Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
 Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
 Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
 Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

 In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
 Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
 Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
 Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

 Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
 He that for three days in the grave had lain;
 Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
 Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

 When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
 By Your touch You call us back to life again;
 Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
 Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
Now the Green Blade Rises
written by John MacLeod Campbell Crum, 1872-1958
as it appears in the Ox­ford Book of Car­ols, 1928
Ave Maria!  Or rather, in keeping with this glorious Easter Sunday, I sing instead, Regina Caeli!  Regina Caeli, laetare, alleluia!  O Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia!  Sing for joy, O Mother of our Crucified Lord and Savior, for He has risen as He promised!  Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, for your Son, our Beloved Jesus, is truly risen, alleluia!
Yes, "love is come again, like wheat that springs up green."  This lovely Easter carol is a favorite of mine.  Its very melody quickens within my heart the eternal joy of Christ's Resurrection.  Two recordings can be found here and here.  Both are excellent.  The first one is more in keeping with the original 15th Cen­tu­ry French melody, Noël Nou­ve­let, which is meant to be sung briskly.  The second one is equally as well done, though tiny bit slower, plus it provides the lyrics in a slightly different version.
"Love lives again"...and so do we!  "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57).  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday

Aesculus hippocastanum Seed
By JJ Harrison (

Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone;
but if it dies,
it bears much fruit.
~John 12:24

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you:
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

Before the festival day of the pasch,
Jesus knowing that His hour was come,
that He should pass out of this world to the Father:
having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them unto the end.
~John 13:1
Commentary on Holy Thursday by St. Augustine of Hippo
This evening we devoutly recall the sacred day before our Lord's passion when he graciously took supper with his disciples, willingly accepting everything that had been written or prophesied concerning his sufferings and death, in his merciful desire to set us free. It behooves us therefore to celebrate such mysteries in a manner befitting their magnitude, so that those of us who desire to share in Christ's sufferings may also deserve to share in his resurrection. For all the mysteries of the Old Testament were fully consummated when Christ handed over to his disciples the bread that was his body and the wine that was his blood, to be offered by them in the eternal mysteries and to be received by each of the faithful for the forgiveness of all sin.
In this way Christ showed that as he suffered for our sake in his mortal body in order to ransom us from eternal death and prepare our way to the heavenly kingdom, so, in order to have us as his companions in eternal life, he would be willing to undergo the same things daily for us whenever we celebrated the sacramental reenactment of these sacred mysteries. For this reason he told his disciples: "Take this, all of you; this is my body, and this the chalice of my blood which is shed for all for the forgiveness of every sin. Whenever you receive it, you do so in memory of me."
On the altar, therefore, Christ is present; there he is slain, there he is sacrificed, there his body and blood are received. Christ who on this Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper day gave his disciples the bread and the cup is the same Christ who today consecrates these elements. It is not the man who handles the sacramental species who consecrates Christ's body and blood; it is Christ himself, who was crucified for you. By the lips of the priest the words are pronounced; the body and blood are consecrated by the power and grace of God.
And so in all things let the purity of our mind and thought be evident, for we have a pure and holy sacrifice and must train our souls in a corresponding holiness. Having done all that needs to be done, we may then celebrate these sacred mysteries with all simplicity. Let us therefore approach Christ's altar in a fitting manner, so that we may be counted worthy to share eternal life with Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Way of the Cross at the Colosseum

Ave Maria!  In keeping with tradition, the Holy Father will lead the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday, March 29.  As Catholic News Service explains, each year a different person(s) writes "a commentary and prayers to help people realize that even today the sin and evil that led to Christ's suffering and death continue." 

This year's Stations have been prepared by Lebanese young people under the guidance of the Maronite Patriarch, His Eminent Beatitude Béchara Boutros Raï.  The meditations focus on the suffering of people -- especially Christians -- in the Middle East. These Stations were published yesterday here on the Vatican Web site.  Each one provides a Scripture verse plus a brief meditation followed by a prayer.  They contain excerpts from different Eastern rites and writers of the Catholic Church as well as references to “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente,” the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope Benedict to the Church in the Middle East, 9/14/12.  They also include illustrations of a 19th century Way of the Cross by an unknown Franciscan artisan in Bethlehem.  Above is the illustration for Station V, "Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross"; the reflection is at the end of this post.

These Stations are powerful.  I know that I will continue to use them for prayer and reflection even after Holy Week has ended.  Blaise Pascal wrote that “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world; we must not sleep during that time.”  These Stations will help us to stay awake and alert.  May they also help us to walk the Way of the Cross with our Crucified Lord here and now and until the end of the world.

V Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross

As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the Cross, to carry it behind Jesus.   ~Luke 23:26: 

Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.

Lord Jesus,
you have involved man in the carrying of your Cross.
You have invited us to share your sufferings.
Simon of Cyrene is like us
and he teaches us to accept the Cross
that we encounter on the paths of life.
Following your example, Lord,
we too carry the Cross
of suffering and illness today,
but we accept it because you are with us.
It can nail us to our chair,
but it cannot prevent us from dreaming;
it can obscure our vision,
but it cannot touch our conscience;
it can deafen our ears,
but it cannot prevent us from listening;
it can bind our tongue
but it cannot suppress our thirst for truth;
it can weigh down our spirit,
but it cannot rob us of our freedom.

we want to be your disciples
so as to carry your Cross every day;
we will carry it with joy and hope
because you are carrying it with us,
because you have triumphed over death for us.

We give you thanks, Lord,
for every sick or ailing person
who knows how to bear witness to your love,
and for every "Simon of Cyrene"
whom you place on our journey.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passion of Christ, strengthen me...

"Strengthen me, by all you suffered, to bear pain and sorrow and separation and loneliness.  Strengthen me, by the endurance of your agony, to endure temptation.  Strengthen me when I am attracted or frightened away from our Father's will, when I am bored and tepid and apathetic.

"Strengthen me not just to undergo passively but to bear with trust and courage and humility and love.  Let me make of my suffering a real sharing in your passion's satisfaction.

"Strengthen me not only for myself but for others; for the strength of each one is the strength of all.

"I have yielded so much, so shamefully.  I am without strength and without courage.  My past is of failures:  in this present moment there is so much I am trying to evade:  I can hardly dare trust in my future.

"Give me trust then in the strength of your passion, in your humility and love."

~H.P.C. Lyons, S.J., Praying Our Prayers

Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
 Body of Christ, save me.
 Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
 Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
 Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
 O Good Jesus, hear me.
 Within Thy wounds, hide me.
 Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
 From the malignant enemy defend me.
 In the hour of my death call me
 And bid me come unto Thee,
 That with all Thy saints, I may praise thee
 Forever and ever.

Ave Maria!  As many of us know, the "Anima Christi" is a powerful Christ-centered prayer from around the 14th century.  Many people still pray it today after receiving Holy Communion.  To learn more about this prayer's history and meaning, you might want to check out some excellent articles here, here, and here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Christ truly suffered for us..."

But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. ~1 Peter 4:13

Christ truly suffered for us, leaving us an example in anxieties, contempts, scourgings, the cross, death itself, that we might follow in His steps (cf. 1 Pet 2:21). If we endure for Christ our own anxieties and sufferings, we shall also reign together with Christ in the happiness that is everlasting (cf. 1 Tim 2:11-12). St. Bernard says, " How few are they, O Lord, who yearn to go after Thee, and yet there is no one that desireth not to come to Thee, for all men know that in Thy right hand are delights that will never fail. All desire to enjoy Thee, but not all to imitate Thee. They would willingly reign with Thee, but spare themselves from suffering with Thee. They have no desire to look for Thee, whom yet they desire to find."  ~St. Thomas Aquinas, Meditations for Lent

Dear Jesus, my Crucified Lord and Savior, help me to desire rightly!  Amen.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

With the angels and with the children may we be found faithful,
singing to him who triumphed over death:
"Hosanna in the highest."
~The Roman Breviary
O Lord Jesus Christ,
our King and Redeemer
 in Whose honor we have borne these palms
and gone on praising You with song and solemnity:
mercifully grant that wherever these palms are taken,
there the grace of Your blessing may descend,
and may every wickedness and trickery of the demons be frustrated;
and may Your right hand protect those it has redeemed.  Amen.
~The Roman Missal, The Procession of the Palms

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Prayer for Holy Week

Come, let us go to the house of the Lord!  (cf. Ps 122:1)

Jesus steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. ~Lk 9:51
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Father, the hour is come.  (cf. Jn 17:1)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

 I have come from you and I am going to you.  (cf. Jn 13:3)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

I have loved my own who are in this world and I will love them to the end.  (cf. Jn 13:1)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Make my footsteps firm.  (cf. Ps 40:3)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

I have not rebelled, have not turned back.  I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.  (cf. Is 50:5, 7)  
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

To you have I entrusted my cause. (cf. Jer 20:12)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

My lot is in your hands, deliver me from the hands of the enemies and those who pursue me. (cf. Ps 31:16)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will I fear, for you are with me (cf. Ps 23:4).
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Father, I know that you hear me always.  (cf. Jn 11:42)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Your merciful love and your faithfulness will always guard me.  (cf. Ps 40:12)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

Truly, I have set my soul in tranquility and silence.  (cf. Ps 131:2)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready: I will sing, and will give praise, with my glory.  (cf. Ps 108:1)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

 Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.  (cf. Lk 23:46)
            R. Let us also go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)

 Father, the hour is come, glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. ~Jn 17:1

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus his Mother...”  ~John 19:25

Ave Maria!  Today, Friday before Palm Sunday, in the Traditional Latin Mass we commemorate the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This feast is also celebrated on September 15. 

A little note in my 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal notes that today's celebration "especially commemorates the Compassion of Mary." 

The word "compassion" comes from the Latin:  cum, meaning with, and pati, meaning to suffer.

Our Lady suffered with her Crucified Son.  Mount Calvary was the culmination of all of her sufferings, seven of which are recalled in the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows:

1.  The Prophecy of Simeon, Lk 2:34-35
2.  The Flight into Egypt, Mt 2:13-21
3.  The Loss of Jesus for Three Days, Lk 2:41-50
4.  The Ascent to Calvary, Jn 19:17
5.  The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, Jn 19:18-30
6.  Jesus Taken Down from the Cross, Jn 19:39-40
7.  Jesus Laid in the Tomb, Jn 19:39-42

"Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers," St. Francis de Sales declared at the end of the Treatise on the Love of God (Book 12, Chapter 13).  Mary suffered as any mother would suffer with her beloved child.  But over and above, she suffered as a lover of God, a lover of the One whom He sent as Savior of the World.  She suffered because of love, by love, for love, in love, and with love.  Our Lady fully embraced Christ's suffering, His Life, Passion and Death, and entered so deeply into the mystery of Ineffable Love that she was consumed by It. 

Incarnate Love lay down His life for us upon the Cross -- and there stood His Mother. 

Mother of Sorrows, lead me to the Cross that I might forever stand there with you.  Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Great is God's mercy!"

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. ~Ephesians 2:4

...the Gospel presents to us the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11), whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversion. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (v. 11). Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart. "Great is God's mercy", says the Psalm. ...

[Mercy] changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God's love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful!

...Let us not forget this word: God never ever tires of forgiving us! ...the problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness.

Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man.

~Pope Francis, 3/17/13 Angelus
Dear Father, so rich in love and mercy, when I get tired of asking You for forgiveness, help me to remember that You never tire of forgiving me, that You are always waiting with an open heart for me to return to You to be converted and to become a channel of Your love and mercy for the whole world. Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

"....caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!"  ~Pope Francis, Homily for Inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry, March 19, 2013, Feast of St. Joseph

He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 40:11
Dear Jesus, our Good Shepherd, make me caring and protecting, strong and courageous in tenderness, like You.  Amen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Message of Jesus is Mercy

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

I think even we are sometimes like these people, who on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, sometimes we like to stone others and condemn others. The message of Jesus is this: mercy. ~Pope Francis, 3/17/13 Homily, Santa Anna's Church, Rome

Dear Lord, I'm guilty as charged. When my hands itch to pick up stones, let me instead stretch them toward You, begging for Your mercy. Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Silent Blessing = Loud Proclamation

Ave Maria!  He did it again.  Pope Francis behaved in a nontraditional manner.  Rather than conform to papal protocol, he conformed to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel of truth, humility and simplicity, the Gospel of love.  How marvelously refreshing!

By now, most of us have heard of our Holy Father's latest break with papal tradition, which delighted some while rattling others.  This was at the conclusion of his first meeting with the media.  One of the 6000 plus attendees, Dr. Robert Moynihan of The Moynihan Letters reports on this meeting in his "Letter #49: Black Shoes" (FYI, at the moment, Letter #49 hasn't been posted to Moynihan's Web site, but it will undoubtedly appear later today).  Here's Moynihan's account of how Pope Francis wrapped things up in his now becoming increasingly familiar "un-pope-like-but oh-so-Christ-like" fashion.
And then Francis did something which surprised everyone, pleased many, and shocked a few. 

The moment had come for him to impart to all of us his Apostolic Blessing, but he did not do this in the usual way. 

In fact, he made no exterior gesture at all. He did not lift his hand, he did not move it in the form of a blessing, and he did not speak "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" out loud. 

He said, in Italian: "I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you." And then, in Spanish, he explained as follows: "I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you!"  

And with that, he turned and left. 

One of my colleagues turned to me and said, "Where was the papal blessing?" 

"He gave it silently," I said. "He blessed us silently, without presupposing anything. He was trying to be respectful of individual consciences. This is not a purely religious gathering." 

"But it still seems like something is missing," my friend said. "No blessing!" 

"But there was a blessing," I said. "We just could not see it. It is like what Ratzinger used to say, that in heaven, in the presence of God, there will no longer be any external rites or rituals to signify our worship, all those things will pass away, because the perfect will have come..." 

"But are we already in heaven?" my friend replied. 

"No," I said. "But can't we believe we are on the way?" 

But my friend still was not satisfied. "I would have liked to have received a blessing from him," he said. 

"You did," I said. 

There will be more time in the future to reflect more deeply on these questions, which of course also have a relation to the liturgy. For the moment, it is enough to say that Pope Francis, also in this matter of giving a silent, not a public blessing to the journalists, did something without recent precedent, which is providing all of us with cause for meditation and inward conversion. 

And that is what should be our thought at this time, just as Cardinal Hummes told Pope Francis as the vote total rose: "never forget the poor." We should never forget our own need for conversion. We should be converted to Christ. We are ever in need of deeper conversion.  

This is what Pope Francis is calling us to, if we can but hear him...
Dear friends, let us remember the words of Our Savior:  "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (Luke 10:16)

And let us pray for each other ... that through the grace of dear Our Lord and Savior, we may open our ears to hear Pope Francis and open our hearts to let Jesus convert us.

"For what we preach is not ourselves,
but Jesus Christ as Lord,
with ourselves as your servants
for Jesus sake."
~ 2 Cor 4:5

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Miserando atque eligendo

Ave Maria! As many of us have heard, the episcopal motto of Pope Francis as a bishop, archbishop and cardinal was "miserando atque eligendo," which means "lowly but chosen." Catholic News Service reported here yesterday that this phrase comes from a homily on the call of St. Matthew by St. Bede, an English eighth-century Christian writer and doctor of the church:
"He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: 'Follow me.' This following meant imitating the pattern of his life -- not just walking after him. St. John tells us: 'Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.'"
CNS noted that Pope Francis may change, alter or keep this motto, "but the choice he made as a bishop still sheds some light on the person and ministry of the man who became pope March 13."  Everything we are hearing about our Holy father indicates that he has indeed been "imitating the pattern" of Christ's life, walking "in the same way in which he walked."  It appears that he has done and is doing precisely what St. Paul instructs us to do:
"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience..."  (Colossians: 3:12)
This is the way of Our Lord.  It is also the way of Our Lady, who joyfully magnified the Lord with her entire being because "He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid" (Luke 1:48).  In his first public words, Pope Francis called upon "the Madonna" from the balcony of St. Peter's.  In his first public venture, the next morning he went to St. Mary Major Basilica where he prayed to Our Lady for 30 minutes and honored her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  "Lowly but chosen."  Going to Jesus through Mary.  And rejoicing in God our Savior who has done such great things for us!

Thank you, dear Lord, for Pope Francis!

My soul, give praise to the Lord;
I will praise the Lord all my life,
sing praise to my God while I live.
~Psalm 146:1-2

Friday, March 15, 2013

Being Disciples of the Lord

"When we walk without the Cross,
when we build without the Cross,
and when we profess Christ without the Cross,
we are not disciples of the Lord."

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."  ~Matthew 16:24
Dear Jesus, my crucified Lord and Savior, I beg for the grace to be Your disciple, today and always.  Amen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What Pope Francis Did This Morning

Ave Maria! What a glorious day! Habemus papam!  I woke up this morning crying tears of joy and gratitude for new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Apparently he's already left his new home at St. Peter's for the first time as he goes about his Father's business.

According to the Vatican, as published on the Web here, the Holy Father "made his first and officially unscheduled visit to the Rome Basilica of Saint Mary Major early Thursday, surprising residents and children on their way to a nearby school.... Pope Francis remained about half an hour in prayer at the basilica’s altar of the Virgin Mary. The Basilica is one of Rome’s most important Marian shrines."

Ah, this son loves his Mother!

The headline for this article states: "Pope Francis makes surprise visit to Marian Basilica in Rome."

I suspect that our new Holy Father has a few more surprises in store for us.

I can hardly wait!

Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!

And I will raise me up a faithful priest,
who shall do according to my heart, and my soul,
and I will build him a faithful house,
and he shall walk all days before my anointed.
~1 Samuel 2:35

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


266th Successor of Peter
Elected by the College of Cardinals
on March 13, 2013
Episcopal Motto:
“miserando atque eligendo”
(lowly and yet chosen)
O God, who chose your servant Francis
in succession to the Apostle Peter
as shepherd of the whole flock,
look favorably on the supplications of your people
and grant that, as Vicar of Christ on earth,
he may confirm his brethren
and that the whole Church
may be in communion with him
in the bond of unity, love and peace,
so that in you, the shepherd of souls,
all may know the truth and attain life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
~Collect, Mass for the Pope

"no other guide..."

"We have no other guide to eternal life, divine life, beatitude, than the Life of Christ, the Teaching of Christ, the Passion of Christ, and the Prayer of Christ. The imitation of Christ is the way of love and of holiness."  ~Raïssa Maritain, 1883–1960

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."  ~John 14:6

Dear Jesus, lead me to the Father.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tell Him!

Trust him at all times, O people.  Pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.  ~Psalm 62(61):9
"Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them: show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability, your leanings to a corrupt world.  Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God!"  

~Archbishop François Fénelon, 1651-1715

Lord Jesus, my dearest and truest friend, today I will tell You everything -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- certain of Your enduring love for me.  Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Watching for smoke and being spiritually with our Cardinal Fathers in the Sistine Chapel

When to look for smoke?  Here's the plan, according to NCROnline:  "If you don't want to watch all day, when should you check for smoke?  Until a pope is elected, twice a day there will be black smoke around noon and 7 PM. White smoke could appear at these times or earlier, around 10:30 AM or 4:30 PM if a pope is elected on the first ballot of the morning or afternoon."  That's Rome time, of course.  For CDT, subtract 6 hours.  For EST, subtract 5 hours. 

The Conclave is much more than a voting session, Archbishop Piero Marini noted during a media briefing on March 9 that was organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the Pontifical North American College and that was reported today by Catholic News Service hereArchbishop Marini, who coordinated the development of the prayers and Masses that will guide the cardinals entering the Conclave tomorrow, pointed out that the Conclave isn't "a small circle of particular people who gather to make their own little decision" but is rather "an ecclesial event at which the cardinals represent the entire College of Bishops."  Catholics are called to enter spiritually into the Sistine Chapel with our Cardinal Fathers, he said, adding that "With our hearts we are all in the Sistine Chapel to await, through the voting, the Lord's indication of who the next pope should be."

Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin, a professor of liturgical studies at The Catholic University of America, explained that the conclave begins with a procession from the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace to the Sistine Chapel as a reminder that all people are on a pilgrimage from one place to another on this earth as they make their way home to God.  The entire conclave, he noted, "is liturgy. It's prayer from beginning to end."  The conclave handbook, he added, emphasizes that the conclave "is not only a juridical action -- how to do your hanging chads, it's not about that. It's about prayer."

Australian Jesuit Father Richard Leonard, author of the new book "Why Bother Praying," said when Catholics pray for the cardinals, "The thing we're primarily doing is asking God to give them the greatest insight into who the Holy Spirit wants to lead the Catholic Church right now." Praying that the Holy Spirit assist the cardinals, he pointed out, "also changes me, changes us." We may have a favorite candidate, but asking God to guide the conclave makes us recognize that the key value is not so much who walks out on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as the new pope, but that "the Gospel be most clearly proclaimed to the world."

On this eve of the Conclave, I find, as always, comfort, hope and strength in the Word of God, particularly this passage from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians (4:6-7):

"Have no anxiety about anything,
but in everything
by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will keep your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Your brother here was dead and has come to life. ~Luke 15:32

All that God looks for from us is the slightest opening and he forgives a multitude of sins. Let me tell you a parable that will confirm this.

There were two brothers: they divided their father’s goods between them and one stayed home, while the other went away to a foreign country, wasted all he had been given, and then could not bear the shame of his poverty.

Now the reason I have told you this parable is so that you will understand that even sins committed after baptism can be forgiven if we face up to them. I do not say this to encourage indolence but to save you from despair, which harms us worse than indolence.

The son who went away represents those who fall after baptism. This is clear from the fact that he is called a son, since no one is called a son unless he is baptized. Also, he lived in his father’s house and took a share of all his father’s goods.

Before baptism no one receives the Father’s goods or enters upon the inheritance. We can therefore take all this as signifying the state of believers. Furthermore, the wastrel was the brother of the good man, and no one is a brother unless he has been born again through the Spirit.

What does he say after falling into the depths of evil? I will return to my father.

The reason the father let him go and did not prevent his departure for a foreign land was so that he might learn well by experience what good things are enjoyed by the one who stays at home.

For when words would not convince us God often leaves us to learn from the things that happen to us.

When the profligate returned after going to a foreign country and finding out by experience what a great sin it is to leave the father’s house, the father did not remember past injuries but welcomed him with open arms.

Why? Because he was a father and not a judge. And there were dances and festivities and banquets and the whole house was full of joy and gladness.

Are you asking: “Is this what he gets for his wickedness?”

Not for his wickedness, but for his return home; not for sin, but for repentance; not for evil, but for being converted.

What is more, when the elder son was angry at this the father gently won him over, saying: "You were always with me, but he was lost and has been found; he was dead and has come back to life."

“When someone who was lost has to be saved,” says the father, “it is not the time for passing judgment or making minute inquiries, but only for mercy and forgiveness.”

~St. John Chrysostom, c.347-407
Thank you, Father, that Your goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.  Today I rejoice anew in the prodigality of Your love!  Amen.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mary at the Cross of Jesus

There stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother.  ~John 19:25

It is from Mary, as Our Lady of Sorrows, that we learn to be women of strength, standing in faith and love, particularly in times of darkness and suffering, as she did at the foot of the cross. Her maternity, her living faith in the fulfillment of the most profound mysteries of the Redemption, her contemplative silence, her humble, hidden, and constant activity in the simple life in Nazareth and in the early Church, are the basis of our nourishment and spiritual growth. Meditation on her mission and her virtues facilitates our personal encounter with Christ and our docility to the Spirit of God. ~Constitutions of the Congregation, Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows

Mother of Our Crucified Lord, pray for us!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Cardinal Scherer
Ave Maria!  As most people know by now, our Cardinal Fathers have decided that the Conclave for the election of the Pope will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.

Of course, we are all praying for all of them.  We can even adopt a particular cardinal and pray for him specifically now and in the days ahead.  Just go to ADOPT A CARDINAL on the Web and follow the instructions.  A cardinal will be chosen for you at random. 

You can even adopt a few extra cardinals, which I did for friends of mine who do not have access to the Web.  I simply went back to the "ADOPT" page and submitted a new request with a new name and my email address.  My requests were readily accepted.

Included above is a photo of my adopted Cardinal, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer from Brazil.  He was born September 21, 1949 (just a year older than me!) and has been a Cardinal since November 11, 2007.  Cardinal Scherer is the Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil. 

In closing, I share with you my specific arrow prayer for our Cardinal Fathers these days: "Send forth your light and your truth!"  (Psalm 43[42]:2)

Praying for Our Cardinal Fathers

Ave Maria! The Vatican Insider reports here that yesterday in Rome, the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, summarized the third day of pre-Conclave meetings.  “We need time to get to know each other, to talk more and to establish what the main needs of today's Church are. And in order to find the right man who can address these needs,” the cardinal noted: “It makes me shudder to think about the task that lies ahead of us next week. I don't think we are ready yet.”

Dear Friends, we must keep praying for our Cardinal Fathers!  Our prayers need not be long and complicated.  Short ones will suffice.  You know, those precious arrow prayers that we shoot straight from our hearts, aiming to pierce the mighty heart of our loving Father.  Here are some we all know.

Lord, hear my prayer.
O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Father, into your hands...
Jesus, I trust in you.
Holy Spirit, enlighten us.

Then there is the Psalter, chockfull of such zingers. 

Arise, Lord, save me.
I trust in your merciful love.
In you I take refuge.
O my Strength, to you I turn.
Lead me and guide me.
Guide me by your counsel.
Teach me to do your will.
These are but a few out of zillions of arrow prayers we can find in the Scriptures.  Pick up your Bible, find an arrow prayer that leaps forth from your heart to God's, and commit yourself to making that your constant prayer for our Cardinal Fathers during these days. 
Just as we don't need many words to pray, we don't need much time.  If we have only three seconds (and who doesn't?), we can pray. 
The Cardinal Fathers have their God-given task to elect a new pope.  We also, dear friends, have our God-given task:  we must pray!  We must pray often and pray much.  We must pray with love and devotion, certain of the Father's love for us.  And we must pray with confidence and hope, for the Father who gives us the grace to pray through His Son and the Holy Spirit hears our every prayer and answers them all according to His most gracious will.
Deo gratias!  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Touching Christ with the hand of faith"

If you set your heart aright, you will stretch out your hands toward him.  ~Job 11:13
Speaking of faith I must always think of that sick woman among the crowd who, gaining access to Jesus, touched him in order to be healed and was healed. The Lord said: “Who touched my garments?” They said to him: “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘who touched me?’” (cf. Mk 5:25-34, 7:27-30). But the Lord knows there is a way of touching him that is superficial, external, that really has nothing to do with a true encounter with him. And there is a way of touching him profoundly. And this woman truly touched him: she did not only touch him with her hand, but with her heart and thus received Christ’s healing power, truly touching him from within, from faith. This is faith: touching Christ with the hand of faith, with our heart, and thus entering into the power of his life, into the healing power of the Lord. And let us pray the Lord that we may touch him more and more, so as to be healed. Let us pray that he will not let us fall, that he too may take us by the hand and thus preserve us for true life.
~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Lectio Divina of 2/8/13
I call to You, Lord, all day long;
to You I stretch out my hands.
~Psalm 88(87):10

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Confiding in Mary

Mary is wise: let us place everything in her hands. She knows how to dispose of us and all that we have for the greater glory of God.

Mary is charitable: she loves us as her children and servants. Let us offer everything to her and we will lose nothing by it; she will turn everything to our gain.

Mary is liberal: she returns more than we give her. Let us give her unreservedly all that we own without any reservation; she will give us a hundredfold in return.

Mary is powerful: nothing on earth can take from her what we have placed in her keeping. Let us then commit ourselves to her care; she will defend us against our enemies and help us to triumph over them.

Mary is faithful: she will not permit anything we give her to be lost or wasted. She stands alone as the Virgin most faithful to God and to men. She faithfully guarded and kept all that God entrusted to her, never allowing the least bit to be lost; and she still keeps watch every day, with a special care, over all those who have placed themselves entirely under her protection and guidance.

Let us, then, confide everything to the faithful Virgin Mary, binding ourselves to her as to a pillar that cannot be moved, as to an anchor that cannot slip, or, better still, as to Mount Sion which cannot be shaken.

Thus whatever may be our natural blindness, our weakness, and our inconstancy, however numerous and wicked our enemies may be, we shall never go wrong or go astray or have the misfortune to lose the grace of God and that infinite treasure which is Eternal Wisdom.
~St. Louis de Montfort, The Love of Eternal Wisdom, #222
Mother Most Wonderful,
I confide everything to you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Adsumus Prayer

Ave Maria!  Yesterday afternoon, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, issued a brief report on the proceedings of the first of the General Congregations of the College of Cardinals. The cardinals' meeting took place at 9:30am in the Synod Hall, which is located above the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican building created by the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi.  Fr. Lombardi said that the cardinals opened with the “Veni Sancte Spiritus”. They followed with the “Adsumus” prayer, another prayer to the Holy Spirit which is attributed to St. Isidore of Seville and has been historically used at councils, synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years.  Let us join our cardinal fathers in begging the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them as they gather together in His name to elect our new Holy Father. 
Here we are, O Lord, Holy Spirit, we stand before you, hampered by our faults, but for a special purpose gathered together in your name. Come to us and be with us and enter our hearts.

Teach us what we are to do and where we ought to tend; show us what we must accomplish, so that, with your help, we may be able to please you in all things.

May you alone be the beginning and catalyst of our judgments, who alone with God the Father and his Son possess a glorious name.

Do not allow us to disturb the order of justice, you who love equity above all things. Let not ignorance draw us to what is wrong. Let not partiality sway our minds or respect of riches or persons pervert our judgment.

But unite us to you effectually by the gift of your grace alone, that we may be one in you and never forsake the truth; inasmuch as we are gathered together in your name, so may we in all things hold fast to justice tempered by mercy, so that in this life our judgment may in no way be at variance with you, and in the life to come we may receive an everlasting rewards for deeds well done.