28 February 2008
27 February 2008
St. Gabriel spent most of his time thinking about the passion of Jesus and how much the Lord had suffered for him. He loved the Holy Eucharist and the Virgin Mary. You would think that his constant meditation on the suffering of Christ and sorrow of His Mother would make him gloomy, yet he was always happy and spread that happiness to those around him.
Cardinal Suenens of blessed memory said that suffering does not destroy hope, "...joy lies at a depth beyond the reach of man. Joy is something Christ Himself expressly promised to His disciples: 'Your gladness will be one nobody can take away from you.' (Jn. 16:22) The promise was explicit, the pledge sacred. Every Christian who is obedient to the law of God holds the key of serenity and joy in his hands, if he submits to the filial way to all the demands of that law. Christianity is in itself a source of happiness to the individual, tha family and society."
"The majority of those who are considering religious life are under 30 and quite serious about choosing religious life—about one in five plan on entering a religious community in the next year, while another 64% are seriously considering it.”
Not only is there an increase in young people entering the religious life, "vocation directors—both men and women—commented on an increased interest among inquirers in wearing a habit or traditional religious garb."
Check out the results of the survey HERE
In related news, here's a story from the Boston Globe called The Unexpected Monks about evangelicals turning to monasticism. Sure, it's their own version of it based on their "discovery" of Catholic and Orthodox spirituality, but it is interesting to note.
Oblates of the last Martyrdom is a Catholic apostolate with many similarities to the so-called "new monastics" of evangelicalism.
26 February 2008
~Bishop Ashton Oxended of Montreal, Anglican Metropolitan of Canada, "Thoughts for Lent" (1873)
O God, who rejects not the greatest sinner, but in loving pity is reconciled to him by penitence; mercifully regard our lowly supplications, and give us strength to fulfil Your commandments.
O God, who justifies the wicked, and desires not the death of a sinner, we humbly beseech your Majesty to bountifully protect with heavenly succour, and to preserve, by Your continual help, we Your servants, who trust only in Your mercy; so that we may constantly serve You, and that no temptation may seperate us from You.
~ Prayer for Tuesdays from "A Few Devotional Helps for Lent & Passion-tide" (1858)
25 February 2008
Again the Fast we greet;
Which in its mystic circle moves
Of forty days complete;
That Fast, by Law and Prophets taught,
By Jesus Christ restored;
Jesus, of seasons and of times
The Maker and the Lord.
Henceforth more sparing let us be
Of food, of words, of sleep;
Henceforth beneath a stricter guard
The roving senses keep.
And let us shun whatever things
Distract the careless heart;
And let us shut our souls against
The tyrant Tempter's art;
And weep before the Judge,
and strive His vengeance to appease ;
Saying to Him with contrite voice,
Upon our bended knees:
Much have we sinn'd, O Lord!
and still We sin each day we live;
Yet look in pity from on high,
And of thy grace forgive.
Remember that we still are thine,
Though of a fallen frame;
And take not from us in thy wrath
The glory of thy name.
Undo past evil; grant us, O Lord,
More grace to do aright;
So may we now and ever find
Acceptance in thy sight.
Blest Trinity in Unity!
Vouchsafe us, in thy love,
To gather from these fasts below
Immortal fruit above.
~ Tr. Edward Caswall, Breviary Hymns (1873)
24 February 2008
The following Troparion and Kontakion are sung in the Byzantine Catholic Church today:
No longer does the flaming sword guard the gates of Eden, for the tree of the Cross has come to quench it wondrously. The sting of death and the victory of Hades have been driven out.
23 February 2008
22 February 2008
From Korah and his company, that strange portentious cry is sent.
A Levite priestly power he sought, And Aaron, saint of God, opposed:
Her prey the opening earth has caught, And o'er the rash intruder closed.
~ Richard Mant, Bishop of Down & Connor
St. Jude connects the account of the sons of Korah from Numbers 16 with Schism from the Catholic Church.
"But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe." (Jude 1:5) "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries." (Jude 1:8) "Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah." (Jude 1:11)
The second century Apostolic Father, St. Ireneus of Lyons wrote that Christian tradition is "derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also by pointing out the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those faithful men who exist everywhere." (Against Heresies III, 3:2)
He who wishes to be chaste, must, after the advice of holy men, not only attend as often as he can public prayer, but also have always ready at hand a short prayer for purity, against every temptation to sin. But namely, when, say they, you feel in your heart the rising of some carnal desire, through either your eyes, your ears, or even your own nature, then turn at once your thoughts toward Christ in prayer for help, and continue therein, until you have recieved support from Him. Having thus withdrawn your attention from that spark of sin, which had fallen into your heart, you will yourself take from it the breath that would have fanned it into flame; and it will go out. And then a dew of blessing will fall on you, for the temptation that is overcome.
Next to prayer, nothing tends to preserve chastity so much as fasting and labor. in fact, take away the fuel from under the pot, and the fire will go out itself: take way from a body given to luxury, food, and satiety, and the love of sensuality will go. The body when wearied with labor and not with the working of passions, seeks quiet and repose. On the contrary, however, idleness and self-indulgence are the never-failing source of sensuality. The man, therefore, who imagines that he can preserve his chastity in the midst of the indulgence and luxury to which he is disposed, might as well lie down in the mire, and expect to rise from it without a spot. He may, it is true, succeed in daily life in preserving the purity of his body; but, as to that of his soul, he loses it without a doubt.
For the same reason, he who wishes to preserve the cleanliness of his body and he who strives to keep his soul pure, both embrace the same opportunities to flee from whatever would evidently soil either: therefore, after the example of the holy man Job, we must make a covenant with our eyes, our ears and all our senses. For, it is not in vain that the Prophet calls our seses inlets, through which sorrow enters into the soul. All sins love to enter at those inlets; but no sin does it so readily as the lust of the flesh: therefore ought those openings to be well guarded; and not opened at random. And since it cannot be, but that we must both see and hear what offends us, it behoves us to have ready by us a spiritual antidote, to be used on such occasions. By these means at the time when anything happens that is an offence to us, let us at once, not only pray from the heart, but also think devotedly of the cross of Christ and of His wounds made on Him there for the cleansing of our souls from sin; or else let us think of His actual death and burial. Thus the presence of that scandal is left surely and quickly without power in us.
The very thing which kindles the lust of the flesh, may be used with advantage, like a remedy against passions. "Does the flesh allure you in the grave," asks St. Demetri of Rostov, "by wounding you with the beauty of the bodily form? No. Then, when that beautiful living form begins to smite your heart, think of it lying in the grave, hideous, a prey to worms and corruption, and it loses all attraction to you."
21 February 2008
Another highlight for me was the Prayer of St. Ephraim. This prayer is recited during Lent by Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians. The translation I learned was different from how we recited it last night, but the difference made quite an impact: "Spare me from the spirit of indifference... bestow on me integrity".
Here are both versions:
Lord and Master of my life, spare me from the spirit of indifference, despair, lust for power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)
Instead, bestow on me, your servant, the spirit of integrity, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)
Yes, O Lord and King, let me see my own sins and not judge my brothers and sisters; for you are blessed forever and ever. Amen. (Prostration)
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk.(Prostration)
But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love.(Prostration)
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.(Prostration)
The Troubler mixes filth with our Clarity,
So as to make the first-fruits of our prayer and fasting hateful.
It is possible by his jealousy, that our gift be rebuked.
Take away your deceits from your fasts,
remove mockery from your praise.
May your voices wash your mouths from lies.
Allow us, O First Born in your mercy
To uproot hidden weeds from our thoughts.
I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.
20 February 2008
When Clarence became critically ill with tuberculosis in 1948, Mayme made a promise to God that if her husband survived, she would attend mass every day -- a promise she kept until last year when health issues forced them to move into an assisted-living center.
Their family includes six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 40 great-great grandchildren.
Read the Whole Story
19 February 2008
Check out the rest of this article in the Denver Catholic Register by Chris Stefanick. He's a really cool guy who I met at Church when we were waiting for our daughters to get out of their girl's group. He's the director of the Denver Archdiocese’s Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry Office and will be speaking at this year's "Pure by Choice" rally.
Prayer for the Elect
He's an older guy who had a hernia fixed a while back and it burst open again. Only this time, he doesn't have any health insurance. He's tough and stubborn, so he won't go into E.R. despite blood and puss. Also, he's afraid to take time off because he'll have no income while recovering.
So, here's what to pray for:
1. That the confusion caused by fear will lift so he will trust in God's care
2. That he will stop being stubborn and go to the hospital
3. That any medical care will be paid for
4. That a source of provision will help him and his wife during recovery
5. If it be God's will, complete healing in Jesus' Name
O God, with Whom it is an easy thing to give life to the dead; restore the sick to their former health, and let none that implore the healing of Your heavenly mercy be in want of the remedies of earthy medicine; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, holy father, Almighty and everlasting God, hear us, and preserve Your servant Dennis who You have given life, and whom You have redeemed by the price and the great gift of the Blood of Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
I'm going to light an online candle for him right now and ask the Carmelites of Indiana to pray for him.
18 February 2008
How the powers of darkness prowl and prowl around?
Christian, up and smite them, counting gain but loss,
Smite them by the merit of the Holy Cross!
Christian, dost thou feel them, how they work within,
Striving, tempting, luring, goading into sin?
Christian, never tremble; never be downcast;
smite them by the virtue of the Lenten fast.
Christian, dost thou hear them, how they speak thee fair?
"Always fast and vigil? Always watch and prayer?"
Christian, answer boldly: "While I breathe I pray!"
Peace shall follow battle, night shall end in day.
"Well I know thy trouble, O my servant true;
Thou art very weary, I was weary, too;
But that toil shall make thee some day all Mine own,
At the end of sorrow shall be near my throne."
~ St. Andrew of Crete (Tr. John Mason Neale)
17 February 2008
St. Gregory also established the Eastern Orthodox doctrine that distinguishes between the Essence of the Triune God and the Energies of God, which is what we experience. This caused some controversy between East and West, regardless, Pope John Paul II called him a saint, and the Holy See approved his commemoration among Byzantine Catholics. I'm glad, because I like St. Gregory.
We unite ourselves to Christ, in so far as this is possible, by participating in the godlike virtues and by entering into communion with Him through prayer and praise. Because the virtues are similitudes of God, to participate in them puts us in a fit state to receive Christ, yet it does not actually unite us to Him. But prayer through its sacred and priestly power actualizes our ascent to and union with Christ, for it is a bond between intellectual creatures and their Creator.
~ Three Texts on Prayer and Purity of Heart (14th Century)
**St. Gregory uses big theological words like "sacral", "hieratic", and "noetic". I decided to substitute these words with ones easier to understand.
Kontakion of the Holy Relics (Tone Eight)
Through penance and mortification, the holy martyrs of Christ have overcome the disorder of their burning passions. During their lifetime, they had received the grace of healing the sick; after their death, they have the power of performing miracles. It is a great marvel indeed that healing should come forth from mere bones. Glory to the Creator, to God alone!
16 February 2008
Well, here's another good one for those who like online quizzes. This one helps you discover your spirituality type. It's found on the Vision Vocations Network. Here's what mine said:
The majority of saints are of this spiritual temperament as well as 12 percent of the population (but half of those who go on retreats or belong to small faith groups). This method uses creative imagination to transpose the world of scripture to our situation today--as if the scripture passage is a personal letter from God addressed to each one of us (like Saint Augustine picking up Romans 13 and reading a message pointed directly at him). The essential element of this spirituality, going back to New Testament times (Jesus, Saint Paul, the early church fathers), is experiencing a personal relationship with God. Because they read between the lines and catch what is inexpressible and spiritual, those who follow the path of devotion best understand symbols and their use in the liturgy. This path concentrates on meditations that loosen the feelings and expand the ability to relate to and love others. The stress is on the love of self, others, and God. Those on this path can follow the four steps of the Lectio Divina: listen to what God says in scripture; reflect prayerfully and apply it to today; respond to God's word with personal feelings; remain quiet and stay open to new insights.
"Those who adopt Ignatian spirituality—whether they be Jesuits, members of other religious orders, or lay men and women—find themselves more and more being 'contemplative in action', finding God in whatever they do, if they do it with their whole being; finding God in whomever they serve, if they are fully honest and attentive in their service. So too, in the Ignatian heritage, we seek to find God in friends and colleagues, with affection and gratitude; and in prayer, in song, in solitary thought, in periods of contemplation; and in working together with others for the transformation of the world and the liberation of all women and men from every kind of oppression." (Oregon Province Jesuits website)
So, what's your type? Knowing it can help you find a method of prayer that suites the personality God gave you.
15 February 2008
14 February 2008
what that means...
Will you be my
Cyril & Methodius?
The Slavic lands were a crossroads between East and West, and the brothers recieved the blessing of both Rome and Constantinople for their missionary work. Anothother thing to note is that the oldest Glagolitic liturgical fragments, brought from Jerusalem to Kiev, adhere more to the Latin form than the Byzantine. Many scholars argue that the first Slavonic Liturgy was Western, rather than Eastern (even "Western Rite" Orthodox claim this position). I bring this all up to celebrate these saints as representatives of the undivided Body of Christ.
Let us follow their example of evangelism by relating to the culture God sends us to. Rather than chocolate and flowers, I give you this Troparion in Tone 4:
O Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God, you became equal to the Apostles by your life. Since you were teachers of the Slavs, intercede with the Master of all That He may strengthen all peoples in the True Faith, and that He may grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls.
13 February 2008
At his funeral, a pool of blood was seen beneath his coffin. On opening it, there was no evidence where the blood had come from. However, an oversight was revealed: John had not been clothed in the habit of St. Francis, as is the privilege of members of the Third Order, and had been John's wish. The habit was found and John was clothed in it.
Since his death there have been many signs of his sanctity: reports of miracles, claims of cures, as well as many answers to prayer. More important, many have turned to God through John's extraordinary example.
12 February 2008
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Have mercy on me, O God, after Thy great goodness: according to the multitude of Thy mercies, do away mine offences. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (Ps. 50:8,1-2)
11 February 2008
Official Shrine Site
150 Year Jubilee
The Lourdes Marian Center here in Denver is an official distributor of water from Lourdes. When anyone is sick around our house, Sophia gets out her bottle of Lourdes water and prays for us.
The English Pilgrimage to Lourdes, May 1883
10 February 2008
09 February 2008
08 February 2008
The Creator of all things took no food whatever during forty days. We also, at the season of Lent as much as in us lies afflict our flesh by abstinence. The number forty is preserved, because the virtue of the decalogue is fulfilled in the books of the holy Gospel; and ten taken four times amounts to forty. Or, because in this mortal body we consist of four elements by the delights of which we go against the Lord's precepts received by the decalogue. And as we transgress the decalogue through the lusts of this flesh, it is fitting that we afflict the flesh forty-fold. Or, as by the Law we offer the tenth of our goods, so we strive to offer time tenth of our time. And from the first Sunday of Lent to time rejoicing of the paschal festival is a space of six weeks, or forty-two days, subtracting from which the six Sundays which are not kept there remain thirty-six. Now as the year consists of three hundred and sixty-five, by the affliction of these thirty-six we give the tenth of our year to God. (St. Gregory the Great)
07 February 2008
06 February 2008
05 February 2008
Regardless of the way it gets spoiled, it is still a significant day.
Eggs, meat, oils and butter were strictly prohibited during the 40 days of Lent before the fasting rules were relaxed (Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox still follow the stricter custom). "Fat Tuesday" was the day to eat all that remained of these foods in the house and enjoy one last feast on the day before Lent. When I lived in Detroit the Polish Catholics in Hamtramck called it Pączki (punch-key) Day, and people would get these deep-fried jelly doughnut type things--I never could finish one they were sooooo sweet and greasy!
The name "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the practice of "shriving," or the confession and absolution of sin, that takes place on this day. "In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive (absolve) him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do (in the way of penance)." Ecclesiastical Institutes, Anglo-Saxon A.D. 1000.
So, clean out your cupboard of the foods you won't be eating during Lent, and clean out your soul with confession and penance. Have some fun and goof around, but keep your shirt on.
03 February 2008
02 February 2008
Scott Hahn takes on the lofty subject of scripture and its relationship to liturgy. He shows how scriptural texts have been intimately tied to ritual public worship since the early Christian church and even before that in the Jewish temple.
If you aren't familiar with Mr. Hahn, he is a convert to the Catholic Church from Evangelicalism and the author of several excellent books. His journey to the faith of the Apostles can be found in the book "Rome Sweet Rome".
01 February 2008
Institutes of Consecrated Life: That the Institutes of Consecrated Life in mission countries may rediscover the missionary dimension and generously proclaim Christ to the ends of the earth.