Monday, May 31, 2010

May and devotions to Our Blessed Lady

St John Berchmans SJ, when asked what devotion would be most agreeable to Our Blessed Lady, replied: 'Any devotion, however small, provided it is constant'

St Louis de Montfort says: If we desire a ripe and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of life which is Mary. If we desire to have the Holy Spirit working within us, we must possess his faithful and inseparable spouse, Mary the divinely- favoured one whom, as I have said elsewhere, he can make fruitful. (Treatise on  True Devotion to Mary)

After 'Mary's Vitamin' and 'A Moment with Mary', respectively
Vintage holy card, circa 1700, from Westfries Museum collection, Belgium

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Feast of the Queenship of Mary with St Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi

O Mary, anyone who looks at you is comforted in any anxiety or tribulations or pain, and is victorious over any temptation. Anyone who does not know something about God, let him have recourse to you, O Mary. Anyone who does not find mercy in God, let him have recourse to you, O Mary. Anyone whose will is not in conformity, let him have recourse to you, O Mary. Anyone who falters on account of weakness, let him have recourse to you who are all strong and powerful. Anyone in constant struggle, let him have recourse to you who are a tranquil sea...Whoever is tempted,...let him have recourse to you, who are the mother of humility, and nothing drives away the devil more than humility. Let them, one and all, have recourse to you, O Mary! (Colloquies)

To read previous post dedicated to St Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi, please click HERE

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Trinity

"O incomprehensible God, Your greatness is eternal, and Your goodness ineffable. I see the three divine Persons flowing one into another in an indescribable, inscrutable way, and I rejoice in this sight. The Father flows into the Son, the Son into the Father, and the Father and the Son flow into the Holy Spirit. Eternal God, You are unspeakably good, You who, out of goodness, communicate to a creature, aware of its nothingness, some knowledge of Your eternal Being; but although this communication is wonderful, it might be called in all truth a mere nothing, in comparison with what You really are. " (St Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi)

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God's intimate life, and as creatures we had no right to know it. However, God in His goodness, has willed to raise us to the dignity of sons, of friends, therefore, He made it known to us, not by the Prophets, but by His only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is one with Him. The Son of God said: "I will not now call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends, because all things whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have made known to you" (John 15:15). The "all things" is precisely the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity which Jesus, the Son of God, has seen and heard in the bosom of the Father. The Evangelist says: "No man hath ever seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). Jesus came to reveal to us the mystery of the intimate life of God; He spoke of Himself as the Son of God, equal to the Father in all things: "He that sees me, seeth the Father also," because "I am in the Father and the Father [is] in Me" (John 14: 9,11). He spoke to us of the Holy Spirit, without Whom we cannot attain eternal life: "Unless a man be born again of the water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (John 3:5), and He promised us that He Himself, with the Father, would send us the Spirit who proceeds both from Him, the Word, and from the Father: "It is expedient to you that I go, For...if I go, I will send  Him to you" (John 16:7); "I will ask the Father and He shall give you another Paraclete....the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16). By repeating these words, Jesus teaches us that it is good for us to fix our gaze on the sublime mystery of the Blessed Trinity: to admire, to praise, and to return love to this One Triune God, who loves us so much that he wishes to bring us into the secrecy of His own intimate life.

Let us pray with St Catherine of Siena: "O Eternal Trinity! Who can reach You to thank You for the incomprehensible gifts and unlimited favours You have showered upon me, as well as for the doctrine of the truth You have taught me? Answer me, O Lord!...Enlighten me with Your grace, so that by this very light, I may thank You."

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost is the plenitude of God's gift to men. On Christmas Day, God gives us His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, the Mediator, the Bridge connecting humanity and divinity. During Holy Week, Jesus, by His Passion, gives Himself entirely to us, even to death on the Cross. He bathes us, purifying and sanctifying us in His Blood. At Easter, Christ rises, and His Resurrection, as well as His Ascension, is the pledge of our own glorification. He goes before us to His Father's house to prepare a place for us, for in Him and with Him, we have become a part of the divine Family; we have become children of God, destined for eternal beatitude. But the gift of God to men does not end there; having ascended into heaven, Jesus, in union with the Father, sends us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Holy Spirit loved us to the point of giving us the Word so loved us as to give us the Holy Spirit. Thus the three Persons of the Trinity give Themselves to man, stooping to this poor nothing to redeem him from sin, to sanctify him, and to bring him into Their own intimacy. Descending upon the Apostles under the form of tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit shows us how He, the Spirit of love, is given to us in order to transform us by His charity, and having transformed us, to lead us back to God. Our supernatural life has developed under the action of the Holy Spirit; it is caught up in the life-giving transforming current of His love. In this way we understand how the Feast of Pentecost can and should represent a new out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in our souls, a new visit in which he fills us with his gifts:

Veni Creator Spiritus - mentus tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia - que to creasti pectora,

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And in our hearts take up Thy rest,
Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Let us pray with Sr Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D: "Come, O life-giving Spirit, to this poor world and renew the face of the earth; preside over new organizations and give us Your peace, that peace which the world cannot give. Help Your Church, give her holy priests and fervent apostles. Fill with holy inspirations the souls of the good; give calm compunction to sinful souls, consoling refreshment to the suffering, strength and help to those who are tempted, and light to those in darkness and in the shadow of death"

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today we start Novena to the Holy Ghost for the Seven Gifts - click to pray

The novena in honor of the Holy Ghost is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Ghost on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian.

How to pray the Novena
Each day the meditation and prayer for the particular day is said, followed by one (1) Our Father, one (1) Hail Mary and seven (7) Glory be to the Fathers, the Act of Consecration and the Prayer for the Seven Gifts. (From Novena's text)

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Pentecost 1883, Our Lady's smile

One Sunday, during the novena (Whit Sunday, 1883), Marie went into the garden, leaving me with Leonie, who was reading near the window. After a few minutes, I began to call softly: "Marie! Marie!" Leonie, accustomed to hear me moan like that, paid no attention, so I called louder, until Marie came back to me. I saw her come into the room quite well, but, at first, I did not recognize her. I looked around myself. I glanced anxiously into the garden, still calling: "Marie! Marie!"

What unutterable anguish that forceful struggle was, and Marie perhaps suffered even more than her poor little Therese. Finally, after vain efforts to make me recognize her, she whispered a few words to Leonie, and went away pale and trembling.

Soon my dear Leonie carried me to the window. There I saw the garden, but still I did not recognize Marie, who walked slowly, held out her arms, smiling at me, and calling me tenderly: "Therese, dear little Therese!" That last attempt failed again, my dear sister came in again and knelt at the foot of my bed in tears. She turned towards the statue of Our Lady, and pleaded her with the fervor of a mother who begs for her child's life. Leonie and Celine joined Marie in prayer, and that cry of faith forced open the gates of Heaven.

I too turned to my Heavenly Mother, finding no relief on earth and nearly dead with pain, begging Our Lady from the bottom of my heart to have pity on me.
 Suddenly, the statue came to life! The Virgin became very beautiful, so divinely beautiful that I shall never find words to describe her. The expression of Our Lady's face radiated an ineffable gentleness, goodness, and tenderness, but what touched me to the very depths of my soul was her gracious smile. Then, all my pain vanished; two big tears welled up in my eyes and flowed silently.

Ah, they were indeed tears of unmixed heavenly joy. "Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled at me. How happy I am, but I shall tell no one, or my happiness might disappear!" Such were my thoughts. Then, without any effort, I lowered my eyes, and I recognized my darling Marie. She looked lovingly at me, seemed very agitated, and she appeared as if she doubted the grace that I had just received.

Ah, indeed thanks to her prayers I had received the most unfathomable favor - a smile from the Blessed Virgin! Seeing my eyes fixed on the statue, she said to herself: "Therese is cured!" Yes, it was true. The Little Flower had come back to life again - a bright ray from Our Lady's glorious Sun had warmed and set her free forever from her cruel enemy. "The dark winter is past, the rain is over and gone," and the Virgin Mary's Little Flower became so strong that five years later she opened wide her petals on the fertile mountain of Carmel.
(Story of the Soul, ch. 3)

 credit: after A Moment with Mary

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Holy Spirit, sweet Guest of the Soul

In the encyclical 'Mystici Corporis' Pope Pius XII says 'the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church', and because soul means 'principle of life', therefore, the divine Paraclete is the One who gives life to the Church. As the soul is the principle of life in the body, so the Holy Spirit is the principle of life in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit was in Christ's soul to direct Him in accomplishment of His redemptive mission, because Jesus wished the Church to participate in it. Since the Church continues Christ's work, she needs the same impetus which guided His soul; she needs the Holy Spirit. Jesus merited His Spirit for us on the Cross; by His death, He atoned for all sin, the obstacle to the action of the Holy Spirit, and when He had ascended into heaven, He sent Him to the Apostles, who represented the whole Church. Now, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, He intercedes continually for us, he is always sending the Holy Spirit to the Church, as He promised. The Holy Spirit operates in the Church, just as He once did in the blessed soul of Christ. He gives her impulse, moves her, and drives her to accomplish God's will, thus enabling her to fulfill His mission, the continuation down through the ages of the redemptive work of Christ. As we read in the encyclical Mystici Corporis, the Holy Spirit "is communicated to the Church abundantly, so that she herself and each one of her members may become, day by day, more like our Redeemer". Thus, the Holy Spirit exercises His influence not only in the Body of the Church, but also in each soul in which He dwells as the "sweet Guest". But if the Holy Spirit is an impulse of love that comes into us to sanctify us and bring us to God, why do we not all become saints? The Holy Spirit, with the Father and the Son, has created us free beings and he wishes us so; therefore, in coming to us, He respects our liberty and does no violence to it. He enters our soul and posses it only when we give Him free access. As St Teresa of Jesus liked to insists: "God does not force anyone, He takes what we give Him, but He does not give Himself wholly to us, until we give ourselves wholly to Him" (Way, 28). If our will would open the doors wide, the Holy Spirit would take us under His direction, and, with His help, we would become saints.

Let us pray with St John Eudes: "O Divine Spirit, I give myself entirely to You. Take possession of my soul. direct me in everything, and grant that I may live as a true child of God; grant that, born of You, I may totally belong to You, be totally possessed, animated, and directed by You"

credit: based on 'Divine Intimacy' meditaitons

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Holy Spirit

In God there are three Persons, equal and distinct: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the effusion of the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son, an effusion so substantial and perfect that it is a Person, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, to whom the Father and the Son, by the sublime fruitfulness of their love, communicate their very own nature and essence, without losing any of it Themselves. Because the Holy Spirit is the effusion of divine love, He is called "Spirit" according to the Latin sense of the word which means air, respiration, the vital breath. In us, respiration is a sign of life; in God, the Holy Spirit is the expression, the effusion of the life and love of the Father and the Son, but a substantial personal effusion, which is a Person. 

Let us reflect with St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi on the Holy Spirit, the breath life and love of God: "O Holy Spirit, You come to us by a loving operation of an overflowing fountain in the soul, wherein the soul is submerged. As two rivers join and unite their waters so that the smaller one loses its name and takes that of the larger, so do You, O divine Spirit, come into the soul to unite Yourself to it. But it is necessary that the soul, which is the lesser, lose its name and leave it to You, O Holy Spirit, so as to become one spirit with You.
Holy Spirit, I see You coming down into the soul like the sun which, finding no obstacle, no impediment, illumines everything; I see You descending like a fiery thunderbolt which, in falling, goes to the lowest place it finds and there it reposes, never stopping on the way nor resting on the mountainous or high places but rather in the center of the earth. Thus you, O Holy Spirit, when You come down from heaven with the fiery dart of Your divine love, You do not repose in proud hearts or in arrogant spirits, but You make Your abode in  souls that are humble and contemptible in their own eyes"
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Waiting - Sunday after Ascension

This Sunday is like a prolongation of the Feast of Ascension. We may see in our hearts Our Lady, the Apostles, all gathered in the Upper room, united in fervent prayers while awaiting for the descend of the Holy Spirit: "Hear, O Lord, my voice calling to You....I seek Your face, O Lord, do not hide Your face from me". As long as we are on our earthly pilgrimage, far from God, He must be a constant yearning of our souls. St Peter teaches us what we must do in our life to be well prepared for our meeting with God: "Watch in prayers. But before all things, have a constant mutual charity among yourselves" (1Pt 4:7-11). This is what the Apostles did as they waited for the Holy Spirit; together in the Cenacle they were persevering in prayers in the unity of fraternal charity. God will look with favour on the prayers and sacrifices of a charitable person. Jesus has said expressly: "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; leave there thy offering...and go first to be reconciled to thy brother" (Mt 5:23-24). As long as we live on earth we are liable to fall; all of us, therefore, need pardon; and "charity covers a multitude of sin" (1Pt). Let us pray with St Therese of Child Jesus: "O Lord, make me worthy to give testimony of You, not only in words, but especially in deeds, in spite of the difficulties and sufferings I may encounter. The Apostles gave testimony of You to the extent of facing death for love of You; grant that I may give testimony of You at least by a life worthy of You" (Story of the Soul, 13).

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To Jesus through Mary - our best guide and teacher

Charity is one in its essence, because of the oneness of its object: God loved in Himself, God loved in the neighbour. Hence, the more soul loves God, so much the more does it love its neighbour. Such was the characteristic of Mary's charity and she teaches us that when our love of God is really perfect, it flows at once into generous love of our neighbour, because as St Tomas says, one who loves God, love all that God loves. If then, we have to recognize that in dealing with our neighbour, we are not very charitable, nor very kind to him, nor attentive to his needs, we must conclude that out love of God is still very weak. St Bernard says: "With how much virtue, O Mary, did not infinite Goodness fill your heart during nine months He reposed within you! I know infinite Goodness filled your heart before entering your womb, and even when He left it, He did not leave your soul. If we hold in our hand a fragrant fruit for a half a day, does not our hand retain the fragrance for the rest of the day? O holy Virgin, it is just this charity, the fruit of your intimate union with God, which you pour out upon all mankind, condescending to receive them in the wide embrace of your immense love."
In Mary, we find the most perfect model for the souls aspiring to intimacy with God; at the same time, she is the surest guide for them. She leads us to Jesus and teaches us to concentrate all our affections on Him, to give ourselves entirely to Him, until we are completely lost and transformed in Him. Then through Jesus, she guides us to the life of union with the Trinity. By reason of sanctifying grace, our soul is also a temple of the Trinity, and Mary teaches us how to abide in this temple as a perpetual adorer of the three divine Persons who dwell therein.  St Elizabeth of the Trinity says: "I do not need to make any effort to enter into the mystery of the divine indwelling in the soul of Our Lady; my soul seems to abide there habitually, in the same attitude that was hers: adoring the God hidden within me" (Letters). May it also be given to us to live, under Mary's direction, in this attitude of continual adoration of the Trinity dwelling within our soul. 
Let us continue to pray with St Elizabeth of the Trinity: "O Mary, I can imagine how you must have felt when, after the Incarnation, you had within you the Word made flesh, the Gift of God! In what silence, what adoring recollection, must you have withdrawn into the depths of your soul to embrace the God whose Mother you were! Your attitude, O Blessed Virgin, during the months preceding the Nativity of Jesus, seems to be the model for interior souls...What peace and recollection accompanied your every action! You made ordinary things divine, because through them all, you remained the adorer of the Gift of God" (Letters, 1:10)

Vintage Holy card depicting Blessed Virgin with the Child Jesus from Westfries Museum collection in Belgium

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mary's joy at the Ascension

If Mary felt a great joy when her Son lived next to her bodily, and as much joy when that same Son, after destroying death, re-emerged from the underworld, would she have had less joy when, before her eyes, her son rose to heaven in flesh and blood, which she well knew, he had taken from her?

Who would ever say such a thing, or has ever believed that her happiness at that moment could be compared to all the joys that preceded it?

Good mothers in this world are accustomed to experience great joy when their children receive earthly honors, and this mother-without a doubt a good mother-would she not have rejoiced with unutterable joy when she saw her only Son penetrate all heaven with power and dominion, rising and reaching the throne of God the Father Almighty? (St Eadmer of Canterbury)

after 'A Moment with Mary' 

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday before Ascension - Carmelite reflection

In today's Gospel Jesus announces His Ascension, saying: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world, again I leave the world, and I go to the Father." He presents the time spent on earth as a long journey, a pilgrimage. Every Christian should consider his own life, as St Teresa put it, "a night spent in a bad inn" (Way of Perfection, 40) during which his heart should be focused on eternal life. Jesus continues: "the hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father." Here He refers to the coming Pentecost, to the intervention of the Holy Spirit by whom He will enlighten the Apostles, giving them a clear understanding of the divine mysteries, so that the Father will no longer be unknown to them. If the Holy Spirit does not enlighten us, all that we can study and learn about the things of God is a dead letter, nothing. Yet, another important subject is brought today to our attention. Many times before, Jesus had spoken to the Apostles about prayer and the way they should pray; today he reveals the secret of efficacious prayer, saying: "If you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it you." With these words, Jesus gives the Apostles an unfailing means of approaching the Father, to present themselves in His own Name, the Name of the God Man who, because He sacrificed Himself for the glory of His Father and for our salvation, deserves to be "heard for His reverence" (Heb 5:7). Therefore, it is clear, that our prayer, as well as all our good works, have no value unless they are founded on the infinite merits of Jesus. We have no sufficiency in ourselves for we are "unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10), but all our sufficiency comes from the Crucified Lord. Therefore, looking at Him, the first condition of prayer made in His Name is humility, the realistic sense of our nothingness. The second condition, is the boundless confidence in the merits of Our Lord, which surpass all our poverty, misery, necessities, needs. In view of Jesus' infinite merits, we can never ask too much in His Name; we can never be too bold in imploring the plenitude of divine grace for our souls, in aspiring to the sanctity. There is no fault, no want of fidelity, no evil tendency, no sin, which, if sincerely detested, cannot be cleansed, purified, and pardoned by the Blood of Jesus; there is no weakness which He cannot cure, strengthen, and transform. Moreover, there is no creature of good will, no matter how weak and insignificant, who, in the Name of Jesus, cannot aspire to sanctity. However, there is the third condition to make the prayer efficacious. Our life MUST correspond to our prayer, our faith MUST be translated into good works: "Be you doer of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was." (James 1:22-27). These words of St James reminds us strongly of the practical character of Christian life. Vain is our prayer, vain our confidence in God, if we do not add our generous efforts to perform all our duties, to live up to our high vocation. We can, and we should hope for everything in the Name of Jesus, but we need to make an effort on our part to be entirely faithful to Him, and He expect this from us.

Let us pray with St Augustine: "Grant, O God, that [Your Son's] goodness may overcome my wickedness, that His meekness may atone for my perversity, that His mildness may dominate my irascibility. May His humility make amends for my pride; His patience, for my impatience; His benignity, for my harshness; his obedience for my disobedience; His tranquility, for my anxiety, His sweetness, for my bitterness; may His charity blot out my cruelty!"

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

How to practice the Presence of God - Carmelite Saints tell it is worth to try, it will change our prayer lives forever.

St Teresa of Jesus strongly recommends the practice of the presence of God for souls aspiring to divine intimacy: 'We must retiring within ourselves even during our ordinary occupations...if I can recall the companionship I have within for so much as a moment, that is of great utility' (Way of Perfection, 29). In other words, devotion to the presence of God aims at engaging our soul in making strong effort to keep God always present in our mind and heart, even when we are engaged in our daily tasks. We can do this in various ways: we can use external objects, such as an image or a crucifix which we wear or put on our worktable, the sight of which will often remind us of God; we can also use our imagination to picture 'interiorly' the Lord near us. For, if the humanity of Jesus is not physically present, it is nevertheless always exercising an influence over us - even a physical one - in the communication of grace; so we can truly 'represent to ourselves' this action of Jesus within us. We can also keep a very vivid remembrance of God by using some truth of faith. For example, I can cultivate the thought of the continual presence of the Trinity within me, and try to perform all actions in honour of my divine Guests, or else I can consider my duties as so many manifestations of the will of God, and unite myself to this divine will as I perform them. Further, I can make it a practice to view all the circumstances of my life in the light of faith, and therefore, arranged by divine Providence for my good. This will incline me to accept them and to repeat continually to my heavenly Father: "I am content with everything You do for me". One might object that this method is more suitable for those who live in solitude than for those who are in constant contact with others; yet St Teresa applies it, simply and practically to the latter: "If one is speaking, he must try to remember that there is One within him to whom he can speak; if he is listening, let him remember that he can listen to One who is nearer to him than anyone else. Finally, let him realize that, if he likes, he need never withdraw from this good companionship, and let him grieve when he has left his Father, alone for so long, though his need of Him is so sore (Way of Perfection, 29). Anyone, who works, either manually or mentally, can adopt this method in all his relations with his neighbour. Nothing can hinder him from using it even inversely, that is, by applying it to the presence of God in the soul of others. If, unfortunately, God is not present at all times in all men by grace, He is present in essence, as the creator and conserver of their being. Thus a teacher may consider God present in his students, a doctor or a nurse, in their patients; a merchant or a dressmaker in their customer, and so on. This will inspire in us sentiments of kindness, charity, and respect for all those with whom we are in contact; it will lead us to be interested in them and to serve them, neither for an advantage which we may reap by so doing, nor solely from a sentiment of duty, but as homage to God whom we recognize as present in them. It means, in practical terms, to seek, serve and love God present in our brethren. This practice will be very effective in maintaining our contact with God, whether we think of Him as present in our own soul, or in that of our neighbour. "If you become accustomed to having Him at your side" says St Teresa, "and if He sees that you love Him there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away" (Way, 26)
Let us reflect for a moment on the words of St Elizabeth of the Trinity and pray with her:

"Lord, may my motto be: Thou in me and I in Thee! How beautiful is Your presence within me, in the inmost sanctuary of my soul. May my continual occupation be to retire into myself, that I may lose myself in You, and live with You. I feel You so vividly in my soul, that I have only to become recollected to find You there within me, and in that I find all my happiness"
"O Lord, let me live with You as my friend! Help me to live in the awareness of faith always, in order that I may be united to You no matter what happens. I bear heaven in my soul, since You, who satiate the blessed in the Beatific Vision, give Yourself to me in faith and mystery."
"Grant, O my God, that my soul may be a little heaven wherein You can rest with delight. In order that I may attain this end, help me to remove everything that might offend Your divine eyes, and then permit me to live always with You in this little heaven. Wherever I am or whatever I do, You never leave me alone; grant that I, too, may always remain with You. At every hour of the day and night, in joy or sorrow, in every work or action, may I always know how to find You within me!"
"O my God, Blessed Trinity, be my dwelling, my rest, my Father's house which I shall never leave. Let me abide in You, not, not for a few minutes or hours, but permanently, habitually. may I pray in You, adore in You, love in You, suffer in You, work and act in You alone. Let me remain in You to offer myself to others through You, to attend to all my duties, while always penetrating further into Your divine depths. O Lord, grant that every day I may advance along the path of the abyss that leads me to You, that lets me slide down this slope aith a confidence full of love" (Letters, First Retreat, 1)

To read Carmelite classic "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Br Lawrence of the Resurrection click HERE
Selected previous posts on the topic HERE and HERE

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Aid to the Church in Need upcoming Birmingham Oratory meeting

I have got an email from Michael Cowie who is Area Coordinator for Aid to the Church in Need organisation. He asked me to post the link to their website where is posted information about upcoming Birmingham Oratory meeting on June 27th at 2pm: Aid to the Church in Need Birmingham Event: The Light of the World.
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Sunday, May 02, 2010

St Athanasius - On the Incarnation, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei - click to read online

Today is the feast of St Athansius, Father of the Church, bishop of Alexandria, champion of orthodoxy, best remembered for his role in fighting the heresy of Arianism, which became the work of his life. Arianism was the first heresy that aroused within and rocked Catholic Church, this heresy denied Christ Divinity. Let us read excerpts from St Athanasius classic, 'On the Incarnation' of Christ. Athanasian Creed - the summary of Catholic doctrine, can be read HERE

....But, as we have already seen, men, foolish as they are, thought little of the grace they had received, and turned away from God. They defiled their own soul so completely that they not only lost their apprehension of God, but invented for themselves other gods of various kinds. They fashioned idols for themselves in place of the truth and reverenced things that are not, rather than God Who is, as St. Paul says, "worshipping the creature rather than the Creator." Moreover, and much worse, they transferred the honor which is due to God to material objects such as wood and stone, and also to man; and further even than that they went, as we said in our former book. Indeed, so impious were they that they worshipped evil spirits as gods in satisfaction of their lusts. They sacrificed brute beasts and immolated men, as the just due of these deities, thereby bringing themselves more and more under their insane control. Magic arts also were taught among them, oracles in sundry places led men astray, and the cause of everything in human life was traced to the stars as though nothing existed but that which could be seen. In a word, impiety and lawlessness were everywhere, and neither God nor His Word was known. Yet He had not hidden Himself from the sight of men nor given the knowledge of Himself in one way only; but rather He had unfolded it in many forms and by many ways....What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father Who could recreate man made after the Image.n order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need. Here is an illustration to prove it. You know what happens when a portrait that has been painted on a panel becomes obliterated through external stains. The artist does not throw away the panel, but the subject of the portrait has to come and sit for it again, and then the likeness is re-drawn on the same material. Even so was it with the All-holy Son of God. He, the Image of the Father, came and dwelt in our midst, in order that He might renew mankind made after Himself, and seek out His lost sheep, even as He says in the Gospel: "I came to seek and to save that which was lost. This also explains His saying to the Jews: "Except a man be born anew . . .", He was not referring to a man's natural birth from his mother, as they thought, but to the re-birth and re-creation of the soul in the Image of God. Nor was this the only thing which only the Word could do. When the madness of idolatry and irreligion filled the world and the knowledge of God was hidden, whose part was it to teach the world about the Father? Man's, would you say? But men cannot run everywhere over the world, nor would their words carry sufficient weight if they did, nor would they be, unaided, a match for the evil spirits...

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

No greater love - documentary on the lives of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Notting Hill Monastery, London

...'After ten years of correspondence, Michael Whyte was given unprecedented access to the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, in London’s Notting Hill. The monastery, which was founded in 1878, is home to the Discalced Order of Carmelite Nuns. The nuns lead a cloistered life dedicated to prayer and contemplation, rarely leaving the monastery except to visit a doctor or dentist. Silence is maintained throughout the day with the exception of two periods of recreation.

No Greater Love gives a unique insight into this closed world where the modern world’s materialism is rejected; they have no television, radio or newspapers. The film interweaves a year in the life of the monastery with the daily rhythms of Divine Office and work. Centered in Holy Week, it follows a year in which a novice is professed and one of the senior nuns dies. Though mainly an observational film there are several interviews, which offer insights into their life, faith, moments of doubt and their belief in the power of prayer in the heart of the community.'...

To visit the movie producer's website clickHERE

To read excerpts from the book 'In the silence of Mary - the life of Mother Mary of Jesus, Carmelite Prioress and Foundress 1851-1940' who was the Prioress of Notting Hill Carmel click HERE

In the words of Mother Mary of Jesus: 'Like Mary, we have to be mothers of souls. Where will we learn this maternity, the love which it asks, the mission which it constitutes, the life of sacrifice the true prayer of union with God, which it imposes? In Mary - in her silence.'

...more on the foundation of Notting Hill Carmel soon to follow...

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To Jesus through Mary - click to read Louis de Montfort classic, 'True Devotion to Mary'

...The reading of this book marked a turning point in my life. I say "a turning point" although it was actually a long interior journey, coinciding with my clandestine preparation for priesthood. At this point in time this singular treatise came into my hands; it is one of those books that is not enough to have only just "read". I remember that I carried it for long time in my pocket, even taking it with me to the factory where I worked, so that its beautiful cover became stained with lime. I often thought about the passages and went back over them again and again. I quickly realized that there was something fundamental beyond the archaic manner of the book.

From then onward, the Marian devotion of my childhood and even of my youth made way to a new attitude: a devotion that came from the deepest part of my faith, from the heart of a Trinitarian and Christological reality. Whereas before I always held back my love for the Virgin Mary in fear that my devotion to the Mother of God might mask Christ instead of yielding the way to Him, I came to understand in the light of the Treatise of Saint Louis de Montfort that it was actually the contrary. Our interior relationship with the Mother of God results organically from our bond to the mystery of Christ. It is therefore out of the question that one could prevent the other. (...) It is even possible to say that one who endeavors to know and love Jesus Christ designates Mary as his own Mother just as the disciple John did at Calvary (Andre Frossard in conversation with Pope John Paul II).

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