Archive for the ‘St. Mother Teresa’ Category

“I Thirst for You”

March 19, 2017

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta offered this beautiful meditation on the thirst of Jesus Christ, writing these words in His voice:

I know you through and through; I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you, even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you, not for what you have or haven’t done. I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image. It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin. But I love you as you are, and I have shed My blood to win you back. If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life; and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.

I know what is in your heart; I know your loneliness and all your hurts: the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations. I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love– how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often you have thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures–with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? “Come to Me all you who thirst…” (John 7:37) I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine–to the point of dying on a cross for you.

I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you: I THIRST FOR YOU. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you; that is how precious you are to Me. I THIRST FOR YOU. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation and give you peace, even in all your trials. I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give Me your life, and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart.

No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you-just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in My love, for it will be your belief in My love that will change you. You forget Me, and yet I am seeking you at every moment of the day standing at the door of your heart, and knocking. Do you find this hard to believe? Then look at the cross, look at My Heart that was pierced for you. Have you not understood my cross? Then listen again to the words I spoke there, for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: “I THIRST…” (John 19:28) Yes, I thirst for you. … All your life I have been looking for your love — I have never stopped seeking to love you and to be loved by you. You have tried many other things in your search for happiness; why not try opening your heart to Me, right now, more than you ever have before.

I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU.

[Source – with her full meditation]

The Lazarus You Know — 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C

September 25, 2016

Sunday Readings

Lazarus at the Rich Man's Door

The Lord says though the prophet Amos, “Woe to the complacent,” to those warm and well-fed, comfortable on their couches without concern for others. Indeed, Scripture says, “whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1st John 4:20) You know of Jesus’ concern for the needy. Though he was rich, dwelling in the comfort of the Trinity, our Lord came to earth and became poor for your sake, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2nd Corinthians 8:9) The rich man in Jesus’ parable could not have been unaware of the man lying at his door. Apparently, the rich man even knew his name: “Father Abraham…  Send Lazarus…” But the rich man came to deeply regret his indifference toward this neighbor.

You know a Lazarus as well. He’s not sleeping on your doorstep, but you probably know his name. He (or she) may be well-known to you or only an acquaintance. Maybe Lazarus goes to your church, or hasn’t come for years. Maybe Lazarus lives just down the street or in a nursing home far away. Your Lazarus is in great need, but probably not for food or shelter.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, who cared for many Lazaruses in India’s slums, said, “The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people.” The poorest of the poor are in our midst. Knowing this, I ask that you to earnestly pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may reveal your personal Lazarus to you, so that you may lovingly attend to that person as Jesus would have you do.

“Who is Jesus to Me?”

September 7, 2016

By St. Mother Teresa, in 1983

Blessed Mother Teresa with a happy, armless baby, photo by Eddie Adams of AP

Jesus is the Word made Flesh.

Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.

Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass for the sins of the world and mine.

Jesus is the Word – to be spoken.

Jesus is the Truth – to be told.

Jesus is the Way – to be walked.

Jesus is the Light – to be lit.

Jesus is the Life – to be lived.

Jesus is the Love – to be loved.

Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.

Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.

Jesus is the Peace – to be given.

Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.

Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.

Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.

Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.

Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.

Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.

Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.

Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.

Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.

Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.

Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.

Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.

Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.

Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.

Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.

Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.

Jesus is the Drug Addict – to befriend him.

Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.

Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.

Jesus is the Old – to be served.

To me – Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.

I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.

Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.

Amen

Three Crosses Line Break

The fruit of Silence is Prayer.

The fruit of Prayer is Faith.

The fruit of Faith is Love.

The fruit of Love is Service.

The fruit of Service is Peace.

—St. Mother Teresa

The Virgin Mary’s Wisconsin Apparition in 1859

August 4, 2016

This account is according to Sister Pauline LaPlant, to whom the visionary, Adele Brise, often told her story:

She [Adele] was going to the grist mill about four miles from here [Champion] with a sack of wheat on her head […]. As Adele came near the place, she saw a lady all in white standing between two trees, one a maple, the other a hemlock. Adele was frightened and stood still. The vision slowly disappeared, leaving a white cloud after it. Adele continued on her errand and returned home without seeing anything more. She told her parents what had happened, and they wondered what it could be — maybe a poor soul who needed prayers?

On the following Sunday, she had to pass here again on her way to Mass at Bay Settlement, about eleven miles from her home […]. This time, she was not alone, but was accompanied by her sister Isabel and a neighbor woman [Mrs. Vander Niessen]. When they came near the trees, the same lady in white was at the place where Adele had seen her before. Adele was again frightened and said, almost in a tone of reproach, “Oh, there is that lady again.”

adelebrise

The Visionary, Adele Brise, 1831-1896

Adele had not the courage to go on. The other two did not see anything, but they could tell by Adele’s look that she was afraid. They thought, too, that it might be a poor soul that needed prayers. They waited a few minutes, and Adele told them it was gone. It had disappeared as the first time, and all she could see was a little mist or white cloud. After Mass, Adele went to confession and told her confessor how she had been frightened at the sight of a lady in white. He [Father William Verhoef] bade her not to fear, and to speak to him of this outside of the confessional. Father Verhoef told her that if it were a heavenly messenger, she would see it again, and it would not harm her, but to ask in God’s name who it was and what it desired of her. After that, Adele had more courage. She started home with her two companions, and a man who was clearing land for the Holy Cross Fathers at Bay Settlement accompanied them.

As they approached the hallowed spot, Adele could see the beautiful lady, clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist. Her dress fell to her feet in graceful folds. She had a crown of stars around her head, and her long, golden, wavy hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Such a heavenly light shone around her that Adele could hardly look back at her sweet face. Overcome by this heavenly light and the beauty of her amiable visitor, Adele fell on her knees.

In God’s name, who are you and what do you want of me?” asked Adele, as she had been directed.

I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”

Adele, who is it?” said one of the women. “O why can’t we see her as you do?” said another weeping.

Kneel,” said Adele, “the Lady says she is the Queen of Heaven.” Our Blessed Lady turned, looked kindly at them, and said, “Blessed are they that believe without seeing. What are you doing here in idleness…while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?

What more can I do, dear Lady?” said Adele, weeping.

Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?” replied Adele.

Teach them,” replied her radiant visitor, “their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.”

The manifestation of Our Lady then lifted her hands, as though beseeching a blessing for those at her feet, and slowly vanished, leaving Adele overwhelmed and prostrate on the ground.

When the news spread about Adele Brise’s vision of the Blessed Virgin, most people believed the account and were astonished. Some considered the event a  demented delusion. Adele Brise, however, considered it a commission to catechize the children and admonish the sinners of the Bay Settlement. To honor the alleged apparition, Adele’s father erected a makeshift chapel near the spot of Adele’s vision.

The Heights of Holiness

April 12, 2016
Tall G.K. Chesterton shakes a girl's hand

Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

How tall have the famous Catholic men and women of past and present been? Precise figures can be hard to find, but here is a sampling:

6’ 4” — Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

6’ 0” — Venerable Pope Pius XII

5’ 10” — Our Lord Jesus Christ (based upon the Shroud of Turin) , Pope St. John Paul II

5’ 9” — Pope Francis

5’ 8½” — Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen  (or 5’ 7” according to his niece )

5’ 8” — Blessed Pope Paul VI

5’ 7” — St. Peter the Apostle (based on the bones found beneath St. Peter’s Basilica’s high altar) , Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

5’ 6” — Pope St. John XXIII

5’ 5” — Servant of God Pope John Paul I

5’ 4” — St. Therese of Lisieux

5’ 2½”— St. John Neumann

5’ 2” — St. Joan of Arc , St. Junipero Serra

5’ 1½”— St. Ignatius Loyola

5’ 0” — Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

The Dying Words of Jesus & His Saints

November 14, 2014

Each November, when the dark nights lengthen and trees become bare skeletons, we especially pray for the souls of those who have gone before us in death. This is also a fitting time of year to remember and consider the certainty of our own mortality. How did Jesus and his holy ones face the end of their lives? Their dying words can both instruct and inspire us:

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—Our Lord Jesus Christ, c. 33 AD

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

—St. Stephen, martyr, c. 34 AD

“Glory to God for all things!”

—St. John Chrysostom, 407 AD

“Your will be done. Come, Lord Jesus!”

—St. Augustine, 430 AD

“May God forgive you, brother.”

—St. Wenceslaus, martyr, 935 AD

“I have loved justice and hated iniquity. Therefore I die in exile.”

—Pope St. Gregory VII, 1085 AD

“If all the swords in England were pointed against my head, your threats would not move me. I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”

—St. Thomas Becket, martyr, 1170 AD

“When you see that I am brought to my last moments, place me naked upon the ground just as you saw me the day before yesterday; and let me lie there after I am dead for the length of time it takes one to walk a mile unhurriedly.”

—St. Francis of Assisi, 1226 AD

“Be assured that he who shall always walk faithfully in God’s presence, always ready to give him an account of all his actions, shall never be separated from him by consenting to sin.”

—St. Thomas Aquinas, 1274 AD

“Leave the doors open, so that everyone may enter and see how a pope dies.”

—Bl. Pope Urban V, 1370 AD

“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

—St. Bridget of Sweden, 1373 AD

“Blood! Blood! Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—St. Catherine of Siena, 1380 AD

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

—St. Joan of Arc, martyr, 1431 AD

“I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

—St. Thomas More, martyr, 1535 AD

“O, my God!”

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1556 AD

“After all I die as a child of the Church. My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time for us to meet one another.”

—St. Teresa of Avila, 1582 AD

“Jesus, I love you.”

—St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1680 AD

“In all things I adore the will of God in my regard.”

—St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, 1719 AD

“Be children of the Church.”

—St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1821 AD

“My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.”

—St. Andrew Kim Taegon, martyr, 1846 AD

“Holy Mary, pray for me, a poor sinner.”

—St. Bernadette Soubirous, 1879 AD

“I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me. My God, I love you.”

—St. Therese of Lisieux, 1897 AD

“To restore all things in Christ.”

—Pope St. Pius X, 1914 AD

“Long live Christ the King!”

—Bl. Miguel Pro, S.J., martyr, 1927 AD

“Jesus. Maria.”

—St. Pio of Pietrelcina, 1968 AD

“Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.”

—Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 1997 AD

“Let me go to the house of the Father.”

—St. John Paul the Great, 2005 AD

What do you want to be your dying words?

Four Cheeks Turned — 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

February 22, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

When attacked, our natural response is “fight or flight,” but Jesus suggests a  supernatural response: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.” Since the Jews regarded the left hand as unclean, they would reflexively strike with the right hand. If the right cheek were hit, then one had been backhanded with contempt. Responding by turning the other cheek neither attacks not retreats, but insists on being regarded as an equal, whom one must strike (if at all) with an open hand. Jesus wants us to stand our ground in the face of injustice, assertively but lovingly, in hopes that the offender will reconsider his ways. Jesus modeled this response when he was struck during his trial before Annas:

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (John 18:19-24)

Another saintly example was shown by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Though reports vary, Mother Teresa was once begging bread from a baker for her orphanage. When the baker responded by spitting into her hand, she replied to effect, ‘I will keep this for me, but please give something for my children.’

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a bishop welcomes an impoverished convict to join his table and sleep at his home. However, that night, Jean Valjean steals his host’s silverware and goes away. The police catch him and take him to the bishop. Looking at Jean Valjean, the good bishop exclaims, “Ah! here you are! I am glad to see you. Well, but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?” Jean Valjean opens his eyes wide and stares at the venerable Bishop “with an expression which no human tongue can render any account of.” The bishop’s turn of the cheek spares the thief’s freedom and saves his soul.

And finally, a true story from a modern marriage: A woman’s husband had a terrible temper and every time it flared she would say, “That’s just like you to lose your temper!” But then, following a stroke of insight, she began responding differently. The next time he began to fly of the handle she told him, “That’s not like you to lose your temper,” and he nearly fell out of his chair. Even the kids looked at her funny, but she stuck with her new resolution. Months later, while at a restaurant together, he became irritated by the slow service. He started to fume about it, but then he suddenly stopped, turned to her, and said, “That’s not like me to lose my temper, is it?” This time, it is said, she nearly fell on the floor.

Was it true the first time the woman declared that it was not like her husband to lose his temper? The claim did not match his previous behavior, but perhaps he changed because she revealed to him that his uncontrolled anger was quite unlike the father, husband, and Christian man he truly and deeply wanted to be. This is the sort of realization and conversion we are to hope for in turning the other cheek.

Plus, a fifth story: “If a teen mugs you for your wallet…

“I Thirst” — Good Friday

April 22, 2011

Shortly before He died on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Why did He say, “I thirst”? He was certainly physically dehydrated. As Psalm 22 foretells, His throat was as dry as broken pottery and His tongue stuck to His palate, but there was more reason for His words than just this.

Last night, at the Last Supper, Jesus had postponed drinking the traditional fourth and final cup of Passover. He said “I thirst” so that they would bring Him wine, so that He could drink, and unite the Last Supper and His Passion as one event. However, there is even more reason for His words than this.

Beside the crucifixes, in all of the chapels, in all of her religious houses around the world, Blessed Mother Teresa had written the words, “I thirst.” She understood that what Jesus thirsts for on the cross is us. Mother Teresa wrote, “Jesus is God, therefore His love, His Thirst, is infinite. He the Creator of the universe, asked for the love of His creatures. He thirsts for our love…” 

As we come to Him on the cross today, let us satisfy His thirst with the refreshment we can give to Him.

The Joyful Mysteries, Meditations with the Saints

October 28, 2010

The 1st Joyful Mystery: 
The Annunciation

The Blessed Virgin Mary may have been just 13 years old when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would give birth to Jesus. She shows us that even if you are young, God can still do big things with you, if you say “Yes” to Him.

On May 13, 1917, three Portuguese children were praying the rosary after lunch in a field on a clear blue day.  The eldest was Lucia, age 10, and she was with her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, ages eight and seven. Suddenly, they saw two bright flashes. They looked up and saw “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun…” The Lady smiled and said, “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said, “I come from heaven.” Lucia asked what she wanted. The Lady said, “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour.”

On July 13, the incredibly beautiful Lady appeared again. Lucia asked her who she was, and for a miracle so everyone would believe. The Lady answered, “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” Then she taught them this prayer: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.”

At noon, on October 13, 1917, some 70,000 people were gathered in the field. With a flash of light, the Lady appeared to the children and declared, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Some spectators cried out and the crowd turned their eyes upward to the cloudless sky, and they gazed on the sun without the least discomfort.  They saw it tremble and danced in a miraculous way.

Mary, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta teach us this lesson: Even if you are young, God can do big things with you, if you say “Yes” to Him. Let us pray that we would be open to doing God’s will every day.

The 2nd Joyful Mystery:
The Visitation

“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.’” (Luke 1)

Imagine how St. Elizabeth must have felt to have Mary, Mother of God, walk in through her door. Elizabeth could not see the tiny Jesus, a fetus in Mary’s womb, but she was convinced that He was hidden there. How would you treat someone if you knew that Jesus was hidden inside of them?

Blessed Mother Theresa cared for the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta, India. Despite years of strenuous physical, emotional and spiritual work, Mother Teresa seemed unstoppable. Though frail and bent, with numerous health problems, she always returned to her work, to those who received her compassionate care for more than 50 years. How did she do it? She could do it because she encountered her beloved Christ both in times of prayer and in the people she cared for. Mother Teresa remembered Jesus’ words, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Mother Teresa loved others as if they were the Lord Himself.

Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Elizabeth teach us this lesson: Jesus is present in your classmates here at school, so you should always be welcoming and loving toward them. Let us pray for the grace to love others in this way.

The 3rd Joyful Mystery:
The Nativity

In his youth, Francis had been quite rich, the son of a wealthy merchant, yet he sensed that there was more to life. He put his former life behind him and devoted himself to following Christ. One day, at Mass, the Gospel told of how Christ’s disciples were to possess neither gold nor silver, nor traveling items, but were to exhort sinners to repentance and announce the Kingdom of God. Francis took these words as if spoken directly to himself, and as soon as Mass was over he threw away what little he had and went forth at once, exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace. He was poor, but clearly happy, and others were attracted to join his movement. By the time of his death, hundreds had joined his religious order. On October 3, 1226, St. Francis died a penniless, but happy man. 

St. Francis of Assisi loved Christmas.  In fact, one story tells of how he petitioned the Holy Roman Emperor to make an edict that grain and bread should be provided to birds, beasts, and the poor this day, so that all God’s creatures would have occasion to rejoice in the Lord. St. Francis also invented the Christmas tradition of making a model of the nativity scene. These nativity scenes, called Crèches, remind us that even though Christ was rich in Heaven, he became poor when he was born on earth in a barn. Yet, Jesus was a happy man, despite his poverty.

Jesus and St. Francis teach us this lesson: You do not need to be wealthy in order to be happy. Let us pray that we may be content and happy with the riches that we have.

The 4th Joyful Mystery: 
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

In the year that Jesus was born, “there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout” and he longed to see the Messiah who would save God people. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would indeed see the Christ before he died and Simeon trusted and hoped in that promise.

One day, the Spirit inspired him to come into the temple. When he say Mary and Joseph carrying in the baby Jesus to offer a sacrifice for Him, Simeon “took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: ‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.’” (Luke 2)

What are the promises the Lord has made to us?  Do we trust and hope in these promises? Simeon teaches us this lesson: That we ought to trust and hope in the Lord’s promises, for all of them will be fulfilled in the sight of all someday.

The 5th Joyful Mystery:
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

This is a true story, the story of a Catholic mother of three whose oldest son joined an anti-Catholic religious cult. It started him down a path of sinful pride and many sensual sins. It broke her heart and for years she prayed tearful prayers for his conversion.

She even asked the bishop to intervene in winning over her son. He counseled her to be patient, saying, “God’s time will come.” When she persisted in asking, the bishop (perhaps busy with many other things) famously reassured her: “Go now, I beg you; it is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

That mother was St. Monica, and that son of hers, who was lost and found, was the great St. Augustine. Sts. Monica and Augustine teach us this lesson: that your persistent prayer can help people to find Christ. Let us pray for someone that we know, that he or she may be drawn closer to Jesus Christ.

Sources:
On Fatima
On St. Francis
On Blessed Mother Teresa

Pushing Boulders — 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

July 1, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a hermit who lived in a cabin in the woods.  Each day, he would spend a good deal of time in prayer. One day at prayer he quieted himself, opened himself receptively to God, and heard Jesus speak to him. It’s wasn’t that he heard Jesus externally, speaking from across the room, but within his own thoughts. The hermit knew from experience that the Lord sometimes sends us an image, a memory, a song, or words in times of prayer to communicate with us.

The Lord said, “Go outside to the large boulder in your yard.” The man got up and went. Then the Lord said, “I want you to push this boulder for at least 30 minutes every day.” The man went about pushing the boulder every day, exerting his body in every way, but even months later he could not discern having moved the stone a single inch.

The man thought to himself, “Am I doing something wrong? Am I failing because of my sins or my lack of faith? The Gospels say that if I had faith the size of a mustard seed I could move mountains, but I can’t even move this stupid boulder.  Am I failing because this isn’t really God’s will? Did the Lord really tell me to do this, or did I just imagine it myself? No I heard Him, as surely as the other times when I heard Him speak. But why does He give me a task that He knows I can’t do? Does He want me to fail?” At this the man became very angry and (wisely) took his frustration to God. 

The man heard the Lord speak to Him, “Do you have reason to be angry? I told you to push the boulder, but I never told you to move it. Look at your arms, look at your legs, you have become strong because of your faithfulness and now you are ready for my next mission for you. You thought you were failing, but you succeeded in doing my will.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus turns resolutely toward His final journey to Jerusalem. He sends out advance teams to visit the towns ahead of Him and prepare His way. One of these villages is a Samaritan town and when they learn that Jesus’ destination is Jerusalem they refuse to welcome Him. James and John see this and ask, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them, like Elijah did back in the day?” Jesus turns and rebukes them; the fire of the Holy Spirit is meant for the salvation of people, not their destruction.

Why did Jesus send His disciples to that Samaritan town, instead of just instructing them to pass it by? Jesus knew what was going to happen when they went to that village–He knew by His divine insight that they wouldn’t accept Him. Remember when Jesus needed a donkey to ride on into Jerusalem? He sends two disciples to find and untie a donkey who had never been ridden before and He tells them what to say if anyone asks what they are doing. They go into the city and find everything as Jesus had described. Remember when Jesus needed a place to celebrate the Last Supper? He tells Peter and John to go into the city and to follow a man they will see carrying a jar of water, when they come to the house he leads them to, they are to ask if there is a place for the master to celebrate the Passover. They go and find everything a Jesus described, including an upper room already prepared for a Passover. Jesus knew that the Samaritan town would not welcome Him, so why did He send disciples there?

The mission may have seemed like a failure, but Jesus’ plan succeeded. Jesus knew that His Apostles would soon be preaching the Gospel to the whole world and He knew that not everyone would welcome them or their message. Jesus wanted to give them some experience in rejection to teach them how to respond; not with anger and violence, but with patience and peace. James and John learn a lesson about divine mercy. They may have thought their mission to the Samaritan town was a total failure, but the Lord was successfully achieving His goals in them.

So what does all this have to do with us? In our lives we often experience weakness, setbacks and apparent failures. In response, we often blame ourselves, even when we are innocent, or we conclude that we must not have been doing God’s will, or we get angry with God for frustrating or not helping our efforts. Yet, as long as we are faithfully following Christ, nothing we attempt is ever truly a failure.

The only true failure in the Christian life is sin, but if we repent of our past sins even these can be used to benefit God’s great plan. Scripture says, “God works all things for the good of those who love Him,” this even includes our repented sins. We are obsessed with success, but as Blessed Mother Teresa reminds us, “God does not ask us to be successful; He asks us to be faithful.”

Sometimes you will feel like you are failing, or that your efforts have been useless, but by your faithfulness you will be succeeding in doing God’s will. Let us remember that at the center of our faith is a man nailed to a cross; an appearent failure who was actually succeeding in saving the world. Jesus rolls away stones in ways we wouldn’t expect.

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! — The Visitation

June 2, 2010

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Icon of Israel and the Icon of the Church. Mary is the bridge between the Old and New Testaments and we can discover her in both. Whenever we encounter positive descriptions of “Jerusalem,” “Zion,” “Daughter Zion,” or “Israel” in the Old Testament, or praises of “Mother Church” today, these words often apply quite fittingly to Mary as well. Today’s first reading is a great example of this. But before returning there, let me share with you this interesting detail. Even though we traditionally pray, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace,” the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation [“Chaire” in Greek] literally means , “Rejoice… Full of Grace!” Now hear again the words from the Book of Zephaniah:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!

In today’s Gospel, Mary fulfills these words, glad and exulting with all her heart:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my savior

 Zephaniah says:

The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.

 And Mary agrees:

He has mercy on those who fear Him
In every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Earlier, at the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary, He said to her:

“Hail, [Rejoice,] full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

As Zephaniah foretells,

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;

And the angel says to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus,” a name which means, “God saves.”

Zephaniah foretold of the Lord’s pleasure in Mary,

He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

The Lord rejoices over Mary, and Mary in her Lord. Let us always remember, that the Lord rejoices over us as well. Despite our sins and failings, we are the Church, the new Israel, and whatever one can say of Mary usually applies quite fittingly to us as well. Mary is the icon of the Church, the sign of who we are, and who we are called to be with Christ.

11 Absent Students — March 25 — Annunciation

March 28, 2010

You have probably wondered why our school chapel’s icon, statues, and crucifixes are veiled with purple cloth. Covering of religious images is a tradition for the last two weeks of Lent, a period we call Passiontide. So why do we have this tradition?

One explanation recalls that Jesus’, when His enemies sought to kill Him, hid Himself prior to His final days: “Jesus left and hid from them.” (John 12:36) Others see in this veiling a symbol for how Jesus’ divinity was veiled within His humble and vulnerable humanity. He was God incarnate, but none of the rulers of His age knew, “for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8) But behind all of this I think there is a very human reason for why we veil the holy images of Jesus and the saints at Passiontide. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

During Lent we deprive ourselves of luxuries and pleasures for our personal conversion and growth in holiness, but we also do this so that we can celebrate the Christ’ Easter triumph with an even greater feeling of joy. This is why we normally don’t sing as much (or say the Gloria or the “A”-word before the Gospel) during Lent—so that we can enjoy pulling out all the stops at Easter.

Veiling our statues of Mary and Joseph, our wall icon of Elizabeth Ann Seton, and our crucifixes causes a little pain of separation within us. But what if this chapel had never been furnished? What if our chapel had always been bare of religious art? Then their absence would not affect us at all because we would not know that we were missing them.

There are not as many students here today as there should be. Now I’m not saying that this should have been a whole school Mass, and I’m not begrudging anyone who may have stayed in study hall this hour to work on homework.  This is a great turn out and every seat is filled. But still, there are not as many students here as should be here today.

In the early nineties, when most of you were born, for every three live births in our country there was one boy or girl who was intentionally killed. (CDC) I counted roughly 33 students here today. That means we are missing 11 of your classmates who were not allowed to be born.

Today we recall the Annunciation, which some people call “Pro-Life Christmas,” for even though Jesus will be born nine months from now, today is the day of the Incarnation, when God became a human being like us in the womb of the Virgin Mary. After the angel Gabriel departed, Mary went in haste to see her relative. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me,” and John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb in the presence of our microscopic Savior, Jesus Christ. (Luke 1:43-44)

Imagine if 11 of your classmates were to die in a bus accident. You would you feel terrible from the loss, and our whole school would be in mourning. But we have never known the 11 who are missing here today, so we do not feel our loss.

At this Mass and henceforth, let us keep the following things in mind regarding the past, present, and future. As to the past, remember these absent classmates and pray for them. They never received a name, they never had a funeral, and few people have ever prayed for them. Pray for their parents, too. 

In the present, perhaps you honestly find yourself not feeling much emotion one way or the other towards the reality of one million innocents being murdered in our country every year. If so, then ask God to give us His heart and His sight to love what He loves and to hate what He hates. God loves us all, but He hates our sins. He hates our sins because they are bad for us, and the worse they are for us the more He hates them. His love for us and His hatred for our sins are two sides of the same coin. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion.” The Lord’s heart is certainly not indifferent to this evil, and neither should ours be.

And finally, for the future, keep hope that this evil of abortion will come to an end in our time. We can have this hope, for as the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “nothing will be impossible for God.”

The Old New Pattern — Thursday After Epiphany

January 8, 2010

In his first letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John says that the commandment he writes to them is not new, and yet new. (1 John 2) The commandment he is referring had been given to them years before, by Jesus Christ at His Last Supper. He told His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)  Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love from Christ.

Once when Jesus’ opponents were trying to trip Him up they asked Him what was the greatest commandment. He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”  Then He added, “The second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22) Or, as St. Paul would later put it, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:10) Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love through Christ.

It is intuitive for people to understand that we should do good and avoid evil, that we should love good and hate what is evil. Yet that does not mean that everyone agrees as to how we should live this out. Often we see the truths which Christians present in love angrily dismissed by the world as hate. (Frequently the throwing of this charge allows people to dismiss opposing viewpoints without ever giving them serious thought.) Even those in a post-Christian secular culture will agree that somehow “love is the answer,” but how exactly are we to love one another?

Jesus shows us how to love.  He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We can learn from His example especially here, as we witness His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Mass, but we can also learn from the entire life He lived.

Sometimes it can be hard understand example, or difficult to relate Jesus’ life to the particulars of our own. To help us He gives us the example of His saints, through whom He has continued to live His one, salvific way of life through thousands of different human expressions. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus; He was anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Today this Scripture passage is still being fulfilled by Him through the lives of His saints.

“The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”  So let us learn what love is through the example of Jesus and His saints, for love sums up the law, and we know how to love through Christ.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year B

October 18, 2009

The Three Crosses by Rembrandt. 1653

Today, the Apostles James and John make their big pitch in order to move up the ladder in Jesus’ organization. “[Jesus,] grant that in your glory we may sit, one at your right, and the other at your left.” Jesus says to them, “You do not know what you are asking.”

They jump at the chance to drink of Jesus’ cup and to be baptized in His baptism, whatever that means, because they have no idea that these are allusions to Christ’s suffering. Jesus tells them, ‘You will drink my cup and experience my baptism, but to sit at my right and my left is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ Where are the seats beside Christ in His glory?  The Gospel of Mark later tells us: “With [Jesus] they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.” Indeed, James and John don’t know what they’re really asking.

They want spots beside Jesus’ throne because they think this will put their lives on Easy Street. They think that being enthroned at Christ’s side in glory means they will be served by everyone, and that they will never have to serve anyone else, ever again, besides Jesus of course. James and John want to live like as princes, like the billionaires, the bosses, and the big shots in the world. But true greatness is very different.

Whoever wishes to be great, Jesus says, must be a servant.  And whoever wishes to be the greatest of all, must be the servant to everyone. But we might ask why anyone would want this sort of greatness? Who wants to be a slave or to be crucified with Christ? And yet, Jesus offers such self-offering as the only greatness truly worth seeking? Why? Because true love equals self-gift, and in heaven love lasts forever.

In the world out there, there is a hierarchy according to wealth and power. For the Church on earth, Christ establishes a hierarchy according to orders. But for the Church in heaven, the hierarchy is established according to love. There is no money to be had in heaven. Greatness there is measured according to the love you can give and the love you receive from others.

Consider, who is more beloved on earth, Blessed Mother Teresa or the richest person in the world? And who is more likely to have a higher in heaven? When Mother Teresa died a million people turned out for her funeral. She, like all the saints, is rich in love.

If you desire true and lasting greatness, imitate Christ on earth, who became a slave for us. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. And through His trials and self-sacrifice, He offered his life as a ransom for us and won our hearts for Himself.

Though it is worthwhile, it isn’t easy to follow Christ. If we serve Him, we should expect temptations, trials and sufferings, too, just like Him.  Trials are normal for the Christian life and we should expect them.

As Saint Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Temptations are normal for the Christian life, too.  Jesus Himself was tempted in the desert and in the garden. As the second reading says, “…We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Understand and remember that human weakness and temptations are not the same thing as sin. It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was weak and tempted like us, but he never sinned. We only sin when we give in to temptation, when heart says “yes” to them.

Catherine of Siena by Giovanni[1]

Believe it or not, the saints know more about fierce temptation than unrepentant sinners do. The saints do battle against strong temptations, with the sacraments and prayer, with penance and self-disciple.  Many hardened sinners, on the other hand, don’t even know they are being tempted. One time, St. Catherine of Sienna, after she had made great progress in holiness, was subjected to the most violent temptations. Impure images filled her imagination and darkness attacked her heart. She called on God but He seemed to be absent. After these temptations had ceased, Jesus visited her, filling her with heavenly consolation. “Ah, my Divine Spouse,” she cried out, “where were you when I laid in such an abandoned and frightful condition?” “I was in your heart,” he replied, “fortifying you by grace.” “What, in the midst of the filthy abominations with which my soul was filled?” “Yes,” Jesus said, “for these temptations were most displeasing and painful to you. By fighting against them, you have gained immense merit, and the victory was because of my presence.”

When Jesus asked James and John if they could drink His cup and be baptized in His baptism, they eagerly responded, “We can!” Did they entirely know what this meant? No. Do we entirely know what it will mean for us to give our yes to Christ and to follow in His footsteps? No.  But with that little seed from James and John, Jesus was able to grow them into great saints.

Jesus Christ is the greatest person who has ever lived.  No one has been greater and no one has done greater things.  No one has loved better and no one is better loved. Let’s follow in his footsteps, even if that means the cross, for to be remade in His image means sharing in His greatness, His glory and His joy.