St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ninth & Tenth Stations w/Meditations

Ninth Station:

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Our Lord falls for the third time, on the slope leading up to Calvary, with only forty or fifty paces between him and the summit. Jesus can no longer stay on his feet: his strength has failed him, and he lies on the ground in utter exhaustion.

He offered himself up because it was his will; abused and ill-treated, he opened not his mouth, as a sheep led to the slaughter, dumb as a lamb before its shearers (Isai 53:7).

Everyone against Him... the people of the city and those from abroad, and the Pharisees and the soldiers and the chief priests... All of them executioners. His Mother —my Mother — weeps.

Jesus fulfils the will of his Father! Poor: naked. Generous: what is there left for him to surrender? Dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me (Gal 2:20), he loved me and delivered himself up unto death for me.

My God! may I hate sin, and unite myself to You, taking the Holy Cross into my arms, so that I, in my turn, may fulfil your most lovable Will.... stripped of every earthly attachment, with no other goal but your glory.... generously, not keeping anything back, offering myself with you in a perfect holocaust.

Points for meditation

1. By this stage Our Lord is unable to lift himself up: so burdensome is the weight of our wretchedness. Like a lifeless sack he is carried to the scaffold. Silent, he lets them have their way.

The humility of Jesus. God abasing himself so that we may be raised and exalted. Now do you understand why I advised you to lay your heart on the ground so that others may tread softly?

2. How hard it is to get as far as Calvary!

You too must conquer yourself so as not to abandon the way... This struggle is something marvellous, a real proof of the love of God, who wants us to be strong, because virtus in infirmitate perficitur (2 Cor 12:9), virtue is made strong in weakness.

Our Lord knows that, when we feel feeble, we come closer to Him, we pray better, we mortify ourselves more, we intensify our love for our neighbour. That way we grow in sanctity.

Thank God very much because he allows temptations... and because you keep fighting.

3. Do you want to accompany Jesus closely, very closely?... Open the Holy Gospel and read the Passion of Our Lord. But don 't just read it: live it. There is a big difference. To read is to recall something that happened in the past; to live is to find oneself present at an event that is happening here and now, to be someone taking part in those scenes.

Then, allow your heart to open wide; let it place itself next to Our Lord. And when you notice it trying to slip away —when you see that you are a coward, like the others — ask forgiveness for your cowardice and mine.

4. It looks as if the whole world is coming down on top of you. Whichever way you turn you find no way out. This time, it is impossible to overcome the difficulties.

But, have you again forgotten that God is your Father? —all-powerful, infinitely wise, full of mercy. He would never send you anything that is evil. That thing that is worrying you, it 's good for you, even though those earthbound eyes of yours may not be able to see it now.

Omnia in bonum! Lord, once again and always, may your most wise Will be done!

5. Now you realize how much you have made Jesus suffer, and you are filled with sorrow. How easy it is to ask his pardon and weep for your past betrayals! Such is your longing for atonement that you cannot contain it in your breast!

Fine. But don 't forget that the spirit of penance consists mainly in the fulfilment of the duty of each moment, however costly it may be.

Tenth Station:

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

When Our Lord arrives at Calvary, he is given some wine to drink mixed with gall, as a narcotic to lessen in some way the pain of the crucifixion. But Jesus, after tasting it to show his gratitude for that kind service, has not wanted to drink (cf. Matt 27:34). He gives himself up to death with the full freedom of Love.

Then, the soldiers strip Christ of his garments.

From the soles of his feet to the top of his head, there is nothing healthy in him: wounds and bruises and swelling sores. They are not bound up, nor dressed, nor anointed with oil (Isai 1:6).

The executioners take his garments and divide them into four parts. But the cloak is without seam, so they say:

It would be better not to tear it, but let us cast lots for it to see whose it shall be (John 19:24).

Thus, Scripture is again fulfilled: They divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots (Ps 21:19).

Despoiled, stripped, left in the most absolute poverty. Our Lord is left with nothing, save the wood of the Cross.

For us to reach God, Christ is the way; but Christ is on the Cross, and to climb up to the Cross we must have our heart free, not tied to earthly things.

Points for meditation

1. From the praetorium to Calvary, the insults of the maddened crowd, the harshness of the soldiers, the mockery of the Sanhedrin, have rained down upon Jesus. . . Scorn and blasphemy . . . Not a single complaint, no word of protest. Not even when, without any consideration, they tear the garments from his skin.

Here I see how foolish I have been to make excuses, and to utter so many empty words. A firm resolution: to work and to suffer for my Lord, in silence.

2. The body of Jesus covered in wounds is truly a portrait of sorrows...

In contrast, I now remember so much comfort-seeking, so many whims, so much apathy, and meanness... And that false compassion with which I treat my body.

Lord, by your Passion and Cross, give me the strength to practise mortification of my senses and to uproot everything that can separate me from you.

3. You who tend to lose heart, I will tell you something that is very consoling: when a person does what he can, God will not deny his grace. Our Lord is a Father, and if, in the silence of his heart, one of his sons says to him: 'My Father in Heaven, here am I, help me... ' If he goes to the Mother of God, who is our Mother, he will get through.

But God is demanding. He asks us to love him truly; he does not want traitors. We must be faithful in this supernatural struggle, which makes us happy on earth by dint of sacrifice.

4. The real obstacles that separate you from Christ —pride, sensuality... — are overcome through prayer and penance. And to pray and to mortify oneself is also to take care of others and to forget oneself. If you live like this you will see how most of the setbacks you meet will disappear.

5. When we strive to be really ipse Christus, Christ himself, then in our own lives the human side intermingles with the divine. All our efforts, even the most insignificant, take on an eternal dimension, because they are united to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

From The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva

Monday, March 27, 2006

O Saint Catherine Laboure, who by your filial confidence in the Blessed Virgin merited the privilege of contemplating and conversing with her while on this earth, obtain for us a faith like yours in her maternal love. Grant that we may understand and appreciate the value of silence and of humility, and obtain for us the grace to show forth these virtues in our lives. Teach us to accomplish faithfully the duties of our state in order that we may merit the happiness of contemplating with you the Virgin Immaculate during all eternity. Amen.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What to do until you find a spiritual director....

Back in 1958, Father Edward J. Hogan of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore observed, “There are countless souls ripe for sanctity, full of generosity and desire, and needing only the expert advice of a divinely ordained doctor of souls to advance toward sainthood. Yet how often they remain unattended!”

Why would any Catholic priest hesitate to reap such rich harvest of potential saints? Father Hogan has the answer.

Many priests, he writes, suffer from “a feeling of inadequacy and of lack of the requisite knowledge for so sensitive an undertaking.”

That’s where the famed Father Charles Hugo Doyle steps in. He guided a generation of priests in the time-tested methods of spiritual direction. In today’s Church, Fr. Doyle can stand in as a guide for lay Catholics who want to progress in holiness but have yet to find their own spiritual director.

To read more about the book:

Guidance in Spiritual Direction by Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle, follow this Link.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Seventh & Eighth Stations w/Meditations

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Seventh Station:

Outside the walls of the city, the body of Jesus again gives way through weakness, and he falls a second time, amid the shouts of the crowd and the rough handling of the soldiers.

Infirmity of body and bitterness of soul have caused Jesus to fall again. All the sins of men —mine too — weigh down on his Sacred Humanity.

He has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and we have taken him for a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities and bruised for our sins. On him fell the punishment that brought us salvation, and by his wounds we have been healed (Isai 53:4-5).

Jesus stumbles, but his fall lifts us up, his death brings us back to life.

To our falling again and again into evil, Jesus responds with his determination to redeem us, with an abundance of forgiveness. And, so that no one may despair, again he wearily raises himself, embracing the Cross.

May our stumbles and defeats separate us from Him no more. Just as a feeble child throws itself contritely into the strong arms of its father, you and I will hold tightly to the yoke of Jesus. Only a contrition and humility like this can transform our human weakness into the fortitude of God.

Points for meditation

1. Jesus is brought down by the weight of the Cross... We, by the attraction of the things of this world.

He prefers to fall rather than let go of the Cross. That is how Christ heals the lack of love that casts us down.

2. You are discouraged, why? Is it your sins and miseries? Is it your defeats, at times coming one after the other? A really big fall, which you didn 't expect?

Be simple. Open your heart. Look: as yet nothing has been lost. You can still go forward, and with more love, with more affection, with more strength.

Take refuge in your divine sonship: God is your most loving Father. In this lies your security, a haven where you can drop anchor no matter what is happening on the surface of the sea of life. And you will find joy, strength, optimism: victory!

3. You said to me: Father, I am having a very rough time.

In answer I whispered in your ear: Take upon your shoulders a small part of that cross, just a tiny part. And if you can 't manage that then... leave it entirely on the strong shoulders of Christ. And from this moment on, repeat with me: My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal.

Then, don 't worry any more.

4. From time to time I have wondered which kind of martyrdom is the greater: that of the person who receives death for the faith, at the hands of God 's enemies; or the martyrdom of someone who spends his years working with no other purpose than that of serving the Church and souls, and who grows old smiling, all the while passing unnoticed...

For me, the unspectacular martyrdom is more heroic... That is your way.

5. In order to follow Our Lord, to get close to him, we have to trample our own selves underfoot, by means of humility, just as grapes are trodden in the winepress.

If we trample on our wretchedness —for wretched we certainly are — He gladly makes himself at home in our soul. And, as he did in Bethany, he speaks to us and we to him, in a trusting conversation between friends.

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Eighth Station:

Among the people watching Our Lord as he passes by are a number of women who are unable to restrain their compassion and break into tears, perhaps recalling those glorious days spent with Jesus, when everyone exclaimed in amazement: bene omnia fecit (Mark 7:37), he has done all things well.

But Our Lord wishes to channel their weeping towards a more supernatural motive, and he invites them to weep for sins, which are the cause of the Passion and which will draw down the rigour of divine justice:

Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children... For if they do these things to the green wood, what shall be done to the dry? (Luke 23:28,31).

Your sins, my sins, the sins of all men, rise up. All the evil we have done and the good that we have neglected to do. The desolate panorama of the countless crimes and iniquities which we would have committed, if He, Jesus, had not strengthened us with the light of his most loving glance.

How little a life is for making atonement!

Points for meditation

1. The saints, you tell me, would burst into tears of sorrow at the thought of the Passion of Our Lord. Whereas I...

Perhaps that is because you and I witness the scenes, but do not 'live ' them.

2. He came unto his own, and his own received him not (John 1:11). Not only that: they drag him out of the city to crucify him.

Jesus replies with an invitation to repentance, now, while the soul is a wayfarer and there is still time.

Contrition, profound contrition for our sins. Sorrow for the inexhaustible malice of men, which is hastening to put Our Lord to death. Atonement for those who still stubbornly seek to make the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross sterile.

3. We must bring people together, we must understand others, we must make allowances.

Never put up a cross just to keep alive the memory that some people have killed others. Such a cross would betoken the devil.

Christ 's Cross is to keep silent, to forgive and to pray for those on both sides, so that all may attain peace.

4. The Master passes very close to us, again and again. He looks at us... And if you look at him, if you listen to him, if you don 't reject him, He will teach you how to give a supernatural meaning to everything you do... Then you too, wherever you may be, will sow consolation and peace and joy.

5. No matter how much you may love, you will never love enough.

The human heart is endowed with an enormous coefficient of expansion. When it loves, it opens out in a crescendo of affection that overcomes all barriers.

If you love Our Lord, there will not be a single creature that does not find a place in your heart.

From The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Spring Break-ing through.....

One of my favorite composers is Antonio Vivaldi. I could listen to that violin all day from the Four Seasons, my particular favorite Spring: Allegro. Music from heaven.

Follow the link and listen to a sample; I recommend a good dose of Vivaldi's Spring this time of year.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Prayer to Saint Joseph for the Whole Church

For March 19

Saint Joseph Solemnity

The season of Lent is interrupted by the Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary. With the exception of Our Lady, there is no greater saint in Heaven than Saint Joseph. This feast originated in the fifteenth century and was then extended to the whole Church in 1621. In 1847 Pope Pius IX named Saint Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. Pope John XXIII had Saint Joseph's name included in the Roman Canon

O Glorious Saint Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, and the head of the Holy Family. You have been chosen by Christ's Vicar as the heavenly Patron and Protector of the Church founded by Christ.

Protect the Sovereign Pontiff and all bishops and priests united with him. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life; and grant that all peoples of the world may be docile to the Church without which there is no salvation.

Dear Saint Joseph, accept the offering I make to you. Be my father, protector, and guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me purity of heart and a love for the spiritual life. After your example, let all my actions be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ shield me this day:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Fifth and Sixth Stations w/Meditations

Fifth Station:
Jesus is exhausted. His footsteps become more and more unsteady, and the soldiers are in a hurry to be finished. So, when they are going out of the city through the Judgement Gate, they take hold of a man who was coming in from a farm, a man called Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, and they force him to carry the Cross of Jesus (cf. Mark 15:21).

In the whole context of the Passion, this help does not add up to very much. But for Jesus, a smile, a word, a gesture, a little bit of love is enough for him to pour out his grace bountifully on the soul of his friend. Years later, Simon 's sons, Christians by then, will be known and held in high esteem among their brothers in the faith. And it all started with this unexpected meeting with the Cross.

I went to those who were not looking for me; I was found by those that sought me not (Isai 65:1).

At times the Cross appears without our looking for it: it is Christ who is seeking us out. And if by chance, before this unexpected Cross which, perhaps, is therefore more difficult to understand, your heart were to show repugnance... don 't give it consolations. And, filled with a noble compassion, when it asks for them, say to it slowly, as one speaking in confidence: 'Heart: heart on the Cross! Heart on the Cross! '

Points for meditation

1. Do you to know how to thank Our Lord for all he has done for us?... With love! There is no other way.

Love is with love repaid. But the real proof of affection is given by sacrifice. So, take courage!: deny yourself and take up his Cross. Then you will be sure you are returning him love for Love.

2. It is not too late, nor is everything lost...

Even though to you it may seem so. Even though a thousand foreboding voices keep saying so. Even though you are besieged by mocking and sceptical onlookers... You have come at a good time to take up the Cross: the Redemption is taking place —now! — and Jesus needs many Simons of Cyrene.

3. To bring happiness to its loved one, a noble heart will not hesitate before sacrifice. To bring comfort to a suffering face, a great soul will overcome all repugnance and give itself unstintingly...And God, does he deserve less than a piece of flesh, than a handful of clay?

Learn to mortify your whims. Accept setbacks without exaggerating them, without throwing up your arms, without... hysterics. In that way you will lighten the Cross for Jesus.

4. This day has salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:9-10).

Zacchaeus, Simon of Cyrene, Dismas, the centurion. . .

Now you know why Our Lord has sought you out. Thank him!... But opere et veritate, with deeds and in truth.

5. How can I really love the Holy Cross of Jesus?... Long for it!... Ask Our Lord for the strength to implant it in every heart throughout the length and breadth of this world. And then... make atonement with joy; and try also to love him with the beating of all those hearts that as yet do not love him.

Sixth Station:

There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be attracted to him. Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity; and his look was as it were hidden and despised . Whereupon we esteemed him not (Isai 53:2-3).

And it is the Son of God who is passing by, a madman... madly in Love!

A woman, Veronica by name, makes her way through the crowd, with a white linen cloth folded in her hands, and with this she reverently wipes the face of Jesus. Our Lord leaves the impression of his Holy Face on the three parts of that veil.

The beloved face of Jesus, that had smiled upon children and was transfigured with glory on Mount Thabor, is now, as it were, concealed by suffering. But this suffering is our purification; the sweat and the blood, which disfigure and tarnish his features, serve to cleanse us.

Lord, help me decide to tear off, through penance, this pitiful mask I have fashioned with my wretched doings... Then, and only then, by following the path of contemplation and atonement, will my life begin to copy faithfully the features of your life. We will find ourselves becoming more and more like You.

We will be other Christs, Christ himself, ipse Christus.

Points for meditation

1. Our sins were the cause of the Passion: of that torture which disfigured the most lovable countenance of Jesus, perfectus Deus, perfectus homo. And again it is our wretchedness that impedes us now from contemplating Our Lord, and makes his figure appear dark and distorted.

When our sight is blurred, when our eyes are clouded, we need to go to the light. And Christ has said: Ego sum lux mundi! (John 8:12), I am the light of the world. And he adds: He that follows me walks not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

2. Get to know the Sacred Humanity of Jesus... And He will place in your soul an insatiable hunger an 'uncontrollable ' yearning to contemplate his Face.

In this longing, which it is impossible to satisfy on earth, you will often find your consolation.

3. St Peter writes: through Jesus Christ, God has given us high and treasured promises, to make you sharers in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).

This divinisation of ours does not mean that we cease to be human... Men, yes, but with a horror of grave sin. Men who loathe venial faults and who, while having daily experience of their weakness, are aware too of the power of God.

This way nothing can stop us: neither human respect, nor our passions, nor this flesh of ours which rebels because of our baseness, nor pride, nor... loneliness.

A Christian is never alone... If you feel abandoned, it is because you do not want to look at that Christ who is passing so close to you... perhaps with the Cross.

4. Ut in gratiarum semper actione maneamus!, may we be always giving thanks. Dear God, thank you, thank you for everything: for what goes against me, for what I don 't understand, for the things that make me suffer.

The blows are necessary to hack away what is superfluous from the huge block of marble. That is how God sculptures the image of his Son in souls. Be grateful to God for those caresses!

5. When we Christians have a hard time of it, it is because we are not giving to this life all its divine meaning.

Where the hand feels the prick of thorns, the eyes discover a bunch of splendid, fragrant roses.

Taken from: The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva

Monday, March 13, 2006

Being a light to others; responsibility

"In our prayer to-day, we can ask ourselves: Do I dedicate sufficient time to my religious formation, or do I allow myself to become absorbed by the other things that fill each day? Do I have a plan for reading, reviewed in spiritual guidance, which will help me make progress in doctrinal formation according to my age and background? Am I faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, knowing that there I find the light of truth rather than the contradictory opinions I often come across in matters of faith, social teaching, etc? Do I try to get to know the teachings of the Popes and to make them known? Do I respect them with piety and docility? Do I frequently rectify my intention, offering up all my actions to God, taking into account our tendency to seek applause, recognition and praise for what we do? Am I constantly aware that this is often where the deformation of one's conscience begins?

We need light and clarity, both for ourselves and for those around us. This is our big responsibility. The Christian has been placed by God as a lamp to light up, for others the way towards God. We ought to educate ourselves to face the rush of people who are going to press upon us with a specific and urgent question: 'Well then, what must I do?' [Escriva, Furrow, 221] Children, relatives, colleagues, friends, they all look to our behaviour and we have the responsibility of leading them to God. And so that the blind person's guide is not himself also blind [Matt15:14], it is not enough to have second-hand knowledge or mere hearsay. To lead our friends and relatives to God, a vague and superficial knowledge of the route is not enough; we need to have walked it ourselves........."

(from Lenten volume of: In Conversation with God)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Catholic Child

Catholic Child is a wonderful Catholic resource for finding books, games, videos, religious goods of all kinds, jewelry, toys and other gifts especially chosen for Catholic youth, toddlers through teens. While you can access them on line at this link, I suggest you request a catalog because it is so nice to look at over and over. Your children will thank you :)

I'd Be Your Princess (A Royal Tale of Godly Character)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Third and Fourth Stations w/Meditations

Third Station:

The heavy Cross cuts and tears into Our Lord's shoulders.
The crowd has swollen into a multitude, and the legionaries can scarcely contain the angry, surging mob which, like a river that has burst its banks, flows through the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem. The worn out body of Jesus staggers now beneath the huge Cross. His most loving Heart can barely summon up another breath of life for his poor wounded limbs.

To right and left, Our Lord sees the multitude moving around like sheep without a shepherd. He could call them one by one by their names, by our names. There they are, those who were fed at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, those who were cured of their ailments, those he taught by the lakeside, on the mountain and in the porticoes of the Temple.

A sharp pain pierces the soul of Jesus; Our Lord falls to the ground exhausted.

You and I can say nothing: now we know why the Cross of Jesus weighs so much. We weep over our wretched failings and also for the terrible ingratitude of the human heart. From the depths of our soul there comes an act of real contrition, that lifts us up from the prostration of sin. Jesus has fallen that we might get up: once and for all.

Points for meditation

1. Sad? ... Because you have fallen in that little battle?

No! Be cheerful! Because in the next one, thanks to God 's grace and to your humiliation now, you will conquer!

2. As long as there is struggle, ascetical struggle, there is interior life. That is what Our Lord is asking of us: the will to want to love him with deeds, in the little things of every day.

If you have conquered in little things, you will conquer in big ones.

3. 'This man is dying. There is nothing more to be done... '

It happened years ago in a hospital in Madrid.

After his confession, when the priest gave him his crucifix to kiss, that gypsy started to shout, and no one could stop him:

'I can't kiss Our Lord with this filthy mouth of mine! '

'But listen, very soon you are going to embrace him and give him a big kiss, in heaven!

4. You speak and no one listens. And if they do listen, they don 't understand. You are always misunderstood!... Agreed. But in any case, in order that your cross may take on the full meaning of Christ's Cross, that is how you have to work now, with nobody taking any notice of you. Others will understand you.

5. How many through their pride and imagination, enter upon calvaries that have nothing to do with Christ's!

The Cross you must shoulder is divine. Do not allow yourself to carry any human cross. If you ever get caught in this snare, rectify your intention immediately: it will be enough for you to consider that He has suffered infinitely more for love of us.

Fourth Station:
No sooner has Jesus risen from his first fall than he meets his Blessed Mother, standing by the wayside where He is passing.

With immense love Mary looks at Jesus, and Jesus at his Mother. Their eyes meet, and each heart pours into the other its own deep sorrow. Mary 's soul is steeped in bitter grief, the grief of Jesus Christ.

O all you that pass by the way, look and see, was there ever a sorrow to compare with my sorrow! (Lam 1:12).

But no one notices, no one pays attention; only Jesus.

Simeon 's prophecy has been fulfilled: thy own soul a sword shall pierce (Luke 2:35).

In the dark loneliness of the Passion, Our Lady offers her Son a comforting balm of tenderness, of union, of faithfulness; a 'yes ' to the divine will.

Hand in hand with Mary, you and I also want to console Jesus, by accepting always and in everything the Will of his Father, of our Father.

Only thus will we taste the sweetness of Christ's Cross, and come to embrace it with all the strength of Love, carrying it in triumph along the ways of the earth.

Points for meditation

1. What man would not weep seeing the Mother of Christ in such cruel torment?

Her Son so stricken... and we, cowards, keep our distance, not wanting to accept the Will of God.

My Mother and Lady, teach me how to pronounce a 'yes ' which, like yours, will identify with the cry Jesus made before his Father: non mea voluntas... (Luke 22:42): not my will but God 's be done.

2. So much wretchedness! So many offences! Mine, yours, those of all mankind...

Et in peccatis concepit me mater mea! In sins did my mother conceive me! (Ps 50:7). I, like all men, came into the world stained with the guilt of our first parents. And then... my own sins: rebellions, thought about, desired, committed...

To purify us of this rottenness, Jesus willed to humble himself and take on the form of a slave (cf. Phil 2:7), becoming incarnate in the spotless womb of Our Lady, his Mother, who is also your Mother and mine. He spent thirty years in obscurity, working as any other man, at Joseph 's side. He preached. He worked miracles... and we repaid him with the Cross.

Do you need more motives for contrition?

3. Jesus had been waiting for this meeting with his Mother. How many childhood memories! Bethlehem, the flight into distant Egypt, the village of Nazareth. Now again he wants her by his side, on Calvary.

We need her!... In the darkness of the night, when a little child is afraid, it cries out: 'Mummy! '

That is what I have to do, to cry out many times with my heart: 'Mother! Mummy! Don't leave me. '

4. There is still a little way to go before reaching true abandonment. If you have not attained it yet, do not worry: keep up the effort. A day will come when you won't see any way other than Him — Jesus, his Blessed Mother, and the supernatural means that the Master has left us.

5. If we are souls of faith, we will give to earthly happenings a very relative importance, just as the saints did... Our Lord and his Mother will not abandon us and, whenever it is necessary, they will make their presence felt to fill the hearts of their loved ones with security and peace.

Taken from: The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Lenten Finds for Children and Adults is a great resource for families. I've enjoyed using the coloring pages at their Christian Coloring link for our younger children, especially most recently the Stations of the Cross coloring booklet, pdf format. There are also Lenten meal recipes, book suggestions and the CatholicMom's blog: Catholic Mom Moments. Just follow the links.

The Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons on Cana and Calvary, by Fulton Sheen, just happens to be what I'm currently reading. It is the companion volume to Characters of the Passion and The Cross and the Beatitudes.

Here's what Aquinas and More Catholic Goods says about it:

"This inspirational classic from one of the most popular and bestloved Catholic prelates of the 20th century interprets the relationship between the seven recorded words that Our Blessed Mother spoke in the Gospels and the seven last words of Jesus as he hung on the cross.

From Cana where Mary set the stage for her Son's first miracle to Jesus' last words from the cross on Calvary, this book analyzes the Gospel story from the intertwined perspectives of Mother and Son, offering solace and solutions to the fears and dilemmas of today's Christian.

In his usual down-to-earth style, Archbishop Sheen compares each of Our Lord's seven words with Our Blessed Mother's chronologically corresponding words, reflecting, in turn, on the value of ignorance, the secret of sanctity, confidence, the search for religious meaning, the purpose of life, and more.

It is in no way coincidental that Jesus spoke only seven times on Calvary, and that his mother is recorded as speaking only seven times in the Gospels. As Bishop Sheen so eloquently says of Mary: "Now that the Sun was out, there was no longer need of the moon to shine. Now that the Word has spoken, there was no longer need of words."

Archbishop, philosopher, preacher, educator, author, and radio and television personality, Fulton J. Sheen is widely regarded as the original media luminary for the spiritual world. A former national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, he died in 1979, leaving behind an enormous written and oral legacy, including two companion volumes to this work: Characters of the Passion and The Cross and the Beatitudes."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prayer: If I have no interior life, I have little to give...

So much has been written about prayer, I'm sure I won't say anything new in that regard. But, I will share with you some thoughts and resources that might help support you, motivate you and enrichen your own personal efforts of prayer.

I noticed at my friend Meredith's blog, Sweetness & Light, there is a post regarding praying with children: Daily Prayer with Children, dated March 3; Meredith gives her own schedule of daily prayer life with her children. And I had to chuckle recently while visiting the Catholic Analysis blog as Oswald had posted that while we were waiting for an update from CA, we could visit the Liturgy of the Hours link, saying: "In a way, it is God's blog with a message directed uniquely to you." How true!

I will admit that while I have never neglected prayer in my daily life, in more recent years I have locked more seriously and securely into it, sticking to a regular schedule, (or rule), in my case a "mom's rule" within rubrics of ordinary life. In reading the wisdom of the saints on prayer, there is much to draw from. One might first start to pray: "help me Lord to pray!", if their prayer life has been neglected or somewhat lacking.

I have learned that carved out time during the course of my day, set aside solely for prayer is absolutely essential in my being able to give to those around me. As Fr. Christian Kappes relates in his article: The Melancholic Temperament and the Catholic Soul (Latin Mass Magazine, Fall 2005), "...Every day at a particular time I go to a place where my senses are not highly engaged (little or no noise, movement, etc). Whatever sacrifices I have to make for that time every day is supremely important: only the most necessary things are able to stand in my way. For if I have no interior life, I have little to give to anyone else. The old axiom rings true here: nemo dat quod non habet!" [No one gives what he does not possess]. (I might add that Fr. Kappes articles from the Latin Mass issues of Fall 2005, and Advent/Christmas 2005, on temperaments and prayer life are excellent).

When I began to pray the Liturgy of Hours, it was then I began to become more disciplined in adhering to a schedule of prayer and could feel quite an accomplishment as I was joining with the universal prayer of the Church. Voices together throughout the day communicating with God. I didn't want to be left behind.

Now, finding special time for a homeschooling mother whose children are with her most hours of the day does present its challenges -- but, it can be done. Personal prayer time generally has to happen very early in the morning before the children rise, and/or late in the evening when all have settled back down. But, I have also enjoyed praying aloud the prayers of the hours with our children along with our usual daily devotions, such as the Angelus and family rosary. In this way, our children develop a family prayer life, community prayer life that supports and nourishes the whole Church, as well as individual prayer life that we continually help lead them to develop and nurture.

Lent is such a valuable time to turn within and build up interior life, to allow the fruitfulness derived from that inner life to flow outward; for as Fr. Kappes says, "if I have no interior life I have little to give to anyone else."

Next: fasting accompanied by prayer.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds."
Saint Teresa of Avila

Next week: thoughts on prayer, fasting, penance and mortification.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Cross And The Beatitudes

The Cross And The Beatitudes: Lessons On Love And Forgiveness
by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

This classic work from the pen of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen brings together Christ’s Sermon on the Mount with his Seven Last Words. From the Mount of the Beatitudes to the Hill of Calvary, Our Lord’s public ministry and statements centered on the themes of love and forgiveness, which are explored here with Archbishop Sheen’s characteristic insight and passion.

Although there is no strict connection between the Seven Beatitudes and the Seven Last Words, The Cross and the Beatitudes shows how the first and last statements of Jesus’ public life are intimately related. His entire ministry, with its ultimate fulfillment on Calvary’s Cross, perfectly displayed the meekness, mercy, and poverty of his early teaching.

From "Blessed are the meek" and "Father, forgive them" to "Into thy hands I commend my spirit," The Cross and the Beatitudes pleads for a return to the foundational teachings of Jesus that alone can sustain our spirits and lead us to a Christian way of life.

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