Monday, July 30, 2012

Pond Vegetation

Pond Vegetation by Ann L. Krumrein

Ave Maria!  Last week my sweet sister Annie emailed me several images that she captured of their surroundings in Lincolnville, Maine.  This particular one, entitled "Pond Vegetation," keeps popping up in my mind. 

If I learned correctly in high school, vegetation is both plant life and the process of its growth.  Here we see the plant life, but the growth is hidden from our eyes.  We cannot perceive this wondrous process, though it is indeed happening.

All vegetation is not bad, but neither is it all good.  The words "the good, the bad, and the ugly" come to my mind.  The good vegetation must be cultured; the bad and the ugly must be controlled. 

What an apt image for our spiritual lives!  Most times we cannot sense the life of Christ taking root within us and unfolding bit by bit, but the absolute truth is that the Holy Spirit is constantly generating new life for the glory of the Father.  So I must faithfully do my part to nourish this precious life, confident that the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, will surely do His part.  For me, this means using the time-honored means that are a true treasure in the Catholic Church, such as prayer and sacrifice, penance and mortification, daily spiritual reading and examination of conscience, little acts of love and virtue, and the Sacraments.  Employing these precious methods also helps to control the bad and the ugly, for in strengthening the positive, we lessen the negative. 

Dear Lord, thank You for giving me everything I need to make my  little pond as beautiful as possible for You.  Amen.

Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 1:6

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oh, glory!

This is our glorious duty:  to pray and to love.  ~St. John Vianney

Ave Maria!  What a terrific reminder of what it's all about! 

We have a duty, yes, and ah, such a glorious one!   "For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor 4:6)

First, glorious because God Himself  has given it to us. "Then he told pray always without becoming weary." (Lk 18:1)  "Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)

Second, glorious because to pray and to love is truly splendid, exalted work.  "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love." (John 15:9)

Third, glorious because by faithfully doing these things day in and day out, we share in the life of our Lord Jesus.  "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." (John 15:10)  Little by little, we become more like Him as His Spirit transforms us "into His likeness from one degree of glory to another." (2 Cor 3:18). 

Oh my Jesus, King of Glory, what a grand and glorious day this will be if I but surrender myself to YOU!  Amen!   Alleluia!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bloom where you are planted!

Instead of tilling the field in which we find ourselves, we send our plough and oxen elsewhere, into our neighbor's field, where of course we cannot reap any harvest this year.  ~St. Francis de Sales

Dear Lord, I love this life of mine for it is Your  precious gift to me. Help me to use and live it well without even so much as a glance at my neighbor's field, for I am exactly where You want me to be and nowhere else could possibly be any better for me.  Jesus, I trust in You!  Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Afflictions and Vicissitudes

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

The vicissitudes that God allots you of good fortune and of bad, of health and of sickness, are well calculated to keep you wholly dependent upon him and to constrain you to perform the most meritorious acts of trust.  Our troubles, rightly used, become greatly lessened and proportionately profitable.  Worthy endurance of them is a great sacrifice comparable to that of those noble Christians who of old confessed their faith at the stake, since life's sufferings and the sorrows of circumstance provide the martyrdoms of Providence, even as the tortures of tyrants provided martyrdoms for faith and religion. 

~Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J., in Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wanting for nothing

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.  ~Psalm 23:1

There is never a moment when God does not come forward in the guise of some suffering or some duty, and all that takes place within us, around us and through us both includes and hides his activity.  Yet, because it is invisible, we are always taken by surprise and do not recognize his operation until it has passed by us.  If we could lift the veil and if we watched with vigilant attention, God would endlessly reveal himself to us and we should see and rejoice in his active presence in all that befalls us.  At every event we should exclaim:  "It is the Lord!" (John 21:7)  Nothing could happen to us without our accepting it as a gift from God. 

~Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J., in Abandonment to Divine Providence

Friday, July 20, 2012

Be reformed!

And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.  ~Romans 12:2

Retirement from anxieties of every kind; entering into no disputes; avoiding all frivolous talk; and simplifying everything we engage in, whether in a way of doing or suffering; denying the imagination its false activities, and the intellect its false searchings after what it cannot obtain -- these seem to be some of the steps that lead to obedience to the holy precept in our text. ~James Pierrepont Greaves

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th

Virgin of the Incarnation,
In the mysteries of grace
God has made his habitation
In our soul's most secret place.
Towards that bright and inner kingdom
All our words and ways compel
For the Father, Son and Spirit
In its sacred silence dwell.

Queen and beauty of Mount Carmel,
Virgin of the solitude,
In the wilderness of Carmel
Lies the world's eternal good.
Draw us into deep seclusion
And make God alone our goal,
In the mystical Mount Carmel
That lies hidden in the soul.

~Jessica Powers

Ave Maria! Yesterday, July 16th, was the beautiful feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, but it wasn't until late evening that I reflected upon the above lovely poem so I am just now posting it.  Jessica Powers is, of course, the American poet and Carmelite nun who entered the Carmel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the age of 40.  Her name in religion was Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, but since she was already an accomplished and published poet by the time she entered Carmel, she continued to be published using her birth name.  As always, after reading one of her poems, I am led into deepest solitude, where words disappear and silence reigns.  God alone! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Means of Holiness and Salvation

The means of holiness and salvation are known to everybody, since they are found in the gospel; the masters of the spiritual life have explained them; the saints have practised them and shown how essential they are for those who wish to be saved and attain perfection. These means are: sincere humility, unceasing prayer, complete self-denial, abandonment to divine Providence, and obedience to the will of God.  ~St. Louis de Montfort

Teach me, Lord, your way, that I may walk in your truth. 
~Psalm 86:11

Sunday, July 15, 2012

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

He called the twelve, and began to send them out.  ~Mark 6:7

Besides teaching himself the Lord also sent out the Twelve in pairs. The reason for sending them in pairs was so that they would go more readily, for they might not have been so willing to set out all alone, and, on the other hand, if he had sent more than two together, there would not have been enough apostles to cover all the villages. So he sent them two by two: "two are better than one," as Ecclesiastes says.

He commanded them to take nothing with them, neither bag, nor money, not bread, so as to teach them to despise riches, and to make people ashamed when they saw them preaching poverty by their own lack of possessions.

For who would not blush for shame, strip himself of his possessions, and embrace a life of poverty when he saw an apostle carrying neither bag, nor even bread which is so very essential?

The Lord instructed them to stay in the same house so as not to give the appearance of restlessness, as though they moved from one family to another in order to satisfy their stomachs.

On the other hand, he told them to shake the dust off their feet when people refused to receive them, to show that they had made a long journey for their sakes and they owed them nothing; they had received nothing from them, not even their dust, which they shook off as a testimony against them -- a testimony of reproach.

"Be sure of this, I tell you: Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better on the Day of Judgment" than those who will not receive you. The Sodomites were punished in this world, so they will be punished less severely in the next. What is more, no apostles were sent to them. For those who refused to receive the apostles greater sufferings are in store.

"So they set out to preach repentance. They cast out many demons, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them."

The fact that the apostles anointed the sick with oil is mentioned only by Mark, but the practice is also referred to in his general letter by James, the brother of the Lord, who says: "Are there any sick people among you? Let them send for the elders of the Church and let these pray over them, anointing them with oil."

Oil is beneficial for the relief of suffering, and it also produces light and makes for cheerfulness. It symbolizes the mercy of God and the grace of the Spirit, through which we are freed from suffering and receive light, gladness, and spiritual joy.

Bl. Theophylact, c. 1050-1109

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cross...

The Cross is according to my belief the greatest secret of the King (Tob 12.7) -- the greatest mystery of Eternal Wisdom.  ~St. Louis de Montfort, The Love of Eternal Wisdom

The uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom
thou hast made manifest to me. 
~Psalm 51:6

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Take, Lord, receive!

...present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship.
~Romans 12:1

The gift of Christ's Body makes everyone a priest; because everyone can offer the Body of Christ on the altar of his own life.

But the offering must be the offering of a human being who is intensely alive, a potent humanness, great sorrow and great joy, a life lit up with the flame of Love, fierce fasts and thirsts and feasts of sheer joy.

Everyone offering himself to God must offer the glory of life in himself, whether it be through giving it up or rejoicing in it; through a renunciation or an embrace.

Every gesture in life can be one with the gesture of the priest in the Mass.

~Caryll Houselander in The Reed of God

O Christ, ever greater!  Through You, with You and in You, may I continually and gladly offer a living sacrifice of praise on the altar of my life to God, the Father of love and mercy.  Amen!  Alleluia!

Monday, July 9, 2012

True Power and Strength

...but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Ave Maria!  The world may indeed be a mess these days -- but hasn't this always been the case?  History repeats itself.  We keep making the same mistakes.  We take one step forward, then two backward.  I speak not just of the global world but also of my own little world, especially the inner world of my soul where daily the war between good and evil is waged and I must either fight valiantly or be vanquished.  No one escapes this fierce battle without a few wounds, and God forbid that we should ever stop to lick them. 

And yet, we have hope -- enormous, indisputable HOPE!  We can do everything in Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:1), St. Paul reminds us, adding that in all these things we are conquerors because of HIM who loves us (Romans 8:37).  Our hope is not in ourselves but in our Lord, whose power dwells within us -- and His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  I don't really understand this, but I do believe it because I believe in God and in His saving Word:  "when I am weak, I am strong!"  Deo gratias!

Dear Lord, let me always happily boast of my weakness that I may be strong in the glorious power of Your life, death and resurrection.  Amen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A prophet is despised only in his own country.  ~Mark 6:4

Brothers and Fathers, many people never stop saying—I have heard them myself—“If only we had lived in the days of the apostles, and been counted worthy to gaze upon Christ as they did, we should have become holy like them.”

Such people do not realize that the Christ who spoke then and the Christ who speaks now throughout the whole world is one and the same.

If he were not the same then and now, God in every respect, in his operations as in the sacraments, how would it be seen that the Father is always in the Son and the Son in the Father, according to the words Christ spoke through the Spirit: "My Father is still working and so am I."

But no doubt someone will say that merely to hear his words now and to be taught about him and his kingdom is not the same thing as to have seen him then in the body.

And I answer that indeed the position now is not the same as it was then, but our situation now, in the present day, is very much better. It leads us more easily to a deeper faith and conviction than seeing and hearing him in the flesh would have done.

Then he appeared to the uncomprehending Jews as a man of lowly station: now he is proclaimed to us as true God. Then in his body he associated with tax collectors and sinners and ate with them: now he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and is never in any way separated from him.

We are firmly persuaded that it is he who feeds the entire world, and we declare—at least if we are believers—that without him nothing came into being. Then even those of lowliest condition held him in contempt. They said: "Is not this the son of Mary, and of Joseph the carpenter?"

Now kings and rulers worship him as Son of the true God, and himself true God, and he has glorified and continues to glorify those who worship him in spirit and in truth, although he often punishes them when they sin. He transforms them, more than all the nations under heaven, from clay into iron.

Then he was thought to be mortal and corruptible like the rest of humankind. He was no different in appearance from other men. The formless and invisible God, without change or alteration, assumed a human form and showed himself to be a normal human being. He ate, he drank, he slept, he sweated, and he grew weary. He did everything other people do, except that he did not sin.

For anyone to recognize him in that human body, and to believe that he was the God who made heaven and earth and everything in them was very exceptional.

This is why when Peter said: "You are the Son of the living God," the master called him blessed, saying: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you"—you do not speak of something your eyes have seen—"but my Father who is in heaven."

It is certain therefore that anyone who now hears Christ cry out daily through the holy Gospels, and proclaim the will of his blessed Father, but does not obey him with fear and trembling and keep his commandments—it is certain that such a person would have refused to believe in him then, if he had been present, and seen him, and heard him teach.

Indeed there is reason to fear that in his total incredulity he would have blasphemed by regarding Christ not as true God, but as an enemy of God.

Symeon the New Theologian, 949-1022

My Dear Lord, help me to always see You here and now, even if through a glass darkly.  May I neither discount nor disdain the familiar, lest I miss You hidden therein.  Show me Your face, let me hear Your voice -- my King and my God!  Amen.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Knot?

Dear God,

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.

Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, would nots, and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart, and my life all of the "am nots" that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough.


"The Knot Prayer," Author Known to God

Sunday, July 1, 2012

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Little girl, I say to you, arise. ~Mark 5:41

Every gospel reading, beloved, is most helpful both for our present life and for the attainment of the life to come. Today’s reading, however, sums up the whole of our hope, banishing all grounds for despair.

Let us consider the synagogue official who took Christ to his daughter and in so doing gave the woman with a hemorrhage an opportunity to approach him. Here is the beginning of today’s reading: An official came to Jesus and did homage, saying: "Lord, my little daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.

Christ could foresee the future and he knew this woman would approach him. Through her the Jewish official was to learn that there is no need to move God to another place, take him on a journey, or attract him by a physical presence. One must only believe that he is present in the whole of his being always and everywhere, and that he can do all things effortlessly by a simple command; that far from depriving us of strength, he gives it; that he puts death to flight by a word of command rather than by physical touch, and gives life by his mere bidding, without need of any art.

"My daughter has just died. Do come." What he means is that the warmth of life still remains, there are still indications that her soul has not departed, her spirit is still in this world, the head of the house still has a daughter, the underworld is still unaware of her death. Come quickly and hold back the departing soul!

In his ignorance the man assumed that Christ would not be able to raise his daughter unless he actually laid his hand on her. So when Christ reached the house and saw the mourners lamenting as though the girl were dead, he declared that she was not dead but sleeping, in order to move their unbelieving minds to faith and convince them that one can rise from death more easily than from sleep.

"The girl is not dead," he told them, "but asleep."

And indeed, for God death is nothing but sleep. He can restore life-giving warmth to limbs grown cold in death sooner than we can impart vigor to bodies sunk in slumber.

Listen to the Apostle: "In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead will rise." He used an image because it was impossible to express the speed of the resurrection in words.

How could he explain its swiftness verbally when divine power outstrips the very notion of swiftness? How could time enter the picture when an eternal gift is given outside of time?

Time implies duration, but eternity excludes time.

Peter Chrysologus, c. 400-50