Sunday, February 28, 2010


Transfigure, Lord, all our vain comforts,
And turn into tears our hard stony hearts.
~Lazare de Selve

Let me no more my comfort draw
From my frail hold of thee,
In this alone rejoice with awe--
Thy mighty grasp of me.
~John Campbell Shairp

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mary at the Cross

Where my feet refuse to take me, there will I kneel down.
And where my hands fail me, there will I fold them.
~Gertrud von le Fort

Friday, February 26, 2010

God Is Enough

...every time we are miserable about what may happen tomorrow, we are denying God and saying He is not enough for us. ~George MacDonald in Proving the Unseen

What else have I in heaven but you?
Apart from you I want nothing on earth.
My body and my heart faint for joy;
God is my possession for ever.
~Psalm 73:25-26

Dear Lord, of course You are enough for me! Forgive me my foolishness in thinking otherwise. Oh my Jesus, You alone are my heart's desire. Today and always, may I live to praise You,my King and my God! Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Thought from G. K. Chesterton

It is reported that G. K. Chesterton, in a letter to his fiancee, wrote, "I do not think there is anyone who takes quite such fierce pleasure in things being themselves as I do. The startling wetness of water excites and intoxicates me: the fieriness of fire, the steeliness of steel, the unutterable muddiness of mud." That's how I want to live, especially in regards to people, each individual person so very unique in all the world.

Who is it that says most, which can say more,
Than this rich praise,--that you alone, are you?
William Shakespeare

My heart is ready, O God; I will sing, sing your praise. Ps 107:2

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jesus was tempted -- and so are we!

If Christ, the Incarnate Word, Son of God, willed to enter into combat with the evil spirit, shall we be surprised that the members of His mystical body have to do the same? So many people, even pious ones, think that temptation is a sign of being reproved by God. But, more often, it's just the opposite! Having become disciples of Jesus through baptism, we cannot be above our Divine Master (cf. Mt 10:24, Lk 6:40, Jn 13:16, Jn 15:20). "Because you were acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove you" (Tobit 12:13), put you to the test. It is God
Himself who tells us that.

~from Christ in His Mysteries by Blessed Columba Marmion

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mary at the Cross

Lord our God, in your mysterious wisdom you fill out the passion of Christ through the suffering that his members endure in the many trials of life. As you chose to have the mournful mother stand by your Son in his agony on the cross, grant that we too may bring love and comfort to our brothers and sisters in distress. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

~Opening Prayer, Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Foot of the Cross I

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Heart of Christ

This Heart lives on service. It does not seek to glorify itself, but the Father alone. It does not speak of its love. It performs its service so unobtrusively that it is almost forgotten, as we forget our heart under the stress of our affairs. We think that life lives of itself. No one listens to his own heart, not even for a second -- his heart, that bestows hour after hour on him. We have grown used to the slight tremor in our being, to the eternal beating of the waves that from within us dash on the shore of consciousness. We accept it as we do our destiny, or nature, or the course of things. We have grown used to love. And we no longer hear the tapping finger that knocks days and night at the gate of our soul; we no longer hear this question, this request to enter. ~From Heart of the World by Hans Urs von Balthasar

I find this book hard to read. Te author's piercing reflections disturb me. They strip away my pretenses, reveal my smugness and shallowness. They challenge and indict me. I cannot plead ignorance. I can only admit my lethargy and indifference, my selfishness and wilfullness, and then throw myself at the feet of Christ my Lord, trusting in His mercy and love.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.
A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me....
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me...
~Psalm 50

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Calvary Love

Among the treasures in my "Lenten Notebook" is this powerful reflection on "Calvary love" by Amy Carmichael, who was a Protestant Christian missionary in India. Meditating upon these probing points is always a good examination of conscience for me, especially during this penitential season when we ponder anew the immensity of Christ's love for us. "Calvary love" calls for an ongoing change of heart in simple but demanding ways. They may seem small but are rather large when it comes to dying to self. Thank you, my dear Jesus, for Your Calvary love, which leads me through death to new life with You! Amen!

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself taking lapses for granted, "Oh, that's what they always do," "Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that," then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way
slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, "Just what I expected" if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have "a heart at leisure from itself," then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

"Calvary Love" by Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday -- Lent Begins!

Lent invites each of us to enter on the path of liberation from whatever slavery torments us. Our King, the Man-God, is before us: he gives us new heart, so that we may experience our anxiety and our suffering in a form that leads to salvation, through his love and love of our brothers. The Most Holy Virgin precedes us on this difficult path and encourages us to quicken our steps, pointing out to us the radiant goal of Easter. ~ Pope John Paul II

Direct our hearts to better things, O Lord; heal our sin and ignorance. ~Responsory, Mass for Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I See His Blood

I see His blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see His face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice -- and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn
His cross is every tree.

"I See His Blood Upon the Rose"
By Joseph M. Plunkett

When I discovered this poem by the Irish poet Joseph M. Plunkett back in the 60s, I thought it was one of the most magnificent poems ever penned. I still do! I memorized it immediately, and it often comes to mind when I view "God's grandeur" in nature. Much to my delight, this morning I came across a lovely reflection upon this poem by Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M. at American Catholic. "Friar Jack's E-spirations" appear regularly at American Catholic and provide a wealth of information and inspiration for any Catholic who wants to grow in our faith. Scan the Archives of these columns to see what's available.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How God Loves Us

God loves every human being in a unique and profound way.
~Pope Benedict XVI

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.
~St. Augustine

Dear God, help me to love others as you love me. Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Holy Father on the Beatitudes

Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed those who mourn, the meek; blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful; blessed the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of justice (cf. Mt 5: 3-10).

In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.

The Beatitudes show us the spiritual features of Jesus and thus express his mystery, the mystery of his death and Resurrection, of his passion and of the joy of his resurrection. This mystery, which is the mystery of true blessedness, invites us to follow Jesus and thus to walk toward it.

To the extent that we accept his proposal and set out to follow him -- each one in his own circumstances - we too can participate in his blessedness. With him, the impossible becomes possible and even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle (cf. Mk 10: 25); with his help, only with his help, can we become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt 5: 48).

~Pope Benedict XVI, 11/1/06

I say to the happiness lies in you is you yourself who are my prize. The lot marked out for me is my delight; welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me! my heart rejoices, my soul is will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever. ~Psalm 15 (Grail translation)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes, continued

Coming out of the light of the rising sun…is the Virgin, the Immaculate Conception…. No wonder that at this sight wounds are healed, crippled and distorted frames are set straight, blocked senses are opened up, torn tissues are renewed, oppressed hearts expands, and poor whole selves, body and soul, are called to be that image of the image of God, so splendid, humble, triumphant, grateful, faithful, prayerful, up yonder. She crushes underfoot the dry thorns of winter, and June roses have already sprung into flower at her feet! She holds out her rosary bidding us to the ascent. Indeed, Mother of God, image of God, it is with thee we would climb rose by rose towards infinite joy…. And then light dawns for us too and we are ravished and carried away. So it was with the spectators at Lourdes who could not see the Virgin but watched Bernadette's face.

~Paul Claudel

It's the early 50s, and I am four or five years old. I am waking up in a hospital bed the morning after my tonsils have been removed. I didn't have a good night. My throat hurt so bad. I kept throwing up, and then I wet my bed. I began crying, which made my throat hurt even more. I sobbed so loudly that a nurse came running. I was very lonely and terribly afraid. I wanted my mother. Where's Mummie? She'll come later, the nurse explained, as she changed my sheets and soothed me as best as she could. I wasn't comforted much and tossed and turned but eventually fell asleep. And now, I'm opening my eyes to a new day and -- oh, happy, happy day! -- to Mummie, standing in the doorway, looking in on me and smiling. Now she's walking towards me as she sees that I'm awake, she's reaching out for me -- Mummie! Oh Mummie! I lift up my arms to her, my little heart fluttering wildly with joy. Her warm presence envelops me and fills me with peace. She doesn't say a word. She doesn't have to. All is well and all shall be well. Mummie's here!

Dearest Mary, Mother Most Wonderful, you are here with me always, especially when I feel so lonely and much afraid. You crush underfoot all my worries and sorrows, and with you I rise "towards infinite joy," the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Thank you, dear Mother! Amen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Value of Our Daily Suffering

Jesus' sorrowful journey, the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, is a precious reminder to us to recognize the value of our daily suffering: a lesson not to avoid it with opportunistic pretext or vain excuses; an impetus to make of it instead a gift to him who loved us, in the certainty that in this way we will build a new culture of love and cooperate in the divine work of salvation.

May Mary, who…followed Jesus on the way of the Cross, and whom we will find on Calvary, be for us a model in this gift of ourselves: may she help us to understand the value of our suffering and offer it to the Father joined with Christ's suffering.

~Pope John Paul II, March 5, 1989

Dear Mary, Mother of Sorrows, let me not waste whatever suffering will be mine this day. Show me how to unite it with your Son's suffering, as you did, for the life of the world. Amen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today's Feast: Our Lady of Lourdes

Mary, you showed yourself to Bernadette in the crevice of the rock. In the cold and grey of winter, you brought the warmth, light and beauty of your presence. In the often obscure depths of our lives, in the depth of the world where evil is so powerful, bring hope, return our confidence!

You are the Immaculate Conception, come to our aid, sinners that we are. Give us the humility to have a change of heart, the courage to do penance. Teach us to pray for all people.

Guide us to the source of true life. Make us pilgrims going forward with your Church, whet our appetite for the Eucharist, the bread for the journey, the bread of life.

The Spirit brought about wonders in you, O Mary: by his power, he has placed you near the Father, in the glory of your eternal Son. Look with kindness on our miserable bodies and hearts. Shine forth for us, like a gentle light, at the hour of our death.

Together with Bernadette, we pray to you, O Mary, as your poor children. May we enter, like her, into the spirit of the Beatitudes. Then, we will be able, here below, begin to know the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven and sing together with you: Magnificat!

Glory to you, Virgin Mary, blessed servant of the Lord, Mother of God, dwelling place of the Holy Spirit!


Dear Lord Jesus, thank you so much for giving us Your mother Mary to be our mother! Amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Simple Prayer

My God, take my heart and set it on fire with your love.
~St. Bernadette

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thou hast made me endless...

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life!

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands, my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

~Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Divine Calling

...the Lord, rich in mercy and forgiveness, transforms man's life and calls man to follow him.

Those who have received the gift of a divine calling [are invited] not to focus on their own limits, but to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and on his surprising mercy, to convert the heart and continue, with joy, to "leave everything" for him. He, in fact does not look at what man considers important: "Man sees the appearance but the Lord sees the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7), and renders men who are poor and weak, but who have faith in him, intrepid apostles and proclaimers of salvation.

…May Mary awaken in everyone the desire to say his own "yes" to the Lord with joy and total dedication.

~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message of 2/7/10

Dear Mary, whose loving yes to the Lord brought life and joy to the world, pray for us!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Price of Vision

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1

Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died -- I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or -- I saw the Lord?

My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say "I saw also the Lord," there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. "In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee." Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

~from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Carthusian Reflects on the Presentation of the Lord

See, then, what we shall be if we are to prepare ourselves to be offered in the temple by Mary -- faithful, tranquil, simple and trustful; blind as one becomes blind through an excess of light. Then will she carry us in her arms, and each of our actions, offered by her to the Father, will have an infinite value. For a soul thus abandoned there are no longer any little things. To fulfill the most ordinary household duties -- everything is so precious when offered at Mary's hands...

It is a lovely thing, indeed, to feel oneself abandoned into those pure hands. How sure one is of not straying; what assurance their very purity imparts. Mary has no need of purification, but we need it, everyone of us, if we are to receive Jesus the Light of the Father.

And finally she lifts us up in her arms and presents us to the Father. He gazes unceasingly at us, and we at him. This "face to face" is the highest form of the interior life; it is thus that St. Paul describes heaven. We shall no longer see him, he says, in the mirror of creatures, but "face to face."

Dear Mary, Mother most wonderful, how happy I am to abandon myself into your loving hands! Amen!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Pierced Heart of Jesus

Lord, be the goal of my pilgrimage here upon the earth.

Let me cling to you with all the force of my longing.

Let me penetrate the very depth of your heart.

Let me breathe through you and let me live by the breath of your love.

Let me work for you, not shunning hardship and fatigue.

Let me rest in you, peacefully, in unending confidence and friendship.

Let me radiate, through you, your divine, loving kindness and apostolic zeal.

Let me remain in you forever, firmly rooted in your love.

~from Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Rev. Jean Galot, S.J.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And you yourself a sword will pierce. Luke 2:35

The Presentation (of the Lord) is a beautiful, lyrical feast; a feast of the temple, of Mary as light-bearer, of Jesus as Lord. The liturgy is uplifting and poetic. But this is all on the exterior level. We have to enter into the reality, take the child Jesus into our own arms, open our hearts, like Mary, ready for the Word of the Lord to pierce us, showing us our weakness and sinfulness, our need of a Savior. Only when we recognize this need and try to be faithful can the Spirit reveal all he wants to give us. ~Sr. Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, ODC, in A Year with Mary

Dear Mary, Mother of Sorrows, I am afraid of suffering. Strengthen me to share with you the Passion of your Son. Amen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What will my answer be?

Tomorrow God isn’t going to ask
What did you dream?
What did you think?
What did you plan?
What did you preach?
God’s going to ask
What did you do?

Fr. Michel Quoist

Dear Lord, make me more and more a woman of mindful action -- and whatever I do this day, may it bring pleasure to You. Amen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today's Feast: The Presentation of the Lord

This mystery is concerned with the journey Mary took forty days after her confinement, to the Temple of God in Jerusalem to offer her Child to Him in accordance with the Jewish Law.

Every first-begotten child belonged to God, but this one in a manner that went beyond expression. Full of quiet dignity in her poverty, Mary placed the Child in the arms of the priest who gave Him back to her after a small offering.

Simeon revealed to those who heard him the fate of the Redeemer, and to Mary the tribulations to be inflicted on the mother: "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of may hearts may be revealed" (Lk

In the sweetness of this first friendly gathering there rings a bitter note of suffering. Mary has received her Child from God and put her whole being at His disposal. He was her one and all; but He was not her own. The first festive act of her motherhood was a sacrifice.

What God has given us, if we believe and obey, does not belong to us by nature. The new life is not ours like a talent or a characteristic; it is a gift, and it remains a gift. It is governed by God's will and guidance, and we must always be ready for a call away from ourselves, a transfer to duty, renunciation, and destiny that have their meaning only in the will of God.

~"The Third Joyful Mystery: The Presentation" from The Rosary of Our Lady by Romano Guardini

Dear Mary, by your loving fiat, you turned your sacrifice into a hymn of praise. Mother Most Wonderful, may I sing with you for ever the goodness of the Lord. Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Inattentional Blindness

Human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders. ~E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

One day last week, I emailed my sister Annie the above quote from E. B. White's "much-loved-by-children-of-all-ages" book, Charlotte's Web. Annie in turn emailed me one of her latest photos, this abandoned life guard stand on a lonely winter beach in Maine, along with her emphatic statement: "I don’t want to ever be found 'off duty' any way -- physically, mentally or spiritually!"

Me either! And yet, this happens to me all the time. Like so many of us, I suffer from "inattentional blindness," not seeing what's right in front of me because I'm so absorbed with something else. Sometimes I'm concentrating on the task at hand, which is what I should be doing, but other times my mind is preoccupied with -- with what? What do I think about all day long? And what kind of thinking do I engage in? Positive or negative? Do I brood or ponder? Do my thoughts lift me up or drag me down? And whatever they do for me, they do for others because my thoughts eventually influence my words and actions.

How and what I think also impacts what I see within and around me. if I'm looking for trouble, I'll surely find it, along with whatever else I seek, whether consciously or unconsciously. Is life for me a problem to be solved or a mystery to be lived? Will I be "on duty" today or "off duty"? Will I eagerly watch for the coming of wonders or lower myself to navel-gazing? Will I lazily succumb to inattentional blindness or vigorously strive to overcome it? As always, the choice is mine.

Dear Lord, today help me to see and to choose life -- and to celebrate it with abandon and joy! Amen! Alleluia!

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein