Monday, August 31, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Prayer can truly change your life. For it turns your attention away from yourself and directs your mind and your heart toward the Lord. If we look only at ourselves, with our limitations and sins, we quickly give way to sadness and discouragement. But if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, then our hearts are filled with hope, our minds are washed in the light of truth, and we come to know the fullness of the Gospel with all its promise and life.

~Pope John Paul II, Meeting with Youth, New Orleans, LA, 1987

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Humbly welcome the word...

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. James 1:21

What is this implanted word, O Lord, that can save our souls, if not the word that was in the beginning (Jn 1:1)…

the word that when spoken heals us (Mt 8:8)
the word that is the seed sown by the sower (Mk 4:14)
the word of truth that cleanses us (Jn 15:3; Eph 5:26)
the word that continues to grow and multiply (Acts 12:24)
the word of grace that is able to build us up (Act 20:32)
the word that is near us, on our lips and in our hearts (Deut 30:14)
the word that is not chained (2 Tim 2:9)
the word that is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12)
the word that is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12)
the word that is true (Ps 33:4)
the word for which we wait with longing (Ps 130:5)
the word that gives us hope (Ps 119:49)
the word that stands forever (Ps 119:89)
the word that is a lamp for our feet, a light for our path (Ps 119:105)
the word that gives understanding to the simple (Ps 119:130)
the word that is enduring (Ps 119:160)
the word that stands forever (Is 40:8)
the word that is our joy and the happiness of our hearts (Jer 15:16)
the word that was with God and was God,(Jn 1:1)
the word which became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:2)
the word so full of grace and truth (Jn 1:2)

That word is YOU, O Lord Jesus Christ!

And the name by which is he called is The Word of God. Rev 19:13

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. ~Mk 6:17-19

The gospel for today's celebration of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ (Mk 6:17-29), is a stark reminder that our unwillingness to acknowledge and repent of our sinfulness wreaks havoc. Herodias harbored such a grudge against John the Baptist that he wanted to kill him. And the reason for Herodias' grudge? John had spoken the truth, which Herodias didn't want to hear because it meant he would have to change his sinful ways. Ah, a normal enough reaction, we might think, and so it is. None of us likes to hear that what we're doing is wrong. But if we're serious about living the Gospel and following our Lord Jesus in his way of the Cross, we must listen to the messengers whom God sends us as he sent John the Baptist to Herodias -- and then we must respond with the grace of conversion that God so graciously gives us.

On the matter of harboring grudges, I find that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the best place for me to bring them and to dispose of them. To harbor is to provide a place for someone or something. When I harbor a grudge, no matter how small it is, there is that much less space for Christ to dwell therein. When I let go of a grudge, I make room for Infinite Love and my heart overflows. In confession, I receive the grace to decrease so that Jesus may increase. Thanks be to God for his inestimable gift!

Dear St. John the Baptist, thank you for your willingness to speak the truth, no matter what the cost. Help me to be as courageous as you were, both in speaking the truth and in hearing it. And thank you so much, dear Lord, for the people in my life who love me enough to show me my faults and sins and to help me to repent of them. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Augustine of Hippo

There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly,
but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake,
whose joy Thou Thyself art.
And this is the happy life,
to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee;
this it is, and there is no other.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Dear St. Augustine, help us to find the happy life and to live it with great joy. Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mortification According to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus

I just finished re-reading Storm of Glory, John Beevers' biography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. This book was first published in 1949, and, in my opinion, it remains one of the best books out there on the Little Flower and her spiritual childhood.

Beevers quotes St. Thérèse's explanation of what she means by a mortified life: "I made my mortifications consist simply in checking my self-will, keeping back an impatient answer, rending a small service in a quiet way, and a hundred other similar things."

St. Thérèse was a mere child when she so mortified herself. Already she had learned what many of us never get – that the little things are of inestimable value in the eyes of God. And when we accept them and do them with love for the Lord alone, nothing could be more pleasing to Him.

Dear St. Thérèse, teach me anew your way of spiritual childhood. Teach me to seek out those little things, to revel in and be content with them. Teach me to rest in Jesus' love as you did, confident that He will not abandon me, even and especially in my trials. Help me to live as you did so that when I die, I might be able to say what you declared on your deathbed: "I do not regret having abandoned myself to love." Amen.

P.S. The above picture is of the Little Flower when she was about 4 years old.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The God of glory thunders!

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, upon many waters.
Psalm 29:3

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lord has his plan...

The Lord has his plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to be listeners, capable of perceiving his call, to be courageous and faithful, so that we may follow him, and in the end, be found as trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts entrusted to us. ~Pope John Paul II, 6/1/82

Dear Lord, you have indeed probed me and you know me (Ps 139:1). You know how weak I am, how unfaithful I can be and so fearful, too. Still, You have called me by name, I am Yours (Is 43:3). You give me all that I need, moment by moment, to respond to Your call and to keep following You -- Your Church to guide me, the sacraments to sustain me, Your Word to enlighten me, Your Blessed Mother to love and assist me, the angels to protect me and the saints to encourage me, my family and friends to accept and support me, and, greatest and best of all, YOU YOURSELF, dear Jesus, to be my way, truth and life. For these and all Your gifts, I give you thanks, my Lord and my All! Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Bartholomew

Dear Lord, how happy I am that you call me to friendship with you, just as you called St. Bartholomew! I am your apostle, too, much as he was. Help me to become more like him, always proclaiming your saving Word, no matter what it may cost me. Open my heart to all the opportunities you will give me today to make known to all the glorious splendor of your kingdom -- through a welcoming smile, an encouraging word, a patient response, a willing cooperation. Through these little acts of love, may others come to know that you are indeed near. To you, Lord Jesus, be all the glory! Amen!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Therese Ivers, New Consecrated Virgin

Being a consecrated virgin, I am always ecstatic when another woman is consecrated to a life of virginity in the world. Last Saturday, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven, Therese Ivers was so consecrated by Bishop Paul J. Swain of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Sr. Laurel has posted a wonderful article about Therese's consecration, including pictures of this newly consecrated Bride of Christ, on her blog, Notes from Stillsong Hermitage. Congratulations, Therese! May the light of your Beloved Jesus continue to shine within and upon you, and may you find increasingly greater joy as you follow the Lamb wherever he goes! ALLELUIA!

USCCB Adds New Pages

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has added two valuable pages to its Web site:

HEALTH CARE REFORM. This page promotes the USCCB's support of a "truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity." It includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions, and links for contacting our legislators. It also contains information about Catholic health care in the United States, which includes 624 Catholic hospitals, 164 home health agencies, and 41 hospice organizations. New material will be added regularly to this page, which features Web videos of USCCB policy staff discussing the bishops’ position on health care.

THIRD EDITION ROMAN MISSAL. This page "aims to educate Catholics about the changes in the Mass that are coming with the new Roman missal translation," thus providing us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the liturgy. The page includes background on the liturgical texts, sample wording from the newly translated missal (a draft text of the new translation is included), and answers to frequently asked questions. This November, the last sections will be reviewed and voted on by the USCCB and will then be sent to the Vatican for the authoritative approval and permission to use. According to the USCCB, this final approval of the complete text is anticipated in early 2010.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Queenship of Mary

Mary, Immaculate Love, we bless you.

Because, though rooted in earth as we are, you opened your heart to God; expanding and opening wide to the heat of the sun in your sinless heart, you opened our hearts to the light.

All generations bless you, flower of our race.

We are crowned in you, Queen of Heaven, crowned with stars by the hands of Christ.

Caryll Houselander, "The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today's Saint: Saint Pius X

My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His Divine help. I can do all in Him who strengthens me. His Power is infinite, and if I lean on him, it will be mine. His Wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him counsel, I shall not be deceived. His Goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in Him, I shall not be abandoned.

St. Pius X

I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my savior. My God is the rock where I take refuge; my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold. The Lord is worthy of all praise, when I call I am saved from my foes. ~Ps 18:2

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

The Name of Jesus is Light, and Food, and Medicine.
It is Light, when it is preached to us;
it is Food, when we think upon it;
it is the Medicine that soothes our pains when we invoke it.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Dear Jesus, may your name always be in my heart that I may sing your praises forever! Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today's Saint: St. John Eudes

Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.

St. John Eudes, The Life and Reign of Jesus in Christian Souls

Mary, our dearest Mother, for whom St. John Eudes had such great love, show us how to form Jesus in ourselves, that he may live and reign in us forever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Assumption of Mary Into Heaven

The Death of Mary by Konrad von Soest, 1394-1422

By looking at Mary's Assumption into Heaven we understand better that even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace….

"Mary, while you accompany us in the toil of our daily living and dying, keep us constantly oriented to the true homeland of bliss. Help us to do as you did".

Dear brothers and sisters…let us pray this prayer to Mary together. In the face of the sad spectacle of all the false joy and at the same time of all the anguished suffering which is spreading through the world, we must learn from her to become ourselves signs of hope and comfort; we must proclaim with our own lives Christ's Resurrection.

"Help us, Mother, bright Gate of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, source through whom came Jesus Christ, our life and our joy. Amen."

Pope Benedict XVI, 8/15/08

Friday, August 14, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Those who pray never lose hope, even when they find themselves in a difficult and even humanly hopeless plight. Sacred Scripture teaches us this and Church history bears witness to this. In fact, how many examples we could cite of situations in which it was precisely prayer that sustained the journey of Saints and of the Christian people! Among the testimonies of our epoch I would like to mention [St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, who ended his] earthly life with martyrdom in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. [His life] might seem to have been a defeat, but it is precisely in [his] martyrdom that the brightness of Love which dispels the gloom of selfishness and hatred shines forth. The following words are attributed to St Maximilian Kolbe, who is said to have spoken them when the Nazi persecution was raging: "Hatred is not a creative force: only love is creative". And heroic proof of his love was the generous offering he made of himself in exchange for a fellow prisoner, an offer that culminated in his death in the starvation bunker on 14 August 1941.

"Hail Mary!" was the last prayer on the lips of St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, as he offered his arm to the person who was about to kill him with an injection of phenolic acid. It is moving to note how humble and trusting recourse to Our Lady is always a source of courage and serenity. While we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption, which is one of the best-loved Marian feasts in the Christian tradition, let us renew our entrustment to her who from Heaven watches over us with motherly love at every moment. In fact, we say this in the familiar prayer of the Hail Mary, asking her to pray for us "now and at the hour of our death".

Dear friends, may the light of Christ always illuminate your lives and make them bear fruits of good.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience of 8/14/08

"God sends to us the one who personifies his love: Mary, the spouse of the Spirit - a spirit of maternal love - immaculate, all beautiful, spotless, even though she is our sister, a true daughter of the human race." ~St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

American Catholic has on its Website a brief but good article about St. Maximilian, which notes that: "Father Kolbe’s death was not a sudden, last-minute act of heroism. His whole life had been a preparation. His holiness was a limitless, passionate desire to convert the whole world to God. And his beloved Immaculata was his inspiration." Let us ask St. Maximilian to help us "seize the moment" so that every minute of every day and night will be a time of preparation for us. Mary, Spouse of the Spirit and Queen of Martyrs, pray for us!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Our response to today's Responsorial Psalm is "ALLELUIA!' One simple yet grand word. It comes from the Greek " halləlû-yāh," which means "praise Yahweh." ALLELUIA is found only in the book of Psalms, which contains hymns of both sadness and joy, longing and fulfillment, praise and petition, wonder and disillusionment. It occurs in 13 psalms either as the opening word (111, 112), or the closing word (104, 105, 115-117), or both (106, 113, 135, 146-150). It's also the very last word of the Psalter, the grand finale of the grateful heart's song of God's goodness, love and mercy. ALLELUIA!

Thank you, dear Lord, that because of You, I can always sing ALLELUIA!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Jane Frances de Chantal

You are my Father and my God
from whom I expect all my happiness.
I am Your child, all Yours;
good children think only of pleasing their father;
I don't want to have any worries
and I leave in Your care everything that concerns me,
for You love me, my God.
Father, you are my good.
My soul rests and trusts
in Your love and eternal providence.
~ St. Jane de Chantal

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today's Saint: St. Clare

Clare is the passionate lover of the poor, crucified Christ, with whom she wants to identify absolutely…

In reality Clare's whole life was a eucharist because, like Francis, from her cloister she raised up a continual "thanksgiving" to God in her prayer, praise, supplication, intercession, weeping, offering and sacrifice. She accepted everything and offered it to the Father in union with the infinite "thanks" of the only-begotten Son, the Child, the Crucified, the risen One, who lives at the right hand of the Father.

Pope John Paul II, Letter for the Eighth Centenary
of the Birth of Saint Clare of Assisi, 9/11/93

Today is the feast of St. Clare, and so it is my feast day because my dear parents named me "Alice Claire," making this wise and passionate woman my patron saint. St. Clare has led me in the life of prayer and contemplation for as long as I can remember, and she has also led me to the life of consecrated virginity. Most and best of all, she has led me to our Christ, our Crucified and Risen Lord and Savior. Thank you, dear Jesus, for the gift of St. Clare to me and to the church. May she help us to become a eucharist as she was, for the life and salvation of the whole world. Amen.

"Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me. " ~Saint Clare of Assisi

Monday, August 10, 2009

Through death to life!

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Jn 12:24

When I hear or read the word "seed," I always have an image of the small paper packets that contain them. You know, the ones decorated with those brightly-colored pictures of such lovely flowers and succulent vegetables. I am always enticed upon seeing these and am instantly savoring a bountiful harvest, even though I totally lack gardening skills and choose not to develop them.

What I do know about gardening, though, is what we hear from our Lord Jesus in today's gospel: the seed must fall into the earth and die in order to bear fruit. I must be willing to die to self so that Christ may come to full flower in me. Only then will I be able to say with St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).

In her book The Reed of God, the poet and mystic Caryll Houselander reflects upon the seed and its need for gestation:

...a seed contains all the life and loveliness of the flower, but it contains in it a little hard black pip of a thing which even the glorious sun will not enliven unless it is buried in the earth.

There must be a period of gestation before anything can flower.

We live in an age of impatience, an age which in everything, from learning the ABC to industry, tries to cut out and do away with the natural season of growth. That is why so much in our life is abortive. We ought to let everything grow in us, as Christ grew in Mary. And we ought to realize that in everything that does grow quietly in us, Christ grows. We should let thoughts and words and songs grow slowly and unfold in darkness in us.

There are things that refuse to be violated by speed, that demand at least their proper time of growth; you can't, for example, cut out the time you will leave an apple pie in the oven. If you do, you won't have an apple pie. If you leave a thought, a chance word, a phrase of music, in your mind, growing and cherished for its proper season, you will have the wisdom or peace or strength that was hidden in that seed.

Dear Lord, Divine Gardener of my heart, my soul and my entire life, I entrust the seed of myself to you. Plant me where you will, my Jesus, but give me the grace to bloom where I am planted, all for our Father's praise and glory. Amen.

P.S. Caryll Houselander's book was published in 1944. If that was "an age of impatience," what would we call our age now?!?!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Learning From Mary How To Pray

Mary makes a request of her Son on behalf of some friends in need (cf. Jn 2:1-3). At first sight, this could appear to be an entirely human conversation between a Mother and her Son and it is indeed a dialogue rich in humanity. Yet Mary does not speak to Jesus as if he were a mere man on whose ability and helpfulness she can count. She entrusts a human need to his power -- to a power which is more than skill and human ability. In this dialogue with Jesus, we actually see her as a Mother who asks, one who intercedes.

…it is worth going a little deeper, not only to understand Jesus and Mary better, but also to learn from Mary the right way to pray. Mary does not really ask something of Jesus: she simply says to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Weddings in the Holy Land were celebrated for a whole week; the entire town took part, and consequently much wine was consumed. Now the bride and groom find themselves in trouble, and Mary simply says this to Jesus. She doesn't ask for anything specific, much less that Jesus exercise his power, perform a miracle, produce wine. She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves it to him to decide about what to do. In the simple words of the Mother of Jesus, then, we can see two things: on the one hand her affectionate concern for people, that maternal affection which makes her aware of the problems of others. We see her heartfelt goodness and her willingness to help… To her we entrust our cares, our needs and our troubles. Her maternal readiness to help, in which we trust, appears here for the first time in the Holy Scriptures.

But in addition to this first aspect, with which we are all familiar, there is another, which we could easily overlook: Mary leaves everything to the Lord's judgment. At Nazareth she gave over her will, immersing it in the will of God: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). And this continues to be her fundamental attitude. This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to assert before God our own will and our own desires, however important they may be, however reasonable they might appear to us, but rather to bring them before him and to let him decide what he intends to do. From Mary we learn graciousness and readiness to help, but we also learn humility and generosity in accepting God's will, in the confident conviction that, whatever it may be, it will be our, and my own, true good.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of 9/11/06

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration of the Lord…throws a dazzling light on our daily life, and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny which that fact foreshadows. That body, which is transfigured before the astonished eyes of the Apostles, is the body of Christ our brother, but it is also our body called to glory. That light, which bathes it, is and also will be our share of inheritance and of splendor. We are called to share such great glory because we are 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pt 1: 4).

The above quotes are excerpts from the text that Pope Paul VI had prepared for the Angelus on August 6, 1978 but was unable to deliver. He died thirty years ago that evening.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crumbs from the Table

In prayer one must hold fast and never let go, because the one who gives up loses all. If it seems that no one is listening to you, then cry out even louder. If you are driven out of one door, go back in by the other. If you are told, as was the Canaanite woman, that you do not deserve the grace for which you are asking, then reply like her that you are not seeking unusual favors, but are hoping only to eat the crumbs which fall from the divine table. ~St. Jane de Chantal

Dear Lord, I do not ask for a full banquet -- just a crumb from You will do. And until You give me that, I will gladly do without because I know that only You can satisfy the hungers of the human heart. My heart is Yours, O Jesus, to do with as You will. In You alone is all my hope. Amen.