Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Advent Prayer for Our Priests

In this time of special Grace, this blessed season of Advent, we pray to you, O Holy Virgin Mary, for our priests. Give them a heart that is able to relive Christ's coming in their lives, a heart able to contemplate the way in which the Son of God, on the day of their Ordination, radically and definitely marked their entire existence immerging them in His priestly heart. May Christ renew them daily in the Eucharistic Celebration so that their own lives become transfigured into His coming for humanity. Give our priests an attentive heart able to recognize the signs of Jesus' coming in the lives of every man, especially to the young who are entrusted to them, so that they are able to recognize the sign of that special coming which is the vocation to the Priesthood.

~Adapted from the 2011 Advent message given to priests by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Ave Maria!  Cardinal Mauro's message, which can be accessed here, is worthy of our attention and reflection, even if we are not members of the clergy.  Our Lady is, as Cardinal Mauro calls her, the Icon and Model of the Church, and all of us can learn from her to live as she did, "in vigilance, filled with loving and grateful wonder."  Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, pray for us as we journey with you to Bethlehem.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Tuesday of Advent

Mary the New Eve
Statue from Ecuador

I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. ~Luke 10:21

Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.

~from The Roman Missal, Third Edition
"Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar"

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, teach me the devout and expectant delight of Advent that was yours as you sheltered in your womb the Divine Child, for whom you longed "with love beyond all telling."  Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

First Monday of Advent

Through the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet
into the path of peace.
~see Luke 1:78

Virgin of expectation and Mother of hope,
revive the spirit of Advent
in your entire Church,
so that all humanity may start out anew
on the journey towards Bethlehem,
from which it came,
and that the Sun that dawns upon us
from on high
will come once again to visit us,
Christ our God.

~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of 12/1/07

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, with you I wait in expectation and hope for the birth of Eternal Light.  Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
~Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, The Roman Missal

Stay awake! You never know when the Lord will come. ~Mark 13:33

Our God will come openly; our God will come and will not keep silent. The first coming of Christ the Lord, God’s Son and our God, was in obscurity; the second will be in sight of the whole world.

When he came in obscurity no one recognized him but his own servants; when he comes openly he will be known by both good people and bad. When he came in obscurity, it was to be judged; when he comes openly it will be to judge. He was silent at his trial, as the prophet foretold: He was like a sheep led to the slaughter, like a lamb before his shearers. He did not open his mouth.

But, Our God will come openly; our God will come and will not keep silence. Silent when accused, he will not be silent as judge. And he is not silent now. By no means; when people of today recognize his voice and despise him, Scripture assures us that he will not be silent, he will not hold his hand.

Nowadays when the divine commands are spoken of, some people begin to jeer. They are not at present shown what God promises, they do not see what he threatens—so they laugh at his commands. After all, good people and bad enjoy this world’s so-called happiness; good people and bad suffer from what are deemed this world’s misfortunes.

Those whose lives are geared to the present rather than the future are impressed by the fact that this world’s blessings and sufferings fall to the lot of good and bad without distinction. If wealth is their ambition, they see it being enjoyed not only by decent folk, but also by people of the worst kind. If they are in dread of poverty and all the other miseries of this world, they also see that the good and the bad both suffer from them.

Therefore they say to themselves, “God does not care about human affairs, he exercises no control over them. On the contrary; he has sent us into the abyss of this world, and simply abandoned us to its sufferings. He shows no sign of his providence.” Consequently, seeing no evidence of anyone being called to account, such people hold God’s commands in derision.

Nevertheless, each person would do well to take thought even now, because when he wills to do so, God looks, and he judges; he will not tolerate an hour’s delay. When he wills to do so, he waits.

Why does he do this?

Surely if he never passed judgment in this present life, some people would think he does not exist. But if he always gave sentence here and now, there would be nothing reserved for the Day of Judgment. That is why much is kept for that day; but in order to put the fear of God into those whose cases are deferred, and so convert them, some judgments are made here and now.

For it is clear that God takes no pleasure in condemning. His desire is to save, and he bears patiently with evil people in order to make them good.

Yet we have the Apostle’s warning: The wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and God will reward each one according to his deeds.

The Apostle takes scoffers to task by asking them: Do you think lightly of God’s abundant goodness and his forbearance? Do you despise him and think his judgment a matter of no account because he is good to you, because he is long-suffering and bears with you patiently, because he delays the day of reckoning and does not destroy you out of hand?

Do you not know that the patience of God is meant to lead you to repentance? By the hardness of your heart you are storing up wrath against yourself on that Day of Retribution, when the righteous judgment of God will be revealed and he will give every one the reward his or her deeds deserve.

~St. Augustine, 354-430

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A short prayer after a long week...

Deliver me, dear Lord, from everything
that I need deliverance from~~ especially myself!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Forbearance, continued

Ave Maria!  I've been thinking a lot about forbearance since my post on it the other day.  I looked it up in the dictionary and learned that the word "forbear" comes from the Middle English "forberen," which comes from Old English "forberan," which means "to endure."  Various dictionaries define forbearance as kindness, favor, permission, indulgence, gentleness, leniency, tolerance, self-control, patience, longanimity, refraining, resignation, long-suffering, and temperance.

When I think about a specific virtue, I automatically look to the saints and other holy men and women to see how they've lived out that particular aspect of the life of Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.  Because they've "been there, done that," I can and do learn much from them.  Here's what I'm learning from some of them.

Forbearance is ...
... St. Thérèse of Lisieux delaying her own meager meal to daily walk to the refectory a cranky old nun who constantly and bitterly berated her ...

... Bl. Francis Libermann, C.S.Sp., accepting harsh rejection by his father for converting from Judaism to Catholicism ...

... Elisabeth Leseur listening to the endless caustic rantings of her rabidly anti-Catholic husband ...

... St. John of the Cross bearing being kidnapped by some of his confreres, locked in a six-by-ten-foot cell, and cruelly beaten three times weekly by them ..

... St. Faustina resolving in the face of ongoing persecution from her sisters in religious life, "I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness" ...
And all of this forbearing was done with enormous love, for true forbearance is born of love.  Indeed, it is the love of Christ Himself who, hanging on the Cross, uttered the greatest words of forbearance ever known when He prayed from the depths of His heart, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:24).

Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
make my heart like unto Thine!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings!!!


Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

from The Valley of Vision,
A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy!
Psalm 126:3

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Our neighbor.  Most of us have a good deal to put up with from our neighbors, yet we generally forget what they have to put up with from us.

Still, we have difficulties even with very good people.  They are  not omniscient, they often make mistakes, and they treat us according to their ideas.  It is a part of the way in which God wishes to sanctify us.

Conceited as we are, we should be much worse if we were not corrected by others.  There are many excellent parts in our characters, but some dreadful gaps.  We are like trees that have not grown straight.  If we would let our Lord have His way, and bear with what He does for us through our neighbor, we should grow more symmetrical.

Why are we not more considerate?  Why do we form such harsh judgments?  Here have we great scope for true austerity.

~from Confidence in God by Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J.

Dear Jesus, so gentle and humble of heart, teach me Your way of forbearance.  And thank you for the myriad opportunities You give me to be forbearing like You.  Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pro Orantibus Day

Ave Maria! Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. It is also the Church's Pro Orantibus Day, an annual day of solidarity and support for cloistered and monastic religious throughout the world.  "Pro orantibus" means "for those who pray."  In 1997 Blessed John Paul II asked that this ecclesial event observed worldwide on November 21, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple, as a special day to thank those in the cloistered and monastic life for serving as "a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world." It is also a day to remind us that we need to provide spiritual and material support to these men and women who who have devoted their whole lives, hidden in the world, to God through unceasing prayer and sacrifice.  Practically speaking, these communities depend on God's Providence, working through people like you and me, to provide them with the necessities of daily living.  So let us remember them when we pull out both our rosaries and our checkbooks!

Pope Benedict XVI speaks often of the tremendous value of the cloistered, contemplative life. Here is one of the Holy Father's previous statements on the occasion of Pro Orantibus Day.  It is his Angelus Message of November 19, 2006, and it explains beautifully the enormous need we have for and the great debt we owe to our cloistered brothers and sisters.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The day after tomorrow, 21 November, on the occasion of the liturgical Memorial of the Presentation of Mary, we will be celebrating Pro Orantibus Day, dedicated to remembering cloistered religious communities. It is an especially appropriate opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of the numerous people in monasteries and hermitages who are totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence and concealment.

Some may wonder what meaning and value their presence could have in our time, when there are so many situations of poverty and neediness with which to cope.

Why "enclose oneself" for ever between the walls of a monastery and thereby deprive others of the contribution of one’s own skills and experience? How effective can the prayer of these cloistered Religious be for the solution of all the practical problems that continue to afflict humanity?

Yet even today, often to the surprise of their friends and acquaintances, many people in fact frequently give up promising professional careers to embrace the austere rule of a cloistered monastery. What impels them to take such a demanding step other than the realization, as the Gospel teaches, that the Kingdom of heaven is “a treasure” for which it is truly worth giving up everything (cf. Mt 13: 44)?

Indeed, these brothers and sisters of ours bear a silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the sometimes frenetic pace of daily events, the one support that never topples is God, the indestructible rock of faithfulness and love. "Everything passes, God never changes", the great spiritual master Teresa of Avila wrote in one of her famous texts.

And in the face of the widespread need to get away from the daily routine of sprawling urban areas in search of places conducive to silence and meditation, monasteries of contemplative life offer themselves as "oases" in which human beings, pilgrims on earth, can draw more easily from the wellsprings of the Spirit and quench their thirst along the way.

Thus, these apparently useless places are on the contrary indispensable, like the green "lungs" of a city: they do everyone good, even those who do not visit them and may not even know of their existence.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord, who in his Providence has desired male and female cloistered communities. May they have our spiritual and also our material support, so that they can carry out their mission to keep alive in the Church the ardent expectation of Christ’s Second Coming.

For this, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, whom we contemplate on the Memorial of her Presentation in the Temple as Mother and model of the Church, who welcomes in herself both vocations: to virginity and to marriage, to contemplative life and to active life.
Praised be Jesus Christ, who calls us to life on high with Him!

P.S.  The Web site Cloistered Life, a treasure trove of information about this life "hidden with Christ," offers the following prayer for Pro Orantibus Day:

Prayer in Support of the Cloistered Life

Eternal Father, we praise and thank you for those sisters and brothers who have embraced the gift of the cloistered and monastic life. Their hidden presence in our world is indispensable to the Church’s life and mission.

As we celebrate Pro Orantibus Day, let us honor the holiness and glory of the Blessed Virgin. May she intercede so that many young people might dedicate themselves entirely to Your divine service by living lives of prayer and sacrifice.

May all of us always be mindful of the spiritual and material needs of those who commit their lives to seeking God by fixing their gaze on those things which are eternal.

We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Solemnity of Christ the King

The Son of Man will take his seat on his throne of glory and will separate people from one another.  ~Matthew 25

As the holy gospel clearly proclaims, the Son of Man will gather together all nations. He will separate people one from another, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place at his right hand, the goats at his left. Then he will say to those at his right: Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Come, you lovers of poor people and strangers. Come, you who fostered my love, for I am love. Come, you who shared peace, for I am peace.

Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you who did not make an idol of wealth, who gave alms to the poor, help to orphans and widows, drink to the thirsty, and food to the hungry.

Come, you who welcomed strangers, clothed the naked, visited the sick, comforted prisoners, and assisted the blind.

Come, you who kept the seal of faith unbroken, who were swift to assemble in the churches, who listened to my Scriptures, longed for my words, observed my law day and night, and like good soldiers shared in my suffering because you wanted to please me, your heavenly King.

Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Look, my kingdom is ready, paradise stands open, my immortality is displayed in all its beauty. Come now, all of you, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Then, astounded at so great a wonder—at being addressed as friends by him whom the angelic hosts are unable clearly to behold—the righteous will reply, exclaiming: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? Master, when did we see you thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you, whom we hold in awe, naked and clothe you? When did we see you, the immortal One, a stranger and welcome you? When did we see you, lover of our race, sick or in prison and come to visit you?

You are the Eternal, without beginning like the Father, and co-eternal with the Spirit. You are the One who created all things from nothing; you are the King of angels; you make the depths tremble; you are clothed in light as in a robe; you are our maker who fashioned us from the earth; you are the creator of the world invisible. The whole earth flies from your presence. How could we possibly have received your lordship, your royal majesty, as our guest?

Then will the King of Kings say to them in reply: Inasmuch as you did this to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me. Inasmuch as you received, clothed, fed, and gave a drink to those members of mine about whom I have just spoken to you, that is, to the poor, you did it to me.

So come, enter the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; enjoy for ever the gift of my heavenly Father, and of the most holy and life-giving Spirit. What tongue can describe those blessings? Eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.

~Hippolytus, a Roman priest, c. 170-236

"Crown him the King to whom is given
The wondrous name of Love!"

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Seven Last Words

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
~Ephesians 4:29

Ave Maria! As I contemplated the above exhortation from St. Paul, which was part of today's Scripture reading in Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the words of Christ on the cross came to mind. Every word that our Lord spoke to us while He was on this earth is worthy of our devout attention and serious reflection, but these final words or phrases from our crucified Savior dying on the Cross have always been a special source of prayer and meditation for men and women throughout the ages.  Myriad sermons have been preached on Jesus' last testament, scores of music have been composed, countless artistic works rendered, and numerous articles and books have been written.  They are seven, these parting words from the Word Himself:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ~Luke 23:34

Amen I say to thee: This day you will be with me in paradise. ~Luke 23:43

Woman, behold your son...Behold your mother. ~John 19:26-27

My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? ~Matthew 27:46

I thirst. ~John 19:28

It is finished. ~John 19:30

Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit. ~Luke 23:46
Did St. Paul recall these words of our Master when he instructed the Ephesians to speak only that which would "impart grace to those who hear"?  Surely these words of Jesus bestow grace in abundant measure for He, Word made flesh and splendor of the Father, is Himself grace and truth (see Jn 1:14).  Seven last words -- somewhat like the seven sacraments, effecting a new creation here and now with the promise of infinitely more to come in eternity.  Seven last words -- signs and symbols of forgiveness, hope, compassion, abandonment to the Father, longing for Him, confidence in Him, surrender to Him.  Precious and pure words -- without alloy, the Psalmist says, as silver tried by fire, purged from the earth and refined seven times (see Ps 12:8).   Self-emptying words leading through death to life.  Humble words, holy words, heart-breaking words for who can truly hear them and not have her heart pierced by the two-edged sword of Unutterable Love (see Heb 4:12)?  Yes, as St. Paul counseled, edifying words, fitting words, grace-imparting words -- words that are spirit and life!  What kind of words will I speak this day?  The choice is mine, as always.

Dear Jesus, whose word I praise (Ps 56:5), may I make Your words my own.  May they be my heritage for ever, the joy of my heart always (Ps 119:111).  Only then will the spoken words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to You and bring grace to all.  Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday on Thursday

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein
Ave Maria!  I meant to post this image yesterday, but time flew by.  You could say that I was busy chasing parades!  It looks as though these horses might be thundering to a parade as well.  I can just feel the excitement, see the dust they're kicking up, and smell their earthy odor.  All you creatures, bless the Lord!  Praise and exalt Him above all for ever!  HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another parade chaser...

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.  ~Luke 19:4

Ave Maria!  In today's gospel (Luke 19:1-10), we meet up with Zaccheus.  Ah, another parade chaser!  And a most resourceful one at that!  He wanted to see the Lord, who intended to come through the town, but, being of short stature, this view was blocked by the crowd.  Unwilling to let his limitations get in his way, Zaccheus ingeniously took action, running ahead and climbing a sycamore tree, "in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way."  Not only did the Lord see him, He also called Zaccheus by name and told him to come down immediately for He was going to stay at his house.  "And he came down quickly and received him with joy."

What am I willing to do to see Jesus?  How inventive will I be today in seeking Him out?  And how zealous to receive Him when He arrives and calls me by name?  May the song of the psalmist be mine:  "My heart is ready, O Lord; my heart is ready" (Psalm 57:7)

Dear Lord Jesus, whom I long to see, please make me adroit in seeking You and eager in welcoming You, always and everywhere.  Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Passing by...

Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  ~Luke 18:37

Ave Maria!  As my sweet Annie indicated this past summer in "The Other Mansfield Girl," her lovely reflection on our dear father, Daddy was a parade chaser.  At the first sound of a drum beating, a horn tooting, or a crowd gathering, he was off and running -- and we were right beside him, full of exhilaration at the endless possibilities to be encountered just around the corner. not wanting to miss a single moment of the glorious adventure sure to be.

Will there be a parade today?  Of course there will be!  Can't you tell?  Don't you sense the excitement, the thrill of it all?  Sound the trumpet!  Jesus of Nazareth is passing by!  "Be jubilant, my feet!"  Praise Him with timbrel and dance, with strings and pipes!  And, today and always, "O let all that is in me adore Him!"  Amen!  Hallelujah!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Because you have proved trustworthy in managing a small amount, come and share your master’s joy. ~Matthew 25:21, 23

In the parable of the talents the Master entrusted money to his servants and then set out on a journey. This was to help us understand how patient he is, though in my view this story also refers to the resurrection. Here it is a question not of a vineyard and vine dressers, but of all workers. The Master is addressing everyone, not only rulers, or the Jews.

Those bringing him their profit acknowledge frankly what is their own, and what is their Master’s. One says: Sir, you gave me five talents; another says; You gave me two, recognizing that they had received from him the means of making a profit. They are extremely grateful, and attribute to him all their success.

What does the Master say then? Well done, good and faithful servant (for goodness shows itself in concern for one’s neighbor). Because you have proved trustworthy in managing a small amount, I will give you charge of a greater sum: come and share your Master’s joy.

But one servant has a different answer. He says: I knew you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not winnowed; and I was afraid, and hid your talent. Here it is — you have back what belongs to you.

What does the Master say to that? You wicked servant! You should have put my money in the bank, that is, “You should have spoken out and given encouragement and advice.” “But no one will pay attention.” “That is not your concern. You should have deposited the money” he says, “and left me to reclaim it, which I should have done with interest,” meaning by interest the good works that are seen to follow the hearing of the word. “The easier part is all you were expected to do, leaving the harder part to me.”

Because the servant failed to do this, the Master said: Take the talent away from him, and give it to the servant who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has more will be given, and he will have enough and to spare; but the one who has not will forfeit even the little he has.

What is the meaning of this? That whoever has received for the good of others the ability to preach and teach, and does not use it, will lose that ability, whereas the zealous servant will be given greater ability, even as the other forfeits what he had.

~St. John Chrysostom, c.347-407
Grant us, we pray, O Lord, our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  ~Collect for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, from The Roman Missal, 3rd edition

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holy Midwifery

Our souls must give birth,
not outside themselves
but inside themselves,
to the sweetest, gentlest
and most beautiful male child imaginable.
It is Jesus whom we must bring to birth
 and produce in ourselves.
You are pregnant with him,
my dear sister,
and blessed by God who is his Father. 
~St. Francis de Sales

"Holy Midwife"

Every day a little birthing awaits us,
An opportunity pregnant with possibility.
Some of these spiritual birthings go easy.
Others are long, difficult, and agonizing.
You, Holy Midwife, attend each delivery
And urge us toward expectant growth.
Remind us that we must do our part.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Let go. Let go.
Trust the painful contractions of labor
Preceding the precious life that follows.

Today: I listen to Holy Midwife urging my growth.

by Sr. Joyce Rupp, S.S.M.

O Jesus living in Mary, thank You for giving me Your mother to be my holy midwife.  When I listen to her, I hear her say, "Do whatever He tells you" Jn 2:5).  With her wise and loving help, may I gladly give birth to You today, wherever You want and however You want.  Amen. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feast Day of St. Leo the Great

Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife. ~St. Leo the Great

My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations.  James 1:2

Thank you, my Jesus, for all the temptations You so lovingly allow me to experience.  Through Your goodness and mercy, may they bring me closer to You and help me to grow in virtue, all for the Father's  praise and glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Delicious Autumn!

Fall Bouquet by Ann L. Krumrein
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot, English novelist and journalist, 19th century

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Busy day?

Lord, temper with tranquility
Our manifold activity,
That we may do our work for thee
With very great simplicity.

~Ascribed to a 17th-century medieval monk

Ave Maria!  What a terrific little prayer for a very busy day!  It's a good one for me on any day, particularly when I'm feeling harried and overwhelmed.  I'm a bit amused that this was written in the 17th century.  I mean, how busy could people have been back then, especially in a monastery?  On the other hand, precisely because they didn't have our current labor-saving devices, they were undoubtedly swamped with chores at times.  But imagine, no interruptions from the various and sundry electronic devices that beckon us around the clock unless -- gasp! -- we dare to turn them off and deliberately opt to live instead "with very great simplicity."

Dear Lord, today and always, keep me tranquil and simple in You.  Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fellowship of the Unashamed

I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. I am finished and done with low living, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ’s presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God’s grace.

My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and spoken up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, speak out until all know, and work until He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no difficulty recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

Patrick Madrid

He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love.
~Song of Songs 2:4

Sunday, November 6, 2011

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Look, the bridegroom comes. Go out to meet him.  ~Matthew 25:6

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, since purity of heart leads to perfection. Two things are contained within the heart — goodness which is natural to it and evil which is unnatural. This latter gives rise to such passions of the soul as murmuring, envy, detraction, and all the rest.

Goodness, on the other hand, promotes knowledge of God and rids the soul of all these passions. If people honestly try to root out vice and avoid evil, if they repent with tears and sighs, devoting themselves humbly to a life of prayer, fasting, and watching, the Lord in his goodness will come to their aid and free them from all sinful inclinations.

Many who have lived a celibate monastic life for a long time have failed to learn what purity of heart is, because instead of studying the teaching of the fathers, they have followed their own wayward desires. So evil spirits and rebel marauders of the air have prevailed against them, hurling invisible darts by day and night, and thus preventing them from finding rest anywhere. Moreover they fill their hearts with pride, vanity, jealousy, criticism, raging anger, strife, and any number of other passions.

Such people are to be reckoned with the five foolish virgins because they have spent their time foolishly. They have not controlled their tongues nor cleansed their eyes and bodies from concupiscence, neither have they purged their hearts of lust and other deplorable defilements. It was enough for them merely to wear a woolen garment signifying virginity. Consequently they lack the heavenly joy which would kindle their lamps, and the Bridegroom does not open the door to them but repeats what he said to the foolish virgins: Truly I say to you, I know you not.

My only reason for writing you this letter is my desire for your salvation. I want you to be free and faithful and pure brides of Christ, the Bridegroom of all holy souls; as Saint Paul says: I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste bride to Christ.

Let us awake, then, while we are still in this body, and grieve overourselves, lamenting day and night from the bottom of our hearts, so that we may escape the bitter torment, the weeping, wailing, and remorse that will have no end.

We must beware of entering through the wide gate and taking the easy road that leads to perdition, for many go that way. Instead we must enter by the narrow gate and take the path of sorrow and affliction that leads to life. Few people enter this gate, but those who do are real workers who will have the joy of receiving the reward of their labors and will inherit the kingdom.

If any are prepared to set out I do beg them not to delay and waste time, for they may be like the foolish virgins and find no one willing to sell them oil. These virgins burst into tears and cried out: Lord, open to us. But he answered: Truly I say to you, I know you not. And this happened to them simply because of their laziness.

I beg you by the grace of God to obey me as I also will obey you; and may we all obey the Lord who said by the tongue of the Prophet: Who longs for life and desires to see good days? Keep your tongue from evil talk and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do good; seek and strive after peace.

~Attributed to Anthony

Dearest Jesus, kindle the lamp of my life with the joy of Your Holy Spirit, that it may always burn brightly in welcome of You, my Beloved Bridegroom. Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Separation from Those We Love

Nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try to find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bonds between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; God does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Now and then...

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
~1 Corinthians 13:12

All Souls

Unto Your faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not taken away.
The 1962 Roman Missal

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Solemnity of All Saints

Ave Maria! Today is the splendid solemnity of All Saints. Hallelujah! What a gloriously triumphant feast! As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his General Audience of April 13, 2011, "the whole of the Church’s history is marked by these men and women who with their faith, with their charity, and with their life have been beacons for so many generations, as they are for us too. The saints expressed in various ways the powerful and transforming presence of the Risen One. They let Jesus so totally overwhelm their life that they could say with St Paul 'it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Gal 2:20)."

In today's second reading from 1 John 3:1-3, the apostle urges us to "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God" and then declares:  "Yet so we are."  Because the saints so deeply and so intimately knew the Father's love, they were able to let His Beloved Son Jesus "totally overwhelm their life."   When we, like the saints, truly realize that "we are God's children now," then we will be able to say with St. Augustine:  "my life shall be a real life, being wholly filled by you."  Emptied by God Himself of all that is not His, of everything that is not Him, we will be filled with the holiness of Him of whom and to whom we sing:  "For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen!" 

Hallelujah indeed!

Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.  ~Revelation 7:12