Saturday, October 30, 2010

Proclaiming Christ

Ave Maria! During this month of October, the Catholic Church has been praying each day in union with Pope Benedict XVI that we realize that the task of proclaiming Christ is an absolutely necessary service to which the Church is called for the benefit of humanity (see Holy Father's prayer intentions for 2010 here). Our Lord Jesus Himself has commissioned us to proclaim His gospel (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15), and the Church continues to affirm that "every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the Faith" (Ad Gentes).

How we fulfill Christ's missionary mandate differs for each one of us. This depends on various factors such as our vocation, our personality, our means, our gifts and abilities -- all of which God has perfectly arranged for us in His loving wisdom. He gives us what we need to do His work. The roll call of the saints throughout the ages reads like a litany of praise and thanksgiving to Him who uses us, even with our weakness and sinfulness, to make known the Father's love. We learn from these holy-yet-still-human women and men how to be effective evangelizers for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

Our greatest model and teacher in proclaiming Christ is, of course, our Blessed Mother. Pope John Paul II called her "the first 'evangelist', who spreads the 'good news'" and said that in her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, Mary "becomes the model for those in the Church who set out to bring Christ's light and joy to the people of every time and place" (General Audience, October 2, 1996). The presence of Christ, whom Mary carried in her womb, caused the unborn child in Elizabeth's womb to leap for joy! What happened here is beautifully captured by Ruth Mary Fox in her poem "Carrying Christ":

Into the hillside country Mary went
Carrying Christ, and all along the road
The Christ she carried generously bestowed
His grace on those she met. She had not meant
To tell she carried Christ. She was content
To hide His love for her. But about her glowed
Such joy that into stony hearts love flowed,
And even to the unborn John Christ's grace was sent.

Christ in His Sacrament of love each day
Dwells in my soul a little space and then
I walk life's crowded highway, jostling men
Who seldom think of God. To these I pray
That I may carry Christ, for it may be
Some would not know of Him except through me.
O Christ, Light from Light and true God from true God, may Your joy so glow about me that others will come to know the grace and truth of Your Love. Amen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Silence of Jesus

Ave Maria! Recently I came across an article on the silence of Christ during His Passion. It was written by Angelico Savarino and can be found here. The author notes that "After his arrest, the Gospel says, Jesus kept his lips sealed. This silence was to accompany him throughout his Passion, when his words were indeed few. It is as if his words of offering at the Last Supper extinguished all other words. Jesus was henceforth handed over to men and abandoned every defence. Consciously and with a free heart, he seemed to be surrendering himself totally to his enemies."

Indeed, at the Last Supper, Our Lord had unreservedly given Himself to all, whether friend or foe. From then on, hidden within the common elements of bread and wine, His would be "the silence of eternity, interpreted by love." Jesus had already said everything that was necessary. He had not only proclaimed the Father's infinite love but was its very enfleshment. Therefore, when questioned and persecuted by his enemies, "reviled and put to scorn," Christ did not need to defend or explain Himself.

"What was the secret of this renunciation of every defence," Savarino ponders, "what then is the reason for Jesus' silence?

"The answer comes to us from a text of the Prophet Isaiah: 'The Lord God assists me; therefore. I have not been confounded: therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near' (50:7-8).

"The servant of the Lord accepts all unjust abuse in silence and remains at peace, for his heart is filled with a profound and steadfast trust in God.

"He is deeply convinced that the Lord is faithful and does not abandon the righteous but loves them with a love that never fails, despite any appearances to the contrary.

"And this applies to Jesus, too. 'When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted in him who judges justly' (I Pt 2:23).

"Thus, Jesus' silence is infinitely more eloquent than a torrent of words. It proclaims and testifies to total trust in the Father and immense benevolence to sinful humanity in need of infinite mercy."

Dearest Jesus, "in this Thy bitter passion," let me be still and learn from You to trust our Father's love. Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All creatures great and small...

All you creatures, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
Daniel 3

Ave Maria! One of my favorite blogs is ZooBorns, a daily report of baby animals from zoos and aquariums around the world. Animals fascinate and delight me! Each one is so unique, so "bright and beautiful" in its own way. And the Lord God made them all!

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2416) reminds us: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. (Cf. Mt 6:26; Dan 3:79-81) Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals." I praise God for His grand and glorious creation of animals ,and I thank Him especially that He has given me my sweet cat Queenie to be my pet. Now if she will just cooperate, I'll post a picture of her soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It is the Lord!

Ave Maria! The Lord is with us!

Yesterday I had the joy of meeting with my spiritual father for confession. I have loved this sacrament ever since I was a child, and I appreciate it more and more with the passing years. Ultimately confession is always a gladsome experience for me because, as St. John cried out when Christ revealed himself after His resurrection to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 21:1-14), "It is the Lord!" Confession is mainly all about HIM, His love and mercy, His forgiveness and healing. I love this sacrament because I love my Jesus, whom I find there waiting for me with abounding love, eager to reconcile me to the Father of mercies through the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion,
who fills your life with good things,
renewing your youth like an eagle's...
The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
His wrath will come to an end;
he will not be angry for ever.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.
Psalm 103:3-5; 8-10

Of course, it helps tremendously that right now I am blessed with such a wise and loving spiritual father, who both challenges and comforts me as the Holy Spirit directs him. On occasion I've teasingly but lovingly called him "Father Tough-as-Nails" and so he can be -- but I wouldn't have it any other way. "Love must sometimes bear a stern countenance for the sake of ultimate good," and Our Lord Himself was often uncompromising.

Included in my penance yesterday was Father's instruction for me to read and meditate upon the reflection entitled "Being Set Free Amidst Our Circumstances" by Father Julian Carron on page 342-343 in the October 2010 Magnificat. Fr. Carron begins with this quote from Msgr. Luigi Giussani:

"The circumstances through which God has us pass are an essential and not a secondary factor of...the mission to which he calls us."
Though I have read and meditated upon this entire reflection, I keep going back to its beginning. I don't always think of all the circumstances of my life as essential to God's plan and will for me, as essential to my vocation and the mission which He has given me. More than a few things I have quickly labeled and thoughtlessly dismissed as secondary, the definition of which, the dictionary reminds me, includes inferior or lesser. But if I really believe that everything is a gift from God -- and I do! -- then am I saying that my Father gives me, His beloved child, inferior gifts which, after a cursory glance, I stash away in a dark closet to be forgotten and unused? Wouldn't a more appropriate and truly grateful response to all the circumstances of my life be the welcoming cry, "It is the Lord!"
Dear Lord, You have made me glad with the joy of your presence (Ps 21:6). May I always welcome Youlovingly and forever sing your praise. Amen. Alleluia!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Frost and Chill

"Frosted Swiss Chard" by Ann L. Krumrein

Frost and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
Daniel 3:69
Ave Maria! Frost and chill have already arrived in Lincolnville, ME where my sister Annie lives, though not here in Houston where we are still sweltering. Annie's Swiss chard is now gone for this season, but its loveliness lingers in this image she captured with her watchful eye for all things beautiful. Thank you, my dear sweet sister!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Betty Botter

Let me sing to the Lord for His goodness to me! ~Psalm 13:7

Ave Maria! Do you know Betty Botter? She's a creation of Mother Goose and quite a tongue twister. I thought of her this morning when I was feeling a bit sluggish and out of sorts. Marjorie Ainsborough Dexter wrote a Christian version of this nursery rhyme, which I include below. By the time I finished reciting it a few moments ago, I was laughing at myself and quite ready to sing instead of mutter. Here's to a day of better chatter for all of us!

Betty Botter did but mutter,
"But," she said, "the mutter's bitter;
If I'm bitter while I mutter
It will fill my heart with clutter;
But a bit of better chatter,
That would make my heart feel better."
So she sought some words to fit her,
Which were kind instead of bitter;
Soon she sang and didn't mutter,
So kept out that awful clutter;
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Changed from bitter things to better!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

World Mission Sunday 2010

Let us all be protagonists of the Church's commitment to proclaim the Gospel.

~Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Mission Sunday 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cardinal Van Thuân

Ave Maria! The Vatican has announced that the cause for the canonization of Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuân was officially opened this week. I have a great love for Cardinal Van Thuân and previously blogged about him here and here. He suffered for 13 years in Vietnamese prisons without trial, nine of them in solitary confinement. I never tire of re-reading his few books, which always fill me with great hope and renewed gratitude for the Holy Eucharist. Cardinal Van Thuân said over and over again that the Eucharist was his secret strength which kept him alive and sane during his captivity in prison. With three drops of wine and one drop of water, he was able to celebrate Mass daily and thus always carry the Blessed Sacrament on his person. Having our Eucharistic Lord with him at all times was an immense joy for him, and he prayed repeatedly, "Jesus, You in me and I in You".

At the 49th International Eucharistic Congress which was held June 2008 in Quebec, Elizabeth Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, Cardinal Van Thuân's youngest sister, gave an address about her brother's message of faith and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus. She noted how Cardinal Thuân's daily celebration of the Eucharist was not limited to those moments of the Mass itself but extended to every moment of the day and night:

"He points out to all of us that Christ offered his sacrifice with immense fervour, as in the hour of His passion and crucifixion, when He obeyed the Father; and this, even to the point of His humiliating death on the cross to bring back to the Father a redeemed humanity and a purified creation. In prison with the Eucharistic Jesus in their midst, Christian and non-Christian prisoners slowly received the grace to understand that each present moment of their lives in the most inhuman conditions can be united with the supreme sacrifice of Jesus and lifted up as an act of solemn adoration to God the Father. Together each day, Thuân would remind himself and encouraged everyone to pray: 'Lord, grant that we may offer the Eucharistic sacrifice with love, that we accept to carry the cross, and to be nailed to it to proclaim Your glory, to serve our brothers and sisters.'"
For Cardinal Van Thuân as for our Lord Jesus whom he loved so much, the Eucharist and the cross were inseparable. Through his intercession, may this always be true for us as well.

"Jesus, You in me and I in You!"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make me brave for life...

Ave Maria! My computer is not cooperating this morning. It's frozen on me twice already, and now I cannot upload the image I thought to post with this poem. Perhaps no image is necessary after all. I wonder, is this how Our Lady felt when she held her crucified Son in her arms?

God, make me brave for life:
oh, braver than this.
Let me straighten after pain,
as a tree straightens after the rain,
Shining and lovely again.
God, make me brave for life;
much braver than this.
As the blown grass lifts, let me rise
From sorrow with quiet eyes,
Knowing Thy way is wise.
God, make me brave, life brings
Such blinding things.
Help me to keep my sight;
Help me to see aright
That out of dark comes light.

Violet Alleyn Storey

Thursday, October 21, 2010

O Mary, you are praying for us...

O Mary, you are praying for us, you are always praying for us. We know it, we feel it. Oh what joy and truth, what sublime glory, in this heavenly and human interchange of sentiments, words and actions, which the rosary always brings us: the tempering of our human afflictions, the foretaste of the peace that is not of this world, the hope of eternal life! ~Blessed John XXIII, 1881-1963
Ave Maria! I find great comfort in thinking that Mary, Christ's mother and ours, is always praying for me and for all of us. Always! And along with comfort, I discover that joy, truth and sublime glory of which Pope John XXIII spoke. There's no magic in these beads that we so often pick up and pray, but there's a tremendous amount of love -- the love of a mother for her children, of the Mother for her Son, and of the Son for us. Overflowing love, abiding love, enduring love! Love that will never let us go! Mother most wonderful, to you I come...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebrating Life!

For all things are yours...whether the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's. 1 Cor 3:21-23

Ave Maria! No, this really isn't a picture of me! My hair is neither blond nor this long, my figure was never this lithe, I avoid wearing this shade of green, and I no longer kick up my heels this high. But this is a good image of my heart and soul today as I celebrate my 62nd birthday. I'm not at all shy about celebrating birthdays because, for me, it's a special time to honor the God of all glory and beauty who so graciously created me in His image and likeness and to thank the everlasting Father of mercies for His eternal love and abundant goodness to me. I awakened this morning thinking of these lines from "Sayings of Light and Love" by St. John of the Cross. They have been my morning meditation, and I know that I will be singing them with gratitude and joy throughout this happy day.

"Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart."

Thank you, dear Lord, for your inexpressible gift! May I always and forever exult in You! Amen! Alleluia!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Mary cannot leave the cross; love brought her thither; love keeps her there, whatever may happen!

And what is her attitude at the foot of His cross? Does her matchless grief overpower her? Does she swoon? or fall? No: the Evangelist says: "There stood by the cross of Jesus, His Mother" (St. John 19: 25). The sacrificing priest stands, when offering at the altar; Mary stood for such a sacrifice as hers was to be. St Ambrose, whose affectionate heart and profound appreciation of the mysteries of religion have revealed to us so many precious traits of Mary's character, thus speaks of her position at the foot of the cross: "She stood opposite the cross, gazing with maternal love on the wounds of her Son; and thus she stood, not waiting for her Jesus to die, but for the world to be saved." Thus this Mother of sorrows, when standing on Calvary, blessed us who deserved but maledictions; she loved us; she sacrificed her Son for our salvation. In spite of all the feelings of her maternal heart, she gave back to the eternal Father the divine treasure He had entrusted to her keeping. The sword pierced through and through her soul, but we were saved; and she, though a mere creature, cooperated with her Son in the work of our salvation. Can we wonder, after this, that Jesus chose this moment for making her the Mother of men, in the person of John the evangelist, who represented us? Never had Mary's heart loved us as she did then; from that time forward, therefore, let this second Eve be the true Mother of the living! (Genesis 3: 20) The sword, by piercing her immaculate heart, has given us admission there. For time and eternity, Mary will extend to us the love she has borne for her Son, for she has just heard Him saying to her that we are her children. He is our Lord, for He has redeemed us; she is our Lady, for she generously cooperated in our redemption. Animated by this confidence, O Mother of sorrows! we come before offer thee our filial love.

~Dom Prosper Gueranger
O Mother of Sorrows, may I always stand with you in confidence and faith at the foot of the Cross, "gazing with maternal love on the wounds" of your Son, who alone has saved the world. Amen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mary's Maternal Charity

By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. ~Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #62

Mary, most loving mother, in you I take refuge, confident that you will keep me safe until the day I go home to the Father. And then I will rejoice with you forever in the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Amen. Alleluia!

Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila

Ave Maria! I am mesmerized by this image of St. Teresa of Avila. I don't know how accurately it depicts her, but looking into her eyes, I can see the depths and passion of her being, God alone. He was all that mattered to her. She was all His. As she wrote in one of her poems, "In the Hands of God":

"Yours, you made me,
Yours, you saved me,
Yours, you endured me,
Yours, you called me,
Yours, you awaited me,
Yours, I did not stray.
What do You want of me?
Yours I am, for You I was born:
What do You want of me?"

What God's will was for St. Teresa was of no concern to her. All that mattered was knowing His will and doing it with love, a love that is strong as death (Songs 8:6). Her understanding of love has nothing to do with sentiment and romance. "Love does not consist in shedding tears, nor in tasting sweetness and that tenderness in which one seeks consolation; it consists in serving God in justice, in strength of soul, and in humility." For St. Teresa, love was a constant dying to self in order to rise with Christ and live through Him, for Him and in Him. "Move me here or there," she prayed, "To you I give all." And in the Lord Jesus she found all: "Spouse, Redeemer sweet...In you alone, Sovereign Majesty, I find my peace."

St. Teresa, wise and loving virgin,
may we learn from you that God alone is enough. Amen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

God's Glory!

"Red Peppers" by Ann L. Krumrein

Nature is the art of God.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear Lord, Your glory fills the earth
and all creation sings Your praise!
At the works of Your hands I shout for joy!
Amen! Alleluia!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks be to God!

"Three Gourds" by Ann L. Krumrein

For the fruits of his creation
thanks be to God;
for his gifts to ev’ry nation,
thanks be to God;
for the ploughing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth’s safe-keeping,
thanks be to God.

In the just reward of labour,
God’s will is done;
in the help we give our neighbour,
God’s will is done;
in our world-wide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God’s will is done.

For the harvests of his Spirit,
thanks be to God;
for the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God;
for the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all that love has found us,
thanks be to God.

Fred Pratt Green

"Most of all that love has found us" --
O Lord, my God,
for ever will I sing your praise!
Amen! Alleluia!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

These holy beads...

Once I saw a rosary made in a prison camp of the most precious material to be found there, namely bread-crumbs. The fact that a starving soldier had denied himself the bread necessary to survival in order to fashion a Rosary out of it speaks more eloquently for the value of these holy beads than volumes of pious books can do. ~Joachim Cardinal Meisner
Dear Lord, please forgive me for the times I've taken "these holy beads" for granted and neglected to pray them. Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Ave Maria! Every issue of Catholic Digest contains a regular feature called "Quiet Moment," which gives a thoughtful quote for each day of the month. These quotes come from a variety of sources -- such as Scripture, the saints, the popes, and various holy men and women throughout the ages -- and they always stimulate my heart and mind. In today's Quiet Moment, Pope Paul VI speaks to us from his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suum, promulgated on August 6, 1964. I quote him directly from the Vatican's English translation of this document.

"...before speaking, we must take great care to listen not only to what men say, but more especially to what they have it in their hearts to say. Only then will we understand them and respect them, and even, as far as possible, agree with them."
On the physical level alone, I know how hard it can be to listen because I have a severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. I wear a hearing aid in one ear (my hearing is too far gone in the other ear for an aid to help), but even with that, there are more than a few sounds that I miss, consonants among them. Lip-reading provides some helpful clues, but many variables work against me such as background noise and a person's tendency to mumble. When someone speaks to me, I must be very attentive, focused on that individual alone to the exclusion of all else. Without such care, I cannot really respond to what that person actually said rather than what I thought I heard.

How true this is as well for the listening-to-the-heart that Pope Paul VI spoke of! At the beginning of Ecclesiam Suum, he made clear his objective: "The aim of this encyclical will be to demonstrate with increasing clarity how vital it is for the world, and how greatly desired by the Catholic Church, that the two should meet together, and get to know and love one another." How can any of us possibly get to know and love each other if we fail to listen to each other's hearts? And how can I hear what is in the heart of another without "great care" as well as honor and respect for that unique individual whom God has made in His image and likeness? To listen in this way requires that I die to myself in order that the other person may truly live and shine forth in the present moment wherein God has brought us together in His love. How very vital indeed!
Dear Lord, teach me how to listen as You did. Reveal to me the obstacles that hinder me in this divine task You have given us and help me to overcome them for the sake of Your love and unity. Amen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And one of them returned...

"And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. " Luke 17:15-16

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.
~Psalm 103:1-2

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~"Gratefulness" by George Herbert

O dear Lord, may You always find me kneeling at Your feet, thanking You for Your goodness to me! Amen! Alleluia!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Ave Maria! On Saturdays, we Catholics have a lovely custom of honoring our Blessed Mother as we dedicate our day especially to her who is so full of grace. Sometimes we complain that the Scriptures contain so few incidents about her, so little words of hers. "If only we knew more!" we cry out in our desire to penetrate more deeply into the heart and soul of Our Lady. This morning as I was contemplating her fiat, her total YES! to God and His will for her, it occurred to me that what the Word of God does tell us about Mary is more than sufficient.

Mary's fiat alone speaks volumes about what it meant to her to be the Handmaid of the Lord and the Mother of Christ. Fiat is a Latin word which means "be it done" or "yes, I accept." Mary said "let it be to me according to your word" (Lk1:38). The angel Gabriel had spoken to her, and her agreement to his word was her yes to God's word, to God's will and plan for her, to God's wisdom and and goodness, to His love and mercy. Her fiat was the gift of her total being in faith and love, in gratitude and praise. It was her complete surrender to her God and her all. She kept nothing for herself. She was all trust and abandonment, all openness and obedience. Fiat was Mary's word to God's Word. "By her conduct," Pope John Paul II said in his general audience of 9/18/96, "Mary reminds each of us of our serious responsibility to accept God's plan for our lives." Mary's fiat must become ours.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me that I may make your fiat my own as I strive to lovingly accept God's will for me today and every day. Amen.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Renewal, continued

Ave Maria! Earlier this week, I wrote about my daily renewal of my consecration as a virgin. As important as this is to me, there is another daily renewal that is much greater and always has primacy in my life. That is the renewal of my baptismal promises. For Baptism is the primary sacrament. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1213) clearly states that "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: 'Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.'" Without this sacramental regeneration, my life would be a vast and empty void. I would be a lost orphan, forever stumbling in the darkness while seeking but never finding my true family and my everlasting home. Through the many and great graces of baptism, I have been brought home to God and into the kingdom of heaven. I have become a child of the light, and I live in the blessed unity of the Holy Trinity.

So it is that every morning upon rising, even while Sister Ass (as St. Francis of Assisi so lovingly called his body) clings to the bed covers and begs to snuggle in for just a few more minutes, I fall on my knees and fervently thank God for calling me by name and making me His own (Is 43:1) ... for summoning me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:) ... for clothing me with the garments of salvation and covering me with the robe of righteousness (Is 61:10) ... for not just showing me but actually being the way and the truth and the life (Jn 14:6) ... for making me a member of His body (Eph 5:30), a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of the household of God (Eph 2:19). Having put on the whole armor of God, who is my strength and my might (Eph 6:10), I then reject Satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness, as well as sin and the glamor of evil. I refuse to be mastered by sin, and I choose to live in the freedom of the children of God. And through the gift of faith given to me when my beloved parents brought me to the Church for baptism, I affirm once again that I believe in God, the Father Almighty ... in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord ... in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life ... and in the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.

Then I pray my morning offering, which is another post for another time!

This daily renewal of my baptismal promises takes only a minute or two and provides me with the best start possible for the day ahead. What would I be thinking and how would I be feeling if I did not start my day this way? As soon as I wake up, Sister Ass is craving her morning java jolt, my cat Queenie is clamoring for her breakfast, my mind is racing ahead to numerous items on my to-do list, and myriad concerns are throbbing in my heart. That's enough right there to make me fall flat on my face! Far better for me to fall down on my knees, holding the crucifix of my rosary in my hand, and to begin my waking moments with the Lord Jesus, praying to Him with gratitude and joy: "My God and my All! Now and always, I believe in Your goodness, I hope in Your mercy, I trust in Your love. Amen. Alleluia!"
P.S. Here is one version of the renewal of our baptismal promises from the Mass, and here is an example of a personal daily renewal.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Today's Feast: Our Lady of the Rosary

Ave Maria! What a lovely feast we celebrate today! Our Lady of the Rosary! Mary's rosary is for us a lifeline to Jesus, her Beloved Son. It is our song of praise and our cry for help as we pray over and over again, "Hail Mary, full of grace...blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus!" Mary's rosary is a chain of love that binds us to her Son's heart and to hers as well.

Everyone and anyone can and should pray the rosary! It is the perfect prayer for both the child and the adult, the learned and the unlettered, the sophisticated and the simple. One does not have to be a theologian or Scripture scholar to grasp the tremendous depths and heights of the rosary. All that is required is faith and love -- faith in God who is Infinite Love and love for Him and His Holy Mother.

As always, Mary leads us to Jesus. The rosary is centered on Christ, not His mother. It is truly a Gospel prayer. As Pope Paul VI wrote his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus: "As a Gospel prayer centered on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clear Christological orientation. Its characteristic element, the litany-like succession of Hail Mary's, becomes in itself an increasing prayer to Christ who is the ultimate object both of the Angels' announcement, and the greeting by Elizabeth, the Mother of the Baptist - 'the blessed fruit of your womb.'"

Pope John Paul II quoted Pope Paul VI in his own apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, calling the rosary "a compendium of the Gospel." A compendium is, of course, a short but complete summary, and the rosary contains the major events of Our Lord's life as they relate to our salvation and sanctification. Many years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas said that the mysteries of the rosary sum up our faith. The addition of the Luminous Mysteries by Pope John Paul II eight years ago makes this even clearer.

The rosary is a prayer for everyone and for all seasons. Let us take up our rosary often, daily even, with love and gratitude and in the blessed assurance that through Mary, our life, our sweetness and our hope, we will find Jesus, the way and the truth and the life.

O glorious Virgin Mary, may we always love and praise you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Renewal

Ave Maria!

Sister Marie, blogger of "O will of God, thou art my love!", has written a lovely entry about her daily vow renewal. This daily prayer of hers, she explains, is both a confirmation of her entire gift of self to the Lord as well as an ardent plea for His grace and help to live the gift of the vocation He has given her.

The same is true for me as a consecrated virgin. Each morning after receiving my Beloved Jesus in Holy Communion, I renew the consecration Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza bestowed upon me on that glorious day of May 8, 2004. With humble gratitude, I kiss my ring and recall the words the Archbishop spoke to me when he slipped my wedding band onto my finger during the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World:
Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.
Then I silently sing the words of my final response at the very end of the Rite: I am espoused to Him whom the angels serve. Sun and moon stand in wonder at His beauty.

Finally, I end with my own little prayer that I've been praying for many years, even before my consecration as a virgin: O my Jesus, I am Yours and all that I have is Yours, to do with as You will, in life and death, in time and eternity, through Mary, Your Most Holy Mother and mine. Amen! Alleluia!

How good God is! "Domine non sum dignus..." Yes, I am absolutely unworthy, but He who is Infinite Love has called me to be His bride and how my heart rejoices! Thanks be to God!

P.S. The above image is my wedding band from my Consecration. It's the Crown of Thorns ring by James Avery. Inside is inscribed the date of my consecration along with the words "My Beloved" from the Song of Songs. My dear sister Annie and her husband John kindly gifted me with this beautiful ring for my Consecration. I was a bit sad a few months ago when I had to have it cut off my finger which had become badly swollen with arthritis. My ring cannot be repaired without ruining the design and the inscription, so now I keep it on my prayer altar and wear a simple silver wedding band on my right hand.

(This post is continued here.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Faustina

Ave Maria! Today is the feast day of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the apostle of Divine Mercy. She is perhaps best known for the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a prayer that has become much loved by Catholics throughout the world. Her single five-word prayer -- JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU! -- has captivated and comforted the hearts of millions. This simple prayer becomes more profound every time we pray it. It immediately brings us into the presence of Jesus, who is all Love and Mercy. How lovingly and confidently St. Faustina called Jesus her "Friend of a lonely heart" ... her haven, her peace, her salvation ... her "serenity in moments of struggle and amidst an ocean of doubts" ... "the bright ray that lights up the path of my life" ... Jesus, who is "everything to a lonely soul" and who, knowing our weaknesses, comforts and heals us, transforming us into His own merciful Heart (Divine Mercy in My Soul, #247).

I could devote an entire blog to St. Faustina and never run out of material! The Web is a treasure trove of Divine Mercy! One of the best sources on this topic is the Divine Mercy Web site run by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Be sure to check out the "Daily Meditation" at the top of the right side of the home page, which is a daily excerpt from the writings of St. Faustina.

I have a little notebook where I've copied down some of St. Faustina's prayers that are particularly dear to my heart. Her prayer "For the Grace to Be Merciful to Others" is one I pray regularly because it helps me to be more merciful to my brothers and sisters. It's also a quite good examination of conscience. If I ever think for even one second that I have nothing to say when I go to confession, this prayer sets me straight!

Blessed be Jesus Christ, our Divine Mercy! Jesus, I trust in You!

For the Grace to Be Merciful to Others

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors' souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors' needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.

You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy. The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.

O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Today's Feast: St. Francis of Assisi

Many people will be flocking to church today for the Blessing of the Animals traditionally held on this feast of St. Francis of Assisi. At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, my parish here in Houston, we'll have quite a crowd thanks to the many school children who always appear with their assorted and beloved pets. By 8am, when our ceremony begins, the parking lot will be jam packed, dogs will be yapping and cats hissing, fur and feathers will be flying, kids will be screeching with laughter and adults smiling with delight, and our priests will be liberally sprinkling holy water left and right as far as they can fling it. I can hardly wait! It will be just grand! My only regret is that I must leave Queenie, my sweet cat, here at home. Because she's such an extremely timid soul and very much a one-person cat, I fear that this morning's excitement would be too overwhelming for her.

Today's yearly blessing of the animals is a lovely tradition that reminds us of how greatly and reverently St. Francis loved animals, nature, and all of creation. This love of his went beyond mere sentimentality. Thomas B. Stratman, in an article about St. Francis as brother to all creatures, points out that his love was "a profound appreciation for reality as it comes from the hands of the Creator and leads back to him." Stratman's reflection is a worthy read that accurately depicts St. Francis as the realist he was. This man who cuddled the animals and conversed with them was consumed with the burning love of Christ His Lord. He was the first person to receive the Holy Stigmata, the wounds of Jesus, on his hands, feet and side. Henceforth he could truly say, "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:20).

Dear St. Francis, show me how to love "all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small" as you did. And give me, please, a share in your passionate love of Jesus Crucified so that He alone may be my God and my All. Amen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Vision

"Sunset ~ Lincolnville" by Ann L. Krumrein

For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment,
and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come,
it will not be late.
~Habakkuk 2:3

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Today's Feast: The Guardian Angels

O beautiful Angel Guardian,
you stay with me on this earth,
enlightening me with your splendor.
You are become my brother,
my friend, and my consoler.
~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Friday, October 1, 2010

A New Springtime of the Rosary

Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourishes for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each "Hail Mary". ~Pope Benedict XVI, 5/3/08

Ave Maria! Today we begin a new month, and this one, being October, is dedicated to the rosary. That means that it is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and even more so to her Beloved Son, Jesus, the fruit of her womb. It is Mary, the Mother of Christ, to whom our prayers are sent like darts of ardent desire when we pray the Rosary. And Mary always leads us to Jesus. "Not me," she tells us, "not me but my Son! My Son! Look, here He is! Behold Him, listen to Him, obey Him, honor Him, imitate Him. Let Him be your life, your love, our strength and your hope. Be His, all His, and let Him do with you as He wants. Only then will your joy be complete. Come now, come with me, let us go together to His crib and His cross, to worship Him in spirit and truth, to serve Him all the days of our lives, to proclaim His goodness and mercy and to rejoice always in His enduring love." Mother most wonderful, I come!