Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annunciation of the Lord - click to read explanation


PRESENCE OF GOD - At your side, O Mary, I wish to learn how to repeat in every circumstance your "Ecce ancille Domini!" Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

MEDITATION
1. Let us try, through the inspired narrative of St. Luke (Gosp: I, 26-38), to enter into the dispositions of Mary's soul at the time of the Annunciation. The Angel sent by God finds the Virgin recollected in solitude, and "being come in," says to her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." At these words, according to the sacred text Mary is "troubled"; we must not, however, take this phrase to mean real disturbance, which destroys the peace of the spirit; it means rather a profound astonishment at this unusual greeting, an astonishment so great as to cause a kind of fear. This is Mary's first reaction to the angelical message, a reaction arising from her deep humility, which makes her think this extraordinary eulogy very strange.


Meanwhile the Angel communicates to her his great message: God wishes her to become the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary had always lived under the continual direction of the Holy Spirit and under His inspiration had made a vow of virginity; therefore, she was convinced that she should remain a virgin and that this was God's will. But now God lets her know that He has chosen her to be the Mother of His Son, and she, humble handmaid that she is, is ready to adhere to the divine plan. However, she does not yet understand how she can be at the same time a mother and a virgin, and she questions the Angel on this point: "How shall this be done?" The Angel explains: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Her maternity will be direct work of the Holy Spirit and will respect her virginity.
The will of God is then entirely clear to Mary, and she, who during her whole life has always been moved by the divine will alone, accepts it immediately, with an entire adherence and a most intense pure love: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy word." The total acceptance is accompanied by a total donation: Mary accepts by offering herself, and she offers herself by giving herself. She offers herself as a servant, or rather, as a slave, if we take the word in the full sense of the Greek text; she gives herself by abandoning herself as a prey to the divine will, accepting by anticipation everything that God may ask of her. Her adherence to Him is both active and passive: Mary wills all that God wills, and she accepts all that He does. Thus Mary appears as the model of a soul completely united to God, fully given up to His divine will.

2. The Angel's explanation does not prevent many future events and circumstances form remaining hidden and obscure to Mary. She finds herself face to face with a mystery, mystery which she knows intuitively to be rich in suffering; for she has learned from the Sacred Scriptures that the Redeemer will be a man of sorrows, sacrificed for the salvation of mankind. Therefore, the ineffable joy of the divine maternity is presented to her wrapped in a mystery of sorrow: to be willing to be the Mother of the Son of God means consenting to be the Mother of one condemned to death. Yet Mary accepts everything in her fiat: in the joy, as well as in the sorrow of the mystery, she has but one simple answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." By this acceptance, the Blessed Virgin becomes intimately associated with the life of suffering of her Son Jesus, and, therefore with His work of Redemption, thus becoming the spiritual Mother of the human race. This is the divine plan for her, and Mary accepts it wholly, without reserve, precisely because her will is wholly united to the will of God.
Every Christian receives a vocation from God, a mission to fulfill, by means of which he is called to participate in the redemptive work of Jesus. For the souls consecrated to God, this mission always finds its culminating point in a task of spiritual paternity or maternity. Oh, if every soul would respond to the divine appeal by as complete an acceptance as Mary's "Ecce ancilla Domini....Fiat!" Behold the handmaid of the Lord....Be it done!
Many times in the course of our life we have received invitations from the Lord - and we shall certainly continue to receive them - invitations to suffering, to sacrifice, to the gift of self. How have we corresponded? Perhaps the thought of the fatigue and suffering which we would have to embrace has held us back. Let us try, in the future, to keep the eyes of our soul open to the light of faith, so that, like Mary, we shall understand that it is through suffering that God calls us to collaborate with Jesus in the sanctification of souls.

COLLOQUY
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Not only is God the Son with you, to whom you gave your blood, but also God the Holy Spirit, by means of whose operation you conceived, and also God the father, who generated form all eternity Him whom you conceived. The Father, who gives you His Son, is with you; the Son is with you, who, wishing to accomplish a prodigious mystery, conceals Himself in your maternal bosom without violating your virginal integrity; the Holy Spirit is with you, who, together with the Father and the Son, sanctifies you. God is truly with you" (St. Bernard)......
O Mary, by the ineffable mystery which was accomplished in you I beg you to teach me and help me always to open wide the door of my soul to every divine appeal, to every solicitation of grace. At each manifestation of the divine will, may I repeat with you a humble, prompt, "Ecce, fiat!



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Friday, March 07, 2014

The Way of the Cross with Carmelite Saints - St John of the Cross


I. JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
They all concurred in the verdict guilty, with its sentence of death (Mark 14:64).

Take neither great nor little notice of who is with you or against you, and try always please God. Ask Him that His Will be done in you. Love Him immensly, as He deserves to be loved. (The sayings of light and love, no 155, p. 96)

...Have a great love for those who contradict and fail to love you, for in this way love is begotten in a heart that has no love. God so acts with us....(The Letters, no 33 p.764)

When something distasteful or unpleasant comes your way, remember Christ crucified and be silent (Letters no 20 p.756).

II. JESUS CARRIES HIS CROSS
Jesus was led away....carrying the cross by Himself (John 19:16-17)

He who seeks not the cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ (Sayings no 102)

....It behoves us not to go without the cross, just s our Beloved did not go without it, even to the death of love...(Letters no 11).

Oh! If I could but now fully understand how a soul cannot reach the thicket and wisdom of the riches of God, which are of many kinds, without entering the thicket of many kinds of suffering, finding in this her delight and consolation; and how a soul with an authentic desire for divine wisdom, wants suffering first in order to enter this wisdom by the thicket of the cross (The Spiritual Canticle stanza 36).

III. JESUS FALLS THE FIRST TIME
I was hard pressed and was falling (Psalm 118:13)

On this narrow road there is room only for self-denial (as our Saviour asserts) and the cross. The cross is a supporting staff and greatly lightens and eases the journey (Ascent Bk II, ch 7).

....Not only are temporal goods and bodily delights contradictory to the path leading to God, but so also are spiritual consolations, if possessed or sought with attachment, an obstacle to the way of the cross of Christ, the Bridgeroom. (Canticle, Stanza 3 no 5)


IV. JESUS MEETS HIS AFFLICTED MOTHER

Simeon said to Mary His mother...you yourself shall be pierced with a sword (Luke 2:34-35)

Sometimes, however, and at certain periods, God allows [the soul] to feel things and suffer from them that she might gain more merit and grow in the fervor of love, or for other reasons, as He did with the Virgin Mother, St Paul and others. (Canticle, Stanza 3)


V. SIMEON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS CARRY HIS CROSS

They pressed [Simeon] into service to carry the Cross (Mark 15:21)

Our Lord proclaimed through St Matthew: My yoke is sweet and my burden light [Mt 11:30], the burden being the cross. If individuals resolutely submit to the carrying of the cross, if they decidedly want to find and endure trial in all things for God, they will discover in all of them great relief and sweetness. (Ascent II ch 7)

Some souls obtain sensible or spiritual sweetness from God because they are incapable of eating the stronger and more solid food for trials of the cross of His Son. He would desire them to take the cross more than any other thing (Ibid Book II ch 12)

VI. VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS
There was in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him (Is 53:2)

When there is union of love, the image of the Beloved is so sketched in the will, and drawn so intimately and vividly, that it is true to say that the Beloved lives in the lover and the lover in the Beloved....Everything can be called a sketch of love in comparison with that perfect image, the transformation in glory. Yet the attainment of such a sketch of transformation in this life is a great blessing, for with this transformation the Beloved is very pleased. Desiring the bride to put Him as a sketch in her soul, He said in the Song of Songs: Put Me as a seal upon your heart...[Sg 8:6](Canticle, stanza 12)

To the soul that is more advanced in love, more conformed to the divine Will, God communicates Himself more. A person who has reached complete conformity and likeness of will has attained total supernatural union and transformation in God. (Ascent Bk II ch 5).


VII JESUS FALLS FOR THE SECOND TIME

My strength has failed through affliction (Psalm 31:11)

Since you walk in these darknesses and voids of spiritual poverty, you think that everyone and everything is failing you. It is no wonder that in this it also seems God is failing you. But nothing is failing you..... Those who desire nothing else than God walk not in darkness, however poor and dark they are in their own sight. And those who walk not presumptously, nor according to their own satisfactions, whether from God or from creatures, nor do their own will in anything, have nothing to stumble over....(Letters no 19).


VIII. JESUS MEETS THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM

Do not weep for Me. Weep for yourself and for your children (Luke 23:28)

...Christ is little known by those who consider themselves His friends. For we see them going about seeking in Him their own consolations and satisfactions, loving themselves very much, but not loving Him very much by seeking His bitter trials and deaths. (Ascent Bk II ch 7)

IX. JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME
I looked about, but there was no one to help...no one to lend support (Is. 63:5)

If you do not fear falling alone, do you presume that you will rise up alone? Consider how much more can be accomplished by two together than by one alone. (Sayings no 9)


X. JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HS GARMENTS

They divided His clothes among them (Mt 27:35)

...The soul that is naked of desires and whines, God will clothe with His purity, pleasures, and will. (Ibid, no 98)

Wishing to strip them in fact of this old self and clothe them with the new, which is created according to God...as the Apostle says [Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:22-24; Rom 12:2], God divests the faculties, affections, and senses, both spiritual and sensory, interior and exterior. He leaves the intellect in darkness, the will in aridity, the memory in emptiness, and the affections in supreme afflictions, bitterness and anguish by depriving the soul of the feeling and satisfaction it previously obtained from spiritual blessings. For this privation is one of the conditions required that the spiritual form, which is the union of love, may be introduced into the spirit and united with it. (The dark Night Bk II Ch 3)

XI. JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
They have pierced my hands and feet (Psalm 22:17)

Crucified inwardly and outwordly with Christ, you will live in this life with fullness and satisfaction of soul, and possess your soul in patience [Luke 21:19] (Sayings no 87)

Let Christ crucified be enough for you, and with Him suffer and take your rest, and hence annihilate yourself in all inward and outward things. (Ibid no 20)

XII. JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many...he surrendered himself to death (Is 53:11-12)

...He brought about the reconciliation and union of the human race with God through grace. The Lord achieved this....at the moment in which He was most annihilated in all things: in His reputation before people...; in His human nature, by dying; and in spiritual help and consolation from His Father, for He was forsaken....The journey, then, does not consist in consolations, delights, and spiritual feelings, but in the living death of the cross, sensory and spiritual, exterior and interior. (Ascent Bk II ch 7)

True love receives all things that come from the Beloved - prosperity, adversity, even chastisement - with the same eveness of soul, since they are His Will....Death cannot be bitter to the soul than loves, for in it she finds all the sweetness and delight of love....She thinks of death as her friend and bridegroom, and at the thought of it she rejoices as she would over the thought of her betrothal and marriage, and she long for that day and that hour of her death...(Canticle, Stanza 11).


XIII. JESUS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS

He [Joseph of Arimathea] came therefore and took away the body of Jesus (John 19:38)

However intimate may be a person's union with God, there will never be satisfaction and rest until God's glory appears [Ps 17:15]...(The Living Flame of Love stanza 1 no 27)

It is vital for individuals to make acts of love in this life so that being perfected in a short time they may not be detained long, either here on earth or in the next life, before seeing God. (Ibid stanza 1 no 34)


XIV JESUS IS LAID IN THE TOMB

..they laid Jesus, because the sepulcher was nigh at hand (John 19:42).

If you desire to be perfect, sell your will, give it to the poor in spirit, come to Christ in meekness and humility, and follow Him to Calvary and the sepulcher. (Sayings no 165)

It is fitting that the soul be in this sepulcher of dark death in order that it attain the spiritual resurrection for which it hopes. (Dark Night Bk II ch 6).


Credits: text from 'The Way of the Cross with the Carmelite Saints' Compiled by Sr Joseph Marie, CHT Carmelite Hermit of the Trinity.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Thoughts for Lent with St Therese



"Some there are who keep themselves in peace, and have peace also with others. And there are some that are neither at peace within themselves, nor suffer others to be in peace; they are troublesome to others, but always more troublesome to themselves" Imitation of Christ Book 2:3

"It is a mistake to want to convince our Sisters that they are in wrong, even if this is the case, for it is not our duty to correct them. Let us be angels of peace, not Justices of the Peace". St Therese Conseils and Souvenirs. 

"Rest on the Passion of Christ, and willingly dwell in His sacred wounds. For if thou fly devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmas of Jesus, thou shalt feel great comfort in tribulation; neither wilt thou much regard the being despised by men, but wilt easily bear up against detracting tongues. Suffer with Christ and for Christ, if thou desirest to reign with Christ. Imitation of Christ, Book 2:1

"My God, I thank Thee for all graces Thou hast bestowed on me, and in particular for having made me pass through the crucible suffering. With what joy I shall see Thee on the last day bearing the Cross as the emblem of royalty. As Thou hast made me a partaker of Thy holy Cross, grant that I may one day be like to Thee, and bear upon my glorified body the imprint of Thy sacred wounds. " St Therese 'Story of a Soul'   

"An internal man quickly recollects himself, because he never pours forth his whole self upon outward things. Exterior labour is no prejudice to him, nor any employment which for a time is necessary; but as things fall out, he so accommodates himself to them. As much as a man draws things to himself, so much is he hindered by them". Imitation Book 2:1

"You become too much absorbed in your work, and worry over it as though you bore the whole responsibility. Do you wonder what is going on at the present moment on other Carmels, and whether the nuns are busy or not? Do their labours prevent you from making your prayer? You must learn to dissociate yourself from your work in the same way,  giving the prescribed time to it, but maintaining detachment of heart". St Therese 'Conseils et Souvenirs' 

Nature is covetous, and more willing to take than to give, and loves to have things to herself. But grace is bountiful and open-hearted, avoids selfishness, is contented with little, and judges it more happy to give than to receive. Imitation Book 3:54


Our Lord teaches us to: Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again (Luke 6:30). It is more pleasant to give of one's own free will than to be asked, although this is not very hard if the request is politely made. If, however, it is made in a tactless way, a soul that is not firmly established in charity will find a hundred and one pretext for refusing. If she does finally comply, it is only after having impressed upon the petitioner how inconsiderate she has been, and what a great favour she is doing her. In short, she spends more time in stating her case than she would in performing the thrilling service asked for. St Therese 'Story of a soul'







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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Let the children come to me


Painting by Vogel Von Vogelstein
Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence. (St Matthew 10:13)
You know, Mother, I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new. We are living now in an age of inventions, and we do not have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: "Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (Prv 9:4). I felt I had found what I was looking for. But wanting to know, O my God, what you would do to the very little one who answered your call, I continued my search and this is what I discovered: “As one whom a mother caresses so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts and upon the knees they shall caress you" (Is 66,13). Ah! never did words more tender and more melodious come to give joy to my soul. The elevator which must raise me to heaven is your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more. O my God, You surpassed all my expectation. I want only to sing to Your mercies (Ps 89:2) (St Therese) 

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