Saturday, March 31, 2012

In the Gloaming

Ave Maria!  Something else well-worth checking out is this exhibition, "In the Gloaming."  If you'd like to enhance your visual experience of these wonderful images, listen to Elizabeth Lennox singing this song on YouTube, as recorded in 1920.  About the exhibition:  every month the Maine Photo Alliance, which was founded by my incredibly artistic sister Ann L. Krumrein, posts a new selection of images from the portfolios of its members.  I'm always amazed at how each one provides a different depiction of the theme for the month, sometimes startlingly so.  These photographers see things that most of us have never noticed or paid attention to -- but we will now, thanks to them.

P.S.  Two other very nice recordings of "In the Gloaming" on You Tube are Robert Merrill, recorded in 1949, and Jackie Hags and Felicia Chen, two high school girls singing a capella.  Yes, I do like this song an awful lot, even though it's a bit sad.  Read more about it here.

Art and Environment Help

Ave Maria!  Here's a great little gem for you to check out!  Rebecca Hill, a lovely and multi-talented woman of faith and vision from my parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, has her blog up and running:  Art and Environment Help.  Rebecca describes her blog as "The #1 source to glorify God, increase joy and unify the Church through the liturgy"--  and that's exactly what she does in our church through her simple but elegant "decorations" (oh, what a woefully inadequate word for her magnificent artistry!  somebody please help me here with a better word!)  and through the classes she teaches in our Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  Now she is generously sharing her creativity and giftedness online.  Last Sunday she began with an insightful reflection called "The lenten veil-hiding divine beauty," which brought to mind St. Paul's poignant words to the Corinthians: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Cor 13:12).  I'm waiting until tomorrow to read her post "Embracing the schizophrenia of the Palm Sunday Mass."  And I look forward to future soul feasts, thanks to Rebecca!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jesus, I trust in you!

"Let us say again, in word and in action: 'Lord, I trust in you; your ordinary providence, your help each day, is all I need.' We do not have to ask God to perform great miracles. Rather, we have to beg him to increase our faith, to enlighten our intellect and strengthen our will. Jesus always stays by our side and is always himself."  ~St. Josemaría Escrivá

The Lord is at my side; I do not fear.
 The Lord is my strength and my song.
You are my God, I praise you.
My God, I exalt you.
Give praise to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures forever.
~Psalm 118:6, 14, 28-29

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Knowing God

"Oh, what great happiness fills my heart from knowing God and the divine life! It is my desire to share this happiness with all people. I cannot keep this happiness locked in my own heart alone, for His flames burn me and cause my bosom and my entrails to burst asunder." ~St. Faustina (Diary, 491)

My dear Lord, knowing You and Your divine life is indeed an enormous joy, one of my greatest happinesses and all Your gracious gift to me.  Open to me the" door of faith" (Acts 14:27) that I may open it for others.  Make of me an evangelizer of Your  truth, a herald of Your love, a living proclamation of Your goodness.  This I beg, for the salvation of all and for the eternal praise and glory of the Father of mercies.  Amen.

Caritas Christi urget nos.  ~2 Cor 5:14
The love of Christ impels us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shut'st in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

"Annunciation" by John Donne, 1572-1631

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fifth Sunday of Lent ~ Passion Sunday

If a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest. ~John 12: 20-33

As the firstfruits of our renewed humanity, Christ escaped the curse of the law precisely by becoming accursed for our sake. He overcame the forces of corruption by himself becoming once more "free among the dead." He trampled death under foot and came to life again, and then he ascended to the Father as an offering, the firstfruits, as it were, of the human race.

"He ascended," as Scripture says, "not to a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the real one, but into heaven itself to appear in God’s presence on our behalf."

He is the life-giving bread that came down from heaven, and by offering himself to God the Father as a fragrant sacrifice for our sake, he also delivers us from our sins and frees us from the faults that we commit through ignorance.

We can understand this best if we think of him as symbolized by the calf that used to be slain as a holocaust and by the goat that was sacrificed for our sins committed through ignorance. For our sake, to blot out the sins of the world, he laid down his life.

Recognized then in bread as life and the giver of life, in the calf as a holocaust offered by himself to God the Father as an appeasing fragrance, in the goat as one who became sin for our sake and was slain for our transgressions, Christ is also symbolized in another way by a sheaf of grain, as a brief explanation will show.

The human race may be compared to spikes of wheat in a field, rising, as it were, from the earth, awaiting their full growth and development, and then in time being cut down by the reaper, which is death. The comparison is apt, since Christ himself spoke of our race in this way when he said to his holy disciples: "Do you not say, 'Four months and it will be harvest time?' Look at the fields I tell you, they are already white and ready for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving his wages and bringing in a crop for eternal life."

Now Christ became like one of us; he sprang from the holy Virgin like a spike of wheat from the ground. Indeed, he spoke of himself as a grain of wheat when he said: "I tell you truly, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains as it was, a single grain; but if it dies its yield is very great." And so, like a sheaf of grain, the firstfruits, as it were, of the earth, he offered himself to the Father for our sake.

For we do not think of a spike of wheat, any more than we do of ourselves, in isolation. We think of it rather as part of a sheaf, which is a single bundle made up of many spikes. The spikes have to be gathered into a bundle before they can be used, and this is the key to the mystery they represent, the mystery of Christ who, though one, appears in the image of a sheaf to be made up of many, as in fact he is.

Spiritually, he contains in himself all believers. "As we have been raised up with him," writes Saint Paul, "so we have also been enthroned with him in heaven." He is a human being like ourselves, and this has made us one body with him, the body being the bond that unites us.

We can say, therefore, that in him we are all one, and indeed he himself says to God, his heavenly Father: "It is my desire that as l and you are one, so they also may be one in us."

~St. Cyril of Alexandria, d. 444

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Mary...woman of recollected prayer"

Today I wish to speak of the figure of Mary, who with the Apostles in the Upper Room prayerfully awaits the gift of the Holy Spirit. In all the events of her life, from the Annunciation through the Cross to Pentecost, Mary is presented by Saint Luke as a woman of recollected prayer and meditation on the mystery of God’s saving plan in Christ. In the Upper Room, we see Mary’s privileged place in the Church, of which she is the “exemplar and outstanding model in faith and charity” (Lumen Gentium, 53). As Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mary prays in and with the Church at every decisive moment of salvation history. Let us entrust to her every moment of our own lives, and let her teach us the need for prayer, so that in loving union with her Son we may implore the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. 
~Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience of 3/14/12

Dearest Mary, Mother Most Wonderful, teach me to pray, teach me to love.  Amen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Holy Father's Trip to Mexico and Cuba, March 2012

"I ask you to pray for the apostolic voyage to Mexico and Cuba, which will begin next Friday. We entrust it to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved and venerated in these two countries that I am preparing to visit."  ~Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus message of 3/18/12

Ave Maria!  Let us remember to keep our Holy Father in our thoughts and prayers during his Mexico and Cuba trip, March 23-28.  May our dear Lord bless Pope Benedict XVI with His strength and peace, and may his presence -- the presence of God Himself as the Vicar of Christ! -- bring great  hope and abundant  joy to all!  We love you, dear Holy Father, and we lift you up with our prayers and sacrifices!

"Our journey toward Easter..."

...our journey toward a journey with Jesus through the “desert,” that is, a time in which to listen carefully to God’s voice and also to unmask the temptations that speak within us. The cross is outlined against the horizon of this desert. Jesus knows that it is the culmination of his mission: in effect, the cross of Christ is the apex of love, which bestows salvation upon us. Jesus himself tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Just as Moses raised up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be raised up, that whoever believes in him might have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).... Jesus too will be raised up on the cross so that whoever is in danger of death because of sin, turning with faith toward him who died for us, he might be saved. “God indeed,” writes St. John, “did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17)....  As we continue on our way, we keep our eyes fixed upon our goal, when we will accompany our Lord on the path to Calvary, so as to rise with him to new life.  ~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus of 3/18/12

Speed my steps along your path,
according to your will, O God!
Let me hear your voice,
O Crucified Savior!
May Your cross always be the apex of my life!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lenten journey continued...

In the Church’s tradition, this journey we are asked to take in Lent is marked by certain practices: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Fasting means abstinence from food but includes other forms of privation for a more modest life. However, all this is not yet the full reality of fasting: it is an outer sign of an inner reality, of our commitment, with God’s help, to abstain from evil and to live by the Gospel. Those who are unable to nourish themselves with the word of God do not fast properly.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear your name, Lord, God of hosts.  ~Jeremiah 15:16

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, Whose Word is my life and my salvation!  May I feast on You today and always with gratitude and joy.  Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Lent is a journey..."

Lent is a journey, it means accompanying Jesus who goes up to Jerusalem, the place of the fulfilment of his mystery of Passion, death and Resurrection; it reminds us that Christian life is a “way” to take, not so much consistent with a law to observe as with the very Person of Christ, to encounter, to welcome, to follow.   ~Pope Benedict XVI

And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way...they shall walk there that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. ~Isaiah 35:8-10

Thank You, my Jesus, for the gift of this Lenten journey.  To accompany You is an honor and a joy!   Amen.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday)

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.  ~John 3:14-21

Although we praise our common Lord for all kinds of reasons, we praise and glorify him above all for the cross. It fills us with awe to see him dying like one accursed.

It is this death for people like ourselves that Paul constantly regards as the sign of Christ’s love for us. He passes over everything else that Christ did for our advantage and consolation and dwells incessantly on the cross. "The proof of Gods love for us", he says, "is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners."

Then in the following sentence he gives us the highest ground for hope: "If when we were alienated from God, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son, how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!"

It is this above all that made Paul so proud, so happy, so full of joy and exultation, when he wrote to the Galatians: "God forbid that I should glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What wonder, indeed, if Paul rejoices and glories in the cross, when the Lord himself spoke of his passion as his glory. "Father", he prayed, "the hour has come: glorify your Son."

The disciple who wrote those words also told us that the Holy Spirit had not yet come to them because Jesus was not yet glorified, calling the cross glory.

And when he wanted to show God’s love did he do so by referring to signs, wonders, or miracles of any sort?

By no means: he pointed to the cross, saying: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that all who believe in him might not perish but have eternal life."

And Paul writes: "Since he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how can he fail to lavish every other gift upon us?"

And in his exhortation to humility he uses the same example, saying: "You should have the same dispositions as you find in Christ Jesus. Although his nature was divine, he did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave. Bearing the human likeness, sharing the human lot, he humbled himself and was obedient even to the point of dying -- dying on a cross!"

Returning to the subject of love, Paul again urges his hearers to "love one another, even as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." And Christ himself showed how the cross was his chief preoccupation, and how much he longed to suffer.

In his ignorance, Peter, first of the Twelve, foundation of the Church, leader of the Apostles, protested: "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you"! Listen to what Christ called him: "Get behind me, Satan. You are an obstacle in my way," proving by the strength of his reprimand his great eagerness to suffer on the cross.

~St. John Chrysostom, c. 347-407; Treatise on Providence 17, 1-8: SC 79, 225-29

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Advancing in faith...

...the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to His disciple with these words: "Woman, behold thy son".  ~Lumen Gentium, #58

Dear Mary, Virgin most faithful, lead me in my pilgrimage of faith to the Cross, that, "in keeping with the divine plan," I may always stand there with your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who alone is our hope and salvation, our resurrection and life.  Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Take with you words."

Take with you words.  ~Hosea 14:2

Ave Maria! What words will I take with me this day as I rise and greet the Dawn From On High? Will I exult, "Good morning, Lord!", or will I mutter, "Good Lord, it's morning!"? Will I join the psalmist in singing of God's strength and extolling His mercy because He is “my support, and my refuge" (Psalm 59:16) or will I start counting my aches and pains, afflictions and troubles, and defeatedly crawl back under the covers? Will I rejoice and be glad in this day which my Lord has made (Ps 118:24) or will I anticipate the future with consternation? Will I entrust absolutely everything to God and His infinite love and wisdom, confident that His "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" (Ps 23:6), or will I fret the hours away in dismal foreboding? Will I hope in God, "the salvation of my countenance," and "still give praise to Him," or will I trust in myself and be sad and disquieted (Ps 43:5)? Will I sing a new song to the Lord, the one He Himself has put into my mouth, praise of our God (Ps 40:4), or will I stay stuck on myself and whine, "Woe is me!"?

The words I take with me today will have a huge impact on me over the next 24 hours. They will also affect others, for better or for worse, for they are the words that I will bring to them. Will my words give them hope and happiness, will they be a healing balm for them, will they encourage and uplift them? Will they be words of spirit and life (Jn 6:63)? Will they be life-giving or death-dealing? Will they build up or tear down? Will they be loving words, full of patience and kindness (1 Cor 13:4), or will they be hateful words and destructive, critical, spiteful, and angry?

As always, the choice is mine. As always, God gives me His abundant grace to make good and wise choices.

O Jesus, precious and almighty Word of God, may I take You with me today for You are the only Word worthy of my undivided attention and devoted love. Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Be silent about great things..."

Be silent about great things, let them grow inside you.  Never discuss them, discussion is so limiting and so distracting it makes things grow smaller.  You think you swallow things when they ought to swallow you. ~Friedrich von Hügel

Dear Jesus and Mary, may your silence always be mine, may it be fertile ground where great things can grow in holy hiddenness.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Silence of Jesus

An attentive, silent, open heart is more important than many words. ~Pope Benedict XVI

Ave Maria! Last Wednesday at his general audience, Pope Benedict XVI concluded his series of reflections on the prayer of Jesus. The Holy Father considered the theme of Jesus' silence, "which is so important in our relationship with God." Referring to his Exhortation Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict reminds us that "The great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ all involve silence. Only in silence can the word of God find a home in us, as it did in Mary, woman of the word and, inseparably, woman of silence (n. 21)." The fruits of such silence are many and abundant for, as the Holy Father notes, "Silence is capable of excavating an interior space in our inmost depths so that God may abide there, so that his Word may remain in us, so that love for him may be rooted in our minds and in our hearts and animate our lives."

This reflection of Pope Benedict XVI is a rich one. It is particularly appropriate during our Lenten journey as we walk with Jesus in his Passion and Death, where he "reaches the heights of the depth of his prayer to the Father... when he pronounces his supreme 'yes' to the plan of God and reveals how the human will finds its fulfillment precisely in adhering fully to the divine will, rather than the opposite."

Dear Jesus and Mary, teach me the wisdom and the love of your silence before the Father of mercies.  Amen!

If you return and be quiet, you shall be saved,
in silence and in hope shall your strength be.
~Isaiah 30:15

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3rd Sunday of Lent

Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up.  ~John 2:13-25

"God’s temple is holy," and you are that temple: all you who believe in Christ and whose belief makes you love him.

Real belief in Christ means love of Christ: it is not the belief of the demons who believed without loving and therefore despite their belief said: "What do you want with us, Son of God?"

No; let our belief be full of love for him we believe in, so that instead of saying: "What do you want with us," we may rather say: We belong to you, you have redeemed us.

All who believe in this way are like the living stones which go to build God’s temple, and like the rot-proof timber used in the framework of the ark which the flood waters could not submerge. It is in this temple, that is, in ourselves, that prayer is addressed to God and heard by him.

But to pray in God’s temple we must pray in the peace of the Church, in the unity of the body of Christ, which is made up of many believers throughout the world. When we pray in this temple our prayers are heard, because whoever prays in the peace of the Church prays in spirit and in truth.

Our Lord’s driving out of the temple people who were seeking their own ends, who came to the temple to buy and sell, is symbolic. For if that temple was a symbol it obviously follows that the body of Christ, the true temple of which the other was an image, has within it some who are buyers and sellers, or in other words, people who are seeking their own interests and not those of Jesus Christ.

But the temple was not destroyed by the people who wanted to turn the house of God into a den of thieves, and neither will those who live evil lives in the Catholic Church and do all they can to convert God’s house into a robber’s den succeed in destroying the temple. The time will come when they will be driven out by a whip made of their own sins.

The temple of God, this body of Christ, this assembly of believers, has but one voice, and sings the psalms as though it were but one person. If we wish, it is our voice; if we wish, we may listen to the singer with our ears and ourselves sing in our hearts. But if we choose not to do so it will mean that we are like buyers and sellers, preoccupied with our own interests.

~St. Augustine (Expositions of the Psalms 130, 1-2: CCL 40, 1898-1900

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wee Glitch

Ave Maria!  Due to a wee glitch of undetermined origin, I'm unable to access my blog and so haven't been posting as of late.  If I can't work this out, I'll begin a new blog elsewhere and will post that information.  Ah, modern technology!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wood for the Fire

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi,
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.*

There is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for his own sacrifice of boundless charity.  ~St. Ignatius of Loyola

Thank You, my dear Jesus, for the precious crosses that You give me.  Through each one may I become more intimately united to You in Your sacrifice of boundless charity.  Amen.

(*We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.)