Monday, August 30, 2010

Light and Warmth

Cove Sunrise No. 2 by Ann L. Krumrein
God will not fail to give Light so that one can see, and Warmth to feel the heart that loves us and that wants to be loved. ~Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 8/25/10
Lord, show us the radiance of your mercy.
Morning Prayer, Monday, Week II, Antiphon 2

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Lowest Place

Go and take the lowest place. ~Luke 14:10

The lowest place is mine. God has given it to me. It's where I belong, I who am but dust and ashes. No high throne or places of honor for me. Much better to stay in low places like the crib, the carpenter's shop, the upper room, the cross, the grave and the cenacle. I flourish in low places, like the seed buried in the dark earth. In God's mysterious plan, obscurity becomes me, hiddenness protects me.

Oh, I must and do let my little light shine before others so that they may give glory to my Father. Not to do so would be an insult to and an offense against Him, who has lovingly created me in His image and likeness and has graciously gifted me in many beautiful ways. But the lowest place is the safest for me, and the loveliest by His design. Here I learn His ways, I discover His peace and freedom. Best of all, I find Him whom my heart seeks, and my joy is now complete.

How can I keep from singing?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Augustine

There can be no true friendship unless those who cling to each other are welded together by you in that love which is spread throughout our hearts by the holy spirit which is given to us. ~The Confessions of St. Augustine, 4:4

St. Augustine uses the image of welding to explain true friendship. I know practically nothing about welding, but I think I understand the basic process. For two metals to be welded together, heat must be applied. Using an energy source to melt these materials and sometimes applying pressure causes them to liquefy. The liquid coalesces, then solidifies. At the end of this process, the two pieces of metal have become one continuous solid.

In true friendship, it is not enough for two persons to cling to each other. They must be welded together by God's love which, St. Paul tells us, is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom 5:5). The flame of the Spirit is an all-consuming one. If I submit to God's welding process for the sake of true friendship with another individual, I will no longer be the same. And what a joy that will be, for then my friend and I will become a new creation! Transfigured by Love Himself, we will live no longer for ourselves but for Him, our best and greatest Friend.

Oh my God, make me worthy of true friendship, for the praise of Your glory!

Mary the Dawn

Cove Sunrise by Ann L. Krumrein

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the temple's Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven's Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother's Son
By all things blest while endless ages run.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The power and wisdom of God

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...we proclaim Christ crucified...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. ~1 Cor 1:18, 23-24

He is calling you (cf. Jn 11:28)! He wants to take your life and join it to his. Let yourself be embraced by him! Gaze no longer upon your own wounds, gaze upon his. Do not look upon what still separates you from him and from others; look upon the infinite distance that he has abolished by taking your flesh, by mounting the Cross which men had prepared for him, and by letting himself be put to death so as to show you his love. In his wounds, he takes hold of you; in his wounds, he hides you. Do not refuse his Love! ~Pope Benedict XVI
My dear Jesus, I hear You calling me by name. I am afraid, but I cannot resist You. "Within Thy wounds, hide me!" Only there will I fully know the power and the wisdom of the Father's Eternal Love. Only there will I truly live no longer for myself but for You, crucified yet risen and alive for ever more. Amen! Alleluia!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The silence of eternity...

Sunset in Lincolnville by Ann L. Krumrein

The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Bartholomew

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 bears much fruit. ~John 12:24

Today's selection from Speaking to the Soul at the Episcopal Cafe is from the writings of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, who reminds us that the "even, unvaried life," when lived properly for God, is not only acceptable to Him but also provides us with the means of growing ever more fully in His life and love. That was the lot of St. Bartholomew and the other apostles as well, Cardinal Newman says, and it was within his God-given life that "St. Bart" was "trained at length to give up his life for Christ, when He demanded it." What a relief and happiness to know that my humdrum life isn't so humdrum after all! God is here, leading me from glory to glory and drawing me ever closer to Him and my heavenly home. All I need do is die to self and live for Him. Thanks be to God!
An even, unvaried life is the lot of most men, in spite of occasional troubles or other accidents; and we are apt to despise it, and to get tired of it, and to long to see the world, -- or, at all events, we think such a life affords no great opportunity for religious obedience. To rise up, and go through the same duties, and then to rest again, day after day, -- to pass week after week, beginning with God’s service on Sunday, and then to our worldly tasks, -- so to continue till year follows year, and we gradually get old, -- an unvaried life like this is apt to seem unprofitable to us when we dwell upon the thought of it. Many indeed there are, who do not think at all; -- but live in their round of employments, without care about God and religion, driven on by the natural course of things in a dull irrational way like the beasts that perish.

But when a man begins to feel he has a soul, and a work to do, and a reward to be gained, greater or less, according as he improves the talents committed to him, then he is naturally tempted to be anxious from his very wish to be saved, and he says, “What must I do to please God?” And sometimes he is led to think he ought to be useful on a large scale, and goes out of his line of life, that he may be doing something worth doing, as he considers it. Here we have the history of St. Bartholomew and the other Apostles to recall us to ourselves, and to assure us that we need not give up our usual manner of life, in order to serve God; that the most humble and quietest station is acceptable to Him, if improved duly, -- nay, affords means for maturing the highest Christian character, even that of an Apostle. Bartholomew read the Scriptures and prayed to God; and thus was trained at length to give up his life for Christ, when He demanded it.

From Sermon XXVII on the Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle by John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons, volume 2 (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1891).

Monday, August 23, 2010

May the Lord support us...

Blue on Blue by Ann L. Krumrein

May the Lord support us all the day long,
till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging,
and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
Yesterday I posted one of Daddy's favorite hymns. Today I post one of his favorite prayers, which I also pray often. It was written by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman and always restores peace to my soul.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Memory of Daddy

Today is the 38th anniversary of my beloved father's birth to eternal life. He was 81 years old when he died in 1972. I post this poignant hymn by George Matheson, "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go," in memory of dear Daddy. This is not only one of his favorite hymns, it is also a beautiful image and expression of his life, his faith and his very soul. I miss Daddy every single day, now more than ever, but I rejoice that his is now the "life that shall endless be."

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson

"But I have trusted in thy steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me."
Psalm 13:5

More about George Matheson and this hymn can be found here, here, here and here. A few of his devotionals can be found here.

Friday, August 20, 2010


This is a picture of Ed and me. I just learned that Ed passed away earlier this week. He was the greatest dog ever! But the first time I laid eyes on him, I wasn't so sure. My niece Deborah and her husband Ty had brought Ed home shortly before I moved from Washington, DC to Houston, TX, where I lived with them for a year during a time of enormous upheaval in my life. Deb had sent me a photo of Ed shortly before I left DC, and my heart just sank when I saw it. They already had one dog, Randi, and I was just barely able to be around her. Now this character Ed, who practically leaped out of the photo and landed on top of me, was going to be there, too? Oh, this wasn't good, not good at all. I didn't like dogs and was a bit scared of them and now I was going to live with two of them? And this Ed, he just looked way too eager to get to know me. Oh, no, not good at all.

As you can see from this picture, which Deb took within days of my arrival at their home, Ed had no trouble winning me over. I don't remember exactly how or when we bonded, just that it was almost instantaneous. Suddenly we were best buds! And we were having so much fun together! Like in this picture, when I'd be sitting on the living room floor and Ed would come rushing over and somersault into my lap. His antics were many and hilarious. He made me laugh all the time! And I needed laughter badly at that point in my life. I also needed his slobbering kisses on my face, which he gave me regularly and freely. And when he jumped up on my bed at night and almost pushed me out of it because he was so big and a single bed really isn't made for two, I didn't mind because he comforted me so lying quietly beside me. God knew how much I needed Ed and the gifts he was giving me, and I thanked Him every night for Ed's endearing, healing presence in my life.

Deb and her husband and their two sons moved to Jacksonville Beach, FL a few years ago. Though I see them when they come to town, I've not yet been to Jacksonville so I've not seen Ed and Randi in a while. I sure have missed them, especially Ed. Deb sometimes used to chide me because I would dote on Ed and neglect Randi -- and, as Deb pointed out, Randi's feelings might be hurt. I suppose she was right, but Ed was so special to me. I learned from him why a dog is considered a man's best friend -- and a woman's too. He was always right there for me, and I'm sad to think that I won't see him again on this earth. But in the hereafter, surely I will. Do I believe that our beloved pets go to heaven when they die? I swear by St. Francis of Assisi that they do! And when I finally get there, Ed will be just waiting to somersault into my lap and give me one of his messiest kisses ever. Oh happy day!

All you animals, bless the Lord!
Praise and exalt Him above all forever!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd,
seek me,
a lamb,
and do not overlook me
in my wanderings.

~Byzantine Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beautiful Beauty!

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~Albert Schweitzer

Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
~Isaac Watts

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Rosary of Our Life

Let us make a rosary of our life, placing every incident in it, and offering up our daily cares with a quick Ave Maria.
~Adrienne von Speyr, Lumina and New Lumina

What a lovely thing to do! To make a rosary of my life, offering every little piece of it as Our Lady offered herself to God -- gratefully, freely and happily, and confident of the Father's goodness and love. Jesus-living-in-Mary lives in me, too, and the mysteries of His life and hers are mine as well. In union with them, all the Paters and Aves of my life become a splendid Gloria in praise of the Holy Trinity.

Hail Mary, our life, our sweetness and our hope!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Dawn from on High

Sunday Sunrise by Ann L. Krumrein

In the tender compassion of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon us...
Luke 1:78

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today's Solemnity: The Assumption of Mary

The feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven: There is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.

We have a Mother in heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: "Behold, your Mother!" We have a Mother in heaven. Heaven is open, heaven has a heart....
Mary is taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us?

The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, "within" all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a "mother" to whom we can turn at every moment.

She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.

On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day. Amen.

~Pope Benedict XVI, August 2005

Dearest Mary, Mother of Our Lord, we rejoice that you now share the fullness of God's life and glory in heaven. We rejoice, too, that you are our mother, always so very close to us, always aiding us with your motherly kindness, always leading us to your Beloved Son. You are the bright Gate of Heaven, our happy and everlasting home. As we travel through this valley of tears, help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and to be vibrant witnesses of His glorious resurrection. Hail Mary, radiant splendor of God and beautiful among all women, your praises we sing! Amen! Alleluia!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let the children come...

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me..." ~Matthew 19:14

When small children are with their father, they do not keep asking questions, nor do they constantly ask for something else; they may be a little better behaved than usual in their playing; they tell him what they are doing, and the4y have the feeling, which is probably never completely expressed, that the tower they are building will turn out taller with a grown-up nearby than if they were alone. Then they ask their father to tell them how things were before, and they never tire of finding out everything they can grasp; they want to become like him; they look for points of contact, make comparisons; they try in their very modest way to imitate their father a little.

Father, give us the grace to become like these little children. Do not let us constantly disturb the gift of Your presence with our demands. Let us lean instead to come closer and closer to You in the silence of prayer and to let You work, so that through You the task You give us may come into being and flourish.

~Adrienne von Speyr in Lumina and New Lumina

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Passion of Christ

What Thomas Merton wrote about the contemplative life in his journal The Sign of Jonah really applies to all of us in our own prayer lives.

"The contemplative life becomes awfully thin and drab if you go for several days at a time without thinking explicitly of the Passion of Christ. I do not mean, necessarily, meditating, but at least attending with love and humility to Christ on the Cross. For His Cross is the source of all our life and without it prayers dries up and everything goes dead."
Perhaps this is one reason why, in the past, so many religious communities of both men and women incorporated the Stations of the Cross into their daily devotions. Some communities still do encourage this devotion, and it's interesting to note that their lives of radiant joy attract many vocations. I don't do all the Stations of the Cross every day, but I often take one station and strive to simply be there with my crucified Lord, "attending with love and humility" to Him whose Cross is my life and salvation. In my beloved parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston, TX, we're blessed to have a life-size crucifix in the sanctuary of our church. Sitting or kneeling there in the shadow of His wings each morning "makes fresh my heart, / A fountain ever springing: / All things are mine since I am His -- / How can I keep from singing?"

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

87 Years of Celibacy

My heart exulted when I read the following article on the Web yesterday. Read and rejoice!

A Catholic bishop looks back gratefully on 87 years of celibacy
By Damian Thompson, Telegraph, London, 8/11/10

(Damian Thompson is Editor of Telegraph Blogs and a journalist specialising in religion. He was once described by The Church Times as a "blood-crazed ferret". )

Bishop John Jukes of Southwark was one of the leading lights – and best brains – of the Catholic Church when I was still at school. Today, much to my surprise, an email from this remarkable Franciscan appeared in my inbox, asking politely if I’d be interested in his thoughts on 87 years of celibacy. Having reported so negatively on the antics of various Catholic bureaucrats, I’m delighted to reproduce his article, whose defence of this ancient spiritual tradition is in such contrast to the sneers and incomprehension of the Church’s critics.

I have always enjoyed the company of women. Their way of talking, the often – to me – apparently illogical style of reasoning, coupled with their physical appearance, have provided fascinating objects of wonder and interest. So you will understand how great was the step I took when I was 28 to freely take a life-long vow to God that I would never marry. It was a vow that I am still keeping in this year of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain. I am still keeping this vow that I took under the example and inspiration of St Francis of Assisi because by it I am more closely linked to Jesus Christ, son of Mary of Nazareth and Son of God. Now as I celebrate my 87th birthday I reflect upon celibacy as I have experienced it and how this gift of God has placed me at the service of the Catholic Church and the people of God.

The choice of life-long celibacy is made by many hundreds of thousands of individuals in the life of the Catholic Church. Some do so, men and women, by electing to take a vow of perpetual celibacy as a member of a religious Order or Congregation. Other men seek ordination to the Catholic priesthood and thereby accept the discipline of perpetual celibacy which has been the rule in the western or Latin rite part of the Catholic Church for many centuries. While each individual will have personal and individual motives for undertaking what is by usual human standards a considerable sacrifice, yet all combine in a common conviction that they are seeking to place themselves at the side of Christ Our Saviour. We seek thereby to present in a distinctive way to the human race through the ages the Good News about Jesus Christ. I am convinced from my own experience that the gift of life-long celibacy has given me a great advantage in presenting Jesus and His teaching to mankind

I was ordained to the priesthood in Liverpool in July 1952. I have spent my life since then serving in parishes, preaching parish missions, lecturing to church students and as an auxiliary bishop of Southwark with responsibility for the area of Kent. During this time I served for 38 years in the Tribunal for dealing with claims for nullity of marriage. In all these varied duties and activities, it became increasingly clear to me that the gift of celibacy has been an essential element in my response to the intellectual and emotional challenges arising from the needs of the people seeking my help.

I hold that each and every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. While each of us is responsible for our own decisions that will determine our individual eternal destiny, there is under God a shared solidarity between us, so that we are called to aid each other in achieving our fulfilment with God. Thus while each of us has our distinctive personhood, yet all human beings are in need of other human beings to form a web of relations in which we live and develop. Sadly, sometimes in developing our relations with our fellow human beings we do so solely under the impulse of self-gratification. In such a cases, a major opportunity to develop according to the mind of God is lost. For me, the commitment to life-long celibacy has proved a constant reminder to me of Jesus Christ who came to our world to give of Himself even to suffering death as an act of loving service of me and fellow sinners in ensuring the achieving of eternal salvation for all.

In addition to these rather abstract theological considerations, there are the day-to-day practical elements in my life as a celibate that have shaped the way I live for over fifty years. For the majority of the fifty years I lived in community with my brother Franciscans, immersed in a daily round of prayer, housekeeping and constant reflection on how to meet the needs of the people we served. When I became a bishop thirty years ago I entered upon a much more solitary existence, but with a similar duty of encouragement and reflection with the priests in my area of the Southwark diocese who, like me, were committed to celibacy and unrelenting priestly service of the people in their care.

It is suggested by some people that the life of a priest must be lonely. This has not been my experience. I have been blessed with an awareness of the presence in my life of Jesus Christ at my side. When in community life human relations have become a burden, when my efforts to serve the people have been rejected or ineffectual, Jesus has helped by reminding me of the rejection He had to sustain. When I have seen the good news of the Gospel spurned I have turned to Jesus. He has never deserted me. He has led me out of the sorrow of failure to remind me that He has sustained me in my celibacy. So I trust in the mercy and generosity of God, embodied in Jesus Son of God and Son of Mary, that has enabled me to live a celibate life of joy for the 87 years of my dwelling in this creation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Jane Frances de Chantal

What a week this has been for saints! And today is no exception as we remember St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who was a wife, mother and religious as well as, with St. Francis de Sales, co-founder of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary. St. Jane's insights into and advice on prayer have helped me enormously over the years, some of which can be found here and here. I remember how absolutely liberated I felt when I first read these words of hers: "With Him there is no need for long speeches. In heaven the angels utter no other word than this: Holy. This is their entire prayer, and in paradise they are occupied with this single word as an act of homage to the single Word of God who lives eternally."

I've always been short on words when it comes to prayer, mostly because, as Gerard Manley Hopkins puts it so well, I am more often than not "lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art." Back in those days when I was young and didn't know better, I stupidly compared my way of praying to that of others, most of whom seemed to be chatty souls who always had plenty to say while praying. I felt so inadequate about my lack of words along with what I perceived to be a lack of emotion. Even though my ceaseless repetition of a sacred word proved to be a worthy method of prayer for me, so much so that that I still pray this way today, I questioned the authenticity and efficacy of my prayer. Thanks to St. Jane, I've learned otherwise and have long since accepted my single word "as an act of homage to the single Word of God who lives eternally."

St. Jane had a hard life, which included the tragic death of her husband early in their marriage, after which she and their children lived with a extremely difficult father-in-law. Her spiritual director was a misguided tyrant who made unreasonable demands on her and led her to a state of high anxiety. God intervened by bringing her and St. Francis de Sales together in "the one bond of love", which grew ever stronger as they strove to "live Jesus" with all their hearts, souls and minds. The problems that St. Jane encountered when she co-founded the Sisters of the Visitation were many and large. Her greatest disappointment came when the local archbishop forbade the sisters to serve the poor and, instead, commanded them to take solemn vows and live in strict enclosure. For three decades, St. Jane endured a dark night of the soul, which she alludes to in her well-known talk to her sisters about talk the martyrdom of love. (This is the second reading in the Office of Readings for her feast today.) St. Jane's obedience to God in everything, both great and small, flowed from her confidence in and abandonment to Divine Providence. Her prayer below says it much better than I ever could!

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

P.S. Learn more about St. Jane here, here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Clare of Assisi

Today is my feast day, the feast of my beloved St. Clare, after whom my dear parents named me "Alice Claire." In this particular icon of her, she is holding a scroll that reads "Place your mind before the mirror of eternity." That comes from her third letter to her niece St. Agnes of Prague:

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance
and transform your entire being into the image
of the Godhead Itself through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
as they taste the hidden sweetness
that God Himself has reserved from the beginning
for those who love Him."
St. Clare is known for her terribly austere poverty. Her exterior poverty was an expression and a result of her deep interior poverty, the total abandonment of herself to God alone. The women who followed her into the cloister were originally known as the Poor Ladies of Assisi; today they're called the Poor Clares. Poverty was not a negation for St. Clare. As with all true Christian asceticism, her poverty was embraced for love, with love and by love. As Pope John Paul II wrote in his Letter for the Eighth Centenary of the Birth of St. Clare of Assisi, "For Clare, poverty -- which she loved so much and mentioned so often in her writings -- is the wealth of the soul which, stripped of its own goods, is open to the 'Spirit of the Lord and his holy manner of working' (cf. RCl X, 10), like an empty shell in which God can pour out an abundance of his gifts."

Having nothing, St. Clare possessed all things; poor as she was, she made many rich (2 Cor 6:10). She had found the pearl of great price, the King of Glory, and she would henceforth count all else as worthless for the sake of her Beloved Jesus (Phil 3:8). She would live her life for Him alone, her love burning with an ever brighter flame as she fed on His hidden sweetness and tasted the goodness of the Lord.
God of mercy, you inspired Saint Clare with the love of poverty. By the help of her prayers may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit and come to the joyful vision of your glory in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. ~Opening Prayer, Feast of St. Clare

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Lawrence

Today we celebrate the feast of yet another martyr, St. Lawrence, a deacon of the church of Rome during the mid-third century. Little is known about him, other than he was extremely popular with the Christians of Rome and that he was martyred for his faith. Catholic Culture presents an interesting article here, and the Vatican reflects upon St. Lawrence and the ministry of deacons here. The second reading from the Office of Readings for today's feast, wherein St. Augustine shows the connection between the Eucharist and martyrdom, is a worthy read and can be found here. St. Anthony Messenger notes in its brief biography of St. Lawrence here that "Once again we have a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one who has received extraordinary honor in the Church since the fourth century. Almost nothing—yet the greatest fact of his life is certain: He died for Christ. We who are hungry for details about the lives of the saints are again reminded that their holiness was, after all, a total response to Christ, expressed perfectly by a death like this."
St. Lawrence, help us to follow our Lord wherever He leads us. Whether ours be the martyrdom of the Cross or the martyrdom of everyday life, may we rejoice to share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Pet 4:13). Just as He laid down his life for us, so may we lay down our lives for each other (1 Jn 3:16). With you, may we always praise Jesus Christ, the King of martyrs! Amen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Edith Stein

Things were in God's plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that, from God's point of view, there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God's divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God's all-seeing eyes.

Only the person who renounces self-importance, who no longer struggles to defend or assert himself, can be large enough for God's boundless action.

If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.

God Himself teaches us to go forward with our hand in His by means of the Church's liturgy.

One cannot desire freedom from the Cross when one is especially chosen for the Cross.

In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal, hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will.

~St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Holy Cross
Today's saint is so dear to my heart! I hope to write more about her today -- as if I could possibly add anything to the wide variety of material already available on the Web! The good stuff includes the Vatican's biography of St. Edith Stein here. Laura Garcia of Crisis magazine focuses on St. Edith Stein's contributions to the understanding of the soul and the vocation of the woman here. St. Anthony Messenger, as always, provides a good bio, available here. Marianne Sawicki, Ph.D., writes of the phenomenolgy of St. Edith Stein here. Best of all are some of the writings of St. Edith Stein here, "The hidden life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts." Today I sure would like to stay home and do nothing but read and meditate upon this wise and holy woman and her life and thought, but since God's will is otherwise for me, I'm happily heading out shortly to do my part in the building the kingdom for which St. Edith Stein so gladly gave her life. Blessed be God in all His saints!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The angel told Mary: "The power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow" (Luke 1:35). Now this shadow is whatever duty, temptation, or trial that every moment presents to us. It is exactly like those natural shadows which veil and hide objects from our sight. These ever-present duties conceal the fact that they are expressions of the divine will. That is how Mary always saw them; so, far from being deceived by them, she had her faith strengthened in him who never changes. The archangel departs, for he is one of these shadows. He has had his moment. Mary has gone ahead of him and henceforth a great distance will separate them, but the Holy Spirit, who came upon her under the shadow of the archangel, will never leave her. ~from Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Dear Mary, my life is like yours, full of shadows. Help me to see them as hiding-places of our Father's adorable will. Teach me to do His will happily and serenely, faithfully and confidently, magnifying the Lord as you did with every heartbeat, every breath. Dearest Mary, Handmaid of the Lord, pray for me! Amen.

Photography Credit: "Fogged Farm" by Ann L. Krumrein

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

And then there was Light,
True illumination,
Simplicity, peace, joy, compassion, love,

"Transfiguration" by Doug Soderstrom

In the Transfiguration of Jesus, the baptized person experiences the joy that awaits him. ~Pope John Paul II, 1/12/03

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Secret Agents

Yesterday Duquesne University Newsroom issued a press release about "a secret agent of sorts" who works in the University's history department. The announcement says, in part, that Laura Miller, a double alumna of Duquesne, "takes Duquesne’s principle of serving others seriously enough to start a 'secret mission' of her own. She literally became an agent for change as Secret Agent L, All-Around Swell Chick. Last July, she was planning to send a friend a birthday present, but the friend declined. 'Go do a random act of kindness in my name.' So began Miller’s mantra: Be kind. No exceptions."

More details about this chick and her mission can be found in the news release on the newsroom's Web site. Additionally, Miller has been keeping a blog on her random acts of kindness, which I look forward to exploring at my leisure. Miller is encouraging visitors to her blog to become "affiliated agents." Wouldn't it be grand and glorious if we all were secret agents of kindness? What a welcome revolution that would be!

Now I have a confession to make. I'm a secret agent, too. I've been one for so long that I can't even remember how it all began. I just recall that at some point in the early 70s, my dear and good friend Alice Spelman and I realized that we had both been called to be UABVMs -- Undercover Agents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our mission was to spread the joy of being in love with Mary's beloved Son Jesus and to do it in our ordinary, everyday lives more by how we lived than by what we did or said. We would be like Our Lady, whose entire life magnified the Lord. Commissioned by the Mother of God, we set out, hearts full of her Son's love, to evangelize the evangelized, those people with whom we lived and worked day and night. It was so exhilarating and gratifying to be a UABVM -- and it still is! Details to follow in a future post. Duty is calling me now and I must get busy with another exciting day!

Be the living expression of God's kindness kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. ~Blessed Mother Teresa

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Effective Leadership

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The summer I graduated from high school, I worked in small company as a Girl Friday. A classmate and dear friend of mine, Marianne, was also hired by the same company, which was much fun for both of us. Our assignment was catching up on a huge backlog of filing, which looked like than enough to keep us busy way beyond the summer months. In other words, what awaited us each morning was, on the surface, sheer drudgery and utter boredom. Yet I went at it with gusto, in no small part thanks to the president of the company. Every Friday morning, he gathered his staff together for a brief meeting. All of us were required to attend, from the lowest on the totem pole (that was Marianne and me!) to the top brass. I don't recall exactly what the president would say, but I do remember that he would sum up the week's accomplishments and thank us for our hard work, praising us for our loyalty and dedication. He would encourage us to carry on in the week ahead, to labor together in pursuit of the company's goals, and to continue to do the best we could. I would walk away from those meetings feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to work for such a good man and a great company -- and I would happily attack that filing more vigorously than ever. Reading the above quote that appeared in my email this morning from brought to mind those Friday morning pep talks from the summer of 1966. The president of this company was an effective leader. He was teaching us "to long for the endless immensity of the sea" within the narrow confines of our offices and duties. We weren't just shuffling papers and crunching numbers. We were bound together in the exciting job of serving the public and our clients with integrity, excellence and enthusiasm.

P.S. Marianne and I found ourselves unemployed at the end of three weeks. By then, we had completed the filing along with all the other little tasks we were given to do!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Peter Julian Eymard, 1811-1868, is known as the Apostle of the Eucharist. His zeal and love for our Eucharistic Lord led him to proclaim that “The Eucharist is everything; we need nothing more.” His one burning desire was to “bring everybody to love Our Lord, and to preach only Christ, and Christ in the Eucharist”. To this end, he founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Its rule of life states that its mission is "to respond to the hungers of the human family with the riches of God's love manifested in the Eucharist."

"It is through love and love for the Blessed Sacrament that our Lord has attracted me," St. Peter Julian wrote a few years before his death. "This is my grace; he has given me a mission of love, of love for the Blessed Sacrament… I have the mission for your admirable and adorable sacrament all over the world."

St. Peter Julian understood well the absolute centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, explaining that “The Eucharist is the life of the people. The Eucharist gives them a center of life. All can come together without the barriers of race or language in order to celebrate the feast days of the Church. It gives them a law of life, that of charity, of which it is the source; thus it forges between them a common bond, a Christian kinship.” Doesn't this sound like something right out of the documents of Vatican II?

More can be read about St. Peter Julian on the Web here, here, here and here. The Eymard Library contains excerpts from nine of his books on the Eucharist. These books are real gems! I purchased mine back in the 80s and often pick them up, especially the one entitled Holy Communion. Most places sell these books as a set for $65-$72, but it appears that they can be purchased individually here.

I am so grateful to St. Peter Julian Eymard for increasing my love and appreciation for the Eucharist. Some of my favorite passages from his books follow:

If we reflected on the love of Jesus Christ for us in the Blessed Sacrament, our whole life would be but one contninuous act of love and gratitude.

The absolute remedy, the ever new and ever effective remedy which sadness cannot withstand, is Communion. Our Lord has made Himself the Eucharist and enters into us to give direct combat to our sadness. And I state as a principle that no soul that truly desires and hungers to receive Jesus will remain sorrowful in Communion.

Jesus is sufficient for me; I am faithful to Him; His love is my whole life.

All our works must converge toward Communion as toward their end and flow from it as from their source.

What a joy, that you can receive Holy Communion often! It's our life and support in this life.

Live on the divine Eucharist, like the Hebrews did on the Manna. Your soul can be entirely dedicated to the divine Eucharist and very holy in the midst of your work and contacts with the world.

Be the apostle of the divine Eucharist, like a flame which enlightens and warms, like the Angel of his heart who will go to proclaim him to those who don’t know him and will encourage those who love him and are suffering.

O Mary, teach us the life of adoration. Teach us to see, as you did, every mystery and every grace in the Eucharist, to relive the gospel story of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The life that I have

A couple of months ago I read a riveting book called Between Silk and Cyanide. It was written by Leo Marks, who was the chief cryptographer of Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. His innovative contributions to SOE greatly enhanced cryptographic security. One of his minor tasks was writing original poems for agents in the field to use in transmitting messages to the home office. Marks included some of these poems in his book. This one in particular truly mesmerized me, and I've been meaning to post it ever since. It's believed that Marks wrote this poem about a girlfriend, Ruth Hambro, who was killed in an air crash in Canada. If it looks familiar, it's because Marc Mezvinsky recited it to Chelsea Clinton at their wedding yesterday.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Leo Marks