Friday, September 30, 2011

A Way of Living

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.
~Psalm 15:11

The way of the cross has become more than a way of dying. It has spawned a devotion all its own, instructing us in a way of living. Within the Stations of the Cross, as they have become known, we focus on the "stations," those freeze-frame stops along the Good Friday road, unpacking each final lesson Jesus was teaching. We might also remember that the proper term for this devotion is The Way of the Cross, with its emphasis not on stopping but on pilgrimage. The journey toward the tomb teaches us well, precisely because we are all presently taking that journey. The Way of the Cross, in one form or another, is everyone's way. That's why Jesus, in his great mercy, was moved to take it ahead of us.

...How do we undertake our own Way of the Cross? Do we accept our sufferings under duress? Do we turn our unexpected and conscripted service into a life of discipleship? Do we recognize the pain of others as our own pain, because it is first of all the suffering of Christ, of whose Body we are a part? Can we find the courage to reveal the compassion of Christ, even in places where it is unwelcome and perhaps dangerous?

~from The Rosary by Alice Camille

Dear Lord, may I always rejoice to walk the Way of the Cross with You, our Crucified and Risen Savior.  Amen.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast of the Archangels

Ave Maria!  Today is the glorious Feast of the Archangels -- St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.  Each of these messengers from God performs a different mission: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides.  And they are all quite busy in our lives, day and night, powerfully and unceasingly assisting us in our journey with Christ to the Father.  We are not alone!  The archangels are with us!  Glory Hallelujah!  As this Greek icon beautifully depicts:  

"Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him' (Mt 25:31).  They belong to him because they were created through and for him: 'for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him' (Col 1:16).  They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: 'Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?' (Heb 1:14)" (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, cf. #328-354)

Thank you, dear St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael for your loving, abiding presence in my life.  May your song of praise to our God Most High always be my own:  HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!  Amen.  Alleluia!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"In spite of my littleness..."

In spite of my littleness I can give to God my most tender affection.  ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Dear Lord, may I gladly give You all the tender affection of my poor little heart.  My Jesus, I love You!  Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

He went out moved by regret. The tax collectors and prostitutes will precede you into the kingdom of God.  ~see Matthew 21:28-32

The doors are open for all who sincerely and wholeheartedly return to God; indeed, the Father is most willing to welcome back a truly repentant son or daughter. The result of true repentance, however, is that you do not fall into the same faults again, but utterly uproot from your souls the sins for which you consider yourself worthy of death.

When these have been destroyed God will again dwell within you, since Scripture says that for the Father and his angels in heaven the festal joy and gladness at the return of one repentant sinner is great beyond compare. That is why the Lord cried out: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.

I desire not the death of a sinner but his conversion. Even if your sins are like crimson wool I will make them as white as snow; even if they are blacker than night I will wash them as white as wool. 

Although only God has power to forgive sins and cancel transgressions, the Lord commands us also to forgive our repentant brothers and sisters every day.

So if we who are evil know how to give good gifts, how much more generous must be the Father of mercies, the good Father of all consolation, who is full of compassion and mercy, and whose nature it is to be patient and await our conversion!

Genuine conversion, however, means ceasing to sin without any backward glances.

God pardons what is past, then, but for the future we are each responsible for ourselves. By repenting we condemn our past misdeeds and beg forgiveness of the Father, the only one who can in his mercy undo what has been done, and wipe away our past sins with the dew of his Spirit.

And so, if you are a thief and desire to be forgiven, steal no more. If you are a robber, return your gains with interest. If you have been a false witness, practice speaking the truth. If you are a perjurer, stop taking oaths. You must also curb all the other evil passions: anger, lust, grief, and fear.

No doubt you will be unable all at once to root out passions habitually given way to, but this can be achieved by God’s power, human prayers, the help of your brothers and sisters, sincere repentance, and constant practice.

~St. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-2l5)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abiding in Christ

Abide in me. ~John 15:4

Ave Maria! As we know, Pope Benedict XVI is in Germany through Sunday on an official state visit. Yesterday he celebrated Mass in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. In his homily, which can be found here, he reflected upon the parable of the vine and the branches (Jn 15:1-9). Recalling our Lord's words "Without me you can do nothing" (v5), he stressed how crucial it is for us to abide in Christ, to remain with Him. "Every one of us is faced with this choice" of abiding in Christ or setting ourselves apart from Him, the Holy Father said, adding that "The Lord reminds us how much is at stake as he continues his parable: 'If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned' (Jn 15:6). The decision that is required of us here makes us keenly aware of the existential significance of our life choices."

To chose the vine life -- that is, life in Christ -- is to truly live. As St. Paul proclaimed (Phil 1:21), "For me to live is Christ!" Our Lord Jesus came that we might have life to the full (Jn 10:10), and His abundant life is all ours for the choosing and the abiding. If we have any doubts about the wisdom and rightness of the vine life, we need only reflect upon these further words from the Holy Father's homily.

"…the image of the vine is a sign of hope and confidence. Christ himself came into this world through his incarnation, to be our root. Whatever hardship or drought befall us, he is the source that offers us the water of life, that feeds and strengthens us. He takes upon himself all our sins, anxieties and sufferings and he purifies and transforms us, in a way that is ultimately mysterious, into good wine. In such times of hardship we can sometimes feel as if we ourselves were in the wine-press, like grapes being utterly crushed. But we know that if we are joined to Christ we become mature wine. God can transform into love even the burdensome and oppressive aspects of our lives. It is important that we 'abide' in Christ, in the vine. The evangelist uses the word 'abide' a dozen times in this brief passage. This 'abiding in Christ' characterizes the whole of the parable. In our era of restlessness and lack of commitment, when so many people lose their way and their grounding, when loving fidelity in marriage and friendship has become so fragile and short-lived, when in our need we cry out like the disciples on the road to Emmaus: 'Lord, stay with us, for it is almost evening and darkness is all around us!' (cf. Lk 24:29), then the risen Lord gives us a place of refuge, a place of light, hope and confidence, a place of rest and security. When drought and death loom over the branches, then future, life and joy are to be found in Christ."
Thank you, dear Lord, for Your abundant life.  May my greatest joy be to abide in You, now and forever.  Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Praised be Your holy Name, not mine.  I will praise Your name, but not my own; I will esteem Your doings, not my own:  I will bless Your holy Name.  I desire no share in the praises of men.  You alone are my glory.  You alone are the joy of my heart.  I will offer You praise and glory every hour of the day; but for myself, I will glory in nothing, unless it be in my own weakness...I will seek the glory that God alone can give.  For all human glory, all this world's honors, all earthly titles, compared with Your eternal glory, are mere vanity and foolishness.  O blessed Trinity, my God, my Truth, my Mercy, to You alone let all things ascribe all praise, honor, power, and glory throughout endless ages. 

~The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 40

Let my mouth be filled with praise,
that I may sing thy glory,
thy greatness all the day long.
~Psalm 71:8

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can we reach God?

Ave Maria! In anticipation of his visit to Germany, his homeland, this Thursday through Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI recorded a message for German public television. The Holy Father concludes his message,which can be viewed here, with these words:

"Perhaps you will ask me: 'But does God exist? And if he exists, does he care about us? Can we reach him?' It is true of course that we cannot put God on the table, we cannot touch him like a utensil or take him in hand like any object. We must again develop the capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists in us. We can intuit something of God's grandeur in the grandeur of the cosmos. We can use the world through technology because it is made in a rational manner. In the great rationality of the world we can intuit the creator spirit from which it comes, and in the beauty of creation we can intuit something of the beauty, of the grandeur and also the goodness of God. In the Word of sacred Scriptures we can hear the words of eternal life that do not come merely from men, but that come from him, and in them we hear his voice. And, finally, we glimpse God too in encounters with persons who are touched by him. I am not thinking only of the great ones: from Paul to Francis of Assisi to Mother Teresa; but I am thinking of the many simple people of whom no one speaks. And yet, when we meet them, there emanates something of goodness, sincerity, joy, and we know that God is there and that he touches us too. So, in these days we want to try to return to seeing God, to return to being persons through whom the light of hope might enter the world, a light that comes from God and helps us to live."
Yes, we can reach God!  Nature has always been a very special and particular place where I can stretch out my hand and almost touch His face.  This runs in my family.  It's in my blood and in my sister's as well -- it's part of our being "Dick Mansfield's girls."  I continue to be astonished by the fact that, as Gerard Manley Hopkins so powerfully penned, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God."  With Joseph Mary Plunkett, I too "see His blood upon the rose" and hear His voice in "the thunder and singing of the birds."  For me as for Ralph Waldo Emerson, "beauty is God's handwriting--a wayside sacrament."  Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Renascence" resounds within my own heart, and her glorious exultation is my frequent song: ""God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on thy heart"! 

And now, a word from the other Mansfield girl, my big sister Ann L. Krumrein.  No, a thousand words and even more.  Whoever said that one picture is worth a thousand words must have had foreknowledge of Annie's many wonderful gifts and talents.  After crouching in a field for over an hour, "waiting for this moment," she captured this magnificent full Harvest Moon, aka Barley Moon or Corn Moon. 

Full Harvest Moon by Ann L. Krumrein
Thank you, Annie, for sharing your Harvest Moon with us! Thank you, Holy Father, for reminding us that we can intuit the beauty, grandeur and goodness of God in nature.  Most of all, thank you, dear God, for giving us such a beautiful world!  Amen!  Alleluia!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"a priceless recompense"

Ave Maria! Yesterday's gospel about the workers in the vineyard all receiving the same wage, regardless of how many hours they put in (Matthew 20:1-16a), was a source of much prayer and reflection for me throughout the day. In particular, I kept mulling over what Pope Benedict XVI said three years ago when this particular gospel was last proclaimed in church on a Sunday: "To be able to work in the Lord’s vineyard, to put oneself at his service, to collaborate in his work, is in itself a priceless recompense that repays every effort." (Angelus, 9/21/08)

That kept bringing me to this line in the Eucharist Prayer II: "We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you."

Or, as it will be prayed when we begin using the revised Roman Missal the first Sunday of Advent: " thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you."

The honor of working in the vineyard of the Lord is ours, thanks to His gracious gift and wondrous grace. To be called by Him to do His work in accordance with His will is indeed our lasting joy and great reward, even now. May the glory be all His, now and forever!  Amen!  Alleluia!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Why are you jealous because I am generous? ~Matthew 20:15

The gospel story about the vineyard workers is appropriate to this time of year, the season of the earthly grape harvest. But there is also another harvest, the spiritual one, at which God rejoices in the fruits of his vineyard.

The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out to hire men to work in his vineyard. In the evening he gave orders for all to be paid, beginning with the last corners and ending with the first. Now why did he pay the last corners first? Will not everyone be rewarded at the same time? We read in another gospel passage how the king will say to those placed on his right hand: Come, you whom my Father has blessed: take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

If all, then, are to receive their wages together, how should we understand this statement about those who arrived at the eleventh hour being paid first, and those who had been working since daybreak being paid last? If I can say anything to further your understanding, thanks be to God. Give thanks to him who teaches you through me, for my own knowledge is not the source of my teaching.

To take an example, then, let us ask which of two workers receives his wages sooner, one who is paid after an hour, or one who is paid after twelve hours? Anyone will answer: “One who is paid after an hour.” So also in our parable. All the workmen were paid at the same time, but because some were paid after an hour and others after twelve hours, the former, having had a shorter time to wait, may be said to have received their wages first.

The earliest righteous people like Abel and Noah, called as it were at the first hour, will receive the joy of resurrection at the same time as we do. So also will others who came later, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and those contemporary with them, called as we may say at the third hour; Moses and Aaron and those called with them at the sixth hour; and after them the holy prophets, called at the ninth hour.

At the end of the world all Christians, called at the eleventh hour, will receive the joy of resurrection together with those who went before them. All will be rewarded at the same time, but the first corners will have had the longest to wait. Therefore, if they receive their reward after a longer period and we after a shorter one, the fact that our reward is not delayed will make it seem as though we were receiving it first, even though we all receive it together.

In that great reward, then, we shall all be equal — the first to the last and the last to the first. For the denarius (the standard daily wage) stands for eternal life, in which all will have the same share. Although through diversity of merit some will shine more brilliantly than others, in the possession of eternal life there will be equality. What is endless for all will not be longer for one and shorter for another. What has no bounds will have none either for you or for me. Those who lived chastely in the married state will have one kind of splendor; virgins will have another. The reward for good works will differ from the crown of martyrdom; but where eternal life is concerned there can be no question of more or less for anyone. Whatever may be the individual’s degree of glory, each one will live in it eternally. This is the meaning of the denarius.

St. Augustine, 354-430(Sermon 87,1. 4-6: PL 38, 530-533)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meditation is remembering...

And what is meditation? It means "remembering" all that God has done and not forgetting his many great benefits (cf. Ps 103[102]:2b).

We often see only the negative things; we must also keep in mind all that is positive, the gifts that God has made us; we must be attentive to the positive signs that come from God and must remember them. Let us therefore speak of a type of prayer which in the Christian tradition is known as "mental prayer". We are usually familiar with vocal prayer.

The heart and the mind must of course take part in this prayer. However we are speaking today of a meditation that does not consist of words but rather is a way of making contact with the heart of God in our mind. And here Mary is a very real model. Luke the Evangelist repeated several times that Mary, "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (2:19; cf. 2:51b). As a good custodian, she does not forget, she was attentive to all that the Lord told her and did for her, and she meditated, in other words she considered various things, pondering them in her heart.

Therefore, she who "believed" in the announcement of the Angel and made herself the means of enabling the eternal Word of the Most High to become incarnate also welcomed in her heart the wonderful miracle of that human-divine birth; she meditated on it and paused to reflect on what God was working within her, in order to welcome the divine will in her life and respond to it. The mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of Mary’s motherhood is of such magnitude that it requires interiorization; it is not only something physical which God brought about within her, but is something that demanded interiorization on the part of Mary who endeavours to deepen her understanding of it, to interpret its meaning, to comprehend its consequences and implications.

Thus, day after day, in the silence of ordinary life, Mary continued to treasure in her heart the sequence of marvellous events that she witnessed until the supreme test of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection. Mary lived her life to the full, her daily duties, her role as a mother, but she knew how to reserve an inner space to reflect on the word and will of God, on what was occurring within her and on the mysteries of the life of her Son…. Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our busy day, moments for silent recollection, to meditate on what the Lord wants to teach us, on how he is present and active in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate.

~Pope Benedict XVI, 8/17/11

Dear Mary, may I learn from you "the silence of eternity, interpreted by love."  Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

But what does exalting the Cross mean? Is it not maybe scandalous to venerate a shameful form of execution? The Apostle Paul says: "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gen-tiles" (I Cor 1: 23). Christians, however, do not exalt just any cross but the Cross which Jesus sanctified with his sacrifice, the fruit and testimony of immense love. Christ on the Cross pours out his Blood to set humanity free from the slavery of sin and death.

Therefore, from being a sign of malediction, the Cross was transformed into a sign of blessing, from a symbol of death into a symbol par excellence of the Love that overcomes hatred and violence and generates immortal life. "O Crux, ave spes unica! O Cross, our only hope!". Thus sings the liturgy….

Dear brothers and sisters, spiritually united to Our Lady of Sorrows, let us also renew our "yes" to God who chose the Way of the Cross in order to save us. This is a great mystery which continues and will continue to take place until the end of the world, and which also asks for our collaboration.

May Mary help us to take up our cross every day and follow Jesus faithfully on the path of obedience, sacrifice and love.

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus of September 17, 2006

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You
because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world!

Monday, September 12, 2011

And the virgin's name was Mary. ~Luke 1:27

After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness.  ~St. Alphonsus de Ligouri

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

I tell you that you must forgive not seven times but seventy times seven. ~Matthew 18:22

The Lord puts the parable of the unforgiving debtor before us that we may learn from it. He has no desire for us to die, so he warns us: This is how your heavenly Father will deal with you if you, any of you, fail to forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Take notice now, for clearly this is no idle warning. The fulfillment of this command calls for the most vigorous obedience. We are all in debt to God, just as other people are in debt to us. Is there anyone who is not God’s debtor? Only a person in whom no sin can be found. And is there anyone who has no brother or sister in his debt? Only if there be someone who has never suffered any wrong.

Do you think anyone can be found in the entire human race who has not in turn wronged another in some way, incurring a debt to that person? No, all are debtors, and have others in debt to them. Accordingly, God who is just has told you how to treat your debtor, because he means to treat his in the same way.

There are two works of mercy which will set us free. They are briefly set down in the gospel in the Lord’s own words: Forgive and you will be forgiven, and Give and you will receive. The former concerns pardon, the latter generosity.

As regards pardon he says: “Just as you want to be forgiven, so someone is in need of your forgiveness.” Again, as regards generosity, consider when a beggar asks you for something that you are a beggar too in relation to God.

When we pray we are all beggars before God. We are standing at the door of a great householder, or rather, lying prostrate, and begging with tears. We are longing to receive a gift—the gift of God himself.

What does a beggar ask of you? Bread. And you, what do you ask of God, if not Christ who said: I am the living bread that has come down from heaven? Do you want to be pardoned? Then pardon others. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Do you want to receive? Give and you will receive.

If we think of our sins, reckoning up those we have committed by sight, hearing, thought, and countless disorderly emotions, I do not know whether we can even sleep without falling into debt.

And so, every day we pray; every day we beat upon God’s ears with our pleas; every day we prostrate ourselves before him saying: Forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who trespass against us. Which of our trespasses, all of them or only some? All, you will answer. Do likewise, therefore, with those who have offended you.

This is the rule you have laid down for yourself, the condition you have stipulated. When you pray according to this pact and covenant you remember to say: Forgive us, as we also forgive our debtors.

~St. Augustine (Sermon 83, 2. 4: PL 38, 515-516)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mother of the Most High

My Lady, my refuge, life, and help, my armor and my boast, my hope and my strength, grant that I may enjoy the ineffable, inconceivable gifts of your Son, your God and our God, in the heavenly kingdom. For I know surely that you have power to do as you will, since you are mother of the Most High. Therefore, Lady Most Pure, I beg you that I may not be disappointed in my expectations but may obtain them, O spouse of God, who bore him who is the expectation of all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and Master of all things, visible and invisible, to whom belongs all glory, honor, and respect, now and always and through endless age.  Amen. 

~St. Germanus of Constantinople, c.634-730

Friday, September 9, 2011

O my strength!

Hen's Castle, Ireland
O my Strength, for you will I watch,
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
the God who shows me merciful love.

...I will sing of your strength,
and acclaim your mercy in the morning,
for you have been my stronghold,
a refuge in the day of distress.

O my Strength, to you I will sing praise,
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
the God who shows me merciful love.

Psalm 59:10, 17-18 (Revised Grail Psalter)

Ave Maria!  Do you ever have one of those days when you just slog along, barely able to put one foot in front of the other, feeling utterly spent?  Of course you do, if you're human!  I've had a string of them lately.  It's nothing serious, mind you, mostly just a flare up of my "CFP", which is my nickname for my long-time friend, chronic fatigue and pain.  At such a time, I often turn to the above verses from the Psalter.  This has been my constant song these past couple of weeks, even when I awaken during the night.  What a magnificent hymn, resounding in hope and confidence!  Singing it renews within me the absolute conviction that, indeed, I can and will do all things in Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).  O my strength!  GLORY HALLELUJAH!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Birth of Mary by Master of the Pfullendorf Altar
Come, all you faithful, let us hasten to the Virgin: for long before her conception in the womb, the one who was to be born of the stem of Jesse was destined to be the Mother of God. The one who is the treasury of virginity, the flowering Rod of Aaron, the object of the prophecies, the child of Joachim and Anne, is born today and the world is renewed in her. Through her birth, she floods the church with her splendor. O holy Temple, Vessel of the Godhead, Model of virgins and Strength of kings: in you the wondrous union of the two natures of Christ was realized. We worship Him and glorify your most pure birth, and we magnify you. ~Byzantine Daily Worship

Happy Birthday, dearest Mary!  Blessed are you among woman, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus!  Blessed, too, are we for you are our Mother Most Wonderful and you have given us your Beloved Son Jesus, our way, our truth and our life.  Alleluia!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"it is a gift and not a burden"

Lourdes at Night

Ave Maria! At the end of last month, Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth in southern England wrote a personal reflection on his recent trip to Lourdes. He had been journeying to this sacred place for 40 years or so, always being there to serve and minister to the sick. This time, however, he himself was one of the sick and, for the first time in his life, he received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Below is his powerful reflection, which was published on the Web by Independent Catholic News. What a vibrant witness Bishop Hollis is to us of the transforming grace of God's love and goodness that enables us to receive everything He gives us as GIFT! Please join me in prayer for Bishop Hollis.

"When I set off for Lourdes last Sunday, I was not sure what to expect or, indeed, what to hope and pray for. At that time, I was stepping into a pattern which has been mine at this time of the year for the last 40 or so years.

"My first pilgrimage was in 1968 when I went with students from Oxford University, where I was chaplain, and we went as a working group. In addition to my normal priestly responsibilities, I worked with the students at the railway station, the airport and in the baths as a helper and as a brancardier. I continued to go with Oxford in this way until I left the university to take up other work in 1977, though I did continue my pilgrimages after that in a less structured way.

"In 1981, I went with the Catholic Association (Clifton diocese) for the first time and this year has represented my 30th pilgrimage with the Association, though, since 1989, I have been a member of the Portsmouth diocesan group. As I am now nearing retirement, this is almost certainly my last pilgrimage for the time being.

"As this year’s pilgrimage unfolded, I began to realise that everything was different and that my “pilgrim history” was radically changing. For the first time in 45 years, I was one of the sick of the pilgrimage. Although I seemed quite well, I was aware of my energy levels diminishing and of my increasing dependence on the love and care of others.

"For the first time in my life, I received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at the hands of Archbishop Peter Smith. It was given publicly at the Mass of the Anointing, which formed part of the pilgrimage programme, and I found myself enfolded and cherished with so many others who were receiving the Sacrament, as well as being one of those also ministering to the sick sacramentally.
This led me to further reflection and prayer. Previously, I had always been able to bring to the pilgrimage my personal fitness and energy to help others and now the tables were turned.

"For the first time – and I have really had to struggle in prayer with this – I was bringing a gift from the Lord which was not of my choosing. I was bringing the gift of my cancer and I think that I have really been graced in these days to see that it is a gift and not a burden. Like all the gifts that come from God, it is not always easy to see where they are leading. All I can say – and it’s early days yet – I feel that I am being led into a new vision and way of life brought about by retirement and serious illness. I do not know where it will take me but I have been graced enough so far to be able to discern the hand of God in all this and a new phase of my life beckons me forward. For once, God is doing all the choosing and I am finding myself content for that to be so.
"I don’t know where I will be this time next year – Mells, I hope – or how I will be but I find myself very peaceful about all that may transpire. I am being given the possibility of a much-needed moment of conversion and transformation for my whole life and I am being given the grace of time in which to achieve what God wants.
"This way of thinking – seeing cancer as a moment of grace – which must seem crazy to most of us, began to crystallize in my heart as we celebrated the feast of St Rose of Lima on the Tuesday of the pilgrimage. In particular, I was struck by some words from her writings when she says that there can be no road to heaven without the cross. I cannot know what the Lord has in store for me – and part of me doesn’t want to know – but I am being graced with the beginnings of an understanding that I am now going to be led in his path and in his ways – which are not ours!

"I have a feeling and the strong hope that what lies ahead will be extraordinary and transforming and not in my control. If this can be the grace of sickness, then blessed be God! My illness is to be gift to me and, although there will clearly be times when it feels much more like burden and weariness, I am being called to live positively, optimistically and with hope and I want nothing more than that. This has got to be the Christian way.

"I fancy that the Lord’s words to Peter as recorded by John will increasingly be my companions in the days, months and years to come: “In all truth I tell you, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go…follow me.” (John 21:18)

"So, even after 43 years of pilgrimages to Lourdes, this one was new and with renewed faith I can hear afresh what Our Lady says: “do whatever he tells you”. All I can say is “Amen” to that. Thank you all so much for all your love, your prayers and your care which have enabled me to be where I am and have given me such strength and hope as I have.

"To end on a rather more prosaic note, on my return from Lourdes I received a letter from the hospital and an appointment to see my consultant on September 12th when I hope I will be able to give you more definite news about the future."

Bishop Crispian
29th August 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Today's Feast -- Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

You are being sent, you have not chosen for yourself where you want to go, and you are sent just as Jesus was sent to us.

You are sent not to teach but to learn: learn to be meek and humble of heart. That is just what Jesus has asked us to do: “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.”

You are sent to serve and not to be served: Go to serve with a humble heart. Never escape the hard work. Be always the first one to do it.

Go to be a cause of joy to your communities.

Go with zeal and love for the poor.

Go in haste, like Our Lady, to serve.

Choose the hardest thing. Go with a humble heart, with a generous heart. Don’t go with ideas that don’t fit into our way of life: with big, big ideas about theology and what you would like to teach, but rather go to learn and to serve.

Share what you have received, with a humble heart.

Go to the poor with great tenderness. Serve the poor with tender, compassionate love.

Say yes to peace with your tongue. Close your mouth rather than speaking a word which will hurt anyone.

Go to give yourselves without any reservation. Give yourselves wholeheartedly, unreservedly

~Bl. Theresa of Calcutta
Dear Mother Teresa, pray for us to be as much in love with Jesus as you were!  Amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

If your brother or sister listens to you, you will have won that person back. ~Matthew 18:15

The Apostle says: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

You will be doing everything for the glory of God if, when you leave this place, you make yourselves responsible for saving a brother or sister, not just by accusing and rebuking him or her, but also by advising and encouraging, and by pointing out the harm done by worldly amusements, and the profit and help that come from our instruction.

You will also be preparing for yourself a double reward, since as well as greatly furthering your own salvation, you will be endeavoring to heal a fellow member of Christ’s body. It is the Church’s pride, it is the Savior’s command, not to be concerned only about our own welfare, but about our neighbor’s also.

Think to what high honor you raise yourself when you regard someone else’s salvation as a matter of extreme importance. As far as is humanly possible you imitate God himself, for listen to what he says through the prophet: “Whoever leads another from wrong to right will be as my own mouth.”

In other words, “Whoever tries to save those that are negligent, and to snatch them from the jaws of the devil, is imitating me as far as a human being can.” What other work could equal this? Of all good deeds this is the greatest; of all virtue this is the summit.

And this is perfectly reasonable. Christ shed his own blood for our salvation; and Paul, speaking of those who give scandal and wound the consciences of people seeing them, cried out: Because of your knowledge a weak brother or sister is destroyed — someone for whom Christ died!

So if your Lord shed his blood for that person, surely it is right for each of us to offer at least some words of encouragement and to extend a helping hand to those who through laxity have fallen into the snares of the devil.

But I am quite certain that you will do this out of the tender love you bear your own members, and that you will make every effort to bring your neighbors back to our common Mother, because I know that through the grace of God you are able to admonish others with wisdom.

John Chrysostom, c.347-407 (Homily 6, 18-20: SC 50, 224-225)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mass of the Interior Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary

May the Son repose within us, O Lord, and find there His delights; and just as Thou didst make Him ours through the Virgin Mary, in whom He dwelt and found His delight, so may we be worthy through her and in Thy Son to be Thine always and everywhere.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

~Postcommunion Prayer from the Mass of the Interior Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ave Maria!  The other day I was poring over my new missal -- the Daily Missal 1962 published by Baronius Press, which can be viewed here -- and was delighted to discover the above-referenced Mass of Our Lady.  This Mass includes a lovely sequence, the concluding verse of which is:  "O Mother of the living, make your Son live in our hearts.  Amen.  Alleluia."  What a beautiful prayer to offer on this First Saturday of the month! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Friday of September -- Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

When you awake in the morning, let your first act be to salute My Heart, and to offer Me your own.

Whoever shall breathe a sigh towards Me from the bottom of his heart when he awakes in the morning, and shall ask Me to work all his works in him throughout the day, he will draw Me to him; so that his soul shall have life from Me even as his body has life from his soul, and he shall do all things through Me and by Me. For never does a man breathe a sigh of longing aspiration towards Me without drawing Me nearer to him than I was before.

~Words of Our Lord to St. Mechtilde

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In God alone...

Rest your heart in God alone, and no longer take it away from Him. He is your peace, your consolation and your glory. Make every effort to unite yourself more tightly to this most sweet Savior, so that you can produce good fruits for eternal life.

~Saint Padre Pio

In God alone
is my soul at rest. 
~Psalm 62:5

Ave Maria!  It's a well-known fact that cats can, will and do sleep anywhere and everywhere.  If you doubt this, or if you think that you've seen it all, just go here and here and scroll down the pages for living proof.  I want to be like a cat, able to rest anywhere because God is everywhere.  Come, dear friends, let us enter into His rest!