Today is the beautiful Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I woke up this morning thinking of Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'" That's what Our Lady did, and that's what I want to do, how I want to be: a bringer of Good News ... a virgin with child ... a holy temple of the Lord ... a chalice and a monstrance ... a living sacrifice of praise ... for You, dear Lord, all for YOU! and by Your divine grace and with the help of Your dear mother, please make it so! More thoughts on Our Lady's Visitation later ... for now I am savoring this excerpt from our Holy Father's Angelus message from yesterday's Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.
The divine Trinity, in fact, comes to dwell in us on the day of baptism: "I baptize you," the minister says, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We recall the name of God in which we were baptized every time that we make the sign of the cross. In regard to the sign of the cross the theologian Romano Guardini observes: "We do it before prayer so that we put ourselves spiritually in order; it focuses our thoughts, heart and will on God. We do it after prayer, so that what God has granted us remains in us. It embraces all our being, body and soul, and every becomes consecrated in the name of the one and triune God."
…Invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first creature in whom the Most Holy Trinity dwelled fully, let us ask her protection to journey well on our earthly pilgrimage.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus of Trinity Sunday, 5/30/10
Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
God fills my being to the brim
with floods of His immensity.
I drown within a drop of Him
whose sea-bed is infinity.
The Father's will is everywhere
for chart and chance His precept keep.
There are no beaches to His care
nor cliffs to pluck me from His deep.
The Son is never far away from me
for presence is what love compels.
Divinely and incarnately
He draws me where His mercy dwells.
And lo, myself am the abode
of Love, the third of the Triune,
the primal surge and sweep of God
and my eternal claimant soon!
Praise to the Father and the Son
and to the Spirit! May I be,
O Water, Wave, and Tide in One,
Thine animate doxology.
~Jessica Powers (Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD)
Saturday, May 29, 2010
The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, IL, is carrying an article in its May 30th online edition about Jeri Gerding, who was consecrated a virgin by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 2. Like so many of us consecrated virgins, Jeri's journey to the altar of God took many twists and turns. Jeri notes that she did not choose to be a consecrated virgin. "You’re called to it,” she told The Post. “You either respond to the call or you don’t.” For those of us who have been graced to say "Yes!", our joy is overflowing. Blessings on you, Jeri, newly consecrated bride of Jesus Christ, our Beloved Spouse! May your joy now be complete!
I am espoused to Him whom the angels serve. Sun and moon stand in wonder at his glory. ~from the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity Lived in the World
Those who pray to Mary realize that their gaze cannot simply stop at the face of the Mother, for Mary is essentially oriented to her Son and only in relation to him does she come to play a role in Christian life. Mary's thoughts were filled with Jesus. If we are to penetrate her deepest desires and feelings, we must share in her attachment to the One she adored as her God, admired as the Savior of humanity and loved not only as her own son but as the Son of the eternal Father. ~Jean Galot, S.J.
Friday, May 28, 2010
My Jesus, I accept from your hand the particles you detach for me from your cross. I accept all the vexations, the contradictions, the pains, the sufferings you permit or which it pleases you to send me; I accept them as my share of expiation. Unite with your unspeakable sufferings that little which I do; for it is from your sufferings that mine draw all their merit. ~Blessed Columba Marmion in Christ In His Mysteries
Dear Jesus, my crucified Lord and Savior, may I neither disdain nor waste a single particle of Your holy cross! In Your goodness and mercy, You have picked each precious one just for me. They are Your gifts of glory to me, and, in gratitude, I will strive to treasure and love them all. Amen.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Virgin turned toward your Son,
You knew how to look at Jesus and to penetrate to the most intimate depths of his person.
Teach me to look at him: to look at him long and peacefully in his presence in the tabernacle.
Help my eyes to discover the invisible, and my heart to be borne toward the hidden presence of Christ.
Let me penetrate into the intimacy of this hearth ablaze with love, to grasp at what point Jesus offers himself to me, full of affection, of mercy, of comforting sympathy.
Teach me to hear in the silence the words that he addresses to me, and to tie with him a mysterious dialogue.
Let me glimpse the marvels which he desires to work in the secret place of souls, of my own soul.
Let me appreciate his ineffable nearness, with all the friendship that it contains.
Help me to respond to his love with the vigor of all my being, to lose myself entirely, like you, in a look of love fixed upon him.
~Jean Galot, S.J.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A scowl puts down, but a smile lifts up. The choice is mine. And cheerfulness is a choice, I believe, rather than a matter of having a happy-go-lucky personality or getting things to go my way or achieving the impossible dream. In choosing to be cheerful, I choose to believe in Jesus Christ and His word to me, that gracious Word of His that has the power to build me up (Acts 20:32). That Word which assures me that "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33) and "I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly" (Jn 10:10) and "These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn 15:11). St. Philip Neri was known to spend many long hours with our Lord in prayer, as did all the saints. It was there that he discovered over and over again that the joy of the Lord was his strength (Neh 8:10), and so will I.
As always, the Web is full of good articles about today's saint. For starters, have a look-see at Catholic Online, EWTN, American Catholic, Secular Oratory, Catholic Culture, and Roman Miscellany. Best of all is the online book translated by Fr. Frederick William Faber, the British hymn writer and theologian, called The Maxims and Sayings of St. Philip Neri. One of the surest ways of getting to know the saints is by reading and reflecting upon their own words, and here we find a succulent morsel from St. Philip Neri for each day of the year. Let the feast begin! And may our hearts be merry!
Dear St. Philip Neri, with you may I be of good cheer and rejoice in the Lord always. And help me, please, not to take myself too seriously! Amen! Alleluia!
And that is the enduring power of these sacraments -- and of all the sacraments -- the power of Him who is Life Itself. It is Jesus who draws me, who forgives me, who feeds me with Himself. Mine is the song of the Shulamite maiden: I have found Him whom my heart loves -- and I will not let Him go (Songs 3:4).
It is our Lord's mysterious way to use us mere mortal beings to bring Him to others. And in the church, He makes His salvation known in a very specific way through our priests, who are ministers of His sacraments. So yesterday and today I am giving great thanks to God for all the priests who have ministered to me over the past 54 years. The vast majority of them have been and are marvelous men and faithful, loving priests. Yes, there have been a few grumpy old men (and "old" here means far more than chronological age!) whose personal problems and unresolved issues have caused more than a little suffering for themselves and others. Nevertheless, I am no less grateful for them and, in fact, I pray even more for these individuals so that one day they will be free to become the person God has made them to be. Besides, I have my own grumpy old moments at times, and I also have caused others to suffer.
Dear Lord, happy, happy anniversary to me! May the graces You give me in Penance and Eucharist flow into the lives of others so that they, too, may continue to find You whom their hearts love. Amen.
Monday, May 24, 2010
May Our Lady help you to make yourselves a free and total “Yes” to the grace of God, so that you can be renewed and thus renew humanity by the light and the joy of the Holy Spirit.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Fatima, May 14, 2010
Dear Mary, so full of grace, help me to say "Yes" to God so that the Spirit of Jesus may dwell within me and be a source of refreshment and renewal for every person I meet today. Amen.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
...how very lovely it would be if souls would open up like flowers and yield themselves to the Divine Sun; if they would exercise all the gifts they have received, exultantly and royally; if they would open up, expanding into a final burst of praise before the Lord. Those poor [flowers], they gave all their petals, gave them in splendid profusion -- but now, it's all over. What if we were to transform everything into praise, giving all our days without counting, without wondering about what is going to happen and what we will do in every set of unreal circumstance? If only we had that sense of the gift which makes it possible to live without all the endless computations motivated by vanity (which don't prevent anything anyway)! Don't you think that it is better to die because there is no longer anything in us which can be utilized for the Lord than to die like a dried bud that didn't want to open up?
This is what we should expect from the Holy Ghost: that He should breathe into us an ardor of generosity without the possibility of stopping, and that we should finally be rid of this spirit of our own which is petty, rapacious, and case-hardened. Let us consent to be like a bundle of grain which is placed under the altar and which will remain there as a witness to the magnificence of the Lord until nothing is left of it. Obviously these flowers would have lasted a little longer if they had been placed in water, but let's not feel sorry for them; let us, too, be able to give to the Lord without holding back a little of our gift, without asking that the flowers destined for the altar be disposed of in this or that manner.
Thus we will know joy, the ravishing fragrance with which the Holy Ghost perfumes those who let themselves be drawn by Him into truly living as "offerings to the Lord."
~Mother Marie des Douleurs in Joy Out of Sorrow
Come, Spirit of Jesus, come! Break open the bud of my heart and transform me into a living sacrifice of praise. Amen! Alleluia!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Dear Mary, glory of the Holy Spirit, today I wait in joyful with you and the Apostles for the outpouring of the Spirit within our hearts. Amen.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Dear Mary, I am always your child, always in need of your mothering. Mother Most Wonderful and Seat of Wisdom, show me the way home to your Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
...We will not be able to reform everything; we will not succeed in fighting against all the things that irk us (because often what bothers us is illogical and contradictory); we will only wear ourselves out by wearing other people out. But let's try to tell ourselves, "All of that is trivial, since it must pass." And let us consider all of this from a slightly higher viewpoint. Then the mountains will be lowered, impossible situations will become simple difficulties. Isn't the landscape seen by someone who is walking quite different from that seen by the person who is flying over it? Let's not think that, if we rise above things this way, we are artificially escaping from the closed fields here below; no, faith really teaches us that we are already reigning in heaven with Christ who has entered there as Man-God for us. The only point of view from which we can judge things is God's.
~Mother Marie des Douleurs in Joy out of Sorrow
Dear Lord, Your Ascension brings me such hope and peace. Thank you for such a grand and glorious life, both here and now and forever after. Amen. Alleluia!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Mother of the Risen Lord, and Mother of those reborn in Christ, O Mary, grant to us your children the spirit of the beatitudes, the love that believes all things and hopes all things, and the wisdom of the Cross, so that after death has been overcome we may reach the radiant dawn in which the Christian hope will be transformed into eternal possession. Amen.
~Pope Paul VI
Dear Mary, Mother most wonderful, teach us wisdom, teach us love. Amen.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This is a long reading but one well worth savoring during these days of Ascension tide. I found it in Journey with the Fathers, Commentaries on the Sunday Gospels, Year C, edited by Edith Barnecut, O.S.B. Dame Edith lives at Stanbrook Abbey in England and is responsible for the final version of many of the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. Her three volumes of Journey with the Fathers are real treasures!
If there had not been many dwelling places in the house of God the Father, our Lord would have told us that he was going on ahead to prepare the dwelling places of the saints. He knew, however, that many such dwelling places already prepared were awaiting the arrival of those who love God. Therefore he did not give this as the reason for his departure, but rather his desire to open the way for our ascent to those heavenly places and to prepare a safe passage for us by making smooth the road that had previously been impassible. For heaven was then completely inaccessible to us—human foot had never trodden that pure and holy country of the angels. It was Christ who first prepared the way for our ascent there. By offering himself to God the Father as the first fruits of all who are dead and buried, he gave us a way of entry into heaven and was himself the first human being the inhabitants of heaven ever saw. The angels in heaven, knowing nothing of the sacred and profound mystery of the incarnation, were astonished at his coming and almost thrown into confusion by an event so strange and unheard of. Who is this coming from Edom? they asked; that is, from the earth. But the Spirit did not leave the heavenly throng ignorant of the wonderful wisdom of God the Father. Commanding them to open the gates of heaven in honor of the King and Master of the universe, he cried out: Lift up your gates, you princes, and be lifted up you everlasting doors, that the king of glory may come in.
And so our Lord Jesus Christ has opened up for us a new and living way, as Paul says, not by entering a sanctuary made with hands, but by entering heaven itself to appear before God on our behalf. For Christ has not ascended in order to make his own appearance before God the Father. He was, is, and ever will be in the Father and in the sight of him from whom he receives his being, for he is his Father’s unfailing joy. But now the Word, who had never before been clothed in human nature, has ascended as a man to show himself in a strange and unfamiliar fashion. And he has done this on our account and in our name, so that being like us, though with his power as the Son, and hearing the command, Sit at my right hand, as a member of our race, he might transmit to all of us the glory of being children of God. For since he became man it is as one of us that he sits at the right hand of God the Father, even though he is above all creation and one in substance with his Father, having truly come forth from him as God from God and Light from Light.
As man then he appeared before the Father on our behalf, to enable us whom original sin had excluded from his presence once more to see the Father’s face. As the Son he took his seat to enable us as sons and daughters through him to be called children of God. So Paul, who claims to speak for Christ, teaching that the whole human race has a share in the events of Christ’s life, says that God has raised us up with him and enthroned us with him in heaven. To Christ as the Son by nature belongs the prerogative of sitting at the Father’s side; this honor can rightly and truly be ascribed to him alone. Yet because his having become man means that he sits there as one who is in all respects like ourselves, as well as being as we believe God from God, in some mysterious way he passes this honor on to us.
~Cyril of Alexandria
Monday, May 17, 2010
Dear Mary, teach me your faith and your obedience, that all may be done to me according to the Eternal Word, your Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
By uniting yourself to Jesus Christ you incorporate yourself in Him; He is in you, and you in Him; and you are before the face of the Father. True, you do not see Him. Yet, by faith, you know yourselves to be in His presence, with Jesus who has taken you to Him. You are with Jesus in the heart's-embrace of the Father, in the sanctuary of Divinity. This is for us the deep grace of the Ascension -- sharing, by faith, the ineffable inner life that Jesus has with His Father in heaven.
~Blessed Columba Marmion in Christ in His Mysteries
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.
Dear Lord, in You, my joy is complete. Amen. ALLELUIA!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The modern woman will note with pleasant surprise that Mary of Nazareth, while completely devoted to the will of God, was far from being a timidly submissive woman or one whose piety was repellent to others; on the contrary, she was a woman who did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed, and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions (cf Lk. 1:51-53). The modern woman will recognize in Mary, who “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord,” a woman of strength, who experienced poverty and suffering, flight and exile (cf. Mt. 2:13-23). ~Pope Paul VI in Marialis Cultus (#37)
Dear Mary, virgin most powerful and woman of strength, make me strong in my faith, my womanhood, and my love for your Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
All the love in the hearts of mothers is derived from this Divine Source. How loving then must that Source be!
God is more mother than all mothers, infinitely more: as also He is Father, infinitely.
And this perhaps is the deepest intention of the homage paid to the Blessed Virgin by the Church of her Son; not so much to honor the Mother of our Savior for the pre-eminent holiness with which she is endowed and the maternal share which is hers in the scheme of redemption -- though her person is so intimately dear to us and her tender compassion is so ready to aid, but even more, since everything created, even the highest, is directed towards God as its end, to reveal in her, as in a living sacrament, God's maternal love.
~Maurice Zundel in The Splendour of the Liturgy
Dear Mary, Mother most wonderful, thank you for revealing to us God's maternal love. Amen.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Herself a rose, who bore the Rose,
She bore the Rose and felt its thorn.
All loveliness new-born
Took on her bosom its repose,
And slept and woke there night and morn.
Lily herself, she bore the one
Fair Lily; sweeter, whiter, far
Than she or others are:
The Sun of Righteousness her Son,
She was His morning star.
She gracious, He essential Grace,
He was the Fountain, she the rill:
Her goodness to fulfil
And gladness, with proportioned pace
He led her steps thro' good and ill.
Christ's mirror she of grace and love,
Of beauty and of life and death:
By hope and love and faith
Transfigured to His likeness, 'Dove,
Spouse, Sister, Mother,' Jesus saith.
~Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
[Mary] is, in fact, the most beautiful flower to blossom in creation, the "rose" that appeared in the fullness of time, when God, sending his Son, gave the world a new spring. ~Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli of May 9, 2010
Dear Mary, God's beautiful rose, help me to blossom and grow in the garden of your Son's love. Amen.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Dear Mary, Jesus' hour is your hour. Pray for me, that it may be mine, too. Amen.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
It is precisely by looking at Mary's face that we can see more clearly than in any other way the beauty, goodness, and mercy of God. In her face we can truly perceive the divine light. ~Pope Benedict XVI
Mother of Jesus Christ, I do not come to pray. I have nothing to offer and nothing to request. I come solely to gaze on you, O Mother. To gaze on you, weep for joy, and know this: that I am your child and you are there. ~Paul Claudel
Friday, May 7, 2010
we shall grow up to pain
as Mary did.
A sapling set securely by God's hand
withstands the blast
of prophecy, holds out
through exiled dearth
through triple dark,
and in the years serene,
thrusts roots so deep that,
in the great upheaval,
one tree stands.
~"Mary Stands Beneath the Cross" by Sr. Mary Julian Baird, R.S.M.
Dear Mary, Mother of our Crucified Lord, it is my honor and my joy to stand with you beneath the Cross of your Beloved Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Dear Mary, I am God's child and yours. Mother most wonderful, may I always come to you to find the Bread I so desperately need, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Mary, who is our Mother, points out to us the goal of heaven toward which we are aiming, day by day. Pray to her with deep devotion: her tender love has the wonderful power to transform the painful mysteries, which sometimes sadden our lives, into joyful mysteries transfigured by love. ~Pope John Paul II
I love you, Mary, Mother most wonderful, and I am so glad and grateful for your tender love. Make me one with you in seeking the things that are above, where your Risen Son is seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). Then my life-long journey to the house of the Lord will be a joyful one that honors your Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen. Alleluia!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
When I first read this many few years ago, the idea of congratulating Our Lady struck me as a little bit absurd. Now that I've become older and simpler, it makes perfect sense to me. After all, to congratulate someone is not only to acknowledge their achievement or good fortune, it's also to rejoice with them. And who better deserves my congratulations than the Mother of Christ at the dawn of her Son's resurrection?!
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps 30:5). Dear Mary, Mother of our Risen Savior, joy has indeed come with the resurrection of your Son from the dead. Congratulations! With you I rejoice and am glad. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Monday, May 3, 2010
She will shelter us under her mantle only if we seek to remain, like her, docile, pure, and generous. She will receive us at the hour of our death if we try (no matter how little) to live as she did, emulating the life of her Son. There will be no tricks: her children for eternity are poor sinners, but sinners who, recognizing their wretchedness, have nonetheless tried to rise above it.
True devotion to the Virgin Mary is composed of admiration, trust, and imitation.
~from Joy Out of Sorrow by Mother Marie des Douleurs
Dear Mary, Mother most wonderful, I admire and trust you. May I also imitate you so that with you I may always magnify the Lord. Amen.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Dear Mary, Mother most wonderful, how good it is to take refuge in you! And how lovely to have this whole month of May devoted to you! I will try to do something special each day in love and honor of you -- and in doing so, with you I will love and honor your Beloved Son, the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen.