Monday, December 12, 2011

Love your enemies
He was also concerned about what was happening to the Order under Doria's authority, and the unhappiness it was causing to the nuns. He wrote to Sr Leonor advising her not to dwell on things, 'because what should be occupied in God be occupied in this....Let the garden be closed, then, without pain or worry, for he who entered bodily for his disciples, when the doors were closed, and gave them peace, without them knowing or imagining that this could be, nor how, will enter in spirit into the soul....and he will fill her with peace.'
He had need of that peace for himself, because a new definitor, Fr Diego Evangelista, elected at the Madrid Chapter, was given the task of investigating Fr Gracian, with a view to carrying out his expulsion from the Order that Doria had proposed. The nuns at Granada were so worried at the interrogation to which they had been subjected and the way what they said was being twisted and misinterpreted, that they burned a whole sack of John's letters and other writings. Hearing of this activity, John was deeply hurt, but refused to say anything against Fr Diego. This campaign continued for the rest of John's life, and hearing of his death, Diego expressed regret that he had not managed to expel him from the Order before he died. The hapless Gracian was not so 'fortunate'. He was expelled, captured and tortured by Barbary pirates, escaped, and, not able to re-enter the Discalced, died as a Calced friar.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Days
John of the Cross had said to Mother Anne that his health was good, but that was to change in September of that year, 1591. Bearing in mind his austere life, the sufferings his body undergone in Toledo, the incessant travels over Spain without benefit of modern roads, his health had borne up very well. He had a bout of fever a little earlier, and now he went down with another bout, and his right leg became inflamed. He needed medical attention, but Penuela was so remote that there was no medicines available. He had make a decision whether to go to Baeza, where he would be welcomed, but would be surrended by visitors wanting to see him, or to the recently founded house at Ubeda. He chose Ubeda. It was a twenty mile journey by mule in the torrid heat, and he was almost dead with pain and exhaustion by the time he arrived. It was discovered that he had untreated erysipelas in his foot, a disease of the nerve ending which would break our into painful sores. The doctor had to scrape away the diseased flesh without anesthetic - with no understanding of sterilisation, that would probably have made the condition worse.


He was pleased to see Fr Alonzo, who had been one od the novices at Granada, but his welcome from the Prior, Francis Chrysostom, was much less welcome. He resented the drain on his time and resources that a sick friar would mean to the community. In addition, as his Provincial some time before, John had had to reprimand him, and Francis had born him a grudge ever since. Now he would have his revenge. He gave John a tiny cell that only John, being so small, could enter without stooping. In the encroaching winter, it was bitterly cold, with the wind coming in through cracks in the wall. Sick as John was, the Prior ordered him to attend all the community functions, and publicly reprimanded him when he had to stay in bed. He accused John of using his illness to seek sympathy, what a bad example he was giving, how lax he was in observing the Rule. He refused to allow any of the brothers or any visitors to see him. Wherever John had been Prior, his attention to the sick was peerless. However poor the community might be, all that the sick might need was given them. Now, Fr Francis refused to provide hism with the medicines and food that John needed. His treatment was scandalising the community, however, and when Fr Francis forbade Fr Bernard, his infirmarian, to look after John any more, this was the last straw for Bernard. He wrote to the Provincial, Fr Anthony of Jesus, John's old companion from the Duruelo days, who immediately came to Ubeda, saw the conditions that John was suffering, reprimanded the Prior severely, and made that he was given a better treatment.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

God is always good.
What John had foreseen came to pass. Doria saw his prestige and the reverence in which so many held him for his spiritual stature as a threat to his own authority and he left the Chapter a simple friar, stripped of any post. There were even plans to send him to Mexico, although this never materialised. Instead, he was sent to a remote friary at La Penuela. For John, it was a relief no longer to have all his administrative tasks, and to pursue the life of prayer for which he always yearned, whatever his outward activity over the previous years. As he remarked of those years, when he spent his journeys praying, singing psalms, 'I am well, but my soul lags far behind'. The letter he wrote to Mother Anne of Jesus shortly after the Chapter shows his state of mind: '[God] has arranged this that we may show it by our actions...this is not evil or harmful, neither for me nor for anyone. It is in my favour since, being freed and relieved from the care of souls, I can, if I want and with God's help, enjoy peace, solitude, and the delightful fruit of forgetfulness of self and of all things.' He made the most of the nature he so loved a Penuela, going for hours into the countryside to pray and be alone with his Beloved. Even so, he was not out of contact with the many people whom he had directed, and continued to guide them by letter. Even so, he would not have been human if he had not felt hurt by the antagonism and even hatred of which he had been the butt at the Chapter. As he wrote to Anne of Penalosa, he liked Penuela very much: 'The vastness of the desert is a great help to the soul and the body, although the soul fares very poorly. The Lord must desire that it have its spiritual desert.' He described his simple life to her, which suited him so much: 'This morning we have already returned from gathering our chick-peas, and so the mornings go by. On another day we shall thresh them. It is nice to handle these mute creatures, better than being badly handled by living ones.'

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

It seems to me that nobody has penetrated the mystery of Christ in its depth except the Blessed Virgin. Saint Paul often speaks about "the understanding"....The secret that she pondered and kept in her heart, no tongue has been able to tell, nor pen translate. May this Mother of Grace form my heart, so that her little child be a living and striking image of her first-born, the Son of the Eternal, the One who was the perfect praise of the glory of his Father (Bl Elisabeth of the Trinity, Mary, Model of Interior Souls).

After 'A Moment with Mary'

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

All Saints Day

'O blessed heavenly souls! Help our misery and be our intercessors before the divine mercy that we may be given some of your joy and a share in this clear knowledge you posses' 

'I say, daughters, that we should set our eyes on Christ, our Good, and on His saints. There we shall learn true humility, the intellect will be enhanced, as I have said, and self-knowledge will not make one base and cowardly'

'Look at the multitude of souls God draws to Himself by means of one. He is to be greatly praised for the thousands converted by the martyrs: for a young girl like St Ursula; for those the devil must have lost through St Dominic, St Francis, and other founders of religious orders' (St Teresa of Avila)

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary with St Therese

We may honour Our Lady of the Holy Rosary today with praying the Rosary decade while meditating on the words of St Therese of Child Jesus. As we can see from the quotes below, St Therese had a great devotion to Our Lady and loved her spiritual Mama truly. Good example for all of us!

Sign of the Cross, Pater Noster, three Ave Maria. Fruit of the Mystery,  devotion to Our Lady

Behold, your mother! (John 19:27)

Pater Noster... 

The Blessed Virgin is my mother and little children ordinarily resemble their mama. Ave Maria...

Not being able to bear it any longer, I asked the Blessed Virgin to take my head in her hands and to support it. Ave Maria...

The Blessed Virgin is the Queen of heaven and earth, quite true, but she is more mother than queen. Ave Maria...

The Blessed Virgin loves us truly as Jesus loves us. Ave Maria....

I felt that the Blessed Virgin was watching over me, that I was her child. Hence I found it necessary to call her "Mama", for this name seemed even more tender than that of mother. Ave Maria....

It is proper to speak of her prerogatives, but we must not content ourselves with that. We must do all we can to make her beloved of souls. Ave Maria....

When we ask a grace from the Blessed Virgin, we receive immediate help. Have you not experienced this? Well, try it and you will see. Ave Maria....

The Blessed Virgin never fails to protect me as soon as I invoke her. In my troubles and anxieties I very quickly turn towards her and, like the most tender of mothers, she always takes care of my interests. Ave Maria....

She has given us so many proofs that she cares for us like a Mother. Ave Maria...

 A mother's heart always understands, even when her child can do no more than lisp. Ave Maria.... 

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

St Therese quotes from various sources.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011


The angels who assist Him know well the attitude of their King, for He delights more in the unpolished manners of the humble shepherd who....would say more if he knew more than he does in the talk of very wise and learned men, however elegant their discourse, if they don't walk in humility. (St Teresa Collected Works 2:123)

Dear Angel, given by God to be
My brother and my friend,
Beneath the shadow of your wings 
May I reach journey's end.
I too shall sing, when breaks the dawn,
-Eternity's bright day-
With angel choirs the song of praise
You taught me in the way.
(St Therese, Poems)

Who is like to God?
St Michael is mentioned three times in Holy Scriptures. In the book of Daniel (chapters 10, 12) he is the protector and liberator of God's people: "Michael, that high lord who is guardian of thy race." Judas Thaddeus repeats the legend of his strife with the devil for the body of Moses. In the Apocalypse we are told that "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon...and flung him down to earth" (Apoc. 12: 7-9); "Who is like to God"? Love gives its direction to the will, enlightened by understanding. The angels, those "flames of fire" as the Psalmist calls them, are burning with love. True, sincere love is the song which we must know if we would join the choir of angels in the kingdom of God. (Ruysbroeck). The Church has special devotion to St. Michael and its origin, doubtless, is in the Bible, but it has much increased in the course of ages; it has been, so to speak, christened. From protector of the Jewish race, he has became protector of the new people of God, the Church. As one of the seven who stands and watches by the Blessed Eucharist, and after leads souls of the faithful up to the throne of God after death. Protector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was considered as the Chief of the Christian armies in the wars against the Mahometans and the Turks in the Vth and XVth centuries. St Louis IX, did all "by my Lord St.Michael", and Joan of Arc was always led by him. He has his place in literature; Roland was taken to heaven by him; Vondel gives Michael's portrait in his "Lucifer". His statue stands in many towns which have chosen him for their patron, and he has inspired the artists of every century. 

What gives him such an attraction?
The Psalmist, speaking of man, says, "thou hast placed him only a little below the angels" Ps 8:6. We know that the angels, those richly endowed and highly privileged beings, are far above us. The angel's knowledge is intuitive; he does not need the medium of reason; he was created with a strong will, and is confirmed in grace. His faculties are all in order and under control, making of him a unit of the highest perfection. That mighty being gave itself freely and once for all to God; his choice was absolute, making him for ever "free for God", and therefore perfectly adapted to his service. None but the Queen of Angels, whose being is yet greater and richer in grace, can surpass their praise and their service. They are a mighty host, strong powers, flames of fire. "Bless the Lord, all you angels of his; angels of sovereign strength, that carry out his commandment....bless the Lord, all you hosts of his, the servants that perform his will." Ps. 102:20. It is not difficult to see why St. Michael is so beloved. No other angel has been allowed to show us his virtues and qualities so clearly. No other has proved to us so often and so distinctly the inexorable nature of his choice, none has defended it more unceasingly. Today's Collect says, "God, who ordained the service of angels and men in a wonderful order, be pleased to grant that our life on earth may be guarded by those who stand always ready to serve thee in heaven." It is really he who called God's wrath down upon the fallen angels? Was he then, in the abyss of time, already God's well-beloved? Is the last day really his day? Is he to have the honour of bringing all souls to the foot of God's throne? Is he the trusted servant, the great general who will bring the last standard, taken from the enemy, to his king? For the Christian folk, he is the ideal of the great military leader. All who love the Church have the protector of God's kingdom here on earth, so penetrated is he by the will of the Lord of the angels. We in our weakness claim his help in our fight with the devil. Michael and his angels, so full of God's own power, are actual and invincible forces, infinitely greater than those of hell. In our day, the Church, more than ever, needs his protection against her enemies.

The Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas Day, is September 29. As it is not certain just what church is commemorated as having been dedicated on this day, the pious belief has gained favor that the entire Catholic Church is here indicated. For by casting the rebel spirits into the abyss, St. Michael dedicated the Church Triumphant in Heaven as the peaceful abode of the Angels; and as he wards off the devil and his colleagues from the Church upon earth, he has dedicated the Church Militant as the secure dwelling place of the faithful upon earth. Finally, as helper and counsoler of the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering is place under his care. This feast of St. Michael has ever been one of the outstanding feasts of the Church. However, the liturgy for the feast is not confined to the veneration of St. Michael alone, but includes all the Angels, particularly those who are appointed as guardians of mankind.

O Glorious Prince of the heavenly hosts and victor over rebellious spirits, be mindful of me who am so weak and sinful and yet so prone to pride and ambition. Lend me, I pray, thy powerful aid in every temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Holy Michael, Archangel, protect us in the day of battle, and so on the day of judgment, that we may be saved from eternal loss!

To read another St Michael post with Novena prayer please follow LINK

The reading of interest for the Feast of St Michael may also be the post on the apparition of St Michael in Gargano, Italy, 492 LINK

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wisdom of the Little Flower

Soon, soon, to heaven that waits for us, my soul shall swiftly fly.
O Thou who can'st to smile on me at dawn of life's beginning!
Come once again to smile on me.... Mother! the night is nigh.
I fear no more thy majesty, so far, so far above me,
For, I have suffered sore with thee; now hear my heart's deep cry!
Oh! let me tell thee face to face, dear Virgin! how I love thee;
And say to thee forevermore:
thy little child am I.

(The Last poem written by St. Therese)

“Sometimes I find my self saying to the Holy Virgin: “Do you know, O cherished Mother, that I think myself more fortunate than you? I have you for Mother and you have not, like me, the blessed Virgin to love … You are, it is true, the Mother of Jesus but you have given Him to me, and He, from the Cross gave you to us as our Mother, so we are richer than you. Of old it was your desire that you might be the little handmaiden of the Mother of God; and I, poor little creature, I am, not your servant, but your child: you are the Mother of Jesus and you are my Mother.” (Thoughts of Saint Therese, 154-5)

For a sermon about Mary to bear fruit, I believe that we need to talk about her real life, such as we can discover in the Gospel and not just what we merely imagine her life was like. It is easy to imagine that her real life, in Nazareth and later, was very ordinary… 'He lived under their authority...' (Lk 2:51). How simple that sounds! We often depict Mary as inaccessible, but wouldn’t it be better to show her as imitable, practising hidden virtue, living from her faith, just like we do? We could give examples of her behavior taken from the Gospel, 'They did not understand what he meant' (Lk 2:50), or, 'The child’s father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about Him' (Lk 2:33). Their wondering could perhaps imply a certain amount of astonishment, don’t you agree, my Mother? (St Therese, Last Talks)

"A priest, clad in his sacred vestments, is Christ's viceregent to pray to God for himself and for all the people, in a suppliant and humble manner. He has before him and behind him the sign of the Cross of the Lord, that he may always remember the Passion of Christ. He bears the cross before him in his vestment, that he may diligently behold the footsteps of Christ, and fervently endeavor to follow them. He is marked with a cross behind, that he may mildly suffer, for God's sake, whatsoever adversities shall befall him from others. he wears the cross before him, that he may bewail his own sins; and behind him, that through compassion he may lament the sins of others, and know that he placed, as it were, a mediator betwixt God and the sinner. Neither ought he to cease from prayer and the holy oblation, till he be favoured with the grace and mercy which he implores. (Imitation, Bk 4;5)

The harvest-time had not yet come,
But Thou didst yearn to see
The golden grain all garnered safe
In Heaven's granary.
Lord of the harvest, send Thy priests
To reap where Thou didst sow!
To them I dedicated my life,
My sufferings here below.
(St Therese, Poems)

"Temptations are often very profitable to a man, although they be troublesome and grievous; for in them a man is humbled, purified, and instructed. All the saints have passed through many tribulations and have profited by them: and they who could not support temptations have become reprobate, and fell off. There is not any Order so holy, nor place so retired, where there are not temptations and adversities." (Imitation, 1:13)
"On the eve of Profession - which is usually spent in holy joy and peace before the dawn of the great day - I suddenly saw my vocation as a delusion, a dream. The devil - for it was assuredly he - inspired me with the conviction that the life of a Carmelite was quite unsuited for me, and that I was deceiving my Superiors by continuing in it in spite of having no vocation. I was plunged into such darkness That I could only see one thing clearly, which was, that not being called to the religious life, I must go back to the world. My distress was indescribable and I did not know what to do. However, I did the very best thing by revealing this temptation to my novice mistress; I called her out of choir, and feeling much ashamed told her in what state I was. Luckily she saw through the temptation, and laughingly reassured me. My act of humiliation instantly put the devil to flight; he had tried to make me conceal the trial and so fall into the trap, but he himself was caught, for I told all to Mother Prioress as well, and her consoling answer dispelled any lingering doubts." (The Story of a Soul)

"Thou must be content to be made a fool for Christ, if thou wilt lead a religious life" (Imitation of Christ, 1:27)
 "I am very glad, Celine, that you do not feel any natural attraction for Carmel now that you are about to enter; this is a delicate attention on the part of Our Lord who is enabling you to make Him a gift. He knows that it is more blessed to give than to receive. How blessed also to suffer reproach for the sake of Him who loves us, and to pass for fools in the eyes of the world! The foolish world, judging us by its own standard, calls us by this name, but let us take comfort in the thought that we are not the first. The only crime of which Herod accused Our Lord was madness...and in a sense he was right. It was indeed madness for the King of Glory, seated above the Cherubim, to seek out poor human hearts in which to set up His throne. Was He not infinitely happy with the Father and the Spirit of Love? Why come down on earth to make sinners His intimate friends?
We could never go to such lengths of folly to repay our Bridegroom; compared with His, our actions are quite reasonable. Let the world then leave us in peace, for it is the world which is foolish, knowing nothing of all Jesus has done and suffered to save it from perdition. (Letters)

"A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher" (Luke 6:40)
A soul isn't holy just because God uses it as an instrument. It is like an artist who uses this brush or that one. Why choose this one, or leave the other aside? It isn't any less a brush, and it could even be better than the other one. Anyway, to be used for the Master's work doesn't make one better. (...) Let's not take credit for anything, let's not make judgments. It is all to God (Advice and Memories)

"None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions" (Luke 14:33)
"I did not expect to come to Carmel to receive praise; also after the parlor visit [the interview], I never stopped telling God that it was for him alone that I wanted to be a Carmelite". (The Story of the Soul)

"They are all one through the bond of love; they have the same sentiments, the same will, and all mutually love one another" (The Imitation of Christ, Bk 3;58)
"Take, O Lord, from our hearts all jealousy, indignation, wrath, and contention, and whatsoever may hurt charity, and lessen brotherly love" (ibidem Bk 4;9)

"She spoke of the Communion of Saints, and explained that what one possessed would be shared by all: "Just as a mother is proud of her children, so we shall be proud of one another without the least trace of jealousy." (St Therese, Novissima Verba)

"It is true I am not always faithful, but I do not give way to discouragement; I just place myself in Our Lord's arms, and He teaches me to draw profit from both the good and the bad in me. He shows me how to gamble on the bank of love, or rather, He makes all the investments without consulting me. It is not my concern to know how much I am winning; what I have to do is to give myself entirely to Him. After all, I am no prodigal, there is no need for Him to prepare a feast for me, because I am always with Him (Luke 15:31).  (Letters)

Remember, Lord, that Thou didst yearn
To set man's heart aflame
With that consuming fire of love
Which from Thine own Heart came!
If from a little spark can spring
A mighty fire, Oh! then
May heart's love run through the world
And fire the hearts of men!

There are no obstacles for children; they get through everywhere. The big souls can overcome things, toss aside the difficulties, and reach a way to rise above it all by reasoning or virtue. But we who are so small must not try that. (...) To give in to things is to not look at them too closely, not to reason them out (Advice and Memories).

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - click to read more

"Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun?"(Sg 6,10)

On the feast of the Nativity of our Lady, I feel special joy. When this day comes I think it's good to renew my vows. And once while I was about to do so, the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady, appeared to me through an illuminative vision; and it seems to me I renewed them in her hands and that they were pleasing to her. This vision remained with me for some days, as though she were next to me at my left. (St Teresa of Avila, Spiritual Testimonies, Collected Works)

citation after 'Mary's Vitamin'
'Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary' by Ghirlandaio

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland, 1382 - click to read more

"For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance" (Mt 25:29)

Sole happiness on earth is for us to concentrate on always finding what Jesus gives us to be delicious....If you want to be a saint, that will be easy, since you feel [from the bottom of your heart] that the world is nothing to you. You can therefore, like us, concentrate on "the only necessary thing," which means that while you are devoting yourself to exterior deeds, your only goal is this: to make Jesus happy, to unite yourself with him (St Therese, Letters)

Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa
 O Mary, Our Dear Lady of Czestochowa, look graciously upon your children in this troubled and sinful world. Embrace us all in your loving and Motherly protection. Protect our young from godless ways; assist our dear ones grown old with age to prepare for their journey home; shield our defenseless unborn from the horrors of abortion, and be our strength against all sin. Spare your children from all hatred, discrimination and war. Fill our hearts, our homes and our world with that peace and love which comes only from your Son, whom you so tenderly embrace. O, Queen and Mother, be our comfort and strength! Our Lady of Czestochowa, ora pro nobis!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI successful visit to Spain, Damian Thompson reports, click to read

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Octave of the Feast of Assumption and Queenship of Mary

"My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:47-48)

The Blessed Virgin was also watching over her little flower. Not wanting her to be tarnished by contact with earthly things, she moved her to her mountain before she bloomed....While waiting for this happy moment, the little Therese grew in love for the Heavenly Mother (The Story of a Soul)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Lady of Knock, Ireland, 21st of August 1879, - click to read

Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? Or who shall rest in thy holy hill? He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice. He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue; nor hath done evil to his neighbor. He that sweareth to his neighbor and deceiveth not; he that hath not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent. He that doth these things shall not be moved forever (Psalm 14).

“Chosen soul, living image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, God wants you to become holy like him in this life, and glorious like him in the next. It is certain that growth in the holiness of God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions, everything you suffer or undertake must lead you towards that end. Otherwise you are resisting God in not doing the work for which he created you and for which he is even now keeping you in being.” ("The Secret of Mary", Introduction)

To read Act of Entrustment and Consecration of Ireland, 1979, click HERE

The list of nine major approved Apparitions of Our Lady HERE

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Novena to the Assumption of Our Lady - click to pray

Novena in honour of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven is traditionally prayed to obtain favour of special attention and assistance of Our Heavenly Mother.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

I have found interesting story on the web which I want to share with the visitors to my blog. It has some political dimension and clearly refers to our life in the British Isles.

While walking down the street one day a 'Member of Parliament' is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance. 'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the MP.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of
it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time to visit heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose
your eternity.'

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the MP. 'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?'

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning.. ..

Today you voted.'

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Portiuncula Indulgence, a gift from Heaven! click to read more

Below is the picture representing the interior of Portiuncula Chapel, where St Francis prayed.

"The Portiuncula Indulgence, which can be obtained every year on 2th August or the first Sunday thereafter, is owed to the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. When in 1209 he founded the Order of the Friars Minor, this great Saint, who so esteemed poverty and lowliness, beseeched the Benedictine Abbot in possession of a humble little chapel in Assisi, the Portiuncula church, to let the Franciscans have it for their use. The chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels, had been abandoned for a long time. Once the Benedictines had given it to him, Francis set about restoring it.It was in this historic church that on 28th March 1211 St Clare received her habit from St Francis and so initiated the Order of the Poor Clares. And here too, St Francis implored of God the Portiuncula Indulgence. Whilst there are variations in different writers’ accounts, tradition tells us that in October 1221, whilst the Saint was in his cell weeping over poor sinners, an angel appeared to him, inviting him into the presence of the Son of God in company with his Virgin Mother and a host of angels who had visibly descended into the little church.

Saint Francis immediately hurried into the little church and found everything exactly as the angel had told him. Filled with awe, he fell face down before the Lord and adored Him. Jesus in turn looked graciously upon his humble servant inviting him to ask any favour, with the assurance of granting him his request. Plucking up courage, the Saint begged that all sinners visiting the church and contritely confessing their sins might receive full pardon. To this Jesus replied: “Francis, you ask much, but I will favour you with greater things still; your prayer is granted, but go to my vicar, the Pope, and in my Name ask for the Indulgence which I have granted to you.” The apparition disappeared, leaving Francis overjoyed.

The following day, together with his brothers, St Francis hastened to Pope Honorius III, fell prostrate before him, and beseeched him to announce that everyone visiting the church, and confessing their sins with contrite heart, would be as pure from sin and punishment as at their baptism. Honorius, somewhat taken aback by this strange petition, hesitated to grant it. But Francis insisted that it was the Lord Jesus Christ himself who had sent him to make this request. The Pope, finally convinced by the truth of his words, granted his petition and ordered the solemn consecration of the little church and the declaration of the Indulgence for the second day of August.

Conditions attached to the Indulgence
The Indulgence, if the person gaining it is free from every sin, remits all the temporal punishment due to sin and may be applied to the person himself or herself or to a soul in Purgatory. If there is any adherence to sin in the person gaining the Indulgence, the Indulgence becomes partial. Whilst it is possible to gain the Indulgence in any public church or oratory in the world beginning from noon on 1nd August until midnight at the end of 2nd August, one can now also obtain it on the first Sunday after 2nd August. The person wishing to gain the Indulgence must fulfill the following requirements:

a. Intend to gain the Indulgence.

b. Be detached from all sin, even venial sin.

c. While in the church pray one Our Father, one Apostles’ Creed, and one other prayer of the individual’s choice.

d. Pray for the intentions of the Pope (prayerfully saying an Our Father and a Hail Mary will suffice although other prayers may be said).

e. Receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist within one week either before or after the appointed day."

from: Catholicism Pure and Simple

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Feast of St James the Greater and beginning of the New Compostelan Year

The Feast of St James the Greater is celebrated this year on Sunday, therefore, according to Tradition, this year is the Compostelan Year. The story of St James the Greater, from The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa can be read here. The picture represent the stained glass panel with enamel paint and silver stain (Switzerland, 1618) and depicting St James the Greater (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, and sister, and mother"

«My thoughts are not your thoughts,» says the Lord (Is 55,8). Merit does not consist in doing or in giving much, but rather in receiving, in loving much. It is said it is much sweeter to give than to receive, (Acts 20,35) and it is true. But when Jesus wills to take for himself the sweetness of giving, it would not be gracious to refuse. Let us allow him to take and give all he wills. Perfection consists in doing his will, and the soul that surrenders itself totally to him is called by Jesus himself "His mother, his sister," and his whole family.' And elsewhere: "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (that is, he will do my will) and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him." (Jn 14,23). Oh, how easy it is to please Jesus, to delight his Heart, one has only to love Him, without looking at oneself, without examining one's faults too much...

Directors have others advance in perfection by having them perform a great number of acts of virtue, and they are right; but my director, who is Jesus, teaches me not to count my acts. He teaches me to do all through love, to refuse him nothing, to be content when he gives me a chance of proving to him that I love him. But this is done in peace, in abandonment; it is Jesus who is doing all in me, and I am doing nothing. (St Therese of the Child Jesus)

text after DGO

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel

"All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" (Lk 2:18-19).

"Close to you, Oh my loving Mother, I have found rest for my heart; I want nothing more on earth. Jesus alone is my entire happiness. If, at times, I feel sadness, if fear assails me, always, by supporting my weakness, Mother, you have deemed to bless me" (St Therese, Poems 7).

Picture by Chant Art graphics.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

First Sunday of July - dedicated to the Most Preciouos Blood of Our Lord Jesus - click to read more

"Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, in Thy Blood" (Litany to the Most Precious Blood)

Wherein then can I hope, or in what must I put my trust, but in God's great mercy alone, and in the hope of heavenly grace? ("Imitation of Christ" Book 2, ch 9)

In te Domine speravi (In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped). How happy I was when it was my turn to recite this verse in choir at the time of our great family trial! (St Therese, Novissima Verba)

Litany to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord HERE

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul, Apostles

"Simon son of Jonah, do you love me?"..."Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."...Feed my sheep" (Jn 21:17)

How did Jesus love his disciples and why did he love them? It wasn't their human qualities that attracted him; an infinite distance existed between them. He was knowledge, Eternal Wisdom; they were poor sinners - ignorant, filled with worldly thoughts. Yet, Jesus calls them his friends, his brothers. He wants to open his Father's Kingdom for them and see them reign with Him in this Kingdom. He wants to die on the cross because he said: "There is no greater love than to give one's life for those we love" (St Therese, Autobiographical Manuscripts, C)

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feast of Corpus Christi - click to read more

"Blessed art thou that hast believed" (Luke 1:45)
"Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed." (Jn 20:29)
"My Lord, and my God" (Jn 20:28)
"Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5)

"The Eucharistic presence of Jesus in us is limited to the brief moments while the sacred species last, and ceases as soon as these disappear. However, Jesus expressly said, "He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me and I in him (Jn 6:57). Now the word "abide" does not signify a passing visit, but is expressive of a stable, permanent state. Hence, from Our Lord's own words, we can see that our union with Jesus continues even after the sacred species are consumed. And this is the literal truth. First, union with the divinity of Jesus does not cease, since the three divine Persons dwell continually in souls in the state of grace; but there is also certain enduring union with His humanity. Even when Christ in His sacred humanity is no longer substantially present in the one who has received Holy Communion, He is there by the influence of His operative presence and by effusion of His grace." (Ven Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene, OCD)

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ascension of the Lord

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere". (Mk 16:19-20)

Do you know what gives me strength? Well, I work for a missionary. I think that, far away, one of them may be exhausted from his apostolic duties. To reduce his fatigue, I offer mine to the Lord. (St Therese, Last Conversations)

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May, the month dedicated to the Queenship of Mary - click to read more

"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (...) And blessed art thou that hast believed" (Luke 1:42-43, 45)

"To ask something of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not the same as asking God. She knows what she has to do about my small desires, if she must say them or not...Finally, it is for her  to see, not to force God to fulfill me to leave him to do his will" (St Therese, Advice and memories 49).

Previous post on the subject including St Louis de Montfort's prayer of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady HERE
Solemn consecration prayer, composed by Venerable Pope Pius XII HERE
On Mary's Crowning HERE

Excerpts for Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, 'Ad Caeli Reginam': "Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.
It is gratifying to recall that We ourselves, on the first day of November of the Holy Year 1950, before a huge multitude of Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and of the faithful who had assembled from every part of the world, defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven where she is present in soul and body reigning, together with her only Son, amid the heavenly choirs of angels and Saints. Moreover, since almost a century has passed since Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, proclaimed and defined the dogma that the great Mother of God had been conceived without any stain of original sin, We instituted the current Marian Year. And now it is a great consolation to Us to see great multitudes here in Rome -- and especially in the Liberian Basilica -- giving testimony in a striking way to their faith and ardent love for their heavenly Mother. In all parts of the world We learn that devotion to the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing more and more, and that the principal shrines of Mary have been visited and are still being visited by many throngs of Catholic pilgrims gathered in prayer."

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Why I love you, O Mary - St Therese of Lisieux

Oh! I would like to sing, Mary, why I love you,
Why your sweet name thrills my heart,
And why the thought of your supreme greatness
Could not bring fear to my soul.
If I gazed upon you in your sublime glory,
Surpassing the splendor of all blessed,
I could not believe that I am your child
O Mary, before you I would lower my eyes!

If a child is to cherish his mother,
She has to cry with him and share his sorrows,
O my dearest Mother, on this foreign shore
How many tears you shed to draw me to you!...
In pondering your life in the holy Gospels,
I dare look at you and come near you.
It's not difficult for me to believe I'm your child,
For I see you human and suffering like me...

When an angel from Heaven bids you be the Mother
Of God who is to reign for all eternity,
I see you prefer, O Mary, what a mystery!
the ineffable treasure of virginity.
O Immaculate Virgin, I understand how your soul
Is dearer to the Lord than his heavenly dwelling.
I understand how your soul, Humble and Sweet Valley,
Can contain Jesus, the Ocean of Love!

Oh! I love you, Mary, saying you are the servant
Of God whom you charm by humility.
This hidden virtue makes you all powerful,
It attracts the Holy Trinity into your heart.
Then the Spirit of Love covering you with his shadow,
The Son equal to the Father became incarnate in you,
There will be a great many of His sinner brothers,
Since He will be called: Jesus, your first-born

At least you find Him and you are overcome with joy,
You say to the fair Child captivating the doctors;
"O my Son, why have you done this?
Your father and I have been searching for you in tears."
And the Child God replies (O what a deep mystery!)
To his dearest Mother holding out her arms to him:
"Why were you searching for me? I must be about
My Father's business. Didn't you know?"

The Gospel tells me that, growing in wisdom,
Jesus remains subject to Joseph and Mary,
And my heart reveals to me with what tenderness
He always obeys his dear parents.
Now I understand the mystery of the temple,
The hidden words of my Lovable King.
Mother, your sweet Child wants you to be the example
Of the soul searching for Him in the night of faith.

Since the King of Heaven wanted his Mother
To be plunged into the night, in anguish of heart,
Mary, is it thus a blessing to suffer on earth?
Yes, to suffer while loving is the purest happiness!...
All that He has given me, Jesus can take back.
Tell Him not to bother with me....
He can indeed hide from me, I'm willing to wait for Him
Till the day without sunset when my faith will fade away...

Mother full of grace, I know that in Nazareth
You live in poverty, wanting nothing more.
No rapture, miracle, or ecstasy
Embellish your life, O Queen of the Elect!...
The number of little ones on earth is truly great.
They can raise their eyes to you without trembling.
It's by the ordinary way, incomparable Mother,
That you like to walk to guide them in Heaven.

While waiting for Heaven, O my dear Mother
I want to live with you, to follow you each day.
Mother, contemplating you, I joyfully immerse myself,
Discovering in your heart abysses of love.
You motherly gaze banishes all my fears.
It teaches me to cry, it teaches me to rejoice.
Instead of scorning pure and simple joys,
You want to share in them, you deign to bless them.

At Cana, seeing the marries couple's anxiety
Which they cannot hide, for they have run out of
In your concern you tell the Saviour,
Hoping for the help of his divine power,
Jesus seems at first to reject your prayer:
"Woman, what does this matter," he answers,"to you
and to me?"
But in the depths of his heart, He calls you his Mother,
And works his first miracle for you...

One day when sinners are listening to the doctrine
Of Him who would like to welcome them in Heaven,
Mary, I find you with them on the hill.
Someone says to Jesus that you wish to see him.
Then, before the whole multitude, your Divine Son
Shows us the immensity of his love for us.
He says: "Who is my brother and my sister and my
If not the one who does my will?"
....more to follow

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our Lady of Fatima - click to read more

"Finding no help upon earth, in my extremity I turned to my Heavenly Mother, beseeching her to have pity on me. Suddenly the statue came to life; Our Lady became so beautiful that no words could describe her unearthly beauty. Her gentle look was full of tender love, but it was her exquisite smile that moved me to the depths of my heart and made all my woes disappear, whilst two big tears rolled down my cheeks. They were tears of joy. "Our Lady came towards me and smiled, I said to myself; but I will tell no one of this, or my joy will disappear". (St Therese)

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Shrove Tuesday - Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

"As many have been astonished at thee, so shall His Visage be inglorious among men, and His form among the sons of men... And He shall grow up as a tender plant before Him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and His look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed Him not." Isaias 52:14, 53:2-3

On the words of Isaias: "He was without splendor, without beauty, His Face was hidden, as it were, and His person was not acknowledged", St Therese wrote: "one finds in them the whole foundation of my devotion to the Holy Face, or to say it better, the foundation of all my piety. I also desire myself to be without splendor, without beauty, to tread alone the wine in the press, unknown by every creature."..."Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay...It is just the same in the world of souls - which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be."

O Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead ... but now it has become for me as if it were the Face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy Infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.

The tears which well up abundantly in Thy Sacred Eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravished my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.  (St Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face)

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? (Mark 8)

Faith, the theologians say, is a certain and obscure habit of soul. It is an obscure habit because it brings us to believe divinely revealed truths that transcend every natural light and infinitely exceed all human understanding. As a result the excessive light of faith bestowed on a soul is darkness for it; a brighter light will eclipse and suppress a dimmer one. The sun so obscures all other lights that they do not seem to be lights at all when it is shining, and instead of affording vision to the eyes, it overwhelms, blinds, and deprives them of vision since its light is excessive and unproportioned to the visual faculty. Similarly, the light of faith in its abundance suppresses and overwhelms that of the intellect...

Another clearer example...: If those born blind were told about the nature of the colors white or yellow, they would understand absolutely nothing no matter how much instruction they received since they never saw these colors... Only the names of these colors would be grasped since the names are perceptible through hearing... Such is faith to the soul; it informs us of matters we have never seen or known... The light of natural knowledge does not show them to us... Yet we come to know it through hearing, by believing what faith teaches in blinding our natural light and bringing it in to submission. St. Paul states: "Faith comes through hearing" (Rm 10:17). This amounts to saying that faith is not a knowledge derived from the senses but an assent of the soul to what enters through hearing... Faith, manifestly, is a dark night for souls, but in this way it gives them light. The more darkness it brings on them, the more light it sheds. For by blinding it illumines them, according to those words of Isaiah: "If you do not believe, you will not understand" (Is 7:9). (St John of the Cross, Ascend to Mt Carmel, 2:3)

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me"

Well, let us imagine that within us is an extremely rich palace, built entirely of gold and precious stones; in sum, built for a lord such as this. Imagine, too, as is indeed so, that you have a part to play in order for the palace to be so beautiful; for there is no edifice as beautiful as is a soul pure and full of virtues. The greater the virtues the more resplendent the jewels. Imagine, also, that in this palace dwells this mighty King who has been gracious enough to become your Father; and that He is seated upon an extremely valuable throne, which is your heart...

You will laugh at me, perhaps, and say that what I'm explaining is very clear, and you'll be right; for me, though, it was obscure for some time. I understood well that I had a soul. But what this soul deserved and who dwelt within it I did not understand because I had covered my eyes with the vanities of the world. For, in my opinion, if I had understood as I do now that in this little palace of my soul dwelt so great a King, I would not have left Him alone so often. I would have remained with Him at times and striven more so as not to be so unclean. But what a marvelous thing, that He who would fill a thousand worlds and many more with His grandeur would enclose Himself in something so small! (St Teresa, Way of Perfection)

After DGO Commentary to St Mark 7:1-13

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Good Success and Purification - click for link

[Someone] had said in a letter to her that Our Lady had not experienced physical suffering. "Looking at Our Lady, I realized it is not true. She suffered in body as well as in soul. She suffered from fatigue of her journeys, from cold and heat, from hunger and weariness. She often fasted. She knows only too well what it is to suffer." (Novissima Verba)

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February - the Month of Purification - click to read more

To read the Golden Legend story, click HERE

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

At the School of Mary's Silence

Mary had learned to listen to God's word. By her side, John in turn learned to listen and hear. As music finds no better echo than in silence, the words of Jesus resonate the best in quiet hearts.The quietest heart of all, that of the Virgin, gathered and meditated all of them. This is why all John needed to do was to live near her so that his disciple's soul gradually opened up to the interior opportunity of receiving and « hearing » everything that the divine words held.

Thanks to Mary, John’s knowledge of Christ also increased. Mary, who had forgotten nothing of Christ’s childhood, his familiar gestures, his way of being, had kept everything in her heart.

These memories illuminated a specifically human personality, at least in appearance, for « a man is always a child for his mother. » Jesus, whilst being God, did not wish to escape this law. He wanted to owe his weakness and his fragility as a man, to a woman and a mother. Who better than Mary could testify?

And yet, such was her testimony and such was she herself, that these human traits which could have discouraged John's faith in the divinity and form an insurmountable ordeal, were instead a source of enrichment and strength. The deeply human facts that he learned from Mary rooted him in his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Incarnation eventually became for him, through Mary, a totally positive reality.

In the privileges of her motherhood, as much as in the sufferings that it occasioned, Mary was so often presented with the « inner side » of things...and she never ceased to go beyond mere appearances in order to reach the divine message and the deeper meaning of God. She lived this to such an extent that she was found worthy, at the foot of the Cross, to become their depository custodian and dispenser. 

There is no doubt that John profited from this treasure and that he was the first to have this privilege.
(Fr. Paul Marie de la Croix, OCD -The Gospel and its Spiritual Testimony)

Text after 'A Moment with Mary'
Picture of Our Lady with the Child taken at the Museum of Art in Washington.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

The mystery of vocation

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted  and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: (he appointed the twelve:) Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19).

I'm going to be doing only one thing: I shall begin to sing what I must sing eternally: "The Mercies of the Lord!» (Ps 89[88],1)... Opening the Holy Gospels my eyes fell upon these words: "And going up a mountain, he called to him men of his own choosing, and they came to him." This is the mystery of my vocation, my whole life, and especially the mystery of the privileges Jesus showered upon my soul. He does not call those who are worthy but those whom he pleases or as St. Paul says: "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will show pity to whom he will show pity. So then, there is question not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God showing mercy" (Rm 9: 15-16).

I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls don't receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw him shower his extraordinary favors on saints who had offended him, for instance, St. Paul and St. Augustine, and whom he forced, so to speak, to accept his graces. When reading the lives of the saints, I was puzzled at seeing how Our Lord was pleased to caress certain ones from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle in their way... Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers he has created are beautiful... And so it is in the world of souls. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God's glances when he looks down at his feet. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wills us to be. (St Therese of Child Jesus)

Text after DGO
Picture represents painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio "Jesus calling the first Apostles" 

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