30 March 2009

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Gospel, John 8:1-11

In today’s Gospel at Mass is the familiar story of the scribes and Pharisees bringing a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery.

The scribes and Pharisees are likely more interested in catching Jesus off-guard, attempting to make Him appear to be an enemy of the Mosaic Law, more than they are interested in punishing the woman. In fact, they are quick to point out to Jesus that in the law Moses commanded such women to be stoned.

After they state their case, what follows is a question in which they hope will entrap Jesus: “So what do You say?”

Saint John tells us that “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His Finger.” No one knows what He wrote but there is an interesting verse in Jeremiah which states: “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be confounded; they that depart from You shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13). If Jesus was doing exactly that, no one knows for certain; but there is perhaps another message from Jesus in the act of writing with His Finger. The Scriptures tell us that the stone tablets given to Moses were “written with the Finger of God” (cf. Exodus 31:18).

Thus in the mystery of Christ, the scribes and Pharisees are grilling the One Who conceived the Law, the One Who wrote the Law. What follows next are our Lord’s words: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus bent down again and continued writing on the ground as the accusers departed one by one.

What happened here? Why did they all leave? Was it what Jesus wrote on the ground? Was it His words? Was there some sort of mysterious, unspoken divine communication triggered by Christ’s Finger, the Finger of God? Or was it a combination of all three? Something made these men realize that along with this woman, they too were breakers of the law.

Perhaps there is also a message about repentance in this Gospel text. The woman who was accused did not depart from Jesus. She stayed with Him as if to wait on His verdict. But what she received was not His judgment, but His mercy. He dismissed her with the words: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

When we go to the Sacrament of Penance there has to be the resolve to sin no more. There’s a choice before us as Catholics, go to Confession and receive our Lord’s mercy; or don’t go and hope for His mercy instead of His judgment.

In today’s Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, Saint John Fisher tells us that our Lord’s Sacrifice is eternal. Thus, it can be applied in a moment of time even before the Sacrifice occurred in a moment of time. Such is the case in today’s Gospel. The sacrificial Blood of Jesus washes away the sins of the woman caught in adultery.

But, as Saint John Fisher writes: “A share in this holy, eternal Sacrifice is given to all who have undertaken true contrition and penance for their sins, who have made a definite resolve not to repeat their faults for the future but to persevere steadfastly in the pursuit of virtue.”

We cannot depart from Jesus like the scribes and Pharisees did in today’s Gospel. We must approach Him to receive His mercy -- approach Him in the Sacrament of Penance.

28 March 2009

Dominica Quinta Quadragesimæ - Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are coming, says the Lord” immediately turns the heart and mind towards prophecy. The Finger of God points us to the future. A new covenant is being made with God’s people which is unlike the covenant made in the days of the Exodus from Egypt. The ways of the Almighty will be placed within the hearts of His people. This intimates the Sacrament of Baptism.

In Baptism, one becomes a child of God and the soul becomes His temple where He can reside and write His law on the heart of the baptized. Friends, relatives and those who have the gifts to teach the faith are used as God’s instruments; therefore, when this Reading suggests that no longer will individuals be needed to teach, the understanding is that they are used as instruments of God but the faith and conversion experience is the sole work of the Holy Spirit. Remember that even the great Saint Paul needed the intercession of Ananias; and Philip was used as God’s instrument for the eunuch.

The Lord remembering our sin no more points to the Sacrament of Baptism as Baptism washes away original sin. It also points to the Sacrament of Confession which absolves the sins which follow after one has been baptized.

Hebrews 5:7-9

What the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is trying to portray about Jesus in the flesh is the time when God humbled Himself and willingly took on a mortal and suffering condition. Offering “prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One Who is able to save… from death” are actions of mortal man. And the understanding of mortal man that God saves from death delineates man’s dependency on Him.

Jesus taught us through His suffering, that human nature can and should surrender to the divine will. Every prayer which Jesus made that was heard by man, was heard for reverential regard. That is, Jesus was heard in order that we might grasp reverential fear, respectful submission and piety. Thus Jesus, was perfected as man by possessing all the virtues, and because He is also true God, became the Source of our salvation.

John 12:20-33

Saint John’s Gospel more so than the three remaining Gospels is mystical. When reading his Gospel, one has to read it in the light of how it applies to the heart, soul, and inner life of man.

All Christians serious about their spiritual life collectively groan within the same words spoken to Philip: “We would like to see Jesus.” The spiritual life is a lifelong search for the Face of Jesus. In Jesus Christ, Almighty God has been given a human Face.

For us today, in the element of time, “the hour has” already “come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” But for the interior man, the battle of good versus evil wages within us and it is a lifelong struggle to work for the greater glory of the Indwelling of the Son of Man. In an ideal situation, the behavior: actions, thoughts and deeds for every Christian should radiate the God within us. But we are a fallen nature, and while it may never be our intention to stray from God, the reality is that we do.

There’s a twofold meaning for the grain of wheat example given by Jesus. First, it was the death of our Lord that produced much fruit – fruit that would never have ripened if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross. Saint Augustine was very clear about this as being one interpretation. We would still be sentenced to eternal death if not for the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Thus the death of Christ brought forth the fruit of faith.

Second, Jesus tells us that we must hate our life in this world. That sounds very harsh. But Jesus is calling us to walk in His Footsteps through good works including works of mercy for His sake heading towards the perfect act of charity, offering our lives for our brothers and sisters. For most of us this will not mean a literal sacrifice of natural life, but it could. Generally, this is about serving Jesus by serving our brothers and sisters. We do this mostly by not seeking our own desires but learning from the example of Jesus and His service to His brethren.

We see a little of the struggle of the interior life in Jesus the Man by the words: “I am troubled now.” Our Savior, because He had a human nature, was no stranger to the battle within. But it is through His divine nature that He was able to win this battle and say: “Father, glorify Your Name.” What that teaches us is that we cannot win these battles without divine intervention. So often we try to, though. If this weren’t true, stress would never be a silent killer.

Unfortunately we can’t snap our fingers and make it all happen. Laying down our lives at this level and entrusting the war within to Jesus requires deep, intense prayer. This will lead to a closer, intimate union with our Lord. Love for Him will grow and when love grows so does trust. This ultimately glorifies the Lord and benefits our brothers and sisters.

27 March 2009

Our Lady and the Interior Life

Our Holy Father of jubilant memory, Pope John Paul II, wrote in Redemptoris Mater that “in the mystery of Christ she [Mary] is present even before the creation of the world, as the one whom the Father has chosen as Mother of His Son in the Incarnation. And, what is more, together with the Father, the Son has chosen her, entrusting her eternally to the Spirit of holiness. In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ, and similarly she is eternally loved in this beloved Son, this Son Who is One being with the Father, in Whom is concentrated all the glory of grace”.

Twice does the word “eternally” appear in that statement from the Holy Father. God -- Father Son and Holy Spirit sees everything with the Eyes of eternity. This is how Mary is present in God’s Eyes even before we read in Genesis, “Fiat lux” – “Let there be light.” In Genesis “darkness was upon the face of the deep” before God commanded light to appear. The eternal words, “Fiat lux” travels to the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and once again Light appears. This Light will also illuminate the darkness, the darkness that sinful man had sentenced himself to.

“Fiat” or “so be it” intimates self-surrender and trust. The fiat of the creation story, that eternal word, flows from the lips of the Woman in order that our ears may hear, our souls may ponder, and by learning from this Lady’s example, our hearts may keep: “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” – “Be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Eternity’s voice comes to us in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We read in the hour of Matins: “Et qui creavit me, requievit in tabernaculo meo” – “And He Who created me, rested in my tabernacle” (Sirach 24:12). Clearly Mary is present in this verse even though the verse itself was written in a moment of time long before Mary was conceived in time. Her womb is the tabernacle in which her Creator rested and clothed Himself in human flesh. Continuing, we read: “In electis meis mitte radices” – “Take root in My elect” (ibid. 24:13).

Who are God’s elect? The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers these words: “Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, ‘the holy city’ of God, ‘the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The beatific vision, in which God opens Himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion” (CCC 1045). Thus, first and foremost, God’s elect are those who already enjoy the beatific vision. We cannot overlook, however, that everyone is called to this greatness, to eternal blessedness. Our Lady, by means of her Assumption has taken root in God’s elect. We, who desire to wholeheartedly embrace the call to holiness, must allow our Blessed Mother to be a part of our interior life, to take root in our soul.

As long as we remain in a state of grace, the Holy Trinity dwells within us. The eternal God rests in our tabernacle. Mary must be permitted to dwell there also because she is the perfect adorer. She teaches us how to properly adore the God within us. Saint Louis Marie de Montfort wrote is his Secret of Mary that “she leads every soul straight to God and to union with Him.” Sometimes we forget that we share an incomprehensible dignity: Mary is the Mother of Jesus – and our Mother. We share the same Mother with our Redeemer. That thought and reality alone is worth hours of solitude in a desert cave.

Saint Julian Eymard said: “Kind Mother, come with me, for a mother always accompanies her child. Without you, I shall not know what to say to Jesus.” Precisely! No one knows the child like the mother, therefore, no one knows Jesus like Mary. She is the key to a richer interior life. She can help us to grow in communion with Jesus. Saint Julian Eymard adds: “Mary adored with the most submissive faith. She adored her hidden Son, veiled under a strange form. She adored that Heart so inflamed with love, whence issued the Holy Eucharist. Mary's adoration was profound, interior, intimate.” Mary knows that she is the perfect adorer and she would like nothing more than to have her children become perfect adorers.

It was no accident that our Blessed Lady was present on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, Who appeared as tongues of fire, finds Mary irresistible. She is the chaste Spouse of the great Paraclete. Once again, from Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, this time in True Devotion to Mary he writes: “When the Holy Spirit finds His Spouse in a soul, He flies to that soul, to communicate Himself to it, to fill it with His Presence, in proportion as He discovers there the presence and the fullness of His Spouse.”

Mary must be a part of our interior life. Temptation flees from her. She can keep us in a state of grace. Unfortunately, as Saint Louis Marie de Montfort adds: “One of the major reasons why the Holy Spirit does not now work blinding wonders of grace in our souls is that He does not find in us a sufficiently strong union with Mary His indissoluble Spouse.”

In this Season of Lent in which we are called to intense prayer, let us allow Mary to show us the way. Let her show us how to adore her Son, how to attain an intimate union with the Trinity. Our souls in a state of grace are like a garden in Paradise. Let us allow the Mystical Rose to take root there.

25 March 2009



The dictionary defines “annunciation” as: an act or instance of announcing; proclamation. Announcement about what? What is being proclaimed? A virgin shall conceive and bear a son (Isaiah 7:14). The ancient Hebrew text actually translates more to mean “maid” or “young woman” or even “damsel” rather than “virgin”. This, however, should not put a damper on our understanding of Isaiah’s prophetic text because it refers more to a time or period rather than a state in life. But as with most things scriptural, the scholarly arguments continue.

Saint Leo the Great tells us that “lowliness was taken by majesty, weakness by strength, and mortality by eternity” (Epist. 28, ad Flavianum). The announcement, then, what is being proclaimed, is unthinkable, inconceivable. The eternal God will be born – and born of a Virgin. He Who is incapable of suffering will suffer. He Who is incapable of dying will die. The incorruptible God will enter into a fallen world.

Ave, Gratia Plena

Pope John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater: The messenger greets Mary as “full of grace”; he calls her thus as if it were her real name. He does not call her by her proper earthly name: Miryam (=Mary), but by this new name : “full of grace”. What does this name mean? Why does the archangel address the Virgin of Nazareth in this way?

In the language of the bible “grace” means a special gift, which according to the New Testament has its source precisely in the Trinitarian life of God Himself, God Who is Love (cf. 1 John 4:8). The fruit of this love is “the election” of which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks. On the part of God, this election is the eternal desire to save man through a sharing in His own life (cf. 2 Peter 1:4) in Christ: it is salvation through a sharing in supernatural life. The effect of this eternal gift, of this grace of man’s election by God, is like a seed of holiness, or a spring which rises in the soul as a gift from God Himself, Who through grace gives life and holiness to those who are chosen. In this way there is fulfilled, that is to say there comes about, that “blessing” of man “with every spiritual blessing”, that “being His adopted sons and daughters… in Christ”, in Him Who is eternally the “beloved Son” of the Father.

When we read that the messenger addresses Mary as “full of grace”, the Gospel context, which mingles revelations and ancient promises, enables us to understand that among all the “spiritual blessings in Christ” this is a special “blessing”. In the mystery of Christ she is present even “before the creation of the world”, as the one whom the Father “has chosen” as Mother of His Son in the Incarnation. And, what is more, together with the Father, the Son has chosen her, entrusting her eternally to the Spirit of holiness. In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ, and similarly she is eternally loved in this “beloved Son”, this Son Who is One being with the Father, in Whom is concentrated all the “glory of grace”. At the same time, she is and remains perfectly open to this “gift from above” (cf. James 1:17). As the Council teaches, Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently await and receive salvation from him” (Lumen Gentium).

If the greeting and the name “full of grace” say all this, in the context of the angel’s announcement they refer first of all to the election of Mary as Mother of the Son of God. But at the same time the “fullness of grace” indicates all the supernatural munificence from which Mary benefits by being chosen and destined to be the Mother of Christ. If this election is fundamental for the accomplishment of God’s salvific designs for humanity, and if the eternal choice in Christ and the vocation to the dignity of adopted children is the destiny of everyone, then the election of Mary is wholly exceptional and unique. Hence also the singularity and uniqueness of her place in the mystery of Christ.

Behold, You Shall Conceive in Your Womb

We now return to the unthinkable, the inconceivable. Saint Thomas Aquinas writes: “It may perhaps in the first instance of reflection, appear shocking to our ideas, that a God should dwell in a human body; but does not the sun emit its rays into all kinds of places, without any detriment to its purity? How much more would the Sun of Justice, assuming a most pure Body, formed of the purest blood of the spotless Virgin, not only remain free from every the least stain Himself, but even impart additional sanctity to His Virgin Mother.”

How Shall this be Done

Some would like to suggest that our Lady was doubting what the angel Gabriel was saying to her. On this celebration of a Divine Conception, we must conclude that this explanation is misconceived. This is more about the curiosty of a young girl. Saint Augustine explains that Mary is only asking the manner in which this will take place. Being a Virgin, it’s quite logical to ask how one is to be with Child. You can almost see the incredible innocence radiating from Mary in that question. It’s as if she thinks the angel is unaware of her virginity or that perhaps Gabriel is in need of a lesson on human sexuality.

Saint Augustine also adds something very interesting by suggesting that Mary would not have asked this question had she not made a vow to God to live always as a Virgin.

In agreement, Saint Gregory of Nyssa adds: “She did not doubt the truth of what the angel said, but she wished it might not happen to the predjudice of her vowed virginity.”

Be it Done to Me According to Your Word

That beautiful response flows from the mouth of Mary demonstrating her humility of heart and mind and her total trust in God. It’s not very likely that she comprehended all that was about to happen. But that did not outweigh her faith and trust in her Lord. Saint Ambrose writes: “Thus ought the Virgin, who brought forth meekness and humility itself, show forth as an example of the most profound humility.”

23 March 2009

The Mercy Seat

The Lord spoke to Moses: "Speak to Aaron your brother, that he not enter at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat" (Leviticus 16:2).

From Homily IX by Origen:
Once a year the high priest leaves the people and goes into that place where the mercy seat is, and over the mercy seat the cherubim, where the ark of the covenant is kept; where the altar of incense stands which no one is allowed to enter except the high priest alone.

Let me now turn to my true High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. When He was in the flesh He was with the people the whole year, the year of which He Himself said: “He has sent Me to preach good news to the poor, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of forgiveness.” Notice how only once in that year, on the Day of Atonement, He enters the holy of holies, that is, He enters heaven, having accomplish His work, and appears before the Father to make Him look with mercy on the human race, and to intercede for all who believe in Him.

Aware of this atoning Sacrifice by which He makes propitiation for men before the Father, the Apostle John writes: “My little children, I am writing this to you that we may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One, and He is the expiation for our sins.”

Paul similarly recalls this propitiation when he says of Christ: “God put Him forward as an expiation by His Blood, to be received by faith.” Thus the Day of Atonement remains with us until the end of the world.

Holy Scripture says: “And imposing incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat which is upon the testimony, lest he die; and he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat towards the east.”

This taught the ancients how the rite of propitiation was to be carried out which was offered to God on behalf of men. But you have turned to Christ, the true High Priest, Who by means of His Blood obtained God’s mercy for you and reconciled you with the Father. Become acquainted… with the Blood of the Word and listen to Him tell you Himself: “This is My Blood which will be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”

However, do not consider it pointless that the blood is sprinkled towards the east. Your propitiation came from the east. From there came the Man Whose Name is the Dawn, Who became the Mediator between God and man.

This invites you to keep looking to the east where the Sun of Justice rises for you, where light is always dawning for you… that you may always walk in the clear light of knowledge, always having the daylight of faith, and may always obtain the light of charity and peace.

21 March 2009

Dominica Quarta Quadragesimæ - Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

Our Lord had compassion on His people then, and He has compassion on His people now. During Lent the Church guides us in her liturgy to hear that call from God – a call to a more intimate union with Him -- to acknowledge that our fidelity to Him has been less than perfect.

His compassion and mercy are exercised most especially in the Sacrament of Confession. One cannot really return to the Lord wholeheartedly unless one embraces that sacrament.

God has given us great saints from both genders and from all sorts of nations, races, levels of education, body shapes and personalities; but the diversity vanishes when it comes to Confession. The one thing that the saints all had in common was their faithfulness to that sacrament.

We cannot allow ourselves to be influenced or brainwashed by the pictures the enemy tries to paint after the Church has been attacked. As the story begins in this Reading even priests “added infidelity to infidelity”. We all know about the headlining news concerning the infidelity and apparent lack of faithfulness on the part of some Catholic clergymen. When priests falter publicly, then it could very well inflict damage on the faith of the Church’s members. The public sins of the Church’s ordained could leave images that make the Sacrament of Confession appear less credible and make the belief in the Real Presence less believable.

The enemy works on the human intellect making it logical to ask why God would absolve the sins of a penitent through a man whose behavior is far worse than the one confessing sins; or why God would change the substance of bread and wine into His sinless Body and Blood through a man who is not in a state of grace. Rest assured that is not usually the case as most priests are very faithful but surely it has happened.

It’s quite possible that our Lord placed Judas before us to show us that not every priest would be faithful. What we have to remember is that the power of the sacraments is greater than anyone’s sins – greater than everyone’s sins. Jesus instituted them, Jesus works in them and He is stronger than death.

Ephesians 2:4-10

God has given to us His grace, the gift of faith, and the sacraments, which can be considered pledges of our eventual resurrection and eternal life. Each little step we make in the ongoing process of conversion is like a mini-resurrection, one tiny step closer to a new, full life in Christ.

Reflecting on being “dead in our transgressions,” Saint Augustine said: “The time is come, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live.”

Faith is the foundation of all virtues because without faith one cannot please our Lord and Savior. Good works are a result of faith but they are not what save us; it is the grace of God that saves us.

Being God’s “handiwork” does not only refer to our body and soul but also the new creation we’ve become through Jesus Christ. Saint Paul seems to compare our conversion with creation to show that we have been called to this greatness. It is nothing that we did to earn it. Just as we had nothing to do with our own created selves, likewise we had nothing to do with the new creation we’ve become in Christ. We have no bragging rights except only to boast about God.

John 3:14-21

Jesus uses the example of the serpent lifted up in the desert in which whoever looked at it was cured from the bite of serpents. This is a figure of Jesus lifted up on the cross. Because Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” being “lifted up,” and the end result being “eternal life,” we have to understand lifting up to really mean “exalted” showing that the cross is not an instrument of disgrace but of glory. In fact, the Latin Vulgate uses the word exaltari.

Saint John Chrysostom writes: “As the Israelites, bitten by the fiery serpents, were cured by looking upon the brazen serpent, so are Christians cured by looking up with an active faith, replete with love and confidence, on Jesus Christ crucified.”

Jesus is the Son of God not only as the result of the Incarnation. Jesus is God’s Son even before He was sent into the world. He is the Son from the beginning, the Word of God from all eternity.

Creation itself proclaims the glory of God. The light of day exposes everything while the darkness of night makes things more difficult to see. But even in the darkness of night the moon and the stars are radiant enough to remind us of hope. Anyone who is old enough to remember when Confession was always in a booth could probably relate well to our Lord’s explanation of darkness and light. In the Confession booth you were kneeling in darkness, and when the priest slid open the little door so you could confess your sins, you could see that the priest was sitting in a lighted booth. Thus your sins are hidden in that dark booth until you confess them to the priest seated in the lighted booth. After Confession sins are thus exposed to the light; and through absolution the light overcomes the darkness.

20 March 2009

Amor Meus Crucifixus Est

In Amity, Oregon the monastic lifestyle is being lived out according to the Rule of Saint Augustine, a life of prayer and contemplation where silence prevails. They are the Brigittine monks, the Order of the Most Holy Savior. Theirs is the hidden life. As the monks daily give witness to Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, they daily offer prayers for themselves and all of mankind, shedding light upon the whole human race.

The Monastic Horarium

The monks’ day looks like this:
4:45 am Rising
5:05 am Office of Readings, Lauds
6:00 am Solitude
7:45 am Mid-morning Prayer
8:00 am Conventual Mass
8:45 am Conference/Work
12:00 noon Mid-day Prayer
1:oo pm Solitude
3:00 pm Mid-afternoon Prayer
3:30 pm Work
6:00 Evening Prayer
6:30 pm Collation
7:00 pm Recreation
8:00 pm Rosary, Night Prayer

The entire Liturgy of the Hours is sung and the daily Mass is the vertex of their monastic day. Also included in their daily prayer life is the Rosary and lectio divina. Following an ancient Brigittine tradition, like burning incense, prayers continually ascend to the Throne of grace for the souls in purgatory and for the conversion of sinners.

The Contemplative Life

Benedict Williamson, O.Ss.S. writes: “The Order of the Most Holy Savior is contemplative. The monks and nuns are called to be, in a very special way, the lovers of Jesus, and so their life is one of solitude, the most essential characteristic of the contemplative. Lovers want solitude above all things, they want to be alone with their love, and so the contemplative wants to be alone with his Love, too. Contemplation is the soul's beholding, with the eyes of love, Jesus her lover. It is a life of solitude and prayer. Without solitude there is no contemplation.”

Taste and See that the Lord is Sweet

The community is self-supporting through the making of gourmet confections. Among the delicious treats includes:
Chocolate Fudge Royale with or without nuts
Chocolate Amaretto Fudge
Pecan Praline Fudge Royale

And from October 1 to March 31 they also manufacture truffles in a variety of flavors.

19 March 2009

The Silence of Saint Joseph

During an Angelus speech given by Pope Benedict XVI back in December of 2005, our Holy Father spoke on the silence of Saint Joseph by saying: “His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires. In other words, Saint Joseph's silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to His providence. It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from His ‘father’ Joseph that Jesus learned -- at the human level -- that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice, the ‘superior justice’ which He was one day to teach His disciples” (cf. Matthew 5: 20). The Holy Father concluded this Angelus by saying: “Let us allow ourselves to be ‘filled’ with Saint Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's Voice, we are in such deep need of it… let us cultivate inner recollection in order to welcome and cherish Jesus in our own lives.”

In the Apostolic Exhortation titled, “Redemptoris Custos,” Pope John Paul II writes: “The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph ‘did.’ Still, they allow us to discover in his ‘actions’ — shrouded in silence as they are — an aura of deep contemplation. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to Saint Joseph in Western Christianity. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah's coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions — such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family. This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves Him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. Furthermore, in Joseph, the apparent tension between the active and the contemplative life finds an ideal harmony that is only possible for those who possess the perfection of charity. Following Saint Augustine's well-known distinction between the love of the truth (caritas veritatis) and the practical demands of love (necessitas caritatis), we can say that Joseph experienced both love of the truth — that pure contemplative love of the divine Truth which radiated from the humanity of Christ — and the demands of love — that equally pure and selfless love required for his vocation to safeguard and develop the humanity of Jesus, which was inseparably linked to his divinity.”

In Saint Joseph we find the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s words: “He [Jesus] must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). And perhaps Saint Joseph already understood the words our Lord revealed to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Remember that all the beautiful words found in Sacred Scripture from cover to cover, not one of them was spoken by Saint Joseph. And considering all the sufferings in Joseph’s life as told by the Gospels, his silence proclaims more eloquently his trust and faith in God than any words ever could.

14 March 2009

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments are a summation of the natural law. Actually, one could reduce these ten phrases to the two principles of charity as Jesus did: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).

The Author of the Ten Commandments is clear throughout by the title, “Your God.” That title alone intimates that there should be a willingness on our part to entrust our heart and soul to Him.

The Commandment against carving idols can certainly be taken literally but in this day and age carving is perhaps a symbolic word for embracing. God’s intelligent creation has become secularized in today’s world. Money, power, owning the latest and greatest in technology are some examples of the idols we carve today. They are not idols within themselves, but when they become something we can’t part with under any circumstances, we then remove God from the Center of our life and place Him on a shelf or in extreme cases, eliminate Him completely.

The Sabbath does not mean that for one day per week we should focus on God and then push Him aside the other six days. The Sabbath is the day that we worship God with greater fervor, reserving that day for Him – worshipping Him and resting in Him. The apostles authorized Sunday as the Christian Sabbath in order to commemorate the mysteries of our Savior’s Resurrection.

“A long life in the land” is a reward that is temporal in nature but in Christian reflection it points to an eternal reward.

Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, and because of that, the definition of killing is no longer absolute. Defenders of abortion do not believe that it is the killing of humanity’s most innocent and defenseless creatures. But Jesus exposed our real enemy during His forty days in the desert. Our enemy is not the Supreme Court or Catholic, pro-choice politicians. Our enemy is the one who tempted Jesus unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, human beings are not so strong and are capable of succumbing to diabolical schemes. And what better place for him to prowl around than in the human institutions that govern God’s people!

Humanity has gone from one extreme to the other when it comes to adultery. In the ancient world adultery was punishable by death. Today, “what’s the big deal” seems to be the prevailing attitude. We’ve lost that sense of sin. And while it’s fair to say that the enemy’s prey on humanity is at the root of immorality, we, however, are not blameless because the enemy would not be so influential if we had a closer union with our Lord.

But Lent calls us to exactly that! Lent is a time to recognize that the relationship with God must take the highest priority -- always. Our sojourn in the desert could be an unfavorable plight if we choose to walk through it without Jesus.

12 March 2009

Growing in Prayer -- Advancing towards God

The battle of establishing interior peace

Saint Augustine has defined peace as tranquility of order. When our reason and our will are surrendered to God, and our passions to our reason and will, the essential conditions of interior peace are established. Social and moral human maturation is about establishing order. The goal is not the destruction of the passions but their rehabilitation according to a true priority of values. Grace builds on nature… We must cultivate attentiveness, vigilance … that watches at the door of the heart in order to turn away hurtful desires before they can ever enter into the heart. But this is accomplished over a long period of time. It is more efficacious to exorcise the problem by nurturing what is good. We must focus the energy of the passions and direct them towards the good, towards God.

Detachment from the world is necessary

Every religion and every human being who has sought to live their life in all its fullness has discovered the need for a certain separation from the world outside in order to enter within the heart. This is evidently necessary to keep the attention from being distracted by other things while it focuses on the sole object that it wishes to examine more closely. All study requires this, and all prayer presupposes it to a certain degree. Mystical experience is found in all major religions; they are unanimous in saying that such experience requires detachment in regard to every created thing (as such) and the going beyond every representation. God is Wholly Other.

Yielding to silence

The spiritual life and the life of prayer always grow into greater simplicity, and it is important that each person should consciously encourage this tendency by seeking simplicity and purity in life as in prayer. It is always appropriate to yield to moments of silence in prayer, to be silent in order to let God speak if He will. Let each hear the Voice of the Spirit within.

Growing into simplicity and humility

Most of us are not strong enough for God to inundate us with manifest grace. We would become proud and claim it as our own; we would grasp the gifts instead of yielding to the Giver; we would lose the invaluable means of pure faith. The light of grace is so translucent and delicate that its presence in all its purity remains hidden, often unperceived. It is only when it passes through our sensibility that it becomes visible. The mystics consider ecstasy as a weakness of the body that is not yet completely in harmony with the Spirit. There are those in whose life everything is ordinary, simple, humble. But they radiate a certain peace, a certain joy. In such a person we can perceive a soul whose heart is so given to God that this condition is their deepest reality, but so natural that it is not possible to pin it down in discrete acts. It is scarcely conscious of itself.

Becoming empty in silent love

When a mysterious attraction makes it impossible for the soul any longer to be nourished by ordinary means of meditation, it must be quiet, attentive, listening for what the Voice of God says directly to the heart. It is the moment of being an emptiness for God, an attentive silence of love. This is the good emptiness, hollowed out by God, created by love. It is perfectly normal that someone who lives continually in the presence of God, who does His will, who loves and knows he is loved by Him, has an intimate and simple relationship with Him. Such a person doesn’t need lengthy pondering to turn towards God, nor many words to express faith and love. He will speak to the Lord with utter simplicity about his concerns, his wounds, his desires, etc. He will remain quietly in His presence, occasionally in the silence of a simple gaze of love and trust.

~The Way of Silent Love, Conference XI~

09 March 2009

In the World but Not of the World

If… you are unable to abandon everything which the world offers, you must so hold those things that are of this world, that you may not be held by them in the world; that earthly interests may be possessed, not be the possessor. If your mind is bound by the love of earthly things, it may itself rather be possessed by its own possessions.

Let temporal possessions be what you use, eternal things what you desire. Let temporal goods be for use on the way; eternal goods be desired for when you arrive at your goal. Let the eyes of our minds gaze straight ahead of us, while they are focused intently on the goal to which we shall come.

My brethren, we do not take it upon us to say that you should give up everything, but yet, even while holding to all things, you can if you wish, leave them, if you so handle temporal matters as to strive with the whole mind to eternal aims… Have all earthly… things for use and not as objects of… desires… Let there be nothing to hold back the desire of your mind, let not the love of anything in this world entangle you.

If the good is loved, then let the mind delight in better goods, that is, in heavenly. If evil is feared, let eternal evils be put before the mind, so that when it sees there in heaven both a greater abundance of what it loves and of what it fears, it will no longer cling here on earth.

To carry out these things we have a Mediator between God and men, our Helper, through Whom we shall more quickly obtain everything, if we burn with true love for Him, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

~Saint Gregory the Great, Lib. II, Hom. XXXVI~

07 March 2009

Venerable Solanus Casey: Always Grateful to God

Father Solanus Casey was a Capuchin Friar and perhaps redefined simplicity. He had a difficult time with his studies in the seminary as the courses were instructed in German and Latin. He had little to no familiarity with either language. He was, however, ordained a priest in 1904 but with the condition of being a simplex priest, meaning that he would not be permitted to hear confessions or deliver homilies. His daily duties were those that are usually reserved for Brothers, not priests. He spent much of his time as a porter, someone who would sit at the reception desk and greet visitors at the door of the Friary. Beginning in 1924 he spent more than twenty years and at least ten hours per day doing this at Saint Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. His ministry would be one of healing as he listened to the concerns of visitors and with great patience, offer them comfort and reassurance.

His faith was very simple: if our Lord said it, then it’s true. Father Solanus had a childlike trust in God. Our Lord said that He is the Bread of Life. Father Solanus had written a poem for Christmas about the Eucharist and we who receive Him. He titled the poem: “Always Christmas Eve for Daily Communicants.”

Here is the poem:

“With love and with Christmas blessings to all
Comes the Infant once more to free us from sorrow
Whose smile and Whose power and Whose gentleness call
To each heart and each soul for a manger tomorrow.
Whose love and Whose goodness, Whose wonders proclaim
Him, the Son of the Virgin, as promised of yore.
O may He estrange us from sin and its shame
And reign in our hearts as His crib evermore.”

Once on a train bound for Detroit after having been to Seattle for his parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, he arrived at Saint Paul with little time to catch his next train. Father Solanus, always putting God first, had not yet said Mass for the day. He considered this more important than catching a train. Thus he went to a local parish, said Mass, spent time in thanksgiving, and even ate break breakfast at the parish’s rectory. When he finally arrived back at the train station, he was right on time to catch his connecting train because it was delayed and had arrived three hours late. He would later say: “It’s an easy thing for the great God and Governor of the universe to hold any train He might wish me to take.”

The dictionary may not agree but the opposite of complicated is surely Father Solanus Casey. He followed his Community’s Rule. He said Mass, spent time in Adoration. He even considered spiritual reading to be an act of worship. He especially loved, “The Mystical City of God.” Father Solanus wrote, “If we want to profit from our reading about God and His Saints, we must read with reverence, we must appreciate.”

Interesting how most of us make plans and we get annoyed when those plans are interrupted. Father Solanus, however, considered everything to be a source for spiritual growth. There were no obstacles on the journey to his heavenly Father. Since his faith was so simplistic and accepting, more puzzling to him than the German and Latin languages were those who were atheists or agnostics. A faith built so firmly on the rock could not begin to entertain or comprehend the opposite view. Much of Father Solanus’ writings were geared toward this unbelief. One can only imagine how agonizing this must’ve been to the interior life of a man who approached God with such absolute certainty.

Unfortunately, words about his incomprehension of nonbelievers found their way from his pen to the paper much easier than the expression of his own faith. His love for our Lord was so strong and his faith so immoveable that he had trouble expressing it in words. But he was one of the Church’s spiritual greats and did find ways to express that treasure of faith.

Here are two of his written statements:

“To know is to appreciate, to love when the known is good, to adore when divine.”

“What a horizon for sinners, if we but stop and remember that to know God covers everything!”

He had a wonderful devotion to our Blessed Mother. He had a dream when he was young, which would perhaps seem disturbing to most, but he considered it inspired. He dreamt that he was standing over a fiery pit, he looked up and a Rosary dangling, which was coming towards him. He grabbed onto the Rosary and it saved him from the fire. He interpreted the dream to mean that he would always be sustained by his devotion to our Blessed Lady and the Rosary. Father Solanus actually didn’t want to be a Capuchin but he believed that the Virgin Mother of God had spoken to him telling him that this was her desire. And, of course, with his inspiring faith, he could not refuse. In 1950 when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father Solanus wrote that this could “rescue men’s hope in the supernatural and their souls from despair.

Father Solanus thanked God for his weaknesses because weakness increases dependency on God. For him, everything begins with the human heart. Everything that stands in the way of God’s grace must be cleared out. Here are his words: “O Brother dear! Why are we all so stupid? We are all alike in a way. We worry our heads and our hearts about many things like Martha and almost totally undervalue the invitation, most beautiful of all, ‘learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart.’”

Father Solanus received many visitors who came to him for prayers and consultation. There were miraculous healings through his prayers. He also had a heavenly gift in preparing others for bad news. He seemed to know when God would heal someone and when He wouldn’t. In once such instance, someone came to him with a child who appeared to have a cold. Father Solanus knew the child would not be healed and told the father of the child to go to the chapel and tell God He can have her. The child passed away a few days later from an undiagnosed pleurisy.

But Father Solanus was no stranger to physical suffering himself. He had a very painful skin disease which infected his whole body. Nearing the end of his life, as he lay prostrate in a hospital bed for days, while being aided by two nurses, he suddenly lifted himself up and extended his hands and said: “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.” Then his body fell back down into the bed and he was dead.

Perhaps this great man of faith’s advice to all of us can be found in one of his letters: “Shake off the excessive worry and instead exercise a little confidence in God’s merciful providence.”

(Many thanks to the booklet: "Thanks be to God" in preparing this post)

06 March 2009

Saint Teresa de Jesus de los Andes

Born on July 13, 1900 in Santiago de Chile as Juana Fernández Solar; and being raised in a good Catholic family infused in her at an early age a great love for Jesus and His Blessed Mother. She was quite a role model for other children of her age by performing charitable acts, something she learned from her parents. It was a regrettable time in Chile as her country lacked holy priests. She had a desire to be a victim soul for Christ and to make reparation for priests.

Our Lord would allow her to fulfill that desire at the age of nineteen when she entered Carmel and the Discalced Carmelites in Los Andes. There she would make reparation in the hidden life. She did indeed become a victim soul by sacrificing her life in 1920. When she died she was still a novice. Without the slightest bit of spuriousness, she authentically and humbly offered her life to God for priests and for the conversion of sinners.

Shortly before her death she assured her Carmelite community’s Confessor that she would die within a month and asked for his permission to do extraordinary penances. He, however, did not believe her, and told her to keep her community’s Rule.

On April 3, 1987, in his beatification homily of Sister Teresa given in Santiago, Pope John Paul II said that she was “captivated by the Heavenly Kingdom in the springtime of her life.” He continued by saying that “the secret of her life completely directed towards holiness is summarized in familiarity with Christ, as a Friend Who is constantly present, and with the Virgin Mary, a close and loving Mother.” The Holy Father then said that “the secret of her perfection could be none other than love – a great love for Christ, Who fascinates her and moves her to consecrate herself to Him forever, and to participate in the mystery of His Passion and Resurrection.” Also, “she feels a filial love for the Virgin Mary, who draws her to imitate her virtues.”

Among her spiritual writings is the following: “Jesus alone is beautiful; He is my only joy. I call for Him, I cry after Him, I search for Him within my heart. I long for Jesus to grind me interiorly so that I may become a pure host where He can find His rest. I want to be athirst with love so that other souls may possess this love. I would die to creatures and to myself, so that He may live in me. There is love in Him. His passionate love made Him take flesh in order that by seeing a Man-God, we would not be afraid to draw near Him. This passionate love made Him become bread in order to assimilate our nothingness and make it disappear into His infinite Being. This passionate love made Him give His life by dying on the cross.”

There is a mini-series titled, “Sor Teresa de los Andes” which airs from time to time with subtitles on EWTN.

05 March 2009

Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle

You know very well, my brethren, and there are few persons anywhere who deny it, that in the breast of everyone there dwells a feeling or perception, which tells him the difference between right and wrong, and it is the standard by which to measure thoughts and actions. It is called conscience; and even though it be not at all times powerful enough to rule us, still it is distinct and decisive enough to influence our views and form our judgments in the various matters which come before us. It needs good teachers and good examples to keep it up to the mark and line of duty; and the misery is, that these external helps, teachers, and examples are in many instances wanting.

Even in countries called Christian, the natural inward light grows dim, because the Light, which lightens everyone born into the world, is removed out of sight. That inward light, given as it is by God, is powerless to illuminate the horizon, to mark out for us our direction, and to comfort us with the certainty that we are making for our Eternal Home. That light was intended to set up within us a standard of right and of truth.

Sin, so subtle in its approach, so multitudinous in its array, so incessant in its solicitations, so insignificant in its appearance, so odious, so poisonous in its effects. It falls on the soul so gently and imperceptibly; but it gradually breeds wounds and sores, and ends in everlasting death. And as there are men who live in caverns and mines, and never see the face of day, and do their work as best they can by torchlight, so there are multitudes, nay, whole races of men, who, though possessed of eyes by nature, cannot use them duly, because they live in the spiritual pit, in the region of darkness.

Man, a being endued with reason, cannot… live altogether at random; he is obliged in some sense to live on principle, to live by rule, to profess a view of life, to have an aim, to set up a standard, and to take to him such examples as seen to him to fulfill it. His reason does not make him independent; it forces on him a dependency on definite principles and laws, in order to satisfy its own demands. He must, by the necessity of his nature, look up to something; and he creates, if he cannot discover, an object for his veneration. He teaches himself, or is taught by his neighbor, falsehoods, if he is not taught truth from above; he makes to himself idols, if he knows not of the Eternal God and His Saints.

Wealth is one idol of the day, and notoriety is a second. I am not speaking… of what men actually pursue, but of what they look up to, what they revere.

But O what a change, my brethren, when the good Hand of God brings them by some marvelous providence to the pit’s mouth, and then out into the blessed light of day! What a change for them when they first begin to see with the eyes of the soul, with the intuition which grace gives, Jesus, the Sun of Justice; and the heaven of Angels and Archangels in which He dwells; and the bright Morning Star, which is His Blessed Mother; and the continual floods of light falling and striking against the earth, and transformed as they fall, into an infinity of hues, which are His Saints; and the boundless sea, which is image of His divine immensity; and then again the calm, placid Moon by night, which images His Church; and the silent stars, like good and holy men, traveling on in lonely pilgrimage to their eternal rest! Such was the surprise, such the transport, which came upon the favored disciples, whom on one occasion our Lord took up with Him to the mountain’s top. He left the sick world, the tormented, restless multitude, at its foot, and He took them up, and was transfigured before them. How truly was this a glimpse of Heaven! The holy Apostles were introduced into a new range of ideas, into a new sphere of contemplation. Everything on earth, the brightest, the fairest, the noblest, paled and dwindled away, and turned to corruption before them; its most substantial good was vanity, its richest gain was dross, its keenest joy a weariness, and its sin a loathsomeness and abomination.

Very various are the Saints, their very variety is a token of God’s workmanship; but however various, and whatever was their special line of duty, they have been heroes in it; they have attained such noble self-command, they have so crucified the flesh, they have so renounced the world; they are so meek, so gentle, so tender-hearted, so merciful, so sweet, so cheerful, so full of prayer, so diligent, so forgetful of injuries; they have sustained such great and continued pains, they have persevered in such vast labors, they have made such valiant confessions, they have wrought such abundant miracles, they have been blessed with such strange successes, that they have been the means of setting up a standard before us of truth, of magnanimity, of holiness, of love. They are always our standard of right and good; they are raised up to be monuments and lessons, they remind us of God, they introduce us into the unseen world, they teach us what Christ loves, they track out for us the way which leads heavenward. They are to us who see them, what wealth, notoriety, rank and name are to the multitude of men who live in darkness – objects of our veneration and of our homage.

~Excerpted from a homily by Cardinal John Henry Newman~

04 March 2009

Humble and Quiet and Trembling at the Words of God

William of Saint-Thierry, a monk, a mystic and a very close friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux has many writings that are helpful to the spiritual life. Some of the reflections from his “Speculum Fidei” are very useful for the Season of Lent. In writing about the Holy Spirit, William teaches us that the great Paraclete is the answer to how we strengthen our communion with God. And isn’t that what we are encouraged to do in Lent? The Holy Spirit, unfortunately for many, seems to be the most mysterious Person of the Trinity, and thus, doesn’t get the attention He deserves in the spiritual life.

But William writes: “Festina ergo particeps esse Spiritus Sancti” – “Hasten then to be a partaker in the Holy Spirit.” William next assures us that the Holy Spirit is present whenever He is called upon. This is a great assurance – when we call upon the Holy Spirit, He will not fail us. But perhaps even more spiritually arousing is that William writes that when the Holy Spirit comes, He brings with Him “benedictionis Dei” – “the blessings of God.”

Key to our Lenten journey is the effort we make to either establish or strengthen the intimacy with our Lord. This, of course, requires prayer – communal, personal, meditative, contemplative, reflecting on Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, adoration and all the wonderful doors that God opens up to us in order that we may get closer to Him. And with that in mind, William gives us these beautiful words:

(My translation of the Latin)
“And, as soon as He comes, if He finds you humble and quiet and trembling at the words of God, He will rest upon you; and reveal to you what God the Father withdraws from the wise and prudent of this world; and it will begin to dawn upon you that which Wisdom was able to say to the disciples while on earth, but which they were unable to bear, until the Spirit of truth came, Who was to teach them all truth.”

When seeking after these truths, however, one cannot do so with a half-hearted approach. In fact, William tells us it would be vain to expect celestial wisdom to come from any human teacher; for these truths are spoken only from the Lips of Truth Himself. Truth tells us that “God is Spirit” thus “nonnisi in Spiritu Sancto intellectum fidei et puræ ac nudæ illius veritatis sensum expedit quærere” – “it is only in the Holy Spirit that the understanding of the faith and the sense of the pure and plain truth ought to be sought.”

William refers to this life as dark and ignorant; and the Holy Spirit is the Light of the lowly spirit, the Charity which draws us, an affecting Sweetness, man’s Access to God, the Love of the loving, He is Devotion and He is Piety.

02 March 2009

The Sacred Heart and the Divine Office

A Prayer to the Angels through the Heart of Jesus, before the Divine Office

Angels of Heaven, let us praise the Lord together and glorify His Most Holy Name! Help us to recite our Office with attention, reverence, devotion and fervor. Unite with us when we pray, and with your golden censers in your hands, draw near to the altar of our hearts. Take burning coals from the altar of the Divine Heart of Jesus, and cast them into our hearts. Receive in your golden censers the incense of our prayers, and unite to them your prayers and praises. Supply all that is wanting, blot out what is defective, offer our homage to the Lord, and obtain for us the graces we have need of, in order that the good odor of our prayers may ascend like a sweet perfume, borne by your hands to the sublime altar of the Heart of Jesus, to that Heart Which lives in the divine presence. May we enter happily into this Divine Heart, now and at the hour of our death. It is in the Heart of Jesus that we shall find grace and glory. It is through the Heart of Jesus that we can praise and glorify the Most Holy Trinity to all eternity. Amen.

Dom John Michael de Vesly, General of the Carthusian Order from 1594 to 1600

After the Divine Office

Most merciful Father, through the most gentle Heart of Jesus, I, a poor unworthy sinner, offer Thee my prayers and praises. I implore Thy mercy for those who are redeemed by the Blood of Thy Son. Give grace to the just, pardon to sinners, comfort to the afflicted, and eternal rest to the dead. Most merciful God, knowing what I am and what I owe to Thee, I acknowledge that I can do nothing of myself. I therefore offer Thee the works and the sufferings, the sorrows and the tears, the wounds and the humiliations, the Passion and the death, the merits and virtues of Thy only Son. I offer them to Thee in expiation of my sins of commission and of omission, and those of the whole world, and above all to expiate my ingratitude and sloth, which cause me to serve Thee so negligently, notwithstanding the many great benefits I have received from Thee. Through the Blood of Thy Son, cast, I beseech Thee, all our transgressions into the abyss of Thy mercy. Deliver us all from sin. Guide and keep us forever. Amen.

Denys the Carthusian

01 March 2009

Lanspergius on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Carthusians have brought forth a good amount of writings on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of their authors is Johannes Gerecht of Landsberg (1489-1539). He’s sometimes identified as John Justus of Landsberg but perhaps most familiarly by the single name of Lanspergius. He joined the Carthusians at the age of twenty and entered the Charterhouse in Cologne where he would eventually become the novice-master. In the year 1530 he became prior of the Charterhouse of Cantave. Here are some of his reflections.

How to honor the Heart of Jesus

Jesus to the faithful soul: Christian Soul, I will teach thee how to honor My Wounds, particularly that of My Divine Heart which was wounded for love of thee. After My Resurrection, I showed the Wounds of My Hands, My Feet, and My Side to My Apostles, saying to them: See, handle, look at Me carefully. They did so without delay. Imitate them. If thou wouldst touch, in spirit, the Wound of My Side consider with deep gratitude the love of My Heart, which has led Me to choose thee from all eternity to be My child and the inheritor of My Kingdom.

Offer Me this prayer: Lord of infinite mercy, through this Wound of intense love, through this Wound so great that it can contain the earth, the heavens, and all that is therein, I unite my love to Thy Divine love, in order that, in this way and by it, my love may be made perfect, may lose itself in Thine, and be blended with it as two metals liquefied by fire and mixed together form but one. May our two wills become only one, or rather, may mine be wholly united to and always in perfect conformity with Thine. Into the burning furnace of Thy Heart, into this Wound of love, I cast my affections, my inclinations, my thoughts, and my desires, that all that is covered with rust and defilement, all that is imperfect and in disorder, may be destroyed by the flames. Then will my heart, all cleansed and renewed, be wholly consumed in Thee and for Thee.

Behold this Heart which has so much loved men

In order to manifest more clearly His infinite love, Jesus has opened to us His Heart. It is to make us understand that all He has endured for us, He has endured just on account of the love with which His Heart was filled. After showing to us the pains suffered in His Body, Jesus wishes us also to see the love of His most merciful, most faithful, most loving Heart, which inspired Him with the desire and the necessity of suffering for us.

The Wound of the Sacred Heart of Jesus teaches us to pray unceasingly that our hearts may be so pierced with the spear of charity, that tears of compunction and of divine love may be as a river always flowing in our souls.

The Wound of the Side, which is the Wound of the Heart, therefore makes known to us the warm-hearted charity of Jesus Christ, a love which sheds an ineffable radiance over all His actions, all His words, and all His sufferings, filling them with unspeakable sweetness.

What the Heart of Jesus teaches us

The Wound of the Side, that is to say, the Wound of the Heart, teaches us how great is the tender love of Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus is very fervent and very deep. It is poured out on all men, even on those who are ungrateful and are His enemies; and this love has chosen the Wound of the Sacred Heart for its dwelling. No one was able to take away our Lord's life, but love conquered Him and constrained Him to deliver Himself up to death for us. Yet even death could not make His love to cease. Why indeed was His Heart opened with a spear after death, if not to point out to us this love, which determined Him to endure so many pains and such deep suffering for our sake?

When your mind is filled with dangerous thoughts and evil inclinations, when you sigh under the weight of trouble, sadness and affliction, take refuge in the Wounds of Jesus, above all in that which opens to you the door of His Heart. Hide yourself in His Heart, cast yourself into It, cling to It; and the remembrance of so much loving kindness will make you forget your sorrows and your sufferings.

The Water and the Blood

The Sacraments of the Church, especially Baptism and Penance, receive their efficacy from this Blood and Water which gushed out from the Heart of Jesus. Our Divine Master suffered His Side to be opened and His Heart to be pierced as though He would say to us: I have shed the Blood that was in all My members, and now I give the rest, even to the last drop. Having given up My Body to torments and My Soul to death, there is nothing more that I can do, unless it be to open My Heart which has loved you so much, so that you may not only draw near to Me by coming to the Cross, but may also enter, through this Wound, into My Heart.

O my beloved Brothers, let us meditate on the five virtues which our Savior's five Wounds reveal to us, and let us ask for these virtues, which are humility, poverty, obedience, patience, and charity. I might say six virtues, for the Wound of the Heart of Jesus teaches us that, in receiving it, Jesus practiced two virtues. From the other Wounds there came out Blood only, but from the Heart there flowed both Blood and Water. In the Blood I see boundless love, and in the Water the symbol of the purity of Jesus, Who is the Lamb without spot, the reflection of the eternal Light, the splendor and glory of the Father, to Whom be all praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving.