Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sacred Heart of Jesus and Divine Mercy

I've been on a roll recently with reviewing my notes from great talks that I've had an opportunity to hear and then typing them up to share here on this blog.  This is the last of my notes and it's very fitting reading for the Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Not only is the topic on The Sacred Heart, but the source is well known for his own personal devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and for sharing and encouraging that devotion in others.  What follows are the notes taken from Fr. James Kubicki's Lenten Day of Reflection for Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).

Sacred Heart of Jesus and Divine Mercy by Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer

Some people may wonder if the Divine Mercy image replaces the Sacred Heart image.  The Heart of Jesus is both merciful and loving.  The two devotions go together.  Saint John Paul II said, “Between the first and second world wars Christ entrusted the message of mercy to St. Faustina.  Those who remember know how necessary was the message of mercy.”  “During the most merciless century Jesus appeared with this message:  Jesus told Faustina that humanity will not find peace until it turns trustingly to Divine Mercy.”  How true those words are today and how much more do we need to hear them!

Saint John Paul continues: “Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the Heart of Christ crucified.  On Easter Sunday when Jesus appeared to the apostles he showed his hands and side.  He points to the wounds of passion, especially the wound of his Heart.”

In the image of Divine Mercy, the two rays represent blood and water-this comes right from scripture as the eye witness observed the soldier pierce the side of Christ and out came blood and water.  The water is the clear pericardial fluid of the heart.

St. Faustina had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In her diary she quotes Jesus as saying, “I have opened my heart as a living fountain of mercy.  My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world.  For you I allowed myself to be nailed to a cross.  For you I allowed my Sacred Heart to be pierced.”

His Sacred Heart is present in the tabernacle; he remains present to us.  The Divine Mercy and Sacred Heart are so closely bound up and are inseparable because Jesus has only one heart.  When we approach these devotions the differences between these are ones of emphasis springing from the same heart.  If you’re devoted to Divine Mercy you are also devoted to the Sacred Heart. 

Jesus told St. Faustina, “My divine heart is so passionately fond of the human race that it cannot keep back its charity.  It must be released through you.”

Jesus has indescribable wonders of his pure love for humanity.  Again he tells St. Faustina, “All my eager efforts of their welfare meet with coldness.  Tell aching humanity to snuggle close to my heart and I will fill it with peace.  Oh how painful it is to me that souls so seldom unite themselves to me in Holy Communion.” 

Statistics show that Mass attendance has gone down.  People say, “I don’t get anything out of Mass,” but they don’t know what the Mass is all about.  We need to pray that our faith will increase.
The Holy Trinity is the great mystery of our faith.  The nature of love is to want to share love.  God created human beings in his own image and likeness.  Love has to be free.  You can’t put a gun to someone’s head and say, “Now love me.”  God never does that.  He always invites our love and tries to attract our love.  We have at times rejected God’s loving plan and that’s sin.  So God sent his son to save us.

In Saint Pope John Paul’s Mercy Encyclical he says, “The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God when she directs herself to the heart of Christ.  Mercy is the most stupendous attribute of the creator and the redeemer.”

His heart is also present in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  God is infinite, there is no limit to his love and mercy.  No human sin can prevail over the power of his mercy.  When we don’t go to confession or carry our old sins long after they’ve been forgiven, we limit God’s mercy. 
There’s nothing we can do to make God love us less.  Saint Francis de Sales reminds us that the sun shines on the flowers in the garden with equal intensity.  Saint Pope John Paul tells us that “only a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent on our part can limit God’s mercy.”  We may come to him with a thimble or with our whole self.  God is always ready to give us his love and mercy but we have to admit that we need it.

Mercy is like a good river-it’s only pure as long as it flows.  When the Jordan River meets the Dead Sea it stops and stagnates.  We are called to let mercy flow through us into the world.
When we sin we make an Act of Contrition and then go through the Church for Sacraments.  Christ is the head and we are the body-we can’t have a body without a head.  The two go together.  Jesus is present in the Church forgiving sins.  We need to hear and accept God’s forgiveness.  The only way our sins are retained is if we don’t give them to the Lord.  James writes, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.”

There is a communal dimension to our lives.  We are part of a body.  We can’t just say it’s enough for me to go to God.  We go through the Church.  We meet Jesus through the priest.  I think the greatest joy that Jesus had was in forgiving sins even more than physical healing.  Jesus’ priority was that it was more important to heal a man deep down.  Physical healings are nice but they don’t last.  Ultimately our bodies weaken and die.  Try to see confession from Jesus’ perspective.  We approach the Sacrament ashamed and afraid but we give Jesus the opportunity to forgive us and heal us spiritually.

Jesus told St. Faustina that confession is a fountain of his mercy.  Blood and water flow from his soul and ennobles the Sacrament.  Pope Francis says that confession is not like going to the dry cleaners.  Our sins are more than stains; they are wounds that need healing.  When you go to confession, think of the great joy you give to Jesus as you give him your sins and allow him to heal you.

Some people say, “What’s the point?  I only confess the same sins over and over again.”  Our sins are just like any habit that we fall into.  Jesus isn’t looking for you to get new sins.  He knows our habits but he wants to take those sins off our conscience and heal us.

Other people say, “Why am I here?  I don’t have any sins.  I don’t know what to confess.” When people go to confession frequently it’s not because they are bigger sinners than the rest of us but because they are more in love with the Lord.  All great saints seem to have so many sins not because they are great sinners but because they are great lovers.  They are sin-sensitive.

Love doesn’t ask for the minimum requirement.  The measure of our love depends on how deeply aware we are of God’s love for us.  Having received mercy in confession we go forth and live our faith.  One of the great works of mercy is to pray for the conversion of sinners, to pray for people who are dead in their sins, who don’t know the mercy of God.  God’s mercy is always there ready to be given.

Last year on Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis talked about the need for mercy.  We can feel crushed asking ourselves why humanity’s evil can appear as an abyss empty of life.  How can we fill it?  For us, it’s impossible.  Only God can do it.  When Jesus died on the cross he filled the abyss with the depth of his mercy.  But to receive mercy there has to be conversion.

St. Leopold, a renowned confessor along with St. Pio, was once criticized for being too easy in the confessional.  He replied, “Is it I who is too generous?  I didn’t die for you.  Jesus is the one who is too generous in dying for you.  I am just giving you the mercy he won for you!”

Pope Francis says “May the message of mercy reach everyone and may no one be indifferent to this call.  It is given even more fervently to those whose behavior distances them from God’s grace.  Sooner or later everyone will be subjected to God’s judgment from which no one can escape.  Are we ready?  We pray that all people will be ready.”  God doesn’t send people to hell, people choose it.  It’s their own decision.  The world has to freely accept God’s love.  Eternal damnation is not God’s initiative because God only desires our salvation.  In reality it’s the creature who closes himself to God’s love.

We are called to pray for the conversion of sinners.  This was Mary’s message at Lourdes and Fatima.  It’s Jesus message to St. Faustina as well.  “Pray for souls that they be not afraid to approach the tribunal of my mercy.  You always console me when you pray for sinners.”

What are the greatest obstacles to holiness?  Jesus told St. Faustina, “My child, know that the greatest are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety.  Have confidence; do not lose heart in coming for pardon because I am always ready to forgive you.”

Jesus desires that we trust in his love and mercy and then we can better share that mercy with the world.  Jesus showed St. Faustina that we can help repair the damage of sin.  We can use our sufferings to offer reparation to God.  As members of the Body of Christ stay close and united to the Heart of Jesus.  We need our hearts to be transformed.

St. Faustina’s diary says: “When a soul approaches me with trust I fill it with such an abundance of mercy that radiates to others. And St. Faustina prayed:  “Most sweet Jesus, set on fire my love for you and transform me into yourself. Divinize me that my deeds may be pleasing to you.  May this be accomplished by the Holy Communion I receive daily.  I want to be transformed into you.”  This is very much like Galatians:  “Now I live not I but Christ lives in me.”
Extending forgiveness begins in the heart.  Fr. Lawrence Jenco, a Servite priest who was the director of Catholic Relief Services in Beirut in 1985 was held hostage for 594 days.  He wrote a book called, Bound to Forgive in which he writes about a man that tortured him: “Toward the end of my captivity one of my guards, a man named Sayeed who had at times brutalized me, sat down on my mat with me. He had recently started calling me 'Abouna,' an Arabic name meaning 'dear father.' At first I was Jenco, then Lawrence, then Abouna, indicating by the choice of names and tone of voice that a change of heart was taking place. He asked me if I remembered the first six months of my captivity. I responded 'Yes, Sayeed. I remember all the pain and suffering you caused me and my brothers.' Then he asked 'Abouna, do you forgive me?'

These quietly spoken words overwhelmed me. As I sat blindfolded, unable to see the man who had been my enemy, I understood I was called to forgive, to let go of revenge, retaliation, and vindictiveness.

And I was challenged to forgive him unconditionally. I could not forgive him on the condition that he change his behavior to conform to my wishes or values. I had no control over his response. I understood I was to say yes.

I said: 'Sayeed, there were times I hated you. I was filled with anger and revenge for what you did to me and my brothers. But Jesus said on the mountain top that I was not to hate you. I was to love you. Sayeed, I need to ask God's forgiveness and yours.'”*

There are many people we won’t like or we’ll disagree with but we’ll have to love and forgive them.  In Mass, Jesus offers himself to the Father for the salvation of souls.  What the head has done, we are now called to join.  When we leave Mass we are empowered to live that mercy in our daily lives.  When we meet our judge face to face nothing will hold us back.  

*The full quote from Fr. Jenko was taken from Fr. Jim's Offer It Up blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Give Me a Word: Wisdom from Desert Monks

The de Chantal Society, "a group of women passionate about praying for vocations and for families in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, gathers three times per year at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary for eucharistic adoration and spiritual formation." Last spring, during Lent, Fr. Tom DeVries addressed the de Chantal Society with an inspiring talk on humility, sin and hope based upon wisdom learned from the desert monks.  Fr. Tom is a great speaker,  and at first I was so focused on listening to him that I didn't think to take notes on what he was saying, so the first section on humility is a little scant as I didn't completely catch all of what he said. Most interesting to me is the Mystery of Sin.  As one who usually beats herself up over sins and mistakes, I had never before considered the fact that our sins could be the beginning of our salvation.  Although these notes are from a Lenten talk and are not complete, the knowledge they contain can be useful to us at any time of year.

Give Me a Word:  Wisdom from Desert Monks
A Talk by Fr. Tom DeVries

The Necessity of Humility

Without God I am nothing, can do nothing.  Humility is being plunged into God.  Without temptations no person can be saved.  With temptations we realize how weak we are and we know without grace we cannot be saved.  We must lose at something, be brought to the edge of all of our resources and realize we can’t control, fix, explain or even understand some of the things that happen to us.  Do not be afraid of failure.  It’s required for us if God will exalt us.  We don’t exalt ourselves; God does.

Realize we are not self-sufficient.  Only God’s grace gets us through.  Then we come to the important place where we say “God, I surrender to your grace.”  I can agree in my head, but it’s hard in my life to get to those places.  God will keep drawing me to the end of my resources.

The Mystery of Sin

The Ambrosian Rite of the Church which was begun by St. Ambrose and is still celebrated today around Milan, Italy, has a prayer for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time that helps us to understand the mystery of sin:  “Lord, you bent down over our wounds and healed us giving us a medicine.  In this way, even sin, by virtue of Your invincible love, served to elevate us to divine life.”  This is echoed in Romans-Paul says where sin increases grace abounds all the more.  There is a mystery to sin, a paradox.   It separates us from God but it’s precisely the route He uses to have us come back to Him.  If we’re honest it’s really our sin that keeps us coming back to God.  We may think we have failed or we are so wounded but it doesn’t stop God’s mercy.  God will use everything to bring us back to Him.

Everything I had deplored about my life was precisely how God kept pulling me back.  I realized what a grace it was that I even became grateful for my sin. 

It sounds heretical but we sing about it at Easter when we call the sin of Adam a Happy Fault.  Even when I was turning away from You, You were more powerful and were drawing me back to You.
We base salvation upon woundedness to level the playing field where everyone has access to God.
Julian of Norwich said:  “Our wounds are our very trophies.  They are the holes in the soul where light breaks through.”  Leonard Cohen, in the song Anthem says, “Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That is how the light gets in.”

The Mystery of Sin follows on the heels of our understanding of humility but it takes it one more step.  God uses sin to draw close to us.  Julian of Norwich tells us that both the first fall and the recovery from the fall are the mercy of God.  In falling down we learn almost everything that matters spiritually.  All of the things that are achievements feed our ego too much.  There are things we keep so secret because they are just horrible, but if we own that one day we will even see our sin as our trophy.  It is falling upwards.

We often have a hate relationship with the faults, wounds and failures of our lives but take heart; God will use it and we’ll be able to thank God for the circuitous route and for all of our sins because God never left you and He used your failure as the route to Him.  People who don’t get close to God never admit their sin and their failure.

Make a chart of your own life-the ups, downs, failures, wounds, great times and bad times.  Realize in the woundedness and failure that you learn most about your spiritual life.  Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.

The Challenge of Hope

Julian of Norwich says “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” St. Paul tells us that “Hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”  St. Matthew says, “Behold!  I am with you always even until the end of the age.”

Christian hope is ultimate hope when we know what our destiny is meant to be and that’s why we can go through humility and sin because God is using it all to lead us beyond this world.
Transitory vanities won’t furnish us with our deepest longings.  We are eternal and hope is ultimate and it’s God.  St. Benedict tells us that the present, even if it’s arduous, can be accepted if it leads the way to a goal and the goal is God himself.

There is a difference between wishes and hope.  Wishes are temporal and hope is eternal.  Optimism is the expectation that things will get better but hope is a trust that will lead us to true freedom.  Hope is based upon God’s promise.

We shouldn’t lose the virtue of hope in our world today.  We look at the near future and we can get pretty depressed, but we should not ever, ever, ever be people who have a message of despair.

Hope is for the long road and we need to believe in God’s promise.  Presumption and despair are sins against hope.  We don’t want to wait; we don’t want to live through difficult times.  But as Julian of Norwich reminds us “The Lord did not say you shall not be tempest tossed but he did say you shall not be overcome.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

How to Live Our Faith

Last fall I had the pleasure of attending a morning breakfast and talk hosted by Cardinal Stritch College with Bishop Donald Hying, the bishop of Gary, Indiana, as the speaker.  I took notes on his excellent talk and only now re-discovered them. What follows are the main points of his talk.

How to Live Our Faith a talk by Bishop Donald Hying

What does it mean to really live the Gospel and Catholic faith with authenticity?  The ideal seems so high.  How do I put that practice into my life?

The mission of the Church is found at the end of the Gospel when the disciples are told to make disciples of all nations.  There is no detailed plan, just a general instruction that we are called and sent.  In the words of Cardinal Dolan, Jesus says, "Come here" and then says "Go forth."  Jesus is calling us to him and then sending us out.  The Church is always on the move.  The Catechism tells us that the laity are called to sanctify the world, to make the world holy and to remind it of its fundamental purpose.

What does it mean for us to make the world holy?  This begs the question, what does holiness mean? The original Hebrew word for holy is "different'.  When we say "holy, holy, holy" at Mass we're really saying "different, different, different."  We are called to make and be that difference in the world.

Our whole identity is summed up in the great commandment, "Hear O Israel, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself."  We exist to fall head over heels in love with God because He is head over heels in love with us.

When two people are in love with each other it completely changes how they spend their time.  Think about the anointing at Bethany.  Mary spends three-hundred days wages to buy aromatic nard and she wastes it, breaks it open.  That's the extravagance of a soul that is head over heels in love with God.  Contrast that with Judas who was asking why that money was wasted.  Mary is a maximalist.  When we're in love we don't count the cost.  Judas is a minimalist.   If we practice of our faith as a romance between God and us then we are well on the way to living our faith in the world.

When I was first ordained a bishop I went to Rome for Baby Bishop School where the basic message was that as a bishop you're responsible for everything.  I met a new bishop from Europe who described a bleak situation in his country with a steep decline in Catholics, very few priests and no seminarians.  When I asked him what he was going to do about it he said that he was going to go back to Pentecost and drink deeply of the Holy Spirit and introduce people to Jesus as if they never met Him before.

I'm obsessed with Pentecost, the birth of the Church.  I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended.  What happened?  Did the apostles hair catch on fire?  Did they get thrown against the wall?  All we know is that the experience completely changed them.  Before they were frightened and now they are courageous.  Three-thousand people
 were baptized in a day!  When I think of that moment and compare it to this moment I know that we are called to reclaim the Church.

During the Protestant Reformation the Church built walls, retreated from the world, entrenched itself. In doing so we lost some of the urgency of the mission.  The Church is not a gas station where we service the people who show up.  There are one hundred people in Gary who are convinced that I'm going to be murdered at the Cathedral because it's in such a rough neighborhood.  But where else should I be?  Where else should the Church be?

We're all baptized into the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  How many realize that you are priests?  The ordained priesthood only exists to serve the laity who at baptism entered into the priesthood.  The ordained priest connects us to God and leads us to the love of the Lord.  The laity may be the only Christ that someone ever meets.

The spirituality of St. Francis de Sales tells us that by the virtue of our baptism every single person is called to holiness. It's absurd to think that the mother of five living in the world will practice the same spirituality as a cloistered nun.  There are unique distinctions between vocations.  Because we are who we are we will have a unique experience of God.  Our obligation is to share that unique facet, to add our piece of the mosaic to the picture of life.

There's nothing wrong with teaching people a method of prayer.  Prayer should be consistent and daily.  If we begin the day in silence with prayer and meditate deeply into the heart of the Lord, the rest of the day will unfold perfectly.  When we pray every day in silence we are so connected to the Lord that nothing can shake us.  Yet there are still days that I don't pray as I should.  We all struggle with prayer.  The point is to never give up, to ask ourselves how can I improve?

We're called to a radical generosity.  Everything we've been given is a gift from God.  During my time in the Dominican Republic I befriended a very poor family.  They had a small house with one chair and one chicken.  One night after visiting with them and watching the stars together they gave me their only chicken to take home with me.  I tried to refuse several times but then realized that if I didn't accept their gift of their only chicken I would be insulting them.  So there I was driving down a bumpy road with a chicken bouncing along next to me.  The Sacramental event is Christ giving us the chicken.  He gives Himself away in love, kenosis and self-giving.  God is more humble than we are.

There is an urgency to evangelization for us today.  Every active Catholic should be busy cultivating one or two people.  We can do this by turning ourselves inside out, letting people see our soul, not to say "look at me" but "look at Jesus."  We need disciples who realize that they are called as claiming their vocation in the Church, as being formed, realize that we are being sent.  Translate talk into action.  What we are doing is meaningful!

It all comes down to falling in love with God and to realizing that God is in love with us.  When we make ourselves available, God is going to use us.  Realize the shortness and brevity of our lives. Death becomes a frame around our lives.  Compared to eternity life is a twinkling of the eye.  We're going to be alive forever in eternity with or without God.  The drama of our lives is in the short amount of time that we have to do what we are called to do.  In twelve minutes we will be standing at the judgement seat and God will ask us "What did you do with your life?"

Thursday, May 19, 2016

To Honor Our Mother

The beautiful tradition of honoring the Blessed Mother during the month of May has been carried out with a May Crowning and Eucharistic Rosary Procession by Milwaukee's Roses for Our Lady for the past 36 years.  This year on the day of the May Crowning the group was blessed with beautiful weather and the presence of Archbishop Listecki and four Milwaukee priests, we were treated to beautiful singing by the Andress and Urlakis sisters, we were delighted by many reverent First Communicants and were joined by many religious and laity.  What a beautiful day and wonderful way to spend Mother's Day honoring Our Blessed Mother!

Here are images and video of Roses for Our Lady's 36th Annual May Crowning and Outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession held on Mother's Day, May 8th, 2016 at the Archdiocesan Marian Shrine in Milwaukee.  Photo credits to Mary Anne Urlakis, Terry Boldin, Jazmin Trujillo and Mary Bender.  Video credit to Sylvester Markowski.  You may view the videos here and here or at the bottom of this post.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


“Love seems swiftest, but it is the slowest of growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
-Mark Twain

Paul and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month.  Just writing that out makes me smile.  We've been married for exactly half of our lives.  It feels so comforting to know someone so well, to have traversed illness and health, joy and sorrow, struggles and ease, side by side with the same person who loves you even when sometimes they might not like you very much.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing how we might celebrate this milestone, and in the end decided that we would take a full week of vacation from work and spend each day doing some small, enjoyable activity together.  It was the first real, week-long vacation that we can remember taking in many, many years.  We rented bikes and went riding downtown, we walked in scenic parks and out on the pier of  Lake Michigan, we visited antique shops and my hometown of Manitowoc, and we loved every minute of it.  But the highlight of our anniversary week was when we traveled to Indiana for a short stay.

The morning of our anniversary I was as nervous as a new bride as we drove to meet our friend Bishop Don who said Mass for us and invited us to renew our vows. I was surprised to find that Paul was just as choked up and emotional as I was. Following a delicious Italian lunch we bid farewell to our friend and traveled to northern Indiana for an overnight stay at Serenity Springs, a resort with private cabins overlooking a small lake.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  The resort was definitely well named!  When we arrived we were taken by horse and carriage to our cabin.  I had to resist recreating a scene from my favorite movie, Barefoot in the Park.  I wanted to stand up and shout "We just got married!" but to Paul's relief, I refrained from embarrassing him.  We completed our vacation with a stop at Michigan City, an artistic little town with a sea glass jewelry store where I had my favorite piece of glass re-wired, and a nice hike in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  I never wanted the anniversary week to end.

Serenity Springs horse and carriage ride

Serenity Springs

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore-half of the trail had been burned by the DNR

The burned forest-not exactly my kind of paradise; this sign made me laugh.
Now this looks a little more like a paradise valley.

And Lake Michigan must be pretty close to paradise!

A week later, we drove to Lake Villa, Illinois to bid farewell to our friends, The Handmaids of the Precious Blood, at a final Mass as they prepared to move to their motherhouse in Tennessee.  On that sunny afternoon we took the backroads instead of the freeway for the one hour trip and were treated to a delightfully scenic drive that included farms, horses, white fences and fresh spring flowers.  It felt like an anniversary vacation all over again!

That night I dreamed that Paul and I were in heaven, and the heaven of my dreams looked very similar to that drive to Illinois, only we were walking together instead of driving.  I do hope and pray that after at least twenty-five more years of wedded happiness, when the time arrives for Paul and I to leave this earthly life, we will truly be walking hand in hand together through paradise.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Befriending St. Anne

"With or without all of our faults and sins, the role we play as grandparents, the real wisdom we pass on, is just in being.  We are age.  We have come to embody what has passed and is passing."
 ~Susan Griffin from Eye of My Heart:  27 writers reveal the hidden pleasures and perils of being a grandmother edited by Barbara Graham

"One of the most beautiful things in life, in the family, in our lives, is caressing a child and letting yourself be caressed by a grandfather or a grandmother.” ~Pope Francis

Despite sharing her name, I've never been overly fond of St. Anne.  Images I'd find of her always portrayed her as tired and old.  All these years I just wasn't ready to admit that I was getting older, I guess, so I would turn to saints that I perceived as being young and full of energy whenever I was in need.  But now that I'm a grandmother, it's finally time to embrace St. Anne, the wise and holy grandmother of Our Lord, and I have been readily turning to her in prayer, asking her to assist me to be a good and holy mother-in-law and grandmother to my newly and beautifully enlarged family.  I pray that I will age gracefully and my spirit will soar with the joys of these later years in my life, and that I might become a beloved grandmother whose deep love and kindness will benefit and be remembered by the future generations of my family.

Becoming a grandmother is a strange sort of feeling, isn't it?  I didn't have to do a single thing to earn this title.  When I became a mother I had to carry a baby within my body and  labor to bring the child into the world.  But I hardly had to do a thing to become a grandmother.  One beautiful day my daughter-in-law placed my grandson in my arms and I fell madly in love with him and that was all there was to it.  Easy love.

In my effort to become better acquainted with St. Anne, I've been praying this lovely old prayer and a hauntingly gorgeous Renaissance chant that can be found here or embedded below with the words printed beneath. I hope that you will join me in praying to St. Anne for your own needs.  I'm certain that her wisdom and goodness will be honored by Our Lord when she intercedes for us.

Prayer to St. Anne
Christ's mother's mother, hail! You are
The first on earth who knew that star
From whence broke forth our Sun!
Through you, Light from Light arose
From that gate to all men closed,
Foretold by prophets once.
Happy would that birthing be
By which God swore eternally
To shatter Death for good.
Author of such good that day,
St. Anne, drive cruel words away
As God's laws say we should.
You were barren once, so tongues
Teased you. When no longer young,
Your neighbors scorned your quest.
Fin'lly fruitful with a child,
You who once had been reviled --
Then they proclaimed you blest.
Your girl's Child wills that our prayers
With you and your child be shared.
So we trust them to you --
Whom God trusted to prove true,
Whom God grants to know and do
The great good given you.

Anna Mater Matris Christi

Anne, mother of Christ's mother
look with pity upon us
thou who was found worthy
to give Mary the breast.

Oh how worthily thou art honored

by the human race
who bearest Mary for the world
by the mighty gift of God.
For thou bringest the hope of remedy
by thy holy child-bearing;
be mindful of these thy dependents
in exile.

Blessed Anne, thou didst ascend

above all the stars;
do thou in our grievous hour of death
free us from the enemy.
Thus, matchless matron
mayst thou deign to help us,
being the mother who brought salvation
make us live to Christ.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Philip's Rejoicing Eunuch

"When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing."  ~from Acts 8:26-40

Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch

"Every new beginning is some other beginning's end." ~Seneca

Each year during the Easter season, when this joyful reading about Philip explaining a passage of Isaiah to an Ethiopian eunuch is proclaimed at daily Mass, my heart always feels a little pang of sorrow for Philip and the eunuch at the fact that their encounter was so brief,  I tend to focus on their sudden separation rather than the fact that the eunuch was rejoicing over his new faith and baptism.  He wasn't crying for sorrow when Philip was snatched away.  I pray that God could give me that same spirit of rejoicing at the life passages and changes that come my way.  Yet, my melancholy spirit rarely finds joy in letting go, even when that letting go is a natural consequence of new and beautiful life joys.

"Keep silent:  smile quietly when a treasured trifle is taken from you and causes you pain.  When things go of themselves, let them go-they leave you God." ~a Carthusian

I suppose my sorrow is natural, after all change is never easy whether it be a close friend moving far away to start a fresh and exciting life, a child growing up, marrying and starting a family of their own, a decline in our health and our ability to be as productive as we would like, or any other number of life changes and losses both minor and significant. But God is doing something new and wonderful in those times when someone or something is snatched away from us, even though, in our limited human minds and hearts, we might not be able to see or understand what it might be.  He is all we need cling to when what we are comfortable with and enjoy is snatched away from us, and in His time He will lead us to new life; He will mercifully show us His plans for our prosperity and eternal happiness.  

"There is resurrection everywhere." Caryll Houselander

I want to take the rejoicing eunuch as a role model and look for comfort in the little resurrections of daily life-the sunrise, a bird singing in the early morning, a new baby cooing, and daffodils unfolding as they push their way through the hard winter ground. There is always something new and fresh with God.  His ways of revealing Himself to us are many and varied.  May all our eyes be open to the new life that God wishes to bless us with as we let go of what was and accept what is with grace and joy like Philip's rejoicing eunuch.


"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"~Isaiah 43:19