Thursday, June 28, 2012

Four things to learn...

I have four things to learn in life:
To think clearly without hurry or confusion;
To love everybody sincerely;
To act in everything with the highest motives;
To trust in God unhesitatingly.
~Helen Keller

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odor, and my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches.  I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.  Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits; for my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.  My memory is unto everlasting generations.  They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.  He that hearkeneth to me shall not be confounded, and they that work by me shall not sin.  They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
~Ecclesiasticus 24: 23-31
Mother Most Wonderful, come to my assistance!  Lead me always to your Beloved Son Jesus, and help me to love Him and serve Him as you did, with praise and devotion all the days of my life.  Amen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

John is his name.  ~Luke 1:63

Our feelings of piety and devotion bid us rejoice today in the birth of Saint John the Baptist. He was chosen by God to come and proclaim him who is the joy of the human race and the bliss of heaven. He is the new witness from whose lips the world heard that our Redeemer, the Lamb of God, was at hand. He, the trustworthy messenger of so great a mystery, was the witness whose birth was announced by an angel to parents who had given up hope of offspring.  

What person of good sense, discerning the hand of heaven in his birth, would not believe that he proclaimed divine mysteries? For he was not yet a child and was being carried partly formed in the womb when, by the privilege of the grace bestowed on him, he filled the heart of his blessed mother with eternal joy, and before his birth she made known the fruitfulness of her once barren womb. Elizabeth said to Mary: "Why, as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy! How is it that I am honored by a visit from the mother of my Lord?" 

It is not surprising that this elderly woman was endowed with the gift of foreknowledge, since she was to give birth to the herald of the most high God. 

Elizabeth's barrenness became her glory, for because her fruitfulness was delayed she obtained by the gift of a single child the honor of all posterity. While in their old age she and her husband were lamenting her unfruitfulness, she unexpectedly brought forth not merely a son for herself but the herald of eternal salvation for the whole world. Such a great herald was he that by anticipating the grace of his future ministry, he gave his mother the spirit of prophecy, and by the power of the name assigned to him by the angel, he opened the mouth of his father Zechariah, which had been sealed by doubt. 

For Zechariah had lost the power of speech not permanently, but so that the miraculous restoration of his voice might give heavenly testimony to the prophetic child. The priest who used to speak to the people became dumb so that his public silence might bring the mystery of the sacred birth to the notice of the entire people, and they would not dare to disbelieve. 

Of him whose birth his father doubted, incurring the punishment of being unable to speak, the Evangelist says: "He himself was not the light, but came to give testimony to the light so that everyone might believe through him." Indeed he was not the light, but because he was worthy to give testimony to the true light, he was wholly in the light. Therefore let us all give honor to the most blessed John by celebrating this day of his birth with great joy, for before anyone else he recognized the everlasting light of heaven which was going to dispel the darkness of the world, and he was the first to point it out.

~Maximus of Turin

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pure love

White Peony by Ann L. Krumrein

Pure love is capable of great deeds,
and it is not broken by difficulty or adversity.
~St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Friday, June 22, 2012

Laying Down Our Lives

Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends...I have called you friends...  ~John 15:13, 15

Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing -- our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. There was only one bright-shining moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was there that He emptied Himself of His glory for the second time, and then came down into the demon-possessed valley (see Mark 9:1-29). For thirty-three years Jesus laid down His life to do the will of His Father. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Yet it is contrary to our human nature to do so.

If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” And Jesus says to us, “...I have called you friends...” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.

~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Dear Jesus, my True and Faithful Friend, grant me the grace to lay down my life for You this day that I may be worthy to be called Your friend in life and in death, in time and in eternity.  Amen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Another Peony Bloom by Ann L. Krumrein
We are on the way towards definitive redemption, towards the full liberation of God’s children.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Peony Bloom

Peony Bloom by Ann L. Krumrein
Flowers grow out of dark moments.  ~Corita Kent

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A wayside sacrament...

Iris Bud with Dew Drops by Ann L. Krumrein

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting -- a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 18, 2012

Renewed Each Morning

Peony and Bud by Ann L. Krumrein

But I will call this to mind,
as my reason to have hope:
The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul;
therefore I will hope in him.
~Lamentations 3:21-24


Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Preserve in me the heart of a child..."

In our eagerness to embellish, we only distort.  ~St. Bernadette Soubirous

Ave Maria!  And to think that these words come from St. Bernadette, the poor, peasant girl of Lourdes, the 14-year-old miller's daughter, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared several times and revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception!  I think that if I ever had even just one fleeting vision of Our Lady, I would be sorely tempted to embellish that experience and tell it a million times over for the rest of my life.  But no, with the simplicity of a true child of God, St. Bernadette wisely chose differently.  Dear Lord, grant me such wisdom and simplicity!

"From the mouths of children and of babes
you fashioned praise to foil your enemy,
to silence the foe and the rebel." 
~Psalm 8:3

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Back-Lit Red Poppy by Ann L. Krumrein

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  ~Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"The readines is all." William Shakespeare

Ave Maria!  I am SO ready for my little operation tomorrow, thanks be to God!  Before today, I was almost dreading it, but this morning in my parish I went to confession, then attended Mass and received Holy Communion, and afterward was anointed with the Sacrament of the Sick by dear Fr. Van Vliet, FSSP.  My good friend Loria was with me (except for confession...LOL...but after all these years she already knows all my sins anyway!), making it all the more of a special occasion and a happy celebration.  WOW!  So many marvelous graces in just a little over an hour and a half!  It is true that God, in His goodness and mercy, gives us myriad graces all day long and all night, too.  But the graces flowing from the sacraments are different, truly heart-altering, life-changing, breath-taking.  I could feel them streaming in abundance from God through Fr. Van Vliet, his chosen ordained minister, onto me.  Now I am so incredibly invigorated and uplifted, both in soul and body.  I realize anew with humble gratitude how surrounded and sustained I am by the love of God and of the many wonderful people who are praying for me and cheering me on.  My faithful friend Tom, who gives me a ride to church every weekday morning, summed it up perfectly when he said to me, "You're armed!"  I am indeed -- and in the best way possible, "strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power," armed with the very armor of God Himself, which St. Paul exhorts us to put on -- the belt of truth, the breastplate of justice, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (see Ephesians 6:10-17).  Is there anything else I need?  I think not.  "For what have I in heaven? and besides thee what do I desire upon earth?  For thee my flesh and my heart hath fainted away: thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion for ever" (Psalm 72:25-26).  The plan is for Loria to drive me to the hospital tomorrow morning, but right now I'm tempted to think that I could get there myself on my God-given hinds feet (Habakkuk 3:19) and eagles wings (Isaiah 40:31)!  Deo gratias!

My heart is ready, O God; my heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
~Psalm 57:8

On the other hand...

A wise man can make everything great and useful.  ~Abbé Henri de Tourville

Ave Maria!  Yesterday I claimed that I wasn't going to be blogging for a bit while I recover from surgery on my fractured collarbone.  I'll be limited to using only my left hand/arm for the first few weeks, and typing with just one hand is so tedious, especially when it's not my dominant one.  On the other hand (no pun intended!), perhaps I could blog every day if I simply posted a pithy statement such as the one above, minus comments and links, leaving the pondering and sleuthing up to you, my dear readers.  We shall see...

In the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.  ~Psalm 51

Monday, June 11, 2012

The enemy of true joy

Be available and generous to others, overcoming the temptation to focus on yourselves, because selfishness is the enemy of true joy.  ~Pope Benedict VXI

Ave Maria!  As you may have noticed, my blog posts have been sporadic since my mishap in February when I broke my collarbone.  My recovery has been a bit bumpy, and now, four months later, my fracture is still not completely healed. It's time for me to get it fixed up, which will happen this Wednesday, June 13, when my orthopedist will do arthroscopic surgery to remove some floating bone fragments.  He's hopeful that this will take care of things and that after about eight weeks of recovery I'll be back to my regular routine.  Since I'll be wearing a sling for at least 3-4 weeks immediately following my operation, I'll most likely not be posting to my blog for a while.  I do ask that you say a little prayer for me that God's will be done and that I cooperate as fully and as gladly as possible.  Please be assured of my love and prayers for you and yours, especially that we may come to know the true and full joy of dear and blessed Lord Jesus Christ. 

These things I have spoken to you,
that my joy may be in you,
and your joy may be filled.
~John 15:11

P.S.  When we live "the vine life" that our Lord lays out for us in John 15:1-11 -- that is, when we allow the Divine Husbandman to prune us, when we do as He commands us, when we lay down our lives for each other, when we abide in His Sacred Heart so full of love and mercy, when we let His living words abide in us and make their home within our hearts, when we bear fruit for the Father's glory -- then indeed will our joy be full, "good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over" (Lk 6:38).  Deo gratias!  Alleluia!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

This is my body. This is my blood.

"As they were eating he took bread and broke it," Christ instituted this sacrament at the time of the passover in order to teach us by every possible means both that he himself had been the lawgiver of the Old Testament, and also that the whole of the Old Testament had been a foreshadowing of these mysteries. He was replacing the type by the reality.

The fact that it was evening signified that the fullness of time had come and that all was about to be accomplished. He gave thanks to teach us how we ought to celebrate these mysteries, to show that he was not going to his passion against his will, and to train us to accept with gratitude whatever we have to suffer and so to derive from it hope of future blessedness.

If the type was able to free a people from bondage, much more would the reality liberate the world, and Christ’s death bring down blessings upon our race. We see then why he did not institute this sacrament before, but only when it was time to abolish the rites of the law.

Christ put an end to the most important Jewish festival by offering his disciples another far more awe-inspiring meal. "Take, eat," he said, "this is my body which is broken for many." He told them that the reason he was going to suffer was to take away our sins.

He spoke of the blood of the new covenant, that is of the promise, the new law. He had promised long before that the new covenant would be ratified by his blood. As the old covenant had been ratified by the blood of sheep and calves, so the new covenant was to be ratified by the blood of the Lord.

Thus, by speaking of his covenant and by reminding them that the old covenant had also been inaugurated by the shedding of blood, he made known to them that he was soon to die. And he told them once again the reason for his death in the words, "This is my blood, which is poured out for all for the forgiveness of sins and, Do this in memory of me."

Notice how he leads them away from the Jewish customs by saying, "Just as you used to do this in memory of the miracles performed in Egypt, so now you must do it in memory of me."

Blood was shed then for the salvation of the firstborn: It is to be shed now for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world. "This," he said, "is my blood, which is shed for the forgiveness of sins." He said this to show that his passion and cross are a mystery, and so again to comfort his disciples.

As Moses had said, "This shall be for you an everlasting memorial," so now the Lord says, “Do this in memory of me until I come.” This is why he also says, "I have longed to eat this passover," meaning, “I have longed to hand over to you these new rites, and to give you the passover which will turn you into people moved by the Spirit.”

St. John Chrysostom, c. 347-407

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, faith and nothing more.
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Evening with the Holy Father

Ave Maria!  On the evening of June 2, almost half a million people attended the "Celebration of Witnesses” at Bresso Park in Milan, Italy, one of events of the seventh World Meeting of Families. Pope Benedict XVI arrived at 8.30 p.m. to participate in the celebration, during which he answered questions put to him by various families on subjects which included the economic crisis, the position of divorced people in the Church and the indissolubility of Marriage. The Holy Father also recalled his own infancy and family life. 

The Vatican has published the entire transcript of these questions and answers here.  The exchange that spoke most to my heart was initiated by a couple from Madagascar, Fara and Serge, who have been engaged for four years.  They have been studying in Florence and will return to their country as soon as they graduate to marry and to help their people.  They told the Holy Father that they feel that they were made for one another, and that is why they want to marry and build their future together. They said that they also want every aspect of their lives to be shaped by Gospel values.  Then Fara added, "But speaking of marriage, Your Holiness, there is a phrase that attracts us more than anything else, and yet it also frightens us: 'for ever'".

Pope Benedict XVI, after thanking them for their testimony, responded in part:
"...we see that falling in love is a wonderful thing, but perhaps it does not always last for ever: it is a feeling which does not remain indefinitely. So it is clear that the progression from falling in love to engagement and then to marriage requires a number of decisions, interior experiences. As I said, this loving sentiment is a wonderful thing, but it has to be purified, it has to undergo a process of discernment, that is, reason and will have to come into it. Reason, sentiment and will have to come together. In the Rite of Marriage, the Church does not say: 'Are you in love?' but 'Do you wish?' 'Have you decided?' In other words, falling in love has to become true love by involving the will and the reason in a deeper journey of purification which is the journey of engagement, such that the whole person, with all his or her faculties, with the discernment of reason and strength of will, says: 'Yes, this is my life'. I often think of the wedding-feast of Cana. The first wine is very fine: this is falling in love. But it does not last until the end: a second wine has to come later, it has to ferment and grow, to mature. The definitive love that can truly become this 'second wine' is more wonderful still, it is better than the first wine. And this is what we must seek. Here it is important that the 'I' and the 'you' are not alone, but that the parish community is also involved, the Church, the circle of friends. All this – the right degree of personal maturity, communion of life with others, with families who support one another – is very important, and only in this way, through this involvement of the community, friends, the Church, the faith, God himself, can a wine emerge that will last for ever. I wish you well!"
What beautiful yet challenging words of wisdom from our Holy Father!   And what a powerful image he uses in referring to the first wine -- i.e., falling in love -- and then the second wine -- i.e., fermenting, growing and maturing.  The first wine, excellent though it is, will and must in time be surpassed by the second, greater wine. And, as the Holy Father astutely points outs, this does not happen in isolation, not ever, no more than a single grape can produce a wine that will last and slake the thirst of many. Only through involvement "of the community, friends, the Church, the faith, God himself" can purification, growth and maturity take place, and then we will, thanks be to God, be lead out of ourselves into the "communion of life with others". 

All this is true for all of us, whether we are married, widowed, single or consecrated.  Each one of us must grow and mature, our love and our faith must be purified until we together reach that unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God that St. Paul wrote about to the community at Ephesus,"to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love" (Eph 4:13-16). 

In Eucharistic Prayer II of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the celebrant of the Mass asks our Lord to remember His Church spread throughout the world and to "bring her to the fullness of charity." Let us make this prayer our own, today and every day, and let us work diligently and ardently to make it a reality for ourselves and for each other.  Fiat! Amen!

Monday, June 4, 2012

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!

Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a Cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a Christian spirit the pinpricks of each day! Think, then, which is the more heroic.  ~St. Josemaría Escrivá

Ave Maria!  The above thought of St. Josemaría appeared in my mail box first thing this morning.  "Ah," I said to myself with a wry smile, "my marching orders for the day!"  No delusions of grandeur or flights of fancy here, not with this particular holy man of God along with so many other saints who, through the grace of God, learned to "get over" themselves and "get it."  They totally grasped what our Beloved Lord Jesus meant when He instructed us to take up our cross each day and follow Him, and they gladly died to themselves and all their hopes, dreams and expectations to do what their Master commanded.  We can do likewise this very day, moment by moment.  What's more, if we don't do it here and now, in the daily grind, it will never happen, not even and especially not if the opportunity presents itself for us to "be nailed to a Cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers." 

"I will fill him with length of days," we hear in the Psalms (91:16).  Dear Lord, let me use these days well, each and every precious moment, to live and to die for You alone and so give glory to our loving Father.  Amen.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trinity Sunday

Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. ~Matthew 28:19

Although it was by a common benevolence that the Trinity saved our race, each one of the blessed persons played his own part. The Father was reconciled, the Son reconciled, and the Holy Spirit was the gift bestowed upon those who were now God’s friends.

The Father set us free, the Son was our ransom, and the Spirit our liberty, for Paul says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." The Father recreated us through the Son, but "it is the Spirit who gives life."

Even in the first creation there was a shadowy indication of the Trinity, for the Father created, the Son was the Creator’s hand, and the Paraclete was the Life-giver’s breath. But why speak of this? For in fact it is only in the new creation that the distinctions within the Godhead are revealed to us.
God bestowed many blessings on his creation in every age, but you will not find any of them being ascribed to the Father alone, or to the Son, or to the Spirit.

On the contrary, all have their source in the Trinity, which performs every act by a single power, providence, and creativity. But in the dispensation by which the Trinity restored our race, something new occurred.

It was still the Trinity that jointly willed my salvation, and providentially arranged the means for its accomplishment, but the Trinity no longer acted as one. The active role belonged not to the Father, or to the Spirit, but to the Word alone.

It was the only-begotten Son alone who assumed flesh and blood, who was scourged, who suffered and died, and who rose again.

Through these acts of his our nature received new life; through these acts baptism was instituted -- a new birth and a new creation. Only in this new creation are the distinctions within the Godhead revealed.

Therefore, when those who have obtained this holy re-creation call on God over the sacred bath, it is fitting that they should distinguish between the persons by invoking them as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Nicholas Cabasilas, b. 1322/23

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

My soul magnifies the Lord!

Ave Maria!  In the address given in the Vatican Gardens by Pope Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the procession commemorating the end of the Marian month of May, the Holy Father reflected on the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, our Lady’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.  He said, in part:
This event is characterized by the joy expressed by the words with which the Holy Virgin glorifies the Almighty for the great things that He has done looking on the humility of His handmaid: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46). The Magnificat is the canticle of praise that rises from redeemed humanity by divine mercy, it rises from the whole people of God; at the same time, it is the hymn that denounces the illusion of those who believe themselves to be lords of history and arbiters of their destiny.
Mary, on the contrary, has put God at the center of her life; she abandoned herself trustfully to His will, in an attitude of humble docility to his plan of love. Because of her poverty of spirit and humility of heart, she was chosen to be the temple that bears the Word in herself, God made man. Of her, therefore, is the figure of the “daughter of Sion” that the prophet Zephaniah invites to rejoice, to exult with joy (cf. Zephaniah 3:14).
...We must always learn from our heavenly Mother; her faith invites us to look beyond appearances and firmly to believe that our daily difficulties are, in fact, part of a springtime which has already begun with the risen Christ. This evening we wish to draw from Mary's Immaculate Heart with renewed trust, allowing ourselves to be imbued with her joy which had its most profound source in the Lord. Joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of Christians. It is founded on hope in God, it draws strength from incessant prayer and it enables us to face trials and suffering with serenity. As St. Paul reminds us: 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer'. These words of the Apostle are like an echo of Mary's 'Magnificat' and exhort us to reproduce, in our own selves and in our everyday lives, the sentiments of joy in the faith expressed in that Marian canticle.
In closing, the Holy Father expressed his desire "that this spiritual joy, overflowing from the heart full of gratitude of the Mother of Christ and our Mother, be at the end of this month of May more consolidated in our souls, in our personal and family life, [and] in every environment."  May this be our constant prayer for ourselves and for each other, that the joy of our Beloved Lord may leap up within us as the unborn Child did in Mary's womb and flow through us to the ends of the earth.  Alleluia!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for June 2012

General Intention. Christ, Present in the Eucharist. That believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen One who accompanies them in daily life.

Missionary Intention. European Christians. That Christians in Europe may rediscover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Reflections on these intentions from the Apostleship of Prayer can be found here.

Prayer of the Month from the Apostleship of Prayer, adapted from the prayer for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress:
Lord Jesus, You were sent by the Father to gather those who are scattered. You came among us doing good, announcing the Word of salvation, and giving the Bread which lasts forever. Enflame our hearts and open our minds so that we may recognize you in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread. May your Holy Spirit transform us into one body and lead us to walk humbly on the earth in justice and love. Amen.

"the Lord has a plan for each of us"

"Mary received her vocation from the lips of an angel. The Angel does not enter our room visibly, but the Lord has a plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to learn how to listen, to perceive his call, to be courageous and faithful in following him and, when all is said and done, to be found trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts given us."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 9/11/06
Dear Mary, Virgin most faithful, grant me, I beg you, a share of your courage and faith in following your Beloved Son Jesus wherever He leads me.  With you, may I always magnify the Lord!  Amen.