True Devotion

"It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world and it is also through her that He has to reign in the world."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Totus Tuus

I, (name), a faithless sinner,
renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother,
the vows of Baptism;
I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works;
and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate
Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life,
and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.
In the presence of all the heavenly court,
I choose you this day for my Mother and Queen,
I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and
soul, my goods, both interior and exterior,
and even the value of all my good actions,
past, present, and future;
leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and
all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your
good pleasure, for the greater glory of God,
in time and eternity. Amen.

(St. Louis Marie de Montfort)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things to come . . .

It is hard to believe that we are in the last day of October. This month has flown by, much like the ever-present, and very irritating wind that is now present for months to come. May winter days be as the rainless days of summer were. . . snowless!

In these last weeks of Ordinary Time in the church year, we should be thinking on the Last Things. Not costumes, candy, vampires, and monsters, but death, judgement, heaven and hell. Some would say there are some similarities here. Tomorrow we should surround ourselves with the communion of saints; that litany of the dead who can teach us so many things in this life of ours! Understanding about the communion of saints, we can find in them an understanding of the Eucharist.

That is why in this Halloween madness, I would sooner focus in on the Eucharist. Mystery of mysteries! The very heart of the mystery of faith. Because no matter where you ponder on the last things, you have the reassurance of the Eucharist. And the mystery of the eucharist is not something which is to be solved; rather, it is a mystery to enter into.
We, now, are still the living. Where once family and friends mouthed the very words we do, they are no longer with us. Yet, we are all one family; God's family. They pray as we do, they worship as we do. Only it is not they who join us, it is us who join them.
In faith, hope and love. The three theological virtues. The chalice itself represents these virtues. The base is indicative of our being rooted in Faith. The stem rises straight up in Hope, as a flower seeks the suns rays. The cup of the chalice opens like a flower which is in full bloom; it represents the flowering of our Love which we seek and receive in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Sursum corda!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Going . . .

Today is the feast of St. Paul of the Cross. He founded the Passionist Order of priests, here and there I often find little gems in his writings. He held fast to his faith; his example is especially fitting in today's world. Blessed Henry Newman, who was beatified just last month by Pope Benedict, was brought into the church through a Passionist priest.

Here is an example:
"When we speak to Jesus in the language of love, let us say, "O my Spouse, O my life, O fountain of love! Do me the favor of giving me something to drink! How thirsty I am, O dear Jesus!'
Then draw near to the Heart of Jesus. Drink and satisfy your thirst. Drink, drink, rivers of Divine Love, drink oceans, but rivers and oceans of fire."

As simple as all that!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mary Is the Heart of the Church

Today is the feast of St. Luke. He leads us to understand that our Blessed Lady is at the very heart of the Church. Just as she is at the very heart of me.

There is a parallel between the first chapter of the book of St. Luke in the Gospel, and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. There is the same mystery here, repeated on two different levels.

"In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus' disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us. " (See Vultus Christi)

How can anyone believe otherwise!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blessed Is The Womb That Bore You . . .

Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. once said:

The angel's message found [Mary's] heart ready, and the Word became flesh, and in the holy room of her motherly heart the earth grew far beyond its limitations into the human-divine sphere. . . What use to us are the thought and lived experience of our affliction, if no bridge is built to the other shore? How can the terror of chaos and confusion help us, if no light flares up to equal and overcome the darkness? What use to us is this shivering from cold and hardship, in which the world is freezing to death the more it loses and deadens itself deep down inside, if we do not at the same time experience that grace which is mightier than the danger and the lostness? . . .
That God would become a mother's son and that a woman could walk upon this earth, her body consecrated as a holy temple and tabernacle for God, is truly the earth's culmination and the fulfillment of its expectation . . .
Oh, that this was granted to the earth, to bring forth such fruit! That the world was permitted to enter into the presence of God through the sheltering warmth, as well as the helpful and reliable patronage of her motherly heart!
The gray horizons must light up. Only the foreground is screaming so loudly and penetratingly. Farther back, where it has to do with things that really count, the situation is already changing. The woman has conceived the Child, sheltered him under her heart, and has given birth to her Son. The world has come under a different law. All these are not merely one-time historical events upon which our salvation rests. They are simultaneously the model figures and events that announce to us the new order of things, of life, of our existence.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And the Sun Spun . . .

It was a mere 93 years ago today. Seventy thousand people, thereabouts, gathered on a muddy hill in Portugal, there to await a "miracle" purported to take place at this last appearance of the Virgin Mary to three peasant children. How preposterous! How ridiculous! How incredibly ignorant one must be to believe in such a thing!
Believers were there, as well as unbelievers, agnostics, and true atheists, too. When it was all over, there were thousands who converted to the Catholic faith.
Our Lady has asked us to pray the rosary. It is such a little thing to do, yet why is it such a difficult thing to do, to find a few minutes in our day, to pray?
Mary never lets us down. I know this for a fact, for she has never, ever let me down. She will weave wonders, true miracles, in your life, if you let her in. She will take you to her Son, and on the way, the journey will be sweet. It will be a journey unlike any you can possibly imagine.
Then you will understand. That not to believe is the most preposterous, most ridiculous, most ignorant thing we can do, in this our life on earth!
Oh most holy virgin Mary,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
You were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima
and reveal that glorious message.
We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent
love for the recitation of the Rosary.
By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption
that are recalled, may we obtain the graces and virtues
that we ask, through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ste. Therese of Lisieux

I have had a love for St. Therese of Lisieux since I was about five years old. I remember my mom giving me a little book about this remarkable saint, one which tied together (literally, with a shoelace) with other saints of our faith. So many other religions don't venerate the saints; how terribly sad, how bereft they are!

Therese, a willful, vibrant young girl knew from very early in her life that she wished to be a nun. Her call from God must have been profound. Her choosing of the Carmelite order was also God-given. Here she was able to truly teach us about the glory of God!

Her "little way" is one which I have always tried to inculcate into my daily life. It is easy to do, yet so hard to achieve! One must always be aware, on guard, and listening to God. Yet, it is in the ordinary-ness of the hours of the day, that we may please God in all things.

In all of Therese's little ways, she was a saint for our times. So much so, that in 1997, she was proclaimed the 33rd Doctor of the Church. On average, most Doctors of the Church are 64 years old. Therese died in her 24th year of life. She is one of God's greatest gifts to humankind!
Pray to St. Therese, she will transform your ways to God!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blessed Newman

John Henry Cardinal Newman has been brought one step closer to sainthood today, with his beatification in Birmingham England. Living through most of the 19th century, Cardinal Newman came to understand that "to know history is to cease being Protestant."

At peril to his job, his family and to friends who shunned him, he did just that. With the help of Passionist priest Blessed Dominic Barberi, Newman entered the Catholic faith in 1845.

A prodigious writer, Newman wrote many and varied treatises on his faith. I recall reading The Idea of a University, years ago, and hope to re-read it soon, as I remember nothing from the first go-round.

He knew religion to be more than a matter of opinion, and spent his life defending the tenets of his Catholic faith. Towards the end of his life he was made a cardinal by the pope in 1879. He took as his motto the words, "Cor ad Cor Loquitur" -- "heart speaks to heart."
In his own words:
"Mere Protestants have seldom any real perception of the doctrine of
God and man in one Person. They speak in a dreamy, shadowy way
of Christs divinity; but, when their meaning is sifted, you will find
them very slow to commit themselves to any statement sufficient
to express the Catholic dogma. . . the world allows that God is man,
the admission costs it little, for God is everywhere, and (as it may say)
is everything; but it shrinks from confessing that God is the Son of Mary."
We know she is. We, with Cardinal Newman have been given this gift.
For God so loved the world . . . .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Yourself a Sword Will Pierce . . .

As we celebrate this day, Our Lady of Sorrows, we see the contradictions in Mary's own life. It was foretold by Simeon that Mary would suffer along with her Son. And suffer she did; her entire life was one suffering laid upon another. Yet, she perservered, she waited in patience, she endured, she gave herself up to each individual day and its hours, she lived as we do today, and she never stopped looking at her Son. Son of Man. Son of God.

At the last, she stood in heartbreaking solace, at the foot of His cross. Her Stabat Mater should be on our lips every day! Mary at the cross, made it endurable for us to be there; she endured first of all, so we can, and must endure now. It was not Mary who sought herself; she was there, as she had been everywhere in her life, pointing the way to Jesus.

She still points the way. Quietly, humbly, secretly. It is up to us to find her. When we do, we will be blessed beyond measure.

Mary's Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon. Mary was told that her son, her little boy in her arms, "is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . ." Lk. 2: 34-35. Here you go to the Temple to present your son, and are given news such as this!
2. The Flight into Egypt. Fleeing in the night! How many of us have done that? The fear and the anxiety over what would happen next had to be uppermost on Mary's mind.
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple. To lose your child in a crowd is very unnerving! For three days, Mary and Joseph searched for their son. Not in full understanding of what He was about, they were nothing if not relieved upon finding Him once again.
4. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary. Jesus has been stripped, and flogged, and beaten, kicked, a thorn of crowns placed on His head, the thorns ripping into his skull to His brain; weak, barely able to stand, He is forced to carry His cross to the place where He will be put to death. He meets his mother on the way. Their hearts are suffering together; their hearts are bearing the same load.
5. Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross. Mary watched as Jesus was nailed to the cross, watched as so many others still taunted Him, reviled Him, waited for Him to die. Resolutely, as she wishes us to be, Mary endured. Not fainting, not wailing, not running away. Simply standing under the cross.
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Jesus in Her Arms. Pieta. What went through her mind as they laid Jesus in her arms?
7. Jesus is Placed in the Tomb. There is a finality here, something not lost, I'm sure, on our Blessed Mother. In all her life, Mary had always been near her Son. Now, there was nothing left but to go home and hope. Hope in God. Hope in her Son, that he would appear to her again!

Rather than shunning these sorrows as too distressing in our pleasure-seeking world, we need to embrace these sorrows. It is through them, that we come to know Mary. We see her as we are; we understand her emotions as our emotions, we are made courageous by her actions, and we are able to begin to discern that our lives should in all ways be given over to divine providence.

Mary, in those moments, seemed defeated, lost. Yet, we know, the end of the story! Our sufferings, little as they are, can be laid at the foot of the cross with Mary's. She will teach us how to proceed, she will lead us down the narrow path. The way will be difficult. The way will be filled with strife and confusion as well as with joy. The way is waiting for us.

If we choose. Pray to choose.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Searchers

One of my very favorite movies of all time, is John Ford's 1956 film The Searchers. It is such a magnificent display of emotion; of raw nerve, courage, perserverance, sorrow, and joy. Right from the opening note you know you are in for a tremendous treat! John Wayne should have received an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ethan Edwards; Hollywood chose to overlook him once again.

The Searchers cuts to the very core of human emotion. Every character seems imbued with great clarity and self-seeking ways. Perhaps that is what makes it so appealing to us. Ethan Edwards personifies the worst in sinners among us; yet, even his brand of sinfulness is redeemed by God.

Francisco de Osuna, a 16th-century Spanish mystic, reminds us of how God's great love is present for all of us, and any of us, at all times, in all situations. Sinners and those who think they have no sin will find the door open. "Think how he will welcome the just person who diligently and continuously searches for him."

So, whether you find yourself in faraway Spain or Monument Valley, be it Sussex County, NJ or Costa Rica, we can seek God always. That should go to the heart of every day, for each of us.

We, too, in little ways, can be called The Searchers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hail Sanctus Regina

Lovely Lady dressed in blue --
Teach me how to pray,
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up sometimes
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did he cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things?
Little things that happen And
Do the Angel's wings?

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now
Tell me -- for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray,
God was just your little Boy
And you know the way.

Blessed birthday greetings to Our Mother in Heaven! She is our gift from God.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

God of Wonder, God of Light . . .

In my book, Candle Reflections. . . An Illuminated Life, I remember dwelling on the virtue of humility. Such a little virtue, such an ocean of knowing.

The readings today, the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, bring me back to that thinking on humility. Sirach tells us to "humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God." Sirach 3: 17-18, 20, 28-29.

As if I know what depths of humility there are! As the Catholic Encyclopedia tells us, the word humility signifies lowliness or submissiveness; certainly a feeling that what I am or what I have here is not worth much. That is the definition the world wants us to believe in! As with most things of this world, it is wrong! Because I have my traditions in the Church, and not in this world, I know that humility is the first of the virtues. Humility is the foundation-stone to all other virtues.

True humility is knowing that God is first among all things. We recognize gifts and talents in others, and we also recognize our own gifts and talents, and we also know that we can go so far and no further, for we are mere mortals with limitations. Humility, then, is a posture of strength not of weakness. There again, the world we live in tells us just the opposite!

In Exploring the Sunday Readings, author Alice Camille says:

Nobody wants to be humble and hidden. Humility and anonymity
have such bad vibes in the era of Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube,
we need a new label to make this ancient virtue cool and desirable
gain. So here's one: think of humility as "reverse celebrity." Everybody
gets fifteen minutes of fame today. Imagine getting yours and
punting it! Don't go blonde, or blue, or bald like the rest. Live without
the new thing. Drive the old car. Go on vacation -- and don't post
the pictures anywhere for people to envy your opportunity. Just
be invisibly ultra-hip, in the privacy of your home. Be so smart
that no one knows how much you know. Don't blog about every
last opinion you hold. Cultivate your own mystery. Pour a cup
of tea and be holy -- splendidly out of view.

If need be, turn to Our Lady. She can teach us all, far beyond the borders of humility.
My tea is waiting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The World Reconciled

This summer has been the most beautiful summer I can remember in a very long time. Yes, we have had our share of 90+ degree days; yet the sun seems to be always shining. As we gravitate towards the end of August, the sunny days have tempered. They are slowly becoming shorter, and the heat is diminished. Yet, the sun lingers on and we are hard-pressed to find rain. In fact, some of our trees have begun to turn, and ferns are withering when they should be green, still.

I love the quiet. In the midst of busy days, frustrating events, and seemingly impossible problems, I love the quiet. It helps to center my world, and what is important. What needs to be important. Not my trials, not my tribulations, not my sufferings. As St. Bernard asked our Lord which of his wounds was his greatest suffering. Our Lord answered. . . .

Lately, I have been enjoying a program on EWTN called "Parable". Each week, retreatants gather at the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, NJ to discuss the parables of Jesus. Please catch it if you can; the insights are wonderful.

At the end of each segment, St. Birgitta of Sweden tells us:

"The Virgin Mother says: 'You must have five inward things and five outward things.

First, outward things. . . a mouth clean of all detraction, ears closed to idle talk, modest eyes, hands busy with good works, and withdrawal from the world's way of life.

Inwardly, you must have five things. . . namely, a fervent love for God, a wise longing for Him, the distribution of your temporal goods with a just and right intention and in a rational way, humble flight from the world, and a long-suffering and patient expectation of his promises.' "

Whenever and wherever I walk this summer, the air is warm and soft. I will be loathe to give this up come Autumn, but the seasons have their time.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us (845) . . . "The Church is "the world reconciled". She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world."

Whether the air be soft and warm, or bitingly cold, I will welcome it. And I will be quiet.


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