Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blessed are you among women...

because you believed in the Word of the Lord
because you placed hope in his promises
because you were perfect in love
because of your attentive charity toward Elizabeth
for your maternal kindness in Bethlehem
for your strength in persecution
for your perseverance in the search for Jesus in the temple
for your simple life in Nazareth
for your intercession in Cana
for your maternal presence at the foot of the Cross
for your faith in the expectation of Resurrection
for your constant prayer at Pentecost
...for the glory of your Assumption into Heaven
for your maternal protection of the Church
for your constant intercession for all mankind.
~St. John Paul II, 7/3/86
And oh, how blessed we are to be your children,
Dearest Mary, Mother Most Wonderful!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to You!

"Snow on Pumpkins" by Ann L. Krumrein

All the earth, proclaim the Lord!
Sing your praise to God!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Joy of the Gospel!

"THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus."
~Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium," #1

Ave Maria!  Yesterday, November 26, the Vatican released the first extensive piece of writing by Pope Francis.  It is an apostolic exhortation, which is one of the most authoritative categories of papal documents.  Called "Evangelii Gaudium," meaning "The joy of the Gospel," it is the Holy Father's first major document, and it demands our careful attention.  Salt + Light provides an excellent summary of "Evangelii Gaudium" here, but nothing replaces reading and contemplating the actual entire document itself, which can be found on the Vatican Web site here.  Dear Readers, let me encourage you to do precisely this by sharing with you these opening words of Pope Francis, an invitation "to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ" that will surely renew a steadfast spirit within us and restore in us the joy of HIS salvation (Psalm 51[50]:12, 15).
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!  ~Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium", #3

 Behold, I make all things new.  ~Revelation 21:5
P.S.  I'm sure that "Evangelii Gaudium" is available from various booksellers on the Web.  One I know of is the Catholic Company, as you will see here

UPDATE:  We can pre-order "Evangelii Gaudium" from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops here for $13.95.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 
~Luke 23:42

“The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” These are the angel’s words to the Virgin concerning the son he had announced, promising that he should succeed to the kingdom of David.

No one questions the origin of our Lord Jesus from the line of David, but how, I wonder, will God give him the throne of David, since Jesus never reigned in Jerusalem and would not consent to the crowds who would make him king—he even protested before Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world.

Besides, what importance could be attached to his sitting on the throne of David his father when he was already seated on the cherubim, on a throne high and lifted up, as the prophet says?

But we know that another Jerusalem is meant, different from the present one where David once reigned, a city much nobler and richer. God will indeed give him the throne of his father David when he has established him as king over Zion, his holy mountain—he will give him not a symbolic but a real throne, not a temporal but an eternal throne, not an earthly but a heavenly throne.

“He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Again, if we take this in a temporal sense, how is it that Christ will reign for ever over something not eternal in itself?

We must look, then, for a house of Jacob that is eternal, over which he will reign for ever.

Are there any among us who, in accordance with the meaning of the name Jacob (supplanter), will supplant the devil in their hearts, struggle against their vices and desires, so that sin will not reign in their bodies, but Jesus only, through grace now, through glory for all eternity?

Blessed are they in whom Jesus will reign for ever, for they shall reign with him, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Oh how glorious is that kingdom where kings are gathered together to give united praise and honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords, in the contemplation of whose splendor the just shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Oh that Jesus, out of the love he has for his people, may remember me, a sinner, when he comes into his kingdom! Oh that he may deign to come and save me on the day when he delivers up his kingdom to his God and Father, so that I may see the joy of his chosen ones and rejoice in the gladness of his people. Then I too shall be able to praise him together with his inheritance.

And now, Lord Jesus, come and remove the stumbling-blocks within the kingdom which is my soul, so that you who ought to may reign in it.

Greed comes along and claims its throne in me; arrogance would dominate me; pride would be my king. Comfort and pleasure say: We shall reign! Ambition, detraction, envy, anger fight within me for supremacy, and seem to have me entirely in their power.
But I resist insofar as I can; I struggle against them insofar as I receive your help. I protest that Jesus is my Lord. I keep myself for him since I acknowledge his rights over me. To me he is God, to me he is the Lord, and I declare: I will have no king but the Lord Jesus!
Come then, Lord, rout them by your power and you will reign in me, for you are my king and my God, who grant victories to Jacob.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153

I will extol you, my God and king,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Let my mouth speak the praise of the Lord;
let all flesh bless his holy name forever,
for ages unending
~Psalm 145(144):1, 21

Saturday, November 23, 2013

In Memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Ave Maria!  Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  It was but the beginning of many "darkening days" for our country, days of sadness, anger and turmoil yet not without hope for the enthusiasm and goodness that President Kennedy brought to the presidency and unleashed in our hearts can never be obliterated.  I share with you President Kennedy's obituary which appeared in the New York Times fifty years ago today.  To my mind, it says everything...

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Obituary
Published in the New York Times on November 23, 1963

The incredible, devastating news that engulfed all America and the world yesterday afternoon is still difficult of comprehension. Hours after the event it remains almost inconceivable that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, whose every word and action typified life and youth and strength, now lies dead of an assassin's bullet.

All of us -- from the country's highest leaders to the humblest citizen -- all of us are still in a state of shock from this stunning blow, that even now seems unreal in its grotesque horror. And hundreds of millions of people beyond our borders -- throughout the hemisphere and across the seas -- mourn, too, the loss of a President who gave worldwide reality to the American ideals of peace and freedom.

One's first thought turns in human sympathy to the President's family, to his wife who was by his side when he was struck down, to his little children, to his parents, to his brothers and sisters. The acutely personal loss they have suffered is intensified by the unusual closeness of their relationships within this tight-knit family.

The personal loss is deep and crushing; the loss to the nation and the world is historic and overpowering. John F. Kennedy was a man of intellect as well as action. He represented the vitality and the energy, the intelligence and the enthusiasm, the courage and the hope of these United States in the middle of this 20th century. On that day less than three years ago when he took the oath of his great office, he said:

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage -- and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.” 

John F. Kennedy died in and for this belief, the belief in those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which in his day it recommitted itself -- rights which we hope to see exercised around the world, but which we are determined to see exercised within our borders.

No madman's bullet can stop this inexorable march of human rights; no murder, however tragic, can make it falter. In death as in life, the words and spirit of this our most newly martyred President will lead the nation ever closer toward fulfillment of the ideals of domestic brotherhood and international peace by which his Administration has been guided from the start.

Among the last words John F. Kennedy wrote were these: “In a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason.”

The light of reason was momentarily extinguished with the crack of a rifle shot in Dallas yesterday. But that light is, in reality, inextinguishable; and, with God's help, it will show the way to our country and our country's leaders as we mourn for John F. Kennedy in the darkening days ahead.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.

(Go here for video of President Kennedy's Inaugural Address and here for the written version.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Be holy!

To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.  ~Pope Francis, 11/21/13 Tweet

It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of  Christian life and to the perfection of love (Cf. Eph. 1:4-5 and 10), and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society.  ~Lumen Gentium, #40

For it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."  ~1 Peter 1:16

Thank you, dear Lord, for the call and the grace to be holy.  Now help me, please, to humbly and gladly do my part, for the Father's praise and glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Maine Autumn Glory

Lincolnville Center Autumn Colors by Ann L. Krumrein

Near restful waters he leads me;
he revives my soul.
Psalm 23(22):2-3

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Maine Autumn Glory!

Blueberry Barrens on Ryan Road by Ann L. Krumrein

"He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him."
Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Pied Beauty"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Laundry Duty

Ave Maria!  Yesterday, CNN's Belief Blog posted an article entitled "When Pope Francis was put on laundry duty," which you can read here.  It was written by  Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian and author of the book Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads.  In this article, Lowney recalls the days during the early 1980s when Pope Francis, then known as the Rev. Jorge Bergoglio, was rector of one of the Jesuit seminaries.  Lowney spoke with some of the priests who were seminarians at that time and asked them what they learned from Bergoglio about being a good leader.  Their first memory was of Bergoglio doing the laundry of their 100-member community.

As Lowney notes:  "Bergoglio used to stress that the seminarians were a family, and each person had to do his share of the chores to support the other family members.  Even though Bergoglio was their superior and carried a heavy administrative and teaching load, he also chipped in, taking the role of community laundry man.  Any seminarians awake at 5:30 in the morning could find him down in the basement, pitching bales of laundry into balky, 1980s-style industrial washing machines."

Lowney then reflects a bit upon "three vital leadership principles that every good parent instinctively understands, but that too many managers and executives forget."
Don’t tell us you value us, show us.
Don’t ask us to make sacrifices that you are unwilling to make.
Send the message that you’re here to serve us, not that we’re here to serve you.
In conclusion, Lowney notes:  "Soon after his election, Pope Francis said that 'authentic power is service,' a simple yet profound vision. Those seminarians who remember him doing the laundry at 5:30 in the morning saw that vision in action: He is here to take care of our needs."

There's a message here for all of us, whether or not we hold a leadership position in life.  Our Lord Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, calls each one of us to serve in our daily lives.  St. Francis de Sales used to stress that it doesn't matter "even were we to herd swine all our lives and to do the most abject things in the world" because "whatever service God asks of us, ought to be all one to us."

My sister Annie and I are blessed to have learned the importance and necessity of service from Mummie and Daddy when we were very young.  I can see Mummie even now, going across town weekly to clean her aging parents' apartment.  And Daddy, after supper, putting on Mummie's frilly apron and then washing the dishes.  They did these things and so much more matter-of-factly, with a humble and discreet spirit, lovingly and happily, with readiness and good cheers .  Theirs were "hands willing to dip in any water" (John Bartlett), and their example became a way of life for Annie and me.  Deo gratias!
Dear Lord, today may we discover anew that "authentic power is service."  Today may we serve You and our brothers and sisters anew with gladness and joy.  Amen.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Your endurance will win you your life." 
~Luke 21:19

In time of trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for the Lord says: “By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.”

He did not say by your fasting, or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul.

But he said: “By patient endurance” in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, whether this be insolent and contemptuous treatment, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness, or the belligerent attacks of Satan, or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.

“By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves,” although to this must be added wholehearted thanksgiving, and prayer, and humility. For you must be ready to bless and praise your benefactor, God the Savior of the world, who disposes all things, good or otherwise, for your benefit.

The apostle writes: “With patient endurance we run the race of faith set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). For what has more power than virtue? What more firmness or strength than patient endurance? Endurance, that is, for God’s sake.

This is the queen of virtues, the foundation of virtue, a haven of tranquility. It is peace in time of war, calm in rough waters, safety amidst treachery and danger. It makes those who practice it stronger than steel.

No weapons or brandished bows, no turbulent troops or advancing siege engines, no flying spears or arrows can shake it.

Not even the host of evil spirits, not the dark array of hostile powers, nor the devil himself standing by with all his armies and devices will have power to injure the man or woman who has acquired this virtue through Christ.

~Nilus of Ancyra, +c.430
Grant me, dear Lord, the grace of endurance that I may do Your will and receive what You have promised (cf. Heb. 10:36).  Amen.  

Friday, November 15, 2013


"The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.  Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts."  ~Gaudium et Spes, #13

Ave Maria!  Once again, I've added a box on the right side of this page listing Catholic organizations that are accepting donations to assist victims of Typhoon Haiyan in their immediate need as well as in their long-term recovery.  These organizations are working hard to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.  Both dollars and prayers are needed.  May we give gladly and generously in whatever way we can!

"where you cannot walk, He will carry you"

"Do not look forward to the occurrences of this life with fear, but accept them with perfect confidence that, as they happen, God will protect and deliver you; He has guarded you until the present, hold fast by the hand of His Providence, and He will assist you on all occasions: and where you cannot walk, He will carry you.  What should you fear, belonging to God, who has so emphatically assured us, that all things work together for the good to those who love Him? (Romans 8:28)"  ~St. Francis de Sales

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him."  ~Matthew 6:8

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"a safe hand"

"As a father has compassion on his children, the Lord's compassion is on those who fear him."  ~Psalm 103(102):13
[Let us] “entrust ourselves into God’s hands like a child puts its hand into the hand of its father. It’s a safe hand.”  ~Pope Francis, 11/12/13 Homily

"The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father."  ~John 16:27

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“We see faith, love rising from the ruins”

Ave Maria!  The above words were spoken today in an interview with Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, which was just posted on Vatican Radio.  You can read more here on Catholic News Service's blog.  The article just beneath this one carries an updated list of Catholic aid agencies that would be grateful for our donations to help the many Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  I had a box in the right margin with this info, but I managed to accidentally delete it and haven't had a chance to reconstruct it.  I'll do this later today or tomorrow plus add to it as I learn more.

You can also go here to listen to the interview with Cardinal Tagle as well as here to listen to another broadcast.  As of today, the United Nations estimates 11 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  My mind fails me...all I can do is pray, pray, and pray some more.  Mostly I keep murmuring over and over, "Lord, have mercy!" or "Jesus, mercy!"  What more, what better could I possibly pray?  After all, those words come directly from Scripture, the most powerful and heart-rending prayers ever uttered.  And so, as always, I turn to the Psalms...
Awake, O Lord!  Why do you sleep?  Arise, do not reject us forever.  Why do you hide your face, and forget our oppression and misery?  For our soul is brought low to the dust; our body lies prostrate on the earth.  Stand up and come to our help!  Redeem us with your merciful love!  ~Psalm 44(43):24-27
Lord, answer, for your mercy is kind; in your great compassion, turn toward me.  Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in distress.  Come close to my soul and redeem me...  ~Psalm 69(68):17-19
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long.  Gladden the soul of your servant, for I lift up my soul to you, O Lord...  In the day of distress, I will call to you, and surely you will answer me.  ~Psalm 86(85):3-4, 7
With all my voice I cry to the Lord; with all my voice I entreat the Lord.  I pour out my trouble before him; I tell him all my distress while my spirit faints within me.  But you, O Lord, know my path.  ~Psalm 142(141):2-4
Yes, You know, dear Lord, You know the path these men, women and children must now walk, the path of utter destruction and unimaginable grief.  Be close to them, Lord.  Hold them and uphold them during these days of pain and sorrow.  Give them relief, healing and hope through the goodness and kindness of those who weep with and care for them.  And mercy, dear Lord, please have mercy...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"God meddles in our miseries."

"He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."  ~Isaiah 53:2-3

Ave Maria!  By now, practically everyone in the world has seen the images below of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the end of Wednesday's general audience as he held, kissed and prayed with a man afflicted by neurofibromatosis.  The quotations I added beneath each picture are from the Holy Father's homily of October 22.  He obviously practices what he preaches.  He also shows us what it means to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and to live and love as He did.  

Many years ago, Blaise Pascal wrote:  "Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world; one must not sleep during this time."  Thank you, dear Holy Father, for waking us up!
"God meddles in our miseries."

"He is a God who is close to us."

"He saves us with tenderness and with caresses."


"He gets close to our wounds and heals them with his hands."

"only passing through"

Knight's Pond by Ann L. Krumrein

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.  ~Hebrews 13:14

May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from Heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth we are only passing through, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus, who is "seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 8/12/07 Angelus

Dear Mary, Gate of Heaven, teach us that delicate balance of living in the present moment while seeking the things that are above.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All are invited, “the good and the bad"

“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many." 
~Luke 14:16

“The Church is not the Church only for good people. Do we want to describe who belongs to the Church, to this feast? The sinners. All of us sinners are invited."  ~Pope Francis, 11/5/13 Homily

Dear Lord, my precious Savior, thank you for the grace of knowing that I am indeed a sinner.  Thank You even more for inviting me "to join in the feast, to the joy of being saved, to the joy of being redeemed, to the joy of sharing life" with You, here and now and, please God, one day for ever.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Glory and Praise!

Praise God, and you will be praised; bless Him, and you will be blessed; sanctify His name, and you will be made holy; magnify Him, and you will be made great; glorify Him, and He will glory you both in body and soul. 
~Thomas à Kempis, The Valley of Lilies, #26

For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  ~Galatians 6:7

Monday, November 4, 2013

"but they are in peace"

"The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace."  ~Wisdom 3:1-3

"Grant, O Lord, that I may experience a reasonable sorrow at the death of those who are dear to me, shedding tears of resignation over our mortal condition, yet soon restraining them by this consoling thought of the faith:  that in dying, the faithful have only withdrawn a little from us to go into a better world.

"May I not weep as do the pagans who are without hope.  I may have reason to be sad, but in my affliction hope will comfort me.  With hope so great, it is not fitting, O my God, that Your temple should be in mourning.  You dwell there, You who are our Consoler; and You cannot fail in Your promises."

~St. Augustine

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November, Month of All Souls

For to Thy faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not taken away.
~Preface for the Dead from The Roman Missal

Friday, November 1, 2013

That Great Multitude

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.  They cried out in a loud voice:  “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”  ~Revelation 7:9-10

"Who are these glorious saints? Men who have lived upon earth as we have, who have known our miseries, our difficulties, our struggles. Some of them we recognize easily, for the Church has raised them to the honours of the Altar, but the great majority are entirely unknown to us. They are humble people who lived obscurely in the accomplishment of duty, without display, without renown, whom no one here below remembers, but whom the heavenly Father looked upon, knew in secret, and, having proved their fidelity, called to His glory. The honourable positions occupied by some in this vast gathering, or the mighty deeds accomplished by others, no longer possess any value of themselves: eternal beatitude is not determined by the great things achieved here below. One thing only endures, for the humble and the great, the poor and the wealthy: the degree of love they had attained, to which corresponds the degree of glory which now renders them eternally happy."  Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy
"O holy One, Lord of all holiness!" (2 Mac 14:36)  How ardently I desire to join that great multitude in praising you forever by the holiness of my life!  How greatly I want to be a saint -- not for my sake, but for Your glory.  "Non nobis, Domine, non nobis; sed nomini tuo da gloriam!  Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your  name give the glory!"  (Ps 115:1)