Monday, November 30, 2015

"The Annunciation revealed Mary..."

Unforeseen occurrences that call upon us for immediate action reveal what we are.  The Annunciation revealed Mary....  Her midnight prayer interrupted by the salutation of an Archangel; the whole plan of her life reversed; a dignity without a parallel offered for her acceptance -- and her mind retains its balance undisturbed.  When this same Angel showed himself to Daniel, "there remained no strength in him, and he fainted away, and lay in a consternation upon his face" (Daniel 10).  Mary is troubled indeed for a little space, but at his words, not at his appearance.  She treats with him of the advent of the long-expected Messias, the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Redemption of the human race.  There is no surprise, no elation, no protestation of unworthiness.  Her sole thought is to ascertain the Will of God, and, when this is declared, to accept it with all it involves because it is His will.

~Mother Mary Loyola in Hail! Full of Grace

Dear Mary, so full of grace,
teach me your fiat ~ teach me your love.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

First Sunday of Advent

The Lord says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He means: “Nothing that is lasting in your world lasts for eternity without change; and everything that in me is perceived as passing away is kept firm, without passing away. My utterance, which passes away, expresses thoughts that endure without change.”

My friends, what we have heard is now clear. Daily the world is oppressed by new and growing evils. You see how few of you remain from a countless people; yet daily afflictions still oppress us, sudden disasters crush us, new and unforeseen misfortunes afflict us.

In youth the body is vigorous, the chest remains strong and healthy, the neck is straight, the arms muscular; in later years the body is bent, the neck scrawny and withered, the chest oppressed by difficult breathing, strength is failing, and speech is interrupted by wheezing. Weakness may not yet be present, but often in the case of the senses their healthy state is itself a malady.

So too the world was strong in its early years, as in its youth: lusty in begetting offspring for the human race, green in its physical health, teeming with a wealth of resources. Now it is weighed down by its old age, and as troubles increase it is oppressed as if by the proximity of its demise.

Therefore, my friends, do not love what you see cannot long exist. Keep in mind the apostle’s precept, in which he counsels us “not to love the world or the things in the world, because if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.”

The day before yesterday, my friends, you heard that an old orchard was uprooted by a sudden hurricane, that homes were destroyed and churches knocked from their foundations. How many persons who were safe and unharmed in the evening, thinking of what they would do the next day, suddenly died that night, caught in a trap of destruction?

We must reflect that to bring these things about our unseen Judge caused the movement of a very slight breeze; he called a storm out of a single cloud and overthrew the earth, he struck the foundations of many buildings, causing them to fall.

What will that Judge do when he comes in person, when his anger is burning to punish sinners, if we cannot bear him when he strikes us with an insignificant cloud? What flesh will withstand the presence of his anger, if he moved the wind and overthrew the earth, stirred up the air and destroyed so many buildings?

Paul referred to this severity of the Judge who is to come and said: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Dearly beloved, keep that day before your eyes, and whatever you now believe to be burdensome will be light in comparison with it. The Lord says of this day through the prophet: “Yet once more and I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”

You see how he moved the air, as I said, and the earth did not withstand it. Who then will bear it when he moves the sky? What shall we call these terrors we see but heralds of the wrath to come? We must reflect that these troubles are as much unlike the final one as the herald’s role is unlike the judge’s power.

Give hard thought to that day, dearly beloved; amend your lives, change your habits, resist and overcome your evil temptations. The more you now anticipate his severity by fear, the more securely will you behold the coming of your eternal Judge.

St. Gregory the Great (c. 540-604)

If you return and be quiet, you shall be saved:
in silence and in hope shall your strength be.
~Isaiah 30:15

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Eve of the First Sunday of Advent

Advent by Jessica Powers

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A joyful heart

The password of the early Christians was joy, so let us still serve the Lord with joy. Joy is love, joy is prayer, joy is strength. God loves a person who gives joyfully, and if you give joyfully you always give more. A joyful heart is the result of a heart burning with love. Works of love are always works of joy. We don’t need to look for happiness: if we have love for others we’ll be given it. It is the gift of God.  ~Mother Teresa
You are my love, O Lord; You are my joy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cranberry Blueberry Chutney

Ave Maria!  Here is another favorite cranberry chutney recipe of mine -- this one with blueberries in addition to the cranberries. They go quite nicely together! Once again, I do not recall exactly where I found this recipe. There are thousands of them out there on the Web. There are also some interesting articles about chutney, including one here and another one here. Be sure to use non-reactive pots when making chutneys. The acid in the mixture will react to iron, copper, and brass causing discoloration and pitting to the pot and imparting a metallic taste to the chutney. Wooden spoons or plastic utensils are recommended for the same reasons as non-reactive pots. Most chutneys will last several weeks in the refrigerator due to the acid/vinegar content. A spoonful of chutney into stirred into some plain yogurt makes a yummy snack. Hmmmm, maybe I'll go have some now...oh wait, I can't, I didn't make my Thanksgiving chutney yet! Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow...


1 and 1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, chopped finely
3/4 cup onion, chopped finely
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup golden raisins


Mix sugar, water, vinegar, lemon peel, lemon juice, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add ginger root, onion, blueberries, cranberries and raisins.  

Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until desired thickness is reached. 

Chill before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cranberry Chutney with Curry

Ave Maria!  I was going to say that on a more mundane level I am sharing this recipe for curried cranberry chutney, but this concoction is near sublime.  I found this recipe about 30 years ago when I was living in Washington, DC but cannot recall exactly what publication it was in.  Whatever, it really is very good and quite easy to make.  Paired with cream cheese on good crackers or French bread, it makes a scrumptious appetizer.  I am particularly fond of spreading it atop a grilled cheese sandwich.  Mmmm good!  Tomorrow I will post my recipe for cranberry-blueberry chutney.  Enjoy!

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY -- makes about 3 cups; keeps in refrigerator 1-2 months

1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a large non-aluminum saucepan over high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse cranberries and add to pan; cook until skins begin to pop, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients to pan and cook for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Ladle chutney into container(s) and refrigerate until ready to use.
NOTES:  Rather than grate the fresh ginger, I prefer to mince it finely.  I like nuts in chutney, so sometimes I stir a cup of walnuts into the chutney when it’s done cooking.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Solemnity of Christ the King

Listen, everyone, Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised. Listen, all kings of the earth. I am no hindrance to your rule in this world, “for my kingdom is not of this world.”

Banish the groundless fear that filled Herod the Great on hearing that Christ was born. More cruel in his fear than in his anger, he put many children to death, so that Christ also would die.

But “my kingdom is not of this world,” says Christ. What further reassurance do you seek? Come to the kingdom not of this world. Be not enraged by fear, but come by faith.

In a prophecy Christ also said: “He,” that is, God the Father, “has made me king on Zion his holy mountain.” But that Zion and that mountain are not of this world.

What in fact is Christ’s kingdom? It is simply those who believe in him, those to whom he said: “You are not of this world, even as I am not of this world.” He willed, nevertheless, that they should be in the world, which is why he prayed to the Father: “I ask you not to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one.”

So here also he did not say: “My kingdom is not in this world,” but “is not of this world.” And when he went on to prove this by declaring: “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews,” he concluded by saying not “my kingdom is not here,” but “my kingdom is not from here.”

Indeed, his kingdom is here until the end of time, and until the harvest it will contain weeds. The harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, who are the angels, will come “and gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin”; and this could not happen if his kingdom were not here. But even so, it is not from here, for it is in exile in the world.

Christ says to his kingdom: “You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” They were indeed of the world when they belonged to the prince of this world, before they became his kingdom.

Though created by the true God, everyone born of the corrupt and accursed stock of Adam is of the world. On the other hand, everyone who is reborn in Christ becomes the kingdom which is no longer of the world.

For so has God snatched us from the powers of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son: that kingdom of which he said: “My kingdom is not of this world; my kingly power does not come from here.”

~St. Augustine, 354-430

O my Jesus,
King of Love and Mercy,
"Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown"!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Preparing for the Solemnity of Christ the King This Sunday

This king, however, is a liberator and lover. The lord of history who stands before the throne of God is not a lion. He is a lamb.

A strange king, to be sure. In the fourth Gospel's account of the Passion, all of our expectations of kingliness are reversed. The king-servant, who washed his followers' feet, is strangely grand and noble, yet only in his quiet vulnerability and the utter truth of his being. He does not muster armies or amass territories. He just invites, relying on nothing other than our hearts' response.

...Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world. It is a kingdom not fought for with old means of warfare. Rather, it testifies to truth. It will not kill for the truth, it will die for it. If Jesus is king, he will be a suffering king. He will not demand ransom. He will be ransom. He will win, not by spilling the blood of others, but by offering up his own.

~Rev. John Kavanaugh, S.J.
Meditation for Solemnity of Christ the King 

O Jesus, King of Love on Calvary, may Yours be the only crown I seek to wear.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holding fast to His dear hand...

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them. He has guided you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, He will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.

~St. Francis de Sales, 1567-1622

On that day when I shall fear, I will trust in you, in God, whose word I praise.
In God I trust; I shall not fear.  What can mere flesh do to me?  ~Psalm 56:4-5

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hip hip hooray!

One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement...  It is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.  ~William Barclay, 1907-1978)

...let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...encouraging one another...  ~Heb 10:24, 23

Dear Lord, may I always be Your cheerleader. Alleluia!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh, that wicked pope!

I have read of many wicked Popes; but the worst Pope I ever met with is Pope Self.  ~John Newton, 1725-1807

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  ~Philippians 1:21

Dear Lord, deliver me from myself!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Always going forward...

We believers are not people who look back, who yield, but people who always go forward. 
~Pope Francis, 11/13/15 Homily 

Blessed the people whose strength is in you; whose heart is set on pilgrim ways... 
they walk with every-growing strength; the God of gods will appear in Sion. 
~Psalm 84:6

Dear Lord, how good it is to be on the way to You!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

And then He will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky
~Mark 13:27

All those who hold to true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and show proof of their faith by good works, guarding themselves from sins or cleansing themselves from their stains by confession and repentance; who practice the virtues opposed to those sins—temperance, chastity, love, almsgiving, justice, and fair dealing—all these, I say, will rise again to hear the king of heaven himself saying to them: “Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

So will they reign with Christ, receiving as their inheritance that heavenly kingdom which cannot be shaken, living for ever in the ineffable light that knows no evening and is interrupted by no night, having fellowship with all the saints who have lived from the beginning of time, and enjoying delights beyond description in Abraham’s embrace, where all pain has fled away, and all grief and groaning.

For just as there is a harvest for inanimate sheaves of wheat, so for the rational wheat which is the human race, there is a harvest that cuts people away from unbelief, and gathers into faith those who accept the proclamation of the good news.

The reapers of this harvest are the Lord’s apostles and their successors, and in the course of time the teachers of the Church. Of them the Lord said: “The reaper receives his wages, and gathers a crop for eternal life,” for teachers who instruct others in piety will in their turn receive from God such recompense as befits those who gather the obedient into eternal life.

But there is yet another harvest: the transfer of each one of us by death from this present life into that which is to come. The reapers of this harvest are not the apostles but the angels, who have a greater responsibility than the apostles, because after the harvesting they sort out the good and separate them from the wicked like wheat from darnel. The good they send on to the kingdom of heaven, but the wicked they throw into hell fire.

As for us, who in this present age are God’s chosen people, a priestly race, the Church of the living God separated from all the impious and ungodly, may we be found separated from the darnel in the age to come as well, and united to those who are saved in Christ our Lord, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

St. Gregory Palamas, 1296-1359

O Lord of the Harvest,
in Your great love and mercy,
separate me from the darnel of this present life
that I may hereafter be gathered into Your everlasting life.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

“What have you,” asks the Apostle, “that you have not received?” This means, beloved, that we should not be miserly, regarding possessions as our own, but should rather invest what has been entrusted to us.

We have been entrusted with the administration and use of temporal wealth for the common good, not with the everlasting ownership of private property.

If you accept the fact that ownership on earth is only for a time, you can earn eternal possessions in heaven.

Call to mind the widow who forgot herself in her concern for the poor, and, thinking only of the life to come, gave away all her means of subsistence, as the judge himself bears witness.

Others, he says, have given of their superfluous wealth; but she, possessed of only two small coins and more needy perhaps than many of the poor—though in spiritual riches she surpassed all the wealthy—she thought only of the world to come, and had such a longing for heavenly treasure that she gave away, all at once, whatever she had that was derived from the earth and destined to return there.

Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him: we are dependent upon him for our very existence.

And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and a greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well—what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?

But let us rejoice that we have been bought at a great price, the price of the Lord’s own blood, and that because of this we are no longer worthless slaves.

For there is a freedom that is baser than slavery, namely, freedom from justice. Whoever has that kind of freedom is a slave of sin and a prisoner of death.

So let us give back to the Lord the gifts he has given us; let us give to him who receives in the person of every poor man or woman. Let us give gladly, I say, and great joy will be ours when we receive his promised reward.

St. Paulinus of Nola, 353/54-431

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pope Benedict XVI on the Meaning of All Saints

Ave Maria!  Among the many homilies, messages and addresses that Pope Benedict XVI gave while he was our Holy Father, one of my favorites is his homily on the Solemnity of All Saints in 2006, which can be found here.  The lines below always increase within me my longing to be a saint.  According to Pope Benedict, saintliness is not really such a complicated thing after all, but it does mean trusting utterly in the Lord who calls us to follow Him, walking the Way of the Cross with Him, and dying to ourselves so as to live in Him.  As Pope Benedict says so succinctly, "Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (cf. Is 6: 3)."  Glory hallelujah!  
"This, then, is the meaning of today's Solemnity (of All Saints): looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God's friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council and solemnly proposed today for our attention. 
"But how can we become holy, friends of God? We can first give a negative answer to this question: to be a Saint requires neither extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms. Then comes the positive reply: it is necessary first of all to listen to Jesus and then to follow him without losing heart when faced by difficulties. "If anyone serves me", he warns us, 'he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honour him' (Jn 12: 26). 
"Like the grain of wheat buried in the earth, those who trust him and love him sincerely accept dying to themselves. Indeed, he knows that whoever seeks to keep his life for himself loses it, and whoever gives himself, loses himself, and in this very way finds life (cf. Jn 12: 24-25). 
"The Church's experience shows that every form of holiness, even if it follows different paths, always passes through the Way of the Cross, the way of self-denial. The Saints' biographies describe men and women who, docile to the divine plan, sometimes faced unspeakable trials and suffering, persecution and martyrdom. They persevered in their commitment: "they... have come out of the great tribulation", one reads in Revelation, "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rv 7: 14). Their names are written in the book of life (cf. Rv 20: 12) and Heaven is their eternal dwelling-place. 
"The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him. 
"Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (cf. Is 6: 3). In the second reading, the Apostle John remarks: 'See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (I Jn 3: 1).
"It is God, therefore, who loved us first and made us his adoptive sons in Jesus. Everything in our lives is a gift of his love: how can we be indifferent before such a great mystery? How can we not respond to the Heavenly Father's love by living as grateful children? In Christ, he gave us the gift of his entire self and calls us to a personal and profound relationship with him. 
"Consequently, the more we imitate Jesus and remain united to him the more we enter into the mystery of his divine holiness. We discover that he loves us infinitely, and this prompts us in turn to love our brethren. Loving always entails an act of self-denial, 'losing ourselves', and it is precisely this that makes us happy."
~Pope Benedict XVI, 11/1/06 Homily

Monday, November 2, 2015

All Souls Day

O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?
~1 Corinthians 15:55

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Blessed be God in All His Saints!

            "Dearly beloved brethren: This day we keep, with one great cry of joy, a Feast in memory of all God's holy children; His children, whose presence is a gladness to heaven; His children, whose prayers are a blessing to earth; His children, whose victories are the crown of the Holy Church; His chosen, whose testifying is the more glorious in honor, as the agony in which it was given was the sterner in intensity…"  ~from a sermon by St. Bede the Venerable, taken from Matins on All Saints
            Ave Maria!  As God's holy children, the saints are our brothers and sisters.  The Father has given them to us, and how precious they are!  They are our beloved companions, our trusted confidants, our loyal friends.  We can count on them.  They will help us if we but call upon them.  Their presence gladdens us who are pilgrims and strangers on the earth (Heb 11:13).  Their victories encourage us to seek the eternal city that is to come (Heb 13:14).  Their prayers strengthen us to live the truth in love and in all things to grow up in Christ who is our Head (Eph 4:12).  Their witness assures us that if we die with the Lord, we shall also live with Him (2 Tim 2:11).

            The saints were human, like us.  They faced the same obstacles, struggles, difficulties, pains, sorrows, and evils that we do.  They also knew the same milestones, achievements, joys, beauties, wonders, and successes as ours.  But they loved our Lord Jesus more than anyone else or anything else in this world, and thus they faithfully and constantly strove to imitate Him and to practice His virtues.  They could say with St. Paul, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us" (Rom 8:18).  The saints lived in and for the glory to come – Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received (Jn 1:16).  No wonder we keep this feast "with one great cry of joy"!