Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two of My Most Favorite Women!

My dear sister Annie and her daughter, my sweet niece Deborah,
I miss you both so much and love you for ever and ever!

Monday, December 29, 2014

"The disease of a lugubrious face."

O God,
who gave the Martyr Saint Thomas Becket
the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice,
grant, through his intercession,
that, renouncing our life
for the sake of Christ in this world,
we may find it in heaven.
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.

Ave Maria! Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, who gave his life for the cause of justice. What a splendid example he is for us in this day and age! As I was thinking about this holy man and courageous martyr this morning, I recalled that Pope Francis spoke of him last week in his  Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia. By the way, the Holy Father's complete address is now available on the Vatican Web site here. It's only six pages long, not counting the footnotes, and is well worth reading and contemplating in its entirety. Yes, the short list of those 15 "ailment of the Curia" that can afflict all of us at one time or another is helpful, too, but the full speech itself is even better. I find it to be rather good material for making my New Year's resolution(s).

Here's what Pope Francis says about one of those ailments:
"The disease of a lugubrious face. Those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious we have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others –- especially those we consider our inferiors –- with rigour, brusqueness and arrogance. In fact, a show of severity and sterile pessimism are frequently symptoms of fear and insecurity. An apostle must make an effort to be courteous, serene, enthusiastic and joyful, a person who transmits joy everywhere he goes. A heart filled with God is a happy heart which radiates an infectious joy: it is immediately evident! So let us not lose that joyful, humorous and even self-deprecating spirit which makes people amiable even in difficult situations. How beneficial is a good dose of humour! We would do well to recite often the prayer of St. Thomas More. I say it every day, and it helps."
 And then, here is that prayer as it appears in the footnote to this paragraph:
“Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumbling, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I’. Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke and to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others."
AACK! Not too confused! The Holy Father is referring to St. Thomas More, not St. Thomas Beckett! I better get that second cup of coffee going right now! I leave this blog post as it is, asking our dear Lord to fill our hearts with His joy as we continue to ponder anew all the wonders of His Love during this happy Christmas-tide.  Christ is born for us -- o come, let us adore Him!

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Here I am. I am come at last."

by Mother Mary Loyola, 1845-1930

How hath He not with Him given us all things?  ~Rom viii:32

He lays Himself down on the straw in the coldest hour of the winter's night. His little limbs are trembling, and there are tears of pain in His eyes. But He stretches out His arms to us, and the smile on His lips says:

Here I am. I am come at last. Take Me and do with Me what you will. I am come to be your little servant, to be of use to you in any way that I can.

You need a Redeemer: I will redeem you when I am old enough. I am too small to be crucified yet, but when I am grown up I will shed the last drop of My blood for you. In a week's time I will give some to show you I am ready to give all.**

You need a physician, for you are sick. I have medicine for every pain and disease; I will cure you.

You need a master. I will teach you with My words as soon as I can speak, and meantime if you come to My crib, come up close enough, look long enough, you will learn many things from Me even now.

You need a companion and a friend. That is just what I have come for -- to be a companion that will never leave your side, a friend who will love you dearly, never tire of you, never weary of listening to your troubles, always be thinking of you; who will watch over you, share your joys and your sorrows; advise, warn, encourage you, provide for you in every need.

You want food. Even this I will be to you. I will come into your heart to give you strength to work out your salvation grandly ; to make you grow up like Me; to make it easy and pleasant to do even hard things, things that cost, things that hurt.

You want a brother. I have come all the way from heaven to be your Brother. I have taken your nature that I may be like you in all things. Look at Me and see. I have hands, and feet, and eyes, and heart like you, that I may feel as you feel, bear pain as you have to bear it, work as you must do, and be an example to you in working and in suffering. I am your Brother, come to take you by the hand and lead you to My Father, who will love you for My sake.

Yes, I am all yours, do with Me what you like. Will you find it in your heart to hurt Me? I know you will. I know what your sins will cost me. I know what is going to happen to My hands, and feet, and side. But I am ready for it all, if only you will let me save you, and take you back with Me to heaven. Do not turn from Me; do not disappoint Me. Listen to Me; follow Me; return Me love for love.
**The book in which this meditation appears was first published in 1902. At that time, the Church celebrated the Circumcision of Our Lord one week after Christmas on the Octave Day of Christmas, January 1. That explains Mother Loyola's reference to Christ shedding some of his blood "in a week's time". This feast is still kept and celebrated on January 1 in the Traditional Latin Mass. In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, January 1 is now known as the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. As an aside, this particular book by Mother Loyola was recently republished in 2011 and is available from various booksellers.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

And the Word was made flesh,
and dwelt among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as it were
of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
~John 1:14
God from God!
Light from Light! 
True God from true God!
O Jesus, we adore You
and sing Your praise forever!

Friday, December 26, 2014

St. Stephen, Martyr

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost,
looking up steadfastly to heaven,
saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.
And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened,
and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
~Acts 7:54-55

Teach me, my God, to suffer in peace the afflictions which You send me that my soul may emerge from the crucible like gold, both brighter and purer, to find You within me.  Trials like these, which are present seem unbearable, will eventually become light, and I shall be anxious to suffer again, if by so doing I can render You greater service.  And however numerous may be my troubles and persecutions...they will all work together for my greater gain though I do not myself bear them as they should be borne, but in a way which is most imperfect.  ~St. Teresa of Avila
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for
us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
because we we look not to the things that are seen
but to the things that are unseen;
for the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:17-18 
Dear St. Stephen, whose only weapon was love, help us to look up steadfastly to heaven that we may see what you saw and be filled with courage, hope and strength.  Amen.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Behold, I bring you news of a great joy!" ~Luke 2:10

Unto us a Child is born,
who is Christ the Lord!
O come, let us adore Him!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

"How silentlyhow silently, the wondrous Gift is giv'n"

Christmas Greetings from the Holy Father!

This day you shall know that the Lord is coming.
and in the morning you shall see his glory.
Matins for December 24, Invitatory Antiphon

Ave Maria!  Dear Friends, by now we've all most likely heard about the Holy Father's Christmas greetings on December 22, 2014 to the cardinals, bishops and priests of the Roman Curia.  The short version of the Holy Father's talk, in which he listed 15 "ailments of the Curia," appears below.  Every point was explained, with citations, in the address of over 3100 words, which took about 32 minutes.  The Vatican has not yet published this talk in English, but a more detailed version of these ailments is available here.
This talk is a collective examination of conscience, and while it was directed to the members of the Curia, it applies to every single one of us if we are sincerely striving to love our Lord and become more like Him for the Father's praise and glory.  In fact, when Pope Francis spoke to the workers at the Vatican the following day, he told them to read this list and then go to Confession!  I greatly appreciate the Holy Father's honesty, which I find so refreshing and most helpful.  I certainly intend to keep this list handy for my frequent use.  God bless Pope Francis! 


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis listed 15 “ailments” of the Vatican Curia during his annual Christmas greetings to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the central administration of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. Here’s the list.

            1)         Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticize itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”

            2)         Working too hard. “Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.”

            3)         Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”

            4)         Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”

            5)         Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge.’”

            6)         Having ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.’ ”We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord ... in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”

            7)         Being rivals or boastful. “When one’s appearance, the color of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”

            8)         Suffering from ‘existential schizophrenia.’ ”It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”

            9)         Committing the ‘terrorism of gossip.’ ”It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”

            10)       Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people who aren’t God.”

            11)       Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”

            12)       Having a ‘funereal face.’ ”In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”

            13)       Wanting more. “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”

            14)       Forming ‘closed circles’ that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad — scandals — especially to our younger brothers.”

            15)       Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

O Antiphon for December 23 -- O Emmanuel!

O Emmanuel,
our King and Law-giver,
the desire of the nations
and the Savior thereof,
come to save us, O Lord our God.
(cf. Isaiah 7:14; 33:22)


Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Come forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.
Friar Journal, Nov. 1957

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Antiphon for December 22 -- O Rex Gentium!

O King of the Gentiles and the desire thereof, 
Thou cornerstone that makest both one,
come and deliver mankind, whom Thou didst form out of clay.
(cf. Isaiah 2:4, 9:5; Eph. 2:14)
Mosaic created by Mother Praxedes
Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethelehem, CT

St. Augustine gave us perhaps the best description of Jesus Christ as the desire of all human hearts when he penned his famous phrase, "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." We all experience many different desires, but ultimately these desires point us to God. We feel a lack when we are not filled with God, because He has intentionally created us to long for Him. Unfortunately, it is not always clear to us that He alone will satisfy those many longings, so we try to fill that emptiness with a host of other things. The malls, the retailers, the advertisers - they all want to convince us that their products will fill the spaces in our hearts, and in the hearts of our loved ones, when in reality, only God can do that. The Baltimore Catechism asks the question, "Why did God make you?" and the answer, while straightforward, is also profound: He made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. He is our beginning and our end - we were literally made for Him, and our greatest happiness will be found in loving Him. Of course, He cannot force us to love Him; in fact He gave us a free will so that it is entirely our choice. But then He chose to come to us as an Infant, because it is easy to love infants. May He grant us the grace this Christmas to lay down our hearts and our very lives in adoration before our Newborn King, who holds out a hand to each of us, inviting us to allow Him to satisfy the desires of our hearts.  ~Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Reflections on the Great O Antiphons

O King for Whom we long, come!
Take possession of our hearts
and rule them with Your love and mercy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

O Antiphon for December 21 -- O Oriens!

O Day-spring, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice,
come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
(cf. Ps. 106:10)

Wake, awake, the night is dying,
And prophets from old are crying:
Awake, ye children of the light!
Lo, the Dawn shall banish sadness,
The Rising Sun shall bring us gladness
And all the blind shall see aright.

Rejoice, the King is near,
Our praises he will hear, alleluia!
But we must be prepared to see
The Brightness of eternity.

We shall heed the prophets' warning,
And rise to greet the Prince of morning:
His gentle rule shall bring us peace.
Love and mercy are his treasure,
The seas and skies obey his pleasure:
His mighty rule shall never cease.

Rejoice, the King is near,
Our praises he will hear, alleluia!
But we must be prepared to see
The Brightness of eternity.

Let the shadows be forsaken:
The time has come for us to waken,
And to the Day our lives entrust.
Search the sky for heaven's portal:
The clouds shall rain the Light Immortal,
And earth will soon bud forth the Just.

Rejoice, the King is near,
Our praises he will hear, alleluia!
But we must be prepared to see
The Brightness of eternity.

FYI: Ave Maria! The above is a Lutheran hymn often sung during Advent. It was written in German by Philipp Nicolai and first published in 1599. Later, in 1731, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his Cantata No. 140, titled "Wachet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme," based on this hymn. You can read more here as well as listen to The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir perform this truly magnificent cantata, which is one of Bach's most well-known works. You can also listen just to the hymn here and elsewhere on YouTube.  Rejoice, the King is near! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

O Antiphon for December 20 -- O Clavis David!

O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel, that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner forth from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.  (cf. Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7; Luke 1:79)

"Our Lady said yes.

"She said yes for us all.

"It was as if the human race were a little dark house, without light or air, locked and latched.

"The wind of the Spirit had beaten on the door, rattled the windows, tapped on the dark glass with the tiny hands of flowers, flung golden seed against it, even, in hours of storm, lashed it with the boughs of a great tree -- the prophecy of the Cross -- and yet the Spirit was outside. But one day, a girl opened the door, and the little house was swept pure and sweet by the wind. Seas of light swept through it, and the light remained in it; and in that little house a Child was born and the Child was God.

"Our Lady said yes for the human race. Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives."

~Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Come, O Key of David, and by Your love unlock the yes in my heart so that I may echo Our Lady's fiat. Like her and with her, may I too give birth to the Light of the World. Amen.

Friday, December 19, 2014

O Antiphon for December 19 -- O Radix Jesse!

O Root of Jesse,
Which stands for an ensign of the people,
before Whom kings shall keep silence,
Whom the Gentiles shall beseech:
come and deliver us, and tarry not.
(cf. Isaiah 11:10)

And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse,
and a flower shall rise up out of his root.
~Isaiah 11:1

In that day the branch of the Lord
shall be beautiful and glorious.
~Isaiah 4:2

The Lord will make her desert as a place of pleasure,
and her wilderness as the garden of the Lord.
~Isaiah 51:3

And the glory of the Lord
shall be revealed.
~Isaiah 40:5

The Lord our King who is to come!
O hasten to adore Him!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Antiphon for December 18 -- O Adonai!

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moss in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.  (Exodus 3:2; 20:1)

On Mount Sinai, God had spoken only one language and to one people alone, but the proclamation of the gospel -- which was to reunite into one all the peoples of the world in the faith of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of God -- was heard in all languages, and "each one heard them speaking in his own language" (Acts 2:6). Thus did Jesus establish his law in a very different way than had Moses. Let us believe, let us hope, let us love, and the law will be in our hearts. Let us prepare for him interior ears, a pure attentiveness, and a filial fear that comes to its perfection in love.  ~Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet in Meditations for Advent

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Antiphon for December 17 ~ O Sapientia!

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence. (cf. Sirach 24:5; Wisdom 8:1)

"Our Lady said yes for the human race. Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives.

"We are all asked if we will surrender what we are, our humanity, our flesh and blood, to the Holy Spirit and allow Christ to fill the emptiness formed by the particular shape of our life.  

"The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like Our Lady's surrender, without condition and without reservation.

"We shall not be asked to do more than the Mother of God; we shall not be asked to become extraordinary or set apart or to make a hard and fast rule of life or to compile a manual of mortifications or heroic resolutions; we shall not be asked to cultivate our souls like rare hothouse flowers; we shall not, most of us, even be allowed to do that.

"What we shall be asked to give is our flesh and blood, our daily life -- our thoughts, our service to one another, our affections and loves, our words, our intellect, our waking, working, and sleeping, our ordinary human joys and sorrows -- to God.

"To surrender all that we are, as we are, to the Spirit of Love in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world -- that is what we shall be asked.

"Our Lady has made this possible. Her fiat was for herself and for us, but if we want God's will to be completed in us as it is in her, she must echo her fiat."

~Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

FYI! Ave Maria! As to be expected, a Google search will yield a wealth of material about the O Antiphons, which the Church begins singing today, December 17, at the Magnificat during Vespers/Evening Prayer. I highly recommend in particular the excellent resources to be found here, herehere, here and here. As an aside, I began praying the Divine Office in 1966, so this is the 48th Advent I have humbly and happily joined the Church in singing these magnificent O Antiphons. Back then, I was a wide-eyed, head-in-the-clouds, 18-year old postulant with the Springfield Franciscans. Now I am a wide-eyed, feet-on-the-ground, 66-year-old consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Yes, you read that correctly -- I am still wide-eyed. Deo gratias! When it comes to our dear Lord and His marvelous, inexplicable ways, I am still astonished, trusting, simple, innocent, stupefied, amazed, impressionable, dumbfounded, agog, agape, thunderstruck, awe-stricken and spellbound. In other words, to quote St. Thomas Aquinas, I am -- and, please God, I always will be! -- "lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art." O come, let us adore Him!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

For you,
there will be singing as on a night when a feast is observed,
and joy of heart as when one marches along with a flute
going to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
 ~Isaiah 30:29

Let us go at once
to entreat the favor of the Lord,
and to seek the Lord of hosts;
I am going.
~Zechariah 8:21

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near.
~Numbers 24:17

If everyone were holy and handsome, with “alter Christus” shining in neon lighting from them, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. If Mary had appeared in Bethlehem clothed, as St. John says, with the sun, a crown of twelve stars on her head, and the moon under her feet, then people would have fought to make room for her. But that was not God’s way for her, nor is it Christ’s way for himself, now when he is disguised under every type of humanity that treads the earth.  ~Dorothy Day

Lord, let us see your face...!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Third Sunday of Advent ~ Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice always.  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16

Dear friends, with an act of faith we must once again accept and understand in the depths of our hearts this liberating word: "Rejoice!". 

We cannot keep solely for ourselves this joy that we have received; joy must always be shared. Joy must be communicated. Mary went without delay to communicate her joy to her cousin Elizabeth. And ever since her Assumption into Heaven she has showered joy upon the whole world, she has become the great Consoler: our Mother who communicates joy, trust and kindness and also invites us to spread joy. This is the real commitment of Advent: to bring joy to others. Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money.

We can transmit this joy simply: with a smile, with a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us give this joy and the joy given will be returned to us. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God's liberating joy will shine out in our lives.

~Pope Benedict XVI, 12/18/05

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
and my soul shall be joyful in my God.
~Isaiah 61:10

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent



"Today is my anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
Please pray for me and all priests."
~Pope Francis, 12/13/2014 Tweet

Prayer for Priests by Cardinal Richard Cushing (Aug 8,1895-Nov 11,1970)

O Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Face of Thy Christ, and for love of Him Who is the eternal High-priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop's hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.

But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed or helped me and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly (your priest’s name here). O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. 


Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us many and holy priests. Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Flowers have appeared in our land:
we praise thee, Holy Mother of God.
~The Roman Breviary, Antiphon from Lauds, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need? 

~Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, December 12, 1531

I love you, dear Mary, and I thank you for being our Mother Most Wonderful!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

The God Whom earth, and sea, and sky,
Adore, and laud, and magnify,
Who o’er their threefold fabric reigns,
The virgin’s spotless womb contains.
"Quem terra, pontus, aethera"
by Venantius Fortunatus, 6th century
from the Roman Breviary

...You dwell in this little palace of my soul,
You who are so great a King....
There is nothing more wonderful than to see You, my God,
whose greatness could fill a thousand worlds
and still more worlds,
confine Yourself within so small a thing!
~St. Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Let us learn from the Virgin Mary how to be
bolder in obeying the word of God.
~Pope Francis, 12/8/14 Tweet

O God of our fathers,
who with the angel's message
willed that your word should become man
in the virgin womb of Mary,
let your people, who worship her
as the true Mother of God
find consistently
in docile acceptance of your Word
the strength to bear witness of it to all peoples.
Through Christ our Lord.
~St. John Paul II

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

For yet a little while,
and the coming one shall come
and shall not tarry.
~Hebrews 10:37

"We are, poor us -- in spite of so many graces given us, which we have heartlessly, coldly, miserably trampled on -- we are the Promised Land for our God!  God is coming. He is the Star of the East, He who is to come, He who longs to come. His saints are the inheritance of which He takes possession. The faint light which, even today, seems so lovely to me will, I know, become stronger in me, stronger and stronger. I know that grace is working in my soul. I know that I am of the Communion of Saints, of the family of God. I know what consolation I will find in thinking about this a little more, in living in this expectation, and in making of the virtue of hope a daily reality. What strength, what sweetness, what joy to expect something great and joyous -- which is surely going to happen -- which is so close and which has already begun to happen!"  ~Mother Marie des Douleurs, Joy Out of Sorrow

And they shall say in that day:
Lo, this is our God,
we have waited for him, 
and he will save us:
this is the Lord,
we have patiently waited for him,
we shall rejoice and be joyful in his salvation.
~Isaiah 25:9

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And Mary said:
Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it done to me according to thy word.
~Luke 1:38
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle:
because he hath done wonderful things.
~Psalm 98(97):1

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.  ~Mark 1:3

Let us examine the scriptural texts foretelling the coming of Christ. One such prophecy begins with a reference to John the Baptist: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” What follows, however, applies directly to our Lord and Savior, since it is by Jesus rather than by John that “every valley has been filled in.”

You have only to recall the kind of people you were before you put your faith in the Lord to see yourselves as deep valleys, as pits plunging precipitously into the lowest depths. But now that the Lord Jesus has come and has sent the Holy Spirit in his name, all your valleys have been filled in with good works and the Holy Spirit’s fruits.

Love no longer tolerates the presence of valleys in your lives; if peace, patience, and goodness find a home in you, not only will each of you cease to be a valley but you will actually begin to be a mountain of God.

Among the pagans we daily see this prophetic filling of every valley realized, just as among the people of Israel, now deprived of their former privileged status, we see the overthrowing of every mountain and hill. But “because of their offense, salvation has come to the pagans, to stir Israel to emulation.”

If you prefer you can visualize these fallen mountains and hills as the hostile powers that formerly raised themselves up in opposition to the human race. Such an interpretation is legitimate because, in order to fill in the kind of valleys we have been speaking of, the enemy powers—the mountains and hills—must be laid low.

Now let us turn to that part of the prophecy which also concerns the coming of Christ and see whether this too has been fulfilled. The text continues: “Every crooked way shall be straightened.” Each one of us was once crooked; if we are no longer so, it is entirely due to the grace of Christ. Through his coming to our souls all our crooked ways have been straightened out.

If Christ did not come to your soul, of what use would his historical coming in the flesh be to you? Let us pray that each day we may experience his coming and be able to say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Jesus my Lord has come, then. He has smoothed out your rough places and changed your disorderly ways into level paths, making in you an even unimpeded road, a road that is absolutely clear, so that God the Father may walk in you and Christ the Lord make his dwelling in you and say: “My Father and I will come and make our home in them.”

~Origen, 183-253

Come, dear Lord, and make me into a mountain of God,
a pleasing home for You and the Father.  Amen!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

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

"Keep God's word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

"If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all."

~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Dear Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, teach me your way of keeping God's Word.  Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 
And their eyes were opened.  
~Matthew 9:29-30

"Most of us visit an optometrist with implicit confidence and faith. This professional is schooled in helping people to see. We leave the office with new contacts or glasses and find the world more focused, sometimes larger than we had previously known. Jesus, our divine optometrist, wants people to see and know, drawing them out of darkness and ignorance into the world of light and grace. All we need to do is request the gift of sight with confidence and faith. Divine compassion will bring us healing."  ~Bishop Robert F. Mourneau, Fathoming Bethlehem

Yes, Lord, I believe that You can heal me, and I beg you to do so,
that out of gloom and darkness my blind eyes may see
and I may know that You are my God.
(cf. Isaiah 29:13)