Sunday, September 30, 2012

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 “Anyone who is not against us is for us.”  ~Mark 9:40

Do you not tremble when you hear God saying to you day after day throughout the whole of divine Scripture: "Let no evil word come from your mouth. Indeed I tell you that you will have to answer for a single careless word, and you will receive a reward."

My brothers, do not deceive yourselves. God loves us, and he is merciful and compassionate. I myself testify and acknowledge that it is his compassion that makes me confident of being saved. Nevertheless you must understand that this will be of no avail to those who refuse to repent and to keep God’s commandments in every detail and with great fear. On the contrary, God will punish them more severely than people who are unbelievers and unbaptized.

O brothers, do not deceive yourselves; let there be no sin that seems small in your eyes, and that you treat lightly, as though it did no great harm to our souls. Right-minded servants make no distinction between a small sin and a great; if they offend by so much as a glance, a thought, or a word, they feel as if they have fallen away from the love of God, and I believe this is true.

In fact, whoever has the slightest thought contrary to the divine will, and does not immediately repent and repel the assault of such a thought, but welcomes it and consents to it -- that person is counted guilty of sin, and this is so even if he is unaware that his thought is sinful.

Consequently we need to be extremely vigilant and zealous, and to give much time to searching the divine Scriptures. The Savior’s command, "Search the Scriptures" shows how profitable they are for us.

So search them, and hold fast to what they say with great exactitude and faith. Then, when the divine Scriptures have given you an accurate knowledge of God’s will, you will be able to distinguish without error between good and evil, and will not listen to every spirit, or be carried away by harmful thoughts.

You may be certain, my brothers, that nothing is so conducive to our salvation as following the divine commandments of the Savior. Nevertheless we shall have to shed many tears, and shall need great fear, great patience, and constant prayer before the import of even a word of the Master can be revealed to us. Only then shall we perceive the great mystery hidden in short sayings, and be ready to die for the smallest detail of the commandments of God.

For the word of God is like a two-edged sword, cutting off and separating the soul from all bodily desire and sensation. More than that, it is like a blazing fire, because it stirs up zeal in our souls, and makes us disregard all the sorrows of life, consider every trial we encounter a joy, and desire and embrace death, so fearful to others, as life and the means of attaining life.

Symeon the New Theologian, 949-1022

Remember your word to your servant,
by which you made me hope.
This is my comfort in sorrow:
that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119(118):49-50

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Archangels

[The Archangels] are God's messengers.  They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth.  Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are.  The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried.  They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf.  ~Pope Benedict, 9/29/07 Homily
In the presence of the angels I praise you, Lord!
~Psalm 138:1

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"may every beat of my heart be a prayer"

God of Compassion, may every beat of my heart be a prayer to obtain your grace and care for those most lost in our world.  May every breath I take be a prayer for mercy for those who are most in need.  May all those with whom I make eye-contact see themselves as You see them.  May all those I touch experience themselves as valuable because of your tender and forgiving presence and may I always be open to receiving your love and being an instrument of that love in the world. 
~Prayer of Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"a profound conversion"

"...following the Lord requires of every person a profound conversion, a change in his or her way of thinking and living, it requires an opening of the heart to listen, in order to allow oneself to be enlightened and interiorly transformed."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 9/23/12 Angelus Message

"Put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator."  ~Colossians 3:10
Dear Lord, let me hear Your voice, for it is sweet (Song of Solomon 2:14).  You alone have the words of everlasting life! (John 6:68)  Amen.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ephesians 4:1-6

"Walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called."  ~Ephesians 4:1 

Ave Maria!  The Epistle at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for today, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, is Ephesians 4:1-6.  This Scripture passage has been a little “rule of life” for me over the past 48 years, all because a wise priest pointed it out to me when I went to him for confession on a certain God-planned Saturday afternoon. 

It was the fall of 1964.  I was 16 years old and in the 10th grade.  I was young, unseasoned, self-important, and impatient.  I was antsy for my “real life” to happen – you know, the life I was going to live once I graduated and finally began my mission of saving the world and changing everybody in it.   

After I confessed my sins, Father asked me if I had a prayer book or missal that contained the readings for Sunday Mass.  Yes, I said, I have my mother’s prayer book with all those readings in it.  So he told me to go home and look at the Epistle for the next day, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, and to pay special attention to verses 1-3, which he read to me then and there, beginning with the words:  "walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called."  That’s what I should concentrate on, Father advised me -- living fully in the present moment, humbly and lovingly doing what our Lord was asking of me here and now rather than being a frequent flyer on flights of fancy into the unknown and far-off future.   

Wow!  A million light bulbs flashed on in the darkness of that confessional and within my heart!  At that time, I was living alone with my elderly father, which presented a few challenges for a young lady such as myself.  Fortunately, we both loved each other very much, and now, thanks to this understanding priest, I suddenly realized that Daddy was already more than a few steps ahead of me in doing what St. Paul counseled:  “with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.”  Now I must and would gladly go and do likewise. 

I’ve always remembered both this passage from Ephesians and the priest who directed me to it.  Today I’m considerably older and a bit seasoned but still self-important and impatient.  So I open Mummie’s prayer book to my little “rule of life,” marked by the same ribbon I placed there 48 years ago, and once again I beg God for the grace to live in a way worthy of the call I have received – the call to life on high in Christ Jesus my Lord.  

P.S.  If you are a priest reading this, please be assured that what you priests tell us in confession really does matter a good deal to us.  We remember your advice and direction – sometimes for 48 long years! -- and we take it to heart, all for the better.  Deo gratias!  Thanks be to God!

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“If anyone wishes to be first, let him make himself last of all and the servant of all.”  ~Mark 9:35

"As he was teaching his disciples the Lord said to them: 'The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will put him to death, but after his death, on the third day, he will rise again.'"

The Lord always alternated prophecies of his passion with the performance of miracles, so that he should not be thought to have suffered through lack of power. Therefore, after imparting the grievous news that men would kill him, he added the joyful tidings that on the third day he would rise again. This was to teach us that joy always follows sorrow, and that we should not be uselessly distressed by painful events, but should rather have hope that better times will come.

"He came to Capernaum, and after entering the house he questioned the disciples: 'What were you arguing about on the way?'" Now the disciples still saw things from a very human point of view, and they had been quarrelling amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest and the most esteemed by Christ. Yet the Lord did not restrain their desire for preeminent honor; indeed he wishes us to aspire to the most exalted rank. He does not however wish us to seize the first place, but rather to win the highest honor by humility.

He stood a child among them because he wants us to become childlike. A child has no desire for honor; it is not jealous, and it does not remember injuries. And he said: “If you become like that, you will receive a great reward, and if, moreover, for my sake, you honor others who are like that, you will receive the kingdom of heaven; for you will be receiving me, and in receiving me you receive the one who sent me.”

You see then what great things humility, together with simplicity and guilelessness, can accomplish. It causes both the Son and the Father to dwell in us, and with them of course comes the Holy Spirit also.

~Theophylact (c. 1050-1109), theologian and language scholar, studied at Constantinople. He taught rhetoric and was tutor to the imperial heir presumptive: hence his treatise on the Education of Monarchs. In 1078 he became archbishop of Ochrida in Bulgarian territory. While diffusing Byzantine culture among the Slavs, he allowed the use of Slavonic texts. He wrote commentaries on several books of the Old Testament and all of the New except Revelation. He especially stressed practical morality, as did Chrysostorn, his model.
"Preserve in me the heart of a child!"
~Rev. Leonce de Grandmaison, S.J.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Song To Sing

Those who wish to sing always find a song.  ~Swedish Proverb

This past week I've been ruminating on the above quote in my weekly Abbey Press Calendar, which my sweet sister Annie gives me every Christmas.  She has one as well, so we're always sharing our thoughts on the quote of the week, which never fails to excite, ignite, incite and/or delight us.

I keep my calendar on my prayer altar, so it's one of the first things I see each morning as I make my way there to start my day right.  I see my calendar often throughout the day because my apartment is too tiny for a little corner in which I can retreat to pray so my prayer altar is right there in the middle of everything.  I actually prefer it this way because it's a constant reminder to me that we are to pray always (cf. Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:17; Lk 18:1), which is especially true for me as a consecrated virgin.

Today being Saturday, which the Catholic Church dedicates to the Blessed Mother, I immediately thought of Mary and her Magnificat when my eyes lit upon this week's quote.  Here's a woman who wanted to sing!  And she always found a song because her beloved Son Jesus, the Word of the Father, dwelt within her.  He sang in her!  Her entire life was an endless hymn of praise as she went with Him from glory to glory.  Even at the foot of the Cross she could and did sing -- "At night his song is with me." (Ps 42:8) -- for she knew as only faith, hope and love know that He was the Life that could never die but would rise again and live for ever. 

Pope Benedict XVI speaks often of Our Lady's Magnificat.  In his encyclical on Christian Love, "Deus Caritas Est", he notes:
"My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). In these words she expresses her whole programme of life: not setting herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in service of neighbour—only then does goodness enter the world.
Mary teaches us to sing.  In her Magnificat, the Mother of Christ reveals to us the mystery of the Incarnation.  When the Word becomes flesh within us as it did in Mary's womb, we give birth to Christ in faith as she did in the flesh.  As the Holy Father continues in "Deus Caritas Est":
As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all. Thus, what took place for Mary can daily take place in each of us, in the hearing of the word and in the celebration of the sacraments. 
Dear friends, let us make Mary's song our own.  May her Magnificat be our "whole programme of life."  With Our Lady, today and always, may we sing a new song to the Lord, a hymn of praise to our God.  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts.
I was helped; my heart rejoices,
and I praise him with my song.
~Psalm 28:7

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it."

Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it.
It does good, though you feel nothing.
Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.

Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance.
It is laying hold of His willingness.
This is our Lord's will, ... that our prayer and our trust be, alike, large.
For if we do not trust as much as we pray,
we fail in full worship to our Lord in our prayer;
and also we hinder and hurt ourselves.
The reason is that we do not know truly
that our Lord is the ground from which our prayer springeth;
nor do we know that it is given us by his grace and his love.
If we knew this, it would make us trust
to have of our Lord's gifts all that we desire.
For I am sure that no man asketh mercy and grace with sincerity,
without mercy and grace being given to him first.
~Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
Dear Lord, I beg for the grace to truly know that my prayer is given to me by Your grace and Your love.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Prayer is like an open window..."

Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. ~Colossians 3:1
By raising our gaze to God's heaven in a constant relationship with Christ, by opening our hearts and our minds to him in personal and communal prayer, we learn to see things in a new way and to grasp their truest meaning. Prayer is like an open window that allows us to keep our gaze turned toward God, not only for the purpose of reminding us of the goal toward which we are directed, but also to allow the will of God to illumine our earthly journey and to help us to live it with intensity and commitment.  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 9/12/12 General Audience 

Dear Lord, I will open my window wide today so that I may see You.  Help me to always keep my eyes fixed on You.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Gift for God

What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to Me?  I care not for anything else you may give Me, for I seek not your gift but you.  Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give cannot please Me if you do not give yourself.  ~The Imitation of Christ, Book 4, Chapter 8
Dear Lord, it easy is to give You gifts but hard to give You myself.  How tightly I cling to myself!  In fear and selfishness, I protest:  "If I give myself to You completely, what's left for me?"  You who laid down Your life for me with such utter love, teach me that true magnanimity of heart that gives without counting the cost, for the joy set before us (Heb 12:2), life on high with You and the Father forever.  Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The glories of the Lord

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

There’s not a plant or flower below,
but makes Thy glories known...
~Isaac Watts

Sunday, September 16, 2012

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You are the Christ.”  ~Mark 8:29

When the Lord tells us in the Gospel that anyone who wants to be his follower must renounce himself, the injunction seems harsh; we think he is imposing a burden on us. But an order is no burden when it is given by one who helps in carrying it out.

To what place are we to follow Christ if not where he has already gone? We know that he has risen and ascended into heaven: there, then, we must follow him.

There is no cause for despair—by ourselves we can do nothing, but we have Christ’s promise.

Heaven was beyond our reach before our Head ascended there, but now, if we are his members, why should we despair of arriving there ourselves? Is there any reason?

True, many fears and afflictions confront us in this world; but if we follow Christ, we shall reach a place of perfect happiness, perfect peace, and everlasting freedom from fear.

Yet let me warn anyone bent on following Christ to listen to Saint Paul: "One who claims to abide in Christ ought to walk as he walked."

Would you follow Christ? Then be humble as he was humble; do not scorn his lowliness if you want to reach his exaltation.

Human sin made the road rough but Christ’s resurrection leveled it; by passing over it himself he transformed the narrowest of tracks into a royal highway.

Two feet are needed to run along this highway; they are humility and charity. Everyone wants to get to the top -- well, the first step to take is humility. Why take strides that are too big for you -- do you want to fall instead of going up? Begin with the first step, humility, and you will already be climbing.

As well as telling us to renounce ourselves, our Lord and Savior said that we must take up our cross and follow him. What does it mean to take up one’s cross? Bearing every annoyance patiently. That is following Christ.

When someone begins to follow his way of life and his commandments, that person will meet resistance on every side. He or she will be opposed, mocked, even persecuted, and this not only by unbelievers but also by people who to all appearances belong to the body of Christ, though they are really excluded from it by their wickedness; people who, being Christians only in name, never stop persecuting true Christians.

If you want to follow Christ, then, take up his cross without delay. Endure injuries, do not be overcome by them. If we would fulfill the Lord’s command: "If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me," we must strive with God’s help to do as the Apostle says: "As long as we have food and clothing, let this content us."

Otherwise, if we seek more material goods than we need and desire to become rich, we may fall prey to temptation. The devil may trick us into wanting the many useless and harmful things that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

May we be free from this temptation through the protection of our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

~Caesarius of Arles, c. 470-543, was born in Chalon on the SaĆ“ne. In 489 he entered as a monk at Lerins. He was so outstanding in the perfection of his life and in his sense of justice that he was eventually made archbishop of Arles. He legislated for both nuns and monks, his Rule for Virgins being written for his sister Saint Caesaria, superior of a community of nuns. Influenced by Saint Augustine’s teaching on grace, he successfully combatted semi-Pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529. He was a celebrated preacher; his practical charity was such that he melted down church plate to relieve prisoners, and the quality of his prayer is reflected in his challenging statement: “One worships that on which one’s mind is intent during prayer.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Holy Father on Prayer

" is precisely in prayer that we increasingly experience the presence of Jesus with us and in us. The more and better we pray with constancy, with intensity, the more we become like him, and he truly enters into our lives and guides them, bestowing joy and peace. And the more we know, love and follow Jesus, the more we feel the need to take time out in prayer with him, thus receiving serenity, hope and strength in our lives." ~Pope Benedict XVI, 9/5/12 Angelus Message

Ave Maria!  Usually I insert a link to the Holy Father's messages, homilies, etc., but for some odd reason, right now I cannot locate his complete Angelus message of September 5.  Perhaps it's Monday Morning Syndrome kicking in?  Whatever, the above excerpt, which I've been ruminating upon for several days now, has been plenty sufficient to make me realize and appreciate more and more how truly wonderful it is to pray.  We receive infinitely more than we give when we pray.  Yes, what a precious gift the Holy Spirit gives us in enabling us to pray (Romans 8:26)!  Today I pray that each one of us may always cherish and frequently use the splendid gift of prayer.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.  ~Mark 7:37

Just as the divine law says that when God created the world "he saw all that he had made and it was very good," so the Gospel, speaking of our redemption and re-creation, affirms: "He has done all things well. A good tree bears good fruit; no good tree can bear bad fruit."

As fire can give out nothing but heat and is incapable of giving out cold; and as the sun gives out nothing but light and is incapable of giving out darkness, so God is incapable of doing anything but good, for he is infinite goodness and light. He is a sun giving out endless light, a fire producing endless warmth. "He has done all things well."

And so today we must wholeheartedly unite with that holy throng in saying: "He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak."

Like Balaam’s ass, this crowd certainly spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Clearly it was the Holy Spirit who said through its mouth: "He has done all things well;" in other words he is truly God, because making the deaf hear and the dumb speak are things that only God can do.

There is a transition here from the particular to the general. This man has worked a miracle that only God could work; therefore he is God, who has done all things well.

"He has done all things well." The law says that all God did was good; the gospel says he has done all things well. Doing a good deed is not quite the same as doing it well. Many do good deeds but fail to do them well. The deeds of hypocrites, for example, are good, but they are done in the wrong spirit, with a perverse and defective intention.

Everything God does, however, is not only good but is also done well. "The Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his deeds." With wisdom you have done them all: that is to say, most wisely and well. So "he has done all things well," they say.

Now if God has done all his good works and done them well for our sake, knowing that we take pleasure in goodness, why I ask do we not endeavor to make all our works good and to do them well, knowing that such works are pleasing to God?

If you ask what we should do in order to enjoy the divine blessings for ever, I will tell you in a word. Since the Church is called the bride of Christ and of God, we must do what a good wife does for her husband. Then God will treat us as a good husband treats a dearly loved wife. This is what the Lord says through Hosea: "I will betroth you to myself with justice and integrity, with tenderness and compassion; I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness, and you shall know that I am the Lord."

So even in this present life we shall be happy, this world will be an earthly paradise for us; with the Hebrews we shall feast on heavenly manna in the desert of this life, if only we follow Christ’s example by striving to do everything well, so that "he has done all things well" may be said of each one of us.

~Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1619
And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
~ Colossians 3:17

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Greatness of Our Lady

For Jesus, his mother was not just that. Her merits are much greater: she was available to the will of God, and put herself to His full service.  ~Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 9/1/12 Homily

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.  ~Luke 11:28

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

God's Wondrous Law

God’s Law is his Word that guides man on his life’s journey, it leads him out of the slavery of egoism and brings him into the “land” of true freedom and life. For this reason in the Bible the Law is not seen as a burden, an oppressive limitation, but as a precious gift of the Lord, the witness of his paternal love, of his will to be near his people, of being their ally and writing a history of love with them. 

~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Message of 9/2/12

Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law.  ~Psalm 119(118):18

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

August Blue Moon in Lincolnville, ME

Waiting for Blue Moon by Ann L.Krumrein


Blue Moon Rising by Ann L. Krumrein


Monday, September 3, 2012

Feast of St. Gregory the Great

What tongue can describe the heart of the divine mercy? What mind is not amazed by the riches of such great love? The psalmist was thinking of these riches of divine love when he said: "My helper, I will sing a psalm to You. It is You, O God, Who are my protector, my God, my mercy." Carefully weighing the labors surrounding our humanity, he called God his helper. He calls his "protector" the One Who protects us in the midst of our present distress until we come to eternal rest. But bearing mind that God sees our evil deeds and bears with them, that He puts up with our sins and still preserves us for His rewards because of repentance, he could not just speak of God as being merciful but called Him mercy itself, saying "My God, my Mercy."

~St. Gregory the Great  
Jesus, my mercy and joy!
Let me live to praise You with all my being!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You forget the commandment of God and cling to human traditions.”  ~Mark 7:8

The Pharisees claimed that the traditions of their elders safeguarded the law, but in fact it contravened the law Moses had given. By saying: "Your merchants mix water with the wine," Isaiah shows that the elders mixed their watery tradition with God’s strict commandment.

In other words, they enjoined an adulterated law which went against the law, as the Lord also made clear when he asked them: "Why do you transgress God’s commandment for the sake of your tradition?"

By their transgression they not only falsified God’s law, mixing water with the wine, but they also set against it their own law, called to this day the Pharisaic law. In this their rabbis suppress some of the commandments, add new ones, and give others their own interpretation, thus making the law serve their own purposes.

Their desire to justify these traditions kept them from submitting to God’s law that taught them about the coming of Christ. Instead, they even found fault with the Lord for healing on the sabbath, which was not forbidden by the law, for in a sense the law itself healed by causing circumcision to be performed on the sabbath.

On the other hand, they found no fault with themselves for breaking God’s commandment by their tradition and the Pharisaic law just mentioned, or for lacking the essence of the law, which is love for God.

That this is the first and greatest commandment, the second being love of our neighbor, the Lord taught by saying that the whole of the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

He himself brought no greater commandment than this, but he renewed this same commandment by bidding his disciples love God with their whole heart, and their neighbor as themselves.

Paul also says that "love is the fulfillment of the law." When all other charisms fail, faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of all is love. Knowledge is of no avail without the love of God, nor is understanding of mysteries, faith, or prophecy. Without love all are vain and profitless.

Love on the other hand perfects a person and one who loves God is perfect both in this world and the next, for we shall never stop loving God -- the longer we gaze upon him the more our love for him will grow.

Irenaeus, c. 140-200

In the night I have remembered thy name, O Lord:
and have kept thy law.
~Psalm 119:55