Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas meditation

I found this beautiful Christmas message and meditation on the blog, Courageous Priest thanks to a link on St. Robert Bellarmine's blog, so a mantilla nod to them and a heartfelt thanks for sharing this beautiful piece.
Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

Appearing in volume four of the Italian-language edition of Padre Pio's letters, this essay was taken from Padre Pio's hand-written notebooks. To the best of my knowledge, it is presented here for the first time in English.

Translated by Frank M. Rega, December 2005.
"Padre Pio da Pietrelcina: Epistolario IV," Edizioni Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo, 2002, pages 1007-1009.



Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.
Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.
He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.
PPInfantJesus.jpg (17808 bytes)
So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.
But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
Padre_Pio_a_Natale.jpg (68654 bytes)
The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.
Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joyful

As we wait with joyful hope
How many people don't feel the joy of anticipation of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child?
Their minds tuned only to earthly pleasures and what gifts they are about to receive, wrapped in sparkling paper and placed under a plastic tree, they fail to think of the greatest gift of all- Divine Love and Mercy, in the person of a tiny babe, a gift from God to His erring people; the promise of eternal life earned through His suffering and death.
The other night, I had a revelation of my very own littleness, with a sense of the infinite Majesty of God, and myself as tinier than a speck of sand. It was a vivid image, and very humbling. At the same time, knowing that His love encompasses even such a speck- and the millions of us who make up the human race- fills me with joy and hope. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Journey Continued

Make Room for Jesus
I have been in a spiritual battle lately, and discovered in the wee hours of the morning today that the source is- surprise surprise- pride. One of the many forms of pride is not forgiving others for what you perceive as an affront. I've had an issue with our parish priest which has led me to not wanting to go to daily Mass, although nothing can keep me away from Sunday Mass. This issue stems from my dislike of being told what to do- and our priest comes from a culture where the man is dominant and is accustomed to getting what he wants. That didn't sit well with our whole parish, a lot of feathers were ruffled and it has been an ongoing battle here. Although things leveled out, as they tend to do over time, we are still being told, instead of being shepherded. As someone who works with animals a lot, I understand the value of suggestion and direction instead of dominance and coercion. 

The new changes to the Mass have been a further source of stress, not because of the wording, which I embrace as a more faithful translation of the Latin, and bringing back reverence for the Real Presence, but being asked to stand after Communion has caused a great deal of upset, not just to me but to many in our parish, even to the point where one person has refused to attend Mass. However, there is a movement afoot in Canada that many will continue to kneel, as this is not forbidden by Rome, and in fact is recommended- it's just the Canadian Bishops who think it's a good idea to stand. And of course, our priest is trying to enforce this. 

Anyway, getting back to the wee hours of the morning, which is my best time for spiritual reflection, I was thinking of my sister, Sharron who had been killed by a drunk driver at the age of 16, and it would have been her 61st birthday this month, on Dec. 11, which is Gaudete Sunday, a time of joy and hope. I discovered that I hadn't really forgiven that drunken man who took her life at such an early age, and by the grace of God, at that moment I forgave him, from the bottom of my heart, and prayed for his soul. Perhaps he was the instrument God used to call Sharron home before her soul fell into mortal danger, perhaps she had to go so that I could be saved- who knows? But that act of forgiveness opened my heart to my own weakness and the realization that I can overcome my pride which causes me such angst- but only if I open my heart and soul and empty it of the attachment to that sin. It was a revelation to me, that once empty, there is room for Jesus; but not wanting Him to come into a place so recently stained, I could invite Mary in first, and just as His first dwelling place on Earth was the womb of Mary, so her presence in my soul acts as a barrier to any stain of sin that remains in me; it's as if she has spread her mantle over me in pure gossamer beauty that I can see through.

All this reminds me of the innkeepers who on that night so long ago said "no room!" when St. Joseph came knocking, seeking a place for Mary and the Babe in her womb. How long I have been like that innkeeper! How many times I have turned Him away through my stubborn pride, through sin! 

Here I would like to thank all the people who have ever prayed for me, for this grace is not something I could have done on my own. Thank you, and now, if you will excuse me, I have to get ready for Mass, where I will pray for you.
St. Joseph is knocking.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 1st Sunday of Advent

Aled Jones Christmas album, when he was just a boy, is my all time favorite. For this first Sunday of Advent, I give you the grown up Aled and Gabriel's Message.

Friday, November 25, 2011

If you're having a bad day....

This will help. Double click on it and enjoy the full screen version.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm still here!

I know I have been neglecting this blog for a while. I've been struggling with a few issues which I haven't resolved yet, mostly to do with Mass and feeling that I don't want to go because of... well that's the unresolved issue. I'm asking Our Blessed Mother to help me sort it out.
I'm happy, though that the Vatican is finally taking a stand on the architecture of churches.
God bless our Pope.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day

One of my favorite days on the liturgical calendar. We all have loved ones to remember today, and a good thing to remember is the plenary indulgence you can gain for them:

Plenary indulgence
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory on All Souls Day, and there recite one Our Father and one Credo.

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, can be gained when one devoutly visits a cemetery, prays (even mentally only) for the eternal rest of poor souls, and fulfills the regular requirements for an indulgence. A plenary indulgence can be gained for this work each day from November 1 to November 8.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holy

Let's think for a moment about the meaning of holy. Here's how Websters defines it:

exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
and also:
having a divine quality 
and divine being defined as :
of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God 
 Which brings me to the subject I've been thinking of for a while now, the Holy Cross. My parish is called Holy Cross. Lately, I've been dealing with a lot of people who are suffering in one way or another; some with disease, some with death of a family member, some with temporal affairs gone awry, and it brings to mind the Bible passage :
And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
This is also found in Mark 8:34 and  Matthew 16: 24.
So many people don't get the connection between suffering and holiness. I am sure you have heard someone say, "if God is so good, why does he allow suffering?" as if it is our right to go through life without suffering. We have only to look at the Cross to realize that it is not a right, that the precedent was set for us by our Savior.  If we link our suffering, the Cross that is our particular Cross to bear, with the suffering of Jesus, it becomes a Holy Cross instead of a crushing burden. It becomes the way of salvation for us.
When we see the suffering of innocents, this becomes harder to understand. I can only think of them as victim souls, who pay the price for the great iniquities of the world. The Church teaches that God allows suffering that good may come from it. We may not understand it, and it may not happen in our lifetime. There are as many opinions on this subject as there are churches, and I'm no theologian, so I will leave it to wiser heads than mine to discourse on this subject. But I do think that heaven has many souls who were innocent sufferers on this earth. I also think that the Cross they bore was a Holy one.
When we have a Cross to bear, whether it be illness, poverty, or pain, we can make it a Holy Cross, or we can revile it and curse it- either way, what we do with it is our choice, and it is a choice that can lead to eternal holiness or eternal cursedness. God also gave us free will.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trust and Confidence

It's been a while since I posted, and I do have a lot of things on my mind, but trying to make them cohesive enough to do a post is difficult. It's not really spiritual dryness, more like procrastination.
I've been thinking about the relationship between trust and confidence. We are told to trust in God, to trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We can glibly say, Jesus, I trust in You, but in our heart of hearts, do we really, or is it just lip service? Like the Pharisees, do we stand on the street corner, crying Lord, Lord? It is a great leap of faith to truly trust that which we cannot see. We are blind in our humanity, unable to see things Divine, and yet our soul thirsts for that closeness to God.
To trust, we must have confidence. In God's love for us, and in His mercy. Confidence that He hears our prayers. Confidence in the teachings of the Church, in the wisdom handed down to us. Confidence  and trust come from humbling ourselves, not in relying on our own judgement. Doubt, pride and self love are tools of the devil.
As usual I find that Thomas a Kempis has it so well written in the Imitation of Christ, Book III:


The Fifty-Ninth Chapter

ALL HOPE AND TRUST ARE TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE

THE DISCIPLE

WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what is my greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without number? Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could things go badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for Your sake than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with You than to possess heaven without You. Where You are there is heaven, and where You are not are death and hell. You are my desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. In none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities, but in You alone, my God. You are my hope. You are my confidence. You are my consoler, most faithful in every need.
All seek their own interests. You, however, place my salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good. Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships, You Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways, order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or praised less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly consolations.
In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. It will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful helpers be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give useful answers, nor the books of learned men to console, nor any precious substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and beautiful though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not assist, comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things which seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are absent, and truly confer no happiness.
You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory. And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in the multitude of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him by Your accompanying grace, through the ways of peace, to the land of everlasting light.

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Padre Pio, pray for us

Today is the feast day of St. Padre Pio, the saint I have chosen as my patron for this year. There is a very good post on These Stone Walls that I urge you to read. Padre Pio faced many unjust accusations, just as certain other well known priests today are facing.
In light of my last post, this bit of counsel from St. Pio that Fr. McRae had in his post is particularly relevant:
(Emphasis in bold mine)


From the Spiritual Counsels of Padre Pio:
“That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference, and apathy.”
“The field of battle between God and Satan is the human soul. It is in the soul that the battle rages every moment of life. The soul must give free access to the Lord so that it be fortified by Him in every respect and with all kinds of weapons; that His light may enlighten it to combat the darkness of error; that it be clothed with Jesus Christ, with His justice, truth, the shield of faith, the Word of God, in order   to conquer such spiritual enemies. To be clothed with Jesus Christ, it is necessary to die to oneself.”
(Excerpts from the booklet, “Padre Pio Counsels,” National Center of Padre Pio, Norristown, PA)



Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Journey Continued

One of the benefits of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to sleep is the time it gives you to talk to God and the stillness of the night gives you the opportunity to take a good long look at yourself. There is no place to hide from your faults as you examine your soul; no distractions to cling to.
 One of the things that struck me tonight is how, in looking back on my sins, and the thought "how could I have done that" is the emphasis on "I". There is an unbecoming pride in that thought. So often we put ourselves on a pedestal, especially when we compare ourselves to others. Looking back, I see that at the time, I justified all my actions, and did not consider them wrong, but now I see them for what they were; and the thought, "how could I have done that" while it shows spiritual growth, also shows that I am still focused on "I" . I 'm not sure where I first read it, but there is a lovely piece of spiritual advice that says, Lord You must increase in me, and I must diminish.
For that to happen, I acknowledge that even though my ways have changed, I still need to let go of the pride that continues to justify my actions. And the only way to do that is through Grace. I am weak, Lord, and can do nothing without You

.
From The Imitation of Christ, Book III Ch. 55

O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things humble of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with your consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind.
Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me. This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus Christ, Your Son

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

My journey, continued

Over the last few days, I have become increasingly disturbed and disgusted at things that are going on in the world. If you subscribe to LifeSite news, you will know what I'm talking about; mothers who are killing their babies, the drive to get pedophilia legalized are just two of the stomach-churning stories.
So many people so full of hate! So much evil! How can this world survive? It seems that it is spiraling into oblivion. There is war on our children, especially in schools, there is indoctrination of women to make them think that it's ok to kill their children, war on modesty and chastity.
I'm thankful that I'm getting old. At the rate things are going, I don't want to see what the world will be like in 20 years. It's going to be bad enough in just the next few years.
The spiritual battlefield is fully engaged. I find no solace in thinking that God permits evil so that good can come from it, because the evil is almost more than I can bear. I'm sure history is full of such times, but it seems that each cycle of violence and hatred and evil is worse than the last.

I cry out with Isaiah 6:11.....
And I said: How long, O Lord? And he said: Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land shall be left desolate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Holy Cross

This week on Wednesday  is the Feast of the Holy Cross, after which our parish is named. When we think of the Cross we can't but help to think of Jesus, struggling under it's weight, on the way through Jerusalem, bleeding, torn, weakened, but still carrying on. Or we think of Him, with His sacred Hands and Feet, nailed to the Cross, suffering for our sins and our redemption.
So many people only want the good things in life, money, comforts, fun pass times, perfect weather, good times with friends, and so on. Nobody wants to suffer. But we are told, throughout the centuries, that to reach heaven we must carry our own cross. Not just carry it, but accept it gladly. How can we do that? It seems impossible, and not something anyone would willingly aspire to. There is one way; and that is to follow our leader, our Savior, our Redeemer. Not just to follow Him, but to carry the Cross with Him.

From the Imitation of Christ, BookIII:


The Fifty-Sixth Chapter

WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVES AND IMITATE CHRIST THROUGH BEARING THE CROSS

THE VOICE OF CHRIST

MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you will be able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior things brings interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites you to God. I will have you learn perfect surrender to My will, without contradiction or complaint.
Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life. If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.
If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. If you will know the truth, believe in Me. If you will be perfect, sell all. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will possess the blessed life, despise this present life. If you will be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. If you wish to reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.

THE DISCIPLE

Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. For the servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above the Master. Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there is my salvation and true holiness. Whatever else I read or hear does not fully refresh or delight me.

THE VOICE OF CHRIST

My child, now that you know these things and have read them all, happy will you be if you do them. He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will love him and will show Myself to him, and will bring it about that he will sit down with Me in My Father's Kingdom.

THE DISCIPLE

Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross, from Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it even unto death as You have laid it upon me. Truly, the life of a good religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise. We have begun -- we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus will be with us. For Jesus' sake we have taken this cross. For Jesus' sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Mary!

Today we celebrated the feast of the nativity of Mary with an outdoor Mass in the grotto at our church. The grotto is of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.
I am thankful to our Blessed Mother, for saying yes to God, and teaching us to do the same. For interceding for us. For hearing my prayers, and taking them to her Son. For always pointing us to her Son. For her many appearances throughout history, like this one to St. Bernadette, who is the patron saint of my daughter. For giving us an example of perfection in the virtues. For giving us Jesus, and clothing Him in her flesh, so that He could do the work of Salvation.
Ave, Maria!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Follow up to the post below

Here is an excellent link that you may want to check out, dealing with behavior and decorum at Mass:
http://catholicexchange.com/2011/08/29/157656/print/

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reverence

Reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist.... the stumbling block for so many Catholics. It's hard to look at the humble circle of wheat and water and understand that it is the One who Created you. I see so many people who go quickly to Communion, grab the host, place it in their mouth and stride away, not thinking that the Lord of Lords now resides within them. I myself had no idea of the Real Presence until I was 29. Nobody taught me. I never went to Catechism. My parents didn't tell me. The priests didn't mention it, at least not that I remember. I fell away from the church as a teenager, and it has been a long, long journey back.
Having recently been blessed with a week of Tridentine Masses by a visiting priest, I find it hard to go back to the Novus Ordo Mass. To see the casual way in which the parishioners approach their Sunday obligation. They would dress better for a visit to a restaurant than they do to receive the King of Kings. The priest often says "The Body Of Christ" even before the next person is standing before him and ready to receive; it's more like a production line, and if the priest does not show reverence, how will he lead his flock into great reverence? I kneel, and receive on the tongue, and feel that I am an annoyance to others.
Who will teach the children? We have too few volunteers for Catechism teachers this year, and I am sure we aren't the only parish with this problem. God bless those who teach, it isn't something I am called to do, especially difficult because of the influences children are exposed to daily; such an unGodly secular world.
Once again, I turn to the Imitation of Christ for solace and inspiration.

Book 4, Chapter 2:

GOD'S GREAT GOODNESS AND LOVE IS SHOWN TO MAN IN THIS SACRAMENT

THE DISCIPLE

TRUSTING in Your goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I come as one sick to the Healer, as one hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of life, as one in need to the King of heaven, a servant to his Lord, a creature to his Creator, a soul in desolation to my gentle Comforter.
But whence is this to me, that You should come to me? Who am I that You should offer Yourself to me? How dares the sinner to appear in Your presence, and You, how do You condescend to come to the sinner? You know Your servant, and You know that he has nothing good in him that You should grant him this.
I confess, therefore, my unworthiness. I acknowledge Your goodness. I praise Your mercy, and give thanks for Your immense love. For it is because of Yourself that You do it, not for any merit of mine; so that Your goodness may be better known to me, that greater love may be aroused and more perfect humility born in me. Since, then, this pleases You and You have so willed it, Your graciousness pleases me also. Oh, that my sinfulness may not stand in the way!
O most sweet and merciful Jesus, what great reverence, thanks, and never-ending praise are due to You for our taking of Your sacred body, whose dignity no man can express!
But on what shall I think in this Communion, this approach to my Lord, Whom I can never reverence as I ought, and yet Whom I desire devoutly to receive? What thought better, more helpful to me than to humble myself entirely in Your presence and exalt Your infinite goodness above myself?
I praise You, my God, and extol You forever! I despise myself and cast myself before You in the depths of my unworthiness. Behold, You are the Holy of holies, and I the scum of sinners! Behold, You bow down to me who am not worthy to look up to You! Behold, You come to me! You will to be with me! You invite me to Your banquet! You desire to give me heavenly food, the Bread of Angels to eat, none other than Yourself, the living Bread Who are come down from heaven and give life to the world.
Behold, whence love proceeds! What condescension shines forth! What great thanks and praise are due You for these gifts! Oh, how salutary and profitable was Your design in this institution! How sweet and pleasant the banquet when You gave Yourself as food!
How admirable is Your work, O Lord! How great Your power! How infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made, and this, which You commanded, was done. It is a wonderful thing, worthy of faith, overpowering human understanding, that You, O Lord, my God, true God and man, are contained whole and entire under the appearance of a little bread and wine, and without being consumed are eaten by him who receives You!
You, the Lord of the universe, Who have need of nothing, have willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. Keep my heart and body clean, so that with a joyous and spotless conscience I may be able often to celebrate Your Mysteries and to receive for my eternal salvation what You have ordained and instituted for Your special honor and as an everlasting memorial.
Rejoice, my soul, and give thanks to God for having left you so noble a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of tears. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body of Christ, so often do you enact the work of redemption and become a sharer in all the merits of Christ, for the love of Christ never grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never exhausted.
Therefore, you should prepare yourself for it by constantly renewing your heart and pondering deeply the great mystery of salvation. As often as you celebrate or hear Mass, it should seem as great, as new, as sweet to you as if on that very day Christ became man in the womb of the Virgin, or, hanging on the Cross, suffered and died for the salvation of man.


Monday, August 15, 2011

My Journey Continued

Lately, my husband and I have been praying for all the people we know who do not have God in their lives, and in times of trouble they crumble and don't know where to turn. There are some who just brush God aside, and make jokes about going to church, there are those whose marriages have fallen apart, some who are facing the end of their lives, some who are lonely, some who are in financial and emotional distress.
The common element is that they don't turn to the Father of Mercy in their trouble; let Him into their heart and trust in Him as a child trusts.
As usual, I can find guidance in the writings of "The Imitation of Christ". From Book III :

The Fifty-Ninth Chapter

ALL HOPE AND TRUST ARE TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE

THE DISCIPLE

WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what is my greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without number? Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could things go badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for Your sake than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with You than to possess heaven without You. Where You are there is heaven, and where You are not are death and hell. You are my desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. In none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities, but in You alone, my God. You are my hope. You are my confidence. You are my consoler, most faithful in every need.
All seek their own interests. You, however, place my salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good. Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships, You Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways, order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or praised less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly consolations.
In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. It will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful helpers be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give useful answers, nor the books of learned men to console, nor any precious substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and beautiful though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not assist, comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things which seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are absent, and truly confer no happiness.
You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory. And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in the multitude of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him by Your accompanying grace, through the ways of peace, to the land of everlasting light

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My journey, continued

My sister and I made a trip recently to see our father, who has Lewy Body Dementia. Our purpose was to make sure that a priest would come to administer the sacrament of the Sick. We did accomplish this, and it was very interesting; near the end of the prayer, Dad looked at me and said clearly, "the door has been opened!". Now, Dad has been away from the Church for over 40 years, and we have been praying for him to receive the grace of final perseverance. The priest who came to see him is from the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to whom I have a strong devotion. He set some other things in motion which I won't discuss here, but we have great hope that when it is Dad's time, that he will be in a state of grace. We have placed this in the hands of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
The point of telling you this, is that with prayer and the help of the Communion of Saints, we can hope. Hope is such a great grace; it lifts us up when things seem on the brink of despair; it keeps us strong when things seem impossible. When you petition God, have hope in your heart, because hope is necessary for trust in God.
In You, O Lord, I place all my hope and my refuge.  On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable.  (The Imitation of Christ, Book 3 Ch. 59)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Divine Mercy Chaplet for the sick and dying

Did you know that there is an Apostolic Blessing given, (courtesy of Blessed JP II ) for those who, during Adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the sick and for those throughout the world will be dying in that hour?
I have prayed this Chaplet at the bedside of the dying, and also have asked my guardian angel to take this prayer to the bedside of the dying. Our Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina, (Diary, 1777)

"Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul."


Jesus also said to Sr. Faustina,  (Diary, 1541)
"...when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge, but as the merciful Savior."


The reason that I trust in my guardian angel to carry the prayer to the bedside of someone who is dying, comes from this writing from Sr. Faustina: (Diary, 835)
"It sometimes happens that the dying person is in the second or third building away, yet for the spirit space does not exist. It sometimes happens that I know about a death occurring several hundred kilometers away. this has happened several times with regard to my family and relatives and also sisters in religion, and even souls whom I have not known during their lifetime."


Of course, I am not privileged like this saint to know when people are dying, but nonetheless, I pray for the souls of the dying, whoever they may be at that moment. What greater gift can we give a soul, than to pray for them so that they may be granted the grace of eternity in heaven? Jesus commanded us to "love one another as I have loved you " (John, 13:34). He wants souls to be with Him in heaven;  and when you love someone you want the best for them- in this case, heaven for all eternity.
At the bottom of the picture of the Divine Mercy it reads, "Jesus, I trust in You". For many of us, this trust is the hardest thing, and more so when we are dying and our lifetime of sin confronts us; and so our prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the dying is the greatest grace they can receive.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Silence



I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth.  And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds: And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth.  And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh upon the earth. (Genesis 9 13-18)

Friday, July 29, 2011

My journey, continued

Sometimes I worry that I don't do enough penance for the sins of my past, that my time in Purgatory will be long. However, I do what I can, and by the Grace of God am allowed to do whatever sacrifices I can offer according to my state in life.  I am greatly encouraged by this bit in the Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 52:


What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet with a holy kiss.
To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense. This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the enemy's anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement has been contracted elsewhere.


Thank You, Lord, for Your loving mercy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

St. Philip's tomb found

Tomb of St. Philip the Apostle discovered in Turkey's Denizli
D'Andria said the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity 


The tomb of St. Philip the Apostle, one of the original 12 disciples of Christianity's central figure Jesus Christ, has been discovered during the ongoing excavations in Turkey's south-western province of Denizli.
Italian professor Francesco D'Andria, the head of the excavation team at the Hierapolis ancient city in Denizli, told reporters on Tuesday that experts had reached the tomb of St. Philip whose name is mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.
Professor D'Andria said archeologists had been working for years to find the tomb of the Biblical figure, and finally, they had managed to reach the monument while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church in Hierapolis.
D'Andria said the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity.
Describing the discovery as a major development both for archeology and the Christian world, D'Andria said the tomb, which had not been opened yet, was expected to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination.
Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city", is an ancient city located next to the renowned Pamukkale, white Travertine terraces, in Denizli province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city, famous for its historical hot springs used as a spa since the 2nd century, is a mixture of Pagan, Roman, Jewish and early Christian influences.
Ancient tradition associates Hierapolis with St. Philip the Apostle, who is believed to have died in the city around 80 AD. The follower, who is known as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia, is said to have been martyred in Hierapolis. The legend is that St. Philip was crucified upside-down or martyred by beheading.
After the apostle's death, an octagonal tomb named "The Martryium" was erected for him where he is believed to have been martyred.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A rant on worldly sermons

How much thought do you put into what happens to your soul after death? For most of the people I know, the answer is, very little. Too caught up in this life to think of the afterlife. Too little religious education to even understand a little of the 4 last things. This past Sunday, I heard a homily from a Deacon that really disturbed me. He downplayed heaven as an eternal destination, and told us that we should focus on heaven on earth; that we should try to live our lives doing good so that we can be a part of heaven on earth. I was a little disturbed, to say the least. Of course, we should spend our lives doing good- but to belittle the importance of attaining heaven as the goal of our existence in this life? Our souls cry out to be united with their Creator, and the self-satisfaction of "doing good" can't even come close to meeting that need. To me, it was a sermon that faced away from God, and was more about self esteem. To be expected, I guess, in a parish where nobody kneels for the Consecration.
We are expected to always try to be charitable and merciful, especially to our less fortunate fellow humans. We don't need to pat ourselves on the back for it. In fact, I believe it says in the Bible to not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing; to do your works of mercy quietly, without seeking public acclaim for them.
I don't know about that Deacon, but my goal is Heaven for Eternity. Not Heaven on Earth.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Altar Rails

I was really happy to see this article, as I have long believed that Altar rails should be in every Church- and used!


Altar Rail Returning to Use

Architects, pastors and parishioners find it enhances reverence in church.

 07/02/2011 Comments (165)
In Tiverton, R.I., when some parishioners suggested returning altar rails to the sanctuary of Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Father Jay Finelli gladly accepted, little knowing shortly thereafter the Pope’s 2007 motu proprio letter Summorum Pontificum would follow and he would be interested in learning how to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass.
In Norwalk, Conn., when a groundswell of parishioner support encouraged pastor Father Greg Markey to restore St. Mary Church, the second-oldest parish in the diocese, to its original 19th-century neo-gothic magnificence, he made sure altar rails were again part of the sanctuary.
Altar rails are present in several new churches architect Duncan Stroik has designed. Among them, the Thomas Aquinas College Chapel in Santa Paula, Calif., the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., and three others on the drawing boards.
Altar (Communion) rails are returning for all the right reasons.
Said Father Markey: “First, the Holy Father is requiring holy Communion from him be received on the knees. Second, it’s part of our tradition as Catholics for centuries to receive holy Communion on the knees. Third, it’s a beautiful form of devotion to our blessed Lord.”
James Hitchcock, professor and author of Recovery of the Sacred (Ignatius Press, 1995), thinks the rail resurgence is a good idea. The main reason is reverence, he said. “Kneeling’s purpose is to facilitate adoration,” he explained.
When Stroik proposed altar rails for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Cardinal [Raymond] Burke liked the idea and thought that was something that would give added reverence to the Eucharist and sanctuary.”
In Eastern Orthodox churches, there is an iconostasis — a wall of icons and religious paintings that separate the nave from the sanctuary — rather than altar rail separating the sanctuary. While the altar rail is usually about two feet high, the iconostasis veils most of the sanctuary.
“The altar rail is nothing compared to that,” he says, “and these are our Eastern brethren. We can benefit and learn something.”

Altar Rail History
They may be returning, but were altar rails supposed to be taken out of sanctuaries?
“There is nothing in Vatican II or post-conciliar documents which mandate their removal,” said Denis McNamara, author of Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy (Hillenbrand Books, 2009) and assistant director and professor at the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill.
Cardinal Francis Arinze strongly affirmed this point during a 2008 video session while he was still prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:  “The Church from Rome never said to remove the altar rails.”
So what happened?
“Unfortunately, democratic ideas came into the situation after Vatican II,” Hitchcock said. 
Stroik points some out of these ideas: a general iconoclasm that rejected the past, a desire to make churches into gathering spaces more like Protestant meeting houses, and the argument that kneeling is a sign of submission, which is seen as disrespectful to the modern person — we didn’t kneel before kings and queens, so it was more “democratic” not to kneel.
Added McNamara: “Some people called them ‘fences’ which set up division between priest and people.”
“Of course,” he said, “theologically there is a significant meaning in the distinction between nave and sanctuary. Just as there was confusion over the roles of ordained and laity at the time, so there was confusion about the architectural manifestation of those roles.”
Altar rails give “a clear designation as to what is the sanctuary,” Father Markey said. “The word ‘sanctuary’ comes from the word ‘holy,’ which means ‘set apart.’ The sanctuary is set apart from the rest of the church because it reinforces our understanding of what holiness is. The sanctuary is symbolically the head of the church and represents Christ as the head.”
McNamara traces church architecture roots to the Temple of Solomon: The large room corresponded to the church nave; the Holy of Holies, an image of heaven, corresponded to today’s sanctuary. They were separated visually by the great veil, which was torn when Christ died.
“[The altar rail] is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united,” McNamara explained.
“But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

Reverence at Mass
Altar rails have an important role for the extraordinary form of the Mass where, Father Finelli noted, reception of Communion has to be on the tongue. He celebrates the extraordinary form weekly in Advent and Lent and monthly the rest of the year.
Communicants kneel at the oak railing that was crafted by a parishioner who is a professional woodworker. The rail was gilded by parishioners. They crafted a similar altar rail for the adoration chapel.
The presence of the rails has made an impression on the 2,000-family parish.  “So many people kept requesting to use the altar rail,” he recalled, “I decided at the beginning of Lent that people receive at the altar rail.” (The requirement is for all weekday and special feast Masses in the ordinary form too.)
Given the option to kneel or stand, many choose to kneel to receive Communion. While they can receive on the tongue or in the hand, more people are choosing to receive on the tongue.
As Father Finelli put it, “It’s a very strong sign for the love and respect for the Real Presence because it’s really Jesus we’re receiving.”
Father Finelli clarifies that for Latin Catholics to receive the Eucharist while standing and in the hand is an indult, a special permission granted by the Holy See, because the ordinary way by Church law is still to receive while kneeling and on the tongue. (The indult was granted at the request of the American bishops.)
While the extraordinary form is celebrated three times weekly at St. Mary’s in Connecticut, Father Markey says the Communion rails are used for all ordinary form Masses as well. In his 1,000-family parish, parishioners also have the option at the ordinary form to kneel or stand.
This is approved by Rome. He notes the Vatican directive: “In 2003 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says in the ordinary form ‘communicants who chose to kneel are not to be denied holy Communion … nor accused of disobedience …’”
Stroik designed St. Mary’s renovated sanctuary incorporating hand-carved marble neo-gothic altar rails with brass gates that Father Markey purchased from a church that was closing in Pennsylvania. It beautifully matches the original white marble fixed altar and new marble free-standing altar, which brings another dimension to liturgical symbolism.
“When we gather at the altar rails, we symbolically gather at the altar,” Stroik said.
Making both altar and rails from the same materials — in this case marble — makes the connection even clearer.
Liturgical architecture expert McNamara agrees. He has found that some old church architecture books consider the rail the “people’s altar” and thus was made with the same marble as that of the altar.
To add to the symbolic connection, some churches cover the rails during Communion with linens similar to those on the altar.

Drawn to Prayer
There are yet more reasons for incorporating altar rails. Stroik finds where they have been removed in a cathedral, basilica or historic church receiving numerous visitors, many don’t know how sacred the altar is and wander around the sanctuary. The church has to put up ropes and signs like in a museum to do what altar rails were supposed to do: “create a real threshold so people can tell it’s a special place, a holy place set apart.”
Stroik says the altar rail is “an invitation for people to come close to the sanctuary, kneel and pray before the tabernacle, a statue of Our Lady or images of saints.”
Father Markey said returning the rails has been a great success.
Longtime parishioners who have attended St. Mary’s for 50 years or more regretted the magnificent altar rail being torn out in the 1960s. They now tell him, “Thank God you brought it back, Father.”
He also notices worship is enhanced for adults as well as children: “Little children like to kneel and pray there while their mom and dad receive holy Communion,” said Father Markey. “There’s almost universal embracing. It’s one of the most popular decisions I’ve made as pastor.”
Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
Visit StMaryNorwalk.net and HolyGhostCC.org for more info


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/altar-rails-returning-to-use#ixzz1RXUcvNpJ