Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From my sweet Annie's garden...

"First Pick" by Ann L. Krumrein

What's not to love about a vegetable that looks as bright and beautiful as this?!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Penteost Sunday!

As the Father sent me, so I send you: Receive the Holy Spirit.  ~John 20

Today’s holy solemnity puts new heart into us, for not only do we revere its dignity, we also experience it as delightful. On this feast it is love that we specially honor, and among human beings there is no word pleasanter to the ear, no thought more tenderly dwelt on, than love.

The love we celebrate is nothing other than the goodness, kindness, and charity of God; for God himself is goodness, kindness, and charity. His goodness is identical with his Spirit, with God himself.

In his work of disposing all things "the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world" from the beginning, "reaching from end to end of the earth in strength, and delicately disposing everything; but as sanctifier the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world" since Pentecost, for on this day the gracious Spirit himself was sent by the Father and the Son on a new mission, in a new mode, by a new manifestation of his mighty power, for the sanctification of every creature.

Before this day "the Spirit had not been given, for Jesus was not yet glorified," but today he came forth from his heavenly throne to give himself in all his abundant riches to the human race, so that the divine outpouring might pervade the whole wide world and be manifested in a variety of spiritual endowments.

It is surely right that this overflowing delight should come down to us from heaven, since it was heaven that a few days earlier received from our fertile earth a fruit of wonderful sweetness. When has our land ever yielded a fruit more pleasant, sweeter, holier, or more delectable? Indeed, "faithfulness has sprung up from the earth."

A few days ago we sent Christ on ahead to the heavenly kingdom, so that in all fairness we might have in return whatever heaven held that should be sweet to our desire.
The full sweetness of earth is Christ’s humanity, the full sweetness of heaven Christ’s Spirit. Thus a more profitable bargain was struck: Christ’s human nature ascended from us to heaven, and on us today Christ’s Spirit has come down.

Now indeed "the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole earth," and all creation recognizes his voice. Everywhere the Spirit is at work, everywhere he speaks.

To be sure, the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples before our Lord’s ascension when he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven; if you declare them unforgiven, unforgiven they remain," but before the day of Pentecost the Spirit’s voice was still in a sense unheard.

His power had not yet leaped forth, nor had the disciples truly come to know him, for they were not yet confirmed by his might; they were still in the grip of fear, cowering behind closed doors.

From this day onward, however, "the voice of the Lord has resounded over the waters; the God of majesty has thundered and the Lord makes his voice echo over the flood."
From now on the voice of "the Lord speaks with strength, the voice of the Lord in majesty, the voice of the Lord fells the cedars, the voice of the Lord strikes flaring fire, the voice of the Lord shakes the desert, stirring the wilderness of Kadesh, the voice of the Lord strips the forest bare, and all will cry out, “Glory”!"

Aelred of Rievaulx, 1109-67

Friday, May 25, 2012

The ongoing joy of the Ascension...

No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven.  ~John 3:13 

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies. 

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. 

Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love. 

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. 

These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. 

Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head. 

~St. Augustine

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Ascension of the Lord

The Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God.  ~Mark 16:15-20

The sacred work of our salvation was of such value in the sight of the Creator of the universe that he counted it worth the shedding of his own blood.

From the day of his birth until his passion and death this work was carried out in conditions of self-abasement; and although he showed many signs of his divinity even when he bore the form of a slave, yet, strictly speaking, the events of that time were concerned with proving the reality of the humanity he had assumed.

But he was innocent of any sin, and so when death launched its attack upon him he burst its bonds and robbed it of its power. After his passion weakness was turned into strength, mortality into eternal life, and disgrace into glory.

Of all this our Lord Jesus Christ gave ample proof in the sight of many, until at last he entered heaven in triumph, bearing with him the trophy of his victory over death.

And so while at Easter it was the Lord’s resurrection which was the cause of our joy, our present rejoicing is on account of his ascension into heaven. With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up in Christ above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father.

It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvelous when, in spite of the withdrawal from our sight of everything that is rightly felt to command our reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, charity does not grow cold.

For such is the power of great minds, such the light of truly believing souls, that they put unhesitating faith in what is not seen with the bodily eye; they fix their desires on what is beyond sight.

Such fidelity could never be born in our hearts, not could anyone be justified by faith, if our salvation lay only in what was visible.

This is why Christ said to the man who seemed doubtful about his resurrection unless he could see and touch the marks of his passion in his very flesh: "You believe because you see me; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

It was in order that we might be capable of such blessedness that on the fortieth day after his resurrection, after he had made careful provision for everything concerning the preaching of the gospel and the mysteries of the new covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven before the eyes of his disciples, and so his bodily presence among them came to an end.

From that time onward he was to remain at the Father’s right hand until the completion of the period ordained by God for the Church’s children to increase and multiply, after which, in the same body with which he ascended, he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high.

St. Leo the Great, c. 400-61


Saturday, May 19, 2012

“Most beautiful of creatures, who desires so ardently to know the dwelling place of your Beloved in order to seek Him and be united with Him, you are yourself the refuge where He takes shelter, the dwelling place in which He hides Himself. Your Beloved, your Treasure, your one Hope is so close to you as to live within you; and, actually, you cannot have life without Him!”  ~St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 1,7

Ave Maria!  Today is the 56th anniversary of my First Holy Communion.  Every single day, year after year after year, to be able to approach the Altar of God in absolute confidence and to receive in Holy Communion Him whom my heart loves - ah, could there be any greater joy? 

"Domine, non sum dignus...O Lord, I am not worthy!" 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ah, spring!

Rhubarb Buds by Ann L. Krumrein

What is Spring?
Growth in every thing!
~Gerard Manley Hopkins

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"To contemplate the Cross of Christ!"

Ave Maria!  On Sunday past, Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to visit the Shrine of La Verna, the Chapel of Stigmata, on the summit of Monte Penna where St. Francis received the stigmata.  While this was cancelled due to inclement weather, the address that the Holy Father prepared for this occasion has been published.  Let us contemplate the Cross of Christ that we might make "the Passover with Him."

"To contemplate the Cross of Christ! ...The glorious Cross of Christ sums up the world's sufferings, but it is above all a tangible sign of love, the measure of God's goodness to man....we too are called to rediscover life's supernatural dimension, to lift our eyes from what is contingent, and to return to complete reliance upon the Lord, with a free heart and in perfect joy, by contemplating the Crucified, that He may wound us with His love....The contemplation of the Crucified has an extraordinary efficacy, for it causes us to pass from the order of things thought, to that of experience lived; from hoped-for salvation to the sweet and blessed homeland. St. Bonaventure affirms: 'He who gazes intently [upon the Crucified]...makes the Passover with Him – that is, the passage'".
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You
because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Friendship with Jesus

I have called you friends.  ~John 15:15

We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if...!” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways.

But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend (see John 15:13-14). When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.

Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God...” He endured tremendous personal sacrifice, yet with overflowing joy. Have I ever yielded myself in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If He is not the One to whom I am looking for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in my sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God. One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires. But the one true desire of a saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not something sentimental or emotional -- for a saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing imaginable.

“I have called you friends...” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us, which has no resemblance or attraction to our old life but only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
My dearest Jesus, make me worthy to be called Your friend.  Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sixth Sunday of Easter

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  ~John 15:9-17

Let us deeply consider the love of our Savior Christ who so loved his own unto the end that for their sakes he willingly suffered that painful end, and therein declared the highest degree of love that can be.

For, as he himself says: "A greater love no one has than to give his life for his friends." This is indeed the greatest love that ever anyone had. But yet had our Savior a greater, for he gave his for both friend and foe.

But what a difference is there now, between this faithful love of his and other kinds of false and fickle love found in this wretched world. The flatterer pretends to love you because he dines well with you.

But now if adversity so diminish your possessions that he find your table not laid, then—farewell, adieu—your brother flatterer is gone and gets himself to some other table. And he might even sometime turn into your enemy and cruelly speak evil of you.

Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? If you were a king would not all your realm send you on your way alone and then forget you? Will not your own family let you depart a naked, feeble soul, you know not whither?

Let us all in time, then, learn to love as we should, God above all things, and all other things for him. And whatsoever love be not referred to that end, namely, to the good pleasure of God, is a very vain and unfruitful love. And whatsoever love we bear to any creature whereby we love God the less, that love is a loathsome love and hinders us from heaven.

Love no child of yours so tenderly but that you could be content to sacrifice it to God, as Abraham was ready with Isaac, if God so commanded you. And since God will not do so, offer your child in another way to God’s service.

For whatever we love that makes us break God’s commandment, we love better than God, and that is a love deadly and damnable.

Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful.

St. Thomas More (1477/78-1535), “A Treatise upon the Passion, Christ’s Love Unto the End”

Dear Lord, Crucified Love risen from the dead, teach me to love as I should, to love as You did:  God above all else and all else for God.  Amen. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The urgent character of evangelization

And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.  ~Luke 1:39

"The evangelization, which always has a character of urgency, in these times drives the Church to step with an even faster pace on the roads of the world, to bring every man to knowledge of Christ. In fact only in the Truth, which is Christ himself, can humanity discover the meaning of its existence, find salvation, and grow in justice and peace. Every man and every people has a right to receive the Gospel of truth."  ~Pope Benedict, Address to Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works, 5/11/12

Dear Mary, first evangelist of the Lord, help us to rise with you and go in haste into the cities of our lives to proclaim the Gospel of truth, Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the World. With you and like you, may we forever magnify the Lord.  Amen.  Alleluia!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"a marvelous symphony"!

Ann L. Krumrein

"The harmony of the universe is like a marvelous symphony, the sweetest and most effective chant of the Creator.  Blessed are they who listen to it."  ~Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
~Matthew 11:15

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Espoused to Him!

Full Moon by Ann L. Krumrein

"I am espoused to Him whom the angels serve.  Sun and moon stand in wonder at His glory."  ~from the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity

Ave Maria!  Today I "stand in wonder" anew at the glory of my Beloved Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ, who from all eternity chose me to be His bride!  Me!  "Ah! he hath loved me, yea, I say, he hath loved even me, even me myself, such as I am...!" (St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Bk 12, Ch 12).  Ah, what joy!  What absolute, total, unspeakable joy!  There are no words to express it -- only "the silence of eternity, interpreted by love" (John Greenleaf Whittier, "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind").  Today, this jubilant eighth anniversary of my consecration as a vigin, in the silence of my heart I sing with greater joy and gratitude than ever, in humble yet exultant praise of Him to whom I belong through His glorious gift and abundant grace: "I am espoused to Him whom the angels serve.  Sun and moon stand in wonder at His glory."  And you, too, my dear family and friends, my sweet sisters and brothers in our dear Lord, whose wondrous love binds us together, come, join the happy,  happy song!  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!!!

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.  ~Psalm 34:3

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Vine Life

Whoever lives in me, as I live in him, bears much fruit.  ~Jn 15:5

The passage from the gospel in which the Lord calls himself the vine and his disciples the branches affirms in its own way that, as mediator between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus is head of the Church and we are his members.

It is beyond dispute that a vine and its branches are of one and the same stock. Since Christ, therefore, possessed a divine nature not shared by ourselves, he became man precisely in order that in his own person there might be a vine of human stock whose branches we could become.

"Dwell in me," said Jesus, "and I will dwell in you."His disciples, however, do not dwell in Christ in the same way as Christ dwells in them. In either case, the benefit is theirs, not his.

If branches are attached to a vine, it is not to confer any advantage on the vine; it is rather that the branches themselves may draw their sustenance from the vine. The vine is attached to the branches to provide them with their vital nourishment, not to receive anything from them.

In the same way Christ’s presence in his disciples and their presence in him both profit the disciples rather than Christ. If a branch is cut off, another can grow from the life-giving root; but once severed from the root no branch can remain alive.

The incarnate Truth goes on to say: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever dwells in me and I in him yields fruit in plenty, because without me you can do nothing." These are words to be weighed and pondered continually.

Someone hearing Jesus say, he yields fruit in plenty, might perhaps think that a branch can bear at least a certain amount of fruit on its own. Our Lord’s words, however, were not: "You can do little without me," but: "You can do nothing."

Little fruit or plenty, there can be neither without him, because without him nothing can be done.

Even if a branch does produce a little fruit, the vinedresser prunes it away so that it may produce more. But if the branch does not remain attached to the vine and draw its life from the root, it can bear no fruit at all.

Now, although Christ could not be the vine if he were not human, he could not offer such a grace to his branches if he were not at the same time divine.

Since without this grace it is impossible to have life and consequently death is the result of one’s free choice, he said: "Whoever does not dwell in me will be thrown away like a branch and will wither, to be gathered in and cast on the fire to burn."

And so the shame incurred by those branches that refuse to dwell in the vine is in direct proportion to the glory they will have if they do remain in him.

"If you dwell in me, said Jesus, and my words dwell in you, you will ask for whatever you desire and it will be yours." Can a person dwelling in Christ desire anything out of harmony with Christ? The very fact that people dwell in their Savior must mean that they have no desire that is opposed to their salvation.

And yet we do indeed desire one thing insofar as we are in Christ, and another insofar as we are still in this world. Because of our sojourn here below, a thought sometimes steals into our ignorant minds to ask for something which cannot be good for us.

But this may not be, if we are dwelling in Christ.

He does what we ask only if it is for our good. To dwell in him, therefore, is to have his words dwelling in us; whatever we desire we shall then ask for, and it will be given us.

~St. Augustine, 354-430

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Call her again and again."

Mother! Call her again and again. She is listening, she sees you in danger perhaps, and with her Son's grace she, your holy Mother Mary, offers you the refuge of her arms, the tenderness of her embrace. Call her, and you will find yourself with added strength for the new struggle.

If we want to understand Mary’s role in the Christian’s life and to feel attracted to her, to be in her company, we don’t need to go into the theological theory, even though it is an inexhaustible mystery that she is the Mother of God.

We have to love God with the same heart with which we love our parents, our brothers and sisters, the other members of our family, our friends. And we must love Mary with that same heart, too.

How does a normal son or daughter treat his mother? In different ways, of course, but always affectionately and confidently, never coldly. In an intimate way, through small, commonplace customs. And a mother feels hurt if we omit them: a kiss or an embrace when leaving or coming home, a little extra attention, a few warm words.

~St. Josemaria Escrivá

Holy Mary, Mother of God, may I never fail to call upon you, our Mother Most Wonderful!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mother Most Wonderful!

"The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer."  ~Lumen Gentium, #53

Dearest Mary, how blessed we are that your Beloved Son has given us you to be our mother, too.  Hail, Mother Most Wonderful!  Amen.  Alleluia!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Come, join the dance!

Maypole Ribbons by Ann L. Krumrein

Loud, clear, the blackcap;
The lark trills his voice
Hail May of delicate colours
tis May-Day - rejoice!