Pope Benedict Chooses a Road Less Travelled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Robert Frost’s famous poem was instrumental in the shaping of my early adulthood. It seemed to me a mystical thing to stand at a crossroad and look down each fork as far as one could see, deciding which of the two to choose. This image is the one I looked to in carving out my own religious calling.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

I could have chosen a great number of things, and as I whittled through my choices, I found a wanting to follow the Lord. The first steps down that path seemed well worn by the many who had gone before me. Yet it seemed more edgy and rough compared to the path of my friends; an uncertainty hung there that frightened me and yet compelled me to look at it more closely.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

The evening I entered the Canossian Sisters, I recall how new everything seemed. A new page was indeed beginning as I learned how to live in a community of women of different cultures (my first community comprised of one Filipino, one Chinese, One Mexican-American, three Mexicans and myself of deep California-American roots). Just as Frost hints at the starting down that un-trodden path, my stepping the threshold of the Postulant house left me changed.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There is one mistake I made in my own estimation of this first step. I thought the hardest part of my journey was the decision to enter. What I have learned – what should have been obvious – is the first turn off the beaten path was only the first of many choices; the journey only begins with that first step where the undergrowth is thickest.

God woos each of us, His beloved, slowly and gently pulling us by the hand at our own pace to wade ever deeper into His love. My journey to follow Christ more deeply into the abyss of His love has so far to go. Thankfully, God is patient to present the invitation to each of us to enter the Portal of His love in our life of prayer, Sacramental life, and community.

As we watch Pope Benedict in the final hours of his Pontificate, he is preparing for the plunge into God’s love.  He has heard the Lord call Him even more into quiet, to become less so that God can be more; to a place where God can become everything.  This is difficult for even religious to understand, and we must understand this from the perspective of our cloistered brothers and sisters who live their lives as a hidden sacrifice of praise to God and prayer for the world. Mother Maria Angelica explains:

“When he lives this monastic lifestyle, his prayers will reach those who maybe were unbelievers during his papacy,” said Mother Maria Angelica, of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria del Rosario. “I’m absolutely sure of this, of the value of his prayer and of his silence. And it will reach the whole world, even where it wasn’t previously able to reach. . . .  [Even unbelievers] will feel the effects of [a cloistered person’s] prayer.”

benedictatprayerIt is a very generous act.

One where Pope Benedict’s impact on the world is just beginning.

And that will make all the difference.

Please read The Anchoress’ take on Pope Benedict’s call to that which is essential in the life of the Baptized.

 

 

 

God’s Miracles Begin with an Act of Faith

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9:18-26, we find two examples where Jesus performed miracles following two small acts of faith.

The first, an official’s daughter had died. Yet, he kneels before Jesus seeking a miracle. “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

The second, a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the tassel on his cloak, saying to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”

In both cases, Jesus assisted them, raising to life the official’s daughter and healing the woman of her long-term illness.

What can we learn about prayer in these two examples, and how can we put it into practice? Both of these in need, sought out Jesus (first step of prayer). Both of them had a petition, one spoken audibly, the other in her heart. Both of them acted, expecting results. Their words show their confidence:

The father: “…she will live.”

The woman: “…I shall be cured.”

Does our prayer follow the same pattern? There are no conditionals in their prayer. They demonstrate a boldness; a confidence that God will act in their favor. This is faith.

Today, let us practice in our prayer such bold confidence. Trusting that God knows what we need before we ask, yet how much He longs for us to come to Him with our whole heart, trusting in Him to act on our behalf.

An Act of Faith

O my God,
I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins,
and that he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths
that the holy Catholic Church teaches,
because you have revealed them,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Amen.

Abandonment to God’s Providence

My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal. Amen.

–  Saint Josemaria Escriva

La Madonna Nera

In honor of Our Lady of Czestochova – the Black Madonna, her feast day is celebrated today:

In Italy, she is referred to with reverence as La Madonna Nera (the Black Madonna), and there is a song that has been floating around in my head all day. I’ve embedded it below for your listening pleasure.

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Feast Day: August 26I’ve translated the words of the song:

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There is a land most silent

where everyone wants to return to,

to a land and a sweet face

upon which lies two signs of violence;

an intense gaze full of compassion

that asks you to entrust

your life and your world into her hands.

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Madonna, Black Madonna, how sweet it is to be your child!

Oh, let it be, Black Madonna, that I may live close to you!

She is calm and reassuring, she frees you from evil because she always has a great heart for each of her children.

She enlightens your journey if you offer a bit of love, if every day you would speak this way of her. (Madonna…)

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This world falling into darkness, what could it offer to all people? Only the face of a Mother could give a peace that is real.

We are seeking in your gaze to find that smile of the Lord that awakens a bit of good deep in the heart. (Madonna…)

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With our world – as the song says – falling into darkness, what can it offer to us? Yet, God gave us His mother at the foot of the cross (John 19:27) in the words, “Ecce Mater Tua”. That is, “Here is your Mother”. We have recourse to her with our worries and concerns for our family and our world, and being the mother of the Lord, she certainly shares our concerns with her Son, interceding to Jesus on our behalf.
Mary, Madonna of Czestochova, Pray for us.