Monday, October 31, 2011

Eve of All Saints

Ave Maria!  It's Halloween today, and already I'm anticipating tomorrow's glorious solemnity of All Saints Day.  In particular, I'm reflecting upon Baron von Hügel's observation that "All Saints' Day is the feast of every heroic soul, every heroic act inspired by God since God made man on earth...  The day also of the saintly bit, the saintly moments, the beginnings of sanctity in souls otherwise not saints at all."  I'm thinking about the heroism of everyday life, which is where most of us are given the opportunity to become saints rather than upon the major battlefields of life.  Our liturgy of the hours is in the daily grind, where we offer our little sacrifices of love and praise bit-by-saintly-bit, thus making our mundane moments saintly ones by the power of God's amazing grace.  The traditional Halloween jack-o'-lantern is an excellent sign of the saintly life:  the willingness to surrender all we have and are in order to be emptied out and carved into a new creation -- God's creation! -- and to let Him fill us with His goodness and truth and light.   Only then can we "let all God's glory through" (Gerard Manley Hopkins).   Only then can we shine in the perverse and crooked world like bright stars, holding forth the Word of Life (Phil 2:15-16).  Thanks be to God who calls us and enables us to become His holy and blessed saints!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart."

They do not practice what they preach.  ~Matthew 23:3

Christ is called master, or teacher, by right of nature rather than by courtesy, for all things subsist through him. Through his incarnation and life upon earth we are taught the way to eternal life. Our reconciliation with God is dependent on the fact of his being greater than we are.

Yet, having told his disciples not to allow themselves to be called master, or to love seats of honor and things of that kind, he himself set an example and was a model of humility. It is as though he said:

Even as I do not seek my own glory (though there is One who seeks it), so neither must you love to be honored above others, or to be called master. Look at me: The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many.

This was said not only for the instruction of his disciples, but also of those who are teachers in the Church.

None of them must seek positions of honor; whoever wishes to be greater than the rest must first become the servant of all, as Christ himself did. If anyone wants a high office let him want the labor it entails, not the honor it will bring him.

He should desire to serve and minister to everyone, and not expect everyone to serve and minister to him. For the desire to be served comes from the supercilious attitude of the Pharisees; the desire to serve from the teaching of Christ.

Those who canvass for positions of honor are the ones who exalt themselves; and similarly it is those who of their own accord humble themselves who will be exalted by the Lord.

After specifically reserving the office of teaching to himself, Christ immediately went on to give as the rule of his teaching that whoever wants to be greatest should be the servant of all.

And he gave the same rule in other words when he said: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Anyone therefore who wants to be Christ’s disciple must hasten to learn the lesson he professes to teach, for a perfect disciple will be like his master. Otherwise, if he refuses to learn the master’s lesson, far from being a master himself, he will not even be a disciple.

~St. Paschasius Radbertus

Dear Jesus, meek and humble of heart, grant me the grace to be Your humble servant so that in serving others I may truly exalt You.  Amen.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The rosary helps me to be a child...

Ave Maria!  In October 1973, on the occasion of the 4th centenary of the Feast of the Rosary, the future Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, then Patriarch of Venice, gave a homily suited to the occasion. He concluded his homily with these words:

"When we speak of 'adult Christians' in prayer, at times we exaggerate. Personally when I speak tête-à-tête with God or with the Blessed Virgin Mary, more than an adult I prefer to think of myself as a child. The mitre, skullcap and ring disappear; I give a holiday to the adult and the bishop and also to heavy burdens, sober and pondered, and let myself go with the spontaneous tenderness of a child in front of his papá or mamma. To be – at least for half an hour – before God as I truly am with my wretchedness and also with the best of myself: to feel rising from the depths of my being the child of other days who wants to talk and chat with the Lord and love him and who sometimes feels the need to cry that he may be granted mercy, all this helps me to pray. The rosary, a simple and easy prayer, helps me to be at times a child again and of this I am not in the least ashamed.

"The rosary a prayer of repetition? Père de Foucauld used to say: 'Love is expressed in a few words, always the same, repeated time and time again.'"
Dearest Mary, Mother Most Wonderful, how good it is to be your child!

Friday, October 28, 2011

No longer strangers and sojourners

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God. ~Ephesians 2:19

Ave Maria! I find such comfort and joy in knowing that I am no longer a stranger and sojourner on this earth. Through the ineffable love of God, by the sacrifice of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, I am blessed to be a member of His household. Through His cross and resurrection, our Lord has brought me home to the Father, where all the holy ones live forever in the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph 1:23). Even here and now, in the shadow of His wings I rejoice for I know that when this earthly tent is destroyed, I have " a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven" (2 Cor 5:1).  My citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20), the city of the living God (Heb 12:12)!  "And so, my rejoices, my soul is glad; even my flesh shall rest in hope.  For you will not abandon my soul to hell, nor let your holy one see corruption.  You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand, bliss for ever" (Ps 16:9-11).  ALLELUIA!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Suffering for Peace

In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. ~Romans 8:37

Ave Maria! Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI gave a magnificent homily at a liturgy in preparation for today's day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace in Assisi. The Holy Father spoke of suffering and martyrdom, the way of our Lord Jesus who conquers the world "with the strength of the Cross, which is victory's true guarantee."  He also spoke of St. Paul, who gladly picked up "the sword of the sufferer" for the sake of his Crucified Master and His new kingdom of peace.  I quote below just a few lines from the Holy Father's homily, which can be found in its entirety here.  May God make us worthy to be instruments of His peace!  Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Christians must never yield to the temptation to become wolves in the midst of wolves; it is not with power, with force or with violence that Christ's kingdom of peace is extended, but with the gift of self, with love taken to the extreme, even toward our enemies. Jesus does not conquer the world with the strength of armies, but with the strength of the Cross, which is victory's true guarantee. Consequently, for the one who desires to be the Lord's disciple -- His messenger -- this means being ready for suffering and martyrdom, being ready to lose one's life for Him, so that good, love and peace may triumph in the world. This is the condition for being able to say, upon entering into any circumstance: "Peace be to this house!" (Luke 10:5).

In front of St. Peter's Basilica there stand two great statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, which are easily identifiable: St. Peter holds keys in his hands, and Paul instead holds a sword. One who is unfamiliar with the story of the latter might think he is a great captain who commanded powerful armies and subjected peoples and nations with the sword, procuring for himself fame and riches by others' blood. Instead it is exactly the opposite: The sword he holds is the instrument with which Paul was put to death, with which he underwent martyrdom and shed his own blood. His battle was not one of violence and of war but of martyrdom for Christ. His only weapon was the proclamation of "Jesus Christ and Him Crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). His preaching was not based "on plausible words and wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power" (Verse 4). He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel's message of reconciliation and peace, spending all his energy in order that it might resound to the very ends of the earth.

And this was his strength: He did not seek a tranquil, comfortable life, far from difficulties and contradictions; rather, he wore himself out for the sake of the Gospel, he gave himself entirely and without reserve, and in this way he became the great messenger of Christ's peace and reconciliation.

The sword that St. Paul holds also recalls the power of truth, which can often wound, can hurt: the Apostle remained faithful to this truth to the end; he served it; he suffered for it; he gave over his life for it. This same logic holds true also for us if we want to be bearers of the kingdom and peace announced by the Prophet Zechariah and fulfilled by Christ: We must be willing to pay personally, to suffer in the first person misunderstanding, rejection, persecution. It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace, but the sword of the sufferer, of he who knows how to give his very life.

~Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Partridge Wing

Partridge Wing by Ann L. Krumrein

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

Ce­cil F. Alexander

Ave Maria!  As some of you know, I went on a private retreat this past weekend at the Cenacle Retreat House here in Houston.  It was a time of marvelous rejuvenation for me.  I came home to find this stunning partridge wing in my email box, from my sweet Annie, of course.  It took my breath away.  It also reminded me of the many peacocks that were constantly strolling the Cenacle grounds, contentedly roosting here and there and sometimes even having a little snooze.  Such magnificent creatures!  They were so friendly that I could get almost close enough to touch them.  I never tried though, because this was their home and I was their welcome guest.  So I honored their presence with great delight and found much joy in simply gazing upon them, marveling at their God-given beauty. 

"Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Lord God, how great you are, clothed in majesty and glory, wrapped in light as with a robe!"  (Ps 103:1)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roots and Wings

"According to a saying attributed to a great poet from my own country, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, there are two things that children should receive from their parents: roots and wings. From our holy Mother, the Church, we too receive both roots and wings: the faith of the Apostles, handed down from generation to generation, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, conveyed above all through the sacraments of the Church."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 10/19/11, greeting at the celebration of the opening of Domus Australia in Rome

Dear Lord, thank you for our holy Mother, the Church, who gives such beautiful and lasting gifts to us, her children!  Amen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Remembering the Lord's goodness"

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures for ever.  ~Psalm 136:1

And this is also important for us: remembering the Lord's goodness. Remembering becomes the strength of hope. Remembering tells us: God is; God is good, and His mercy is eternal. And thus, remembering opens the road to the future -- even in the darkness of a day, of a moment in time, it is the light and star that guides us. Let us, too, remember the good; let us remember God's eternal, merciful love.

~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message of 10/19/11, catechesis on Psalm 136 (135)

My dear Jesus, whose goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life, may my remembering of You become my eternal hymn of praise to Your gloryAmen!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!!!

A Tip by Ann L. Krumrein

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any -- lifted from the no
of all nothing -- human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e. e. cummings (1894 - 1962)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"God's Tribute Money"

We are made in the image and likeness of God. So you, O Christian, because you are a human being, are God’s tribute money — a little coin bearing the image and likeness of the divine emperor. ~St. Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1619

Let my soul spend itself in Your praise, rejoicing for love.  ~Imitation of Christ, Bk 3, Ch 5
Dear God, who lovingly created me out of nothing and marvelously fashioned me in Your image and likeness, let me spend myself freely, generously, even recklessly -- all for You and for You alone.  Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Render Unto Caesar by Paul Ruben

Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.  ~Matthew 22:21

In today’s gospel we find two questions: one put to Christ by the Pharisees, and the other put by him to them.

The Pharisees’ question concerns this world alone, while Christ’s has an entirely heavenly and other-worldly sense. Their question derived from profound ignorance and perversity; his stemmed from perfect wisdom and goodness.

Whose likeness and inscription is this? Caesar’s, they reply. Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. To each, he says, must be given what belongs to him. This, surely, is a judgment full of heavenly wisdom and instruction. For it teaches that authority is twofold, having an earthly and human aspect, and a heavenly and divine aspect. It teaches that we owe a twofold duty of obedience: to human laws and to the law of God.

The coin bearing Caesar’s likeness and inscription must be given to Caesar, and the one stamped with the divine image and likeness must be given to God. We bear the imprint of your glorious face, O Lord.

We are made in the image and likeness of God. So you, O Christian, because you are a human being, are God’s tribute money — a little coin bearing the image and likeness of the divine emperor. Therefore with Christ I ask, whose likeness and inscription is this? Your answer is, God’s. To which I reply, Then why not give God what belongs to him?

If we really want to be God’s image, we must be like Christ, for his is the image of God’s goodness and the perfect copy of his nature, and God foreordained that those he has chosen should take on a likeness to his son.

Christ undoubtedly gave Caesar what was Caesar’s and God what was God’s. He fulfilled to perfection the precepts of both tablets of the law, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross, and he was most highly endowed, both inwardly and outwardly, with every virtue.

In today’s gospel the reply, most wise and discreet, by which Christ sidestepped his enemies’ trap shows his great prudence. His teaching that each must be given what belongs to him, and also the example he gave by being willing to pay the temple tax and giving a shekel for himself and Peter, shows his justice.

His declaring it to be a duty to pay taxes to Caesar, openly teaching the truth without fear of the Jews who would be offended, shows his fortitude. For this is God’s way, of which Christ is the authentic teacher.

Those therefore who resemble Christ in their lives, conduct, and practice of the virtues, they are the ones who truly manifest the divine image; for the way to recover this image is by being absolutely just. Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s; that is, give each what belongs to him.

~St. Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1619

My dear Jesus, by your obedience unto death on the cross, You show us what belongs to God, what we must give Him if we are to be like You:  everything, absolutely everything.  O Christ, ever greater, let me satisfied with nothing less.  Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mary's Way -- the Rosary

The Rosary...offers the “secret” which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary's way. It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. It is also the way of a Marian devotion inspired by knowledge of the inseparable bond between Christ and his Blessed Mother: the mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him. By making our own the words of the Angel Gabriel and Saint Elizabeth contained in the Hail Mary, we find ourselves constantly drawn to seek out afresh in Mary, in her arms and in her heart, the "blessed fruit of her womb" (cf Lk 1:42).

~Bl. John Paul II
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #24

Ave Maria, gratia plena!  Oh dear Blessed Mother, teach me the secret of your rosary, the sure way to your Beloved Son Jesus, who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"But God knew best..."

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. ~1 Cor. 1:25

Ave Maria!  That "Lithuanian connection" popped up again when I read Lowell Grisham's post at Speaking to the Soul today. 
I want to think a bit about Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky who is commemorated today. His is an amazing story.

A native of Lithuania, he was studying for the rabbinate when he became interested in Christianity. He moved to the U.S., eventually graduating from my seminary, the General Theological Seminary in New York City. (1859) He responded to a call for missionaries to China and learned to write Chinese during the voyage on ship. (That's remarkable.) Starting in Peking, he translated the Bible and parts of the Prayer Book into Mandarin. In 1877 he became Bishop of Shanghai and began translating the Bible into Wenli. He founded St. John's University in Shanghai. (That school is a fascinating story as well. Look it up.)

In 1883, at the age of 52, he was stricken with paralysis. For most of the rest of his life he lived in Japan where he continued his translation work, typing some 2,000 pages with the middle finger of his partially crippled hand. He lived until 1906.

Four years before his death, he said this: "I have sat in this chair over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted."

That quote humbles and awes me.
It humbles and awes me, too.  It makes me think of the thorn in St. Paul's flesh, in which he took pleasure for the sake of Christ because then, in his very weakness, he knew the power and strength of his Crucified and Risen Lord (2 Cor 12:10).  He is the One, St. Paul reminds us, as does Bishop Schereschewsky, who "was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God" (2 Cor 13:4) -- and so shall we if we but walk in faith the Way of the Cross with Him.

O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land. Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you, in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do, you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. ~The Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paying the Ultimate Price

"No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." John 15:20

They didn't just persecute Jesus; they crucified Him! How is it that you and I think we will be treated any better? You may be thinking this doesn't happen today. Yet it has been estimated by the World Christian Encyclopedia that more than 45 million men and women were put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ during the twentieth century! In recent years the estimate has averaged between 160,000 and 171,000 per year. Imagine! That's more than 10,000 Christians dying for their faith every month! More than 400 per day! While you and I are getting up in the morning, trying to decide what to wear and what to eat and where we will spend our vacation, somewhere in the world someone is paying the ultimate price for his or her relationship with Jesus! And I ask myself, would I be willing to do the same?

~Anne Graham Lotz, "Paying the Ultimate Price"

My dearest Jesus, our Crucified Lord and Savior, I beg of You the grace to be willing to die for You in whatever way You choose for me.  And let me not pass by the little opportunities to die to myself that You will give me today for the praise of Your glory.  Amen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Hummingbird

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant.

The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall."

The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?"

The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

— A Chinese Folktale
Dear Lord, I may indeed be just a tiny hummingbird, but may that never stop me from happily and confidently doing my part to help hold up the sky.  Amen.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Whomsoever you find invite to the wedding. ~Matthew 22:9

All believers are familiar with the story of the wedding of the king’s son and the banquet that followed it, and of how the Lord’s table was thrown open to all comers.

When everyone was seated the master of the house came in to see his guests, and among them he noticed one without a wedding garment. So he said to him, "My friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?"

Now what precisely does this mean? Let us try to find out what it is that some believers have, but which the wicked lack, for that will be what the wedding garment is.

Can it be one of the sacraments? Hardly, for these, as we know, are common to good and bad alike. Take baptism for example. It is true that no one comes to God except through baptism, but not every baptized person comes to him.

We cannot take this sacrament as the wedding garment, then, for it is a robe worn not only by good people but also by wicked people. Perhaps, then, it is our altar that is meant, or at least what we receive from it. But we know that many who approach the altar eat and drink to their own damnation.

Well, then, maybe it is fasting? The wicked can fast too. What about going to church? Some bad people also go to church.

Whatever can this wedding garment be, then? For an answer we must go to the Apostle, who says: The purpose of our command is to arouse the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.

There is your wedding garment. It is not love of just any kind. Many people of bad conscience appear to love one another, but you will not find in them the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith. Only that kind of love is the wedding garment.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, says the Apostle, but have no love, I am nothing but a booming gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, if I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, if I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing.

In other words, even with all these gifts I am nothing without Christ. Does that mean that prophecy has no value and that knowledge of mysteries is worthless?

No, they are not worthless but I am, if I possess them but have no love. But can the lack of one good thing rob so many others of their value? Yes, without love my confession of the name of Christ even by shedding my blood or offering my body to be burnt will avail me nothing, for I may do this out of a desire for glory.

That such things can be endured for the sake of empty show without any real love for God the Apostle also declares. Listen to him: If I give away all I have to the poor, if I hand over my body to be burnt, but have no love, it will avail me nothing. So this is what the wedding garment is.

Examine yourselves to see whether you possess it. If you do, your place at the Lord’s table is secure.

~St. Augustine (354-430)

Dear Lord, above all else, let me clothe myself in Your love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col. 3:14) and which alone will gain me entrance into Your eternal wedding feast.  Amen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our Lady of Vilnius

Theotokos, and Mother of all mankind. Pray for your children in their times of suffering and need. Mother of Peace and Truth, Mother of our Savior, Queen of heaven and earth, pray that we imitate your Son in our lives and in our deaths. Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the graces of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit that we may claim our eternal inheritance after living a holy life. Be with us always as we conform ourselves to the will of God.  Amen.  ~Author Unknown
Ave Maria!  This icon of Our Lady of Vilnius is especially dear to my heart because of its Lithuanian connection.  Our dear mother , Gladys Yurkevicz Mansfield, was Lithuanian, and her parents lived there before coming to America.  The Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus provide some information about this icon here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

AC's Rosary for Annie 
by Ann L. Krumrein
Ave Maria!  Today's lovely feast is all about Mary, the Mother of Christ, and, therefore, it's all about her Beloved Son Jesus, the fruit of her womb.  For a while there after Vatican II, many people abandoned the rosary for a variety of reasons.  Now, some 50 years or so later, it seems that more people than ever have discovered the power and beauty of this ancient Gospel prayer and have made it a vital part of their everyday lives.  Author and educator Alice Camille has written a brief but packed article on the history and spirituality of the rosary called "Full of grace: Reclaiming the Rosary," which I highly recommend (go here).  Or pick up a copy of her book, The Rosary:  Mysteries of Joy, Light, Sorrow and Glory, which contains the above information as well as reflections on each mystery of the rosary along with drawings by Sr. Mary Southard, C.S.J.  You will not be disappointed!

Alice Camille notes that Pope Pius XII called the rosary a "compendium of the entire gospel," which Bl. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have often affirmed.  She also quotes Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, who said that the rosary is a way of "holding in our hands all that we believe" -- she humorously adds that "it’s a whole lot easier to put a rosary in your pocket than, say, The Catechism of the Catholic Church!"

Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Germany explained this some years ago to a group of Catholics in East Germany who were being persecuted for their faith and were forbidden to carry any books, particularly the Gospel. 

They asked: "What must we believe and pass on to our children in order to reach our eternal goal?' Pressing a Rosary into their hands, the Cardinal told them: "On the end of the Rosary hangs the Cross. St. Thomas Aquinas said: 'The Cross is the book that we can never come to the end of studying.' On the Cross we pray the Creed. This is our Rule of Faith. Then come the first three Ave's with the three theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. This is our Rule of life. Finally, in a threaded sequence, in a sort of Braille, there follows the entire New Testament, decipherable only by the praying hands of the believer. The Rosary contains all that I need to believe and live by." Thereupon a man in the group, deeply moved, held up his Rosary and said: "So here I hold the entire Faith of the Church in my hand."
Hail Mary, full of grace, through the holy rosary, lead us to your Beloved Son Jesus and bring us into the fullness of our faith, which is His precious gift to us.  Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

St. Faustina Kowalska

Ave Maria!  Yesterday, October 5, was the feast day of St. Faustina Kowalska, the well-known and much-loved apostle of Divine Mercy.  Dear St. Faustina continues to teach me so much about God's wondrous love and boundless mercy.  My paperback copy of her diary, Divine Mercy In My Soul, is always close at hand and is pretty tattered after 18 years of constant use.  I sure was glad to recently discover that her entire diary is available on the Web here

One of my most favorite prayers of St. Faustina is the one she prayed during the Mass on the day of her perpetual vows.  I've longed since memorized it and pray it each morning as I prepare for daily Mass.  "Today I place my heart on the paten where Your Heart has been placed, O Jesus, and today I offer myself together with You to God, Your Father and mine, as a sacrifice of love and praise. Father of Mercy, look upon the sacrifice of my heart, but through the wound in the Heart of Jesus."  How marvelous it is to be able to offer my poor, little heart on the paten with the magnificent, all-loving Sacred Heart of my Beloved Spouse!

Yesterday afternoon I was delighted to read on the Web site "Rome Reports" that seven cardinals have written to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to begin the process of making St. Faustina a Doctor of the Church.  In the long history of the Catholic Church, we have only 34 doctors, three of whom are women -- St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Therese of Lisieux.  During World Youth Day in Madrid this summer, the Holy Father announced that the next saint to be made a doctor is Spaniard San Juan de Avila.  St. Faustina may or may not join their ranks, but for those of us who know and love her, it doesn't really matter.  For us as for her, all that matters is praising and proclaiming Divine Mercy Himself and, through His goodness and mercy, becoming more and more like Him. 

Dear Lord, with your Apostle of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, I beg of you:  "Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of thanksgiving to You, O God."  Amen!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marian Prayer for Vocations

Mary, humble servant of God Most High,
the Son to whom you gave birth has made you the servant of humanity.
Your life was a humble and generous service.
You were servant of the Word when the angel
announced to you the divine plan of salvation.
You were servant of the Son, giving him life
and remaining open to his mystery.
You were servant of Redemption,
standing courageously at the foot of the Cross,
close to the Suffering Servant and Lamb,
who was sacrificing himself for love of us.
You were servant of the Church on the day of Pentecost
and with your intercession you continue to generate her in every believer,
even in these, our difficult and troubled times.
Let the young people of the third millennium look
to you, young daughter of Israel,
who have known the agitation of a young heart
when faced with the plan of the Eternal God.
Make them able to accept the invitation of your Son
to give their lives wholly for the glory of God.
Make them understand that to serve God satisfies the heart,
and that only in the service of God and of his kingdom
do we realize ourselves in accordance with the divine plan,
and life becomes a hymn of glory to the Most Holy Trinity.

~Blessed John Paul II

Ave Maria! What a beautiful prayer for vocations this is! Blessed John Paul II wrote it for the 2003 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and it's a real keeper.  I especially like how it describes Our Lady's role as servant of humanity -- of the Word, of the Son, of Redemption, and of the Church.  Oh, to become more and more like her, always and everywhere "our life, our sweetness and our hope"!  Blessed be Jesus, living in Mary!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Christ the True Vine

He leased his vineyard to other farmers.  ~Matthew 21:33

You need only to look at the vine to be reminded of your own nature, that is, if you observe it intelligently.

No doubt you remember the image used by the Lord in which he says that he is the vine and the Father the vinedresser. Each of us who have been grafted onto the Church by faith he calls branches, and he urges us to bear much fruit so as not to be rejected as useless and thrown onto the fire.

Throughout the Scriptures the Lord continually likens human souls to vines. He says for instance: My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; and again: I planted a vineyard and put a hedge round it. Clearly it is human souls that he calls his vineyard, and the hedge he has put round them is the security of his commandments and the protection of the angels; for the angel of the Lord will encamp around those who fear him.

Moreover, by establishing in the Church apostles in the first place, prophets in the second, and teachers in the third, he has surrounded us as though by a firmly planted palisade.

In addition, the Lord has raised our thoughts to heaven by the examples of saints of past ages. He has kept them from sinking to the earth where they would deserve to be trampled on, and he wills that the bonds of love, like the tendrils of a vine, should attach us to our neighbors and make us rest on them, so that always climbing upward like vines growing on trees, we may reach the loftiest heights.

He also requires that we allow ourselves to be weeded. To be spiritually weeded means to have renounced the worldly ambitions that burdened our hearts.

Anyone who has renounced the love of material things and attachment to possessions, or who has come to regard as despicable and deserving of contempt the poor, wretched glory of this world, is like a weeded vine. Freed from the profitless burden of earthly aspirations, that person can breathe again.

Finally, following out the implications of the comparison, we must not run to wood, or, in other words, show off or seek the praise of outsiders. Instead, we must bear fruit by reserving the display of our good works for the true vinedresser.

~St. Basil the Great, c.330-379

God of hosts, turn again, we implore;
look down from heaven, and see.
Visit this vine and protect it;
the vine your right hand has planted,
the son of man you have claimed for yourself.
~Psalm 80:15-16