Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us!

Blue Madonna by Carl Dolci
The Queen of Virgins is the Queen of Martyrs too, but it was within her heart that the sword transpierced her, for with her everything took place within her soul. Oh, how beautiful she is in a majesty both strong and sweet… She is there at the foot of the Cross, standing in her strength and courage, and my Master says to me: "Ecce Mater tua" (Behold your Mother). He gives her to me for my Mother! And now that he has returned to the Father, he has put me in his place on the Cross, so that I may "fill up those things that are wanting in the sufferings of Christ for his Body which is the Church." Mary is there still, to teach me to suffer as he did, to tell me, to make me hear those last outpourings of his soul, which only his Mother could catch.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Cup of Blessing

Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God, for it is a cup of blessing. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is my friend

This is my friend.

Let me tell you how I made his acquaintance.

I had heard much of Him, but took no heed. He sent daily gifts and presents, but I never thanked Him. He often seemed to want my friendship, but I remained cold. I was homeless, and wretched, and starving and in peril every hour; and He offered me shelter and comfort and food and safety; but I was ungrateful still. At last He crossed my path and with tears in His eyes He besought me saying, Come and abide with me.

Let me tell you how he treats me now.

He supplies all my wants. He gives me more than I dare ask. He anticipates my every need. He begs me to ask for more. He never reminds me of my past ingratitude. He never rebukes me for my past follies.

Let me tell you further what I think of Him. He is as good as He is great. His love is as ardent as it is true. He is as lavish of His promises as He is faithful in keeping them. He is as jealous of my love as He is deserving of it. I am in all things His debtor, but He bids me call Him Friend.

from The Friendship of Christ by Robert Hugh Benson

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fourth Station

Every mother is love made visible, an abode of tender affection and undying fidelity. Because a true mother loves, even when she is not loved in return. Mary is the Mother! In her, womanhood is unalloyed, and love is not poisoned by the waves of selfishness that constrict and smother human hearts. Mary is the Mother! Her heart faithfully accompanies the heart of her Son, shares in his sufferings, carries his cross, and itself feels the pain of every wound inflicted on the body of her Son. Mary is the Mother! She continues to be a Mother, for us, for ever!


Lord Jesus, we all need a Mother! We need a love that is faithful and true. We need a love that never wavers, a love that is a sure refuge at times of fear, at times of pain and trial.

Lord Jesus, we need women: wives and mothers who can restore to our world the fair face of humanity.

Lord Jesus, we need Mary: the woman, the wife and the mother, who never cheapens or refuses love!

Lord Jesus, we pray to you for all the women of the world!

Fourth Station, Jesus Meets his Mother ~ from The Way of the Cross composed by Archbishop Angelo Comastri for the Holy Father's Use at the Coliseum in Rome, 2006

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Royal Road of the Holy Cross

Why then do you fear to take up the cross by which alone you can reach the crown? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is sure protection from enemies, in the cross is an abundance of heavenly delight, in the cross is courage, in the cross is gladness of heart, in the cross is all virtue, in the cross is the height of sanctity. There is no safety for the soul, no hope of everlasting life, but in the cross. Take up your cross, then, and follow Jesus, and you will enter into life eternal. He has gone before you carrying His cross, and died for you upon the cross that you, too, might have strength to carry your cross, and be willing to die upon the cross. For if you die with Him, you will also live with Him; if you have been a share in His suffering, you will share also in His glory.
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, Bk II, Ch XII

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On the Fewness of the Lovers of the Cross

Jesus finds now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few that will carry His cross. He finds may desirous of consolation, few of trial: many sharers of His repasts, few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few are willing to suffer for Him. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the draining of the chalice of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow His shameful cross. Many love Jesus as long as troubles do not come near them; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive consolation from Him. But if Jesus hide Himself, and leave them for a little while, they begin to complain, and are very much cast down.

But those who love Jesus for Himself, and not for any consolation they hope to draw from Him, bless Him as much amid every kind of trial and anguish of heart as when they enjoy the greatest delight. And if he should never grant them any consolation, still they would always praise Him and give Him thanks.

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

The Imitation of Christ is the first spiritual book I ever read. My dear father gave it to me when I was in high school back in the sixties. Those were the days when we Catholics didn't read the Bible, but here was a book that quoted Scripture passages liberally on every page. I was thrilled! "Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart" (Jer 15:16). Thanks to Daddy, I now had two rich sources of spiritual sustenance to feed my hungering soul -- Scripture and The Imitation. I still read The Imitation almost every day and continue to be nourished and enlightened. Over the next few days I will post some selections from this magnificent spiritual classic. Meanwhile, today I pray that, through the grace of God, we will be among those who love Jesus for Himself and, as St. Francis de Sales puts it, seek the Giver of consolations rather than consolations themselves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

After annunciation

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.
Madeleine L'Engle, "After annunciation"
from The Widening Light,
Poems of the Incarnation
edited by Luci Shaw

The Annunciation, Tanner and Morneau

The Annunciation, 1898, by Henry Ossawa Tanner
On her bed of doubt
in wrinkled night garment,
She sat, glancing with fear
at the golden shaft of streaming light,
pondering perhaps, “Was this
but a sequel to a dream?”
This light too bright for disbelief,
yet its silence eased not her trembling.
Somehow she murmured a “YES”
And with that the light’s love and life
pierced her womb.
The room remained the same
– rug still needed smoothing,
– jug and paten awaited using.
Now all was different
In a maiden’s
soft but firm “FIAT.”
Bishop Robert F. Morneau

For a larger, clearer view of Henry O. Tanner's "The Annunciation," click on the photo above. Then you can better see the jug and paten at the wall on the right. This is my most favorite depiction of the Annunciation. The light that is the angel Gabriel simply mesmerizes me, and the look on Mary's face -- ah, I have never yet found words to adequately describe it. One picture really is worth a thousand words! In case you don't know, the original painting by Tanner is kept in the Philadelphia Musem of Art, so all you lucky people who live there or may be visiting there in the future, don't miss it! Meanwhile, here in Texas, I thank God for being able to view amazing art such as this on the Web.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

O Lamb of God!

"O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us Thy peace!" That is a tremendous prayer to take on our lips, for it means peace at a great price; the peace of the Cross, of absolute acceptance, utter abandonment to God ~ a peace inseparable from sacrifice. ~Evelyn Underhill in The Fruits of the Spirit

Monday, March 23, 2009

Human poverty and divine mercy

Havanna, Cuba
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein
Let us enable human poverty to encounter divine mercy. The Lord makes us his friends, he entrusts himself to us, he gives us his Body in the Eucharist, he entrusts his Church to us. And so we ought truly to be his friends, to be one in mind with him, to desire what he desires and to reject what he does not desire. Jesus himself said: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14). Let this, then, be our common commitment: together to do his holy will: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). Let us embrace his will, like St. Paul: "Preaching the Gospel [...] is a necessity laid upon me; woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Pope Benedict XVI, 3/21/09
São Paolo Church, Luanda, Angola

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Lenten season reminds us...

"The Lenten Season...reminds us that in our Christian life we must always aspire to conversion and that when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently the desire for Gospel perfection is kept alive in believers.... It is not sin which is at the heart of it but rather God's mercy, which is infinitely greater than any guilt of ours." Pope Benedict XVI

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B

"In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord's temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the Lord against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy." 2 Chronicles 36:14-16

Father…you never cease to call us to a new and more abundant life. God of love and mercy, you are always ready to forgive; we are sinners, and you invite us to trust in your mercy. Time and time again we broke your covenant, but you did not abandon us. Instead, through your Son, Jesus our Lord, you bound yourself even more closely to the human family by a bond that can never be broken…. When we were lost and could not find the way to you, you loved us more than ever. Jesus, your son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross… Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation I

"For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fourth Station, Adrienne von Speyr

Father, you entrusted your Son to me by your Spirit. And as I have given him back to you daily and hourly, I give him back to you now once more, knowing that his suffering is nothing other than the expression of your grace, the expression of your love.

It is hard to understand. I do not understand it at all. And yet I know that I must give precisely this, that you require it in this way. And I ask you: Take your son out of my hands -- for he is my Son -- and take at one and the same time everything I myself have given him and which in this farewell hour bears only the name of pain and grief. Take it, dispose of it, let my suffering become as heavy as you will, I know (your Son has taught me this) that this is how I must pray in this hour.

Mary on the Way of the Cross,
Prayer to the Father
by Adrienne von Speyr
in With God and With Men

Here Our Lady plainly states that she does not understand…but she knows. She knows, she says, because Her Son has taught her. Her Son! Jesus, whom as a little child she taught to pray -- the Word, who learned from her lips verses from the Sacred Scriptures, especially those so dear to her heart -- the young man, who increased in wisdom and favor with God and man while living a humble life in Nazareth and being obedient to Mary and Joseph. This Son, her one and only Son, who took flesh in her womb when she uttered "Be it done unto me" has taught his mother to surrender everything with him in his prayer of total abandonment, "Father, Into your hands." Mary's suffering is heavy indeed as she meets her beloved Son climbing the mount of lovers. Her suffering will become even heavier as she kneels at the foot of His cross, utterly bereft as she receives the body of her dead child. She does not understand...but she knows...
Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

O God, be good to me...

...thy sea is so wide and my boat so small.
Prayer of Breton Fishermen
Foggy Beach, Lincolnville, ME
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Trinitarian, Marian Prayer

Hail, Mary, Daughter of God the Father;
Hail, Mary, Mother of God the Son;
Hail, Mary, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit;
Hail, Mary, temple of the Most Holy Trinity.
Glory to God the Father who chose you.
Glory to God the Son who loved you.
Glory to God the Holy Spirit who espoused you.
O glorious Virgin Mary, may we always love and praise you.

from Nunc Dimittis, Night Prayer of the Church as celebrated at Gort Muire

Monday, March 16, 2009

Litany of Humility by Cardinal Merry del Val

This powerful prayer has been part of my spiritual survival kit for many years now. I do not find this an easy one to pray because, if I pray it honestly, it exposes the wretchedness of my heart and shows me how proud I really am. Recently I told my spiritual father that I've been praying this litany a lot lately but have a bit of trouble when I come to the last third of the prayer, which begins with "that others may be loved more than I." The reason, I explained to him, is because sometimes I don't even have the desire to be asking for the grace to desire that these things may come about. His advice to me, wise as always, was short and simple: "Keep on praying it!" And so I am – and happily so! Come, Spirit of Jesus, pray within me and make up for all that I lack as only You can do!
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart...hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted...deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged...deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected...deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The wells of our souls

Tolliver Falls
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

"The wells of our souls need a well digger; they must be cleaned, freed from everything earthly so that the water tables of rational thoughts that God has placed there may produce streams of pure and sincere water. As long as dirt blocks the water tables and obstructs them, the secret current, the pure water cannot flow." ~Origen, quoted in Days of the Lord, Vol. 2, Lent

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fourth Station, by Hubert Von Zeller

Mary, teach me at this station the true meaning of compassion. Show me what lies beyond the emotion of human pity, and lead me to that supernatural view of natural suffering which invites my active and Godward co-operation. Let me come out from the shelter of my life, and meet the miseries of thy Son's mystical body in the spirit with which you went out to meet your Son. Mary, pray for me that I may see in those who suffer -- whether physically or morally, innocently or deservedly -- the presence of Christ whose pains you willingly chose to share.
Hubert Van Zeller in The Way of the Cross

Friday, March 13, 2009

See how I love you!

Deborah and Sean
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

All created things are words of God, light, darkness, water, fire, the smallness of children, the friendship of animals, science, rhythm, poetry, music, art, the tenderness of mothers, the ardours of lovers. Above our heads, under our feet, within our hearts, words of God whisper and laugh and sing one thing: "See how I love you!"
Caryll Houselander in Lift Up Your Hearts

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I do not fear any cross...

I do not fear any cross, because I know that when a cross comes to me, you, Jesus, always come too. ~St. Therese

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Go and find Jesus...

Go and find Jesus when your patience and strength give out and you feel alone and helpless. He is waiting for you in the chapel. Say to Him, "Jesus, You know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and You know all. Come to my help." And then go, and don't worry about how you are going to manage. That you have told God about it is enough. He has a good memory. ~Blessed Jeanne Jugan, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor

The above quote comes from the depths of a soon-to-canonized saint (on October 11, 2009) who faced many severe trials and tribulations throughout the 67 years of her life, Bl. Jeanne Jugan. A quick Google search will provide you with several good articles on the story of her life as she faithfully and lovingly did God's will as kitchen maid, nurse's aid, and foundress of a religious order of women, The Little Sisters of the Poor. Amazingly, Bl. Jeanne spent the last 27 years of her life in humble obscurity and was not officially recognized as the founder of the congregation until 14 years after her death. Today the order founded by her numbers 2,710 sisters and 60 novices caring for more than 13,000 elderly residents at 202 homes on five continents. Blessed be God in all his saints!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Parting at Nazareth

There is centered here
in a woman's tears
and a Man's brave backward glance,
all joy and sorrow, human and divine.

Parting at Nazareth from The Refuge of Beauty,
A Book of Marian Poems by Sister Mary Julian Baird, R.S.M.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Contemplation of Jesus Crucified

Contemplation of Jesus Crucified is thus the highroad which the Church must tread every day if she wishes to understand the full meaning of freedom: the gift of self in service to God and one's brethren. ~Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 87

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Arrow Prayers

Arrow prayers are those wonderfully simple, succinct and powerful prayers that quickly make their mark in piercing the heart of God. Sometimes they're called aspirations or ejaculations. Their brevity – often just three or four words – makes them easy to remember. Like an actual arrow, they go straight to their target – in this case, God. I often think of them as "johnny-on-the-spot" prayers because they're so readily available when we need them. Of course, it does help if we've been storing them up all along in our spiritual survival kit. (Dear reader, you do have a spiritual survival kit, don't you?) Whether we're in dire need of God's help or joyfully overflowing with gratitude and praise, an arrow prayer can lead us directly to God. Lord, make haste to help me! Bless the Lord, my soul! Jesus, save me! Father, of majesty unbounded!

St. Francis de Sales stresses the importance of arrow prayers in his Introduction to the Devout Life (Book 2, Chapter 13, "Aspirations, Ejaculatory Prayers, and Good Thoughts"). After advising his reader to "make spiritual aspirations to God by short, ardent movements of your heart," he points out that "there is no difficulty in this exercise, as it may be interspersed among all our tasks and duties without any inconvenience, since in this spiritual retirement or amid these interior aspirations we only relax quickly and briefly. This does not hinder but rather assists us greatly in what we do." St. Francis emphasizes that "without this exercise we cannot properly lead the contemplative life, and we can but poorly lead the active life. Without it rest is mere idleness, and labor is drudgery. Hence I exhort you to take up this practice with all your heart and never give it up."

Ever since I first read that passage in Devout Life about 25 years ago, I've been collecting arrow prayers, writing them down in a small, well-worn notebook so that I won't forget them. While St. Francis admits that such a collection can be useful, he suggests that we not restrict ourselves to a set form of words. Rather, he wisely advises, "pronounce either within your heart or with your lips such words as love suggests to you at the time."

As for the brevity of arrow prayers, St. Jane Francis de Chantal, who shared a loving friendship with St. Francis de Sales, reminds us that we don't have to be wordy with God. "With Him there is no need for long speeches. In heaven the angels utter no other word than this: Holy. This is their entire prayer, and in paradise they are occupied with this single word as an act of homage to the single Word of God who lives eternally."

Arrow prayers are as varied as the individual uttering them. "Live Jesus!," St. Francis de Sales often exclaimed. "My Jesus, mercy," Blessed John XXIII frequently wrote in his lifelong diary, Journal of a Soul. St. Teresa of Avila spoke lovingly, "My sweet Lord," while St. Francis of Assisi cried out in joy, "My God and my all!"

The Bible abounds with arrow prayers, particularly the Psalms. So do the writings of the fathers and mothers of the church, the saints, and all the holy men and women of God. Even sacred hymns and poems contain arrow prayers: Angels, help us to adore him! Holy God, we praise thy name! Thee will I cherish! Christ, be our light! O Jesus, we adore thee!

The traditional prayers and litanies of the Catholic Church are a rich source of arrow prayers. Jesus, whose name is called wonderful, have mercy on us! Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us! O good Jesus, hear me! Melt the frozen, warm the chill! Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary! Hail, holy Queen!

My own spiritual survival kit contains a few Latin arrow prayers, too, since I grew up with the traditional Latin Mass, studied Latin both in high school and college, and sang Gregorian chant for three years as a Franciscan postulant and novice. Domine non sum dignus! Magnificat! Gloria! Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus! Ave Maria! Miserere nobis! De profundis! Suscipe Domine! O bone Jesu! Adoramus te Christe!

Arrow prayers can be cries for help or shouts of praise. They can be complete thoughts or just a word or two that leads us into ever deeper prayer. When the Christmas season ended in January until Lent began, my constant arrow prayer was "Father!" Father … Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … my Father, our Father … Father rich in mercy … Father, who knows what we need before we ask … Father, who heals all our ills … Father, who gives us our daily bread … Father, how wonderful your care for us … Father, make us grow in love!" Now that it's Lent, my two constant arrow prayers are "Passion of Christ, strengthen me!" and "Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!"

So yes, by all means, let us take up this marvelous practice of arrow prayers with all our hearts and never give it up!

P.S. Later I will post some arrow prayers from my notebook.

Our Isaac

Then God said, "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." Gen 22:2
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 Frances de Chantal, Wings to the Lord

Bathed in the glory of him...

The Pantheon, Rome, Italy
Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not in its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fourth Station, by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Jesus Meets His Mother

"Mary, our Virgin Mother, on the way to Calvary, you met Jesus carrying his cross. His face showed anguish, and his limbs were weak with pain. He did not complain, and his eyes were full of love. You met him and you understood. With him you climbed the hill of sacrifice, and you shared in his suffering for our salvation. Teach us, Virgin Mother, to recognize your Son in the oppressed, the outcast and the despised. Show us to walk by his side until his face shines with hope and, in the light of the cross, his agony is changed into joy." ~from The Way of the Cross by Hans Urs von Balthasar*

She met him and she understood. How often when I meet others in their suffering I do not understand. Sometimes I am too self-absorbed to understand. I am caught up in my own little world with my own little sufferings, and there's no room in my heart for anyone else and her sufferings. Other times I do not understand because I am preoccupied with resisting. I don't want to see this person suffering as she is and so I fail to understand that this is her God-given way of carrying the Cross with our Lord. Jesus is inviting her to share His suffering through this particular cross, but I want her to have another cross, a less heavy one. Help me, dear Mary, to let go of all that prevents me from understanding. Pray for me, Mother of Sorrows, that your crucified Son may never be a stumbling-block or foolishness for me but rather the power and wisdom of God. Amen! (cf. 1 Cor 1:22-25)
*Every Good Friday, the Holy Father walks the fourteen stations of the Cross around the Colosseum in Rome. These meditations were written by Hans Urs von Balthasar and used by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1988. Meditations from previous years can be viewed at the Vatican Web site.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

Love of the Heart of Christ, inflame my heart.

Charity of the Heart of Christ, flow into my heart.

Strength of the Heart of Christ, support my heart.

Mercy of the Heart of Christ, pardon my heart.

Patience of the Heart of Christ, grow not weary of my heart.

Kingdom of the Heart of Christ, be in my heart.

Wisdom of the Heart of Christ, teach my heart.

Will of the Heart of Christ, dispose of my heart.

Zeal of the Heart of Christ, consume my heart in the great love of your Most Sacred Heart.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Melt the frozen, warm the chill...

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

My sister, Ann L. Krumrein, is an amazing woman! Therefore she is also an amazing photographer and artist! She has a keen sense of vision unlike the one most of us possess. She sees things that we don't see -- and she sees through them and into them and beyond them. When I think of Annie, I think of this quote by George Eliot:
"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."
That's my Annie. She dies a lot day after day -- and in the process brings forth abundant life! Thank you, dear Lord, for the precious gift of my amazing, beautiful sister!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Breathe new life into my being...

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

The Responsorial Psalm in today's Mass is taken from Psalm 51. I spent some time this morning using Msgr. Ronald Knox's translation (first published 1949) morning to contemplate it. These verses in particular spoke to my heart...

But thou art a lover of faithfulness, and now, deep in my heart, thy wisdom has instructed me. (v8)

Tidings send me of good news and rejoicing, and the body that lies in the dust shall thrill with pride. (v10)

Bring a clean heart to birth within me; breathe new life, true life, into my being. (v12)

Give me back the comfort of thy saving power, and strengthen me in generous resolve. (v14)

O Lover of Faithfulness, make me faithful, too! Let me hear those tidings of good news and rejoicing that you send me all the time, and let me share them with everyone I meet this day. And strengthen me in generous resolve to live the life you give me today, to be the servant of your love and the joy of your heart. Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

St. Katharine Drexel, Feastday March 3, Part 2: "manifest my mission"

St. Katharine Drexel, born into a prominent and wealth Philadelphia family, learned early in her life that wealth was to be shared with the needy. Having experienced the destitution of the Native Americans, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, whose mission was to share the gospel with Native and African Americans. Sr. Consuela Marie Duffy, SBS, includes this excerpt from the retreat notes of St. Katharine in her book Katharine Drexel:

"Resolve: Generously with no half-hearted, timorous dread of the opinions of Church and [men or women] to manifest my mission. To speak only and when it pleases God; but to lose no opportunity of speaking before priests and bearded men. Manifest yourself. You have no time to occupy your thoughts with that complacency or consideration of what others will think. Your business is simply, 'What will [God] in Heaven think.'"

St. Katharine was born on Nov 26, 1858; died March 3, 1955; and was canonized Oct 1, 2000. She is the second recognized American-born saint. For more about this wise and wonderful woman, see




(OK, there's a better way to post these links, which I will soon learn!)

St. Katharine Drexel, Feastday March 3, Part 1: "a never-ending sacrifice"

The Eucharist is a never-ending sacrifice.
It is the Sacrament of love, the act of love.
Help me each moment today and always
to communicate myself to you by doing your will.
Let the doing of your will each moment
be a spiritual communion.
In it you will give me yourself;
I will give you myself.
St. Katharine Drexel

Monday, March 2, 2009


But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"

He answered, "I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain."

Moses, however, said to the Lord, "If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue."

The Lord said to him, "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight to one and makes another blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Go, then! It is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say."

Exodus 3 and 4

On Saturday past, we had the account of Moses and the burning bush from Exodus in the first reading from the Office of Readings. The day before I had visited my spiritual father for confession and was simply mesmerized by his Marc Chagall print of Moses and the burning bush that he had recently hung in his office. Then Father asked me about my own burning bush -- what is it, where in my life do I stand on holy ground with my feet unshod (with 'no impediments,' he stressed, between me and God), what is the place from which God sends me out day after day to speak His word and do His work? I've been pondering these things and praying over them a lot these past few days. The Spirit led me back to a certain book that affected me profoundly when I first read it in 1970, Instrument of Thy Peace by Alan Paton, originally published in 1968. These are brief but packed meditations he was prompted to write by the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Make me an instrument of Thy peace."

Paton begins the second chapter of his book with the above verses from Exodus, then states: "No Christian should ever think or say that he is not fit to be God's instrument, for that in fact is what it means to be a Christian. We may be humble about many things, but we may never decline to be used... The gospel is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling. You are salt to the world! You are light to all the world! Even the hairs of your head have all been counted! These words were exciting to those who heard them. Things might be dark but they were to be the light of the world. They were given a new sense of their value as persons. Especially was this true of women. One can hardly describe the joy of the first disciples, who were given by Jesus such a sense of their significance in the world. This same sense of significance has been given again and again to other people by disciples of Jesus."

Paton concludes with these comforting yet challenging words: "There are therefore two things for us to do. The first is never to doubt that God can use us if we are willing to be used, no matter what our weaknesses. The second is to see that God can use any other person who is willing to be used, whatever his weaknesses, and if need be, to assure him of this truth."

Oh, Lord who chooses us for your own divine purposes, let us never decline to be used! Let us be happy to be used according to your holy will. And help us to recognize that anyone and everyone is fit to be your instrument if they are willing, that you can and do use them to be salt and light for the life of the world.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hail Mary, loving-kindness of God!

Blessed be thou, in whom is no heaviness but in whom all is grace, thou who art
spread over the world like a veil of spun gold, who dost fill the universe with
invisible goodness, thou whose presence we can breathe like gentle air and a
pure breeze, thou who dost watch over our fragile bodies and upholdest our
feeble hearts!

O, teach us thy Tenderness every day!

from In Thy Presence by Fr. Lev Gillet