Placing our Souls before the Lord

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PalmSunday2We begin our Passion (Palm) Sunday liturgy with the proclamation of Matthew 21:1-11, of Jesus’ triumphant procession into Jerusalem upon a colt, while:

a “very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others, cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds proceeding him and those following kept crying out and saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.”

It is quite a scene. Imagine being one of Jesus’ followers, seeing your teacher and friend being hailed like a king.

The Gospel tells us that the people in the crowd spread their cloaks along the road. The spreading of one’s cloak was symbolic of laying one’s life down before the passerby. In today’s office of readings, Saint Andrew of Crete gives a another view:

Let us run to accompany Jesus as he hastens toward Jerusalem, and imitate those who met him then…let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.  (Oratio 9 in ramos palmarum: PG 97, 990-994)

Today, as we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. How easy it is to get caught up in the joyous moment, celebrating the man who rose Lazarus from the dead. But in just a few days, the crowd will turn on Jesus and condemn him to be crucified. As we journey with Jesus this week, from Jerusalem to Golgatha, let us consciously consider what we place before Him in our prayer. As St. Andrew reminds us, “Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments…but…by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish.”

During this Holy Week, let us examine the souls that Jesus purchased with the price of His blood. May our reflection invite us turn our lives over to Jesus anew. Let us be holy as the Lord is holy.

Blessed Holy Week!

Other reflections:

Ed Morrissey: By the end of the week, not even all of His disciples stood by him as he was put to death.

Father Acervo: So as we head into Holy Week, let’s consider two things…

Matthew Higgins: Making Every Friday “Good”

Elizabeth Scalia: A Palm Sunday of Stark Decision

Sr Lisa Marie:  Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Trusting God in Suffering

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It seems that of late the Lord has sent a lot more prayer requests my way for people suffering from serious illnesses and disease, particularly of advanced stages of cancer and lymphoma. I hold them in a particular place in my heart and in my daily prayer; perhaps because I have lost three loved ones to cancer. Perhaps because I also know the power of prayer in having members of my family who are cancer survivors. No matter what the illness, it places the family in the crucible of anguish and uncertainty; wanting to trust in God and hope in him, and at the same time, the waiting gives time for our fears and worries creep up to haunt our faith.

In these very moments where faith is attacked by the violent churning of doubt and questioning, our best defense is the simple utterance (perhaps it takes every drop of energy we have):

“Jesus, I trust in You!”

One of my go-to scripture passages when the siege of or worry waits outside my door:

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

That one’s a bit long for me to remember verbatim, but I have memorized this shorter one from the Prophet Isaiah 26:3:

“You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind rests on You, because he trusts in You.”

HEALING THE MAN BORN BLINDThe word of God in the Bible never promises that the faithful will not experience hardship and suffering. We can just open to the Book of Job and find the contrary to be true. Job in his faithfulness was allowed by God to be tested and tormented by Satan. In order to understand our own sufferings we need to ask why this was so. Jesus himself gives us the answer in this Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of John 9:1-41, a narrative of Jesus healing a man blind from birth:

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.

It is only natural when one is has no choice but to deal with an infirmity to ask, “why me?” In itself, this is not a bad question, but it needs to be placed in a broader context, that of an invitation by God to be part of the revelation of His divine glory, so that the works of God might e made visible through him. This requires an attitude of abandonment to God; a reaffirmation that he truly knows every hair on our head, and our every ache and pain we feel.

There is no guarantee in our abandonment that God will heal us the way we wish, but his invitation is a great opportunity to do a couple of things:

  • A purification of our own fidelity. Affliction is a great lens for knowing how to prioritize our lives. It helps us to see where we need to heal broken relationships and where we need to spend our time and energy.
  • Our attitude in our affliction can be very inspiring for others. Look to the saints and see how they dealt with their affliction. They used it to glorify God, sing his praises, and point others to the hope of eternal salvation.

One example is the life of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, a vibrant teen fully living out her Catholic faith, was struck with an aggressive form of cancer. When diagnosed at the age of 17 with osteosarcoma, she spent hours in silence, only to emerge from her ‘garden of Gethsemane’ saying, “If you want it, Jesus,  so do I.” She lived the remainder of her short life as a sign of God’s love with radiant joy.

Her words, in a way, reflect the words of Job when he was stripped of everything he had:

Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all of this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. – Job 1:20-21

This prayer of Blessed Miguel Pro could be made our own, or at least inspire us in our own encounters with suffering:

Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish … I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith … Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life. Amen.

Related:

Sunday reflection: John 9:1-41, by Ed Morrissey, reflects how affliction can be a blessing.

 

Salvifici Doloris, by Blessed John Paul II

 

Stripped of Everything Except Love

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Jesus CrucifiedThere is Jesus upon the Cross, “stripped of everything except His love”, as our Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa would say. The dipiction of Christ is what compelled me to take my vows, wanting to follow in the footsteps of the Crucified One. This past Sunday we celebrated much more than Superbowl; in the Church we commemorated Jesus being presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, and their meeting of old Simeon and the prophetess Anna, and the astonishing things they said about the child. The Church shares this day with all men and women who have taken vows of consecration: chastity, poverty and obedience. It led me to reflect on my own consecration and a prayer:

In my consecration I gave all to Mary and I stand before Jesus stripped bare. No merits to show. No clothing to make me attractive. Nothing by which to hide my flaws. All is revealed. This applies too to my daily life. All the graces I experience are from God. All successes in my ministry is from God. Any signs of love I demonstrate is from God. I have nothing. All belongs to God and I entrust it to Mary. All I hope for, I pray, is God’s grace and that I may love with a heart like Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

UntitledFather,
You willed that Mary
be at the Foot of the Cross
sharing in the Sacrifice of Your Son.
Grant us, through her intercession,
to bear within ourselves
the image of Christ
Crucified and Risen,
and to spend ourselves
with untiring Charity
for the good of our brothers and sisters. Amen.

(Said every morning before Lauds by Canossian Sisters around the world).

A Calloused Heart?

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A friend of mine has the habit of finding Bibles. He doesn’t find them in second-hand shops or antique stores, but on the highways of Northern California. For as long as I’ve known him, more than 20 years, he has had a mission of Bible finding that reads at times like a new ‘Highway to Heaven’ series. This week he found Bible #508 (that is not a type-o). And the story touched me profoundly and I thought you might enjoy it too (with his permission of course):

Bible 508 (#1 for 2014), a Promise Keepers Men’s Study Bible, New International Version was discovered at 10:43 A.M. Tuesday, January 28th, 2014.  It was located on Hwy. 99 (S), Fresno, CA.

A co-worker, Steve and I were enroute to a business meeting in Lindsay, CA.  Just prior to the discovery, Steve, who is involved in a Twelve Step Recovery program was sharing, that Monday night was his Birthday night.  He was celebrating 29 years in the program.   He recounted, that when his 29 years was announced, people began to clap.  He politely stopped them.

Steve’s words:

“Thank you, however, I must ask you to give credit where credit is due? I have a tremendous ego, I’m afraid, if you clap for me I will take credit for being here before you tonight. It is God that got me here. God has given me the eyes to see and the mind to know the benefits of this program. You need to give God the credit.”

I was so impressed with Steve’s humility,  that I asked him to repeat his words.

Shortly, thereafter,  I noticed a book lying next to the center cement highway abutment.  It seemed a bit larger, than the books I’m accustomed to seeing. I would say it was about the size of two building bricks.

Upon first glance I had a knowingness that it was a Bible.  Got it!  I immediately took the next exit.  I moved so quickly and without notice, that it scared Steve.

“What are you doing”, he pensively blurted out.

“I think that I just found a Bible”, was my response.

I quietly prayed my usual pre-discovery “hedge of protection” prayer.  “Lord, please clear the way and let no one be injured as I go to retrieve this Bible.”

The pages of the Book were blowing back and forth, as a result of the back draft caused by the passing traffic.

I picked up the Bible.  Yes, I had just found Bible 508.  It was open to the 13th Chapter of Matthew.  The Parable of the Sower.  I put my thumb on the center of the page next to the editor’s teaching message.  ETERNAL INVESTMENT – RETURNS – GUARANTEED.

I would later discover that the teaching discussed how one needs to prepare the soil of their heart, so that the Word of God (seeds) finds fertile soil.  This in turn will yield  a massive spiritual harvest in your life.  How does one do this?  Follow the example of the farmer.  Good soil requires; planning, nurturing, cultivating and a good deal of effort.  One needs to set aside time daily to examine his heart.  Weed out every; thought, word, deed and act that chokes out the effectiveness of God in your life.  Cultivate ones heart through prayer.  Water it  by meditating on God’s the purpose for your life.   A heart prepared in this manner will allow the Word of God to take root, thus enabling them to receive an abundant harvest.   (Teaching paraphrased)   

I handed the prize to Steve.  Without hesitation I blurted out, “Here is your message!”  For a brief moment I had second thoughts.  I had no idea what was to be revealed.  Back in the car, we were off to our meeting.

Steve was overjoyed to be part of the discovery.  Over the years he has heard stories of what it feels like to partake in a Bible find, however, 2nd hand stories never adequately describe the reality of the firsthand experience.

“Read it Steve!”

“Me?”

“Yes, God has a message for you!”  The scriptures reference, Jesus speaking to His disciples.

(14b) You will be ever hearing but never understanding, You will be ever seeing  but never perceiving.  For this people’s hearts has become calloused; …

“Stop that’s not it!   You are not calloused, if anything….!”

Steve began again, “(16) But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  (17) For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

The first words out of Steve’s mouth, “that exactly what I said last night!  God has given me the eyes to see and ears to hear the value of this program…”  I would liken the reverence in Steve’s voice akin to the awe one might have in witnessing the birth of one’s first child!

We just looked at each other for a moment.  Words cannot adequately describe Steve’s excitement, joy, exhilaration.  He almost cried.

I told Steve, “the Holy Spirit has just given you a true Birthday present.  He has acknowledged your humility and profession of faith.  Praise God!”

If I could have used the energy, that was in my car at that very moment,  I could have driven to New York and back without refueling.  I thought we were going to a business meeting.  The Holy Spirit had planned a Birthday celebration.

The question now comes to you and I.  What is Jesus saying?

“Will you be ever hearing but never understanding?  Will you be seeing but never perceiving?  Has your heart become calloused? This is an invitation from Christ Himself.  All we have to do is ask!  He will give us the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the mind to comprehend the blessing He has in store.

God bless,

The Highway Bibleman

What Gift to Bring to the King of Kings

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belen-adoracion

It’s Epiphany, and we retell the story of three wise men who travelled quite a distance looking for the King of Kings. In Matthew’s Gospel we read:

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-12).

The gifts they brought were extraordinary and very expensive. As one of my followers on Twitter pointed out, the gifts were a bit … eccentric:

The uniqueness of their gifts elevated the understanding that this child laying in the lowest of places, was much more than he appeared to be. Would such extraordinary presents be given to just any baby? Even a royal one? The gifts reveal that Jesus was more than he seemed, but they also tell of his guests. These were men of status, well esteemed and wealthy. It is also apparent they studied Hebrew texts, and knew the prophecies of Isaiah. Two of them got their gift ideas from Isaiah 60:6:

“All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”

And what about us? What gift do we bring to the new born King? Another tradition in our convents is to receive a piece of paper with one of the three gifts written on it. We then make it part of our year to offer that gift to Christ, with corresponding virtue and fruit of the spirit. For instance:

GOLD: I offer the Lord Jesus the Gold (Prestige) of my life, in Charity and with Kindness.

FRANKINCENSE:  I offer the Lord Jesus the Frankincense (Sweetness) of my life, in Faith and with a Spirit of Prayer.

MYRRH: I offer the Lord Jesus the Myrrh (Sacrifice) of my life, in Hope and with Joy.

Let us pray, that we may be like the Wise Men, and seek out Jesus in this new year, and like them, bring the best of ourselves in homage to the New Born King. Blessed Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord!

May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray, shed its light upon our hearts, that we may pass through the shadows of this world and reach the brightness of our eternal home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (Collect of the Mass for the Epiphany of the Lord)

Love’s Way Out

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With a new year before us, I’m starting my personal challenge to read through the Bible in the year, and so i will be posting from time to time from my personal reflections (I would love to post daily, if God wants, but He will have to provide the time!). So, here are some thoughts on Day Two.

Today, reading from Genesis, Chapter 3:

Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’ The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”  But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” 

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden….

My first thought in reading this passage was, what bliss it must have been, to able to ‘hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden’. Imagine turning back time and sitting in the garden, just to hear the Lord walking… it is what every human heart wants but doesn’t know it is missing that incredibly intimate relationship with their Creator. To be able to walk with God, talk with God, ask questions about why the sky is blue and the why the moon’s shape waxed and waned. To watch God in His creative work. To see God’s delight in being with us, His creation. But then this perfect relationship and harmony came to an end.

There was the Serpent, the Tree, and the Woman.  What if that tree wasn’t there? Would sin have been avoided? Could God have prevented this disaster of separation from His creation?  Of course God could have avoided the very messy consequences of that unfortunate encounter. Then, why did He allow it? Everything was perfect, except …

If Eve didn’t have a way out of loving God, could she have been free to fully love Him? Would there have been a capacity for love at all if God did not allow the Tree, and the Serpent for that matter, to coexist with her and Adam in the Garden?

God gave them abundance in His love. In the first creation story, God said:

“See, I give you every seed bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food” (Gen. 1:29).

The second creation story spells out God’s condition:

“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you at from it you are surely doomed to die” (Gen. 2:16-17).

They had the world of food to choose from as God’s expression of His love. And because of His love, they were given a way out of His love, if they so chose to not love Him in return. What does this teach us about our relationship with God, and with one another for that matter?

Love must be free to be received and to be given. Without the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, the woman could not express her love for her Creator through obedience. She would have been no better off than a robot or puppet unable to exercise her conscience. Everything would have been constructed for her.

And human beings would not have known love.

AdamandEve

It’s Going to Be a Great Journey This Year!

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We’ve survived the first couple of days of 2014, and from the look of responses received on my post on journeying in the new year with a Patron Saint, it looks like a good number of you are off to a fantastic start! I mentioned in that post how Saints sometimes choose us when they want to help us in certain circumstances (that’s how we sometimes end up with more than one at a time). Sometimes others choose for us, and, in the case of our religious communities, it is by lottery. Prayer cards are placed upside down on a platter and one by one we choose a card from among them.

I thought I would report back on the results of some of our communities’ ‘lottery’, resulting in Patron Saints for this year.

Our Canossian Sisters in Sacramento, CA:

MollaSister Jenny received Saint Gianna Molla, married with children, a doctor, and known to offer her life if it came to a choice between herself and the child in her womb. She is the Patron of mothers, physicians, and pre born children.

Challenge:  Can you pray with her in these words: “Jesus…I come to you to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will…”

Feast Day: April 28

JPIISister Elisa received Blessed (soon to be Saint) John Paul, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla became  the 264th Pope in October 1978, and the first non-Italian pope in 400 years. One of his key teachings, the series of addresses on ‘The Theology of the Body’ continue to touch the lives of young people today. He was also an ardent defender of Human Life, and challenged the world to adopt a climate of forgiveness.

Patron of World Youth Day

Challenge: Do not try to advance in wisdom outside of faith. Blessed John Paul exhorts you to consider: “Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which he soars to the truth.”  – Pope John Paul II

Feast Day: October 22

TofAvilaSister Teresa Celine received Saint Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelites and considered the foundress of the Discalced. She was known as a woman of deep prayer, discipline and compassion. Her famous works ‘the Way of Perfection’ and ‘The Interior Castle’ still inspire many. She is the Patron of headache sufferers. 

Challenge:  When you feel you are weighed down with difficulty, take to heart Saint Teresa’s encouraging prayer:  “Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value.”

Feast Day: October 15

JohnXXIIISister Linda received Blessed (Soon to be Saint) John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, becoming the 261st pope on October 28, 1958. He opened the 2nd Vatican Council in 1962. He is the Patron Saint of Papal Delegates.

Challenge:  Blessed John XXIII would encourage you to prioritize your life, and keep focused on the important things:  “What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness.” 

Feast Day:  October 11

Our Sisters in Albuquerque, NM:

ClairvauxSister Kay received Saint Bernard of Clarivaux, French Abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order. He is the Patron of candlemakers, beekeepers, and wax workers. That might seem like a strange Patron! I think Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI can help us from his Easter homily in 2012: “…the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.” Therefore, let us ask St. Bernard to help us to lead a life so to emit the radiance of Christ.

Challenge:  St. Bernard would ask himself, “Why have I come here? and then remind himself of his main duty – lead a holy life.

Feast Day: August 20

JohnofCrossSister Connie received Saint John of the Cross, Co-Reformer of the Discalced Carmelites, and was known to be a great spiritual director. From the midst of his greatest experiences of suffering we have today the Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ. He is the Patron Saint of mystics. 

Challenge: St. John of the Cross will tell you: “What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom — your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won’t find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you.”

Feast Day: December 14

DamienSister Rosetta received Saint Damien of Molokai, a priest of the Sacred Heart Fathers. He gave his life serving the lepers of Molokai, Hawaii. He is considered a “Martyr of Charity”. He is the Patron of those who suffer from Leprosy and HIV/AIDS.

Challenge:  What do you seek after? What is your goal? Saint Damien would challenge you saying, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”

Feast Day: May 10

JohnXXIIISister Natalia also received Blessed John XXIII (to be Canonized April 17 with JPII). Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli became the 261st Pope on October 28, 1958. He opened the 2nd Vatican Council in 1962.  He is the Patron Saint of Papal Delegates.

Challenge:  He would tell you, “What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness.”

Feast Day: October 11

MollaSister Josephine also received Saint Gianna Berretta Molla, married with children, a doctor, and known to offer her life if it came to a choice between herself and the child in her womb. She is the Patron of mothers, physicians, and pre born children.

Challenge:  Can you pray with her in these words: “Jesus…I come to you to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will…”

Feast Day: April 28

CajetanSister Elizabeth received Saint Cajetan, Founder of the Theatines, and was known for his concern for the corruption of priests, and for the sick in hospitals. He is the Patron of the Unemployed.

Challenge:  Consider our disposition to receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: “Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament so that you may use him as you judge best, but give yourself to him and let him receive you in this Sacrament, so that he himself, God your saviour, may do to you and through you whatever he wills.”

Feast Day: August 7

TofAvilaSister Josie also received Saint Teresa of Avila, who in establishing her new foundations was constantly on the move.

This is an appropriate saint for Sr Josie, as she travels the four corners of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to care for the spiritual needs of the incarcerated. May she have the untiring fire of God’s love burning in her like St Teresa!

Feast Day: October 15

AlphonsusSister Felicity received Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists and known as a good confessor. He is the Patron Saint against arthritis, scrupulosity, confessors, vocations, and final perseverance.

Challenge:  At a young age, Saint Alphonsus vowed never to waste a moment of his life. In this challenge, he invites us to make the best of every opportunity we have to please God.

Feast Day: August 1

FrancisSister Cristina received Saint Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Franciscan Order. He rejected his wealth in order to live the Gospel. He received the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side. He is the Patron Saint of animals, merchants, and protector of the Canossians (Our Foundress, Saint Magdalene considered him her Spiritual Father).

Challenge:  No matter how hopeless things seem, carry Christ’s light to others. He said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

Feast Day: October 4

BakhitaSister Antoinette received Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian Sister, and the first African woman to be Canonized. She was born in Sudan, kidnapped as a young girl and sold into slavery. She was brought to Italy where she learned of Jesus, was baptized and became a Canossian Sister. She is recently featured in a the film, From Slave to Saint which captures her virtue very well. She is the Patron Saint against Human Trafficking, and of Sudan.

Challenge:  When you face opposition, or are maligned for your faith, take the words of Saint Bakhita to heart: “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know him. What a great grace it is to know God!”

Feast Day: February 8

LutgardisSister Marisa received Saint Lutgardis (What?!?), a young woman with a fondness for worldly things, who was sent to the convent of the Benedictines when she was twelve  because her father blew her dowry on a bad business deal. Around the age of eighteen she receives a vision of Christ showing his wounds. Her heart melts and her desire and vocation was firmly planted in that encounter. She entered with the Benedictines and later transferred to the Cistercians because she desired a more austere religious life. She is the Patron Saint of the blind, disabled, physically challenged, and childbirth.

Challenge:  Saint Lutgardis teaches us to seek a perfect union with God: “Our openness to God working in our lives, no matter who we are, is the first step down the road of perfect union with Him.”

Feast Day: June 16

FernandaSister Marilu received Blessed Fernanda Riva, a Canossian Sister sent as a Missionary to India when still a novice. She was known as the “Missionary of Joy” and was very good with helping the Youth to know and love God. She is a good intercessor for the needs of those who work with youth, teachers, and for those battling depression (because of her ever-present joy).

Challenge: Keep in mind the people in your life who look to you for an example and guidance, and imagine them giving testimony of you one day in these words: “Our gracious Mother Fernanda loved us very much and we looked to her as our guide and strong support…a beacon that guided our way.” B. Anthraper (one of her students).

Date of Death: January 22, 1956 (does not yet have a feast day assigned; that will happen when she is eventually beatified).

Mary UndoerSister Lupita received Mary, Undoer of Knots! Those who have been following our new Pontiff Francis would know this is one of his favorite devotions. Some background: artist Johann Melchior Georg Schmittdner painted Mary Undoer of Knots in late 1600’s. Since 1700, his painting has been venerated in the Church of St. Peter in Perlack, Augsburg, Germany (it was here that Pope Francis was introduced to the devotion and took the devotion back to Argentina with him). It was originally inspired by a meditation of Saint Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon and martyred in 202) based on the parallel made by Saint Paul between Adam and Christ. Saint Irenaeus, in turn, made a comparison between Eve and Mary, saying:“Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it”. She is a good Patron Saint for those who find themselves in impossible situations that seem to have no way to unravel themselves.

Challenge:  How much trust do we place in the intercession of Mary to her Son Jesus? Let us meditate on the grace the world received through Mary (Christ), and how her willing participation ‘undid’ the slavery of sin we received through Eve. “For what the virgin had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith.” – St. Irenaeus

Feast Day: September 28

JPIISister Betty also received Blessed (soon to be Saint) John Paul (featured above). His writings and speeches continue to instruct and inspire the Church in its constant call to fidelity to its past and an eye to the future. Reading his first encyclical, the Redeemer of Man, sets the tone for his whole pontificate to the dignity of the human person.

Challenge: Read the prayer of his feast day on October 22:

O God, who are rich in mercy 
and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second 
should preside as Pope over your universal Church, 
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, 
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, 
the sole Redeemer of mankind. 
Who lives and reigns.

MarthaLastly, I received Saint Martha (the sister of Mary and Lazarus) who busied herself with the pots and pans when Jesus stayed with them. She knew the love of Jesus, and showed her strong faith in her dialogue with Jesus following Lazarus’ death. She is the Patron Saint of cooks and servants.

Challenge: think about the care with which Martha served Jesus, and consider how we serve the less fortunate. Dorothy Day would relate this image to us: “Do you think that Martha thought that old and chipped dish was good enough for her guest? It is a privilege to help Christ.” 

Feast Day: July 29

Well, I do feel challenged by all of these wonderful saints! What about you? Do you have a Patron Saint for 2014? Who chose you?

RELATED POSTS:

Elizabeth Scalia tells of her three Patrons for this year.

There are a lot of good Saints mentioned in the comments of my post on letting Saints pick you.

If you haven’t received a Patron Saint yet, Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint Generator is available to help you find one.

A New Year – A Saint Companion 2014

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As we approach another new year, people naturally start looking at what they can do to better themselves. Here are the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions people have planned for this year:

resolutions10. More Family Time
9.  Fall in Love
8.  Help Others
7.  Quit Smoking
6.  Learn Something Exciting
5.  Stay Fit and Healthy
4.  Enjoy Life to the Fullest
3.  Spend Less, Save More
2.  Get Organized
1.  Lose Weight

(Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology)

Some of these are usual suspects in annual resolutions. But I thought number 6 was pretty neat – Learn Something Exciting. And I think I am going to adopt that one for myself! 

But I also wanted to share with you and annual tradition in our Canossian communities that might fit as a Category 6, Category 4 and Category 8 events for you:  

Make this year a great one by journeying with a Saint!

It’s a great opportunity to be inspired by someone who found the sweet spot between living life and growing toward holiness at the same time. You always have that saint accompanying you in your prayer and daily routine. The Church has so many examples to choose from … the question is, then, how do we pick one?

1.  A spiritual director told me once, “We don’t choose Saints; they choose us.” If this is the case, we should begin praying, asking our unknown saint to reveal him/herself to us.

2.  Keep your eyes and ears open. Saints can adopt us throughout the year (this past year I received St. Francis of Assisi on New Years, and St Raphael the Archangel during my annual retreat. Saint Padre Pio kept interrupting my life off and on throughout the year as well). Maybe the holy card you were given was put in your path because that saint wants to help you. Or that book you received on a particular saint ended up in  your hands because that saint wants to accompany you. Or maybe a particular quotation or passage from a saint kept turning up in your email or reading. Maybe you came across a saint you didn’t know well, and found yourself captivated by a particular virtue. These are all good reasons that maybe your patron saint is right under your nose, just waiting for you to welcome him/her into your life in 2014.

What? No saint has shown up? Then think about a vice or bad habit you have that you want to overcome. Look up a Saint that struggled with that particular vice, or is known to be effective in helping in that area:

Explosive temper? Saint Louis de Montfort.
Addiction? Saint Maximillian Kolbe (because he was injected with a drug that ended his life)
Suffer Anxiety and/or Mental Issues?  St Dymphna
Cussing/Swearing?  Saint Bernadine of Siena (he abhorred bad language)
Loneliness? Saint Rita of Cascia
Troubled Teenager?  Saint Dominic Savio
Alcoholism?  Venerable Matt Talbot
Work with Youth?  Venerable Fernanda Riva

And these are just a few.

Still stumped for a Saint?  You can use Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint Generator that will randomly assign you a saint. It’s also a fun way to get to know some new Saints.

If you are looking for a more personalized saint-search, check out Marianne’s “I Want to Be a Saint Too 2014” Blog

3. Next, make a prayer card (or buy one) of your particular Saint, or print out a prayer from the internet. Put it in your prayerbook or Bible, somewhere you will see it everyday.

Find a book on your Saint, and read it. Get to know the Saint as an intimate friend. His or her life might have the key to unlock your troubles and set you free.

4. Leave a message in the comments below letting us know what Saint chose you. It might not make sense at first, but you will find through the year, if you ‘hang out’ with your Saint, you will find graces unfold!

In our Canossian family many of our communities continue the tradition of being given a patron saint. On New Year’s Day, we will each draw by lot our Patron Saint for 2014. I’ve written about this practice before, and we have had some awesome saints!

I can’t wait to find out which saint chooses me this year. What about you? Who chose you?

RELATED POSTS:

Elizabeth Scalia:  “O My 3 Patron Saints, Teach Me What You Know!”

What Saints did the Canossian Sisters receive?

What kind of Resolutions do Saints Make?

And here is another way to get a Saint, Micah Murphy’s Draw a Saint!

On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Celebrate the Craziness of Life

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Today we recount the story of Herod, a man who had no problem with killing others because he perceived them a threat to his throne. He put to death his own children for this reason, and we hear today from the Gospel of Luke he ordered the death of a whole town’s population of boys under the age of two:

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.  (Matthew 2:13-18)

Yes, there was much lamenting that night in Bethlehem. The loss of the life of an innocent child is a heartbreak to the parents. Yet, as a society, are we failing to protect them? Particularly those in the womb? We allow a mother to end the life of her own child on demand, and the number of children who are no more is approaching 57 million in the United States since 1973; and 40 million in the world this year alone.

On this day we commemorate the Holy Innocents who lost their lives at the whim of one man who saw a threat to his reign in the fulfillment of foretold prophecy of the Messiah (Jesus Christ). In a way, we are still killing the innocent because they are a perceived threat to our freedom; seen as a burden; we feel we are not prepared to nurture them; … the list goes on.

So, what are we to do? Let us begin by praying for the end of abortion, and if you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #PraytoEndAbortion. Let us remind each other that life is to be celebrated in its very messiness; and that in doing so, we will find joy.

Here is a great video that shows the pretty real messiness of being young parents, and what it means to embrace the craziness new life can bring. Enjoy.

May the Holy Innocents assist us to bring about an end to abortion, and embrace a culture of life. Amen.

Christmas Mass with Pope Francis

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“25 December. The twenty-second day of the lunar month. Innumerable ages having passed since the creation of the world…The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.”

PapaFrancis

So are the beginning and ending words of the proclamation of the birth of the Savior at Midnight Mass. The words speak of the long waiting for the Savior from the beginning of time, culminating with the birth of Jesus. Christmas is here! What better way to celebrate with the Universal Church than to watch Midnight Mass unfold with Pope Francis at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Here is this year’s schedule of how to participate:r’s Basilica in Rome.

Step 1:  Download the Booklet for the Holy Mass of the Night here.

Step 2:  Choose where to watch (if you can’t be in Rome).

EWTN will be broadcasting with English translation at the following times:
12/24 at 3:30 PM ET; and 12/25 at 8:00 AM ET, and 7:00 PM ET

If you prefer to watch it without translation, and just follow with your Booklet, you can watch live from Rome, 3:30 PM ET (9:30 PM Rome Time), right here below:

Let us unite with one another in prayer for Pope Francis, and for all those he challenges us to reach out to, especially the most poor.

Blessed Christmas Everyone! Buon Natale a Tutti!
May the Child Jesus fill your hearts with His Love and Joy!

Urbi et Orbi

The Pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” message to the world will be given from Saint Peter’s Square on Christmas Day at 12pm Rome time (6.00 am ET / 3.00 am PT), and will be live-streamed above in the video window, via Centro Televisivo Vaticano.

Or, if you wish to watch with English translation, EWTN will broadcast on Christmas Day at 6:00 AM ET, 10:00 PM ET; and again
12/27 at 2:00 PM ET;
12/28 at 6:00 PM ET;
12/31 at 9:30 PM ET.

 

Make Haste for the Things of God

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As the Holy Season of Advent winds down, I’ve been pondering the role of Saint Joseph in the life of Jesus. After reading a post today from Father Jason Vidrine (A classmate of mine from the Angelicum), I asked if I might share his homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent. He states so well what has been on my mind in the last few days, that I thought it would be good for you to read too. Enjoy!

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, all four candles of the wreath are lit…the feast of Our Lord Jesus’ birth – Christmas – is very near! The Church began to pray her annual Christmas novena on Tuesday of this past week…each day the great “O” antiphons were sung – the cry of the nations throughout the Old Covenant: O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dayspring, O King of the Nations, O Emmanuel…come and set us free! And in these Scriptures on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear how those long-awaited hopes were finally fulfilled, which we’ll celebrate again in two days!

So hopefully by now, nearly all the gifts are wrapped. The Christmas cards are mostly sent and received. Some family members and cousins have arrived. The students’ break from school has begun. The children are looking up the chimney or toward the sky, waiting for the big arrival. With the children, we’re all filled with anticipation.

Could there anything more exciting in our world than children waiting for Santa Claus? While there may not be many…there is one: a pregnant woman waiting for her little love to be born.  The Gospel today shows us a central one! We hear that St. Joseph, not yet understanding God’s plan – finds his wife pregnant even though they had no marital relations – and prepares to send her away quietly. The Angel Gabriel comes to him saying:“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21)The Blessed Virgin Mary is overflowing with anticipation…with expectation ever since the Angel Gabriel departed from her. She knew that the baby in her womb would change not only their lives…but the world and all of human history too. St. Joseph is invited to see and embrace this great mystery.

St. Matthew tells us: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Mt 1:24). Here we see St. Joseph fulfilling the mission God gives him. How? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity…even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time he was betrothed to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the husband of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; during the drama of the flight into Egypt and at the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his work to Jesus. Always present…always faithful…always doing God’s will with haste.

As we gather on the cusp of Christmas, perhaps there’s a final preparation we can make for it…maybe spending a few moments thinking about the great Gift God has given us… and focus on the gratitude we owe Him. The great gift of Christmas, of course, is the gift of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his third book on the life of Christ published last year, “Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives” Pope Benedict prayerfully considers the stories about Jesus’ birth. He considers these questions: “Is what I read true? Does it concern me? If so, how?”

Pope Benedict notes how St. Joseph does what the Angel of the Lord commanded him (as we hear today) with haste. Of course, Our Lady goes to her relative Elizabeth’s home with haste…and the shepherds also made haste when they heard about Jesus’ birth. So he asks: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste – so the evangelist is discreetly telling us – then it is the things of God.”  A good thought for us today.

Here Pope Benedict put his finger on one of the biggest problems of our modern world. We’re busy – even frantically busy – but when it comes to God and the “things of God”, we tend to be lazy and slothful. Right now…right before Christmas, we’re busy about manythings, but do we stop and ask, “What is Christmas, anyway?”

There’s nothing wrong with Christmas shopping and preparing family gatherings in themselves. Those things are good and they require a lot of work and sacrifice. They are very important in terms of building and strengthening the family. But in light of the Gospel, Pope Benedict’s question becomes so important: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned?” There’s lots of anticipation and excitement…but for what exactly?

I think the letters of children are very revealing here. Last year, the Catholic News Agency reported about a Christmas letter to Baby Jesus written by Pope Benedict in 1934 when he was 7 years old; it had been recently discovered during a renovation of a house he used to live in. This is what the letter said: “Dear Baby Jesus, come quickly down to earth.You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy. I would like a Volks-Schott, green clothing for Mass and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger.”

At this time, newspapers often publish children’s Christmas letters as the Gazette did today. They write to Santa asking for all kinds of things…from a baby doll, tea set, bike, basket ball, Halo man, X box, 4-wheeler, I-Pad, scooter, fire truck, ferret, I-Pad mini, to a monkey, trampoline, gun, dog, computer, clothes, etc.

Writing

But notice the great difference there is between these letters! One is to Jesus…the others to Santa. One asks for joy, clothes to play Mass, and the heart of Jesus…the others for every sort of material thing you can think of. (Don’t get me wrong…I’m not condemning Santa or material things for Christmas!) But I think the difference is much more than simply a “different time”. Once again, I think we can put our finger on one of the biggest struggles of our modern world: not only are we busy about everything but God and the “things of God”…but our very excitement, anticipation, and desires are based on something radically different…Again, “What is Christmas, anyway?”

What were Pope Benedict’s Christmas requests as a child? The first thing he asked Jesus for was joy. It’s one of the themes he returned to again and again his homilies and writings as Pope. Joy is like God Himself…difficult for us to describe. We can understand it more by what it’s not. Joy is the opposite of misery, sadness, grief, sorrow…the literal state of depression and despair that fills the hearts of so many folks in our world today…even though they have everything they want and more! “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us!” (Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB). That’s what little Joey Ratzinger wanted.

The second request for Christmas Pope Benedict had as a 7 year old was a Schott…one of the first prayer books for Mass for children – with the German next to the Latin texts. The little Joseph also asked for “green clothing for Mass.” The Pope and his brothers used to play Mass and their mom, who was a seamstress, would make clothes similar to Mass vestments for them to use. What this shows us was the devotion of their family. The worship of God was a central part of their lives. Even as a young boy, Pope Benedict knew that God is present and that we truly encounter Him here in the Sacred Liturgy.

Finally, Pope Benedict as a boy asked for a heart of Jesus. He was referring to an image of the Sacred Heart, which his family had a great devotion to. But he didn’t just want an image…he also wanted a heart that loved…that could be loved and could give love. (By 1934, the rise of Hitler was in full swing, and surely his hatred and evil was well known.)

Why do I point out this great difference in these Christmas letters of children? Because again, I think the difference is much more than simply one of a “different time”. Christmas brings great excitement, anticipation, haste…but about what?? For what??

As we gather on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, let us ponder the question of the 86-year-old Joseph…now Pope Emeritus spending his last days in quiet and prayer for us: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste – as the Gospel writer is discreetly telling us – then it is the things of God.” Let us follow the example of St. Joseph. He does the will of God with haste. Let us draw near to him and the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking their prayers for us that this Christmas we might experience a grace: regarding God and the things of God, we might overcome all sloth and laziness…that we might make haste and open our hearts to encounter the only One who can and does give us true life: the newborn King, Jesus Christ the Lord (John 10:10). Amen.

Original Post here.

Fr. Jason Vidrine

 Rev. Fr. Jason Vidrine was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in November 2013. He was ordained Deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on October 6, 2005 and then as a Priest for the Diocese of Lafayette, LA, on July 8, 2006. Fr. Vidrine is a native of Ville Platte and entered the seminary after graduating from Bayou Chicot High School, completing a B.A. in Arts and Philosophy from St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, LA in 2002. Following college seminary, he was sent to Rome for theological formation at the Pontifical North American College and earned an S.T.B. and M.A. in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Fr. Vidrine’s previous assignments have been as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center on the campus of UL and Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Scott, as well as, most recently, as Pastor of St. Peter Church and Principal of St. Peter School in Gueydan, LA. He also currently serves as a professor of Mariology for the Aquinas Institute of Theology in the Diocese of Lafayette, the spiritual director of Our Lady of Grace Comitium of the Legion of Mary in the Diocese of Lafayette, and assistant Diocesan Master of Ceremonies.

We Cannot Look the Other Way

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“We cannot look the other way,” Pope Francis said in a video message supporting One Human Family, Food for All, a global campaign led by Caritas Internationalis:

We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion – one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone.” – Pope Francis

We are challenged today to take part in a ‘wave of prayer’ to end the scandal of hunger in our modern world. What can we do?

  • Tweet the Video with the hashtag #Food4All;
  • Be aware of your own food choices, and before throwing food away, consider that the poor do not have even the bare necessities;
  • Take a few moments today at noon to pray, and ask the Lord what you can do to help this global problem at the local level;
  • Make a donation to Catholic Charities (Caritas).

Prayer for today:

O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all creation so that we might care for the earth and be nourished with its bounty.

You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us your Law of Love. Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family.

HAITIANS PREPARE FISH TO BE SOLD ON STREET

Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food – even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.

We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family.

Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world’s citizens, to find just, and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.

Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgment, we can proclaim ourselves as “One Human Family” with “Food for All”.

AMEN

Dear daughter, you’re beautiful, regardless of what the media tells you

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Sr_Lisa:

Early one morning I made my way to the Parish to meet with our 8th grade girls’ Bible study group. Sixteen of our students from Annunciation School were there, not in their school uniforms, but dressed in their personal best. It was picture day. My last words to the girls as they gathered up their things to go to class, “Remember girls, your real beauty lies inside of you. Let it shine through!”

beautiful shiphrah jpeg

How many of our girls today need to hear this message that they are more than what society sells them? The Church teaches all is made by “the author of beauty” (CCC 2500, Wisdom 13:3). Yet because of sin that good is often distorted, seeking something not created by God, but is of human origin.

Matt Walsh does an excellent job unpacking this theme, addressing his post to his very young daughter. It is a message we all should compose to the girls in our lives that we love and have concern for. I share his post here, hoping it will reach the ears of all the lovely girls and young women I know (you know who you are!). Let us take to heart the words of Saint Paul to the Philippians (4:8):

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Archbishop Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles spoke about the falsification of human beings, and the distorted image society creates in an address delivered August 1, 2013 in Napa:

“What’s going on is that we are living in a culture of extreme individualism. And people
believe they have the ability to “create” and “re-create” themselves, through science and
psychology, especially in the areas of their sexuality.

They don’t see their lives as a gift from God, but as a kind of “raw material” which they
can modify and re-fashion according to their own desires and their own sense of
meaning and purposes.”

(Read the whole discourse here). [hat tip: Mirror of Justice Blog]

Originally posted on The Matt Walsh Blog:

Dear daughter,

You’re far too young to be aware of this, but, in the last few days, many people have watched a video of a model being “altered” by photoshop. It shows her artificial transformation from real and attractive to fraudulent and malformed — or, as they call it in the fashion world, “sexy.”

See, nowadays we use computers to “improve” images of real women, which is quite appropriate. After all, computers are manmade creations, just as our modern conception of “beauty” is a manmade creation. Modern “beauty” — or whatever you want to call it — certainly isn’t natural, and it most assuredly doesn’t come from God. It’s manufactured. It’s a product. True beauty, on the other hand, is art. It’s full of life. It’s unique and dynamic and vibrant.

It’s real. It’s you.

Hollywood and the fashion industry have concocted a “beauty” that is separate and apart from…

View original 1,151 more words

A Request for Prayer

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Every six years, the Canossian Sisters convoke a “General Chapter”, a formal body comprised of our Sisters from all around the world. The Sisters nominated, will meet this coming spring in Rome. Prior to that, each of our 19 provinces is conducting their own Chapters through which they feed issues for discernment into the preparation for the General Chapter. The Sisters of the North American province of Cristo Rey will be meeting from November 11-19, during which we will review our journey and plot the course for the next six years. We will also elect from among us a Chapter Sister who will represent the Province in Rome at the General Chapter in the spring.

All is done with the words of our Mother Foundress Saint Magdalene of Canossa in mind: “see to it that the spirit of the Institute is handed down in all its entirety and perfection to those who come into it after you.”

It is a time of intense prayer and discernment. Will you join us?

Icone St JosephI invite you to join us in prayer as we continue our preparation, using this beautiful prayer to Saint Joseph:

O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. Amen

O Saint Joseph, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. O Saint Joseph, pray for me.

[I ask for the success of the Provincial Chapter of the Canossian Sisters of North America (November 11-19, 2013), may the Sisters be open to the Holy Spirit and have courage to speak the truth, for the good of the whole Institute and for the poor they serve.]

Saint Joseph, Pray for us!

Saint Magdalene of Canossa, Pray for us!

Saint Josephine Bakhita, our Universal Sister, Pray for us!

Venerable Fernanda Riva, Pray for us!

Saint Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!

Saint Cajetan, Pray for us!

 

Related Posts:

All the Saints Pray for Us

Patron Saints

Seven Sundays Remembering St Joseph

Video

Miserere: A Way Back to God

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Miserere, by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), is a setting of Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 is the best known of the seven penitential Psalms (the others being Psalms 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, 143). It is prayed at morning prayer every Friday of the year. 

What does it mean to be penitent? To show sorrow or regret for wrongdoing. Similar to the prodigal son returning to his father, so too, one with a penitent heart turns back to God. This Friday, take a moment to reconcile with God, and find Him ready to stretch out His loving arms to welcome you!

Take a moment and pray along!

Prodigal Son Rembrandt

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. *
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt *
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offenses truly I know them; *
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; *
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence *
and be without reproach when you judge.
O see, in guilt I was born, *
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart; *
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean; *
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, *
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face *
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God, *
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, *
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; *
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways *
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper, *
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips *
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight, *
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. *
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favor to Zion: *
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, *
holocausts offered on your altar.

Get Clean (Value of Confession)

Beware of Jealousy

Examine of Conscience

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