Monday, February 27, 2012


Question:  What is the unholy trinity?

Answer:  The unholy trinity is my ego left to itself -- me, myself and I.  It can be a false god, but, through the abundant grace of Him who "has put all things in subjection under his feet" (1 Cor 15:27), my ego can also be brought into the service of God.  Then, in obedience to Him, it finds its salvation and becomes truly free, holy and whole. 

Resolution:  I will lead captive every thought into the obedience of the Christ (2 Cor 10:5) so that with my whole being I may love and serve Him alone.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, deliver me from myself and lead me to You!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday of Lent

The Temptation of Christ by Eric Armusik
"He was tempted by Satan, and the angels looked after him."  ~Mark 1:12-15

Everything the Lord Jesus decided to do, everything he chose to endure, was ordained by him for our instruction, our correction, and our advantage; and since he knew that the teaching and consolation we should derive from it all was far from negligible, he was loath to let slip any opportunity that might profit us.

And so when he was led out into the wilderness there is no doubt that his guide was the Holy Spirit whose intention was to take him to a place where he would be exposed to temptation, a place where the devil would have the audacity to accost him and put him to the test.

The circumstances were so greatly in the devil’s favor that he was prompted to capitalize on them: here was Jesus alone, at prayer, physically worn out by fasting and abstinence. A chance indeed to find out whether this man really was the Christ, whether or not he was the Son of God.

From this episode therefore our first lesson is that human life on earth is a life of warfare, and the first thing Christians must expect is to be tempted by the devil. As Scripture tells us, we have to be prepared for temptation, for it is written: When you enter God’s service, prepare your soul for an ordeal.

For this reason, the Lord desires the newly baptized and recent converts to find comfort in his own example. Reading in the gospel that Christ too was tempted by the devil immediately after he was baptized, they will not grow fainthearted and fearful if they experience keener temptations from the devil after their conversion or baptism than before -- even if persecution should be their lot.

The second lesson Christ desires to impress upon us by his own example is that we should not lightly expose ourselves to temptation, for we read that it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. Mindful of our frailty rather, we must be on the watch, praying not to be put to the test, and keeping ourselves clear of every occasion of temptation.

~John Justus Landsberg, 1489/90-1539, Complete Works 1 [1888] 120)

Ave Maria!  Having never heard of John Justus Landsberg, I was interested to learn more from the following found on the Web.  "John Justus Landsberg, so called from the place of his birth in Bavaria, received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Cologne, and then entered Saint Barbara’s, the celebrated charterhouse there. He made his profession in 1509, and in due course was ordained a priest. From 1530 to 1534/35 he was prior of the charterhouse of Vogelsang, and at the same time preacher at the court of John III, duke of Juliers, Cleeves, and Berg, an unusual function for a Carthusian.  Landsberg was one of the best spiritual writers of his day, the chief characteristic of his spirituality being the contemplation of Christ, the man-God, in his life, and in his passion and death. Landsberg was the editor of the works of Saint Gertrude, the great apostle in the middle ages of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, and he himself was one of the earliest promoters of this devotion."  What intrigues me most is Landsberg's active ministry, which is indeed unusual for a Carthusian, whose life is entirely devoted to prayer and contemplation and whose solitude is so great that he interacts with the brethren of his community only on Sundays.  Such are the mysterious ways of God, who, when we surrender ourselves to Him and His adorable will for us, often leads us in ways that we would not have thought possible. 
O the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
How incomprehensible are his judgments,
and how unsearchable his ways!
~Romans 11:33

Saturday, February 25, 2012

God and His Gifts

May Thy faithful people, O God, be strengthened by Thy gifts: that in receiving them they may seek after them the more, and in seeking them may receive them for ever.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

~Prayer Over the People, Saturday After Ash Wednesday, Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Ave Maria!  In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, a "Prayer Over the People" is prayed at the end of the Mass during the Lenten season.  Above is the one for today.  I am so happy that these beautiful prayers have been restored in the third edition of the Roman Missal for the Ordinary Form of the Mass, even though they are optional and vary somewhat from those in the Extraordinary Form. 

Today's prayer obviously refers to the many gifts that God so graciously gives us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Yet there are others, too, for in a multitude of ways God is always blessing us with His gifts.  Such is the nature of love -- especially His wondrous love! -- to give freely, abundantly, prodigiously.  Over and above, even while treasuring God's gifts and thanking Him profusely for them, we want to do as St. Francis de Sales always advised -- seek the Giver Himself rather than the gifts themselves.  

My dear Lord Jesus, in receiving You, may I seek You the more, and in seeking You may I receive You for ever.  Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Holy Father on the Season of Lent

In general, in common opinion, this time runs the risk of being marked by sadness, by the darkness of life. Instead, it is a precious gift of God; it is an intense time full of meanings in the journey of the Church; it is the itinerary to the Lord's Easter. ~Pope Benedict XVI

But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord;
and shall be delighted in his salvation.
~Psalm 35(34):9

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Heroism of Everday Life

The Christian vocation consists of making heroic verse out of the prose of each day.  ~St. Josemaria Escriva 

The above line comes from a homily of St. Josemaria Escriva that he gave at the University of Navarre on October 8, 1967.  It came to my mind last night while I was reading a wonderful article by Bob Greene, "John Glenn's True Hero."  Glenn was indeed heroic "when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth"".  Greene points out, however, that Glenn has never really considered himself a hero "because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom cheered."  That heroism is embodied in Annie, his wife of 68 years.  According to Greene, Annie and John met in a playpen and have been in love ever since.  Until the age of 53, Annie had a severe disability of stuttering -- "85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out."  She suffered greatly.  She persevered and coped as best as she could.  She got on with her life. She tried various treatments, but none worked until she found a doctor who ran an intensive program that has enabled her ever since "to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts."

John is right, she's a hero.  And so is he -- a hero of love.  Heroic verse indeed!  Theirs is a true love song that may not top the charts, but God hears it, and when He looks upon them, His beloved children, He is well pleased.

Do read Green's article if you can.  He's an excellent writer, and he beautifully captures the heart of this heroic couple.  And be sure to check out St. Josemaria's homily as well.  He also was a hero, always worth listening to and imitating.

But in all these things we overcome,
because of him that hath loved us.
~Romans 8:37

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  ~Mark 2:10

The scribes asserted that only God could forgive sins, yet Jesus not only forgave sins, but showed that he had also another power that belongs to God alone: the power to disclose the secrets of the heart. They, of course, did not reveal what they were thinking.

Scripture says that some of the scribes said within themselves: “This man is talking blasphemy.” And Jesus, aware of their thoughts, said: “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”

Now only God knows the secrets of the heart.

As the prophet says: You alone know the heart, and: God searches the mind and the heart. And so, to prove his divinity and his equality with the Father, Jesus brought their secret thoughts into the open, which they had not dared to do for fear of the crowds.

In doing this, he showed his great compassion. Why do you think evil in your hearts? he said. After all, if anyone had reason for complaint it was the invalid. As though cheated he might well have asked: “Have you come to heal something else then? To put right a different malady? How can I be sure that my sins are forgiven?” In fact, however, he said nothing of the sort, but surrendered himself to the healer’s power.

The scribes, on the other hand, feeling left out and envious, plotted against the good of others. Jesus therefore rebuked them, but with forbearance. He said: “If you do not believe the first proof, and regard it as an empty boast, then see, I offer you another by revealing your secret thoughts; and to this I will add a third.” What is the third to be? The healing of the paralytic.

Jesus did not give a clear manifestation of his power when he first spoke to the paralytic. He did not say: “I forgive you your sins,” but: Your sins are forgiven. When the scribes forced him, however, he showed his power more clearly, that you may know, he said, that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.

Before doing this Jesus asked the scribes: Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Pickup your mat and go home?” This was the same as asking: “Which seems easier to you, to heal the body, or to forgive the soul its sins?

Obviously, it is easier to heal the body.

Indeed, as far as the soul is above the body, so far does the forgiveness of sins surpass physical healing. However, since the one is invisible, but the other visible, I grant you as well this lesser, visible miracle as proof of the one which is greater but invisible.”

Thus he showed by his deeds the truth of what John had said of him: that he takes away the sins of the world.

~St. John Chrysostom, c. 347-407

But I have trusted in thy mercy.
My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation:
I will sing to the Lord, who giveth me good things.
~Psalm 12:6

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Living in the Light

The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. ~Romans 13:12

"Open wide the windows of our spirits and fill us full of light; open wide the door of our hearts that we may receive and entertain Thee with all the powers of our adoration."  ~Christina Rossetti

Our Lady of Light, pray for us and lead us to your beloved Son, Jesus, who is forever the Light of the World.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height
and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots
and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness
and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh,
but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart,"
but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart
and a song of praise upon your lips.

"On Love" from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Ave Maria! The above reflection of timeless beauty is one of which I never tire. This lovely book was a gift to me when I graduated from high school in 1963. All these years later, Kahlil Giran's words still speak anew to me, and after meditating upon it, I always say, "Yes, yes! This is so! This is how it is!" And then I beg Love Himself to direct my course of love so that I "may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast." He will never find me worthy, for who could ever be worthy of such wondrous Love as His?! Yet, in His kindness and mercy, He will and He does take me to Himself so that I may know the secrets of His heart and so find my true and everlasting love. His ways may sometimes be hard and steep, but they are the path of life, wherein lies the fullness of joy. Yes, when love beckons to me, I will follow Him.
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life,
thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance:
at thy right hand are delights even to the end.
~Psalm 15:11

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

~1 Corinthians 13

Happy Valentine's Day, my dear family and friends!  May our hearts forever rejoice in the One True Love who never fails, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  May He make us grow in His love and in our love for each other, to the praise and glory of the Father!  Amen!!!  Alleluia!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Counting it All Joy

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials.  ~James 1:2 

Ave Maria! Today's first reading (James 1:1-11) is most dear to me as it begins with my motto of many years: "Count it all joy."  Of course, temptations, trials, hardships, sufferings and all the myriad difficulties of life are not themselves a joy.  However, they can bring us true gladness because they can lead us to the wellspring of eternal joy, Jesus Christ, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).

So we have our dear Lord's example, especially when, during His agony in the garden, his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground and He prayed the longer:  "Not my will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42-44).  To do His Father's will was always His greatest joy.  And far more than our Lord's example, we have His ready help in all our adversities, both large and small.  But we must remember what our Master told us -- "Until now you have not asked nothing in my name; ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).  Let us ask, then, and, as St. James advises, let us ask "in faith, not doubting" (James 1:6).  And let's not be timid about calling upon the One who alone can save us!  Rather, let us be persistent like that troublesome widow who kept wearying the judge (Luke 18:1-5) and insistent like the blind man of Jericho who shouted ever more loudly as Jesus passed by (Luke 18:35-43).

Today, as always, with the grace of my dear Lord, who loves me so much, I will strive to ask in faith, receive in gladness, and count it all joy.

But I will rejoice in the Lord:
and I will joy in God my Jesus.
Habakkuk 3:18

Sunday, February 12, 2012

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

He sent the leper away, and he was cured. ~The Gospel of Mark

However great our sinfulness, each one of us can be healed by God every day. We have only to worship him with humility and love, and wherever we are to say with faith: Lord, if you want to you can make me clean. It is by believing from the heart that we are justified, so we must make our petitions with the utmost confidence, and without the slightest doubt of God’s power.

If we pray with a faith springing from love, God’s will need be in no doubt. He will be ready and able to save us by an all-powerful command. He immediately answered the leper’s request, saying: I do want to. Indeed, no sooner had the leper begun to pray with faith than the Savior’s hand began to cure him of his leprosy.

This leper is an excellent teacher of the right way to make petitions. He did not doubt the Lord’s willingness through disbelief in his compassion, but neither did he take it for granted, for he knew the depths of his own sinfulness. Yet because he acknowledged that the Lord was able to cleanse him if he wished, we praise this declaration of firm faith just as we praise the Lord’s mighty power.

For obtaining a favor from God rightly depends as much on having a real living faith as on the exercise of the Creator’s power and mercy. If faith is weak it must be strengthened, for only then will it succeed in obtaining health of body or soul.

The Apostle’s words, purifying their hearts by faith referred, surely, to strong faith like this. And so, if the hearts of believers are purified by faith, we must give thought to this virtue of faith, for, as the Apostle says, Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea.

A faith shown to be living by its love, steadfast by its perseverance, patient by its endurance of delay, humble by its confession, strong by its confidence, reverent by its way of presenting petitions, and discerning with regard to their content -- such a faith may be certain that in every place it will hear the Lord saying: I do want to.

Pondering this wonderful reply, let us put the words together in their proper sequence. The leper began: Lord, if you want to, and the Savior said: I do want to. The leper continued: You can make me clean, and the Lord spoke his powerful word of command: Be clean.

All that the sinner’s true confession maintained with faith, love and power immediately conferred. And in case the gravity of his sins should make anyone despair, another Evangelist says this man who was cured had been completely covered with leprosy.

For all have sinned and forfeited the glory of God. Since, as we rightly believe, God’s power is operative everywhere, we ought to believe the same of his will, for his will is that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

~Paschasius Radbertus

My dearest Lord,
I want what You want.
You want to make me clean.
Please do!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Be it done unto me..."

"Be it done unto me according to thy word" surrenders yourself and all that is dear to you to God, and the trust which it implies does not mean trusting God to look after you and yours, to keep you and them in health and prosperity and honor.

It means much more, it means trusting that whatever God does with you and with yours is the act of an infinetely loving Father...

When Our Lady stood up, a queenly child, and uttered her fiat to the Angel of God, her words began to make Christ's voice. Those first words of consent had already spoken Christ's last words of consent; her "I commit myself to you, do whatever you like with me" were already spoken by Christ in her; they were one and the same with His: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit"...

God asks for extreme courage in love; the Bride of the Spirit must respond with strength like His own strength.

Our Lady did this.

~Caryll Houselander in The Reed of God

Dearest Mary, Handmaid of the Lord,
grant me a share of the courage
and the strength of your fiat.

Dear ones, as some of you know, Caryll Houselander is one of my favorite authors.  I read her book The Reed of God in 1966, and she has been my soul sister ever since.  Happy to report, there's much good stuff about her out there in cyberspace, including excerpts from some of her writings.  For a real feast for your soul, go here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Counting it all joy

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials.  ~James 1:2

Ave Maria!  In His infinite wisdom and loving kindness, God is giving me many opportunities to "count it all joy" these days.  A nasty little tumble that I took at my beloved church last Friday has left me with a broken collarbone, as I learned yesterday when I saw an orthopedist.  I'm in a sling and must not use my right arm for at least 6 weeks, maybe more.  Six weeks will be the feast of St, Joseph, so I am already praying to him in a special way.  Yes, I am right-handed.  I am also slow typing with one hand.  OK, reality check:  I'm slow doing EVERYTHING with one hand!  I am absolutely committed to obeying my doctor's orders and may not be blogging much in the days ahead.  We'll see...  But I will be praying lots, more than ever, and especially for each one of you, my dear family and friends and readers.  God is so good and loves us so much, each one of us as if we were the only one, according to St. Augustine.  Because of Him, we can indeed "count it all joy"!  DEO GRATIAS!

Many would be willing to have afflictions
provided that they not be inconvenienced by them.
~St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where is God?

Cygnus-X: The Inner Workings of a Nearby Star Factory

Q:  Where is God?
A:  God is everywhere.

I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house;
and the place where thy glory dwelleth.
~Psalm 26:8

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rembrandt van Rijn (1609–1669)
The Healing of the Mother-in-Law of Saint Peter

He cured many who suffered from diseases of one kind or another.  ~Mark 1:34

Those who have listened attentively to today’s gospel will have learnt why the Lord of heaven, by whom all creation was renewed, entered the houses of his servants on earth. Nor should it surprise us that he so courteously adapted himself to every situation, since his motive in coming among us was to bring mercy and help to all.

You can easily see what drew Christ to Peter’s house on this particular occasion; it was no desire to sit down and rest himself, but compassion for a woman stricken down by sickness. He was prompted not by the need to eat but by the opportunity to heal, his immediate preoccupation being the performance of a work which only his divine power could carry out, rather than the enjoyment of human company at table.

In Peter’s house that day it was not wine that flowed, but tears. Consequently Christ did not enter to obtain sustenance for himself, but to restore vitality to another. God wants human beings, not human goods. He desires to bestow what is heavenly, not to acquire anything earthly. Christ came to seek not our possessions but us.

As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for. He was not interested in the comfort the house itself could offer, nor the crowds awaiting his arrival, nor the formal welcome prepared for him, or the assembled household. Still less did he look for any outward signs of preparation for his reception. All he had eyes for was the spectacle of a sick woman, lying there consumed with a raging fever.

At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at once stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God.

So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her.

Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death.

~St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 18: PL 52, 246-49

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed:
save me, and I shall be saved,
for thou art my praise.
~Jeremiah 17:14

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Beewise we gather our wax all year
From bramble sorrow and thistle tear,
Briar sadness and spine of pain:
Bitter flowers that bloom again!
But deadest winter brings a day
When thorns have lovelier bloom than May;
When candles are fashioned and lit by One
Who fashioned her wax to be lit by the Sun,
Then watched her Candle burn: the price
Of sin-consuming sacrifice.
Today she shares the Flame anew
To make us priest-and-victim too.

And Mary-mothered flames and Flame
Live their sacrificial Name.

~Rev. John D. Boyd, S.J.

Today's beautiful feast goes by different names.  The Roman Missal calls it The Presentation of the Lord.  It's also called the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, and Candlemas.  An excellent article on the meaning and history of this feast can be found here

In Thy light we shall see light!  ~Psalm 35(36):10

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Prayer That the Will of God May Be Done

Most kind Jesus, grant me Your grace, I pray; let it dwell in me, work in me, and abide in me to the end.  Grant me always to will and desire whatever is most pleasing and acceptable to You.  Let Your will be mine, and let my will ever follow and be conformed wholly to Your own.  Let me ever will and not will in union with Yourself, and be unable to will otherwise than You will or do not will.  Grant that I may die to all things in this world, and for Your sake love to be despised and unknown.  Grant me, above all else, to rest in You, that my heart may find its peace in You lone; for You are the heart's true peace, its sole abiding place, and outside Yourself all is hard and restless.  In this true peace that is in You, the sole, supreme, and eternal Good, I will dwell and take my rest. Amen.

~ from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book 3, Chapter 15

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
~Luke 1:46-47