Saturday, April 30, 2011

Union with God

As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday tomorrow, the following quote from the Diary of St. M. Faustina Kowalska, is both timely and speaks of her union with God -- that same union we all strive for in our lives...

Nothing disturbs my union with the Lord, neither conversation with others nor any duties; even if I am to go about settling very important matters, this does not disturb me.  My spirit is with God, and my interior being is filled with God, so I do not look for Him outside myself.  He, the Lord, penetrates my soul just as a ray from the sun penetrates clear glass.  When I was enclosed in my mother's womb, I was not so closesly united with her as I am with my God.  There, it was an unawareness; but here, it is the fullness of reality and the consciousness of union. 

Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul
by St. M. Faustina Kowalska
Notebook II, No. 883

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Proclamation - The Exsultet

The Easter Proclamation -- or the Exsultet -- which is sung at the Easter Vigil, is a powerful meditation and worth re-visiting today.  We pray you find it as full of meaning as we do...

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God
to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."
The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Regina caeli

English translation:
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

During the Easter season, we sing the Regina caeli as the Marian hymn at the conclusion of Compline.  This wonderful text proclaims both the Resurrection of Christ and the privilege Mary enjoyed of being the mother of the Savior.  Let us pray it together:
Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare. alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Today's Gospel (Luke 24:13-34) relates the tale of two of Jesus' disciples traveling to Emmaus.  One cannot help but wonder if they were getting out of Jerusalem due to fear of what might happen to them -- after all Jesus had just been put to death and the Sabbath prevented travel the day before.  They were "getting out of Dodge" while they could.

One even wonders why they even engaged in conversation with a stranger along the way, especially one who was ignorant of what had just taken place.  Fortunately for us, Luke recounts that famous "walk and talk" of Jesus and those two disciples. 

Can you imagine what it would have been like:  Jesus walking along with the two carefully interpreting the scriptures beginning with Moses all those verses that referred to him.  No wonder their hearts were burning!  And as soon as they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread they literally "flew" back to Jerusalem -- a journey that initially had taken most of the day.

Today, spend some time with Jesus on that journey to Emmaus and listen as He speaks to your heart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Easter Hymn

This Easter hymn is taken from the Roman-French Missal of the Middle Ages, was a favorite with the people of those days and provides us with a wonderful reflection on the Resurrection:

Now shines through the wold the bright fair day,
whereon are triumphantly told the splendid combats of Christ.

He gloriously conquered the haughty enemy,
and routed his most wicked hosts.

Unhappy sine of Eve, whereby we were all deprived of life!
Happy the fruit of Mary, whereon we are all now feed together!

Blessed the noble Queen, the mother of the King,
who robbed hell of its prey, and now reigns in heaven above.

O eternal King!
Graciously receive the hymns we devoutly sing to Thee.
Thou sittest on the right hand of the Father.

Universal Conqueror!
Thou didst vanquis death, and enter into the joys of heaven.

O mercy of Christ!
How great, how sublime, how beautiful, how sweet,
how tender art Thou!

Praise, honor and power
be to Thee that didst lighten our heavy weight of old!

Purchased by the Blood of the infinitely merciful Lamb,
the Church gltters with the ruby flowers of her redemption.

He who by his mighty power washed away our sins,
loads us with precious gifts.

Bewildered in my admiration of this day's wonders,
I am unworthy to proclaim its great mysteries.

Son of David!  Child of the tribe of Judah!
Thou dids rise in glory, a lion in strength.

Thou wast seen on earth as a gentle lamb,
It was Thou that in the beginning didst create the world.

Thou hast asceded to the kingdom above:
And there Thou mercifully rewardest the just
with the rewards of everlasting joy.

Say, Satan, thou wicked spirit,
what now hath they craft profited thee?

The victory of Christ has bound thee fast
in fetters of fire.

O ye tribes and nations, be astounded!
Who hat heard of miracles like these?

That death should so conquer death?
That crimanals should receive favor like unto this?

Therefore, O Jesus, our merciful King!
Forgive us our sins, loosen our fetters.

Grant that they elect may rise with Thee to heavenly glory,
and to their just merits give recompense.

From The Liturgical Year,
Paschal Time - Book I

(Fourth Edition)
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, Maryland, 1949)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Act of Consecration

Lord Jesus,
I give You my hands to do Your work;
I give You my feet to go Your way;
I give You my eyes to see as You do;
I give You my tongue to speak Your words;
I give You my mind that You may think in me;
I give You my spirit that You may pray in me;
Above all, I give You my heart
That You may love, in me, Your Father and all mandkind;
I give You my whole life that You may grow in me,
So that it may be You, Lord Jesus,
Who works and loves and prays in me.  Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Victimae Paschali Laudes

The following is the English text of the Latin Easter Sequence.  This wonderful poetic text recalls the events of that first Easter morning as found in the Gospels.  It is a great source to mediate upon today as we celebrate our Lord's Resurrection:

Christians, tothe Paschal Victim
Offer you thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended inthat combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring,
"The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
To Galilee he goes before you."
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday Meditation

The following Preface, taken from the Ambrosian missal, provides a worthy reflection for this evening’s Vigil service.  It is one of the finest pieces of this venerable liturgy, and is the blessing of the Paschal candle.  The mystery of this great night is here treated with an eloquence and poetry worthy of the subject.

Truly it is meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should here and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God!  Thou hast consecrated the Pasch, unto which thou invitest all mankind, not only by the gore and fat of sheep, but by the Blood and Flesh of thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:  that thus the rite of an ungrateful people being abolished, grace should succeed the law, and the sins of the whole world be expiated by one Victim, offered up once, and by himself , to they Majesty.

This is the Lamb that was prefigured on tablets of stone.  He was not taken from the flock, but was brought from heaven.  He needed not a shepherd, but was himself the one Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, and again assumed it, that his divine condescension might show us how to be humble, and his body’s Resurrection teach us to hope.   No plaintive voice came from him when under his shearer, but thus spake he the prophecy of his Gospel:  ‘Hereafter, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Majesty.’  May he, O almighty Father, reconcile us with thee, and, by the majesty wherewith he is coequal with thee, may he be merciful unto us.

For those things which happened in figure to our fathers, have become realities to us.  Lo now shineth that pillar of fire, which on that blessed night, went before the people of God, leading to waters that saved them:  for in them was the persecutor drowned, and from the same came liberated the people of Christ.  Conceived in the stream made fruitful by the Holy Ghost, man, that was born of Adam unto death, is regenerated by Christ unto life.  Let us, therefore, bid farewell to the fast we have been voluntarily keeping, for Christ, our Pasch, is slain.  Let us not only feast on the Flesh of the Lamb, but let us also be inebriated with his blood.  Yes, let us also eat the Unleavened, for not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word of God.  For Christ is the Bread that came down from heaven, more excellent far than manna of old which fell in abundant showers and of which the Israelites, who then were, ate, yet died.  Whereas he that eats of this Body, is made a possessor of everlasting life.

Lo the old things have passed away:  all things are made new.  The knife of the Mosaic circumcision has become blunted, and the cruel sharp stone of Jesus has gone out of use:  but the people of Christ is signed on the forehead, and not secretly; by a Baptism, not by a wound; by chrism, not by blood.

Rightly, therefore, during this night – when we are the Resurrection of the Lord our Savior – do we burn a rich waxen torch, whose properties are fair whiteness, sweet fragrance and bright light:  which flows not down as it melts, nor sends forth an offensive smell as it burns.  For what could be more appropriate, what more festive, than that we should keep watch for the Flower of Jesse with torches that are the juice of flowers?  The more so as Wisdom thus sang in her own praise:  ‘I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valley.’  Wax is not the sweat that oozes from a burnt pin, nor the tear that trickles from the cedar when wounded with many blows of the axe:  it is a mysterious virginal production; and one that is transfigured into the whiteness of snow.  Its fount-like melted stream feeds the (wick of) papyrus, which, as a guileless soul, stands, with its unbent, unjointed oneness, surrounded by the virginal substances, and becomes, by the flame, the stream’s much-cherished guest.

Therefore doth it behoove the Church to await, with sweet lights, the coming of the Spouse, and with all possible devotion, to weigh the holy gift she has received.  Holy vigils, such as this, should have no fellowship with darkness.  We should be wise, and make the light of our lamp be unceasing; lest, while we are preparing to trim it with oil, our Lord should come, and we be too late to do him homage, for we are assured that he will come in the twinkling of the eye, as a flash of light.

Therefore, this day’s evening is rich in the fullness of the most august mysteries, which, though prefigured or accomplished at various times, are all brought before us during the course of this night.  For firstly, we have this evening torch, which leads the way, as did the star that guided the Magi.  Then follows the font of spiritual regeneration, as it were the river of Jordan, in which our Lord vouchsafed to be baptized.  Thirdly, we have the priest’s apostolic words announcing the Resurrection of Christ.  Then to complete the mysteries, the faithful flock feeds on the flesh of Christ.  Being sanctified by the prayer and merits of thy high priest and pontiff Ambrose, and being prospered in all things by Christ, may this flock enjoy the day of our Lord’s Resurrection.

From The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, Maryland, 1949)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Meditation

The following is a Preface from the Gothic missal of Spain.  It will assist us in our devotion towards the mysteries we have been celebrating:

It is meet and just, that we should give thanks to thee,
O holy Lord, almighty Father,
and to Jesus Christ they Son.
We have been fostered by his Humanity,
exalted by his humility,
set free by his betrayal,
redeemed by his punishment,
saved by his cross,
cleansed by his Blood,
fed by his Flesh. 
He, on this day, delivered himself for us;
and loosed the bonds of our sin. 
He showed to his faithful people
the riches of his goodness and humility,
by deigning to wash the feet of his very betrayer,
whose hand he already perceived
to be engaged in his wicked deed.
But what wonder that he,
on the eve of his voluntary death,
when about to do the work of a servant,
should take off his garments,
who, being in the form of God,
had emptied himself?
What wonder that he should put water
into a basin to wash the feet of his disciples,
who shed his Blood upon the earth
to cleanse away the defilements of sinners? 
What wonder that with the towel,
wherewith he was girt,
he should wipe the feet he had washed,
who, with the Flesh wherewith he had clothed himself,
had strengthened the feet of them
that were to preach his Gospel? 
Before girding himself with the towel,
he took off the garments that he wore;
but, when he took the form of a servant,
and emptied himself,
he laid not aside what he had,
but assumed what he had not. 
When he was crucified,
he was stripped of his garments,
and when dead,
was wrapped in linen:
and his whole Passion
was a purification of them that believe. 
When, therefore,
he was on the eve of his sufferings,
he prepared for them by benefits,
given not only to them for whom he was about to suffer death,
but even to him who was about to betray him unto death. 
Such, indeed, is the importance of humility to man,
that the very majesty of God taught it him by his own example.
Proud man would have been for ever lost,
had not the humble God found him: 
and this,
he that had been ruined by pride of the seducer,
was saved by the humility of the most loving Redeemer,
to whom deservedly all the Angels and Archangels
cry out daily without ceasing, saying with one voice:
Holy!  Holy!  Holy!

From The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, Maryland, 1949)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Holy Thursday Meditation

These stanzas from a hymn of the Greek liturgy are a wonderful source for meditation on today’s liturgy:

On this day, Judas leaves his Master,
   and takes the devil for his guide. 
The love of money blinds him. 
He fell from the light, he became darkened: 
   for how could he be said to see,
who sold the Light for thirty pieces of silver? 
But to us he that suffered for the world has risen:
   let us thus cry out unto him: 
Glory be to thee, who didst endure they Passion,
   and had compassion on mankind.

What was it, O Judas!
   that led thee to betray Jesus?
Had he cut thee off from the number of the apostles?
Had he deprived thee of the gift of healing the sick?
When he supped with his apostles
   did he drive thee from table?
When he washed their feet,
   did he pass they by?
And yet thou was unmindful of these great favors!
They ungrateful plot has branded thee with infamy:
   but his incomparable patience and great mercy
   are everywhere praised.

Say, O ye unjust ones!
   what is it ye have heard from our Savior?
Did he not expound unto you the Law and the Prophets?
Why therefore, have you plotted
   how to deliver up to Pilate the Word that is from God,
   and that came to redeem our souls?

They that had enjoyed thy unceasing gifts cried out:
‘Let him be crucified!’
These murderers of such as were innocent,
   sought thee, that they might treat thee,
   their benefactor, as an evil-doer.
But thou, O Christ!
   didst bear their wickedness with silence;
   for thou, being the lover of mankind,
   didst desire to suffer for and save us.

We are prevented from speaking by the multitude of our sins:
   do thou, O Virgin Mother of God!
   pray for us to him that was born of thee,
   for the Mother’s prayer avails much with the mercy of the Lord,
Despise not, O most pure Virgin!
   the prayers of sinners,
   for he that refused not even to suffer for us,
   is merciful, and is able to save us.

from The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, MD, 1949

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hope Opens the Future

The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced.
(Isaiah 50:7)

A man with hope does not get tangled up with concerns for how his wishes will be fulfilled.  So, too, his prayer is not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it.  His is not a question of having a wish come true but of expressing an unlimited faith in the giver of all good things.  You wish that... but you hope for...  For the prayer of hope, it is essential that there are no guarantees asked, no conditions posed, and no proofs demanded, only that you expect everything from the other without binding him in any way.  Hope is based on the premise that the other gives only what is good.  Hope includes an openness by which you wait for the other to make his loving promise come true, even though you never know when, where or how this might happen.

Lord, teach me this Holy Week to live in and learn from your attitude of patient suffering.

From Renewed for Life, Daily Lenten Meditations
from the works of Henri J. M. Nouwen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Holy Week Meditation

From a hymn of the Greek Church on the Passion of our Lord

The life-giving wound of thy side, O Jesus!
like the fountain that sprang from Eden,
waters the spiritual garden of thy Church.
Thence, divinding itself into the four Gospels,
as into so many master-streams,
it freshens the world, gladdens creation,
and teaches all nations to bow down in faith,
and venerate thy kingdom.

Thou wast crucified for me,
that thou mightest be to me
as a fountain pouring out forgiveness upon me.
Thou wast wounded in thy side,
that thou mightest open to me the sources of life.
Thou wast nailed to the cross,
that I, confessing the greatness of thy power
in the depth of they Passion,
might sing to thee, O Christ,
thou giver of life:
Glory be to thy cross and Passion, O Savior!

Thou, O Christ, didst, on thy cross,
tear the hand-writing that was against us.
Thou wast numbered among the dead,
and there didst bind down the tyrant,
and, by Thy Resurrection,
didst set us all free from the chains of death.
It is thy Resurrection that has given us light, O God,
thou lover of mankind!
To thee do we sing:
Remember us, also,
O Savior, in thy kingdom!

To thee, most merciful Lord,
we bring thy Mother,
that she may intercede for us,
she that conceived thee and was a Virgin,
she that gave thee birth and was a spotless Virgin.
May her prayers obtain from thee
the unceasing pardon of sin
to all that cry out to thee:
Remember us, also, O Lord,
in thy kingdom.

From The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, Maryland, 1949)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Litany of Spiritual Confidence

Lord, I can do all that You ask of me because it is You who strengthen me.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, whenever I fall you delight in my confidence to trust You all the more.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, let me look to You and not to myself to find what is neede to please You.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, when I am overcome by fear it is because my peace depends on some thing instead of on your will.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, fee me from my hidden attachments to self-righteousness.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, let me always remember that it is You who move me to ask for your love.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, help me to see that the meaning of my faults is to learn to depend on You more and more.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, give me the strength to cry out for your love when all that I see is nothingness in myself.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, save me from the impulse to look for my peace and security in my own strength.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, the more you let me see what I am left to myself, the more You give me the grace to cling to You.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, to be happy, I need nothing but what You provide for me at every moment.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, the more I live in the love You give me in this moment, the more perfectly I am able to suffer whatever comes my way.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, when I come to You at those times when I am overwhelmed by my own misery, I glorify You the most.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, it is in being receptive to You in the knowledge of my own weakness that I derive all my strength.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, let me always remember that You want me to let You make me perfect by your love.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Lord, the measure of my union with You is my faith in the power of your love to purify me and make me worthy of You.
     Lord, keep me close to You.

Composed by Father Peter John Cameron, OP

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Reflection for Palm Sunday

From the hymn In Dominica Palmarum

Lo! the God that sitteth, in the highest heavens,
upon the Cherubim, and looketh down on lowly things,
cometh in glory and power, all creatures are full of his divine praise.
Peace upon Israel, and salvation to the Gentiles!

The souls of the just cried out with joy:
Now is prepared a new Covenant for the world,
and mankind is renewed by the sprinkling of the divine Blood!

The people fell upon their knees,
and, rejoicing with the disciples,
sang, with palms in their hands:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Praiseworthy and blessed art thou,
O Lord God of our fathers!

The simple-hearted people, yea, and little children,
(the fittest to adore God)
praised him as King of Israel and of the angels:
Praiseworthy and blessed art thou,
O Lord God of our fathers!

O Sion! there came to thee Christ, thy King,
seated on a young colt:
for he came that he might loose mankind
from the senseless error of idolatry,
and time the wild passions of all nations;
that thus they might praise thee, singing:
Bless the Lord, all ye his works,
and extol him above all for ever!

Christ thy Lord has reigned for ever.
He, as it is written, the meed one,
the Savior, our just Redeemer,
came riding on an ass's colt,
that he might destry the pride of his enemies,
who would not sing these words:
Bless the Lord, all ye his works,
and extol him above all for ever!

The unjust and obstinate Sanhedrim,
the usurpers of the holy temple, are put to flight;
for they had made God's house of prayer a den of thieves,
and shut their hearts against the Redeemer,
to whom we cry:
Bless the Lord, all ye his works,
and extol him above all for ever!

God is our Lord,
he hath appeared unto us.
Appoint a solemn feast, and come,
let us rejoice and magnify the Christ, praising him,
with palms and branches in our hands:
Blessed is he that cometh i nthe name of the Lord our Savior!

Why, O ye Gentiles, have ye raged?
Why, O ye scribes and priests, have ye devised vain things, saying:
Who is this, unto whom children,
with palms and branches in their hands,
cry aloud and praise:
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord our Savior?

Why, O ye perverse of heart,
have ye thrown stumbling-blocks in the way?
Your feet are awift to shed the Blood of the Lord.
But he will rise again,
that he may save all that cry to him:
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord our Savior!

from The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, MD, 1949

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Cross of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary

This sequence taken from the Horae of the sixth century, sweetly blends together the homages we owe to the Cross of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary:

We that, by the fruit of the forbidden tree,
lost our life, now seek the tree of life.
He alone hath found this tree,
who sees the branch whereon is fixed the fruit.
Our faith tells us, that the fruit, that gives us life,
hand on Mary's breast.
And on the cross, between two theives,
though here he is pierced with five wounds.
The Virgin-Mother, and the saving cross,
both are mystic trees;
The cross, humble as the hyssop;
Mary, noble as the cedar:
both are trees of life.
Placed between the two, I know not to which to turn.
O sweet perplexity!
O sweet comparison!
Here my Jesus lies, fondled in his Mother's arms,
a weeping litle Babe;
There, with his arms stretched out, calling all to his embrace.
Here, 'tis a burden sweet to a Mother's love;
There, 'tis Love itself, too ardent to be hid.
Here, leaning on his Mother's heart,
he is fed at her breast;
There, fastened to the tree,
he feeds us from his wounds.
The cross supplies us with the food of its refreshing fruit;
The Mother forestalls the cross,
feeding the very fruit, feeding him for us.
This, then, is my decision:
we cannot have the one without the other.
He that chooses the cross,
must have the Mother;
for he will find the Mother standing at the foot.
He that chooses the Mother,
meets the cross as well,
for it was while standing at the cross,
that the Mother's heart was pierced.
O Jesus!  Crucified Son of a crucified Mother!
look upon us from thy cross.
O living fruit!  O fruit of the tree of life!
refresh us with thyself,
give us the enjoyment of thine own dear self!

From The Liturgical Year,
Passiontide and Holy Week
by Abbot Guéranger OSB
(Translated from the French
by Dom Laurence Shepherd OSB,
The Newman Press,
Westminster, Maryland, 1949)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Prayer in Praise of the Holy Cross of Our Lord

O Cross of Christ, immortal tree
On which our Saviour died,
The world is sheltered by Your arms
That bore the Crucified.
From bitter death and barren wood
The tree of life is made;
And brances bear unfailing fruit
And leaves that never fade.
O faithful Cross, You stand unmoved
While ages run their course:
Foundation of the universe,
Creation's binding force.
Give glory to the risen Christ
and to His Cross give praise,
The sign of God's unfathomed love,
The hope of all our days.

from The Standbrook Abbey Hymnal

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Fourteenth Station, Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

So Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and receive permission to take your body from the cross and together with Nicodemus wrapped it in linen with a mixture of myrrh and aloes and laid it in the tomb and rolled a large stone across the entrance.  Having been at the cross, your own beloved Mother together with Mary Magdalene and John were there as well as the women who came with You from Galilee to witness of your burial.

Now the Apostles hid in fear and could not fathom why it all had happened.  They "knew" what the Messiah was "supposed" to do -- dying on the cross was not at all what they knew -- and they feared for their own lives.

And yet this is only the beginning.  Your mortal life is over -- but the life of your Church has just begun.  The third day would bring the consolation of your Resurrection.  When You sent your Spirit at Pentecost, the fear would be left behind and the Apostles would proclaim your Gospel.  

Lord, give us this same Spirit, so that we too may witness to your Gospel and your love and mercy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Thirteenth Station, Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Your suffering has come to an end, but in many ways it has only begun for your mother, your apostles and disciples and the women who followed You and cared for your needs.  So overcome with grief, they do not remember your words that You would be raised.  Dear Mary, she who carried you for nine months under her heart, now cradles you lifeless body in her arms and knows sorrow and grief in the depths of her heart.

Lord, we too will experience partings:  friends and family who move away and the those who are dear to me who You shall call to yourself.  When we experience these losses, help us to remember those words you spoke to Dismas on the cross and know that we will be with our loved ones again some day.  And may the pain of the parting be bittersweet:  bitter because we miss their physical presence; and eventually somewhat sweet because we have our memories of our times spent together.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Twelfth Station, Jesus Dies on the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

The cross became the place of your final words of teaching:  "Father, forgive them...", "Today you will be with me in Paradise...", "There is your son, there is your mother...", "'My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me...", "I thirst...", "It is consummated...", "Father, into Your hands I commend my Spirit." 

Words that have had such profound impact on all of humanity.  And when You had completed all that was to be done, You bowed your head and delivered over your Spirit. 

Lord, let me silently contemplate the magnitude of your love, your mercy.  As I I contemplate on your words from the cross may I find in them the strength and encouragement You wish to share with me. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Eleventh Station, Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Lord, your sacred body was already ravaged by the scouraging.  And now the soldiers drive the nails into your hands and feet.  The pain with each hammer blow explodes like a bomb of fire in your brain. 

Lord, your love was so great to embrace all this for the sake of us poor sinners.  What have we ever done to deserve your love?  Help us, Lord, to embrace the crosses that are part of our every day life.  Let us accept illness, limitations, losses so as to share in your passion.  Lord, give us the strength and courage to stretch out our hands.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Tenth Station, Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Your body was already screaming with pain from the falls and the crown of thorns pressing into the tender flesh of your head.  Now, the soldiers so cruelly strip your garments from your body.  All the wounds from your scouraging are torn savagely open again and every nerve in your body must cry out in agony.  Yet Scripture records no cry from your lips. 

Lord, just as your garments were stripped from You, help me strip myself of all trival things and all those attachments and affections that prevent me from following You more closely.

Lord, help me to put aside these things and give me a heart full of love for You.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Ninth Station, Jesus Fall the Third Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

This third fall, Lord, shows us the strength of your will over the weakness of your body.  Your love for sinful humanity overcomes your extreme exaustion. 

And it gives us hope.  It shows us that even when we fail in our good desires and fall into sin, that we can turn to your love and mercy and find healing for our hearts and souls.

Lord, help us to know in the depths of our hearts, that You love us and that in your three falls that You show us that rising again is possible.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Eighth Station, Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

These women already mourned and lamented for You and what You were yet to endure.  Scripture doesn't tell us much about them, but it does record your words to them, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.  At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?  (Luke 23:28-32)

It's amazing.  You spoke very few words to Pilate, the one who had "power" to release You or to order your death.  Yet to these women who we know really nothing about, you addressed a longer discourse.

Lord, your compassion for these women is a tremendous challenge to us.  Even when you were nearing the end of your physical strength, You took time and energy to comfort these women in their sorrow. 

Lord, help us to be more like You.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Seventh Station, Jesus Fall the Second Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

The weight of your cross only seems to increase -- and that is even with Simon shouldering a lot of the burden.  Our sinfulness weighs upon You, the sins of all mankind since the beginning of time until You shall return again on the last day. 

I know that some of my sins seem so small and petty, Lord.  I ask myself why if I truly desire to each time I go to confession to start anew and not to fall back into sinful patterns and tendencies that I seem to be asking your pardon for the same sins again and again.

Lord Jesus, only with your grace can I overcome my sinful tendencies and begin to live anew with You.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Sixth Station, Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Veronica doesn't appear in the Gospel accounts, yet according to the "Acta Sanctorum," she was a pious woman of Jerusalem who, moved with pity for Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha, gave him her veil that he might wipe his face.  Jesus accepted her offering and after using it, handed it back to her with the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. 

It's hard to imagine the courage Veronica showed in stepping up to Jesus to offer him some little comfort when everyone else was driving him like an animal.  She's an enigma like Simon.  Who was she really?  A total stranger, or someone who had helped Jesus before with a little food perhaps during a visit to Jerusalem?  Or was she as tradition has suggested the woman Jesus had cured of the hemorage? 

Whoever she was, she offered Jesus what comfort she could.  The question for us is how are we called to be Veronica today?  Is it wiping the tears from someone's eyes, or comforting someone who is anxious or in the hospital, or is it helping wherever suffering exists?  Lord, help us to be more like Veronica and extend comfort and compassion to those whom we meet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Fifth Station, Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Not much is known about Simon, except that he was coming in from the country and was in the right place at the right time for the soldiers to lay hold of him and force him to help Jesus to carry his cross.  I have wondered how he felt at being dragged forward and made to help shoulder this burden.  Did he, too, see Jesus as a criminal?  Or was he an unknown disciple of Jesus'?  Did he ever hear Jesus preach or perform a miracle?  What were his thoughts?

We, too, are called to be Simon by helping those that we encounter in our everyday life.  And it just might be in the small things:  picking up an object from the floor, drying dishes, letting someone go ahead of us in traffic, helping some carry their packages.  When we extend kindness to another we are Simon helping Jesus carry his cross.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Fourth Station, Jesus Meets His Mother

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Simeon had prophesied that a sword would pierce Mary's heart.  It's hard to fathom what all went through her mind as she saw all that You were experiencing in your Passion. 

The look that passed between the two of you as you walked the way to Golgotha must have spoke volumes, sharing each other's pain and both offering a final fiat to the Father's will. 

Lord, I know how difficult it is to see someone I love suffer in any way, or have someone see my sufferings and heartaches.  Help me to always remember that all those work together unto good for those who love You.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Third Station, Jesus Fall the First Time

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Jesus, that You stumbled and fell is no surprise -- in fact, that You had managed to remain on your feet so long is mind boggling.  What You suffered during the agony in the garden, the betray, your arrest and being roughly handled on the way to the high priest's house, the abuse and ridicule You experienced at their hands, being brought before Pilate and Herod, the cruel scurging and crowning with thorns and finally being forced to carry a heavy cross took more strength than any one human being could have endured.  And that You were able to rise and start again on the journey carrying your cross is equally unfathomable.  Yet we must remember that your Divine Nature held so much love for us, that You had the strength to carry on.

So often, the "little things" trip us up:  a headache or fatigue, defects of body, mind or soul, irritations or moods; silly things that get in the way of our pride and cause us to stumble and fall.

Lord, give us wisdom and knowledge so that we remember that You are so much greater than everything else and that with your help, we can overcome those thing that "trip us up" so that we can live in ever greater union with You.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Second Station, Jesus Embraces His Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Lord, You embraced your cross.  You did not shrink from it.  You knew that it was through death on this piece of wood that would redeem fallen man.

How many times, Lord, do I run from my crosses -- mere tiny fragments -- compared to the one you bore out of love for me.  I know that You help me to carry my crosses today, yet in a small way, my crosses freely embraced helped You to carry your cross to Calvary.

Lord, give me a generous spirit, so that I may learn to love my crosses and to bear them patiently, willing as a sacrificial gift to You.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Holy Father's Intentions for April

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat München

April's Intentions:

Evangelizing the New Generation:  That through its compelling preaching of the Gospel, the Church may give young people new reasons for life and hope.

Missionary Expansion:  That by proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of their lives, missionaries may bring Christ to those who do not yet know him.

For more information about the Apostlship of Prayer, visit:

The First Station, Jesus Is Condemned to Death

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise You!
Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world!

Pilate is weak, and he gives in to the demands of the crowd.  He washes his hands -- literally -- and passes the blame for the death of Jesus onto the people.

Yet, aren't we like Pilate at times?  We lack the courage to stand up for our convictions or to stop gossiping.  We're too civilized to condemn someone to death, but we're not above tarnishing someone's reputation (i.e., you know they say...). 

Lord, help us to see You in everyone we encounter.  Help us to be more like you and less like Pilate.  Lord, give us the grace and the courage to begin anew today.