Mother of Jesus; from the Holy Spirit may I too have Jesus.

through the Holy Spirit your flesh conceived Jesus; through the same Spirit may my soul receive Jesus.

Through the Holy Spirit you were able to know Jesus, to possess Jesus, and to bring him into the world. Through the Holy Spirit may I too come to know your Jesus.

Imbued with the Spirit, Mary, you could say: "I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word"; in the Holy Spirit, lowly as I am, let me
proclaim the great truths about Jesus.

In the Spirit you now adore Jesus as Lord and look on Him as Son; in the same spirit, Mary, let me love your Jesus.

The Marian Prayer of Saint Ildephonsus of Spain

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eternal Loveliness

"Poppies" by Ann. L. Krumrein
How wonderful creation is,
The work which you did bless;
What then must you be like, dear God,
Eternal loveliness!
Father Frederick William Faber
"Have Mercy on us, God Most High"
Today's Responsorial Psalm from Mass -- "Heaven and earth are full of your glory!" -- brings to my mind the above verse of Fr. Faber. As I quoted the Holy Father in yesterday's post, "the world has been willed by God and bespeaks his glorious splendor." The Creator God who is "eternal loveliness" has made all things bright and beautiful for our enjoyment and delight. Through them He reveals to us a bit of Himself -- only a foreshadowing of His beauty and grandeur but just enough to entice and ravish us, until at last, utterly enchanted, we sigh:

Then, to behold Thee as Thou art,
I’ll wait till morn eternal breaks.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Nondum"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The World IS God's Gift!

The conviction that the world is a gift of God, and that God has entered the twists and turns of human history, is the perspective from which Christians view creation as having a reason and a purpose. Far from being the result of blind fate, the world has been willed by God and bespeaks his glorious splendor. ~Pope Benedict XVI, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 5/14/09

Monday, May 18, 2009

One picture, four words...

I dwell in possibility.
Emily Dickinson
"Unopened" ~ Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Sunday, May 17, 2009

God's Gifts

At the heart of all religious traditions is the conviction that peace itself is a gift from God, yet it cannot be achieved without human endeavor. Lasting peace flows from the recognition that the world is ultimately not our own, but rather the horizon within which we are invited to participate in God’s love and cooperate in guiding the world and history under his inspiration. We cannot do whatever we please with the world; rather, we are called to conform our choices to the subtle yet nonetheless perceptible laws inscribed by the Creator upon the universe and pattern our actions after the divine goodness that pervades the created realm. ~Pope Benedict XVI, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 5/14/09

Both peace and the world are God's gifts to us. We become responsible for the gifts we are given, and one day we will have to render an account to the Father of lights, from whom all good giving and every perfect gift comes (James 1:17). He gives us His gifts not for ourselves and for our own needs and desires but for His divine purposes, for the building up of His Kingdom, for the good of all our brothers and sisters. So I must ask myself, frequently and seriously: what am I doing with God's gifts to me -- hoarding them like a miser, wasting them like a sloth, or giving them away freely like a spendthrift in love?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our Lady on the Web

The Mary Page is a wonderful place to visit, especially during this month of May dedicated to Our Lady. This page, which is maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, OH, is a treasure trove of information and inspiration about Mary. Click on the "About Mary" button in the left frame to access the index. You will not be disappointed! There's even a page of the "Hail Mary" in almost every foreign language imaginable. Here is a sample from "Marian Prayers." It's a different sort of litany to Our Blessed Mother, replete with images that the ordinary believer may more readily relate to than those in the traditional "Litany of Loretto" that many of us grew up with. Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D, has written some beautiful and enlightening meditations on the titles of Mary as found in the Litany of Loretto; they can be found at the Web site for Inter Mirifica and are well worth pondering and praying.

by Rev. Joseph H. Lackner, S.M.

Opening prayer: Mary, God chose you as the mother of his Son and called all nations and generations to bless the gift of grace he gave you. In the company of those who have gone before us, with people of all races and languages, we call upon you in prayer.

Holy Mary, (Response: pray for us)
Mother of God,
Mother of our redemption,
Mother of a lost child,
Mother of comfort and understanding,
Mother who shares our joys,
Mother who endures our sorrows,
Mother whose heart was pierced by a sword,
Mother most merciful,
Woman responsive to God's word,
Woman willing to believe the impossible,
Woman who rejoices in her lowliness,
Woman with an undivided heart,
Woman of perfect freedom,
Woman wrapped in mystery,
Woman moved by the Spirit,
Woman champion of the poor and lowly,
Woman graced by a husband's love,
Woman widowed by a husband's death,
Woman at the cross,
Woman patient and waiting,
Woman clothed with the sun,
Queen of the fullness of times,
Queen of beauty unalloyed,
Queen of integrity,
Queen of painful meetings,
Queen of all our heart's treasure,
Queen of our destiny,
Queen of peace,

Mary, you are mother and virgin, wife and widow, peasant and queen - blessed for all time. We need the comfort of your prayers. Remember us always to our Father through your Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The empty tomb

The empty tomb speaks to us of hope, the hope that does not disappoint because it is the gift of the Spirit of life (cf. Rom 5:5). This is the message that I wish to leave with you today, at the conclusion of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. May hope rise up ever anew, by God’s grace, in the hearts of all the people dwelling in these lands! May it take root in your hearts, abide in your families and communities, and inspire in each of you an ever more faithful witness to the Prince of Peace! The Church in the Holy Land, which has so often experienced the dark mystery of Golgotha, must never cease to be an intrepid herald of the luminous message of hope which this empty tomb proclaims. The Gospel reassures us that God can make all things new, that history need not be repeated, that memories can be healed, that the bitter fruits of recrimination and hostility can be overcome, and that a future of justice, peace, prosperity and cooperation can arise for every man and woman, for the whole human family, and in a special way for the people who dwell in this land so dear to the heart of the Saviour.

Contemplating [Christ's] glorified flesh, completely transfigured by the Spirit, may we come to realize more fully that even now, through Baptism, "we bear in our bodies the death of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our own mortal flesh" (2 Cor 4:10-11). Even now, the grace of the resurrection is at work within us! May our contemplation of this mystery spur our efforts, both as individuals and as members of the ecclesial community, to grow in the life of the Spirit through conversion, penance and prayer. May it help us to overcome, by the power of that same Spirit, every conflict and tension born of the flesh, and to remove every obstacle, both within and without, standing in the way of our common witness to Christ and the reconciling power of his love.

~ Pope Benedict, excerpts from remarks made at the Holy Sepulcher, 5/14/09

As always, when the Holy Father speaks to a local church, he speaks to the universal church. His remarks yesterday during his visit to the Holy Sepulcher are a message of hope to all of us. Each one of us has experienced "the dark mystery of Golgotha," and each one of us "must never cease to be an intrepid herald of the luminous message of hope" which Our Lord's empty tomb proclaims. Christ our hope is indeed risen from the dead, alleluia!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Everything pregnant again!

Lilacs by Ann L. Krumrein

My eight-year-old daughter, looking at the new buds sprouting on all the trees and shrubs, remarked, "Gosh, it sure is good to see everything pregnant again." (from an old Reader's Digest, contributed by Deborah A. Fay)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Surprise me, O God! Surprise me!

A friend's six-year old daughter said she'd been getting up at the crack of dawn to "look for surprises."

But you can't expect surprises every day, she was told. They're only on birthday's, Easter and Christmas.

"That's not true," she replied. "When I looked out the window yesterday I was surprised by a daffodil. This morning I was surprised by a tulip.

Harland Edwards in Columbia, SC Record

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Being Friends of the Lord

Today at Mass, this Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, our response to the Word of God is "Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom." (Ps 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21)

Do I really do this, day after day, 24/7, in good times and bad, whether happy or sad? Steadfastly, gladly, with gratitude, faith and love?

Does how I live announce that I am a friend of our Lord, who told us, "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn 15:14)?

Do my interactions with family and friends, co-workers and parish community, neighbors and strangers, reveal Jesus, who is gentle and humble of heart (Mt 11:29)?

Does what I say and think about all these people indicate that they are precious to God, who lovingly made each one in His image and likeness?

Does how I spend my time, energy and talents proclaim that nothing is worth more than the Kingdom of Christ, His "eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace" (Preface of Christ the King)?

And when I fail, which I do often enough, does my repentance prove that our Lord is indeed "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Ps 103:8)?

Dear Jesus, thank you for being "the best and most faithful of friends" (Imitation of Christ, Bk 2, Ch 8). Today I beg you, for myself and for all of us, help us to become better friends of YOU! Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mary the Great Believer

Mary is the great believer who humbly offered herself to God as an empty vessel for him to use in his mysterious plan. She did not try to live according to human calculation but put herself completely at the disposal of God's mysterious, incomprehensible design. All she wanted to be was the instrument and servant of the Word. Therein lies her true fame: that she remained a believer despite all the darkness and the inexplicable demands God made on her. She believed even in the face of certain incomprehensible facts…

Pope Benedict XVI from Dogma and Preaching (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger), quoted in Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, p140

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Five Years Ago

Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza and Alice Claire
Consecration to a Life of Virginity Lived in the World, 5/8/04
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Last week was the fifth anniversary of my consecration to a life of virginity lived in the world. In honor of this occasion, Fr. Paul Lockey, our pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, had a lovely reception for me last Sunday. It was so wonderful to celebrate with my parish family both at Mass and afterwards, especially because the Eucharist is the heart of the consecrated virgin's vocation and life, and her parish is her community. After Fr. Lockey said some beautiful words and gave me his priestly blessing, I shared these thoughts with my parish family, which sum up how vitally important they are to me.

Thank you, Father Lockey, and also Betty Bayley, for arranging this celebration. Father Lockey, your appreciation for my vocation and life as a consecrated virgin is one of God's greatest gifts to me, and I thank you with all my heart for your support, your love and your friendship.

And I thank each one of you as well for your support, your love and your friendship. Because I do not belong to a religious order as sisters do, people often ask me "where is your community?" My answer is "my parish is my community." That's you, each one of you, and all of you together.

You are my community, you are my family. You are my sisters and brothers, my mothers and fathers. You nurture me – you accept and love me – you encourage me, you help me to become a better person and a better consecrated virgin – you show me the Father's love by the witness of your lives – you comfort me in my sorrows and rejoice with me in my joys. For this I thank God, and I thank each one of you. I hope I do the same for you – I certainly try to because I am your sister. I am also your mother – one of the greatest joys of being a consecrated virgin is being a spiritual mother to one and all. As a mother carries her child in her arms, I hold you in my heart always -- with much love and great gratitude and immense joy.

In closing, I'd like to quote the writer of Psalm 34, who says it much better than I ever can: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!"

Friday, May 8, was the actual anniversary of my consecration, so some of my dearest friends in the parish took me out for a special lunch, after which we went to the home of one of the ladies for coffee and dessert. We are "the Sanctuary Bees" -- or Bees, for short -- who serve our parish sort of like an altar society. We also serve each other as over the years we've become close spiritual friends and help each other to grow in our faith and God's love. The Bees helped me plan my consecration in 2004, which was part of our 5pm Saturday evening Mass, and held a beautiful reception for me afterwards. Our time together this past Friday was replete with great joy, happy memories, much laughter, and deep gratefulness to our dear Lord who first brought us together and keeps us united in His wondrous love.

Truly, my cup is overflowing!

Gardeners of the Spirit

"Lady Slipper" by Ann L. Krumrein

Help us to be the always hopeful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers. ~May Sarton, 1912-1995, American poet, novelist, and memoirist

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning from Spring

"Spring Canopy" by Ann L. Krumrein

Before sundown tonight, I drive to Kenwood to see the cherry blossoms. The trees here are planted so closely together that I see no sky, only delicate pink and white shimmering in the fading light. In spite of other cars and people passing through, quiet prevails. I enter this cloister of ineffable beauty with a reverent heart.

Such loveliness always tears at me, causing a peculiar pain deep within. Is it because I see all too clearly not only the fair blossoms which delight the eye and refresh the soul but also the gnarled trees from which they spring? The trees themselves are rather homely, almost ugly. They are stout, not at all graceful or lissome. How marvelous that something so seemingly unattractive should produce such unequalled splendor!

What an important lesson for me to relearn as I gratefully emerge from the dark and cold of winter into the light and warmth of spring! My life is often like these trees. Sometimes hard and painful, it leads me on twisted paths, down valleys and up mountains frequently not of my own choosing. I falter, weary and discouraged, worn down by all that is heavy and irksome. I doubt my efforts to love and grow, question my capacity to give and persevere. I feel defeated, lifeless, just plain worn out and used up.

Still, the unthinkable happens. Life rushes through me, of its own accord, forcing me out of myself and filling my emptiness. Glory quickens within me, bursting forth profusely, albeit momentarily, to reveal that even in the most unlikely places there abides that "dearest freshness deep down things". This yearly show of cherry blossoms is a welcome reminder to me that, for all its poverty and pain, my life images the wonder of rebirth, the mystery of resurrection, the victory of life. And not just my own life but the lives of all those people who surround me. Together we reflect the goodness and glory of the One who continually calls us out of darkness into light, from death to life, through winter into spring. Blessed be God who makes all things new!

(I wrote the above 18 years ago when I lived in Washington, DC. Thanks be to God, I continue to revel in that "dearest freshness deep down things" that He reveals to me anew each day. Alleluia!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Prayer of the Goat

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

I've always liked goats. They're such frisky creatures, so full of pluck, and I see a bit of that in myself. They can live in mountainous and dry areas where other animals, such as cows, would not survive. That sounds like me, too -- not literally, of course, but my life circumstances and interior landscape are most of the time high and dry. I not only live there, I thrive there, thanks to our gracious and loving God!

let me live as I will!
I need a little wild freedom,
a little giddiness of heart,
the strange taste of unknown flowers.
For whom else are Your mountains?
Your snow wind? These springs?
The sheep do not understand.
They graze and graze,
all of them, and always in the same direction
and then eternally
chew the cud of their insipid routine.
But I – I love to bound to the heart of all
Your marvels,
leap Your chasms,
and my mouth stuffed with intoxicating grasses,
quiver with an adventurer's delight
on the summit of the world!

The Prayer of the Goat
by Carmen Bernons de Gasztold
from Prayers from the Ark

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

My sister Annie, who lives with her husband in Lincolnville, Maine, was recently in the Washington, DC area when they traveled to Florida. She took this picture at the Botanic Gardens in DC and emailed it to me the other day with the comment that this little girl reminded her of me. She does looks like me insofar as she is intently writing in her notebook, which is something I've been doing ever since I learned to print more years ago that I can remember.

I always have a notebook with me, wherever I go, and I always have something to write in it, whether it be something as mundane as a reminder to pick up cat food for Queenie at Wal-Mart or as beautiful as the prayer by the Jesuit priest Fr. Grandmaison that follows. When I was going to Catholic University in the early 70s, I found this prayer of his at the beginning of a book he wrote on the Holy Spirit. During breaks between my classes, I used to hole up in the university library. When not studying there, I would read some of its wonderful books. And yes, I would often be writing down in my notebook some of the treasures that I found!

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Holy Mary, Mother of God, preserve in me the heart of a child, pure and transparent as a spring. Obtain for me a simple heart that does not brood over sorrows; a heart generous in giving itself, quick to feel compassion; a faithful, generous heart that forgets no favor and holds no grudge. Give me a humble, gentle heart, loving without asking any return; a great indomitable heart that no ingratitude can close, no indifference can weary; a heart tortured by its desire for the glory of Jesus Christ: pierced by His love with a wound that will heal only in heaven.

Rev. Leonce de Grandmaison, S.J.