Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle

Ave Maria! Among the voluminous works of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman is a sermon about St. Andrew (Plain and Parochial Sermons, Sermon 1, "The World's Benefactors". Little is known about this apostle, Cardinal Newman readily admits, he adds that this little bit affords us enough for a lesson, and that an important one. These are the facts before us. St. Andrew was the first convert among the Apostles; he was especially in our Lord's confidence; thrice is he described as introducing others to Him; lastly, he is little known in history, while the place of dignity and the name of highest renown have been allotted to his brother Simon, whom he was the means of bringing to the knowledge of his Saviour."

We might wonder what lesson there could possibly be for us with so few facts about this apostle of Christ. Cardinal Newman explains it all quite clearly. "Our lesson, then, is this; that those men are not necessarily the most useful men in their generation, not the most favoured by God, who make the most noise in the world, and who seem to be principals in the great changes and events recorded in history; on the contrary, that even when we are able to point to a certain number of men as the real instruments of any great blessings vouchsafed to mankind, our relative estimate of them, one with another, is often very erroneous: so that, on the whole, if we would trace truly the hand of God in human affairs, and pursue His bounty as displayed in the world to its original sources, we must unlearn our admiration of the powerful and distinguished, our reliance on the opinion of society, our respect for the decisions of the learned or the multitude, and turn our eyes to private life, watching in all we read or witness for the true signs of God's presence, the graces of personal holiness manifested in His elect; which, weak as they may seem to mankind, are mighty through God, and have an influence upon the course of His Providence, and bring about great events in the world at large, when the wisdom and strength of the natural man are of no avail."

We must not let ourselves be fooled or sidetracked by those "who make the most noise in the world" -- and their name is Legion for they are many. We see their flashy pictures on the covers of glossy magazines, we hear their booming voices above the murmurs of us common folks, we're momentarily seduced by their charisma that outshines our ordinariness. They do good and, as Cardinal Newman points out, a certain number of them are true instruments of great blessings. But all that glitters is not gold. And, as J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in The Lord of the Rings:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

The true gold of an individual is not always immediately apparent, and it most likely will never be lauded by the world. Helen Keller once stated that "The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker." God doesn't call all of us to be heroes, but He does need countless ordinary people to be honest workers in His vineyard. Our gold is shiniest when we respond to our Lord and Master as St. Andrew did, quick to respond when He calls us, glad to serve Him in whatever way He chooses, no matter how obscure or lowly. Then one day it can be said of us as it's been said of St. Andrew and all the men and women throughout the ages who have left everything to follow Christ: "Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world" (Romans 18:10).

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, I rejoice with you that God chooses the lowly for the praise of His glory! Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beautiful Life

On that day,
the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory,
and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor
for the survivors of Israel.
~Isaiah 4:2

Ave Maria! We begin Advent with the promise of life. This life will be most beautiful -- full of luster and glory, honor and splendor! -- because the Child to be born is the Beautiful Savior, our Fairest Lord Jesus. And the Virgin Mary who gives birth to Him is the Beautiful Mother. All her paths are beautiful, and all her ways are peace (Proverbs 3:17). Of her the Father says, "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you" (Song of Solomon 4:7). Our Lady's beauty is all from within. It is "the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:4). Hers is the beauty of faithful obedience and steadfast love, of a life lived happily under the shadow of the Most High and ruled totally by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And this is our life, too, if only we say "Fiat!" with the Virgin of Advent when the angel Gabriel comes to us as he did to Mary. Like our Beautiful Mother, we also have found favor with God, so let us not be afraid. Rather, let us confidently surrender as Mary did to the beautiful life that God so greatly desires for us. Then her holy Child, our Beautiful Savior, will be born in us for the life of the world.

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, help me to be beautiful like you! Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To life, to light!

"Door Ajar" by Ann L. Krumrein

Ave Maria! The other day my sweet sister Annie emailed me this marvelous image that she recently captured. She wrote "Light!" in the subject line of her email, and inside she continued "...even the smallest sliver…how encouraging. To life, to light!!"

What a perfect message for the beginning of Advent! For this season is all about life and light -- eternal life and everlasting light. The nascent life in Mary's womb is the Light of the World. We live our Advent "in the womb of Mary," wrote the Jessica Powers in her poem entitled "Advent," and as we wait "in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place, / with hope’s expectance of nativity," the Church in her Advent liturgy opens the door little by little until that "smallest sliver" becomes a blaze of glory, the glory of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14) -- God with us!

How great our joy! How sure our hope! The night is far gone, the day is at hand (Romans 13:12). Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Isaiah 2:5)

O Jesus, living in Mary, come be our light and our life!
Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, show unto us the fruit of your womb, Jesus!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blessed Art Thou!

Most Blessed Mother,
you are breath for the weak,
a spring for the thirsty,
warmth for the poor,
rest for the weary,
assurance for the hesitant,
the hush of lamentations,
the joy of hearts,
the ark for all people,
and the union between your children and God.

from Blessed Art Thou by Fr. Richard J. Beyer

And blessed am I, O Mary, to be your little child!

Friday, November 26, 2010

O God, it is good...

O God, it is good to be alive,
and numbered with the people
whom thou has made:
and I thank thee for thy gift of life.

O God, it is good to have the power of thought,
and to seek and learn and know:
and I thank thee for thy gift of mind.

O God, it is good to dwell beneath the sun
in the world which is thy handiwork:
and I thank thee for earth’s beauty,
and thy rule within its laws.

O God, it is good to come to each new day,
and to find the passing years
a cure for wounds innumerable,
and I thank thee for the ministries of time.

O God, it is good to count in word and deed
for ends beyond our own:
and I thank thee for thy use of me
if I have been of any service to thy purposes.

O God, it is good to rejoice and to be glad,
and I thank thee for each person,
for each experience of life,
that has brought me happiness.

O God, it is good to feel the disciplines
that school the spirit,
and I thank thee for the trials and troubles
which have wrought in me some hardihood of soul.

O God, it is good to have thine everlasting arms beneath us,
and I thank thee now for all thy mercies,
both temporal and spiritual,
those I have known, those I have not recognized,
wherewith thou has upheld me
in thy wisdom, power, and love.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

“An Act of Thanksgiving to God for Great Blessings” by Miles Lowell Yates

Thanks to the Episcopal Cafe for making this beautiful prayer available!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise You with the harp, O God, my God. ~Psalm 43:4

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 (Bk 12, Ch 12)

Oh Lord my God, so worthy of all praise, may every moment of every day of my life be one of humble thanksgiving to You and for You! Amen! Alleluia!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

He must reign!

"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God (Rom 6:13). " ~Encyclical of Pope Pius Xi on The Feast of Christ the King, December 11, 1925

Ave Maria! Ave Christus Rex! Yesterday's Solemnity of Christ the King is such a full and rich one that I am still pondering its message and meaning today. This morning I have been reading and reflecting upon Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI's encyclical on Christ the King. I am challenged by the passage above, which is a stark reminder to me that if Jesus our Lord truly is my King and I His servant, absolutely everything belongs to Him and nothing, not even a smidgen, to me. I may not hold anything back from Him who has given His All to me. Such are the sweet imperatives of Love. Isaac Watts sums it up quite well:

"Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all."

Sweet Jesus my King, oh, make me love You more and more!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Solemnity of Christ the King

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever! ~1 Tim 1:17

Ave Maria! Or rather, given today's splendid solemnity, Ave Christus Rex!

Hail, Christ the King! We praise You and worship You, our gracious and glorious King, who shepherds us, delivers us, and leads us to eternal life. May our lives be a continual sacrifice of praise, offered in gratitude to You who have made us into a kingdom of priests for our God and Father. May we serve You by serving all our brothers and sisters as You have served us, to the laying down of Your life on the Cross. May we work together to proclaim Your gospel of peace and to make known the Father's love. Now and forever, we honor and adore You, our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Love and Mercy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mary, our loving consoler

Mary Most Holy goes on being the loving consoler of those touched by the many physical and moral sorrows which afflict and torment humanity. She knows our sorrows and our pains, because she too suffered, from Bethlehem to Calvary. 'And they soul too a sword shall pierce.' Mary is our Spiritual Mother, and the mother always understands her children and consoles them in their troubles. Then, she has that specific mission to love us, received from Jesus on the Cross, to love us only and always, so as to save us! Mary consoles us above all by pointing out the Crucified One and Paradise to us! ~Pope John Paul II

Thank You, dear Jesus, living in Mary,
for the great consolation You have given us in Your beloved mother!

What's Cooking?

Ave Maria! This time of year, my kitchen is bursting with cranberries. I may be living in Texas, but my heart is still in New England, where I was born and where cranberries abound. My all-time favorite cranberry recipe is this one for cranberry chutney that I came across in the Washington Post some 20 years ago. I've collected and tried many more recipes for cranberry chutney since then, but I always come back to this one. It calls for grated ginger, but I've never had any luck with grating it so I just mince it very finely. This time around I'm going to use brown sugar because I read yesterday on the Web a suggestion to "Substitute brown sugar (preferably dark) in any cranberry sauce recipe that calls for white (granulated) sugar. Brown sugar will deepen the sauce's flavor and color." Sounds good to me! Time to hit the kitchen!


1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a large non-aluminum saucepan over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Rinse cranberries and add to pan; cook until skins begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pan and cook for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Ladle chutney into sterilized jars, and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps for a couple weeks in the refrigerator, 3 months or so in freezer.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Best-Beloved

Nor time, nor place, nor chance, nor death can bow
My least desires unto the least remove;
He's firmly mine by oath, I his by vow;
He's mine by faith, and I am his by love;
He's mine by water, I am his by wine;
Thus I my Best-Beloved's am, thus he is mine.

He is my altar, I his holy place;
I am his guest, and he my living food;
I'm his by penitence, he mine by grace;
I'm his by purchase, he is mine by blood;
He's my supporting elm, and I his vine:
Thus I my Best-Beloved's am, thus he is mine.

He gives me wealth, I give him all my vows;
I give him songs, he gives me length of days;
With wreaths of grace he crowns my conquering brows;
And I his temples with a crown of praise,
Which he accepts as an everlasting sign,
That I my Best-Beloved's am; that he is mine.

Francis Quarles (1592–1644)

Oh my dearest Jesus, may you always be my Best-Beloved! Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament

Ave Maria! Yesterday during his general audience at St. Peter's, Pope Benedict spoke of St. Juliana of Cornillon, known also as St. Juliana of Liege. I've never heard of her and was fascinated to learn that, impelled by the love of our Eucharistic Lord, she contributed to institution of the Church's Corpus Christi processions. At the end of his address, the Holy Father said:

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Eucharistic Christ in Sunday's Holy Mass is essential for the journey of faith, but let us try as well to frequently go to visit the Lord present in the Tabernacle! Gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of the love of God, we discover the passion and the cross of Jesus, and also his Resurrection. Precisely through our gazing in adoration, the Lord draws us to himself, into his mystery, to transform us as he transforms the bread and wine. The saints always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. With the words of the Eucharistic hymn "Adoro te devote," let us repeat before the Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament: "Make me believe ever more in You, that in You I may have hope, that I may love You!"

One of my earliest childhood memories is of the four of us -- Mummie, Daddy, my sister Annie and me -- stepping into any Catholic church we passed for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. This was one way that my parents lived their faith and expressed their love and gratitude to our Lord. To them, it was the most natural thing in the world to do, and it was a happy occasion. I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord! (Ps 122:1) I don't recall anything they ever said about these visits, but I do remember them bending their knees in humble adoration, then lifting up their heads, their faces shining with joy. Like the saints, Mummie and Daddy "always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter." And so do I. HE IS THERE! My God and my All! The door to the tabernacle may be closed, but His heart is always open. Jesus, my life, my love, my greatest joy! My refuge and strength, my shield and my glory! Blessed be the Lord who has shown me the wonders of his love! (Ps 31:21)

"And all of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit." ~3 Cor 2:18

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday No. 1

"Rockport Shadows" by Ann L. Krumrein

Today's Saint: Elizabeth of Hungary

Continuing his series of lessons on the great female figures of the Church in the Middle Ages, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his General Audience of October 20, 2010 to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, whose feast day is November 17. We see in this holy woman, the Holy Father said, “how faith and friendship with Christ create the sense of justice, of the equality of everyone, of the rights of others, and they create love, charity. And from this charity hope is born, the certainty that we are loved by Christ and that the love of Christ awaits us and thus makes us capable of imitating Christ and of seeing Christ in others. St. Elizabeth invites us to rediscover Christ, to love him, to have faith and thus find true justice and love, as well as the joy that one day we will be immersed in divine love, in the joy of eternity with God.”

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us
that the love of Christ may impel us
to live, love and serve as you did!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Somebody's knocking at my door...

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him,and he with me. ~Rv 3:20
Ave Maria! The above verse from today's first reading (Rv 3:1-6, 14-22) always makes me think of what Julian of Norwich calls the courtesy of God. That is another post for another time. This morning it's enough for me to marvel at how courteously our dear Lord comes to me with such gentleness and sensitivity, never forcing Himself upon me, simply making known His presence and patiently waiting for me to respond or not.

And if I do invite Him in when He knocks on the door of my heart, oh, what immeasurable joy is mine! He has prepared a banquet for me, and how He longs to share it with me! He will feed me with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock he will satisfy me, if I but open wide my mouth so He may fill it (Ps 81:10, 16). Then my cup will runneth over, and goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life as I dwell with Him forever (Ps 23:6).

I have to go now. Somebody's knocking at my door. I don't want to miss Him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ave Maria! The following reflects upon yesterday's Gospel (Luke 21:5-19), which ends with Our Lord's admonition to patiently endure the trials and tribulations of life. He calls us to be like him, to persevere as we "suffer the slings and arrows of misfortune" for the sake of the Kingdom. Such endurance will not only save our souls, it will also bring us much joy. St. James reminds us that "we call happy those who were steadfast" (James 5:11). We see this happiness in the lives of the saints and all the holy men and women of the ages, who gladly died to self that Christ may live in them. These godly individuals didn't just put up with those slings and arrows, they counted them all joy (James 1:2). The word "endure" comes from the Latin word "indurare," which means "to harden." They hardened their hearts to all that was not of God and from God and for God, to the wiles of the devil, to the easy life of cheap grace. They entered the narrow gate and found untold treasures therein. They patiently endured and thus obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15). And they are here to help us now. As Pope Benedict XVI told us at the beginning of his Petrine ministry (Homily of 4/24/05), "I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me." So yes, let us endure, and let us endure together, a happy procession of chosen souls, looking always to Jesus, "who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).

Your endurance will win you your life. ~Luke 21:19

In time of trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for the Lord says: By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.

He did not say by your fasting, or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul.

But he said: By patient endurance in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, whether this be insolent and contemptuous treatment, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness, or the belligerent attacks of Satan, or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.

By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves, although to this must be added wholehearted thanksgiving, and prayer, and humility. For you must be ready to bless and praise your benefactor, God the Savior of the world, who disposes all things, good or otherwise, for your benefit.

The apostle writes: With patient endurance we run the race of faith set before us. For what has more power than virtue? What more firmness or strength than patient endurance? Endurance, that is, for God’s sake.

This is the queen of virtues, the foundation of virtue, a haven of tranquility. It is peace in time of war, calm in rough waters, safety amidst treachery and danger. It makes those who practice it stronger than steel.

No weapons or brandished bows, no turbulent troops or advancing siege engines, no flying spears or arrows can shake it.

Not even the host of evil spirits, not the dark array of hostile powers, nor the devil himself standing by with all his armies and devices will have power to injure the man or woman who has acquired this virtue through Christ.

(Letters 111, 35: PG 79, 401-404)

Nilus (+c.430), a native of Ancyra, studied at Constantinople where he became a disciple of Saint John Chrysoston. He afterwards founded a monastery near Ancyra where he exercised a wide influence, partly by correspondence; he is known to have written at least 1,061 letters. His writings include treatises on the preeminence of monks, monastic observance, and voluntary poverty.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Sacramentality of the Word

Ave Maria! In his just-released apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI often refers to St. Jerome, the patron of Biblical scholars. Stressing "the sacramentality of the word," the Holy Father quotes St. Jerome on how we should approach both the Eucharist and the word of God.

“We are reading the sacred Scriptures. For me, the Gospel is the Body of Christ; for me, the holy Scriptures are his teaching. And when he says: whoever does not eat my flesh and drink my blood (Jn 6:53), even though these words can also be understood of the [Eucharistic] Mystery, Christ’s body and blood are really the word of Scripture, God’s teaching. When we approach the [Eucharistic] Mystery, if a crumb falls to the ground we are troubled. Yet when we are listening to the word of God, and God’s Word and Christ’s flesh and blood are being poured into our ears yet we pay no heed, what great peril should we not feel?”
We learn from our Blessed Mother how to cherish the Scriptures, even and especially every single crumb. Our Lady devoted her entire life and being to the Word of God. Even before the Holy Spirit conceived the Incarnate Word in her womb, Mary was the servant of God's Holy Word, reading and praying the Scriptures in keeping with her Jewish faith and allowing herself to be informed, formed and transformed by them. In Verbum Domini, the Holy Father speaks of Mary's familiarity with the Word of God, which, he says, "is clearly evident in the Magnificat…[which] is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God." These threads included all the many crumbs she had gathered over the years – and which she continued to gather as her Beloved Child Jesus grew in wisdom and age, tottering from His crib to the carpenter shop, the Son of God wending the streets of Nazareth and journeying up to Jerusalem, and then, slowly, ever so slowly, climbing to Mount Calvary, until He breathed His last and was laid in His Mother's arms, the silent Word still pleading. And on the third day, He rose from the dead. Jesus lives who once was dead! Now His Word runs swiftly (Ps 147:15). Let us run to Him! Like Mary, Christ's mother and ours, let us ponder the Word made flesh and treasure Him in our hearts. Let His Gospel be for us His Body, the Scriptures His teaching. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us become His living words!

O Mother of the Incarnate Word, pray for us!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Verbum Domini! The Word of the Lord!

Ave Maria! At the moment, I feel like a child on Christmas morning who has stumbled upon an enormous gorgeously decorated tree surrounded by a multitude of totteringly high piles of beautifully wrapped presents of every size and shape imaginable. Wow! For me? All for me? OH, WOW! Where do I start? Why, at the threshold, of course! And that would be:

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God…
and the Word became flesh ”
( Jn 1:1, 14)

For it is the Word Himself that is the subject of Pope Benedict XVI's second and newest apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord)," released yesterday and dated September 30, feast of St. Jerome, the patron of Biblical scholars. This document is his reflection upon the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held October 5-26, 2008. The theme of this assembly was "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." The Holy Father explains that he wrote Verbum Domini because "I would like the work of the synod to have a real effect on the life of the church: on our personal relationship with the sacred Scriptures, on their interpretation in the liturgy and catechesis, and in scientific research so that the Bible may not be simply a word from the past, but a living and timely word." WOW!

More than a few Catholic Web sites provide commentaries on "Verbum Domini, such as what is written here, here, here, here and here. Zenit includes selected excerpts here. To whet your appetite, I close with Pope Benedict's concluding words from his exhortation. Dear Lord, thank you so very much for our Holy Father! Please bless him richly and abundantly and keep him ever joyful in Your life-giving Word. Amen!
I remind all Christians that our personal and communal relationship with God depends on our growing familiarity with the word of God.... May every day of our lives thus be shaped by a renewed encounter with Christ, the Word of the Father made flesh: he stands at the beginning and the end, and “in him all things hold together ” (Col 1:17). Let us be silent in order to hear the Lord’s word and to meditate upon it, so that by the working of the Holy Spirit it may remain in our hearts and speak to us all the days of our lives. In this way the Church will always be renewed and rejuvenated, thanks to the word of the Lord which remains for ever (cf. 1 Pet 1:25; Is 40:8). Thus we too will enter into the great nuptial dialogue which concludes sacred Scripture: “ The Spirit and the bride say: ‘Come’. And let everyone who hears say: ‘Come!’ ” The one who testifies to these things, says: ‘Surely I am coming soon!’. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! ”. (Rev 22:17, 20).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Ave Maria! Today is Veterans Day, when we honor ALL American veterans, both living and dead. These are the men and women "Who more than self their country loved, / And mercy more than life!" (America the Beautiful) A brief history of Veterans Day can be found here, here, and here, plus facts about the current veteran population in the USA can be found here. And that's just for starters. A Google search of "Veterans Day" returns over sixty-two and a half million hits! While briefly checking out a few of them, I found at BBC the following by an unknown soldier who died at Dunkirk. He may not have been American, but his prayer to the Unknown God has undoubtedly echoed in the heart of every valiant soldier who has sacrificed everything for the sake of peace, justice and freedom. May we always remember and honor our veterans, and may God bless them richly and abundantly!

Stay with me God, the night is dark!
The night is cold, my little spark
Of courage dims, the night is long -
Be with me God and make me strong.

I love a game, I love a fight,
I hate the dark, I love light!
I love my child, I love my wife -
I am no coward, I love life.

Life with its change of mood and shade,
I want to live - I’m not afraid
But me and mine are hard to part -
Oh, Unknown God, lift up my heart.

You stilled the waters at Dunkirk
And saved your servants, all your work
Is wonderful dear God; you strode
Before us down that dreadful road.

We were alone and hope had fled,
We loved our country and our dead
And could not shame them, so we stayed
The course, and we were not much afraid.

Dear God, that nightmare road! And then
That sea - we got there, we were men!
My eyes were blind, my feet were torn,
My soul sang like a bird at dawn!

I know that death is but a door -
I knew what we were fighting for -
Peace for our kids, our brothers freed,
A kinder world, a cleaner breed.

I’m but the son my mother bore,
A simple man, and nothing more,
But, God of strength and gentleness,
Be pleased to make me nothing less.

Help me again when death is near,
To mock the haggard face of fear -
That when I fall, if fall I must,
My soul may triumph in the dust.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today's Saint: Pope Leo the Great

Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife. ~St. Leo the Great

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4
Dear Lord, whatever trials and temptations come to me today, let me accept them for what they really are: light and momentary afflictions that are achieving for me an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17). Amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God."

Ave Maria! While in Spain, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Obra Beneficio Social Nen Deu, a centre which provides medical and educational services to children and young adults with disabilities. In his address to the residents, staff and visitors there, our Holy Father emphasized that "every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God, and should be treated with the highest respect and affection."

The second reading (1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17) for today's feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran in Rome reminds us of this very same thing: we are God's building ... we are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us ... the temple of God, which we are, is holy.

As the saying goes, "God don't make no junk!" We heard this recently at Sunday Mass from the book of Wisdom, that God loves love all things that are and loathes nothing that He has made; for what He hated, He would not have fashioned (11:24). Indeed, God has made everything good and beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3:11), including us. The psalmist tells us that the Lord King delights in our beauty, He is enthralled by it and greatly longs for it (Ps 45:11). Listen to this Responsory for the first reading in the Office of Readings for the Common of Virgins from the Liturgy of the Hours :

"The King has desired your beauty,
which he himself has given you...
He has provided for you and adorned you;
he has redeemed you and made you holy."

And this is true for all of us, not just for the Brides of Christ! God gave us His own beauty when He made us in His image and likeness. He has come to dwell within each one of us, making us His sanctuary, His temple, His dwelling-place. We are His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece, created to do His good works (Eph 2:10).
"You are amazing grace.
You are a precious jewel.
You, special miraculous,
unrepeatable, fragile,
fearful, tender, lost,
sparkling ruby
emerald jewel
rainbow splendor
Joan Baez

O Lord and Lover of Souls,
how good and sweet is Your imperishable Spirit in us!
May I always love Your sanctuary,
the place where Your glory dwells,
proclaiming aloud Your praise
and telling of all Your wonders (Ps 26:8, 7).

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Holy Father in Spain

Ave Maria! Many thanks to the UK's Catholic Herald for providing in its "Morning Catholic must-reads: 08/11/10" the following links: "Benedict XVI made a memorable visit to Spain at the weekend. Here are the full texts: welcoming ceremony, visit to Santiago de Compostela cathedral, Mass in the Plaza del Obradoiro, Mass at Sagrada Familia, Angelus address, visit to special education school of Nen Déu and the farewell ceremony."

As with everything our Holy Father says and writes, all of the above are well worth reading and pondering. I include below just one excerpt from his homily at the Mass at Sagrada Familia that I will be feeding upon today.

"Indeed, beauty is one of mankind's greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness."
Beautiful Savior, thank You for making "all things bright and beautiful"! Thank You for gifting so many men and women throughout the ages with the vision of beauty and for enabling them to create beauty for our pleasure and freedom but, even more, for Your honor and glory. O Lord of Loveliness, may we always find Your peace and our sure hope in gazing upon Your beauty! Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Ave Maria! The Center for Liturgy at St. Louis University provides a treasure trove of resources for each Sunday's liturgy. I found this poem among the material for today, which brought Ezekiel 36 to mind: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you...and I will put my Spirit in you. Thanks be to God who makes all things new!

by Fr. James Janda

My child

I know
it is

to love

I know
it is

to forgive

I know
it is

to suffer

but look
I am
your heart

and in

I am
my heart

now I will

now I will

now I will

in you
my heart is
beating in you

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jesus in Mary

God is everywhere; but nowhere is He closer to us, and more adapted to our humanity, than in Mary. It was to make Himself nearer and dearer to us that He came to dwell in her. Everywhere else He is the Bread of the strong, the Bread of the angels. In Mary He is the Bread of the little ones.

~St. Louis de Montfort

O Jesus living in Mary, how happy I am to be one of Your little ones!


Ave Maria! Last Saturday, holiday shoppers at Macy's in Philadelphia were given a vivid reminder of "the reason for the season" when they were suddenly surrounded by singers who burst into the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. Read more here (if you can't access this article immediately, try again and eventually you'll get it), and enjoy the video here. As Rev. James Martin, S.J. commented in "In All Things," "it is surely wonderful to see praise of the Nativity of Our Lord introduced onto the floor of a department store floor during a busy Christmas shopping season. Hallelujah!"

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Duty of Self-Denial

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ~Luke 9:23

He bids you take up your cross; therefore accept the daily opportunities which occur of yielding to others, when you need not yield, and of doing unpleasant services, which you might avoid. He bids those who would be highest, live as the lowest: therefore, turn from ambitious thoughts, and (as far as you religiously may) make resolves against taking on you authority and rule. He bids you sell and give alms; therefore, hate to spend money on yourself. Shut your ears to praise, when it grows loud: set your face like a flint, when the world ridicules, and smile at its threats. Learn to master your heart, when it would burst forth into vehemence, or prolong a barren sorrow, or dissolve into unseasonable tenderness. Curb your tongue, and turn away your eye, lest you fall into temptation. Avoid the dangerous air which relaxes you, and brace yourself upon the heights. Be up at prayer "a great while before day," and seek the true, your only Bridegroom, "by night on your bed." So shall self-denial become natural to you, and a change come over you, gently and imperceptibly; and, like Jacob, you will lie down in the waste, and will soon see Angels, and a way opened for you into heaven.

~Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
Parochial and Plain Sermons: Sermon 7, The Duty of Self-Denial

Dearest Jesus, my true and only Bridegroom, strengthen me anew to take up my cross this day and to follow You into life everlasting. Let me learn from You the joy of emptying myself through self-denial as You emptied Yourself for the glory of the Father. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bl. Mother Teresa on Holiness

Ave Maria! While searching for something on the Vatican website, I came across this talk that Bl. Mother Teresa gave in 1997. Her thoughts on holiness are so simple yet so profound. Nor are they mere thoughts for she always practiced what she preached, faithfully and tirelessly, night and day, year after year. Many years ago when I was living in Washington, DC, Mother Teresa spoke at St. Matthew's Cathedral, and I had the privilege of being there. She stood on the bottom step of the sanctuary when she spoke, such a tiny figure shrouded in her distinctive white and blue habit. I do not remember a single word that she said, but I do remember how her presence filled the entire church and how she radiated Jesus from every pore of her being. I believe that she was a living icon of holiness, and she makes me want to be holy, too. Deo gratias! Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!
Let us thank God for all His love for us, especially in this year of 1997. The Holy Father has given us the great gift of this Year of Jesus Christ to prepare our hearts for the Jubilee of the Year 2000. Let us in return, as an act of gratitude and adoration, determine to be holy because Jesus is holy.

Am I convinced of Christ's love for me and mine for Him? This conviction is the rock on which sanctity is built. What must we do to get this conviction? We must know Jesus, love Jesus, serve Jesus.

This knowledge will make you strong as death. We know Jesus through faith - by meditating on His Word in the Scriptures, by listening to Him speak through His
Church, and through the intimate union of prayer. Believe in Jesus - trust Him with blind and absolute confidence because He is Jesus. Believe that Jesus and Jesus alone is life - and sanctity is nothing but that same Jesus intimately living in you - the same life we received at Baptism grown up and made perfect. That is why it is so beautiful that the Holy Father has asked us to go more deeply into the riches of our Baptism this year.

Love Jesus trustfully without looking back, without fear. Give yourself fully to Jesus. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love, than in your weakness. We must not be afraid to proclaim Jesus' love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do, no matter how small, we must make it Christ's love in action. Do not be afraid to be poor and so proclaim His poverty. Be not afraid to keep a pure and undivided heart and so to radiate the joy of belonging to Jesus. Do not be afraid to go down with Christ and be subject to those who have authority from above - His Church - and so declare Christ's obedience unto death.

Serve Jesus with joy and gladness of spirit - casting aside all that troubles and worries you. In each of our lives Jesus comes as Bread of Life - to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. And then Jesus comes in our human life as the Hungry One, the Poor One, hoping to be fed with the bread of our life, our hearts by loving, our hands by serving. As He said, "What ever you did to the least of my
brothers, you did it to me". In so doing we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God - for God is Love and when we love we are like God. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Jesus wants us to be holy as His Father is holy. Holiness is not the luxury of the few, but a simple duty for you and for me. Holiness - very great holiness - becomes very simple if we belong fully to Our Lady. In 1997, the Year of Jesus Christ, may the Immaculate Heart of our Queen and Mother be more and more our way to Jesus and may she obtain the light of Jesus, the love of Jesus and the life of Jesus for each one of us. Then, when the Jubilee of the Year 2000 comes, we will be able to rejoice that once more Christ is walking through the world in us and through us going about doing good. Let us pray. God bless you!

Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In him, who rose from the dead,
our hope of resurrection dawned.
The sadness of death gives way
to the bright promise of immortality.
Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.
And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
We proclaim your gloryand join in their unending hymn of praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord...
Preface for Christian Death I

Monday, November 1, 2010

Solemnity of All Saints

Ave Maria! The entrance antiphon for the Mass of All Saints encapsulates perfectly the reason for our festivity today: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep a festival in honor of all the saints. Let us join with the angels in joyful praise to the Son of God."

Our gladness is in the all-holy Lord, who chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy (Eph 1:4). And we can be holy because God lavishes upon us the riches of His grace and gives us ample share in His own holiness. The saints show us how we can become as transformed as they were so to live solely for the praise of His glory (Eph 1:12).

Because Pope Benedict's homily for today's solemnity has not yet been posted on the Web, I am posting his Angelus message for All Saints from a couple of years ago. Between the Holy Father's beautiful reflection below and the marvelous painting above by Wassily Kandinsky(1866-1944), "All Saints I", my cup is already overflowing as my day quietly but happily begins. May your own joy be full as together we offer blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might to our God forever and ever (Rev 7:12). Amen! Alleluia!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are celebrating with great joy the feast of All Saints. Visiting a botanical nursery garden, one is amazed by the variety of plants and flowers, and often one is drawn to think of the imagination of the Creator who has given the earth a wonderful garden. A similar feeling of wonder strikes us when we consider the spectacle of sainthood: the world appears to us as a "garden", where the Spirit of God has given life with admirable imagination to a multitude of men and women Saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture. Every one is different from the other, each unique in his/her own personality and spiritual charism. All of them, however, were impressed with the "seal" of Jesus (cf. Rv 7: 3) or the imprint of his love witnessed through the Cross. They are all in joy, in a festival without end, but, like Jesus, they achieved this goal passing through difficulties and trials (cf. Rv 7: 14), each of them shouldering their own share of sacrifice in order to participate in the glory of the Resurrection.

The Solemnity of All Saints came to be affirmed in the course of the first Christian millennium as a collective celebration of martyrs. Already in 609, in Rome, Pope Boniface IV had consecrated the Pantheon, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and to all the martyrs. Moreover, we can understand this martyrdom in a broad sense, in other words, as love for Christ without reserve, love that expresses itself in the total gift of self to God and to the brethren. This spiritual destination, toward which all the baptized strive, is reached by following the way of the Gospel "beatitudes", as the liturgy of today's Solemnity indicates (cf. Mt 5: 1-12a). It is the same path Jesus indicated that men and women Saints have striven to follow, while at the same time being aware of their human limitations. In their earthly lives, in fact, they were poor in spirit, suffering for sins, meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of justice. And God let them partake in his very own happiness: they tasted it already in this world and in the next, they enjoy it in its fullness. They are now consoled, inheritors of the earth, satisfied, forgiven, seeing God whose children they are. In a word: "the reign of God is theirs" (Mt 5: 3,10).

On this day we feel revive within us our attraction to Heaven, which impels us to quicken the steps of our earthly pilgrimage. We feel enkindled in our hearts the desire to unite ourselves forever to the family of Saints, in which already now we have the grace to partake. As a famous spiritual song says: "Oh when the Saints, come marching in, oh how I want to be in that number!" May this beautiful aspiration burn within all Christians, and help them to overcome every difficulty, every fear, every tribulation! Let us place, dear friends, our hand in Mary's maternal hand, may the Queen of All Saints lead us towards our heavenly homeland, in the company of the blessed spirits "from every nation, people and language" (cf. Rv 7: 9). And already now we unite in prayer in remembering our dear deceased, who we will commemorate tomorrow.

Pope Benedict XVI, All Saints Day, 2008