Friday, October 31, 2014

“Life is a military endeavor. Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness: the joy that the Lord is the victor within us, with his free gift of salvation. But we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations.That’s because we’re sinners, all of us!  But don’t get discouraged. Have courage and strength because the Lord is with us.”  ~Pope Francis, 10/30/14 Homily

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."  Isaiah 12:2

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Goodness of God

The goodness of God is like the atmosphere: it penetrates every nook and cranny that is left open to it.  It is like the ocean that overwhelms everything and fills all things that are not already filled by themselves.  And be it always remembered that the goodness of God is dynamic -- it leads to action; it not only fills the soul but it makes the soul love and makes it manifest its love in deeds.  
~Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R., in This Tremendous Lover

I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me!  ~Psalm 13:6  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"to transmit that joy"

"These things I have spoken to you,
that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full."  
~John 15:11

“We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power... We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us.”  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 10/21/14 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Brave and Strong

Even in a world that's being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.  
~Hildegard von Bingen

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  
~Ephesians 6:10

Saturday, October 25, 2014

O Mother of the Light!

Blessed Mother of God, open to us the door of your benevolence.
Do not disappoint the trust of us who hope in you;
free us from our adversities.
You are the salvation of the human race.
The number of my sins is so great, O Mother of God!
I run to you, O Immaculate,in search of salvation.
Console my desolate soul and ask your Son, our God,
to grant me the forgiveness of my sins,
O Immaculate One, only blessed one!
I place all my hope in you, O Mother of the Light;
welcome me under your protection.

~Cosmas the Singer, Carme, 1899

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eating for Life

If faith is to be strong and healthy, 
it must be constantly nourished 
by the Word of God.  
~Pope Francis, 10/21/2014 Tweet

When I found your words I devoured them; 
your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, 
because I bear your name, Lord, God of hosts. 
 ~Jeremiah 15:16

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Sunset at Bangor International Airport by Ann L. Krumrein

Try walking around with a child who’s going, “Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky.” And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, “Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!” I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world -- present and in awe.”  ~Anne Lamott, Author

Wow! Dear God, look at this world You have made!  Wow, WOW!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What the Pope REALLY Said

Ave Maria! The Third Extraordinary General Assembly held in Rome these past two weeks has come to an end. What really happened over there? What did Pope Francis actually say? And what are his thoughts as the Synod Fathers return home to their flocks?  

The best source of information is the man himself, not the reports of the media. The official Vatican Network at has published a report on the Holy Father's closing remarks to the Synod Fathers, which I've posted below in its entirety. The speech itself currently appears on the Vatican Web site in Italian only but should appear shortly in English.  Meanwhile, the report below gives us true insight into the heart and mind of Pope Francis as he continues to lead the Church in these difficult days. Let us keep praying for our Holy Father, who needs and counts on our love and support, our prayers and our sacrifices. It is our blessed privilege and sacred charge to serve him in this small way.  Deo gratias!

The Pope speaks to the Synod Fathers: we walk a path together

Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – At the end of the fifteenth and final general congregation, and after the votes had been cast, Pope Francis addressed the Synod Fathers, affirming that during these two weeks the participants in the Third Extraordinary General Assembly have truly experienced synodality, a path of solidarity, a “journey together”.

However, Pope Francis observed, as in every journey there were moments of travelling smoothly and swiftly, as if wishing to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible, and moments of fatigue, of wanting to say “enough”, and at other times, moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and pains of the faithful; moments of consolation, grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and joy of married life. It is a journey during which the stronger are compelled to help those who are less strong, and the more experienced lend themselves to serve others, also through debate.

He continued by remarking that since it is a journey taken by human beings, there have also been moments of disappointment, tension and temptation, of which he gave five examples. The first is the temptation to hostile inflexibility, closing oneself within the written word, the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, and cleaving to the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. This, he said, is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and the so-called “traditionalists and intellectuals.

Then there is the temptation of “do-goodism”, that in the name of deceptive mercy binds wounds without first treating and healing them; that addresses symptoms rather than causes and roots. It is the temptation of do-gooders, of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals”.

The third temptation is to transform stones into bread to break the long, hard, and painful fast; and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick; to transform it into unbearable burdens. The fourth is the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, rather than remaining there in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and turning it to the Spirit of God. Finally, there is the temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei”, thinking of ourselves not as guardians but as its owners or masters; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous and pompous language to say much yet at the same time to say nothing.

However, the Holy Father commented these temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, as no disciple is greater than his master, so if Jesus Himself was tempted, and even called Beelzebul, then His disciples should not expect better treatment. He added that he would be worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions, this movement of the spirits, as it was called by St. Ignatius; if all were in a state of agreement or silent in false, quietist peace.

Instead, he expressed his joy at having heard speeches and interventions full of faith, pastoral and doctrinal zeal, wisdom, frankness, courage, and parrhesia, since what was set before the eyes of the Synod Fathers was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law”, the “salus animarum”. This occurred without ever calling into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage, its indissolubility, unity, faithfulness, fruitfulness, and openness to life.

Pope Francis went on to emphasise that the Church is the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on wounds; who does not regard humanity from a glass house, ready to judge or categorise people. The Church is one, holy, Catholic, apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God's mercy. The Church is the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine; she is not afraid to dine and drink with prostitutes and publicans. Her doors are wide open to receive the needy, the repentant, and not only those who consider themselves perfect. The Church is not ashamed of the brother who has fallen, pretending not to see him, but on the contrary is involved and obliged to lift him up and set him on the path again, accompanying him to the definitive encounter with her spouse, in heavenly Jerusalem.

This, he continued, is the Church, our Mother. And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. This should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators have imagined that they see a quarrelsome Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners. The Pope emphasised the need to live through all this calmly and with inner peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro, with the presence of the Pope as a guarantee for all.

The duty of the Pope, he remarked, is to guarantee the unity of the Church, to remind the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow Christ's Gospel and to remind the pastors that their first duty is to nurture the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek the lost sheep with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears. His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, when he stated that the Church is called and commits herself to exercising this kind of authority which is service … not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ ... through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter … to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community.

As the Council stated, the Church's role is to ensure that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free. It is through us, Pope Benedict continues, that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord; this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant, gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope.

Therefore, said the Pontiff, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – “Il servus servorum Dei”, the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, setting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful and despite enjoying supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church.

Finally, Francis reminded those present that there remains a year before the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in which to develop, with true spiritual discernment, the ideas that have been proposed, and to find concrete solutions to many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families. There is a year to work on the “Relatio Synodi”, the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. He concluded by asking the Lord to accompany and guide all the participants in the Synod in their journey.

(taken from Vatican Information Service here)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beatification of Pope Paul VI

Let us therefore preserve our fervor of spirit.
Let us preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing,
even when it is in tears that we must sow.
~Bl. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, #80

"When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks!  Thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI!  Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

"In his personal notes, the great helmsman of the [Second Vatican] Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: 'Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour' (P. Macchi, Paolo VI nella sua parola, Brescia, 2001, pp. 120-121).  In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

"Paul VI truly 'rendered to God what is God’s' by devoting his whole life to the 'sacred, solemn and grave task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ' (Homily for the Rite of Coronation: Insegnamenti I, 1963, p. 26), loving the Church and leading her so that she might be 'a loving mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation' (Ecclesiam Suam, Prologue).

~Pope Francis, Homily at Closing Mass of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and Beatification of the Servant of God Paul VI, October 19, 2014

Blessed Paul VI, pray for us!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Bowing Birch" by Ann L. Krumrein

"Trees do bend, though straight and tall; so must we to others' call."
~Hosea (Come Back to Me) by Weston Priory

Friday, October 17, 2014

Feast Day of St. Margaret Mary

Mural in the Chapel of the Visitation Convent, Paray-le-Monial

O Heart of Love,
I place 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 Alacoque, V.H.M.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila

"Untilled ground, however rich, will bring forth thistles and thorns; so, also, the mind of man."  ~St. Teresa of Avila

"But if it bears thistles and thorns, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned."  ~Hebrews 6:8

Ave Maria!  Today is a day dear to my heart because it is the wedding anniversary of my beloved parents, Gladys Julia Yurkevicz and Richard Joseph Mansfield. Every day I thank God for Mummie and Daddy, rejoicing anew in the love they had for Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, for each other, and especially for my sweet sister Annie and me. We are here because of them, we are who we are because of them, and it is very good indeed! Amen!  Alleluia!

Today is also the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, or St. Teresa of Jesus, March 28, 1515–October 4, 1582, Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, an author of the Counter Reformation, and a theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Whew! And all this from a woman whose spiritual mediocrity lasted for 17 years! Around the age of forty, St. Teresa experienced a conversion and began to conform her life to God. From that point on, she was a passionate, formidable force of love in the Church and the world, and her life still bears fruit today. She gives me much hope as I keep striving to rise above my own spiritual mediocrity and to become all that God is calling me to be. Deo gratias!

Dear St. Teresa, help me to clear out the thistles and thorns in my heart and mind, to conform myself to our Lord Jesus, to become more and more all His. Amen!

"Be transformed by the renewal of your mind."  ~Romans 12:2

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The path of life

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way...the redeemed shall walk there."  ~Isaiah 35:8, 9

Ave Maria!  As I thankfully continue to change and grow, I move ahead on the highway of life. That means I leave others behind, which used to sadden me a bit. But I must be about my Father's business (Luke 2:49). This movement -- this following His lead and going forth to do His will -- truly liberates and exhilarates me. Then I see, I understand, and I rejoice! We're still traveling together on this Holy Way, always "companions on the journey" -- we're just not side-by-side. We may not be walking hand-in-hand. but we are forever heart-in-heart in Him whose Heart is our everlasting home.  Deo gratias!

Therefore my heart is glad,
and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure...
You will show me the path of life,
in your hand there is fulness of joy,
in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
~Psalm 16(15):9, 11

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mary, Star of the Sea

"Mary, Star of the Sea"
by Bro. Mickey McGrath, O.S.F.S.

"Mary, Star of the sea, guides all her faithful servants into safe harbor. She shows them the path to eternal life and helps them avoid dangerous pitfalls. She leads them by the hand along the path of holiness, steadies them when they are liable to fall and helps them rise when they have fallen. She chides them like a loving mother when they are remiss and sometimes she even lovingly chastises them. How could a child that follows such a mother and such an enlightened guide as Mary take the wrong path to heaven? Follow her and you cannot go wrong, says St. Bernard." ~St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

Dear Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for me, your little child!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Wedding Feast by Pieter Bruegel

"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son."  ~Matthew 22:1

All believers are familiar with the story of the wedding of the king’s son and the banquet that followed it, and of how the Lord’s table was thrown open to all comers.

When everyone was seated “the master of the house came in to see his guests, and among them he noticed one without a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'My friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?'”

Now what precisely does this mean? Let us try to find out what it is that some believers have, but which the wicked lack, for that will be what the wedding garment is.

Can it be one of the sacraments? Hardly, for these, as we know, are common to good and bad alike. Take baptism for example. It is true that no one comes to God except through baptism, but not every baptized person comes to him. 

We cannot take this sacrament as the wedding garment, then, for it is a robe worn not only by good people but also by wicked people. Perhaps, then, it is our altar that is meant, or at least what we receive from it. But we know that many who approach the altar eat and drink to their own damnation.

Well, then, maybe it is fasting? The wicked can fast too. What about going to church? Some bad people also go to church.

Whatever can this wedding garment be, then? For an answer we must go to the Apostle, who says: “The purpose of our command is to arouse the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.”

There is your wedding garment. It is not love of just any kind. Many people of bad conscience appear to love one another, but you will not find in them “the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.” Only that kind of love is the wedding garment.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,” says the Apostle, “but have no love, I am nothing but a booming gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, if I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, if I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing.”

In other words, even with all these gifts I am nothing without Christ. Does that mean that prophecy has no value and that knowledge of mysteries is worthless?

No, they are not worthless but I am, if I possess them but have no love. But can the lack of one good thing rob so many others of their value? Yes, without love my confession of the name of Christ even by shedding my blood or offering my body to be burnt will avail me nothing, for I may do this out of a desire for glory.

That such things can be endured for the sake of empty show without any real love for God the Apostle also declares. Listen to him: “If I give away all I have to the poor, if I hand over my body to be burnt, but have no love, it will avail me nothing.” So this is what the wedding garment is.

Examine yourselves to see whether you possess it. If you do, your place at the Lord’s table is secure.

~St. Augustine, 354-430

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my soul shall exult in my God:
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation: 
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
 ~Isaiah 61:10

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy!

"Then let us call her by that name, let us treat her as a  mother -- as the Mother of God first of all and then as our own Mother -- since Jesus, when dying on the Cross, put at our disposal the treasures of her maternity.  Our Lady has a maternal mission to accomplish in our souls.  Jesus Himself has entrusted it to her; therefore, it is very dear to her, and she desires to fulfill it perfectly.  Yes, Mary wishes to be our Mother, she wishes to use the privileges and treasures of her maternity for our advantage, but she cannot do so unless we entrust ourselves to her care like docile, loving children.  Even among those who are consecrated to God, not all realize sufficiently the necessity of giving themselves to Mary as her children, of opening their soul to her maternal influence, of having recourse to her with complete confidence, of calling upon her aid in all their difficulties and dangers, and of placing their whole spiritual life under her patronage.  In the natural order a child needs a mother, and suffers both morally and spiritually without one; so also in the supernatural order, souls need a mother, they need Mary, most holy.  Without her and her maternal care, souls suffer, their spiritual life is stunted and often becomes lax, or, at least, is not as vigorous as it should be.  On the other hand, when souls give themselves to Mary, seek Mary, and trust themselves to her, their interior life progresses rapidly, their journey toward God is more simple and swift; everything becomes easier because there is a Mother's hand to sustain them, there is a Mother's heart to comfort them."

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

I love you, Mary, Mother Most Wonderful!
I love you and I give you my heart,
confident that you will keep it safe
until at last I behold face-to-face
your Beloved Son, Jesus,
my Lord and my All,
my King and my God.
Amen!  Alleluia!

Friday, October 10, 2014

More than conquerors...

Pope Francis and Fr. Ernest Troshani Simoni
Ave Maria! Two thousand years after the death of Our Lord Jesus, we still see Christ suffering His Passion in myriad people through manifold ways. The Catholic Church in Albania is but one example. When Pope Francis made a one-day visit to Albania late last month, he was moved to tears by the testimonies of Fr. Ernest Troshani Simoni, 84, and Sr. Maria Kaleta, 85, who persevered in the Catholic faith "when the practice of any kind of religion often resulted in torture and death." Not surprisingly, I too was moved to tears when I read the Catholic News Service article about Father and Sister here, along with another article on Father here and one on Sister here.  In fact, I'm pretty much speechless as I marvel at the tenacity of their faith, the solidness of their hope, and the depths of their love. Surely Father Ernest and Sister Maria are among those "who are come out of great. tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14).  How I thank God for their shining witness even as I pray for all those individuals being persecuted today for their faith!  And I humbly beg for the grace to be as staunchly faithful as they have been and are.  

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
~Romans 8:27

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Putting on love...

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. ~Colossians 3:12-14

Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to speak badly of others, not to criticize, not to gossip, but rather to love everyone. ~Pope Francis, 10/7/14 Tweet

O Lord, keep me from judging and criticizing my neighbor; give me kind, loving thoughts about everyone...teach me to cover the defects and faults of others with the mantle of charity. ~Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Through death to life

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
~John 12:24

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein