St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lent: Go Further, Keep Going

Each Lent I prepare myself for the forty days ahead beginning with a spiritual pep talk. I know that may sound funny, (as if it might be very difficult to get through Lent!), but God has been good every year in helping me to stumble upon just the right words that I will need to refer to often; only a few words that will help provide focus (and re-focus). This year is no exception as I've found the words of St. Augustine to provide just the right encouragement needed. Taken from Christ is Passing By (St. Escriva), we read:

"Remember what St Augustine said: 'If you say enough, you are lost. Go further, keep going. Don't stay in the same place, don't go back, don't go off the road.' Lent should suggest to us these basic questions: Am I advancing in my faithfulness to Christ, in my desire for holiness, in a generous apostolate in my daily life, in my ordinary work among my colleagues?"

Certainly there are many areas in need of improvement in our lives. Let us reflect seriously on those areas personal to us this Lenten season and go to work on them. Certe bonum certanem! Fight the good fight! If you need a pep talk -- I'll be here.

Here are some additional thoughts from St. Escriva, regarding Lent:

"We are at the beginning of Lent: a time of penance, purification and conversion. It is not an easy program, but then Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion — that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us — is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon our Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask his pardon.

"If you call upon me, I will listen to you," we read in this Sunday's liturgy. Isn't it wonderful how God cares for us and is always ready to listen to us — waiting for man to speak? He hears us at all times, but particularly now. Our heart is ready and we have made up our minds to purify ourselves. He hears us and will not disregard the petition of a "humble and contrite heart."

The Lord listens to us. He wants to intervene and enter our lives to free us from evil and fill us with good. "I will rescue him and honour him," he says of man. So we must hope for glory. Here again we have the beginning of the interior movement that makes up our spiritual life. Hope of glory increases our faith and fosters our charity; the three theological virtues, godly virtues which make us like our Father God, have been set in motion.

What better way to begin Lent? Let's renew our faith, hope and love. The spirit of penance and the desire for purification come from these virtues. Lent is not only an opportunity for increasing our external practices of self-denial. If we thought it were only that, we would miss the deep meaning it has in christian living, for these external practices are — as I have said — the result of faith, hope and charity."

(These excerpts taken from St. Josemaria Escriva: Christ Is Passing By, Points 57, 58)

Miracle of the Bread and Fish, by Giovanni Lanfranco courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

God bless you with a profitable Lenten Season.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Recipe for Happiness

Take twelve whole months.

Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.

Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.

Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty or thirty-one different parts, but don't make the whole batch at once.

Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.

Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience, one part of courage, and one part of work.

Add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, meditation, and one good deed.

Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play, and a cupful of good humor.

Pour all of this into a vessel of love.

Cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with a smile, and serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness.

"We ought to deal kindly with all, and to manifest those qualities which spring naturally from a heart tender and full of Christian charity; such as affability, love and humility. These virtues serve wonderfully to gain the hearts of men, and to encourage them to embrace things that are more repugnant to nature."

Saint Vincent de Paul

Friday, February 24, 2006

If the love of God is put into friendships, they are cleansed, reinforced and spiritualised, because all the dross, all the selfish points of view and excessively worldly considerations are burned away. Never forget that the love of God puts our affections in order, and purifies them without diminishing them.

St. Josemaria Escriva: Furrow, "The Heart", 828

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Egos and Email

I thought this information was worth passing on considering so many of us are involved in email communication. There are a few articles and news reports on the effects of email miscommunications and overall misunderstanding.

My friend Michele over at Family-Centered Life blogged an interesting piece regarding this titled: "The hazards of the written word....especially online." Her links will take you to an ABC News Report, with author Justin Kruger and his "Egocentrism Over E-Mails." There is also a similar report at this link: which covers this topic:

"An inability to step outside of one's own head may be behind e-mail miscommunication, according to recent research."

I found these reports to be very insightful.

Monday, February 20, 2006


"I have sometimes been struck by the sight of very good persons, very pious, heroic in mortification, in austerity, and in temperance, but refusing the true holocaust, the holocaust which is truly an immolation: the sacrifice of their own will. On one point or another they complain, they worry, and they ask something other of the Divine Master than what He has given them. In this they are fleeing from real mortification, in the truest sense of the word.

Jesus always has His victory when He has your abandonment. He needs nothing more than that to bring about the divine wonders that His Heart has prepared for you from all eternity. What spoils everything, what paralyzes Him in His providential action on us, are not material difficulties. What can be a material difficulty for Him who created Heaven and earth? Not His enemies. He will reign despite His enemies. What makes things difficult for Him is lack of faith and abandonment on the part of those who call themselves His friends and who ought to be His faithful instruments. We thwart His plans by imposing our own views, our little plans to which we hold so tightly. And, quite often, why do we do it? Through fear of a cross, fear of humiliation, thirst for enjoyment, earthly ambition, and above all, lack of confidence."

I Believe In Love (Abandonment to Jesus)

Refer to post "On Retreat with St. Therese"

Litany of the Good Shepherd

God the Father of the Lamb,
have mercy on us
God the Son, sacrificial Lamb,
have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, Life of the Lamb,
have mercy on us.

O Good Jesus, Shepherd of the just, hear us.

Vigilant Finder of lost sheep, guide us.
Fervent Hope of the fallen lamb, guide us.
Constant Gatherer of a broken flock, guide us.

O Good Shepherd, hear your sheep.

Purest shelter of the yearning heart, feed us.
Perpetual Feast of the hungry soul, feed us.
Lasting Bread of perfect Life, feed us.

O Good Shepherd, hear your sheep.

Patient Tamer of rebellious wills, shear us.
Loyal Teacher of all kind commands, shear us.
Tender Purger of all blemish of sin, shear us.

O Good Shepherd, hear your sheep.

From the lures of false shepherds hiding in your guise, protect us.
From mirages of richer fields, conquering our minds, protect us.
From diseases of the soul, separating us from your flock, protect us.

O Good Shepherd, at once the Guard and Lamb,
who knows well the sheep He leads,
Guide us, feed us, shear us,
and bid us come unto You,
delighting in your heavenly pasture,
and praising You
forever and ever,

Lisa Basar

Saturday, February 18, 2006

On Retreat with St. Therese

This of course, is a beautiful photo of St. Therese of Lisieux; it's a favorite of mine and comes from the Mary Evans Picture Library. We have this photo in a saint book at home where it appears in sepia tones and is very striking. Just as striking here, St. Therese's beauty in the simplicity of black and white.

While we are focused on St. Therese, I'd like to suggest a personal retreat based on her teachings. As a busy homeschooling mother, I really appreciate things of a spiritual nature that can be easily achieved in the home and fit into an ordinary day (or series of days).

There is a wonderful book for just this purpose: I Believe in Love, by Father Jean C. J. d' Elbee, published by Sophia Institute Press. I originally received this book as a gift from a friend who knew I had devotion to St. Therese and didn't have a lot of "mom time" to spend outside of the home. This book is a special find for a St. Therese devotee, but certainly anyone can benefit from it. Fr. d' Elbee captures Therese's teachings as meditations in ten "conferences" that take you through the retreat. Here is a short description from the backcover:

"Fr. Jean C. J. d' Elbee, a French priest deeply imbued with St. Therese's spirit, brings you St. Therese's teachings on God's love and the confidence in Him that it should inspire in your soul; humility, peace and fraternal charity; the apostolate; the Cross; and what it means truly to abandon yourself to Divine Providence."

Here is a short excerpt from the first conference, Love for Love:

"My principal aim in this retreat is to give some answers to your personal problems; those, in short, which preoccupy you most, sometimes to the point of anguish, because they have to do with the eternal life of your soul and because on your sanctity depends the light that will radiate through you upon your neighbor and the world." Fr. Jean C. J. d' Elbee

Later, Fr. d' Elbee states: "Oh how I would love it if at the end of this conference, and even more, at the end of this retreat you were able to cry out with the psalmist, 'Lord You have opened my heart, and I run in the way of Your commandments.'"

"This book comes like heavenly music, saving music, to fill with hope the emptiness of man's heart and to fill it to overflowing." (from: Preface of the American Edition; H. Lyman Stebbins)

"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be - and becoming that person." Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

St. Therese, Pray for Us!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In Quietness and in Trust: Spiritual Reading

There is a great meditative prayer series called: In Conversation with God, published by Scepter. It is comprised of seven volumes and Saint Josemaria Escriva's maxims (such as those contained in The Way, The Forge and Furrow, as well as his other writings) are used generously throughout the series within the context of particular focused topics; other saints, religious, philosophers, popes, church documents and the like are included as well.

Authored by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal, a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, In Conversation follows the liturgical year with the daily scripture readings and is so valuable in its subject matter. The topics truly inspire your accountability to improve while also making clear Church teaching. The placement of St. Escriva's quotes within the topics provide an interpretation of sorts. Again and again, I find myself saying: yes, I remember that thought from this particular book...and now I more fully understand it. It was this series that brought me exactly that, more understanding and more appreciation for the spirituality emitted by St. Escriva. This series is appropriate for both men and women. (You could buy one volume appropriate for the liturgical season at hand, to try). If you have read a small portion of Escriva's writings, you are well on your way to getting a lot out of such a series.

I might add that while you may or may not be drawn to, or feel the call of a vocation to Opus Dei, founded by St. Josemaria Escriva, the writings of this remarkable saint and others of the prelature are widely available to us for personal spiritual enrichment.

As providence would have it, I came upon this series by way of another person's recommendation through their spiritual director, and it is with much gratitude I express this.

"With supernatural intuition, Blessed Josemaria untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate. Christ calls everyone to become holy in the realities of everyday life. Hence work too is a means of personal holiness and apostolate, when it is done in union with Jesus Christ."

Pope John Paul II in his homily at the beatification of Saint Josemaria

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy "Saint" Valentine's Day

"On Saint Valentine's Day, we Christians have an opportunity for some real "inculturation" -- that is, planting seeds of Christ's truth into the culture in which we live.

When we remember that the heart of Saint Valentine was, like other Christian martyrs, "pierced" by the love of Our Lord, and he shed his blood for this, it seems appropriate that the red heart is a symbol for this powerful love. We think about the power of the love of God - our love for Him and His for us - to inspire our love for others. It is this kind of love that gives heart (or "en-courages") faithful Christians to accomplish deeds of extraordinary courage - even unto death - to bring the truth of faith to others. We are reminded, too, that suffering often accompanies genuine love.

In our Catholic families, we can focus our thoughts, this day, not only in expressing our love for our friends and families (and yes, sweethearts) by gifts and loving greetings; but also in prayer and meditation on Scripture." (Women for Faith & Family)

Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You gave Saint Valentine the courage to witness to the gospel of Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. Help us to endure all suffering for love of you, and to seek you with all our hearts; for you alone are the source of life and love. Grant that we may have the courage and love to be strong witnesses of your truth to our friends and family and to the whole world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Valentine of Rome

Friday, February 10, 2006

Feast of St. Scholastica

One of my favorite books is: The Privilege of Being a Woman, by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Hildebrand speak several years ago at Catholic Familyland in Bloomingdale, Ohio at the Totus Tuus conference. It was very memorable.

Among several stories pertaining to women contained in Dr. Hildebrand's book, there is also included a brief but moving story about St. Scholastica. I was delighted to come across this as Saints Scholastica and Benedict, who were twin siblings, both religious, have always held a special place in my heart and devotions.

The deep and beautiful spiritual friendship they enjoyed and this story of St. Scholastica's holy tears of love for her brother, is described in this story as retold by Dr. Hildebrand:

"......Let us recall the touching episode of the last visit that Saint Benedict had with his holy sister. According to the rule, they could see each other only once a year. Their joy was to talk about God and sing His praise together. She begged her brother to prolong his holy colloquy, but he sternly refused: the rule ordered him to spend the night in his monastery. His gentle sister started praying, shielding with her hands the flood of tears streaming from her eyes. The sky which had been radiantly serene, suddenly became dark and threatening, and a fierce downpour accompanied by lightning and thunder forced Saint Benedict to remain for the night. This episode is related by Saint Gregory, and the Liturgy concludes this moving scene by stating "plus potuit, quia plus amavit" "having the stronger love, she had the stronger power."

Three days later St. Scholastica died and her dear brother witnessed, from his cell, her soul leave her body in the form of a dove which flew upward to the heavens.

"Christ's love for Saint Scholastica and her love for him spilled over into a lively and determined love for her brother, Saint Benedict. Her love gave her prayer a power that startled even that holy man." Magnifcat, Vol 7, No 13

Prayer: O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord.

There is a wonderful children's book by Kathleen Norris and Tomie de Paola, beautifully illustrated about Saints Benedict and Scholastica called:
The Holy Twins.

"The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all."
St. Benedict (Rule of St. Benedict 5:1-2)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This week, I was to continue with the topic of spiritual direction; however, I am going to put that on hold for a few days. Instead, I would ask that you join me in prayer for a homeschooling friend, Molly and her family, who lost their 2 month old son, Oliver Joseph to SIDS over the weekend. Tonight, in Steubenville, OH a rosary will be said, and tomorrow morning the funeral mass at St. Peter church. If you could please remember this family in your prayers as this blogspot will pause in silence over the next several days.

Thank you and God bless you.

Mother of Sorrow and Consolation, Our Mother, to you we turn for help and comfort. Your son was called the fairest of all the sons of men; you lost your son in death on Calvary. We are grateful for the assurance that the child we grieve over is safe with Jesus and close to you. Grant this child's family the strength and comfort they so greatly need in bearing their sorrow.

At the cross, your station keeping, Mournful Mother, you stood weeping, close to Jesus to the last. Our Lady of Sorrows and of Mercy, Pray for us!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Women and Spiritual Direction

In her autobiography St. Teresa of Avila stresses how women need spiritual guidance, she herself having turned to several spiritual directors in her lifetime. As St. Teresa mentions, a woman's spiritual life is endangered by emotionalism, dreaming, illusions and self-centeredness. In the book, The Privilege of Being a Woman, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand explains how "women need men whose mission is to help them to channel their emotions, to distinguish between those that are valid and those that are tainted by irrationality, those which are legitimate and those which are illegitimate." She further states: "Two great spiritual directors, Saint Francis de Sales and Dom Colomba Marmion, emphasize the fact that 'however intellectual or enlightened a woman may be, God, according to the ordinary rulings of His providence, wills her to be directed by a man who is His minister.'"

More thoughts on spiritual direction to follow later this week.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Poem lyrics of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind by Shakespeare

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Women of Faith, Women of Hope, Women of Love

"The true woman and mother, by her caring and understanding knows how to lighten for others the burden of life. Thus she becomes the great conqueror of everyday life. Every day she conquers anew by making the trivialities of life bearable. And should no one even notice, her conquest has been thorough indeed."
Jutta Burggraf

"John Paul II as a Pioneer of Woman's Human Rights"
Interview With German Theologian Jutta Burggraf

God has a specific plan for woman. He has given her a holy mission, a holy call. Grace-Filled Moments

Friday, February 03, 2006

Women of Faith, Women of Hope, Women of Love

"Every woman without exception is under an obligation - a strict obligation of conscience, mind you! - not to remain aloof; every woman must go into action, each in her own way, and join in stemming the tides which threaten to engulf the home, in fighting the doctrines which undermine its foundations, in preparing, organizing and completing its restoration." Pope Pius XII

"You women have always had as your lot the protection of the home, the love of beginnings and an understanding of cradles. You are present in the mystery of a life beginning. You offer consolation in the departure of death. Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization." Pope Paul VI

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Prayer for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
All-powerful Father, Christ your Son became man for us and was presented in the temple. May he free our hearts from sin and bring us into your presence. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Women of Faith, Women of Hope, Women of Love

"What is it missing in this modern world of ours, despite all its outward splendor, its technology and economic progress?....Nothing defines the condition of our time more profoundly and tragically than the total absence of all motherly dispositions.....It is that minimum of kindness, motherliness, mercy, sense of tact and tenderness which comes from woman as her contribution to the life of man."
Gertrud von le Fort

"I beg you, then, to respond with unspeakable love, to be a mirror of virtue in your station in life, so that you may act with a good and holy intent, and be a solid pillar and a faithful servant, and so that the standard of the most holy cross may never leave your mind and heart." St. Catherine of Siena

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Women of Faith, Women of Hope, Women of Love

"The virtuous woman respects the tastes, inclinations, and opinions of others in all that is not contrary to conscience. With ingenious tact, she draws attention to her neighbor's virtues, speaks about edifying things she has seen, and wields more influence by such delicacy than she would by calling attention to faults. Always amiable and patient, she endures all kinds of disappointments and frustrations with a serene countenance, without anger or resentment." Fr. James Alberione, S.S.P., S.T.D.

"As Christian women we are called to collaborate in the salvation of the world through the vocation of motherhood, whether it is exercised spiritually or physically. A unique privilege of our Blessed Mother's motherhood was her ability to give Christ to the world both physically and spiritually." Marianne Evans Mount