Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter triumph, Easter joy!

Because I live, you will live also.
~John 14:19

I am your forgiveness,
I am the passover of your salvation,
I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you,
I am your ransom, I am your light,
I am your Savior, I am your resurrection,
I am your king. I am leading you up to the heights of heaven
 I will show you the eternal Father,
I will raise you up by My right hand.
 St. Melito of Sardis, ca. 165 AD

And so, my heart rejoices,
my soul is glad;
even my flesh shall rest in hope.
~Psalm 16:9

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

Christ yesterday and today
The Beginning and End
Alpha and Omega.
His are the times and the ages.
To Him be glory and empire
through all eternal ages.

Through His holy and glorious wounds
may Christ the Lord preserve and keep us.
May the light of Christ, gloriously risen,
dispel the darkness of the heart and mind.

~from the Blessing of the Paschal Candle/the Easter Vigil

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Saturday

It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God.  ~Lamentations 3:26

Friday, March 25, 2016

"It is finished"...

...and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
~John 19:30

Good Friday

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

Seventh Station:  Jesus falls for the second time

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:5):  He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Jesus falls again. Crushed but not killed by the weight of the cross.  Once again he bares his humanity.  It is an experience of the limits of powerlessness, of shame in front of those mocking him, of humiliation before those who had hoped in him.  No one ever wants to fall and experience failure, especially in front of other people.

People often rebel against the idea of having no power, of being unable to move ahead in life.  Jesus, instead, embodies the “power of the powerless”.  He experiences the torment of the cross and the salvific power of faith.  Only God can save us.  Only he can transform a sign of death into a glorious cross.

If Jesus has fallen to the ground a second time by the weight of our sin, then we must also accept our falls, that we have fallen in the past, and that we are capable of falling again by our sins.  Let us recognize our inability to save ourselves by our own strength. 

Lord Jesus, who accepted the humiliation of falling again as everyone looked on, we would like not only to contemplate you lying in the dust, but to do so from where we ourselves have fallen due to weaknesses. Make us aware of our sins, and give us the will, born of pain, to get up again. Bestow upon your whole Church the awareness of suffering. Offer especially to your ministers of Reconciliation the gift of tears for their own sins. How can they beseech your mercy for themselves and others if they do not first know how to mourn their own faults?

~taken from "God Is Mercy," meditations written by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia for the Way of the Cross led by Pope Francis at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday, March 25, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday

Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.  ~John 13:1
"I saw, shadowed out in the absolute devotion of Jesus to men, that the very life of God by which we live is an everlasting giving of himself away.  He asserts himself, only, solely, altogether, in an infinite sacrifice of devotion.  So must we live; the child must be as the father; live he cannot on any other plan, struggle as he may.  The father requires of him nothing that he is not or does not himself, who is the one prime unconditioned sacrificer and sacrifice."
~from Wilfred Cumbermede by George MacDonald
Within Thy Wounds, dear Lord, hide me!  Unite me with You in Your "infinite sacrifice of devotion" that I may live no longer for myself but for You alone.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"the cross as lived suffering is anguish and glory"

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

The heart is stretched through suffering, and enlarged. But O the agony of this enlarging of the heart, that one may be prepared to enter into the anguish of others!…The cross as dogma is painless speculation; the cross as lived suffering is anguish and glory. Yet God, out of the pattern of his own heart, has planted the cross along the road of holy obedience. And he enacts in the hearts of those he loves the miracle of willingness to welcome suffering and to know it for what it is -- the final seal of his gracious love.  ~Thomas R. Kelly, Quaker mystic, 1893-1941
 Within Thy wounds, hide me, dear Lord. There let my heart be stretched by Your holy obedience and enlarged by Your gracious love.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ~Lk 23:24

Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you.
~Matthew 5:44

Had I considered evil in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
he has heeded the voice of my prayer.
Blest be God, who did not reject my prayer,
nor withhold from me his merciful love.
~Psalm 66(65):18-20

"a God who cared enough"

The image Jesus left with the world, the cross, the most common image in the Christian religion, is proof that God cares about our suffering and pain. He died of it. Today the image is coated with gold and worn around the necks of beautiful girls, a symbol of how far we can stray from the reality of history. But it stands, unique among all religions of the world. Many of them have gods. But only one has a God who cared enough to become a man and to die.  ~Philip Yancey in Where is God When It Hurts
He loved me and gave Himself for me.  ~Galatians 2:20

Monday, March 21, 2016

Holy Week with Our Lady

"Mary on the Way of the Cross: Prayer to the Father"
from With God and With Men by Adrienne von Speyr

My God, my Son's heaviest hour is upon him.
I cannot help him.
And you will not help him,
because he is asking you to let him suffer.
And I ask you for help.
I ask you, accept his suffering.
Accept all of it.
I pray you, take my fear, take my affliction,
not away from me, but to yourself,
so that my fear and my affliction
may be used according to the wishes of your Son.
I want no control over it.

My God, I am trying to give it to you,
and I know that all of us who climb this hill
and see your Son suffer
would like to try to bear
what you give us to bear.
And we would like to bear it,
which is just what your Son,
who by your grace became my son,
wishes for all whom he loves.

For all those who do not have the faintest idea of his existence.
We know that our help is meager.
We women are here but have no strength.
You can give us the strength to bear.

Father, you entrusted your Son to me by your Spirit.
And as I have given him back to you daily and hourly,
I give him back to you now once more,
knowing that his suffering is nothing other than the expression of your grace,
the expression of your love.

It is hard to understand.
I do not understand it at all.
And yet I know that I must give precisely this,
that you require it in this way.
And I ask you:
Take your Son out of my hands
– for he is my Son –
and take at one and the same time everything
I myself have given him
and which in this farewell hour
bears only the name of pain and grief.
Take it, dispose of it,
let my suffering become as heavy as you will,
I know (your Son has taught me this)
that this is how I must pray in this hour. 


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday


Blessed is He who comes to us so rich in love and mercy!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Mother of Sorrows

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother,
and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen."
~John 19:25

She was there precisely because she was His Mother, the Mother of the Man of Sorrows, the Mother whom the will of God and the word of God have linked with Him for time and for eternity.  The first worshippers at His crib "found the Child with Mary His Mother."  At His first miracle, not only "the Mother of Jesus was there," but the marvel was wrought before His time, at her desire and intervention.  Therefore it was fitting she should take her place beside Him -- the mother's place -- at death.  That all ages might know that in the offering of the great Sacrifice by which the world was redeemed He would not be without her -- "there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother."

She was there to refute the error that suffering should be the portion of the wicked only.  In the Old Law the victims required by God had to be faultless.   The Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world was the All-holy.  And love exacts likeness.  His Mother must be not only full of grace but full of sorrow.  The portion He chose for Himself He shares with His friends, and in measure proportioned to their nearness and dearness to Him.

The will of God was Mary's stay beneath the Cross.  She stood erect, for this was her support.  Above all the promptings of nature that tore her mother's heart was the steadfast desire to see that will fulfilled in every tittle.  She would not spare Him one pang.  She bore up under every insult offered Him, renewing continually the offering they had made together at His Presentation in the Temple, in the quiet days at Nazareth, the stormy years of the Public Life, and on the Way of the Cross.   To both the will of God was all in all -- "Life in His Will." (Psalm 29:6)

It is He Himself who from His Cross directs our eyes to her as to our Model:  "Behold thy Mother."  "Look and do according to the pattern shewn thee on the Mount." (Exodus 25:40)

~Mother Mary Loyola, With the Church, Volume 1: Advent to the Ascension

Dear Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I always rejoice to stand with you at the foot of the Cross.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Learning Patience

The Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
~Isaiah 50:7

At this time, when we contemplate our Lord suffering in agony, dying for us, we should try to learn patience.  If we had a little bit of good sense, a tiny bit of hope, a modicum of love of God, we would want with all our strength to develop this virtue in ourselves.  In effect, reason tells us that we cannot prevent the evils that beset us; our heavenly expectations tell us that our sufferings will soon be over and greatly rewarded; and love -- or at least the desire for love -- makes us cherish the thought of resembling our Lord a little.  Now, He suffered patiently; He suffered because He wanted to; but what He underwent  was sent to Him by His Father and He wanted only one thing -- to receive it.  It was not just in an outburst of exaltation that He went out to meet the cross He was to carry for us; it was at every moment of His life that He remained peaceful and loving under the blows of divine justice.

No one should say that he is not naturally patient.  This is absolutely false.  One always has patience with what one wants.

Our motivation for patience -- could it not be an attempt to resemble Him who bore all for us, infinitely more than we could ever bear?  He asks us to help Him in His death throes and the only way we can help Him, and continue to save souls, is by resembling Him all through our lives.  And our Lord was never irritated with any disposal Providence made of Him.

"My God, I want to love You enough to believe, in all circumstances, in Your love for me."

~Mother Marie des Douleurs, Joy Out of Sorrow

Within Thy wounds, hide me,
oh good and gentle Jesus!
there let me learn Your patience,
there let me learn Your love.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"...will you not ascend and live?"

...and he the conqueror will lead me upon my high places singing psalms.  ~Habakkuk 3:19

Our very Life came down to earth and bore our death, and slew it with the very abundance of his own life.... In this world he was, and into this world he came, to save sinners. To him my soul confesses, and he heals it, because it had sinned against him. O sons of men, how long will you be so slow of heart? Even now after Life itself has come down to you, will you not ascend and live? But where will you climb if you are already on a pinnacle and have set your mouth against the heavens? First come down, that you may climb up to God. For you have fallen by trying to climb against him. Tell this to the souls you love that they may weep in the valley of tears, and so bring them along with you to God, because it is by his spirit that you speak to them, if, as you speak, you burn with the fire of love.  ~St. Augustine
Take my hand, precious Lord!
Lead me and I will follow You.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ten Questions

Ave Maria!  Sunday evening, Pope Francis and members of the Vatican Curia gathered for their annual Lenten retreat, March 6-10.  Fr. Ermes Ronchi, a member of the Servants of Mary and a noted Italian author, is leading the group in spiritual exercises based on ten questions from the Gospels, which Vatican Radio has provided and I am posting below.  As I ponder one question each day, I am reminded of that penetrating verse from the book of Hebrews (4:12):  "For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Yikes!

1.  “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)

2.  “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

3.  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13)

4.  “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)

5.  “Then, turning to the woman, he told Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?’” (Luke 7:44)

6.  “How many loaves do you have?” (Mark 6:38, Matthew 15:34)

7.  “Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’” (John 8:10)

8.  “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15)

9.  “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16) 

10.  “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be?’” (Luke 1:34).  

Guide me in your truth, and teach me;
for you are the God of my salvation.
I have hoped in you all day long.
~Psalm 25:5

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Within thy wounds, hide me..."

Hide me in your wounds, so that our Father may see me within your love and loving within your offering of love.
Hide me within your wounds, so that when I go about your work, it will not be I whom men see, not my petty grievances which I proclaim, but you, your suffering from and for sin, your offering for sin, your love.  Let me carry about in me as mine your dying, my Jesus, that your life also may appear in me and my life be as yours.
Hide me within your wounds, so that I do not see selfishly just my own sorrows and pain nor just the evil and suffering of the world, in isolation; but see it all within what you bore and took away, Lamb of God who bore the sin of the world.
~H.P.C. Lyons, SJ., Praying Our Prayers

By his wounds we were healed.  ~Isaiah 53:5

Within Thy wounds, hide me,
that it may be no longer I who live
but You who live in me,
O Beloved Jesus,
our sure and only hope of glory!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"Our Lord continues on His way..."

We must not lose our joy; it would be a pity and senseless.  We must desire to keep it, and not let ourselves slide into a "malaise" that we manufacture and increase by talking about it all the time.

In order to hold on to our joy, our confidence in the providential progress of events, no matter how extraordinary it may seem to us at the beginning, we have only to consider our Lord during His Passion.  After He had met His Mother, after Simon had permitted Him to take some rest, after the sweet, tender, and courageous gesture of Veronica, we see our Divine Model fall for the second time.  This is a great lesson for us:  life is harsh and we must expect there to be more suffering, even when we have known some surcease from it, some consolation, and some joy.  Our Lord continues on His way; just because He has just received some solace, He does not lose sight of the reason for His life, which He wants to fulfill according to the prophecies and the will of His Father to the very end.  He has just encountered the greatest help possible:  the strong and heroic tenderness of His Mother and, by the intercession of Mary, He also gets help from Simon and from Veronica who are there as witnesses for us; then He falls again, because basically nothing has changed.  It is always very hard.  Above all, then, we too have to learn to keep on going, not to let ourselves be overcome by a temporary success, by finding great affection, immense happiness, or understanding which is so sweet to us.  We must not permit ourselves to be deceived:  let us move forward sensibly, always in the same direction; let no failure depress us too much; let no success make us lose our mastery of ourselves.  Nothing will help us so much in this conduct of our lives as the sight of our Lord continuing on with all serenity to fulfill His mission:  our redemption.

~Mother Marie des Douleurs, Joy Out of Sorrow

Let our joy, then, be in him...
O peoples, bless our God;
let the voice of his praise resound,
of the God who gave life to our souls
and kept our feet from stumbling.
~Psalm 66:6, 8-9

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bearing Our Crosses

Through him then let us continually offer
a sacrifice of praise to God...
~Hebrews 13:15

Teach me, dear Lord, to bear my crosses with faith, and hope, and love.
With faith -- to believe they come from Thy hand, to cry out when I see one in the distance:  "It is the Lord!"
With hope -- because if I follow Thee to Calvary now, I shall follow Thee into Thy Kingdom by and by.
With love -- that will make me glad to bear something for Thee who hast borne so much for me.
~Mother Mary Loyola, Hail, Full of Grace

Thank You, my sweet Jesus, for the crosses You will give me today.
Help me to make of each one a sacrifice of praise to You.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The little seed...

A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think of yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it.  ~Henri J. M. Nouwen

And thus You provide for the earth:
You drench it furrows;
You level it, soften it with showers'
You bless its growth.
~Psalm 65:10-11

Dear Jesus, our Divine Gardener, I trust in You!

Friday, March 4, 2016

What confession is really all about...!

It is not sin which is at the heart of the sacramental celebration but rather God’s mercy, which is infinitely greater than any guilt of ours.  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 3/7/08 Address

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
who fills your life with good things,
renewing your youth like an eagle's.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
~Psalm 103:3-5, 22

Thursday, March 3, 2016

All creation sings His glory!

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.  ~Aristotle

Let all thy works, O Lord, praise thee!  ~Psalm 145:10

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

"forgive as God forgives – to the utmost"

“When God forgives, his forgiveness is so great that it is as though God forgets. Quite the opposite of what we do, as we chatter: ‘But so-and-so did such-and-such,’ and we have the complete histories of many people, don’t we? From antiquity through their Middles Ages, their modernity, and even down to their present -- and we do not forget. Why? Because we do not have a merciful heart. ‘Do with us with us according to your clemency...according to Thy great mercy Save us.’ It is an appeal to the mercy of God, that He might give us forgiveness and salvation and forget our sins.”   

“In the Our Father we pray: ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ It is an equation: the two sides go together. If you are not able to forgive, how will God forgive you? He wants to forgive you, but He will not if you have closed hearts, where mercy cannot enter. ‘But, Father, I forgive, but I cannot forget the bad turn that so-and-so did me ...’ Well, ask the Lord to help you to forget. That, however, is another matter. We can forgive, but we cannot always forget. Sometimes we say, ‘I forgive you,’ when we mean, ‘you’ll pay me later’. This, never: forgive as God forgives -– to the utmost.”

“May Lent prepare our hearts to receive God’s forgiveness –- but let us receive it and then do the same with others: forgive heartily. Perhaps you never even greet me in the street, but in my heart I have forgiven you. In this way, we get closer to this thing so great, so Godly, which is mercy. Forgiving, we open our hearts so that God’s mercy might come and forgive us, for, we all have need of pardon, need to ask forgiveness. Let us forgive, and we shall be forgiven. Let us have mercy on others, and we shall feel that mercy of God, who, when He forgives, [also] ‘forgets.’”

~Pope Francis, 3/1/16 Homily
Dear Lord, to be perfectly honest, I know that I can indeed forget as well as forgive, but I don't always want to.  So fill my sorry little heart with Your love and Your grace that there is no longer room in there for anything else but You, Jesus, our Divine Mercy.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Infinite joy!

Who can make me happier than God?
In Him, I find everything.
God is infinite joy!
~St. Teresa of the Andes

But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
and shall be delighted in His salvation.
~Psalm 35:9