Friday, January 31, 2014

"Do not be afraid to suffer..."

While spending time painting in the area of Italy known as Tuscany, I became accustomed to seeing grape vines growing on the hillsides.  The older gnarled vines were beautiful to sketch because of their knotty twists and bends.  Over the course of time, the winds, rains and sun -- the weathering effects of the seasons -- had forced their shapes.  The most luscious growth came from these rugged old vines...grapes so heavy and bountiful they seemed to invite people to pick them.

In another vineyard were young plants which had suffered no ill effects of nature at all.  They offered no particular beauty or character and were hardly worthy of my pencil or paintbrush.

As it is in nature, so it is in God's kingdom.  From the winds and rains of adversity comes abundant growth and a beautiful life worth painting.

Do not be afraid to suffer....  It is from being shaken apart and not being destroyed that one becomes strong and courageous.

~Laura Lewis Lanier, All Things Bright and Beautiful

In this is my Father glorified;
that you bring forth very much fruit,
and become my disciples.
~John 15:8

My sweet Jesus, I rejoice in so far as I share Your sufferings, that I may also rejoice and be glad when Your glory is revealed.  Amen.  (cf. 1 Peter 4:13)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Prayer of a Devout Lover of God

My Lord God, it is my desire, in union with all Your saints and creatures, devoutly to praise, bless, and glorify You at all times and in all places and always to love You with a pure heart.  Because You are my God and I am Your poor servant, I forever desire to magnify and exalt Your holy name above all Your works.

You, my God, are my light and my hope, my strength and my patience, my praise and my glory.  You, my God, are my wisdom and prudence, my beauty and sweetness!  My God, You are my music and harp, my timbrel and organ, my psalm and hymn, my song and jubilation!  My God, You are my helmet and breastplate, my bow and sword!  You, my God, are my treasure and capital, my gold and silver, payment for all my debts!

You, my God, are my home, fortress, and palace, my shield and banner!  My God, You are my fortified tower and my life's defense!  My God, You are my garden and orchard, my greenhouse and cool retreat!  You, my God, are my dining hall and table, my food and drink!  All food not prepared or cooked by You is tasteless.  My God, You are my cinnamon and sweet balsam, my spikenard, choice myrrh, and precious ointment!  You are my rose and lily, my wreath and garland.  My God, You are my couch and bed, my blanket and covering.  My God, You are my light and lamp, my candelabra and constellation!  My God, You are my book, interiorly and exteriorly written, my Bible in which is all of Holy Scripture!  My God, You are my teacher, instructor, and adviser, my physician and pharmacist.

Thanks to Your mercy and generosity, I find and have all things in You, and whatever I may seek and desire that is not You I recognize as being of no benefit and of little worth. Open my heart to Your holy law, and "restore to me the joy of Your salvation" (Psalm 51:12); expand my heart that I may follow in Your way; confirm me in Your words, for there is no other who can help, nor is there anyone, other than You, who can lead me to eternal life.  Hear me, my God, when I cry to You -- in affliction, in joy, or in health.  I commend myself to you at all times, and I bless You forever.  Amen.

~Thomas à Kempis, The Valley of Lilies, #28

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hymn for the Day

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Through all this new-born day, O Lord,
Which, in Thy grace, Thou givest me,
Let all its moments throb with joy,
That better I may follow Thee.
Gabriela Mistral, 1889-1957

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Overcoming Evil

Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.  ~Romans 12:21

"Jesus conquered evil, both physical and moral evil, by His mercy and love.  This must be our strategy too. Whatever the evil around us, whatever the suffering it may cause us, we shall never overcome it by arguments and discussion or by taking a stand and adhering rigidly to it. This can only be accomplished by a delicate charity which understands intuitively the mentality, the tastes, and the needs of others, and which knows precisely when to intervene, to condescend and to sacrifice itself for the good of another, even if that other is unfriendly toward us -- only such charity can triumph over evil."

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D., Divine Intimacy

Monday, January 27, 2014

"that I may be fully alive"

The vitality of God be mine this day
the vitality of the God of life.
The passion of Christ be mine this day
the passion of the Christ of love.
The wakefulness of the Spirit be mine this day
the wakefulness of the Spirit of justice.
The vitality and passion and wakefulness of God
be mine that I may be fully alive this day.
The vitality and passion and wakefulness of God
that I may be fully alive.
~Celtic Prayer

I am the life. ~Jn 14:6

Sunday, January 26, 2014

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:1) Everyone knows that we were all born in darkness, and once lived in darkness. But now that the Sun of Righteousness has risen for us, let us see that we no longer remain in darkness.

Christ came to enlighten those who lived in darkness, overshadowed by death, and to guide their feet into the way of peace. Do you ask what darkness?

Whatever is present in our intellect, in our will, or in our memory that is not God, or which has not its source in God; that is to say, whatever in us is not for God’s sake, is a barrier between God and the soul — it is darkness.

In himself Christ brought us light which would enable us to see our sins, and hate our darkness. His freely chosen poverty, when there was no place for him in the inn, is for us a light by which we can now learn that the poor in spirit, to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs, are blessed.

The love with which Christ offered himself to instruct us, and to endure for us injuries, ostracism, persecution, lashes, and death upon a cross; the love finally which made him pray for those who crucified him — that love is for us a light by which we may learn to love our enemies.

The humility with which “he emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave,” and with which he scorned the glory of the world, and willed to be born, not in a palace but in a stable, and to die ignominiously on a gibbet—that humility is for us a light showing us what a detestable crime it is for clay, that is to say, for poor weak creatures, to be proud, to exalt themselves, or to refuse submission, when the infinite God was humbled, despised, and subject to human beings.

The meekness with which Christ endured hunger, thirst, cold, harsh words, lashes, and wounds, when he was “led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before his shearer opened not his mouth”— that meekness is for us a light.

By it we see how useless it is to be angry, how useless to threaten. By it we accept our own suffering, and do not serve Christ merely from routine. By it we learn how much is required of us, and that when suffering comes our way we should bewail our sins in silent submission, since he endured affliction with such patience and long-suffering, not for his own sins, but for ours.

Reflect then, beloved, on all the virtues which Christ taught us by his example, which he recommends by his counsel, and which he enables us to imitate by the assistance of his grace.

John Justus Landsberg, 1489/90-1539

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.
~Psalm 26(27):1, 4

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"A marvellous prayer!"

"The Rosary is my favourite prayer. A marvellous prayer! Marvellous in its simplicity and in its depth. In this prayer we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman Elizabeth. …against the background of the words 'Ave Maria' there pass before the eyes of the soul the main episodes in the life of Jesus Christ. They are composed altogether of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through – we could say – his Mother's heart.

"At the same time our heart can enclose in these decades of the Rosary all the facts that make up the life of the individual, the family, the nation, the Church and mankind. Personal matters and those of one's neighbour, and particularly of those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary beats the rhythm of human life."

~Bl. John Paul II, 10/29/78 Angelus

Hail Mary, full of grace!
The Lord is with Thee!
Blessed art Thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Taking Inventory

"Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also" (Mt 6:21). This is a grand saying. Consider well what your thoughts are full of, for wherever they naturally turn is the real place of your treasure, and the home of your heart. If your thoughts are filled with God, then are you happy. If with anything merely mortal, which "the rust and the moth"' constantly consume, and corruption lays hold of, then will your treasure escape you, and your heart remain empty and destitute.

~Jacques-Bénigne BossuetThe Sermon on the Mount

Keep your heart with all vigilance;
for from it flow the springs of life.
~Proverbs 4:23

Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Faithfulness in Little Things

He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater.  ~Luke 16:10

"Now, great things and great occasions of heroic virtues are rarely presented to us.  But little things are offered to us every day.  And how shall we ever prove our love to God if we wait for grand and brilliant things?  Perhaps one may never come to us all our life long.  More than this, great things require great courage.  How can we make sure of our strength in heroic actions if we have made no trial of it in small ones; if we have not striven and prepared ourselves by degrees for difficult things by the performance of those which are easy?"  ~Jean Nicholas Grou, "On Faithfulness in Little Things," Manual for Interior Souls

Dear Lord, help me to make the most of all the little things You will offer me this day, for Your eternal praise and everlasting glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"safeguarding our smallness"

Ave Maria!  Vatican Radio's report on the Holy Father's homily of Tuesday, January 21, is worth reading in its entirety.  It's brief but packed, as is usual with Pope Francis. It made me think of Psalm 131:  "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul."  Here's that report from Vatican Radio.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says we need to be small and humble to dialogue with God. At the same time He always chooses those who are small and who have least power. This was the core message of the Pope’s homily at Tuesday morning's Mass in the Santa Marta residence.

Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:

We need to safeguard our smallness in order to have a personal dialogue with God. In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the personal relationship between God and his people -- the small and humble -- saying God always speaks to us on a personal level, using our names. "It’s never a dialogue between the powerful and the masses."

The Pope noted how when God chooses people, "he always chooses those who are small" and less powerful than the others. We tend to look at the outer appearance or power of people but God has his own different criteria. "He chooses the weak and gentle to confuse the powerful people in our world." One example of this, said Pope Francis, was when God chose David who was the smallest son, who didn’t count for his father and who had been sent out of the house to tend the sheep.

Later David became king but he committed two serious sins. What did he do then? asked the Pope. David humbled himself, he returned to his smallness, confessed his sins to God, asked for pardon and did penance. In this way, said the Pope, "David safeguarded his smallness through his contrition, his prayer and his grief."

The Pope explained how our Christian loyalty is all about "safeguarding our smallness so that we can have a dialogue with God." That’s why, he continued, "humbleness, gentleness and daily habits are so important in the life of a Christian" because it safeguards our smallness and pleases God. The Pope concluded by imploring God to give us the grace to safeguard our smallness before Him.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Who is this King of Glory?" ~Psalm 24:8

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

I remain dazzled by God.
~Madeleine Delbrel

Monday, January 20, 2014

Praying through our difficulties...

Even the most sincere, the most deeply founded in faith, go through hours of despair. At such times it is important to continue praying. Perhaps it will sound as if we are talking into an echo chamber. Or perhaps we will feel that our efforts are so insignificant, so weak, that our voice can never reach heaven. But prayer never depends on our feeling close to God; he is always close to us, and he does hear us.  ~Johann Christoph Arnold, Cries from the Heart

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him:
to all that call upon him in truth.  ~Psalm 145:18

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“When he saw Jesus coming toward him John said: 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'” (Jn 1:29)

No longer does he say: Prepare. That would be out of place now that at last he who was prepared for is seen, is before our very eyes. The nature of the case now calls for a different type of homily. An explanation is needed of who is present, and why he has come down to us from heaven.

So John says: “Behold the Lamb of God,” of whom the prophet Isaiah told us in the words: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before his shearer he opened not his mouth.”(Is 53:7)

In past ages he was typified by the law of Moses, but because the law was merely a figure and a foreshadowing its salvation was only partial; its mercy did not reach out to embrace the whole world.

But now the true lamb, the victim without blemish obscurely prefigured in former times, is led to the slaughter for all to banish sin from the world, to overthrow the world’s destroyer, to abolish death by dying for the entire human race, and to release us from the curse: “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19)

He will become the second Adam who is not of earth but of heaven, and will be for us the source of every blessing. He will deliver us from the corruptibility foreign to our nature; he will secure eternal life for us, reconcile us with God, teach us to revere God and to live upright lives, and be our way to the kingdom of heaven.

One Lamb died for all to restore the whole flock on earth to God the Father; one died for all to make all subject to God; one died for all to gain all so that all “might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.”

Because our many sins had made us subject to death and corruption, the Father gave his son as our redemption, one for all, since all were in him and he was greater than all. One died for all so that all of us might live in him.

Death swallowed the Lamb who was sacrificed for all, and then disgorging him disgorged all of us in him and with him; for we were all in Christ who died and rose again for us.

Once sin had been destroyed how could death, which was caused by sin, fail to be wholly annihilated? With the root dead how could the branch survive? What power will death have over us now that sin has been blotted out?

And so, rejoicing in the sacrifice of the Lamb let us cry out: “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) “All wickedness shall hold its tongue,” as the Psalmist sings somewhere.

Henceforth it will be unable to denounce sinners for their weakness, for God is the one who acquits us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for our sake,” (Gal 3:13) so that we might escape the curse brought down on us by sin.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444)

For he is the true Lamb
who has taken away the sins of the world;
by dying he has destroyed our death,
and by rising, restored our life.
The Roman Missal, 3rd Edition
Preface I of Easter

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"in company with Mary"

We too are asked to take up as readily and as devotedly as possible the little crosses that come our way, to bear them with Him and for Him, and to go on unflaggingly -- to go on if necessary to the mountain of myrrh, to the darkness and the burial: that is the way to know something of the inexpressible joy of that other, later meeting of Son and mother, when the day indeed had broken, the dawn indeed had come, and there was only joy for them now, and the shared happiness of their love, the love that, having gone down in silence together to the very depths of human agony, now rose together to the heights of more than human glory, to that joy of which no tongue can tell, but which is promised in God's mercy to all those who, in company with Mary, try to love and follow and serve her Son to the end.  ~Rev. Gerald Vann, O.P.

Dear Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother too, I beg you, help me to try to love and follow and serve your Son to the end.  Amen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Brooms, buttons, dishwater, and restoring all things in Christ

“You see, this is the essence of our vocation: to connect an ordinary and seemingly boring life with its repetitious details, with Love Who is God. Then the boredom vanishes, and a day spent in sorting buttons is glorious. Then a day at the typewriter, when your back is aching and your mind reeling with tiredness, is a day that has redeemed many souls; how many, God alone knows. We must have that awareness and make that connection. If it isn’t made, it is a wasted day. What a horrible and a tragic thought that one of the most precious gifts of God, time, has been wasted. 

"In a word, Christ is waiting for you to become aware of him and [the work] that he has confided to you, by becoming aware of the connection between brooms, dishwater, lettering-typing, tidiness and the restoration of the world.  Dearly Beloved, when, when is this going to happen?”

~Catherine Doherty

Seek the Lord and live.  ~Amos 5:6

Oh my Jesus, how glorious every moment is because You are there!  Yes, even amid the the brooms, buttons and dishwater, I will find You if I seek You with all my heart.  And finding You, I shall indeed live and have some small but blessed share in Your work of restoring the world.  Amen!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You, my sweet Life!

And I live, now not I; 
but Christ liveth in me.  
~Galatians 2:20

May my mind, my heart, my body, my life, 
be wholly animated by You, my sweet Life!  
I will love You Lord, my strength; 
I will love You, and will live, 
no longer through my own efforts, 
but through you.  
~St. Augustine

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Somebody's knocking at your door!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  ~Rev. 3:20

The Lord is knocking at the door of our hearts. Have we put a sign on the door saying: "Do not disturb"?  ~Pope Francis, 1/13/14 Tweet

Dear Lord, is that really You?  Then please, do come in!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning Obedience

"And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them."  ~Luke 2:51

"O Jesus, how I love to contemplate You as a Child, in the poor house at Nazareth, with Mary and Joseph! Your simple, humble life was just like that of any other child of Your age. You, the splendor of the Father, did not wish anything to distinguish You from the children of men; You, uncreated wisdom, wished to learn from Mary and Joseph, Your creatures, the ordinary little details of life.  Joseph showed You how to handle his tools and You watched Him attentively, You learned and You obeyed. Mary taught You holy hymns and recounted tales from the Sacred Scriptures; You listened to her like a humble disciple, You who are the one true Teacher, You who are Truth itself. No one, neither Your relatives nor Your fellow townspeople, knew who You really were. Everyone believed You to be the carpenter’s son and paid no more attention to You than they would have paid to an ordinary apprentice.

"Only Mary and Joseph knew; they knew by divine revelation that You were the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the world, and yet they knew it more by faith than by experience. Your ordinary way of life concealed Your majesty and divinity from them so completely that when, without their knowledge, You remained among the doctors in the Temple, they could not understand the reason for Your unusual behavior. That incident, however, was an isolated one; immediately afterward, You wished to return to the hiddenness of Your most humble life. You went back with them, and were subject to them. And this, day by day, until You were thirty years old.

"O most sweet Jesus, grant that I may imitate, at least to some degree, Your infinite humility! You, the Creator, were obedient to Your creatures. Teach me to bow my proud head and willingly obey my superiors. You came down from heaven to earth. Give me the grace to humble myself, to come down, once and for all, from the pedestal of my pride! How can I bear the sight of Your humility and self-effacement,O my God and my Creator, when I, who am nothingness and sin, use the gifts I have received to set myself above others, to prefer myself even to my superiors?"

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D., Divine Intimacy

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and slighting on him.  ~Mt 3:16

“I am the voice, the voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord.” So I cannot be silent, Lord, in your presence. “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

At my birth I took away my mother’s barrenness, and while still an infant I healed my father’s dumbness, for you gave me in childhood the gift of working miracles.

But when you were born of the Virgin Mary, in the way you willed and in a manner known to you alone, you did not take away her virginity, but while preserving it intact you gave her in addition the name of “mother.”

Her virginity did not hinder your birth, nor did your birth destroy her virginity. On the contrary, two opposites, motherhood and virginity, were easily united by you, because the laws of nature have their origin in you.

I am a mere man, sharing in the grace of God, but you are both God and man because of your love for humankind.

“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” You existed from the beginning, you were with God and you were God. You are the radiance of the Father’s glory, the perfect image of the perfect Father.

“You are the true light enlightening every person who comes into the world.” You were in the world, yet you have come to where you were already. You have become flesh, but you have not been changed into flesh. You have lived among us, appearing to your servants in the likeness of a servant.

You by your holy name have bridged heaven and earth, and do you come to me? You, so great, to such as I? King to herald, master to servant?

You were not ashamed to be born within the lowly limits of our human nature, but I cannot pass its bounds. I know the distance between the earth and the Creator, between the clay and the potter. I know how far I, a lamp lit by your grace, am outshone by you, the Sun of Righteousness.

You are concealed by the pure cloud of your body, but I still recognize your sovereignty. I acknowledge my servile condition; I proclaim your greatness. I admit your absolute authority, and my own lowly estate. I am unworthy to undo the strap of your sandal; how then could I dare to touch your immaculate head?

How could I stretch out my hand over you, who stretched out the heaven like a tent, and set the earth upon the waters? How could I enlighten the light?

Surely it is not for me to pray over you, for you are the one who receives the prayers even of those who have no knowledge of you.

~St. Gregory the Wonderworker, c. 213-270

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Praise and Wonder

Let all Thy works, O Lord, praise Thee!
~Psalm 145:10

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
E. B. White, Charlotte's Web

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Love is concrete."

"This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." ~1 Jn 4:21 

“You see that the love John (the Evangelist) speaks of is not the love of soap operas! No, it is something else. Christian love has a particular quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus Himself, when He speaks of love, speaks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and many concrete things. Love is concrete... And when this concreteness is not there, you can live a Christianity of illusions, because you don’t understand where the center of Jesus' message is. This love does not arrive at concrete being: it is a love of illusions, like the illusions the disciples had when, looking at Jesus, they thought He was a ghost.”

“The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! They are here today, tomorrow they are not. The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The one who loves, gives.... Gives things, gives life, gives oneself to God and to others. On the other hand, [is] the one who does not love, who is selfish, always seeks to receive, always seeks to have things, to have advantages. Stay with an open heart, not like that of the disciples, which was closed, which did not understand anything: remaining in God and God remaining in us; remaining in love.” 

~Pope Francis, 1/9/14 Homily
Dear Lord, grant me the grace to always stay with You so that it may be no longer I who live and love, but You who live and love in me.  Amen.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Light from light, God from God"

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein
True light of the heavens, shed your bright light upon us.
~Hymn for Wednesday Lauds, the Divine Office

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Locked doors and unsolved questions...

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.  ~Ps 37:7

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Ave Maria!  This little girl sure does make me laugh!  She could easily be me in bygone years because that’s how I looked when I was very young.  Oh yes, sometimes I wore pigtails, much to my delight, plus my curiosity was quite keen from a very early age.  I've since updated my hairdo, and my curiosity has been tempered by the grace of God, but I still strive for patience toward all that is unsolved in my heart and in living everything, especially the questions.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Allowing the star to guide us...

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."  
~Mt 2:10

 A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is the inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking. The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star -- at one point -- disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui credidi et certus sum (2 Tm 1:12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him.

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

 O Divine Child of Bethlehem!
Jesus, my Lord and my God!
I trust in You!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Going a New Way

"They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way."  ~Mt. 2:11-12

"To us also did the heavens show forth the glory of God (Ps. 18:2); we, too, have been led to the adoration of Christ by the truth shining forth from the Gospel, like a star from the sky; we, too, have listened faithfully and have understood....we, too, by acknowledging and praising the King, the Priest, the Christ who died for us, have honored Him, so to speak, in gold and incense and myrrh.  It only remains for us to be heralds of His Gospel and go a new way, and not return the way we have come."  ~St. Augustine, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, #21
O Divine Child of Bethlehem, may I hasten to go wherever You send me, "singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all Your wondrous deeds"! (Ps 26:7).  Amen!  Alleluia!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Epiphany of the Lord

“The star came to rest above the place where the child was. At the sight of it the wise men were filled with great joy” and that great joy should fill our hearts as well. It is the same as the joy the shepherds received from the glad tidings brought by the angels.

Let us join the wise men in worship and the shepherds in giving glory to God. Let us dance with the angels and sing: “To us is born this day a savior who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us,” not as God which would have terrified us in our weakness, but as a slave in order to free those living in slavery.

Could anyone be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join us all in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy?

This feast belongs to the whole universe. It gives heavenly gifts to the earth, it sends archangels to Zechariah and to Mary, it assembles a choir of angels to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”

Stars cross the sky, wise men journey from pagan lands, earth receives its savior in a cave. Let there be no one without a gift to offer, no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world, the birthday of the human race.

Now it is no longer, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return,” but "You are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up." It is no longer, “In sorrow you shall bring forth children, ” but, "Blessed is she who has borne Emmanuel and blessed the breast that nursed him."

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; and dominion is laid upon his shoulder. ”

Come, join the company of those who merrily welcome the Lord from heaven. Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, as Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb.

Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshiped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty. Like light through clear glass the power of the Godhead shone through that human body for those whose inner eye was pure.

Among such may we also be numbered, so that beholding his radiance with unveiled face we too may be transformed from glory to glory by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and power for endless ages. Amen. 

Basil the Great, c. 330-379, Homily 2 on Christ's Origin

O Divine Child of Bethlehem, I too have seen Your star and hasten to adore You, joining the company of all who merrily welcome You, with song and dance and exceedingly great joy!  Amen!  Alleluia!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"some fragments of the lesson of Nazareth"

"And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them."  ~Lk 2:51

"We cannot depart without recalling briefly and fleetingly some fragments of the lesson of Nazareth...  Now we hear its echo reverberating in the souls of men of our century.  It seems to tell us:  blessed are we, if in poverty of spirit we learn to free ourselves from false confidence in material things and to place our chief desires in spiritual and religious goods, treating the poor with respect and love as brothers and living images of Christ.

"Blessed are we, if, having acquired the meekness of the strong, we learn to renounce the deadly power of hate and vengeance, and have the wisdom to exalt above the fear of armed force the generosity of forgiveness, alliance in freedom and work, and conquest through goodness and peace.

"Blessed are we, if we do not make egoism the guiding criterion of our life, nor pleasure its purpose, but learn rather to discover in sobriety our strength; in pain a source of redemption, in sacrifice the very summit of greatness.

"Blessed are we, if we prefer to be the oppressed rather than the oppressors, and constantly hunger for the progress of justice.

"Blessed are we, if for the Kingdom of God in time and beyond time we learn to pardon and persevere, to work and to serve, to suffer, and to love.

"We shall never be deceived.

"In such accents do we seem to hear His voice today.  Then, it was stronger, sweeter, and more awe-inspiring.  But as we try to recapture some echo of the Master's words, we seem to be won over as His disciples and to be genuinely filled with new wisdom and fresh courage."

~Pope Paul VI, Reflections at Nazareth, 1/5/64

Dear Lord Jesus, living in humble obedience to Your Mother Mary and Your foster-father St. Joseph in Nazareth, You show us how to live the Beatitudes even before preaching them (Mt 5:1-11).  Fill us with "new wisdom and fresh courage" that we may find true blessedness in Your law of love and Your gospel of peace.  Amen.

P.S.  Ave Maria!  Dear Friends, this reflection by Pope Paul VI is a powerful one well-worth reading.  I make a point of re-reading and pondering it anew every year around this time.  I promise you that you will not be disappointed by it! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

"O Lord our Lord,
how admirable is Your name
in the whole earth!"
~Psalm 8:2

"Receive, then, the name of Jesus:  you are worthy of it...  Receive this name at which 'every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth' (Phil. 2:10).  The Lamb that sheds its blood deserves to  receive all adoration, all worship, all praise, all thanksgiving (cf. Rev. 5:12).  I have heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth cry out with a great voice:  'Salvation belongs to our God' (Rev. 7:10).

"Salvation comes from him because he sends us the Savior.  Hail to the Lamb who is the Savior himself.  Hail to us who participate in his name.  If he is the Savior, we are saved, and we carry this glorious name before which the whole universe bends its knee and the demons tremble.  Let us not fear anything, for everything is at our feet.  Let us think only about conquering ourselves: everything must be conquered, because we are already bearing the victor's name.  Take heart, he says, for 'I have overcome the world' (John 16:33), and to him 'who conquers, I will sit with me on my throne' (Rev. 3:21)."

~Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, French bishop, theologian, and court preacher (1627-1704)

Praise, honor and glory to You, O Jesus,
whose name is called Wonderful!
May I always humbly bear Your name
with gratitude, joy, and love.
Amen!  Alleluia!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our Dear Lord's Humility

"See, O man, what God has become for you.  Take to heart the lesson of this great humility, though the Teacher of it is still without speech.  Once, in paradise, you were so eloquent that you gave a name to every living being; but your Creator, because of you, lay speechless, and did not call even his mother by her name.  You, finding yourself in a boundless estate of fruitful groves, destroyed yourself by having no regard for obedience; He, obedient, came as a mortal man to a poor, tiny lodging that by dying He might seek the return of him who had died.  You, though you were only man, wished to be God; and you were lost.  He, though He was God, wished to be man, that He might find what had been lost.  Human pride pressed you down so that divine humility alone could lift you up."  ~St. Augustine, Sermons for Christmas, #6

O Divine Child of Bethlehem,
may I always keep learning from You
the lesson of Your great humility
and Your even great love.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

"In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced....Fraternity needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, proclaimed and witnessed to. But only love, bestowed as a gift from God, enables us to accept and fully experience fraternity."  ~Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Peace, 2014 (#1, #10)

"And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness." ~Ephesians 5:2