Monday, June 30, 2014

St. Peter and St. Paul

"Today the Lord repeats to me, to you, and to all... Follow me!  Waste no time in questioning or in useless chattering; do not dwell on secondary things, but look to what is essential and follow me.  Follow me without regard for the difficulties.  Follow me in preaching the Gospel.  Follow me by the witness of a life shaped by the grace you received in baptism...  Follow me by speaking of me to those with whom you live, day after day, in your work, your conversations and among your friends.  Follow me by proclaiming the Gospel to all, especially to the least among us, so that no one will fail to hear the word of life which sets us free from every fear and enables us to trust in the faithfulness of God. Follow me!"  ~Pope Francis, 6/29/14 Homily

Dear Jesus,
thanks to Your abundant grace,
today I will begin anew to follow You,
my Lord and my Master,
my life, my love, and my holy joy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pope Francis on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  ~Jeremiah 31:3

"God has set his heart on us, he has chosen us, and this bond is forever, not because we are faithful, but because the Lord is faithful and puts up with our infidelity, our slowness and our failures. 

"We can experience and taste the tenderness of this love at every stage of our lives, in times of joy as well as sadness, in times of health as well as in sickness." 

~Pope Francis

O Heart of Love,
I put all my trust in Thee
for I fear all things from my own weakness
but I hope for all things from Thy goodness.
St. Margaret Mary

Friday, June 27, 2014

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Blessed be the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!

"What strikes us most in contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus are the flames which consume and surround It. These mysterious flames cannot be contained even in that burning Heart; they escape through the wound, pass around the cross and among the thorns, covering and penetrating It completely. In a word, it is a burning Heart, an inflamed Heart. And what is this sacred fire which thus consumes the Heart of Jesus? It is the love which He has for us. 'I am come,' said He, 'to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled' (Luke 12:49). One day, discovering His breast to Margaret Alacoque, He said to her: 'My Heart, loving passionately mankind, can no longer contain the flames of Its charity; it is necessary for It to manifest Itself to them, in order to enrich them with the treasures It contains.' At another time, showing her again the interior of His adorable Heart, He showed It to her as a burning furnace, glowing with flames.

"Love was the life of the Heart of Jesus, was the mainspring of all Its movements, and of Its sorrows. It was love that caused Him to be born, to act, to suffer, and to weep; it was love, finally, which made Him die. And in the divine Eucharist, it is love that induces Him to give Himself to us; to be our guest, our companion, our Savior, our food and nourishment. 'O Lord!' exclaimed St. Gertrude, 'if men but knew how Thou dost love them: if Thou wouldst but reveal to them the infinite riches of Thy Heart, they would all fall at Thy feet, and would love but Thee. O mystery of infinite charity and abyss of love!'

"What answer would you give, O Christian, if this good Master said to you as He did to His disciple: 'Lovest thou me? Dost thou give me heart for heart love for love?' What would be your reply? Examine yourselves, place your hand on your own heart and see if it beats with love for Jesus. Alas! its affections are, perhaps, only for creatures; how few generous souls are there, how few hearts which really belong entirely to God, to Jesus Christ. How few are they who love infinite love. How do we manage not to love that which is so lovable? Oh! let us ask of Him a tender love with which to love Him, a strong love to suffer for Him, a confiding love in order to be able to lean by turns on His Heart and on His cross. Heart of Jesus, celestial flame, divine fire, destroy in us all that is not pure, and grant that our affections may be entirely thine. May we live only for love and die of love."

~Father Martin Berlioux in Month of the Sacred Heart  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Praying for Humility

Ave Maria!  Some time ago, I posted the "Litany of Humility" by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, which I've been praying for over 30 years. Just a couple of months ago, I happily discovered that there's more to this prayer than is usually published in books and on the Web. The portion that's often omitted begins about two-thirds into this litany, beginning with the words "O Jesus grant me" -- you'll see below. The last two lines are a real zinger: "[grant me] the yearning to be treated like Thee, and the grace of knowing how to accept it in a holy way."  Ah, yes, accepting it "in a holy way" -- there's the rub! And so I keep praying the good Cardinal's litany every day. As an aside, a while back when I went to confession, Father asked me if I had ever heard of the Litany of Humility. I eagerly responded, "Oh, yes, Father, I pray it every day!" And then I hung my head somewhat in shame as I added woefully, "Oh, dear, I guess I'm not praying it hard enough!" Both Father and I laughed! As I said, I keep on praying this litany daily. And now that I finally have the entire prayer, who knows, maybe it will help me to become more humble. Deo gratias! 

Litany of Humility by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

O Jesus grant me:

knowledge and love of my nothingness,

the continuous memory of my sins,

the awareness of my selfishness,

the abhorrence of all vanity,

the pure intention of serving God,

perfect submission to the Will of the Father,

a true spirit of compunction,

blind obedience to my superiors,

holy hatred of all envy and jealousy,

promptness in forgiving offenses,

prudence in keeping silent about others’ matters,

peace and charity towards everyone,

an ardent desire for contempt and humiliations,

the yearning to be treated like Thee,

and the grace of knowing how to accept it in a holy way.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Want to be a Saint?

Ave Maria! There's no easy way to become a saint, but there are plenty of simple, practical ways to grow in holiness. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's seven suggestions for "holiness in the simple and ordinary way" are as relevant today as they were in the 1800's. Fr. Broom lists them all in his blog post "Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way!", which you can check out here.  

Ready for the first one?  "Get to bed on time!"  Really? Really!  And the last one, which is the best, in my opinion: “Try to do the ordinary duties of one’s daily life with extraordinary love.” Ah, an echo of my beloved St. Francis de Sales! We've heard it before from others, too, such as the Little Flower and Mother Teresa. They're on to something. Simple indeed but quite profound. And something I can do every moment of my daily life.

Dear Lord, let me not fail to become the saint You are calling me to be.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." ~John 1:6

"Challenging and active, he stands before us, a type of the masculine mission in life. He is the stern herald who summons the people to metanoia: to a change of heart  or conversion. Anyone who wants to be a Christian must be constantly changing his thinking or outlook. By nature, we are inclined to be always asserting ourselves, repaying in kind, making ourselves the enter of attention. If we want to find God, we must be constantly undergoing an interior conversion, turning around and moving in the opposite direction, and this even in the way we understand life as a whole.

"Day in and day out, we are confronted with the world of visible things. So strongly and insistently does it impinge on us through billboards, the radio, commerce, and every incident of daily life that we are tempted to think nothing else exists. But in fact the invisible is greater and more valuable than all visible reality. According to a marvelous saying of Pascal, a single soul is worth more than the entire visible universe. But if we are to grasp this truth in a vivid way, we must be converted; we must, as it were, do an interior about-face, overcome the  the spell that visible reality casts over us, and acquire a sensitive touch, ear, and eye for the invisible. We must treat the invisible as more important than all the things that thrust themselves upon us with such force day after day. 'Be converted:' change your thinking, your outlook, so that you perceive God's presence in the world; change your thinking so that God may become present in you and, through you, in the world.

"John himself was not spared this difficult process of changing his mind-set, of having to convert, of undergoing what de Lubac calls 'the alchemy of being.' It already begins with his having to proclaim, as one crying in the wilderness, a man whom he himself does not know. Is it not the fate of the priest and of every Christian who proclaims Christ that we, too, know him and yet do not know him, that we, too, despite the darkness of our ignorance, must bear witness to him whom unfortunately we still know, and will always know, only too imperfectly."

~from Dogma and Preaching by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

St. John the Baptist, direct our hearts to true conversion;
direct our hearts to Him who alone can truly convert us
and make us forever glorious in His sight (Is 49:5).

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Stop judging!" ~Matthew 7:1

"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?" ~Matthew 7:3

"Criticism is easy; it is within everyone's reach.  A pessimistic nature easily finds the defects and shortcoming in others.  But everyone, without exception, has defects.  Even the saint needed a lifetime to become Christ-like, to become perfect 'as our heavenly Father is perfect.'

"Keeping an account of people's faults is a fruitless task.  Not only are you showing your pride and ill-will, but you are also wasting your time.

"To remember a person's defects is to hold onto the past and to concentrate on that person's worst side, as if no other existed!  No one's life is frozen; everyone is constantly evolving, changing, growing.  You must concentrate your entire attention of the present and the future rather than the past.

"One who has sinned, but who bears his or her past with sorrow may be a saint today or will become one tomorrow.  Such a person may make swifter progress on the road toward holiness than me.  While I waste my time and strength criticizing and complaining about others, those who seemed to me to be further behind on the road are setting out and moving forward quickly and soon will have gone beyond me."

~Cardinal François Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận
Dear Lord, please help me to stop judging and to start loving.  Amen!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi

"In a word this Sacrament is, as it were, the very soul of the Church."

~Mirae Caritatis, Encyclical of Pope Leo III of the Holy Eucharist

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Mary's entire life was silent and hidden..."

Mary's entire life was silent and hidden, for as Scripture tells us: "It is the glory of God to conceal things" (Proverbs 25:2)....  Mary's testament could not be anything other than the silence of love.  She who keeps God's Word could only impart to us Jesus' testament in the silence of her faith. 

~Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P., The Mysteries of Mary

Mother of the Incarnate Word,
teach me the silence of love.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hope and Praise!

We can never have too much confidence in the good God
who is so powerful and so merciful.
We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.  
~Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

And now, Lord, what is there to wait for?
In you rests all my hope.
~Psalm 39:8

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Patience and its many gifts

"In your patience you shall possess your souls."  ~Luke 21:19

"By patience we have the keeping of our own souls; we command ourselves, and our passions are subdued to us; and 'commanding ourselves, we begin to possess that which we are.' Patience, then, is the guardian of faith, the fence of love, the strength of hope, the parent of peace. Patience protects humility, keeps meekness, is the soul of long- suffering, guides gentleness, strengthens perseverance. Patience makes the soul to be of one mind with God, and sweetens all the ills of life. It casts the light of heaven upon them and transforms them into goods. It makes the bitter waters sweet; the barren and dry land fruitful. Desolation it makes a loneliness with God; the parching of sickness to be the fire of His love; weakness to be His strength; wounds to be health; emptiness of all things to have things from Him; poverty to be true riches; His deserved punishments to be His rainbow of mercy; death to be His life." ~E. B. Pusey, English Anglican theologian, scholar, and a leader of the Oxford movement

Dear Lord, today I will wait patiently for You
for I know that You will stoop down to me and hear my cry.
(Psalm 40:2)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Dance!

When you can't dance, let your soul tango. 
~Madeleine Delbrêl, French Catholic author, poet, and mystic

Let them praise his name with dancing.  ~Psalm 149:3

Dear Lord, I'm putting on my dancing shoes right now!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"the highest praise is silence"

"In the presence of the unspeakable mystery of the Trinity the highest praise is silence, the silence of the soul that adores, knowing that it is incapable of praising or glorifying the divine Majesty worthily."  

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

But the Lord is in his holy temple:
let all the earth keep silence before him.
~Habakkuk 2:20

Monday, June 16, 2014

Praise God!

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

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart,
and glorify your name forever.
~Psalm 86(85):12

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Well done, good and faithful servant!

Ave Maria!  Dear Friends, Fr. John Berg, the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), yesterday issued a letter on the death of Father Kenneth Walker, FSSP. If you’ve not yet seen this beautiful letter, you will find it below. 

As many of you know, last summer when Father Van Vliet, FSSP, was on vacation for a couple of weeks, Father Walker covered his Masses in our parish. Many of us were blessed to meet and to converse with Father Walker, and so we happily came to know him for the sweet, enthusiastic, gentle soul that he was. As weekday sacristan for Father Van Vliet, it was my privilege to assist Father Walker each morning in the sacristy. Yes, that was such an honor -- and also an absolute joy! Father Berg in his letter below sums up perfectly what I noticed about Father Walker during those early morning hours, day after day: “there was an innocence to Fr. Walker which is rarely found in this valley of tears”. That innocence of his made me weep for joy then -- and it still does now. By his example alone, Father Walker furthered and strengthened the ongoing conversion of my weak and wobbly heart. Deo gratias!

Even as we mourn the sudden passing of Father Walker, we rejoice in his going home to the Father. For we know Him in whom we have believed (2 Timothy 1:12), and we trust in His Word (Psalm 119:52):

The souls of the just are in the hand of God
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if in the eyes of men, indeed they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them, and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
Wisdom 3:1-6, 9

Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, RIP

Letter of the Superior General of the Fraternity of Saint Peter on the death of Father Kenneth Walker

Dear Friends of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter,

In the midst of mourning for our dear confrere, Fr. Kenneth Walker, one great consolation has been the outpouring of prayers and condolences expressed by so many bishops, religious communities, fellow priests and faithful. Many of you have informed us of the hundreds of Masses which have already been offered for the repose of his soul and for the health of Fr. Joseph Terra. By the grace of God and thanks to your prayers, Fr. Terra’s life is out of danger and we expect him to make a full recovery.

By now you have read on various news outlets and websites about the virtues of Fr. Walker as a priest and how badly he will be missed by his confreres and parishioners. In an age where we seem so centered upon ‘clerical stars’ and are constantly searching for the ‘newest approach to evangelization’, the life of our confrere gave witness to one of the greatest priestly virtues, a quiet and consistent strength, which is a mark of the Good Shepherd who watches vigilantly over his flock in season and out of season.

He has been described by the parishioners he served in the same manner that he would be by his confreres; he was earnest: he was persevering; he was ready first to serve; nothing ever seemed to inconvenience him. Our Lord’s description of Nathaniel perhaps fits him best: he was a man without guile. He will perhaps be remembered as an example to us as confreres more for what he did not say; one would be hard pressed to find anyone who ever heard him complain or speak badly about anyone. As a former professor of Fr. Walker in the seminary, and as superior, I also knew him as one who took correction well; never pridefully objected; and sincerely sought to improve in all areas of formation both as a seminarian and a later as a priest.

In such tragic circumstances I realize that it can be easy to fall into hyperbole, but there was an innocence to Fr. Walker which is rarely found in this valley of tears.

His life and his priestly work here below have been cut tragically short – just two short years serving in the vineyard of Our Lord. But we are grateful for the time he had to serve in the Fraternity and that he was given the vocation that he sought. His reason for becoming a priest was already beautifully formulated in his application to the seminary:

“God, in His infinite love, desires all men to be saved and so achieve their true end. Along with the Church, then, I am deeply grieved by these errors concerning the nature and dignity of man accepted by so many people in the world, which deviate them from their supernatural end. In full view of the situation in the world, then, the only vocation that I could be satisfied with, as a work, would be one that would be dedicated to bringing people to salvation in whatever way God wills for me to do so.”

As confreres we know that Fr. Walker would not want us to waste our time in anger over what has happened; over the gross injustice which has been done. As great as this is a tragedy for us, so too it will bear great graces for our Fraternity: O altitudo divitiarum sapientiæ, et scientiæ Dei: quam incomprehensibilia sunt judicia ejus, et investigabiles viæ ejus! [“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible and His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!” Epistle for Trinity Sunday, Romans 11:33-36] The first grace will be as an encouragement to each of us to take nothing for granted in the call of Our Lord to the Sacred Priesthood. We are His instruments to serve, and must do so always more faithfully in accordance with His will and that of the Church for His greater glory. For the moment let us waste no time, and simply concentrate our efforts in praying for the repose of the soul of Fr. Walker.

We thank the many parishes which have organized Holy Hours and will hold Masses of Requiem on Monday; again, we are humbled by your charity. Fr. Eric Flood, District Superior of North America, will offer a Requiem in Phoenix on Monday in the presence of Bishop Thomas Olmsted, and I will offer one here at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Fribourg on the same day. The funeral arrangements are on hold until the body of Fr. Walker can be transferred to Kansas. The Fraternity will of course publish these details when they are in place.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Consolator optime;
In fletu solatium, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium!
(Come, Holy Ghost, of comforters the best,
Solace in our grief, fill the inmost hearts of those who trust in Thee!)

Mater Misericordiae, Ora pro nobis
(Mother of Mercy, pray for us.)

Requiem Aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace.
(Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.)

Ember Saturday of Pentecost, June 14, 2014
Very Rev. John Berg
Superior General FSSP

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ember Friday of Pentecost

Two Prayers to the Holy Spirit by Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified

Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary my Mother, look upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, from all illusion,
from all danger, preserve me.

Source of peace, Light,
come and enlighten me.
I am hungry, come and nourish me.
I am thirsty, come and quench my thirst.
I am blind, come and give me light.
I am poor, come and enrich me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pentecost Thursday

All merciful Father, 
through your only-begotten Son 
born of the Virgin
by the power of the Holy Spirit, 
send down upon us,
for whom he died,
the Spirit of seven-fold grace:
WISDOM to enlighten us,
UNDERSTANDING to deepen our own,
PRUDENCE to enable us to follow Christ, 
STRENGTH to resist every evil,
KNOWLEDGE to choose what is good,
PIETY to make us resemble Christ, and
FEAR to live without fear in your presence.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ember Wednesday of Pentecost

Please, from this day on, O Father,
please give us to the poor. 
Your Spirit surely will go with us. 
Send us with your loving warmth to a land of chill.
Breathe your fiery Spirit of Love on us. 
Set our hearts smoldering with knowledge, wisdom, understanding, courage.
Then send us out. 
Let your fire in us ignite all on our path.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Come, Holy Spirit.

~Anne Osdieck

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pentecost Tuesday

"But the fruit of the spirit is...peace..."  ~Galatians 5:22

"Blessed are peace-makers. But it is so common amongst us to be war-makers or perpetrators of misunderstandings! When I hear something from one person, and I go and say it to someone else in a second, enlarged, edition...[it is] the world of gossip. People who gossip, who do not make peace, are enemies of peace. They are not blessed."  

~Pope Francis, 6/9/14 Homily

Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with Your peace,
that we may be Your peace-makers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pentecost Monday

"And I will give you a new heart,
and put a new spirit within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and will give you a heart of flesh."  
~Ezekiel 36:26

"O Holy Spirit, substantial Love of the Father and the Son, uncreated Love dwelling in the souls of the just, come down upon me like a new Pentecost and bring me an abundance of Your gifts, of Your fruits and of Your grace; unite Yourself to me as to the most sweet Spouse of my soul …. invade me, take me, possess me wholly. Be the penetrating light which illumines my intellect, the gentle motion which attracts and directs my will, the supernatural energy which gives energy to my body. Complete in me Your work of sanctification and love. Make me pure, transparent, simple, true, free, peaceful, gentle, calm, serene even in suffering and burning with charity toward God and my neighbor."

~Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD, quoted in Divine Intimacy

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost Sunday

Come O Holy Paraclete,
And from your celestial seat,
Send your light and brilliancy.
Father of the poor, draw near;
Giver of all gifts, be here;
Come, the heart’s true radiancy.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Vigil of Pentecost

Come, Spirit of Wisdom, dispose our hearts to know and value the things of heaven above the things of the earth and show us the way to salvation.

Come, Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds to the mysteries of salvation and grant that we may come to a fuller knowledge of you.

Come, Spirit of Counsel, guide us in the way of your commandments. Incline us to do good. Keep us from evil and bring us to everlasting life.

Come Spirit of Fortitude, strengthen us in every trial and help us in our struggle against evil. Never let us be parted from you.

Come, Spirit of Knowledge, help us to see beyond the passing joys of this world to the glories you have prepared for us.

Come, Spirit of Piety, stir up our hearts to true holiness and love of you. May we always seek you in spirit and in truth.

Come Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, teach us ever to set the Lord before us and to avoid whatever is displeasing to you. Bring us all one day to the fullness of your love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Pope Francis on the Upper Room

Ave Maria!  As we prepare for the splendid solemnity of Pentecost this Sunday, I share with you the following beautiful reflection on the Upper Room that our Holy Father gave when he was in Jerusalem last month. May the time we spend in the Upper Room be full of God's love and goodness, His light and strength! And united in the Spirit of Jesus, may we joyfully go forth to renew the face of the earth! Amen! Alleluia!

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all together in one place.  ~Acts 2:1

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with Ordinaries of the Holy Land
Upper Room, Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Dear Brothers,

It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples.  Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth.  From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.

In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with this power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30).

To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget.  The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning.

The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet.  Washing one another’s feet signifies welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another.  It means serving the poor, the sick and the outcast.

The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice.  In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering to God our lives, our work, our joys and our sorrows… offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice.

The Upper Room reminds us of friendship.  “No longer do I call you servants – Jesus said to the Twelve – but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).  The Lord makes us his friends, he reveals God’s will to us and he gives us his very self.  This is the most beautiful part of being a Christian and, especially, of being a priest: becoming a friend of the Lord Jesus.

The Upper Room reminds us of the Teacher’s farewell and his promise to return to his friends: “When I go… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:3).  Jesus does not leave us, nor does he ever abandon us; he precedes us to the house of the Father, where he desires to bring us as well.

The Upper Room, however, also reminds us of pettiness, of curiosity – “Who is the traitor?” – and of betrayal.  We ourselves, and not just others, can reawaken those attitudes whenever we look at our brother or sister with contempt, whenever we judge them, whenever by our sins we betray Jesus.

The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves.  How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room!  How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent.  All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, the Upper Room reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, established by the risen Jesus; a family that has a Mother, the Virgin Mary.  Christian families belong to this great family, and in it they find the light and strength to press on and be renewed, amid the challenges and difficulties of life.  All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the one Father in heaven.

These horizons are opened up by the Upper Room, the horizons of the Risen Lord and his Church.

From here the Church goes forth, impelled by the life-giving breath of the Spirit.  Gathered in prayer with the Mother of Jesus, the Church lives in constant expectation of a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This Tremendous Lover

"For that is the whole spiritual life -- a love union with Jesus, in which each of the lovers, the Divine and the human, give themselves completely to one another.  It is not so much a question of acquisition of virtue, of performing heroic deeds, of amassing merit, of bearing fruit in the Church; these things are excellent, especially insofar as they come from love.  But nothing less than our very self in its entirety will satisfy the heart of Jesus, and all He asks is that we give Him our whole self in all poverty and nothingness.  The great way to do that is the way shown by Jesus and by Mary -- by love through humility and abandonment.

~Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R., in This Tremendous Lover

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God,
with thy whole heart,
and with thy whole soul,
and with thy whole mind, 
and with thy whole strength.
~Mark 12:30

Ave Maria! Thanks to my dear friends Joan Carson and Suzanne Porter, who gave me a gift certificate to our local Catholic gift store on the anniversary of my consecration as a virgin, I am currently re-reading This Tremendous Lover, which I devoured back in my 20's. It was written by Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R., an Irish priest, a Trappist monk and a spiritual writer. First published in 1946, this book been reprinted many times over the years. My copy is "Revised and Updated" by Tan Books (2013). This is one of those spiritual classics full of the sort of wisdom that endures the test of time -- all 352 pages! I suspect that I'll be posting excerpts from it as I read along. Meanwhile, you can read some excerpts on the Web here and here as well as a review here. Better yet, buy a copy for yourself. If you are a Kindle user, Amazon sells the Tan Books version for just $5.  I'm definitely a "bargain queen," but when it comes to books like This Tremendous Lover, I'll spend my last penny for the real thing so that I can mark it up assiduously. Happy reading, learning, applying and converting!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pope Benedict XVI on the Ascension of Our Lord

…The old manner of human companionship and encounter is over. From now on we can touch Jesus only “with the Father”. Now we can touch him only by ascending. From the Father’s perspective, in his communion with the Father, he is accessible and close to us in a new way. This new accessibility presupposes a newness on our part as well. Through Baptism, our life is already hidden with Christ in God -- in our current existence we are already “raised” with him at the Father’s right hand (cf. Col 3:1–3). Because Jesus is with the Father, he has not gone away but remains close to us. Now he is no longer in one particular place in the world as he had been before the “Ascension”: now, through his power over space, he is present and accessible to all -- throughout history and in every place.  ~Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection

Nevertheless, I am continually with thee;
thou dost hold my right hand.  
~Psalm 73:23

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Ascension of Our Lord

"Christ’s going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence. And out of the doctrine of His resurrection and ascension, spring those Christian paradoxes, often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, yet possessing all things (II Cor 6:10)."  

~Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman in Parochial and Plain Sermons (Vol. 6, No. 10)

God, of Your goodness, give me Yourself, for You are enough for me.
Julian of Norwich