Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our Motive Places the Value of Our Life

The value of our whole life depends on the motive by which we act. 
Now it is certain that the highest motive is that of love. 
Once the soul has given herself out of love,
nothing stays her, neither sufferings, nor difficulties,
nor all that troubles us,
for “where there is love, labor is absent” (St Augustine). 
Try then to give yourself to Christ in this way without reserve,
for good and out of love. 
Then all will go well. 
Your life will be extremely pleasing to God and very meritorious. 

From:  Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction by Blessed Columba Marmion
Selected and Annotated by Dom Raymond Thibaut

Friday, March 30, 2012

Closer Friendship with God

My Child, I have said that the Kingdom of God is within you.  Turn to Me with your whole heart.  Do not think too much of this world, and your soul will find rest in Me.  Do not let this earthly life take all of your attention.  Think often of Me and of My Will in your life.  Then you will become more conscious of My presence in your soul.  I pring you the gifts of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  These gifts are not given to those who pay too much attention to this earthly life.

One who loves Me and lives My truth, is a supernatural person.  By My grace he becomes free from sinful and dangerous desires.  He can freely turn to Me.  He is able to rise above the visible world aroud him and enjoy My friendship. 

As iron, cast into the fire, loses its rust and becomes bright with the flame, so too a man who turns his whole heart to Me, is purified of all sluggishness and changed into a new man.

from My Daily Bread, A Summary of the Spiritual Life
by Anthony J. Paone, SJ

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Striving for Compunction

My child, unless a man tries hard to acquire a holy sorrow for his sins, he is not worthy of My heavenly consolation.  Are you doing your best to acquire this compunction?

THis grace will reach you more easily if you will turn your back, for a while, on your daily distractions.  Come aside more often, to be alone with Me.  Reflect on My gifts and your misuse of them.  Be honest and face the truth.  Reading and reflecting will help you to realize the wickedness of all sins, even smaller ones.  Do not look for new theories and mere curiosities, but stick to solid everyday truth, truth which will improve your daily life.

In solititude and quiet you will discover the hidden treasures of Holy Scripture.  As you become more intimate with Me, your Creator, you will make great progess.  You will find tears to wash and purify your soul.  You will also have a deep interior joy as My holy angels and I draw near to you.  Learn to pray and labor unseen by the eyes of men.

Slowly, as the gift of compunction fills your soul, you will be filled with fresh vigor.  As you become more eager to make up for your sins, you will find hard things becoming easier.

from My Daily Bread, A Summary of the Spiritual Life
by Anthony J. Paone, S.J.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Time for Meditation?

It is never true that we have not time to meditate; the less one thinks of God, the less time there will always be for Him.  The time one has for anything depends on how much we value it.  Thinking determines the uses of time; time does not rule over thinking.  The problem of spirituality is never, then, a question of time; it is a problem of thought.  For it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love.

from God Love You
by Fulton Sheen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Being Joyful in Jesus

While it might sound paradoxical, we are called to find joy especially in Lent.  Why?  Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners.  Get it?  That's you and me!

Lent gives us a special opportunity each year to journey with Jesus in a unique way.  Do you think the apostles and disciples would have been accompanying Jesus if it was only difficulties and hardship?  Of course not!

The same is true today.  Drawing closer in our relationship with Jesus allows us to discover a special joy deep inside that no one can take from us.  We could be behind prison bars and be joyful and free if we have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus.

What's motivating you today?  Is it fear?  Or is it desire to grow in relationship with Jesus?  He loves us passionately -- so much so that He willingly gave us His live so that we might enjoy life with Him forever. 

When we find that joy deep inside, then we are already enjoying a little piece of heaven here on earth.

Monday, March 26, 2012


The passage in St. Luke's Gospel announcing the Birth of Jesus is well known -- and every time we pray the Hail Mary we recall this wondrous event. 

Mary's response is one that we all need to make regarding God's will -- Fiat!  Yes, be it done unto to me!  Mary's fiat made her the mother of God.  What will our fiat mean? 

It may be that our fiat will see us becoming vowed religious.  Or it might make us a dedicated single or married and open to the gift of children that God may have in store for your future.  Regardless of the outcome, the only thing important is being open to God's will -- and following where He leads.

May we have the grace to answer as Mary, "Fiat!  Be it done unto me according to Thy will!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I have glorified it and will glorify it again

Today's Gospel reading from St. John gives us words from the Father:  "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."  What is he glorifying? 

Jesus has just been anointed by Mary in Bethany at a dinner given for him by Martha, Mary and Lazarus and the next day he entered Jerusalem to shouts of "Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  Now there were some Greeks who wanted to see him.  Unlike us, Jesus is not getting a big head.  He had already told his disciples to let Mary alone about the costly perfumed oil she used to anoint him, telling them:  Let her keep this for the day of my burial.  Jesus knows the course is set, and that He must follow it.

He tells them, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  A few verses later, He continues, it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.  It is then that we hear the Father's voice.  Jesus is united intimately with his Father -- and the will of the Father and the will of Jesus are one.

Are our wills united to the will of Jesus?  Today take a little time in prayer to listen for the Lord to speak in your hearts so that you may know his will for you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Abba Macarius, how are we to pray...

When some brothers asked Abba Macarius how to pray, he said, "Prayer does not require a lot of language.  Frequently reach out your hands, saying, 'Lord, have mercy on me.  I trust you.'  If some struggle worries you, simply say, 'Lord, help me.'  God knows what is best for us, and God is merciful."

From By Way of the Desert, 365 Daily Readings
compiled and modernized by Bernard Bangley

Friday, March 23, 2012

Your inmost being must be renewed...

Renovamini autem spiritu mentis vestrae
et induite novum hominem

("Your inmost being must be renewed,
and you must put on the new man")

St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:23-24

In so many different ways, this message comes across in the Holy Word.  It's an ongoing, unending thought.  It's tied to the thought of Newman:  "To live is to change, to change often is to have become perfect."

The renovating power is the Spirit and the fount, for it is Christ Jesus.  He is the source from whom all good flows.  We are to be putting on always that which is good, that which is better.  No matter how old we are, Jesus opens to us challenge and promise of newness.  "Your attitude," Pauls writes tothe Philippians, "should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phillippians 2:5, New International Version).

Another way to think about it is to see that we're all called to a mind transplant, and that Mind is infinite, without end, and so the change is constant, and the change is ever calling us.

from Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth
by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why, why, why?

The mystery of God is too great, and our minds too small, too limited to understand his ways.  But I cannot, and will not, doubt the love of God for every person, a love that is warm, intimate, and true.  I shall trust him, even when I find no human grounds for doing so.  Left withthe question "Why?" I discover a light that begins to shine in the darkness, just a flicker but enough for me to say:  "I know where to look when still unable to se clearly."  I Look at he figure of Christ dying on the cross.  I know that if I look long enough, I shall begin to see that his passion and death have a powerful message to convey.  When God became man, he accepted that he would be like one of us and would experience our darkest moments and greatest pain.  When many suffer the sense of being abandoned, he suffered that too.  When many are troubled in mind, they know that he, too, was troubled in mind.

There is something important for us here.  Would God, who became man, have suffered all he did were it not or our consolation and guidance, where it not to point to an answer to the question "Why, why, why?"

from The Mystery of the Cross
by Cardinal Basil Hume

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laeta quies

The Laeta quies is the Latin sequence that is chanted on the Solemnity of St. Benedict.  The way the Latin text flows with the melody is wonderful.  We found a great YouTube video that is worth listening, too.  (The link is:  After listening to the chant, spend some time with the translation in prayer.

Joyful rest (day) of our leader,
that brings the gift of a new light,
we commemorate you today.

Grace is given the loving soul,
may our ardent heart be united
to the songs of our lips.

By the radiant way going up to the east,
 let us admire our Father rising to heaven,
equal to the patriarchs.

His innumerable posterity,
figure of the sun,
made him like to Abraham.

See the crow serving him
and recognize hence Elias hiding in a little cave.

Recognize Eliseus,
when he bids return the axe from beneath the current.

It is Joseph through his life without stain;
it is Jacob bringing future things to mind.

May he be mindful of his people,
and may he lead us
till we behold with him the eternal joys of Christ.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Do you want to be well?"

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill
 for a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be well?" 
The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one
to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up,
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk." 
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
(from John 5:1-16)

This excerpt from today's Gospel reading only tells part of the story.  It goes on to share that when Jesus came upon him later in the temple, he admonishes him, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you."  It does make one wonder why he had no one to help put him in the pool

Unlike some of the miraculous healings that where Jesus first tells the person, "Your sins are forgiven," in this healing he heals first and then finds him later and admonishes him do not sin any more

During the remaining days of Lent, take some time to ponder those areas of your life that are in need of healing.  Are there hurts that weigh you down?  Are there things you expereinced while growing up that need to be forgiven?  Are there perhaps those things that you need to seek forgiveness for having done? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Daily Prayer to St. Joseph

Supported by the patronage
of the Spouse of Your Most Holy Mother,
we beseech Your clemency, O Lord,
to make our hearts
despise all earthly things
and to love You,
the true God,
with perfect charity.
Who live and reign,
world without end.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lætare Sunday

Lætare Sunday is always a milestone on our journey to Easter.  We are at the middle point in our journey and it's a good time to look back and see how we have done with our Lenten resolutions and see where we need to re-dedicate ourselves to those resolutions that may have slipped to the back burner.

It is also a day to rejoice -- and call to mind that all that we do in preparation for Holy Easter is to be done with joy.  It's a matter of attitude.  And haven't we all heard the saying, "God loves a joyful giver."  Well, He loves the joyful do-er too!

So rejoice in the Lord always, and remember:  Stay joyful in Jesus in all that you do!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

O Sacred Head, Surrounded

O Sacred Head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of Thy most Holy Face,
yet angel hosts adore Thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see Thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving Thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn Thy face on me.

In this Thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with Thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath Thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in Thy dear love confiding,
and with Thy presence blest.

But death too is my ending;
In that dread hour of need,
My friendless cause befriending,
Lord, to my rescue speed:
Thyself, O Jesus, trace me,
Right passage to the grave,
And from Thy cross embrace me,
With arms outstretched to save.

Translated by Henry W. Baker.
Text ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Lenten Prayer for Spiritual Renewal

God, heavenly Father,
look upon me and hear my prayer
during this holy Season of Lent.
By the good works You inspire,
help me to discipline my body
and to be renewed in spirit.
Without You I can do nothing.
By Your Spirit help me to know what is right
and to be eager in doing Your will.
Teach me to find new life through penance.
Keep me from sin, and help me live
by Your commandment of love.
God of love, bring me back to You.
Send Your Spirit to make me strong
in faith and active in good works.
May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness,
open my heart to Your love,
and prepare me for the coming feast
of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Lord, during this Lenten Season,
nourish me with Your Word of life
and make me one
with You in love and prayer.
Fill my heart with Your love
and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ.
Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness.
Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass.
Father, our source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand;
let me walk more readily in Your ways.
Guide me in Your gentle mercy,
for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.
Father of love, source of all blessings,
help me to pass from my old life of sin
to the new life of grace.
Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom.
I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

B & B Nunning

The words "hospitality" and "Benedictine" go hand in hand -- so for us offering hospitality through our Bed & Breakfast is just another exspression of our welcoming guests as Christ. 

We opened our Bed & Breakfast last May after renovating the house our founding Sisters purchased in 1943.  It has seen various uses over the years:  a place for our Sisters to come for some days of rest and renewal, the residence of our first diocesan bishop (he came for three weeks and stayed seven years!), and the residence of our community's chaplain.  Since August 2010, we have a commuting chaplain from St. Vincent Archabbey and the space became available.  A volunteer commented that it would make a beautiful Bed & Breakfast and well, the rest is history!

Most of our guests have commented on the peacefulness, many say they felt at home from the first moment they stepped across the threshold.  Everyone says it couldn't be nicer and that they are telling all their friends about it. 

What makes their experience so special:  our prayer and our presence.  We pray for them and their intentions.  We offer an open ear if they want to share a burden.  We welcome them "home" -- and treat them as a very special part of our family.  We think St. Benedict would be proud...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Sorrows of Mary, Part IV

The Burial of Jesus

Dear Mary, loving hands carefully remove Jesus from the cross and reverently prepare him for burial.  One last time you hold and behold your beloved Son.  To lose someone through illness or accident is difficult, but Jesus suffered a brutal execution and nothing on earth can console your heart.

Gently, tenderly, lovingly the last rites are accomplished and you must say your final farewell to your Son. 

Mary, when we face loss and suffering, be with us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Sorrows of Mary, Part III

Jesus' Heart Is Pierced

Dear Mary, Jesus' head is bowed in death.  His limp body hangs lifeless from the cross.  And yet, the soldiers are not finished, and one of them thrusts a spear into his side.  And immediately blood and water gush forth -- and your motherly heart absorbs the pain, as if you yourself had received the wound.

All is poured out.  Nothing has been held back.  And still you stand by Him.  Still you pour forth your love.  What else can you do? 

Mary, help us pour forth charity and understanding to those we encounter as freely as the water and blood flowed from Jesus' side.  Mary, help us to love and show mercy just as Jesus does from his cross.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Sorrows of Mary, Part II

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Dear Mary, that heavy cross that you watched you Son carry, is now his next instrument of torture -- and death.  His hands and feet have so cruelly been nailed to its wood. 
Little by little, you see his life ebb away.  And hear those words that tear at your heart even more, "There is your mother.  Woman, there is your son."  Another is given to you in Jesus' place, but could anyone ever take His place in your heart?  The baby you carried beneath your heart for nine months and then cared for and raised is now dying before your eyes -- and you are helpless now to help Him, except to stay with Him to the end and let Him know that you love Him.

Mary, help us to not be afraid to be present to others in their pain and suffering.  Mary, help us to see Jesus -- and his cross -- in their pain.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Sorrows of Mary, Part I

Mary's first three sorrows happened when Jesus was a child.  The last four of her sorrows are tied intimately to Jesus' passion and death.  Over the next several days, we would like to reflect with you on those four.

Meeting Jesus as He Carried His Cross

How your heart must have wrenched in pain at seeing your beloved Son.  The wounds so new and raw from the scouraging, the thorns tearing his brow, and the weight of the cross resting heavily on his shoulders.

Yes, his Passion was your passion, too.  In your motherly heart, you felt his pain, knew his grief.  Knowing that you shared it with him, must have strengthened him.  Knowing that you, too, understood on a very deep level that the He had to follow his Father's will regardless of the cost, consoled him.

Mary, help us to assist others as they bear their crosses -- crosses they did not choose -- but carry nonetheless.  Mary, help us to see Jesus -- and his cross -- in them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Salutation to Mary

Hail Mary! Daughter of God the Father,
Hail Mary! Mother of God the Son,
Hail Mary! Spouse of God the Holy Ghost,
Hail Mary! Temple of the Most Blessed Trinity,
Hail Mary! Celestial Rose of the ineffable love of God,
Hail Mary! Virgin pure and humble,
      of whom the King of Heaven willed to be born
      and with thy milk to be nourished,
Hail Mary! Virgin of Virgins,
Hail Mary! Queen of Martyrs, whose soul a sword transfixed,
Hail Mary! Lady most Blessed,
     unto whom all power in Heaven and earth is given,
Hail Mary! My Queen and my Mother, my life,
     my sweetness and my hope,
Hail Mary! Mother most Amiable,
Hail Mary! Mother most Admirable,
Hail Mary! Mother of Divine Love,
Hail Mary! Immaculate; conceived without sin,
Hail Mary! Full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
     blessed art thou among women and
     blessed the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
Blessed be thy Spouse, St. Joseph,
Blessed be thy Father, St. Joachim,
Blessed be thy Mother, St. Anne,
Blessed be thy Guardian, St. John,
Blessed be thy Holy Angel, St. Gabriel,

Glory be to God the Father, who chose thee,
Glory be to God the Son, who loved thee,
Glory be to God the Holy Ghost, who espoused thee,

O Glorious Virgin Mary, may all men love and praise Thee.

Holy Mary, Mother of God! Pray for us and bless us,
     now and at death in the name of Jesus, thy Divine Son!

Let us pray:
accept the sincere homage of my filial affection.
Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords,
do thou welcome my poor soul.
Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows
at the foot of the Cross,
on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world.
With thee, O sorrowful Virgin,
I will gladly suffer all the trials,
contradictions, and infirmities
which it shall please our Lord to send me.
I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows,
so that every thought of my mind,
and every beat of my heart
may be an act of compassion and of love for thee.
And do thou, sweet Mother,
have pity on me in my last agony,
so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven
and sing thy glories.

Sweet Heart of Mary, by my salvation!

by St. John Eudes
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs,

Friday, March 9, 2012

An Act of Sorrow

O God of my soul,
I am sincerely sorry
for not having hitherto loved Thee.
Instead of having loved Thee,
I have, for the sake of my pleasures,
offended and despised Thine infinite goodness:
I have turned my back upon Thee;
in a word, O my God,
I have voluntarily lost Thee.
Lord, I am sorry,
from the bottom of my heart,
for all my sins.
I hate above all things the offences,
which I have committed against Thee.
I hope Thou hast already cleansed me
from the stain of sin
in the sacrament of penance,
but I desire to become still purer in Thy sight.
Vouchsafe then to wash in Thy Blood this soul,
which Thou dost wish soon to make Thy dwelling place.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

At the Cross Her Station Keeping

At the cross, her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Where He hung, the dying Lord;
For her soul of joy bereaved,
Bowed with anguish, deeply grieved,
Felt the sharp and piercing sword.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Now was she, that mother blessed
Of the sole begotten One;
Deep the woe of her affliction,
When she saw the crucifixion
Of her ever glorious Son.

Who, on Christ’s dear mother gazing
Pierced by anguish so amazing
Born of woman, would not weep?
Who, on Christ’s dear mother thinking
Such a cup of sorrow drinking
Would not share her sorrows deep?

For His people’s sins chastised,
She beheld her Son despised,
Scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined;
Saw Him then from judgment taken,
And in death by all forsaken,
Till His Spirit He resigned.

Jesu, may her deep devotion
Stir in me the same emotion,
Fount of love, Redeemer kind,
That my heart fresh ardor gaining,
And a purer love attaining,
May with Thee acceptance find.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Suffering leads to new life...

Few of us are brave enough to confront pain or impending disaster.  We run from reality or take refuge in distractions.  We do not make the connection between suffering and new life.  The disciples, like us, did not understand why the towering figure of the Son of Man, as foretold in the Book of Daniel, should be killed, and still less how he could rise again.  Even after the resurrection, many found it difficult to grasp the meaning and purpose of the death of Christ.

Tabor and Calvary are linked in the Gospel and are linked also in life.  We long for the experience of transfiguration, to stand on Mount Tabor with Peter, James, and John and to see God revealed in Jesus Christ.  We want to be like Moses and catch a glimpse of his glory.  We want, like Elijah, to hear God in the sound of stillness.  But the magnificence of the Son of God transfigured on Tabor is to be found veiled in Gethsemane and on Calvary.  The glory of God, not now seen directly by human eyes, is just as real and present when Christ experiences agony in the garden.  In this agony of the Son of Man all humankind was involved.  The Passion of Jesus Christ is for all time and all people... 

Tabor and Calvary, in their different ways, reveal the true face of Christ who is the Son of Man and the Man of Sorrows.  But there was to be, as we all know, a further revelation when the crucified became the risen Lord.  It was then that suffering humanity was shown the ultimate destiny and meaning.  Death and suffering were swallowed up in glory.

Life everlasting and love without end became the themes of the Good News which is the only hope for humankind.  We who still live in the valley of death and darkness should lift up our eyes to where the day has already dawned, and where Christ, the Son of Man, is seated at the right hand of the Father in eternal glory.

From The Mystery of the Cross
by Cardinal Basil Hume

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Historical Nunning

On February 25, we marked the milestone of the 81st anniversary our Sisters arriving at St. Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary, Latrobe, PA where they worked in the kitchens and dining rooms until 1987.  Countless monks, collegians and seminarians recount stories about their favorite Sister and we are sure we have not heard them all!

It is thanks to the vision, faith and sacrifices of these women that provides us with the firm spiritual foundation on which we build today.  We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude and pray that they continue to intercede for us now from the other side of the veil.

Vergeltes Gott (may God reward you!), dear Sisters, for all you have done in paving the way for us in this current generation.  May we never forget you and all that you have done to make our monastic life possible.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I will give you a new heart...

I will give you a new heart
and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts...
(Ezechial 36:26)

We prayed the above verses during our anticipated Vigils for the Second Sunday of Lent just a few hours after we learned that our volunteer who had received the total artifical heart replacement would be receiving a donor heart that very evening.  To say the least, there were moist eyes and voices that didn't know if they could carry on when we came to these line of text.

The surgery went well and his new heart is doing exactly what it is supposed to:  beating well and strong.  To see the blip go across the monitor and know that it is a real live heart in there beating was a tremendous experience for several of us this afternoon, and we thank God with his family for this gift of life.

We also send out our prayers for the donor and his family who made this gift of life possible.  May you be comforted by our loving Father's embrace and in knowing so many people are grateful for this final gift.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lent and the Transfiguration

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,

questioning what rising from the dead meant.

( Mark 9:2-10)

At first read, today's Gospel seems to be for the wrong day!  It is Lent, after all!  

On further reflection, I think it's Holy Mother Church in her infinite wisdom, who gives us like Peter, James and John this Gospel passage to help prepare us for what lies ahead.  After all, we are not even two full weeks into Lent yet. 

We like the Apostles continue to journey with Jesus through these days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving and need to continue to unite our hearts, minds and souls with His as He travels through the difficult days of the sacred Triduuum that lie in the not too distant future. 

We, too, need the encouragement like the apostles so that we may continue joyfully on our Lenten journey -- with hearts and minds and souls renewed so that on Easter morn we too may rejoice and proclaim the truth of His Resurrection from the dead!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Christ, the Model of Brotherly Love

From the Mirror of Love by Saint Aelread, abbot
The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.
In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.
Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?
Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgement; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognise my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savour the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.
But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.
From:  The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II
Office of Readings
Friday of the First Week in Lent

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew (4:1-11)

This passage from St. Matthew's gospel is one we often associate with Lent:  Jesus going out into the desert and fasting 40 days and 40 nights and being tempted by the devil.  In the following lines, I would like to share some things that I noticed about this particular passage that I discovered after spending some time reading and reflecting on it:

St. Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, and that He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was hungry.  Now at first glance at these opening lines, one would tend to think that the temptations were during the forty days and forty nights.  However, the temptations occur after this time has elapsed. 

The first temptation has to do with something that all of us typically enjoy:  food.  If you don’t eat for forty days and forty nights, you are going to be hungry – not to mention weak.  Now the devil must have been watching and waiting for his chance, seeing it he approaches Jesus and says to him:  If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.  You can hear the criticism along with the tempting:  if you are.  Now the devil knew full well who and what Jesus was.  He was trying to force Jesus into a show of power.  Kind of like good ol’ Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit: your eyes will be opened and you will be like god.  Yet, Jesus, simply says in reply:  It is written:  One does not live on bread along, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. 

Okay, strike one!  Time to try something else.  So the devil takes Jesus to the holy city and to the parapet of the temple, and says:  If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written:  He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.  Not bad, God’s dwelling place among man, surely here God’s Son will manifest his identity and show his power.  Wrong again!  Jesus comes back with:  Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.  Sorry, devil – strike two!

Okay, one last chance.  Can you see it?  It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded.  Team Devil is trailing by one point.  They just need to get one guy home to tie the score, a second to win the game.  The devil pulls out the big guns. 

A higher point is needed – a very high mountain.  The splendor and might of all the kingdoms of the world are spread out for view, and the devil plays his last card:  All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.  This has to do it, right?  Wrong!  Sorry devil, you struck out – again!  Jesus simply says to him:  Get away, Satan!  It is written:  The Lord, your God, you shall worship and him alone shall you serve! 

What can we learn today?  Perhaps that simple double commandment of love is the answer:  Love of God and love of neighbor.  Loving God, you trust Him to provide what you need – when you need it.  Loving your neighbor, you only want what is good for him – and don’t put yourself ahead of his needs.  Isn’t that what Christianity is about in a nutshell?  Isn’t it what we’re trying to do with our Lenten sacrifices and prayers?  Putting things in the right perspective and allowing God to live, and move and work through us for the good of others – which ultimately will also be for the good of ourselves.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Prayer Intentions of Pope Benedict XVI

Contribution of Women. That the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society.

Persecuted Christians. That the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution, or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia.

For more information about the Apostleship of Prayer, visit: