Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Truly Praying in the Name of Christ

"I can do all things in him who strengthens me."  
~Philippians 4:13

I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ, and I can do everything with Jesus Christ and in his name.  This is why we always hear the prayers of the Church conclude with these words that are as humble as they are consoling:  "through Christ our Lord."  Confessing our powerlessness, these words humble us; revealing the source of our strength, they console.  They are the necessary conclusion even when we pray for the intercession of our Lady and the saints, who have no merit, no dignity, no glory except through Jesus Christ and his name.

We must take care lest we imagine that it suffices merely to repeat the words "through Christ our Lord."  We must say them from the depths of our hearts, by remaining in Christ and by Christ's remaining in us.  That is to say, by attaching ourselves to him with our whole hearts, with a lively and firm faith, and by his remaining in us by his word being impressed in our heart, and by his Spirit impelling and animating our prayer.  For he does not dwell in us without acting, as St. Paul said:  "He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you" (2 Corinthians 13:3).

This, then, is how we truly pray in the name of Christ:  when we remain in him and he in us, allowing ourselves to be led to him, to be silent, to listen to what he says in us, so that we may practice truly and intimately what he says:  "If you remain in me, and my word" -- not only the word spoken eternally, but the one that I hear in the depths of my heart -- "remains in you."  Then we shall obtain what we desire.

~Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet in Meditations for Lent

Dear Jesus,
help me to remain in You
so that You may be powerful in me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

" is I myself." ~Luke 24:39

"Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

"They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

"In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude."

~Pope Francis, Homily during Mass of Canonization for St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, 4/27/14

Dear St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II,
pray for us to see with faith
and to embrace with love
the wounded flesh of Our Lord Jesus
in the suffering people who surround us.
"Teach us to enter ever more deeply
into the mystery of divine mercy,"
where Risen Love triumphs
and makes all things new.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deo gratias!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his mercy endures forever.
~Psalm 107:1

“As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!

“Lord, who reveal the Father’s love by Your death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world. Amen.”

~St. John Paul II 

NOTE:  The above is the short homily that St. John Paul II had prepared from his deathbed, to be read on Divine Mercy Sunday. It was read by a Vatican official after the Mass at St. Peter’s for the eternal repose of St. John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter Saturday

"Fear not,
I am the first and the last,
and the living one;
I died, 
and behold I am alive for evermore."
~Revelations 1:18

"Dear friends, may the Easter season be for us all a favourable opportunity to rediscover the sources of faith, the presence of the Risen One among us, with joy and enthusiasm...  Let us allow ourselves to encounter the Risen Jesus! He, alive and true, is ever present in our midst; he walks with us to guide our life, to open our eyes. Let us trust in the Risen One who has the power to give life, to make us be born anew as children of God, capable of believing and of loving. Faith in him transforms our life: frees it from fear, gives it firm hope, enlivens it with God’s love which gives full meaning to existence."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 4/11/12 General Audience

Receive the joy of your glory, giving thanks to God who has called you into his heavenly kingdom, alleluia!  ~Entrance Antiphon for Divine Mercy Sunday

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Friday

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  ~Luke 24:36-37

“This is a Christian’s disease. We’re afraid of joy. It’s better to think: Yes, yes, God exists, but He is there. Jesus has risen and He is there. Somewhat distant. We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humor we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.

“So often, we are either upset by this joy or fearful or we think we have seen a ghost or believe that Jesus is just a way of behaving. ‘We are Christians and so we must behave like this.’ But where is Jesus? ‘No, Jesus is in Heaven.’ Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: ‘I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You’re near me. That You will never abandon me’? A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because -- this is true -- Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works.

“In my country there is a saying that goes like this: ‘When you get burnt by boiling milk, later when you see a cow you start crying.’ These people were burnt by the drama of the Cross and said, ‘No, let’s stop here. He’s in Heaven: that’s all well and good. He is Risen but it’s better that he doesn’t come again because we couldn’t handle it.’ We ask the Lord to do for all of us what he did for the disciples who were afraid of joy: to open our minds: ‘He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures;’ Let him open our minds and help us understand that He is a living reality, that He has a body, that He is with us,that he accompanies us and that He has won. We ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid of joy.”

~Pope Francis, 4/24/14 Homily
All glory, praise and honor to You, our Risen Lord, for by Your amazing grace, though we do not now see You, we love You and believe in You and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy (cf. 1 Peter 1:8).  Amen!  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Thursday

Let all that you do be done in love.  ~1 Corinthians 16:14

Love is a mystery that transforms everything it touches into things beautiful and pleasing to God.  The love of God makes a soul free.  She is like a queen; she knows no slavish compulsion; she sets about everything with great freedom of soul, because the love which dwells in her incites her to action.  Everything that surrounds her makes her know that only God Himself is worthy of her love. A soul in love with God and immersed in Him approaches her duties with the same dispositions as she does Holy Communion and carries out the simplest tasks with great care, under the loving gaze of God.  She is not troubled if, after some time, something turns out to be less successful.  She remains calm, because at the time of the action she had done what was in her power.  When it happens that the living presence of God, which she enjoys almost constantly, leaves her, she then tries to continue living in lively faith.  Her soul understands that there are periods of rest and periods of battle.  Through her will, she is always with God.  Her soul, like a knight, is well trained in battle; from afar it sees where the foe is hiding and is ready for battle.  She knows she is not alone -- God is her strength.  

~St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in Divine Mercy in My Soul, #890

Dear Jesus, Lord of Love,
today and always,
with You and for You,
may I make love my aim.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Wednesday

"And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross."  ~Colossians 2:13-14

"Jesus came to raise the dead. The only qualification for the gift of the Gospel is to be dead. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be good. You don't have to be wise. You don't have to be wonderful. You don't have to be anything. You just have to be dead. That's it!"  ~Rev. Robert Farrar Capon, 1925-2013, Episcopal priest, author and cook

Here I am, Lord!
Dead in my sins
yet gloriously alive
in Your amazing grace!
My Jesus, I thank You!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Tuesday

"If a soul seeks for God, her Beloved seeks for her even more" (St John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love, 3,28). Mary sought with much love and lo! the Lord Himself seeks her, and seeks her calling "Mary!" Although He has risen gloriously, Jesus is always the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep individually; and He "calleth His own sheep by name … and the sheep follow Him because they know His voice" (John 10;3,4). When Mary hears her name, she recognizes the Lord and cries: "Rabboni! Master!"....

"Whom seekest thou?" It is to each one of us, as to Mary Magdalen, that Jesus addresses this question today. Can we reply that we are seeking Him alone? Jesus appeared to Mary who "loved Him much" before appearing to the other holy women. If we wish to find the Lord quickly, we must love Him much and seek Him with great love.

~Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy

Of you my heart has spoken,
"Seek his face."
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face from me.
~Psalm 27:8-9

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday


Jesus, I adore You,
lay my life before You,
how I love You!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

Our Shepherd, even the Fountain of living waters, is gone from us;
He passed away, and the sun was darkened.
~The Divine Office, Matins for Holy Saturday 
Reading IV, Responsory

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord.
My happiness lies in you alone."

As for the holy ones who dwell in the land,
they are noble, and in them is all my delight.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
I will not take part in their offerings of blood.
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

O Lord, it is  you who are my portion and cup;
you yourself who secure my lot.
Pleasant places are marked out for me:
a pleasing heritage indeed is mine!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord before me always;
with him at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

And so, my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my flesh shall rest in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to hell,
nor let your holy one see corruption.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand, bliss forever.

~The Divine Office, Matins for Holy Saturday, Psalm 15

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

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

I weep for You,
my King,
my Lord, and Master,
my Father and Brother,
my beloved Jesus.
~St. Bonaventure

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

"...when we receive the Eucharist we are receiving nourishment not only for ourselves but we are receiving something that makes us like Christ. And for that we recall the washing of the feet of others, because this is the act of charity, this is the act that makes us Christians different in everything we do. We take our worship into the streets by converting it into a revelation in action, a revelation of God’s love for the whole world.”  ~from The Vatican on the Mass of Our Lord's Supper

During the Last Supper and coincident with His Gift of the Sacrament of Love, Jesus also left us His testament of love -- the living, concrete testament of His admirable example of humility and charity in the washing of the Apostles' feet, and His oral testament in the proclamation of His "new commandment". The Gospel of today's Mass (John 13:1-15) shows us Jesus, as the Master, washing the Apostles' feet; it ends with His words: "I have given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do". It is an urgent invitation to that fraternal charity which should be the fruit of union with Jesus, the fruit of our Eucharistic Communion. He mentioned it in precise words at the Last Supper: "A new commandment I give unto you: 'that you love one another' as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34).

If we cannot imitate the love of Jesus by giving our body as food to our brethren, we can imitate Him at least by giving them loving assistance, not only in agreeable circumstances, but also in difficult and disagreeable ones. By washing His disciples' feet, the master shows us how far we should humble ourselves to render a service to our neighbour, even were he most lowly and abject. The Master, who, by unceasing proofs of His love, advances to meet ungrateful men and even those who have betrayed Him, teaches us that our charity is far from His unless we repay evil with good, forgive everything, and are even willing to repay with kindness those who have done us harm. The Master, who gave His life for the salvation of His own, tells us that our love is incomplete if we cannot sacrifice ourselves generously for others. His "new commandment", which makes the love of Jesus Himself the measure of our fraternal love, opens up unlimited horizons for the exercise of charity, for it means charity without limits. If there is a limit, it is that of giving, like the Master, one's life for others, for "greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Jesus revealed to us the perfection of fraternal charity on the same evening that He instituted the Eucharist, as if to indicate that such perfection should be both the fruit of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and our response to this great gift.

 ~Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy

Dear Jesus,
who came not to be served but to serve,
and to give Your life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28),
quicken our hearts to wash each other's feet
"in charity without limits".

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever.  ~Psalm 89:1

Ave Maria! Today, as yesterday and Monday, I am still in spirit with Mary of Bethany, who "anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair" (Jn 12:3). It is a good place for me to be -- not just now during these precious days of Holy Week but every day because, by God's adorable will, I am a consecrated virgin, the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Mary "paid attention only to Jesus," Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., points out in his book Divine Intimacy, noting that "to show respect to Him, it did not seem extravagant to her to pour over Him a whole vase of precious perfume."  And when those present murmured against her in protest (Mk 14:4-5), "Mary said nothing and made no excuses; completely absorbed in her adored Master, she continued her work of devotion and love."

This is the life to which I, as a consecrated virgin, am called -- a life lived for Jesus alone. Indeed, He has ravished my heart! Why wouldn't I earnestly strive to be so totally absorbed in Him?  Why wouldn't I gladly break open the alabaster jar of my heart and spill myself freely in love and adoration of Him? He is the One, the Only One. "You are God alone" (Ps 86:10) -- my chosen portion and my cup, my inheritance forever (Ps 16:5).

Fr. Gabriel continues: "Mary is the symbol of the soul in love with God, the soul who gives herself exclusively to Him, consuming for Him all that she is and all that she has. She is the symbol of those souls who give up, in whole or in part, exterior activity, in order to consecrate themselves more fully to the immediate service of God and to devote themselves to a life of more intimate union with Him."

Ah, this is the Lord's doing! It is all His surprising choice, His glorious work, His unspeakable gift. "You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you" (Jn 15:16). Domine non sum dignus! Lord, I am not worthy! "The king has brought me into his chambers" (Songs 1:4), and my heart is full of joy. Thanks to His amazing grace, I will steadfastly and confidently continue my seemingly-extravagant but truly little "work of love and devotion" for Jesus alone. Yes, like and with Mary of Bethany, I will happily remain at the feet of my Beloved Spouse, today and all the days of my life. Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!

I adore You,
lay my life before You,
how I love You!

P.S.  Yesterday when I blogged, I was short on time, but today I was able to write a closing paragraph to that post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday of Holy Week

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and of his greatness there is no end. ~Psalm 145:3

Ave Maria! Each year during Holy Week, I am instinctively drawn to one of the individuals intimately involved with our dear Lord Jesus and His saving Passion. This time it is Mary of Bethany, who, six days before the Passover, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. Today I am pondering Bishop Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet's reflection on this anointing from his book Meditations for Lent. This passage in particular pierces my heart:
"To anoint Jesus with a fragrant balm is to praise him. To anoint his head is to praise and adore his divinity, for 'the head of Christ,' as St. Paul says, 'is God' (1 Cor 11:3). To anoint his feet is to adore his humanity and its weakness. To wipe his feet with her hair was to place all her beauty and vanity beneath his feet. Thus did she sacrifice all to Jesus. Him alone she wished to please. How could the hair that had touched the feet of Jesus ever be put to the service of vanity again? This is how Jesus wants to be loved. He alone is worthy of such love, of such homage.  
"...let us anoint Jesus. Let us breathe out from our hearts tender desire, chaste love, sweet hope, continual praise. If we wish to love and praise him worthily, let us praise him by our entire life; let us keep his word. Let us open our hearts to him and say with St. Paul that he is 'our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification' (1 Cor 1:30). Let us sing to him the sweet songs of the people he has redeemed: 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' (Rev 5:12) This is what every creature ought to sing to him; this is the costly oil of anointing that we should pour forth from our hearts."
Yes, God, whose greatness we cannot fathom, alone is worthy (Ps 145:3). His name alone is to be exalted (Ps 148:13). Humility teaches me that absolutely nothing that I pour forth from my heart will ever be enough to honor and thank Him for His goodness to me. Love teaches me that no gift is too small for He delights in the very offering of ourselves. Mercy teaches me that a broken and contrite heart He will not spurn for He is gracious and compassionate (Ps 103:8). I shall learn my lessons well. And with joyful confidence, over and over again I shall break open the alabaster jar of my poor heart, sacrificing all to Jesus in love as Mary of Bethany did, striving to adore and please Him alone.

I adore You,
lay my life before You,
how I love You!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday of Holy Week

Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.  ~John 12:3

Ave Maria!  In today's Gospel from John the Evangelist (12:1-11), we hear the lovely account of Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of our Lord and Master with precious nard.  In the upper left-hand corner of Nigel Groom's image on the left,we see the Magi at Bethlehem bringing their gifts to the newborn King. One of these gifts, as we know, was myrrh, which was used for anointing the dead.  Mary has found Him whom her soul loves, and she adores Him as the Magi did so long ago, with a gift befitting the "Great Lord of sea and earth and sky".  He would all too soon die upon the Cross, in great agony and abandoned by all, even seemingly by His Heavenly Father, but not without first being ministered to with great love and tender devotion by Mary.

In today's Office of Matins, St. Augustine tells us that we also are called to anoint the feet of Jesus, particularly by our good lives.  He reminds us of St. Paul's exhortation:  "And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph 5:2).  What excellent instruction for us, especially as we walk through these days of Holy Week with our dear Lord and Savior.  "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths...come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2:3, 5).

I adore You,
lay my life before You,
how I love You!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion,
shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem:
Behold thy King will come to thee, the just and savior.
~Zechariah 9:9

Because of all he had done, the simple people believed in the Lord not only with a silent faith, but with a faith that proclaimed his divinity both by word and by deed.

After raising Lazarus, who had been dead four days, the Lord found the young donkey his disciples had brought for him, as the evangelist Matthew relates.

Seated on it he entered Jerusalem, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold your king comes to you, the just one, the savior. He is gentle, and rides on a beast of burden, on the colt of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9)

By these words the Prophet shows that Christ was the king he was foretelling, the only true king of Zion. He is saying:

Your king will not frighten those who look upon him; he is not an overbearing kind of person, or an evildoer.

He does not come with a bodyguard, an armed escort, at the head of hosts of cavalry and foot soldiers.

Nor does he live by extortion, demanding taxes and the payment of tribute and ignoble services, hurtful to those who perform them.

No, he is recognized by his lowliness, poverty, and frugality, for he enters the city riding on a donkey, and with no crowd of attendants.

Therefore, this king alone is just, and injustice he saves. He is also meek, meekness is his own special characteristic.

In fact, the Lord’s own words regarding himself were: “Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”

He who raised Lazarus from the dead enters Jerusalem today as king, seated on a donkey. Almost at once all the people, children and grown-ups, young and old alike, spread their garments on the road; and taking palm branches, symbols of victory, they went to meet him as the giver of life and conqueror of death.

They worshiped him, and formed an escort. Within the temple precincts as well as without they sang with one voice, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” This hosanna is a hymn of praise addressed to God.

It means, “Lord, save us.” The other words, “in the highest,” show that God is praised not only on earth by human beings, but also on high by the angels of heaven.

St. Gregory Palamas, 1296-1359

with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord's entry into the city for our salvation,
following in his footsteps,
so that,
being made by his grace
partakers of the Cross,
we may have a share also
in his Resurrection
and in his life.
~The Roman Missal, Third Edition

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mother of Sorrows

Mother of Sorrows,
for the love of your Son,
take me for your servant,
and pray to Him on my behalf.
And You,
dear Jesus,
who died for me,
let me love You;
let me desire You
and You alone.
~Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Friday, April 11, 2014

The joys of spring...

Bless the Lord, all birds of the air!  ~Daniel 3:58

Ave Maria!  This picture took my breath away!  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Any time is a good time to meet our dear Lord in the Sacrament of Penance.  With Holy Week about to begin this coming Palm Sunday, the days ahead are especially "prime time" to "ponder anew" the Father's wondrous love and return to Him with all our hearts.  Fr. Ed Broom, OVM, provides a probing "Lenten Examination of Conscience" here that can help make our confession a thorough and happy one.  He offers 25 excellent points for consideration.  Watch out for the zingers -- which would be all of them!  For example:
JOY?   Do you rejoice at all times in the Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit or always have reasons and manners to complain about the problems of life?
PATIENCE?   Are you the epitome of patience or want things your time, your manner, your schedule?   Is this your prayer?  “Lord I beg you to give me patience and right now!!!
MORTIFICATION?  Are you ready and willing to deny yourself , take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus or are you always looking for the easy way out and the  short-cut?

May our dear Lord, who is so kind and merciful, give us His amazing grace "to be now and always a true penitent."  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Ah! happy those whose hearts can break..."

And thus we rust Life’s iron chain 
Degraded and alone: 
And some men curse, and some men weep, 
And some men make no moan: 
But God’s eternal Laws are kind 
And break the heart of stone. 

And every human heart that breaks, 
In prison-cell or yard, 
Is as that broken box that gave 
Its treasure to the Lord, 
And filled the unclean leper’s house 
With scent of costliest nard. 

Ah! happy those whose hearts can break 
And peace of pardon win! 
How else may man make straight his plan 
And cleanse his soul from sin? 
How else but through a broken heart 
May Lord Christ enter in? 

~Oscar Wilde, from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~Psalm 51:17

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"The Cross is mystery..."

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.   ~Galatians 6:14

“The Cross is not an ornament that we must always put in the churches, there on the altar. It is not a symbol that distinguishes us from others. The Cross is mystery, the mystery of God who humbles himself, he becomes ‘nothing.’ He becomes sin. Where is your sin? ‘I don’t know, I have so many here.’ No, your sin is there, in the Cross. Go and find it there, in the wounds of the Lord and your sins will be healed, your wounds will be healed, your sins will be forgiven. The forgiveness that God gives us is not the same as cancelling a debt that we have with Him, the forgiveness that God gives us are the wounds of his Son on the Cross, raised up on the Cross. May he draw us towards Him and may we allow ourselves to be healed by him.”  ~Pope Francis, 4/9/14 Homily

Within Your wounds, hide me...
there let me know Your mercy,
there let me sing Your love.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The greatness of God's mercy

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  ~Lamentations 3:22-23

“We look at the sky, there are many, many stars; but when the sun rises in the morning, the light is such that we can’t see the stars. God’s mercy is like that: a great light of love and tenderness. God forgives us, not with a decree, but with his love, healing the wounds of sin. Because He is involved in forgiveness, He is involved in our salvation. So when Jesus acts as confessor to the woman he does not humiliate her, he does not say: ‘What have you done? When did you do it? How did you do it? With whom did you do it?’ No! He says: ‘Go and do not sin again!’. God’s mercy is great, Jesus’s mercy is great. Forgive us and heal us!”  ~Pope Francis, 4/7/14 Homily

Dear Lord, let me be glad and rejoice in Your mercy.  Amen.
~Psalm 31(30):8

Monday, April 7, 2014

"But who do you say that I am?" ~Mark 8:29

He is called a Samaritan and a demoniac; but He saves him that came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves; the demons acknowledge Him, and He drives out demons, and sinks in the sea legions of foul spirits, and see the Prince of the demons falling like lightning.

He is stoned, but is not taken.

He prays, but He hears prayer.

He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.

He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God.

He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world, and that at a great price for the Price was His own blood.

As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also

As a lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the Voice of one crying in the wilderness.

He is bruised and wounded, but He healeth every disease and every infirmity.

He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree, but by the Tree of Life He restoreth us; yea, He saveth even the robber crucified with Him; yea, He wrapped the visible world in darkness.

He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall.  Who?  He who turned the water into wine, who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is Sweetness and altogether desire.

He lays down his life, but He has power to take it again; and the veil is rent, for the mysterious doors of heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead rise.

He dies, but He gives life, and His death destroys death.

He is buried, but He rises again; He goes down into Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead….

~St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 328-389

My Jesus, I have found You whom my soul loves.
I hold You and will not let You go.
(cf. Songs 3:4)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Lent

I am the resurrection and the life.  ~John 11:25

On his return from the underworld, Lazarus comes forth from the tomb like death confronting its conqueror, an image of the resurrection to come.

Before we can fathom the depths of meaning behind this miracle, we must consider the way in which our Lord raised Lazarus to life. This action appears to us as the greatest of all his signs; we see in it the supreme example of divine power, the most marvelous of all his wonderful works.

Our Lord had raised up the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue; but although he restored life to the dead girl, he left the law of death still in force. He also raised the widow’s only son. He halted the bier, forestalled the young man’s burial, arrested the onset of physical decay; but the life he restored had not completely fallen into the power of death.

The case of Lazarus was unique. His death and resurrection to life had nothing in common with the other two. Death had already exerted its full power over him, so that in him the sign of the resurrection shone out in all its fullness.

I think it is possible to say that if Lazarus had remained only three days in the tomb it would have deprived our Lord’s resurrection of its full significance, since Christ proved himself Lord by returning to life after three days, whereas Lazarus, as his servant, had to lie in the grave for four days before he was recalled. However, let us see if we can verify this suggestion by reading the gospel text further.

“His sisters sent a message to Jesus saying, Lord, the friend whom you love is sick.” By these words they appeal to his affection, they lay claim to his friendship, they call on his love, urging their familiar relationship with him to persuade him to relieve their distress.

But for Christ it was more important to conquer death than to cure disease. He showed his love for his friend not by healing him but by calling him back from the grave. Instead of a remedy for his illness, he offered him the glory of rising from the dead.

We are next told that “when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained where he was for two days.” You see how he gives full scope to death. He grants free reign to the grave; he allows corruption to set in. He prohibits neither putrefaction nor stench from taking their normal course; he allows the realm of darkness to seize his friend, drag him down to the underworld, and take possession of him.

He acts like this so that human hope may perish entirely and human despair reach its lowest depths. The deed he is about to accomplish may then clearly be seen to be the work of God, not of man.

He waited for Lazarus to die, staying in the same place until he could tell his disciples that he was dead; then he announced his intention of going to him. Lazarus is dead, he said, and I am glad.

Was this a sign of his love for his friend? Not so. Christ was glad because their sorrow over the death of Lazarus was soon to be changed into joy at his restoration to life. “I am glad for your sake,” he said.

Why for their sake? Because the death and raising of Lazarus were a perfect prefiguration of the death and resurrection of the Lord himself. What the Lord was soon to achieve in himself had already been achieved in his servant. This explains why he said to them: “I am glad for your sake not to have been there, because now you will believe.”

It was necessary that Lazarus should die, so that the faith of the disciples might also rise with him from the dead.

~St. Peter Chrysologus, c.400-450

“Yes, Lord. I have come to believe 
that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, 
the one who is coming into the world.”
~John 11:27 

(For an excellent and detailed explanation of the above icon, go here and scroll about halfway down the page to the paragraph that begins with "This brings us to the icon of the raising of Lazarus".)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

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....

Strengthen me to see the entire reality of this life I share with you, its conflict with sin and its essential character of reparation and sacrifice, its communion with your whole mystical body, its dependence upon, and its fulfillment in, the Father's love.

Strengthen me to will with your humility, to give myself in sacrifice with your humble love, to suffer with and for your whole body in trustful humble love of our Father.

Passion of Christ strengthen me with the love and the life that is in the sacrament and sacrifice of your passion.  Make me live by and live in your Eucharist.

~H. P. C. Lyons, Praying our Prayers

Friday, April 4, 2014

Prayer and Friendship

"The Bible says that Moses spoke to God face to face, as a friend.  This is how our prayer must be: free, insistent, with arguments.  Even rebuking the Lord a little:  'You promised me this but you didn’t do it...', just like talking with a friend.  Open your heart to this prayer. Moses came down from the Mount invigorated: 'I have known more of the Lord,' and with that strength given him by prayer, he resumed the task of leading his people to the Promised Land.  Because prayer invigorates: it is invigorating.  May the Lord give us all this grace, because prayer is a grace."  ~Pope Francis, 4/3/14 Homily

Such is my beloved, and he is my friend.  ~Song of Songs 5:16

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Whoever would pray ought to take to heart these words:  "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  We pray, we beg, because we have nothing and consequently can do nothing, or, to say it all in a single word, because we are nothing.  So we must pray, knowing that we are heard only in the name of Jesus, but also that in his name we can obtain all.  

~Meditations for Lent by Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

Dear Lord, how happy I am to be nothing so that You may be my ALL!  Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ah, spring!

The hills are girded with joy.
They shout for joy; yes, they sing!
~Psalm 65(64):13, 14

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"By your word, give me life." ~Psalm 119(118):107

And pray in this way, always reading the Book of Life, that is the life of the God-Man, Jesus Christ whose life consisted of poverty, pain, contempt, and true obedience.  Imagine and meditate on all the ways of the Passion and the Cross.  Even if you cannot do this from the heart, at least do it earnestly and carefully with your lips, because when a thing is said often, in the end it imparts warmth and fervor to the heart.  ~St. Thomas Aquinas

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  ~John 6:63