Friday, July 31, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today the Church remembers and celebrates St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose spiritual exercises continue to transform the hearts and lives of myriad individuals. Because of his surrender to the persistent promptings of the Holy Spirit and his stalwart obedience to the will of God, his life has born fruit throughout the Church and the world to this very day. Back in 1980, I had the great blessing of making a 30-day Ignatian retreat. What I remember most from my long retreat is something I have incorporated into my daily spiritual practices: "to ask for interior knowledge of so great good received, in order that being entirely grateful, I may be able in all to love and serve His Divine Majesty." Today I will ponder anew this wisdom of St. Ignatius and beg our dear Lord Jesus to give me once again such interior knowledge for the greater glory of God.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Need My Neighbor

I am glad you made my neighbour different from me;
a different coloured skin,
a different shaped face,
a different response to you.
I need my neighbour to teach me about you.
He knows all the things I don't know.

Monica Furlong
quoted in Short Prayers for the Long Day

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us

Five loaves are then set before the multitudes, and broken. While the apostles are dividing them, a succession of newly created portions passes — they cannot tell how—through their hands. The loaf which they are dividing does not grow smaller and yet their hands are continually full of the pieces. The speed of the process baffles the sight. You follow with the eye a hand full of portions, and in the meantime you see that the contents of the other hand are not diminished. And all the while the heap of pieces grows. The carvers are busy at their task, the eaters hard at work at theirs. The hungry are satisfied and the fragments fill twelve baskets. Neither sight nor any of the other senses can discover how such an amazing miracle happened. What did not exist was created; what we see passes our understanding. It only remains for us to believe that God can do all things.

From On the Trinity by Hilary of Poitiers

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today's Saint: St. James the Greater

…we can learn much from St James: promptness in accepting the Lord's call even when he asks us to leave the "boat" of our human securities, enthusiasm in following him on the paths that he indicates to us over and above any deceptive presumption of our own, readiness to witness to him with courage, if necessary to the point of making the supreme sacrifice of life. Thus James the Greater stands before us as an eloquent example of generous adherence to Christ. He, who initially had requested, through his mother, to be seated with his brother next to the Master in his Kingdom, was precisely the first to drink the chalice of the passion and to share martyrdom with the Apostles.…In following Jesus, like St James, we know that even in difficulties we are on the right path.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 6/21/06

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Good Ground

O Mary,
you are the good ground on which the seed fell.
You have brought forth fruit a hundredfold.
Draw us close to your loving heart
and keep us there in gentle lowliness and perfect trust.
Teach us to receive the Sacred Word,
to ponder it in silence and yield a rich harvest.
Teach us to be apostles of love.

Ruth Burrows, OCD

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Thursday, July 23, 2009

But blessed are your eyes, because they see. Mt 13:16

I thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have given me eyes to behold You…

in the beauty of the earth, where morning dew sparkles and trees wave arms of praise and darkness glows with the moon and the stars…

in the joy of human love, in the family and friends so dear to me, in the poor and the vulnerable who cry out in need, in the sick and lonely and abandoned who long for comfort, in every person Your Father has created for each one is His loving child and the apple of His eye…

in the glory of the liturgy and sacraments of the Church, in Your Sacred Body and Precious Blood so freely given to me anew day after day, in your adorable presence in the Blessed Sacrament, in the priestly hand raised in blessing and absolution…

in all these places and so many more where you, Word made flesh and splendor of the Father, dwell among us…
Dear Lord, keep my vision clear and focused so that I may see only You, always You! Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Mary Magdalene

You have seized me; I have not "grasped" You.
You have transformed my being
right down to its very last roots
and made me a sharer in Your own Being and Life.
You have given me Yourself,
not just a distant, fuzzy report of Yourself in human words.
And that's why I can never forget You,
because You have become
the very center of my being.

Karl Rahner in Encounters with Silence, p30-31

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Love Is All That Endures

St. Paul tells us that God's love being perfected in us looks like this: "Love is patient and is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not puff itself up nor push itself forward. Love does not behave in ways that are unseemly. Love does not seek its own end. Love is not easily provoked. Love does nothing evil. Love does not rejoice in sin but rejoices in truth." (1 Cor 13:4-6)

In order to do the good we wish to do in our lives and for others, in the lives of others, we must know how to bear evil, how to renounce in advance any signs we might give off of being annoyed, having a temper, or being sharp in manner.

We must be patient with others, as God is patient with us, and patience demands courage and fortitude. Often, love will demand we be patient because of the defects of others, but we also have defects, defects that can be the root of our annoyance with another.

Through love we imitate God, God who suffers for our sins for so long and is so kind and patient and always has as its goal our perfection.

Love is always disposed to the good of everyone. Love finds room for everyone in a kind and generous heart, just as God finds forgiveness and mercy in His heart toward us. Love rejoices when the other person succeeds, even when we do not.

Love does not gossip or tell the wrongs of others. Love is not happy when another person falls, even when we are made to look good because of their fall. Love is not rude or crude, does not embarrass or make another person the brunt of a joke that makes them look bad. Love serves others and love's only concern is for their good and success. Love does not push itself forward or seek to get ahead at the expense of others.

Love seeks Jesus Christ. Love seeks the heart of Jesus Christ. Love seeks to endure all wrong against itself for the sake of Jesus Christ, imitating his humility, imitating his passion, imitating his crucifixion and death.

Thus, in the end, love is all that endures, for love is God. Love is Jesus Christ. Love is the Holy Spirit. Love is our beginning and our end.

Therefore, these three things endure, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

The Reverend Paul E. Lockey, Ph.D.
Pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church and Schools

Every week our pastor, Fr. Lockey, writes a letter "From Your Pastor" for our Sunday bulletin. The above letter appeared in this past weekend's bulletin. It is one of many that I have saved to re-read and reflect upon. Thank you, dear Lord, for Fr. Lockey's presence in our lives, for his insights, wisdom and example that help us grow in Your love!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is the Lord Truly My Shepherd?

Whenever Mother Church gives us Psalm 23 to pray, as she did in yesterday's Mass, I like to reflect upon the intimate bond a shepherd has with each one of his sheep. I often go back to Phillip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Keller says in his introduction that he grew up and lived in East Africa, "surrounded by simple native herders whose customs closely resembled those of their counterparts in the Middle East." Also, as a young man, he made his livelihood for about eight years as a sheep owner and sheep rancher. Between his firsthand experience as a shepherd of sheep and his obvious love for Christ our Good Shepherd, Keller has written a contemporary classic full of insight and wisdom.

In the beginning of his book, Keller recalls buying his first 30 ewes. After herding them home and getting them settled, his first job was to put his mark on them. "Each sheep-man has his own distinctive earmark which he cuts into one or other of the ears of his sheep. In this way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belongs." Notching the ear of each ewe is a painful but necessary job that results in "an indelible lifelong mark of ownership".

I also have been marked by the One to whom I belong. Christ Crucified and Risen has sealed me with the sign of His cross, and His mark will never be erased. But do I always live in fidelity to my Good Shepherd, does my life bring glory or shame to His cross?

Keller puts forth these questions about how we live up to our mark as Christians.

Do I really belong to Him?

Do I really recognize His right to me?

Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?

Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?

Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under His direction?

Do I know rest and repose, besides a definite sense of exciting adventure, in
belonging to Him?

Yesterday in the second reading from the Office of Readings, St. Ignatius said: "We should then really live as Christians and not merely have the name." Am I a sheep in name only or does my life truly proclaim that Christ is my Good Shepherd?

Lord Jesus, my one and only Shepherd, I do want to belong totally to you, but in foolish pride I often go astray. Come after me, dear Jesus, and bring me home to You! Amen.

P.S. For an excellent synopsis of Keller's book, check out Learning from a Real Shepherd, Dr. W Phillip Keller, by April Lorier

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Psalm 23:5

My cup is overflowing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Holy Father on the Magnificat

…[We] sing with Mary the great hymn of praise which she raises after Elizabeth calls her blessed because of her faith. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, of joy in God, of blessing for his mighty works. The tenor of this hymn is clear from its very first words: "My soul magnifies – makes great – the Lord". (see Lk 1:46-55)

Making the Lord great means giving him a place in the world, in our lives, and letting him enter into our time and our activity: Ultimately this is the essence of true prayer. Where God is made great, men and women are not made small: There too men and women become great and the world is filled with light.

Through Mary we want to continue our converse with the Lord and to learn how to receive him better. Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us toward Jesus – ever anew! Amen!

Pope Benedict XVI, 9/11/06

Dear Mary, who sang a new song to the Lord, your whole life was a glorious hymn of wonder, adoration and praise. Even in the midst of sorrow and pain, you continued to sing the goodness of the Lord. I want to sing as you did – gladly and confidently and with great abandon. Dearest Mother, help me! You know how my voice quavers as my heart quivers – and oh, the flat and sour notes I so often hit! Take my poor little song and weave it into yours. Sweet Mary, teach me how to sing with you for our Beloved Jesus. Amen. Alleluia!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Martyr of Charity

Each priest, each soul, must carry within that intimate reflection of the Cross, that echo of Calvary. Each priest, each soul, must answer the sacrifice of Jesus with his own. The solemn and glorious martyrdom of blood is not the only one; there are personal martyrdoms, meritorious and cruel, unseen by man but seen by God. Each virtue can have its own martyrs. Charity, queen of them all, has many very great ones. ~Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier

Dear Lord, help me to make the most of the secret, little opportunities You give me today to be a martyr of charity, for the praise of Your glory. Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life.... Devotion to Our Lady of Mt Carmel indicates a strong call to the interior life, which, in a very special way, is Mary's life.... Only the soul that is wholly detached and in complete control of its passions can, like Mary, be a solitary, silent 'garden' where God will find His delights. This is the grace we ask of Our Lady today when we choose her to be the Queen and mistress of our interior life. ~Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Forget not all his benefits...

We must consider God's benefits in their original, eternal source. O God, what love can we have sufficiently worthy of the infinite goodness of our Creator, who from all eternity has determined to create, preserve, govern, redeem, save, and glorify all men in general and each man in particular? Ah, what was I when I was not? What was I, I who even now when I am something am still only a mere, pitiful worm of the earth? Yet from the depths of his eternity God thought thoughts of benediction in my behalf. He meditated and planned, yes, determined, the hour of my birth, of my baptism, of all the inspirations he would give me, and in sum, of all the benefits he would do me and offer to me. Ah, is there kindness like to such kindness? ~St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God

My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings. ~Ps 103:2

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today's Saint: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

“I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.” ~Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, patroness of ecology and the environment, feastday July 14

Related Web sites of interest:
Blessed Kateri, Model Ecologist
Kateri Tekakwitha
American Catholic
images of Blessed Kateri
Litany of Kateri Tekakwitha
Article by Bob and Penny Lord about Blessed Kateri
Pope John Paul II on Blessed Kateri
Brief article by Catholic News Agency,
which states that "In her lifetime Kateri was frequently afflicted with illness
and became partially blind. In order for her to walk, she groped her way around
as she walked. She was then named, Tekakwitha which literally means, 'One who
walks groping for her way.'"

Dear Kateri, please pray for me because sometimes I am spiritually blind and am groping my way. Show me the way to your Beloved Bridegroom, Jesus -- my Beloved Bridegroom! my Jesus! -- who is forever the light of the world. Amen.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sense of a Goose

Yesterday I referred to that wonderful verse from Ecclesiastes (4:9): "A three-ply cord is not easily broken." If we look at geese, we see a perfect example of this. When our parish Social Justice Committe met the other night, Loria, our team leader, opened with the following reflection from one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

When you see geese flying along in "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way:

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourae those up front to keep up their speed.

What messages do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally ... and this is important ... when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Author Unknown
Dear Lord, I have a question. Why would anyone call someone a silly goose? I see no silliness in your geese, only the foolishness in my own heart when I try to go it alone. These geese are right smart, but sometimes I'm the dumb one. So please, Lord, give me the sense of a goose. And grant us all the wisdom to seek and to find each other, that we may seek and find You, Eternal Wisdom, Eternal Love. Amen.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Going on a Journey

The Gospel from today's Mass, Mark 6:7-13, reminds me that when our Lord Jesus sends us out to do His work and preach His gospel, I can count on opposition. Not everyone wants to hear the truth. People will not always welcome me and, at times, even those closest and dearest to me will resist me. Then, Jesus says, I must leave, shaking the dust from my feet as I go (vs. 11). As I ponder this, an admonition of Thomas a Kempis comes to mind: "Do not be concerned overmuch who is with you or against you, but work and plan that God may be with you in all that you do" (The Imitation of Christ, Bk. 1, Ch. 2).

Three things stand out for me as I reflect upon today's Gospel.

1) When Jesus dispatches me to sow His seed, He does not ask me to hoe someone else's garden. He has given me my own little plot of land to cultivate, and I am responsible only for that, not for the whole world. I must trust the Divine Gardener that the seed He gives me to sow will bear fruit according to His divine plan, when and where He wills and in whatever conditions He chooses for the greatest good of each individual. As St. Francis de Sales used to say, "God's providence is wiser than we are."

2) Our Lord sends out His disciples two by two (vs. 7). None of us journey alone. We have each other. Yes, there is safety in numbers -- and great strength, too. The author of the book of Ecclesiastes says it best: "Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken." (Eccles 4:9-12)

3) Our Lord tells us that we must take nothing for the journey but a walking stick (vs. 8). As I think back to the reading that precedes today's Gospel, Ephesians 1:3-14, this makes great sense to me. After all, the Father who loves us so "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens "(vs. 3), so what could I possibly need to take with me? Except for that walking stick. And what is that if not the Cross of Jesus Christ? The Cross is surely the cost of discipleship, but it is also the sure staff of the disciple. I turn again to Thomas a Kempis: "Why, then, do you fear to take up the Cross, which is the road to the Kingdom? In the Cross is salvation; in the Cross is life; in the Cross is protection against our enemies; in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the Cross is strength of mind; in the Cross is joy of spirit; in the Cross is excellence of virtue; in the Cross is perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, save in the Cross." (The Imitation of Christ, Bk. 2, Ch. 12)

Ah, Lord, what a magnificent journey You send us on! Let us go swiftly and gladly, believing in Your goodness, hoping in Your mercy, trusting in Your love. Amen. Alleluia!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just for Today

Just for today, I will live as a child of light (Eph. 5, 8). I will have nothing to do with the futile works of darkness (Eph 5, 11). Rather, I will turn to the light, for there all goodness springs up, all justice and truth (Eph. 5, 9). Just for today, I will proclaim the glorious works of the God who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2, 9). I will rejoice that He has brought me into the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus (Col. 1, 13), who is forever the light of the world (Jn. 8, 12).

Just for today, I will live as a child of life. I will revel in the abundant life, life on high in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3, 14), who came that we might have life and have it to the full (Jn. 10, 10). I will drink deeply of His living water and never thirst again (Jn. 7, 37-39). I will trust Him to show me the path of life (Ps. 15, 11). With Him, I will cross over from death to life by loving my brothers and sisters (1 Jn. 3, 14).

Just for today, I will live as a child of love. I will follow the way of love, even as Christ loved me (Eph. 5, 2). I will rejoice in the love of God that has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to me (Rom. 5, 5). I will speak the truth in love so that I might grow in all ways into the full stature of Christ Himself (Eph. 4, 15). I will love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it (1 Jn. 3, 18). Just for today, I will abide in the love of God (Jn. 15, 9).

Light, life and love - just for today, these will be my goals, my guardians, my guides. In all my words and actions, my thoughts and dreams, my hopes and desires, I will strive to serve the God who is Light, Life and Love and labor to make Him known. To Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine - to Him be glory from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen! Alleluia! (Eph. 3, 20-21)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Mass is the Work of God

All the good works in the world
are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
because they are the works of men;
but the Mass is the work of God.
Martyrdom is nothing in comparison
for it is but the sacrifice of man to God;
but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.

St. John Vianney

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Favors of the Lord

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
his mercies are not spent;
they are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

God's Greatest Gift

Love is God's greatest gift
to humanity,
it is his promise
and our hope.

Pope Benedict XVI
Caritas in Veritate

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The other side of silence

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. ~George Eliot, 1819-80

Monday, July 6, 2009

No Measure In Mercy

Praise the Lord, my soul, for everything, and glorify His mercy, for His goodness is without end. Everything will pass, but His mercy is without limit or end. And although evil will attain its measure, in mercy there is no measure. ~from Divine Mercy In My Soul (#423) by St. Maria Faustina

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Friday, July 3, 2009


Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains. The second threw on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch-tree bending over the foam; at the fork of a branch, almost wet with the cataract's spray, a robin sat on its nest. The first was only Stagnation; the last was Rest. For in rest there are always two elements – tranquility and energy; silence and turbulence; creation and destruction; fearlessness and fearfulness. This it was in Christ. ~Henry Drummond, "Pax Vobiscum"

From the end of the earth I call; my heart is faint. On the rock too high for me to reach set me on high, O you who have been my refuge, my tower against the foe. Ps 60:3-4

O God, my foe is not the hurly-burly of the world around me but the topsy-turveyness within my heart and soul. Help me, dear Lord, to keep letting go of all this ruckus so that there will always be room for You, our true and everlasting rest. Amen.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Sacrifice of Isaac

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Marc Chagall

The way of generous suffering is the way to heaven. Stand fast and bear your cross without thinking about it. Our Isaac must be sacrificed over and over again by the giving of ourselves to God without counting the cost. ~St. Jane de Chantal

...and I shall offer within his tent a sacrifice of joy. Ps 27:6

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Demons and Swine

Today's Gospel (Mt 8:28-34) begins on a bit of an ominous note: "When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road." That's how the New American Bible describes them -- "savage," which means brutual, vicious, barbaric, ferocious, or violent. The Jerusalem Bible calls them "dangerously fierce." A quick look at this Scripture passage on the Web at The Unbound Bible (a marvelous Bible search engine worth bookmarking) gives me two other descriptions: "Exceeding dangerous" and "extremely violent." So this is what our Lord is dealing with, and, as always, His greatest concern is for our souls. He casts out the demons, which enter a nearby herd of swine. The swine then rush down the steep bank into the sea, where they all perish. The herdsmen run away and when they arrive in town, they report everything. Thereupon, the town comes out to meet Jesus, and they beg him to leave their neighborhood.

Ah yes, these townspeople may have indeed lost their livelihood when they lost their swine, and that's understandably uppermost in their minds. Who knows what else they might lose if they let this unknown itinerant preacher into their lives! But isn't the life of the soul far more valuable? Is there anything at all worth hanging onto, large or small, if it gets in the way of life on high in Christ Jesus? Not really, for any such thing can be exceeding dangerous for me and can do extreme violence to my soul. Sometimes I may not even realize that something I'm clinging to is an obstacle to my life in and with Him. But Jesus knows, and in His wisdom and mercy, He makes the break for me. Then I can say with St. Paul, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I might gain Christ, and be found in Him" (Phil 3:8-9)

Dear Lord, God of power and might, please don't leave me, even though I am afraid of what You might take from me. Please keep casting out all my demons, along with everything else that You think is necessary, so that I may always be found in You and so live for the praise of Your glory. Amen.