Friday, April 30, 2010

John 14:1

"Do not let your hearts be troubled", Jesus said to the Apostles at the Last Supper. "Have faith in God and have faith also in me" (Jn 14: 1). The human heart, ever restless until it finds a safe landing place in its wanderings, here at last reaches the solid rock where it can stop and rest. Those who trust in Jesus place their trust in God himself. In fact, Jesus is true Man, but we can have complete and unconditional faith in him because, as he himself said to Philip a little later, he is in the Father and the Father is in him (cf. Jn 14: 10). In this, God truly came to meet our needs. ~Pope Benedict XVI

Blessed are You, O Lord, my rock! You are my love, my fortress, my stronghold, my savior, my shield, my place of refuge (Ps 144:2). Today I will obey Your command to not let my heart be troubled: I will have faith in You. Jesus, I trust in You! Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saint Catherine of Siena

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, described as "one of the most extraordinary women in European history, a spiritual teacher of tremendous magnetism who was also a powerful advocate for peace and reconciliation" by Carol Lee Flinders in her book Enduring Grace. There's absolutely nothing I can say about St. Catherine that someone else has not already said -- and said much, much better than I could ever say it. For example, there's "Life and Significance of St. Catherine of Siena", a talk that Father Hardon gave to the Institute on Religious Life years ago -- an article by Sr. Adele Myers, O.P. that gives us insight into St. Catherine as a preacher -- the website Drawn by Love, which explores her mysticism -- and that's just three possibilities of resources about this remarkable woman. I leave you to have fun Googling the rest.

What you may not find out there in cyberspace, however, is the following prayer of St. Catherine, which appears as today's meditation in that marvelous publication Magnificat. This prayer speaks for itself and for its writer, but I make one note here for those who may not be familiar with its reference to the brigata. St. Catherine was the center of a group of individuals drawn from many levels of society and religious traditions, which she called "La Bella Brigata," the beautiful brigade or beautiful company.

One other note -- Today's arwork is a photo of the magnificent statue of St. Catherine of Siena on the grounds of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia. It was made by Melbourne sculptor Louis Laumen, who used St. Catherine's stigmata, the physical wounds of Christ's crucifixion given as a gift from God, as a focus of the statue.

Thank you, highest Lord, for giving us beautiful, passionate St. Catherine!

Lord for whose love
We are disposed to die
Give us strength and power
To acquire your honor with victory.

Your honor almost lost
Give us strength to be able to acquire it
That among people you are not known
Make your holy name renew
And everyone cry out
Long live blessed Christ
Who makes each one saved
Who believes in you, highest Lord.

Highest Lord, you are Jesus Christ
Who gave victory to your saints
Give it to us so that with fixed heart
We are all constant martyrs for you
And make each and all
Following your voice
Each pick up his cross
Following you above all banner.

It is you, Lord, we want to follow
Who so much love you have shown us
For us you wanted to die on the cross
So dear the vile commodity cost you the soul rebought
Out of your mercy
And yet in agreement
The brigata wants to die for your love.

To all magnanimous and great zeal
Give us, oh, our Lord, and strengthen genius
On us send the great zeal
Oh, our Lord, make each one worthy
To enter into your kingdom
After your passion
And so the crowns
Of the holy martyr we wear for your love.

Oh, our Lord, may the whole brigata
By you guided be in every way
May you be the way, the guide, and conductor
To keep the promises made to us
We have the documents of paradise
Done by Saint Matthew
To possess heaven
And you who are the gift of it, the giver.

Saint Catherine of Siena, translated by Dr. Lisa M. Vitale,
Assistant Professor of Italian, Southern Connecticut State University

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today, not tomorrow...

A woman who really loves does not say to herself: "Tomorrow, I will love my husband, tomorrow, I will love my children, tomorrow, I will have time to think of them." But it is now that she loves them, because each task is performed for them in anticipation of their return. Now is the time that she loves them and she totally commits herself in everything she does.

That is exactly what we must do. There is no question for us of waiting until afternoon. It is now, here, it is later in the refectory, at your desk or with your machines. That is where God is waiting for you. There lies your eternity, your infinite communion, because each human act, if it is a gift of ourselves, is an act creating eternity …

~from With God in Our Daily Life by Fr. Maurice Zundel

You know, O my God, that to love You here on earth I have only today. ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Today, dear Lord, only today! Today -- where life is born, where hope arises, where eternity begins and all is made new. Today is where You abide, "the room where exiled love lays down its victory." My God, today You are waiting for me! Let me hurry to You, let me come to Love! Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Through death to life

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bear much fruit. John 12:24

Easter is for us all a dying to sin, to passion, to hatred and enmity, and all that brings about disorder, spiritual and material bitterness, and anguish. This death is indeed only the first step toward a higher goal -- for our Easter is also a mystery of new life. ~Bl. Pope John XXIII
Thank you, dear Lord, for the opportunities You will give me this day to die to self so that I may truly live for You. With You, may I bear rich, luscious fruit for the glory of our Father. Amen! Alleluia!

Friday, April 23, 2010


The grass beneath a tree is content and silent.
A squirrel holds an acorn in its praying hands, offering thanks, it looks like.
The nut tastes sweet; I bet the prayer spiced it up somehow.
The broken shells fall on the grass, and the grass looks up and says, "Hey."
And the squirrel looks down and says, "Hey."
I have been saying "Hey" lately too, to God.
Formalities just weren't working.
Rumi, 13th century Persian poet

Sr. Helen Rosenthal, RSCJ, recently posted the above poem on her blog, Reflections of an RSCJ. It comes from a book by Daniel Ladinsky, Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. I laughed out loud when I read it! Hey! Hey, God? Isn't that a bit irreverent? Maybe, maybe not. St. Teresa of Avila stressed that prayer is "nothing but friendly conversation with Him Who we know loves us," so why wouldn't I sometimes say "Hey" to God?

"Hey," according to one dictionary, is "a shout expressing joy, or a question, or used to attract attention." It can communicate dismay -- "Hey, squirrel! Why are you dropping your broken shells all over me?!" – or discovery – "Hey, grass! What a surprise! I didn't realize that you were down there!" "Hey" can mean wonder, pleasure or appreciation. Aren't these all part of my loving conversation with my Lord at one time or another? Hey!

This little three-letter word packs a punch! It could even be a sort of shorthand for those multiple alleluia's that we are singing so happily throughout this glorious Eastertide. "Hey! The strife is o'er, the battle done!" "Hey! This is the day that the Lord has made!" "Hey! He is not here! He is risen, as He said!" "Hey! Christ our Passover has been sacrificed! Let us rejoice and be glad!"

"The grass beneath a tree is content and silent," and so am I -- but sometimes I just have to say "HEY"!

Dear Lord, You give me so many reasons to say "Hey!," and I thank You for them all. Amen. ALLELUIA!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prayer can truly change your life.

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, Louisiana 1987

Thank you, dear Lord, for giving me the desire and the grace to pray. Keep my eyes fixed only and always on You, for You alone are my life, my love, my joy. Amen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easter Liturgy

Springtime is nature executing her Easter liturgy... In every corner of her vast cathedral a thousand voices are shouting Alleluia, the voices of creatures that have come to life. ~Pius Parsch in The Year of Grace
Dear Jesus, I have come to life in You, risen from the dead. May my whole life be a perpetual Easter liturgy, a living sacrifice of praise just as Yours was to the glory of the Father. Amen! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love and Sheep

St. Augustine on Love and Sheep

For what else do the words “Do you love me? Feed my sheep” mean than if it were said, If you love me, do not think of feeding yourself but feed my sheep as mine and not as your own. Seek my glory in them, and not your own; my dominion, and not yours; my gain, and not yours. Otherwise, you might be found in the fellowship of those who belong to the perilous times, lovers of their own selves, and all else that is joined on to this beginning of evils. . . .

With great propriety, therefore, Peter is asked, “Do you love me?” and he is found replying, “I love you.” And then the command to “Feed my lambs” is applied to Peter, not only once but also a second and a third time, which also demonstrates here that love and liking are one and the same thing. For the Lord, in the last question, did not say “Diligis me,” [as he had the first two times] but, “Amas me?” Let us, then, love not ourselves, but him.

And in feeding his sheep, let us be seeking the things which are his, not the things which are our own. For in some inexplicable way that I cannot understand, everyone who loves himself, and not God, does not love himself. And whoever loves God, and not himself, that is the person who loves himself. For whoever cannot live by himself will certainly die by loving himself. The person, therefore, who loves himself while losing his own life does not really love himself. But when Christ, who preserves life, is loved, a person who does not love himself ends up loving all the more when he does not love himself for this reason, namely, that he may love Christ by whom he lives.

~April 18th daily reading from Speaking to the Soul, taken from Tractates on the Gospel of John by Augustine, quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament IVb, John 11-21, edited by Joel C. Elowsky
Dear Lord, You know that I love You, but I'm not so sure about feeding those sheep. They're such dirty, smelly creatures, and I can be so squeamish. Those idyllic scenes of sheep grazing don't fool me one bit. When You tell us to feed Your sheep, You're asking a lot. Dear Jesus, our Good Shepherd, help me to love all Your sheep and to tend to their needs with humility and joy. Amen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Regina Caeli

Queen of Heaven (to be prayed in place of the Angelus from Easter Sunday to Pentecost)

V. O Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

R. For He whom you were worthy to bear, alleluia.

V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.

R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the whole world through the resurrection of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mordor and Beyond

[Jesus said to Peter] "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me." ~Jn 21:18-19

When I first read the above verses from today's Gospel (Jn 21:1-19), I began to think about how God sometimes leads me where I do not want to go. Almost immediately, vivid scenes from Tolkien's trilogy Lord of the Rings popped into my mind – scenes of those dismally dark places that Frodo and his companions traveled through as they made their arduous journey to and through Mordor so as to reach Mount Doom. I don't recall there being a sign there that said "Abandon hope all ye who enter here," but there might as well have been for all the horrible, evil creatures they encountered along the way and all the terrible, frustrating setbacks they had.

Oh yes, I've been in a few Mordor's during my lifetime, and most likely there are more to come. Scary stuff! But I have it all over Frodo. I know for sure that there's more than Mordor and Mount Doom. The journey I'm making is to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God for here we have no lasting city but seek the one which is to come (see Heb 12:22; 13:14). I can't avoid Mordor and Mount Doom any more than our Lord Jesus could bypass Gethsemane and Mount Calvary. Christ had to suffer those things so as to enter into His glory (Lk 24:26), and no servant is greater than his master (Jn 15:20). Still, I know the One in whom I've placed my trust (2 Tim 12). He descended into hell, into all the Mordor's of all our lives, and He redeemed us all when He rose from the dead. I am never alone for the Risen Christ is with us always, until the end of time (Mt 28:20). As St. Francis de Sales was fond of reminding people, "God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms."

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
you will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.
Psalm 16:9-11

Thank you, dear Jesus, for showing me the way, for being the way. Amen! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Christ Our Passover

I, he says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I, he says, am the Christ.

Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. I am your forgiveness, I am the passover of your salvation, I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you, I am your ransom, I am your light, I am your saviour, I am your resurrection, I am your king, I am leading you up to the heights of heaven, I will show you the eternal Father, I will raise you up by my right hand.

This is the one who made the heavens and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and prophets, who became human via the virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from the dead, and who ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.

This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end–an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the general. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

Dear Lord, I am so glad that the Easter season lasts for 50 days! Even that is not long enough for me to fully ponder anew Your glorious Paschal Mystery. Thank you, my Jesus, for being our Passover. Amen! Alleluia!

"Cactus Flower" by Ann L. Krumrein

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learning Christ

Catholic News Services ran a brief article yesterday about the late New York Cardinal Terence J. Cooke, who was archbishop of New York City from 1968 until his death in 1983. Yesterday the position paper summarizing Cardinal Cooke's life and holiness was presented to Pope Benedict by New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan; Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien; Patricia Handal, coordinator of the Cardinal Cooke Guild, which is promoting the sainthood cause; and Msgr. Joseph R. Giandurco, the cause's vice postulator. This 2,000-page volume will be filed formally with the Congregation for Saints' Causes as an initial step in the Vatican process to determine whether the cardinal should be beatified and canonized. Reading this article made me think of a simple but powerful prayer called "Learning Christ" that I found years ago in a small prayer book compiled by Cardinal Cooke. The author of this prayer was not included, but its words made me wonder if the Cardinal himself wrote it because it mirrors so well his deep spirituality and faith. I greatly admire Cardinal Cooke, and whenever I pray this prayer, I remember his beautiful example of genuine holiness and his gentle, peaceful spirit.

Learning Christ

Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of life, in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me put myself aside, to think of the happiness of others, to hide my little pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them. Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may make me patient, not irritable. That it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow, haughty and overbearing. May no one be less good for having come within my influence. No one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow traveler in our journey toward Eternal Life. As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time, a word of love to Thee. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Even so I send you...

In his Regina Caeli message of April 5, Easter Monday, Pope Benedict XVI noted that this Monday is traditionally called "the Angel's Monday." The term "angel," he said, is one of the oldest titles of our Lord, quoting Tertullian, who in the third century wrote: "He – Christ – has also been called 'angel of counsel,' that is, herald, term that denotes an office, not his nature. In fact, he had to proclaim to the world the great plan of the Father for man's restoration… Consequently, Jesus Christ, Son of God, is also called the angel of God the Father: He is the Messenger par excellence of his love."

The Holy Father then reminded the Church of our Risen Lord's words to his Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21). This means, he went on to say, that "as Jesus was the herald of the love of God the Father, we must also be so of the charity of Christ: We are messengers of his resurrection, of his victory over evil and death, bearers of his divine love. Of course we continue to be by nature men and women, but we receive the mission of 'angels,' messengers of Christ: We are all given it in baptism and in confirmation."

In conclusion, the Holy Father encouraged us to turn to Our Lady, praying to her as Regina Caeli, Queen of Heaven: "May she help us to accept fully the grace of the Easter mystery and to be courageous and joyful messengers of the resurrection of Christ."

Dear Mary, Queen of Heaven, I rejoice with You that your Son Jesus has risen from the dead! Pray for me that, in my everyday life, I may be a herald of His Resurrection, a bearer of His life and love, a messenger of His peace and mercy. With you, may I always magnify the Lord. Amen! Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flowers in My Garden

Mary Magdalen is looking for Our Lord and it is him she holds; she is asking for him, and it is him she asks. She could not see him as she would have wished to see him; that is why she is not content to see him in this form and searches so as to find him in some other guise. She wanted to see him in his robes of glory and not in the lowly clothes of a gardener; but all the same, in the end she knew it was Jesus when he said to her: Mary. is our Lord in his gardener's clothes that you meet every day in one place and another when quite ordinary occasions of mortification come your way. You would like him to offer you different and more distinguished mortifications. But the ones that look best are not in fact the best. Do you not believe that he is saying: Mary, Mary? to you. No, before you see him in his glory he wants to plant many flowers in your garden; they may be small and humble, but they are the kind that please him; that is why he comes to you clothed in this way. May our hearts be for ever united to his, and our will to his good pleasure. Be of good cheer, let nothing dismay you; let us belong wholly to God, for God is ours.

~St. Francis de Sales
Dear Lord, my Divine Gardener, my garden is full of little flowers that You have planted there. May I cherish each one as Your gift to me, tending them all carefully for Your delight and glory. Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes, sort of…

Among the prayers found in the Sacramentary for the celebration of Mass are three Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children. Because I'm rarely at a Mass where these prayers are used, every now and then I like to pray them by myself. I find their simplicity refreshing – and sometimes a bit startling. For example, in the second Eucharistic Prayer, when the priest prays for our families and friends, he also asks the Father to remember "all those we do not love as we should." Now there's a thought...and a rather good one for me to ponder as I prepare to go to confession later today...

Dear Lord, help me to love everyone as You love me, particularly those individuals who have a special claim on my love. Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

Blessed be Jesus, our Divine Mercy!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Saturday

The ultimate miracle of Divine Love is this, that the life of the Risen Lord is given to us to give to one another. It is given to us through our own human loves. It is no violation of our simple human nature. It is not something which must be cultivated through a lofty spirituality that only few could attain; it does not demand a way of life that is abnormal, or even unusual; it is not a specialized vocation. It is to be lived at home, at work, in any place, any circumstances. It is to be lived through our natural human relationships, through the people we know, the neighbors we see. It is given to us, if we will take it, literally into our own hands to give. It is the love of human lovers, of man and wife, of parent and child, of friend and friend.

It is through his Risen Life in us that Christ sends his love to the ends of the earth. That is why instead of startling the world into trembling adoration by manifesting his glory, he sent the woman who had been a sinner to carry the ineffable secret, and sent the two disciples who had been bewildered by their blind inability to reconcile Scripture and Calvary, and sent the friend who had denied him, to give his love to the world, and to give it as simply as a whispered secret or a loaf of bread. So it is that we, sinners, wranglers, weaklings, provided only that we love God, are sent to give the life of the Risen Christ to the whole world, through the daily bread of our human love.

~from The Risen Christ by Caryll Houselander

Dear Lord, thank you for using even "sinners, wranglers, weaklings" like me to give Your Risen Life and Love to the world! Amen! Alleluia!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Friday


In today's gospel (John 21:1-14), Jesus prepares breakfast for His disciples. Having fished all night without success, they are weary, frustrated and hungry. First Jesus directs Peter to throw the net over starboard, which results in a large haul. Then Jesus cooks up some fish. "Come," He says to His disciples, "and eat." What exquisite sensitivity to their needs! What delicate attention to their situation! Do we realize that Jesus treats us the same way? Each and every day He invites us, "Come and eat."

When are hearts are heavy with care and sorrow, when our bodies are weary with pain, when we feel we can't take one more step and just want to sit down and call it quits, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When our days are drab and dreary and our nights dark and long, when our friends fail us and our enemies hound us, when we are distracted by the passing fancies of the world and can no longer pray, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When our passions frighten us and our sins disgust us, when our lack of prog­ress and growth discourage us, when life over­whelms us and self-pity and resentment creep in, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When nobody understands us, when our lives appear to be useless and we doubt our ability to make a difference in this world, when we wonder why life has to be the way it is, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

When the future looks bleak, when the unknown terrifies us, when fear and anxiety beset us, when our problems confound us, when peace eludes us, Jesus says to us, "Come and eat."

Knowing well the hungers of our human hearts, Jesus provides for them all, carefully, tenderly, lovingly. In His Word, He feeds us with His truth and wisdom. In the Eucharist, He feeds us with His body and blood. In the Sacrament of Penance, He feeds us with His forgiveness and healing. In our human relationships, He feeds us with His friendship and joy. In the Father's creation, He feeds us with His beauty and delight. Day after day, we hear Jesus say to us, "Come and eat." Let us feast with Him at the table of love He sets for us in our daily lives. Then we will proclaim as did the first disciples of Christ, with gratitude and joy, "It is the Lord!"

Thank You, dear Lord, for being wherever I go and for providing for all my needs. Amen! Alleluia!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Thursday

The "news" of new life in Christ must shine in the life of the Christian, it must be alive and working in who bears it, truly able to change the heart, the entire existence... We will be truly and fully witnesses of Risen Jesus when we let the marvel of his love shine through in us; when in our words and, even more, in our actions, in full coherence with the Gospel, the voice and the hand of Jesus himself is recognized. ~Pope Benedict XVI, Wednesday General Audience, 4/7/10

O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
~George Matheson, "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go"

Blessed are You, O Risen Lord, Morning Star which never sets! Only You can make me shine! Amen! Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Wednesday

The Love I love
Came in the early dawning
Standing as still as light.

How could I ever have dreamed
So sweet a morning
After so dark a night?

~"Mary" by Elizabeth Rooney

"Even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee." ~Psalm 139:12

Thank you, dear Lord, for being our everlasting Light. Amen! Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Tuesday

“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” John 20:13

And what can be said of Mary Magdalene? She stood weeping by the empty tomb with the sole desire to know where they had taken her Lord. She encounters him and only recognizes him when he calls her by name (cf. Jn 20: 11-18). If we seek the Lord with a simple and sincere mind, we too will find him; indeed, he himself will come to meet us; he will make us recognize him, he will call us by name, that is, he will admit us to the intimacy of his love. ~Pope Benedict XVI, 4/11/07

It is You, dear Lord -- You are the only one. May I seek no other. Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

Hills, why did you leap like yearling sheep? ~Psalm 113A

Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because He Himself lives in us, and in Him we can already savor the joy of eternal life. ~Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Lord, the joy of Your resurrection fills the whole world! No wonder we are glad! Amen! Alleluia!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Triumph, Easter Joy!

See, I who am life itself am now one with you...

The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wood Hath Hope

For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
~Job 14:7

Dear Lord Jesus, let us never forget that death never has the last word. You always give us hope. You are our hope! Amen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

Update on The Way of the Cross at the Colosseum

The Way of the Cross at the Vatican Web site includes images for all the stations; each one opens in a new window. The Catholic News Service (CNS) blog has published the entire service, both text and images, on a single page, along with an informative article explaining this year's Way of the Cross, "Pope's Way of the Cross: 2010 service focuses on essentials of faith". Zenit has also published a no-frills text version of this Way of the Cross, which can be easily copied and pasted into a document.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome

Also on the Vatican Web site is the Way of the Cross to be led by Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow, Good Friday, at the Colosseum in Rome. The meditations and prayers were written by Cardinal Camillo Ruini this year. The following prayer is included in his brief introduction to these traditional Stations.

Lord God, almighty Father, you know all things and you see, hidden within our hearts, our great need for you. Grant each of us the humility to acknowledge this need. Free our mind from the pretension, wrong-headed and even ridiculous, that we can master the mystery which embraces us. Free our will from the presumption, equally naïve and unfounded, that we can create our own happiness and the meaning of our lives. Enlighten and purify our inner eye, and enable us to recognize, free of all hypocrisy, the evil which lies within us. But grant us too, in the light of the cross and resurrection of your only Son, the certainty that, united to him and sustained by him, we too can overcome evil with good. Lord Jesus, help us, in this spirit, to walk behind your cross. Amen.

Holy Father's Homilies for Holy Thursday

Available now on the Vatican Web site are the two homilies that Pope Benedict XVI gave in Rome today, Holy Thursday.

Homily at the Chrism Mass, St. Peter's. In this homily, the Holy Father reminds us that "God touches us through material things, through gifts of creation that he takes up into his service, making them instruments of the encounter between us and himself. There are four elements in creation on which the world of sacraments is built: water, bread, wine and olive oil." He then explains a bit about each element and gives a beautiful explanation of the symbolism and significance of the oils that were blessed today at the Chrism Mass.

Homily at the Mass of the Lord's supper, Basilica of St. John Lateran. Here the Holy Father reflects upon the words of Christ from John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” He says, in part: "Knowing, in the language of sacred Scripture, is an interior becoming one with the other. Knowing God, knowing Christ, always means loving him, becoming, in a sense, one with him by virtue of that knowledge and love. Our life becomes authentic and true life, and thus eternal life, when we know the One who is the source of all being and all life. And so Jesus’ words become a summons: let us become friends of Jesus, let us try to know him all the more! Let us live in dialogue with him! Let us learn from him how to live aright, let us be his witnesses! Then we become people who love and then we act aright. Then we are truly alive."

Dear Lord, as we celebrate this sacred Triduum, may our knowledge of You grow into the mystery of our becoming Your infinite, self-emptying love for the life of the world. Amen.

The Eucharist: My Only Strength

On this Holy Thursday, I am remembering Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, 1928-2002, who was imprisoned by the Vietnamese Communist regime for 13 years, nine of which he spent in solitary confinement. During those long years of agonizing captivity, the Eucharist was his only strength. As a constant reminder of his imprisonment, he wore ever after as his pectoral cross one he had fashioned out of wood and metal in prison with the help of a sympathetic guard. He said of his cross, "It is not beautiful, but it is for me a symbol, a reminder always to love and forgive and reconcile." It was Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist who enabled Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan to love, forgive and reconcile. O dear Lord, thank You for doing the same for us! May we always hasten to receive Your precious Body and Blood, given to us for the life of the world! Amen.

The Eucharist: My Only Strength

Around the Eucharistic table the harmonious unity of the Church is realized and made manifest; the mystery of missionary communion, in which all feel that they are children, sisters and brothers. John Paul II, Message for the Twelfth World Youth Day, 1997, n. 7

"Were you able to celebrate the Eucharist in prison?" is one question that many people have asked me. And they are right to ask: The Eucharist is the most beautiful prayer; it is the culmination of the life of Jesus. When I answer "yes," I already know the next question: "How were you able to obtain the bread and wine?"

When I was arrested, I had to leave immediately, with empty hands. The next day I was allowed to request in writing the things I needed most: clothes, toothpaste... I wrote to my addressee: "Please, could you send me a bit of medicine for my bad stomach?" The faithful understand what I meant and they sent a little bottle of wine for Mass, which they labeled "stomach medicine," as well as some hosts sealed in a flashlight to protect them from the humidity. The police asked me: "Do you have a bad stomach?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Here’s some medicine for you."

I will never be able to express my immense joy: every day, with three drops of wine and one drop of water in the palm of my hand, I celebrated my Mass.

It depended on the situation, however. On the boat that brought us north, I celebrated at night with the prisoners who received communion around me. At times I had to celebrate while everyone was bathing after calisthenics. In the re-education camp, the prisoners were divided into groups of fifty; we slept on common beds and everyone had the right to fifty centimeters of space. We arranged it so that there were five Catholics near me. At 9:30 p.m. the lights were turned off and everyone had to sleep. I curled up on the bed to celebrate Mass, from memory, and I distributed communion by reaching under the mosquito netting covering us. We made small containers from cigarette packages in which to reserve the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus in the Eucharist was always with me in my shirt pocket.

In The Road of Hope I wrote: "You believe in one strength: the Eucharist, the Lord’s Body and Blood that gives you life. ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it abundantly’ (Jn. 10:10). As manna nourished the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land, so the Eucharist nourishes you on your road of hope" (n. 983).

We had weekly indoctrination sessions in which the whole camp had to participate. During our break, I and my Catholic companions took advantage of the opportunity to pass to each, or to the other four groups of prisoners, the little container that held the Blessed Sacrament: they all knew that Jesus was among them, he who could heal all their physical and mental suffering. At night, the prisoners took turns for adoration; Jesus helped us in a tremendous way with his silent presence. Many Christians regained the fervor of their faith during those days, and Buddhists and other non-Christians converted. The strength of Jesus’ love is irresistible. The darkness of prison became light; the seed germinated underground during the storm.

Every time I offer Mass I have the opportunity to extend my hands and nail myself to the cross with Jesus, to drink with him the bitter cup.

~Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan