Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eleventh Station ~ Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Eleventh Station 

Eleventh Station St. Emma Monastery
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
As the three nails were driven home into the wood, fastening Him to it irrevocably Christ gave Himself to all those men and women who in the years to come would nail themselves to 
His cross by the three vows of religion: 
poverty, chastity and obedience; 
{We take: conversion of life, stability and obedience, in our Monastic tradition.} 
those wise ones who know the weakness of human nature, who know how easily the will can falter when the sweetness of the first consolation of prayer is over; how hard and bleak the winter of the spirit when its springtide and its summer and harvesting seem passed for ever; how hard to go on faithfully clinging to the Christ  life with only one's own weak will to drive one.

  Christ, receiving the nails, gave Himself to those men and women who would nail themselves by the binding vows to Himself upon the cross, who would have the ability to remain true to their chosen life because their hands and feet are put into His hands and feet, and they are held onto the cross by the nails that held Him.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tenth Station ~ Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Tenth Station 
Tenth Station St.Emma Monastery

 Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

But before He is nailed to the Cross, Jesus gives us yet another overwhelming showing of His love, yet another proof of His identification with men in their bitterest humiliation: Jesus is stripped of His garments.

He stood there identified with the convert, either from sin of unbelief, who must tear off the long established habits of sin and weakness as if her were tearing off his skin.


Give me the courage and the dignity and splendour of Your love,
 to live openly, without pretence, even when there is that in my life which shames me.
Give me the one glory of those who are disgraced and ashamed before the world:
 to be stripped with You, Jesus Christ my redeemer, upon Calvary.


The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ninth Station ~ Jesus Falls the Third Time

Ninth Station 
Ninth Station  St. Emma Monastery
Jesus Falls the Third Time

As they approach the foot of the Mount Calvary the suspense reaches its climax: 
If he is going to work a miracle, he must do it now.
 If he is going to show that, after all, if he IS what he claims to be, the Son of God, 
the moment has come for him to prove it.
It is not only those who fear and hate Him who are in suspense; 
the whole multitude watches Him, holding its breath,
 waiting to see what Jesus of Nazareth is going to do now. 

They wait, straining forward, 
struggling to come near to Him, 
breathless with suspense, 
some through fear, 
some through hope; 
all tense, expectant, awaiting!

And what does He do? For the third and the last time, Jesus falls under the cross!

This is the worst fall of all. It comes at the worst moment of all. It tears open all the wounds in His body; the shock dispels the last ounce of strength that He had mustered to go on. It shatters the last hope the last remnant of faith, in nearly everyone in the crowd. It is triumph for His enemies, heartbreak for His friends.  

He chooses to indwell those who seem to fail, 
those who fall again and again, those who seem to be overcome even when the end is in sight. 
In them, if they will it, He abides;in them He overcomes weakness and failure, 
in them He triumphs; and in 
His power they can persevere to the end,
 abject before men but glorious with Christ's glory before God.

The Way of the Cross  by Caryll Houselander

Monday, February 25, 2013

St. Walburga Feast Day

St Walburga
Pray for your daughters

O Virgin, full of grace,
wrothy of love, rich in mercy,
worthy of praise, pure of heart,
and innocent of mind,
you are beloved and exalted by God.

Dear Saint Walburga,
helper of all,
intercede for us and for those
who are suffering
so that God may grant us healing,
consolation and peace.
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eighth Station ~ Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

Eighth Station 

Eighth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

But above all else it is compassion that Christ has always wanted from men and women, has always for; He has wanted them to be with Him, to comfort Him just by entering into His suffering with Him- not to take away His suffering but to enter into it with Him, because it is His and it is the expression of His love for them!
There are those in every age in whom the suffering of Christ is manifest, almost visible, the beauty of His love shining through the ugliness of their circumstances. It is not for Christ in them that we must weep. It is for Christ whose beauty is hidden, Christ in the outcast, in the man who is wrestling with temptation, who is unrecognized, uncomforted; Christ in whom we pass by without seeing , without knowing, whom we allow to stagger on, on His way, loaded with His too heavy cross, unhelped, unwept, uncomfroted.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seventh Station ~ Jesus Falls the Second Time

Seventh Station
Seventh Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Falls the Second Time

Christ is down in the dust. This second fall in harder than the first; He in nearer the end of His tether now, more dependent than before on others to help Him to get up and go on. It may have been something trifling, almost absurd, that threw Him down. Perhaps something as small as a pebble on the road; yes, that would have been enough to send Him hurtling down, with that terrible burden on His back, and His own exhaustion as He nears the end of His bitter journey.
It is the same today, the same for those "other Christs" who have gone a long way on the road and who fall, not for the first time now, under the heavy cross of circumstance--those who have carried this cross for a long time, who have become exhausted by the unequal struggle and fall, who with Him are down in the dust. Ii is for them that Christ falls for the second time and lies under the crushing weight of His cross, waiting for those who will come forward to lend their hands to lift it from His back and enable Him to go to the end of His way of suffering and love.

If something as trifling as a pebble in the road or a false step could throw Christ down on the road, so may a tiny provocation, a sudden temptation, a mocking word--a fragment that adds to the struggle-- bring the man staggering under the cross down: 
the servant is not greater than his master.

The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houslander

Sixth Station ~ Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Sixth Station
Sixth Station St. Emma Monastery
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Now that face of infinite majesty and compelling beauty is unrecognizable. ...
It is all this, from which His close friends have fled, which drives this women to Him
It is the ugliness and the helplessness, which frightened those whom He called His "own" away, 
that draws her to Him;
it is her compassion that gives her the courage to come close to Him....
She sees the majesty that was hidden, for now she has wiped away what she can of the blood and sweat and tears, she sees that they hid a face that is serene in its suffering, calm, majestic, infinitely tender.

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander

Fifth Station Simon Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

Fifth Station
Fifth Station St. Emma Monastery

Simon Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

We are here on earth to help to carry the cross of Christ, the Christ hidden in other men and women, and to have literally a strong arm to give, we may help to do hard work; we may have material goods to give; we may have time, which we desperately want for ourselves but which we must sacrifice for Christ in others.
We may have only suffering. 
Suffering is the most precious coin of all. Suffering of body, suffering of mind, paid down willingly for Christ in others, enables Him to carry His redeeming cross through the world to the end of time. 
Suffering contains in itself all that Simon gave: 
our mind and body, frustration and identification with someone else.

The Way of the Cross  Caryll Houselander

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fourth Station ~ Jesus Meets His Mother

Fourth Station
Fourth Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Meets His Mother

Seeing the first fall on the Via Crucis, His Mother sees the first fall on the path in Nazareth. Now as then she is silent; she holds back her hands as she did then. His will is her will. It was for this hour that she gave Him to the world, for this that He grew from the infant to the child, from the child to the man.

"Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?"
What is His Father's business but the business of love, the Father's love for mankind? "The Father so loved the world, that he gave up his only son to save the world."

The cause of Christ's suffering was His love for the world; the suffering He gave to His Mother was the gift of His own love. The increase of Christ's own grief because He must afflict her was an increase of Christ-love in the whole world- the suffering which is a communion of love.

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Third Station ~ Jesus Falls the First Time

Third Station

Third Station St. Emma Monastery

Jesus Falls the First Time

Because Christ identifies Himself with us, because He suffers the humiliation of the first fall in us, His love transforms it. The very wound can heal us. 
The first fall is the first real self-knowledge. Now we know our weakness, we know our helplessness before the difficulties of life, our total inability to shoulder our responsibilities. We know that we cannot get up by ourselves, we cannot shoulder the burden for the second time by ourselves, we cannot face our own self-contempt or the derision of others, by ourselves. We realize now hat we are wholly dependent on Christ, dependent on Him to act in us, to lift Himself up in us and to lift us up in Him. His weakness is our strength. 

No longer do we seek to carry the burden with our own hands, but with His. 
No longer do we try to walk in His footsteps, we tread the way with His feet.

The Way of the Cross  Caryll Houselander

Second Station ~ Jesus Receives His Cross

Second Station ~ St. Emma Monastery 
Lying in the wooden manger in the stable of Bethlehem,
Christ welcomed the cross for which He had come into the wold. At that moment of His birth He accepted all the hardship, the pain and suffering of mankind- the cold, the darkness, hunger and thirst; the pain of mind and body, the needs and the dependence of all men. He accepted death - indeed He became man in order to die for men. 
Unseen, unknown , Christ received His cross in Bethlehem. 

The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

First Sunday of Lent First Vespers

READING 2 Corinthians 6:1-4a

We beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you; on a day of salvation I have helped you.” Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! We avoid giving anyone offense, so that our ministry may not be blamed. On the contrary, in all that we do we strive to present ourselves as ministers of God.

Luke 1:46-55
The soul rejoices in the Lord

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever. Amen.


Let us give glory to Christ the Lord, who became our teacher and example and our brother. Let us pray to him, saying:
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

Lord Jesus, you became like us in all things but sin; teach us how to share with others their joy and sorrow,
that our love may grow deeper every day.
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

Help us to feed you in feeding the hungry,
and to give you drink in giving drink to the thirsty.
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

You raised Lazarus from the sleep of death,
grant that those who have died the death of sin may rise again through faith and repentance.
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

Inspire many to follow you with greater zeal and perfection,
through the example of the blessed Virgin Mary and the saints.
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

Let the dead rise in your glory,
to enjoy your love for ever.
– Lord, fill your people with your life.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Concluding Prayer

Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

First Station of the Cross~ Jesus is Condemned to Death

The Stations of the Cross are not given to us only to remind us of the historical Passion of Christ, but to show us what is happening now, and happening to each one of us. Christ dis not become man only to lead His own short life on earth- unimaginable mercy though that would have been-- but to live each of our lives.
Most of Christ's earthly life was hidden. He was hidden in His Mother's womb, He was hidden in Egypt and in Nazareth. During His public life He was hidden often, when He fled into "a mountain to pray." During the forty days of His risen life, again and again He disappeared and hid Himself from men. Today He is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, in Heaven, and in His Mystical Body on earth.
But his His Passion He was exposed, made public property to the whole of mankind. The last time He went up into a mountain to pray, it was to pray out loud in a voice that would echo down the ages, ringing in the ears of mankind for ever. He was to stripped naked before the whole world for ever, not only in body but in mind and soul; to reveal not only the height and depth and the breadth of His love for men but its intimacy, its sensitivity, its humanity.
The Way of the Cross Caryll Houselander

Jesus is Condemned to Death

He is a man of sorrows.
He is covered in bruises and stripes.
He is made a laughing stock. 
He is crowned with a crown of thorns.
A reed is put into His hand for a scepter a tattered soldier's cloak in thrown over His naked shoulders. 
His eyes are blindfolded. 
His face is covered with spittings 
He is bound like a dangerous criminal 
His own people have chosen a murderer before him.
His friends have forsaken Him. 
The kiss of treason burns on His check.

"Father, forgive them: they do not know what it is they are doing"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

God Never Gives Up Loving Us

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, 
or take the path that sinner tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 
but their delight is in the law of the Lord, 
and on his law they meditate day  and night .-- Ps 1:1-2

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits fo the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us return to God's ever-present love.

O God, when I am most tempted to give up on myself, help me to remember that you never give up on me.

Called to Life, Called to Love  Lenten reflections from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

God bless, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

Pope Benedict XVI Resignation: Pontiff Says He's Resigning For The 'Good Of The Church' (PHOTOS) - The Huffington Post

Ash Wed. in the Monastery 2013

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

What a wonderful way to look at life. We were made by God and we will return to God.
We have a practice of taking an inventory of our cells, on Ash Wed. This allows us to clear out what we don't need and what has accumulated over the years. Having moved around a lot growing up, I never have stayed in one place for longer than 4 I have been in the same room for 11 years. I never thought that things could multiply so fast...  
Doing this helps us also to take inventory of our interior life.

How are we going to grow closer to Christ this Lent. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shrove Tuesday in the Monastery

So What do the Sisters do for Mardi Gras?
We love to dress up and have a good time!
This is our time to "Twinkle and Shine "

Friday, February 8, 2013

Christian Vocational Lifestyles

As the biblical authors put it: Willing us to exist, God knows us and chooses us to be. Having chosen us, the Lord calls us each by name and consecrates us. That choosing, calling and consecrating we term "our vocation."
Our vocation is both eternal and temporal. It is eternal because even before forming us in the womb the Lord had already consecrated us (Jer 1:5). Moreover, our eternity will consist in the everlasting realization of that consecration-unending, ever-deepening communion with Father, Son and Spirit. Our vocation is also temporal because it unfolds in space and time. It extends from the moment of inception to the instant of death. Thus, we experience a vocation within a vocation- a temporal particular calling within an eternal universal call to holiness.

Called by God A Theology of Vocation and Lifelong Commitment by Frances Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Glory in the Cross

I was struck by the questions in today's (Feb 7th 2013) second reading from Vigils. I have read this passage for over 11 years now and still new things jump out at me. This is why it is a very good idea to come back and reread and ponder passages from books especially the Bible that might not have made sense to us at the time. It is amazing how much we miss the first time around.

These are the passages that jumped out at me this morning:
From the Catecheses by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop

At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so. A man born blind recovered his sight. But of what importance is this, when there are so many blind people in the world? Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this affected only Lazarus. What of those countless numbers who have died because of their sins? Those five miraculous loaves fed five thousand people. Yet this is a small number compared to those all over the world who were starved by ignorance. After eighteen years a woman was freed from the bondage of Satan. But are we not all shackled by the chains of our own sins?

Certainly in times of tranquility the cross should give you joy. But maintain the same faith in times of persecution. Otherwise you will be a friend of Jesus in times of peace and his enemy during war. Now you receive the forgiveness of your sins and the generous gift of grace from your king. When war comes, fight courageously for him.

Jesus never sinned; yet he was crucified for you. Will you refuse to be crucified for him, who for your sake was nailed to the cross? You are not the one who gives the favor; you have received one first. For your sake he was crucified on Golgotha. Now you are returning his favor; you are fulfilling your debt to him.

~I hope that the Holy Spirit fills your day with joy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Particular Calling of Each Person

Sisterly Love..... 

  While the call to holiness is universal, God nonetheless calls each individual to a particular self-identity in Christ Jesus, to a specific vocational lifestyle and to a special mission. The Lord gifts everyone with a unique person-hood. God calls each to become his/her true self through some way of lift. God sends each individual forth to contribute in a unique manner to the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph 4:12).

Called by God A Theology of Vocation and Lifelong Commitment pg 65 by Frances Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs 

We are all loved by God in a way that He knows we need it the most. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Consecrated unto God

The Lord consecrates us for a reason: to transform us, to deify us. Personal holiness, therefore, remains as divinely ordained goal of every human life.

A. The universal Call to Holiness
   The Lord calling us each by our own name and destining us to divinization makes us special chosen and beloved. By calling us, the Lord sets us apart for God. Thus the Lord consecrated us. What we name "vocation" is the milieu in which and the way trough which we become holy as God is holy ( Lev 19:2; Matt 5:48)
   Yet, the Lord does not call and consecrate only a select few. God calls all persons by their individual names and consecrated each one to participate in the inner life of the Trinity.

Called by God  Theology of Vocation and Lifelong Commitment  Frances Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs pg 61

 How have we responded to the unique call from God?
 Our vocations is what leads us closer to the loving relationship with God.
 How is this achieved, by our response to God's invitation to love.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The World Day for Consecrated Life

(Vatican Radio) The World Day for Consecrated Life invites all Catholics to recognize the valuable contribution of consecrated men and women and to pray that “this gift may flourish in the Church,” said a Carmelite prior in an interview with Vatican Radio. 

The day of prayer is observed each year on 2 February, which is also the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. But parishes and religious communities worldwide have organized diverse activities, masses and prayer events throughout the weekend.

The World Day for Consecrated Life, instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1997, is a time of prayer for those in the Church who have committed to witness to their love for God through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Father Míċaél O’Neill, prior of the Carmelite Centre in Rome, explained the significance of marking the day of prayer on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

He referred to Mary’s offering of Jesus to God in the Temple. In the same way, consecrated men and women are called to offer their whole selves to God, he said. In addition, the presence of Simeon and Anna at the Temple indicate how consecrated people are also called to be sentinels by celebrating the ways in which God is present in the world. Finally, the feast day’s association with light is a reminder to consecrated people of how they should be “light of the world”.

Fr. O’Neill noted how the World Day for Consecrated Life is intended to engage all Catholic faithful, and not just consecrated men and women as a select group in the Church.

Consecrated life is a gift of God and this day is “a time when all the members of the Church can recognize the presence of this gift (and)… the practical implications and contributions of consecrated life over the centuries,” he said.

While the Church encourages all the faithful to pray for consecrated men and women and to thank them for their witness and service, the day is also intended to encourage consecrated people in their lifelong commitment. 

“It’s great to have a day like this,” he said. “Whatever helps us to renew our spirit, to renew our commitment is always of tremendous importance.”

“Certainly here in the western world there may be many reasons for discouragement, but all the more so to have this day to recognize that things are not too bad at all and that our contribution to the Church is still very valuable,” he said. 

Pope Benedict XVI presided the mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica Saturday evening to celebrate the liturgical feast and to mark the World Day for Consecrated Life.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Simeon's Prophecy~ Presentation of the Lord

Imagining the story

It is February 2 of the year we name 2, and Mary's time of separation from society is drawing to a close. According to Jewish custom, she was religiously clean a week after giving birth, but thirty-three days of additional separation are required to complete purification observances, ( Eighty day s re customary after the birth of a girl.) Now that Jesus is turning forty days old, he can be brought to Jerusalem for a sacred ritual  that has been celebrated by Mary's and Joseph's families for meany generations. The couple will present their  son to a priest in the majestic temple, the heart of their world, and offer two birds as a living sacrifice.

In your imagination, picture yourself journeying with the family to Jerusalem, pausing on the Mount of Olives at a favorite outlook. Allow yourself to relish the heart-stopping view of the temple, the beauty of its white marble walls and tower gleaming in the sun. You can see why it is one of the architectural wonders of its day, bigger than the biggest Roman palace, longer than six New York City blocks, broader than the future basilica in Trier. Imagine you have a close-up view through modern binoculars of visitors pouring through the temple compound, marveling at the great staircase, archways, gardens, plentiful pools of water defying the desert climate. What do you feel as you ponder the magnificence of this scene? Do you wish that, like the high priest alone, you could enter the Holy of Holies where Yahweh is said to dwell?

Is it conceivable to you that the tiny baby Mary holds in her arms will one day shake this temple to its foundations by exposing corruption, questioning priestly authority, assailing the whole religious establishment for abusing the poor, for animal sacrifice, for their very concept of God? Surely now one could suspect that this innocent baby will be killed for revealing that God is love, and that the authentic temple of God lies in the human heart.

And yet, there is one person with the vision to see what lies ahead: Simeon, a living prophet, and he happens to be in the temple when you arrive with the holy family. Now a very old man, he approaches Mary. How do you imagine him: dressed in rags, bent over, with a craggy face and blazing eyes, or totally different from such and appearance? Watch as he reaches out his hands for the baby, and Mary hands Jesus to him. Simeon recites an exquisite prayer of perfect fulfillment and readiness now known as the Nuc Dimittis or  "Song of Simeon," telling God that his life's purpose has been fulfilled by learning that the Messiah has come in Mary's child. How do you imagine Mary feels listening to Simeon's beautiful affirmation? Simeon echoes God's promise made on the holiest day of her life some ten months ago, when she became pregnant. Simeon's insights resound like a reaffirmation of that message for Mary to cling to should she ever need reassurance about her child's true identity.

What would you like to ask Mary, Joseph  or Simeon?

The Way of Mary Following Her Footsteps Toward God    Mary Ford-Grabowsky