A More Excellent Way

(I asked our reader, Phillip Frank, if he would consider writing a piece for our community. When I first read his beautiful reflection, I had goosebumps because I’ve been having these thundering whispers, coming from multiple sources all around me, connected to loving well. With thanks to Phil for agreeing to write for us, I now share his reflection.) 

 

“According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by ‘distress’ and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 672).

I have noticed what seems to be a shifting. It’s as if the rescue is awakening, that the birth pangs of the new dawn are starting to manifest, that the old order is breaking up and the new order starting to shine through. I have a fruit tree that has never produced fruit before, which is now in full production. I also have a banana tree that usually gives bananas at the end of summer, now with a large bunch near full size. Our very own MP mentioned an unprecedented blooming of the desert near him. Our Snowy had a great gift given to her and her husband with a miracle and his conversion.

Maybe it’s the “false dawn” Charlie mentioned or the “eye of the storm” Mark Mallet talks about? As so many people have said, things haven’t really changed that much.
At any rate, not yet…

The Catechism tells us that…“a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.” In other words, to remember God is in charge!

Snowy Owl posted this quote from St. Faustina: “As I was praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament, my physical sufferings ceased suddenly, and I heard this voice in my soul: You see, I can give you everything in one moment. I am not constrained by any law.” (Diary, 1150).June 24,[1937].

And a similar quote posted by Mark Mallett;
“…these evil plans can yet be avoided by you, the dangers can be evaded, the plan of God’s justice always can be changed by the force of His merciful love. Also, when I predict chastisements to you, remember that everything, at any moment, may be changed by the force of your prayers and your reparative penance.” —(Our Lady to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, #282, To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, 18th Edition.)

We have been promised a period of peace by Our Lady of Fatima….“in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph, and a period of peace will be given to the world”.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI suggests we can get a little piece of heaven right now, here on earth: “…every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt 6:10)…. we recognize that ‘heaven’ is where the will of God is done, and that ‘earth’ becomes ‘heaven’—i.e., the place of the presence of love, of goodness, of truth and of divine beauty—only if on earth the will of God is done.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, February 1st, 2012, Vatican City; cf. Hymn to the Divine Will

Fr. Thomas Merton, wrote: “To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”

A person who had a near death experience said that he was asked by the Lord how well he learned to love. Not how many times he went to church, or fasted or how much he tithed, but how much he LOVED. This makes perfect sense to me as our Lord came to earth not just to tell us how, but to SHOW us how to love one another. “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)  “….but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13-13) “Love never ends.” (1 Cor. 13-8)

It is taught that since we are incapable of loving God the way He deserves to be loved, He gave us each other and judges us by how well we love one another. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus speaks that how we treat others is how we treat Him. And in the Our Father prayer, we ask Him to forgive us the same way we forgive others.

I have noticed the more I give of myself to those in need the less they (and I) suffer and the better the results of His gift to me and to those to whom I give. If I share their burden, the need becomes less for us both and seems to dissipate more rapidly than if I refuse to help. It is not unlike a leaky roof. If I do the repair early on, the result is better and the fix sure. The longer I put off fixing the leaky roof, the more the leak damages the house and a greater effort is needed when I finally do fix it. When I step lively to a task the Lord seems to take over and amazing things begin to happen. It is as if a mere natural effort on my part becomes a supernatural one on His.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote “a person in the state of grace, or divine friendship, possesses certain enduring powers, the infused virtues and gifts, that raise him to an orbit of existence as far above nature as heaven is above earth, and that give him abilities of thought and operation that are literally born, not of the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Now I’m no saint…but I do have faith.

Scripture says that if we but have the faith the size of a mustard seed we could command a tree to be transplanted into the sea and it would obey. I understand that we are not using OUR power of faith to send the tree to the sea, but God is using our faith so HE can transplant it into the sea and thus we become part of His great work. “He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori)

Faith, in itself, is evidence of the supernatural for…..“faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Kings 11:1)

Supernatural manifestations in the lives of the saints are extraordinary visible signs of God’s actions to assure us of the similar but hidden actions of God occurring in the normal life of the world. We who live the mundane, receive these same gifts, but hidden in the “unseen” actions of God. We may receive the physical “seen” manifestations of healing, conversion, peace, feelings of overwhelming love, etc., but we do not have the exceptional visions, voices, locutions or the charism to “wield” God’s power miraculously as do the great saints. None the less, God is very active in our lives and through our prayers He gives us the driving force of our actions in the Church, both the tangible and invisible ones.

St Augustine writes,
“To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).”

The temptation to be more than just a regular Joe is all around us. Wanting to be famous, even as a saint, is a temptation. These are worldly ideals, not heavenly ones. Lucifer was jealous of man, Adam and Eve were jealous of God, Cain was jealous of Abel, the Nephilim were “giants” (famous), men of renown, Jacob’s elder sons were jealous of Joseph, Judas was jealous of the other apostles. All wanted to “make a name for themselves” by their pride and not do the will of God. St. Augustine says to live well is nothing other than to love God, with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts. Most of us will do this through a very normal mundane life…filled with the unseen- not seen- gifts from above.

“That the presumption and pride of worldly wisdom is more powerful in its devotees, than humility and true self-knowledge is in the children of light.” (Mary of Agreda,The Mystical City Of God.)

True saints think that they are the greatest of sinners. This is because the thinner the veil becomes between us and God, the more accurately we see ourselves in His light. And in comparison to Him, we are great, great sinners!  True self-knowledge is worth contemplating during this time. Not only will we see ourselves as we really are, but our ability to love others will increase as “those other people” won’t seem so different from us, after all, as we recognize we have these same weaknesses too and would be acting them out but for God’s grace and the gift of faith. As my mother would say…“But for the grace of God, there go I.”

Beckita posted:“As we continue on our Journey, praying, watching,  waiting on the Lord and living our lives as sherpas…”

I think we need to be practicing this Love.

Love for our God and all that is good and holy.

Love for our Church which carries the fullness of truth and in this is trustworthy.

Love for Our Mother Mary who God has given to us in this special period of time to defeat our spiritual enemy through her intercession.

Love for one another, even those who offend us, especially since we are to “love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us.” Our Lady told one visionary that “they are my children too.” ( everyone we think could NOT possibly be!) And don’t think it is harder to forgive than not. Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden light (Mt 11:28-30), not because he would ask less of us, but because he knew that love renders suffering bearable and even joyful. So we still carry a “burden” to be His disciples, an “easier” one, but still a burden. Mother Teresa said of love: “Love to be real, it must cost — it must hurt — it must empty us of self.” Which is to die unto self…” Unless a grain of wheat (us) falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat (we in our fallen nature), but if it dies (to self) it produces in abundance (by supernatural grace.”)

Jesus told us in the parable of the mustard seed that great things can be accomplished by our act of faith. So let us set our little mustard seeds in with the Great Harvesters trove to become supernaturally burdened as His hands and feet and help accomplish the works of God.

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The Morning Star Who Never Sets

We remain at sea, while the Light of the World remains always in our midst, and a childhood rhyme lingers in these days: “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”  

Since childhood, I have loved to imagine people all over the world, igniting bright and bold bonfires, lighting up the darkness of Holy Saturday night. As a former director of liturgical music ministry, fascinated by the Exusltet, that great prayer of rejoicing which ignites the beauty of the  Easter Vigil liturgy, I composed a setting of this proclamation of Easter and, this year, it especially struck me that it is a prayer to keep in our hearts in these days of uneasy peace with potential triggers all around us which could set us squarely in the Storm’s greatest intensity. It brings to mind a juxtaposition of great hope extraordinaire in the midst of great challenges, even as we live our ordinary way of TNRS: Christ’s Light, always and forever, shines in the darkness.

We have often discussed how this is a decisive time for choosing. It is a time for choosing in many ways… choosing to believe, choosing to continually ask for new measures of Christ’s Peace, choosing to have hope and to BE a sign of hope, choosing to daily ask for graces that we grow in the ways of loving well, and choosing to embrace the Light of Christ, even in the darkness. In another era of great darkness, scrawled on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany, where Jewish people were hiding during WWII, were these legendary lines:

I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining.

I believe in love even when I am alone.

I believe in God even when He is silent.

On this Easter Monday, 2017, let us take forward, as we continue in this year, the memory of the Easter fire with the burning light in the Easter candle, symbol of Christ’s Light within and all around us, always and forever, no matter how dark the dark moments become in our lives, for His Redemption is infinite and extends, personally, to each of us in these very times. Christ IS the same yesterday, today and forever. May the Flame of His Love remain ever burning in each of our hearts. May we respond to the Flame of Love burning in His Mother’s Heart by invoking her help in the aspiration she asked us to pray, for she promised it would blind satan.

Mother of God, spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Exsultet

 Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.)

(V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.)
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

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Alleluia! He Is Risen!

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

(It’s surely obvious, by now, I have great respect and admiration for the work of Msgr. Charles Pope. Grateful for his permission to reprint his articles here, I found this Easter homily, written on March 26, 2015, particularly apropos for us at TNRS, especially in these days when it seems life presents endless opportunities to make the journey from fear to faith, sometimes moment by moment.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Blessed Easter!)

 

THE JOURNEY FROM FEAR TO FAITH – A HOMILY FOR EASTER MORNING

One option for the gospel for Easter Sunday morning is from John 20:1-8. And like most of the resurrection gospels it paints a portrait of a journey that some of the early disciples have to make out of fear and into faith. It shows the need to experience the resurrection and then come to understand it more deeply.

I have blogged before on the Matthean gospel option for Easter Sunday morning. This year I present John’s. Let us focus especially on the journey that St. John makes from fear to faith. While the gospel begins with Mary Magdalene, the focus quickly shifts to St. John. Let’s study his journey.

I. REACTION MODE – The text begins by describing everyone as being in a reaction mode, quite literally running about in a panic! On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

Notice that the text describes the opening moments as “still dark.” And it is likely that John is doing more than telling us the time of day. The deeper point is that there is still a darkness that envelops everyone’s mind.  The darkness makes it difficult for us to see and our fears and sorrows can blind us.

Notice also that she looks right at the evidence of the resurrection but presumes and concludes the worst: grave robbers have surely come and snatched the body of the Lord! It doesn’t even occur to her to remember that Jesus had said that He would rise on the third day and that this was that very third day. No, she goes immediately into reaction mode instead of reflection mode. Her mind jumps to the worst conclusion; by reacting and failing to reflect, she looks right at the blessing and sees a curse.

And often we do this, too. We look at our life and see only the burdens instead of the blessings

1. I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings instead of thinking, “Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf. Thank you that I have the strength to rise; there are many who do not.”

2. Even though the first hour of the day may be hectic: socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, and the children are so loud; we ought to be thinking, “Thank you Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.”We can even be thankful for the taxes we pay because it means we’re employed, for the clothes that fit a little too snugly because it means we have enough to eat, for our heating bill because it means we are warm, for the weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means we have been productive.

3. Every day millions of things go right and only a handful go wrong. What will we focus on? Will we look right at the signs of our blessings and call them burdens or will we bless the Lord? Do we live lives that are reactive and negative or do we live reflectively, remembering that the Lord says that even our burdens are gifts in strange packages. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Do we know this, or are we like the disciples on that early morning, when it is still dark, looking right at the blessings but drawing only negative conclusions, reacting and failing to reflect?

II. RECOVERY MODE – The text goes on to describe a certain subtle move from reaction to reflection. So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

We start in reaction mode. Notice how Mary Magdalene’s anxiety is contagious. She comes running to the apostles, all out of breath, and says that “they” (whoever “they” are) have taken the Lord (she speaks of Him as a corpse) and “we” (she and the other women who had gone out) don’t know where they put Him (again, she speaks of Him as an inanimate corpse). And Mary’s panic and reactive mode triggers that same reaction in the Apostles. Now they’re all running! The mad dash to the tomb has begun.

But notice that they are running to verify grave robbery, not the resurrection. Had they but taken time to reflect, perhaps they would have remembered that the Lord had said He would rise on the third day and that this was the third day. Never mind all that; panic and running have spread and they rush forth to confirm their worst fears.

But note a subtlety. John begins to pick up speed as he runs. And his speed, I would argue, signals reflection and hope. Some scholars say it indicates merely that he was the younger man. Unlikely. The Holy Spirit, speaking through John, is not likely interested in passing things such as youth. Some of the Fathers of the Church see a greater truth at work in the love and mystical tradition that John the Apostle symbolizes. He was the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” the disciple who knew and experienced that love of God. And love often sees what knowledge and authority can only appreciate and affirm later. Love gets there first.

There is also a Bible verse that I would argue decodes John’s  increasing strength as he runs:

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Is 40:31).

Perhaps John ran faster as he began to move from reaction to reflection and remembrance. When you run fast you can’t talk a lot, so you get alone with your thoughts. There is something about love that enlightens and recalls what the beloved has said. Perhaps John begins to think, to reflect and recall.

  1. Didn’t Jesus say He’d rise three days later?
  2. Isn’t this that day?
  3. Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel?
  4. Didn’t He deliver Noah from the flood?
  5. Didn’t He deliver Joseph from the hands of his brothers and from the deep dungeon?
  6. Didn’t He deliver Moses and the people from Egypt?
  7. Didn’t He deliver David from Goliath and Saul?
  8. Didn’t He deliver Jonah from the whale?
  9. Didn’t He deliver Queen Esther and the people from wicked men?
  10. Didn’t He deliver Susanna from her false accusers?
  11. Didn’t He deliver Judith from Holofernes?
  12. Didn’t Jesus raise the dead?
  13. Didn’t He promise to rise?
  14. Didn’t God promise to deliver the just from all their trials?
  15. Ah! As for me I know that my redeemer liveth!

Something started to happen in John. And I have it on the best of authority that he began to sing in his heart as he ran,

“I don’t feel no ways tired. Come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy but I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me.”

Yes, John is in recovery now. He’s moved from reaction to reflection and he is starting to regain his faith.

The text says that he looked in and saw the grave clothes but waited for Peter. Mystics and lovers may get there first but the Church has a Magisterium that must be respected, too. John waits, but as we shall see, he has made his transition from reaction to reflection, from fear to faith.

III. REASSESSMENT MODE – In life, our initial reactions must often be reassessed as further evidence comes in. Peter and John must take a fresh look at the evidence from their own perspective. The text says, When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths [lying] there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Mary Magdalene’s assessment had been, in effect, grave robbers. But the evidence for that seems odd. Usually grave robbers were after the fine linens in which the dead were buried. But here are the linens and gone is the body! Strange.

And there is something even stranger about the linens. If it had been grave robbers they wouldn’t have taken the time to unwrap the body of valuable grave linens. The Greek text describes the clothes as κείμενα (keimena) – lying stretched out in place, lying in order. It is almost as if the clothes simply “deflated” in place when the body they covered disappeared!

Not only that, but the most valuable cloth of all, the σουδάριον (soudarion), is carefully folded. Grave robbers would not leave the most valuable things behind. And surely, even if for some strange reason they wanted the body rather than the linens, they would not have bothered to carefully unwrap and fold things, leaving them all stretched out in an orderly way. Robbers work quickly; they snatch and leave disarray in their wake.

Life is like this: you can’t simply accept the first interpretation of things. Every reporter knows that “in the fog of war the first reports are always wrong.” And thus we, too, have to be careful not to jump to all sorts of negative conclusions just because someone else is worried. Sometimes we need to take a fresh look at the evidence and interpret it as men and women of hope and faith, as men and women who know that though God may test us He will not forsake us.

John is now looking at the same evidence that Mary Magdalene did. But his faith and hope give him a different vision. His capacity to move beyond fearful reaction to faithful reflection is changing the picture.

We know little of the reaction of Peter or Mary Magdalene at this point; the focus is on John. And the focus is on you. What do you see in life? Do you see grave robbers? Or are you willing to reconsider and move from knee-jerk fear to reflective faith?

Does your resurrection faith make you ready to reassess the bad news you receive and look for blessings even in crosses?

IV. RESURRECTION MODE – And now, though somewhat cryptically, the text focuses on the reaction and mindset of St. John. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

At one level the text says plainly that St. John saw and believed. Does the text mean only that he now believed Mary Magdalene’s story that the body was gone? Well, as is almost always the case with John’s Gospel, there is both a plain meaning and a deeper meaning. The context here seems clearly to be that John has moved to a deeper level. The text says that he ἐπίστευσεν (episteusen); he “believed.” The verb here is in the aorist tense, a tense that generally portrays a situation as simple or undivided, that is, as having a perfective (completed) aspect. In other words, something has come to fruition in him.

And yet the text also seems to qualify, saying, they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. It is as if to say that John came to believe that Jesus had risen but had not yet come to fully understand all the scriptural connections and how this had to be. He only knew in his heart by love and through this evidence that Jesus was risen. Deeper understanding would have to come later.

But for our purposes let us observe that St. John has gone from fear to faith. He has not yet seen Jesus alive but he believes based on the evidence and on what his own heart and mind tell him.

At this moment John is like us. He has not seen but he believes. Neither have we seen, but we believe. John would see him alive soon enough and so will we!

We may not have an advanced degree in Scripture but through love we, too, can know that He lives. Why and how? Because of the same evidence:

  1. The grave clothes of my old life are strewn before me.
  2. I’m rising to new life.
  3. I am experiencing greater victory over sin.
  4. Old sins and my old Adam are being put to death.
  5. The life of the new Adam, Christ, is coming alive.
  6. I’m being set free and have hope and confidence, new life and new gifts.
  7. I have increasing gratitude, courage, and a deep peace that says that everything is all right.
  8. The grave clothes of my old way of life lie stretched out before me and I now wear a new robe of righteousness.
  9. I’m not what I want to be but I’m not what I used to be.

So we, like John, see. We see not the risen Lord, not yet anyway. But we see the evidence and we believe.

St. John leaves this scene a believer. His faith may not be the fully perfected faith it will become, but he does believe. John has gone from fear to faith, from reaction to reflection, from panic to peace. This is his journey and, prayerfully, ours too.

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Preparing for Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated, as Jesus requested and conveyed to St. Faustina, on the first Sunday after Easter. This year that date is April 23rd. About this feast, the Lord said:

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy. … I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it (Diary of St. Faustina, 742).

The Divine Mercy Novena, which Jesus requested to be prayed in preparation for next Sunday’s big feast, is posted here. The novena actually began yesterday but I cannot imagine the Lord would reject anyone’s sincere effort to combine two days of prayer for a novena in order to be current. Additional instruction on preparing can be found at the website of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

There are many apostolates, all over the world, which promote this devotion, given to us especially for these times but, certainly, it will be a spiritual treasure through the end of time. Much has been written about the power of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, comprised of words given directly from the Lord. Recorded in the Diary of St. Faustina are the dialogues between Jesus and St. Faustina, an inspirational read full of hope. Also in the diary are accounts of how people and situations were changed as a result of praying the Chaplet. Such stories have continued to be told to this day.

In the backdrop of our world scene, we need Divine Mercy as much as ever. Should some catastrpohic event unfold as part of this heightening Storm, the sure and certain truths of faith which Jesus reiterated to St. Faustina will be inspiration and encouragement for each of us who live TNRS way. These same words can hearten those around us as we support  and uplift others with His ever-present hope. God promises: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) As sherpas, we need to remind others amidst every crisis of this Storm: God has a Plan. In these days, let us recall and share such spiritual gems as these:

“O my Jesus, You have tested me so many times in this short life of mine! I have come to understand so many things, and even such that now amaze me. Oh, how good it is to abandon oneself totally to God and to give Him full freedom to act in one’s soul!” (134)

“He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God.  As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.”  (390)

“Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy.” (301)

“‘I am love and Mercy Itself.  There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted – it increases.  The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate, because I Myself take care of it.’” (1273)

“I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was open wide for every soul.  In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.’”  (1572)

“The graces I grant you are not for you alone, but for a great number of other souls as well… And your heart is My constant dwelling place, despite the misery that you are. I unite Myself with you, take away your misery and give you My mercy. I perform works of mercy in every soul. The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy. My mercy is confirmed in every work of My hands. He who trusts in My mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are Mine, and his enemies will be shattered at the base of My footstool”. (723)

Do you have a favored quote from Divine Mercy which steadies you amidst personal storms?

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Behold the Cross

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.      (John 19:25-30)

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Holy Thursday: Three Mysteries of LOVE

(What a blessed time of year! Catholics call these three days the Triduum and how rich with ritual, meaning and history it is. Again this Holy Thursday night, we enter life-giving mysteries, recalling how Christ, in all His power, kneels as a loving servant to wash feet – and we follow Him in our NRS ways, ready to serve, in LOVE, this community and all others whom we encounter. We also commemorate, with ultimate gratitude, the institution of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist, two mysteries inextricably fused and given us as gift from our Redeemer.

Contemplating, whether we’re at church or unable to leave home, let us pray, in gratitude and petition, for our priests. Let us strive to be stronger in loving God by companioning and adoring Him in His Eucharistic Presence. In doing so, we will better fulfill the Mandatum in our own lives. I often think of Charlie’s reflection that TNRS’ core message is a compendium of the Gospel. And so it is. And it is rooted in the three mysteries of Love we celebrate and contemplate this very night and in all the mysteries of  the Triduum.

Our brothers and sisters, all over the world, continue to need us so let us enfold them in our prayers of these days. The poor Venezuelans continue to suffer tremendously with food rationing that affects the availability of wheat. Dan Lynch wrote about this crisis which, in turn, affects the ability to bake bread for the Eucharist. Sadly, Coptic Christians in southern Egypt will not hold Easter Sunday festivities for they remain in mourning over the 45 who lost their lives in the twin bombings at their churches on Palm Sunday. Famine continues to plague countries in Africa. Syria and North Korea are hot spots. There are unrelenting attacks on Christians by terrorist groups. Our own country continues with confusion and division which contributes to what looks to be its e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g-l-y slow implosion.

In the face of what is, we must remind those around us: we.did.it. Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. It is GOD Who has a PLAN. HE is the source of our HOPE and LOVE so that we can BE His HOPE and LOVE in the little we can do around us. As we do, we pray, and prayer changes everything. 

Reprinting this piece, now, published by Msgr. Charles Pope at his blog on March 28, 2013. I appreciate his work and have asked for his permission as I think this article connects to the core message of TNRS. May the blessings of this holy night be upon all our TNRS friends and families and upon our whole world! )

MATCHING GIFT: A HOLY THURSDAY REFLECTION

Most of us are familiar with concept of a matching gift. So, if I work for a certain company and donate to a certain cause, my employer may match my gift up to a certain amount; a matching gift.

And there is something of this evident in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood, but which couches it in the context of the mandatum novum, the “new commandment” of love and service, and signified by the foot washing.

These three things are distinguishable in our minds, but in reality they are so together as to be one. And we need to be careful not to separate them in our minds.

To illustrate this danger, consider how, within our minds, we are able to distinguish things that are, in reality, inseparable. For example, think of a candle flame and how, in your mind, you can distinguish the heat of the flame from the light of that flame. But in reality you could not take a knife and separate the heat from the light and put them in different places. In reality they are so together as to be one.

And this is how it is with our triple mystery this night. Though we can distinguish them, they are meant to be so together, as to be one. Without the priesthood there is no Holy Eucharist. And without love there would be neither priest nor Eucharist. And we are asked by the Lord to ponder all three tonight, but to remember that they are meant to be one reality.

The Lord gathers his first priests, institutes their priesthood, washes their feet and and gives them his Body and Blood. And then he says “Do this in remembrance of me.” Do what? Surely, celebrate the Eucharist. But the Lord also surely means that they are to wash the feet of others, for, in establishing their priesthood he says to them, I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you also must do (Jn 13:15). Yes, it is all connected, the new law of love and service, the priesthood and the Eucharist.

Lets go a little deeper

St. Augustine says, reflecting on Proverbs 23:1, If you sit down to eat at the table of a ruler observe carefully what is set before you, then stretch out your hand, knowing that you must provide the same kind of meal yourself. (Tract in Iohannem 84:1-2)

And in this gloss on the proverb is a reminder to every priest and every soul who would approach the Eucharist: we must provide the same kind of meal, a matching gift.

It is true we cannot give all Christ gave and did, we have but five loaves and two fish. But the fact is we are called to provide the same kind of meal, a meal of love, of self sacrifice that is willing to wash the feet of others.

In the Old Testament priesthood, the priest and victim were distinct. Perhaps the priest offered a lamb or turtle doves or a bull. But the victim was distinct from him.

But in the New Testament priesthood, the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the priest and victim are one and the same. Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice. And every priest who would gather with Jesus our king and ruler ought to, as St Augustine says, observe carefully what is set before him, realizing that he must provide the same meal, a matching gift.

Thus, when the priest who stands at the altar says, “This is my Body,” the first meaning is that it is Jesus Christ who is speaking these words through the priest.

But it must also be somehow true that the priest, as a man, is also saying to his people, this is my body. He must be willing to say to them, without simulation, I, your priest, also give you my very self in sacrificial love and service. I will wash your feet. I am willing to die for you if necessary. I will spend myself in your service. My body, my life, is yours.

Yes, the priest must be willing to provide the same meal as the Lord, a matching gift. The priest and the victim are one and the same. And thus, the priesthood, Eucharist and the mandatum novum of love and service are ultimately one reality.

And what is true for the priest is also true for the faithful. For to approach the altar of the Lord, to partake of this sacred and sacrificial meal is to incur the same admonition that one must provide the same meal, a matching gift. To the faithful who hear the words, this is my body, comes the ultimate obligation to say to another, this is my body, here is my life for you, I will wash your feet. Same meal, matching gift.

There are some who have, in recent years, wished to downplay the mandatum, the foot washing at Holy Thursday Mass. To some extent this is understandable, given all the shenanigans of the past decades. The rite ought to be done but can be omitted for pastoral reason.

But theologically, there can be no downplaying the mandatum. For those who would wish to downplay what the washing of the feet signifies: Sorry,  no can do. The Eucharist and the command to wash one another’s feet cannot be separated in reality. They are so together as to be one. An unloving priest or communicant is a countersign. Every priest and communicant who stretches out their hand to the Lord and his Eucharist must provide the same meal, a matching gift.

Pope Francis gave elevated importance to the foot washing this year in going to a prison. And while it does not follow that every priest should relocate the Holy Thursday Mass outside the parish, it is as though Pope Francis is saying to those who would minimize the foot washing:  Don’t do that. For the mandatum novum it signifies is so one with the priesthood and the Eucharist as to be one reality.

The three mysteries we preach tonight are really one mystery of love. And we who would partake of the Eucharist, or be its celebrants, must never forget that we must provide the same meal, the matching gift.

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Come Holy Spirit, Ignite Our Hearts in This Holy Week

(An announcement : For those who wish to reconsecrate or newly consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary, tomorrow April 10th is the start day for the 33 days of preparation with consecration day landing on the 100th Anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, May 13th.)

The third Lenten homily given this year by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, provides an incredible meditation concerning the Holy Spirit’s Presence and Action in the paschal mystery: “The Holy Spirit Leads Us Into the Mystery of the Death of Christ.” It is a deep and long meditation with the complete text found at Zenit. I share but a few passages below as we enter the Sacred Mysteries of this Week. A tip which may inspire you: our dear friend of this site, YD, meditates on the Gospel of John as he prepares for Holy Week.

Perhaps, this year, we might also take into our contemplation of Christ’s death, the reality that the old ways of this era are dying all around us. It is excruciatingly painful to observe and live, yet, Christ carried it all and carried each of us, in particular, to His Cross, the Cross He e.m.b.r.a.c.e.d. with Pure Love, thereby blunting the impact of what we now experience and feel. He, first and foremost, endured the suffering each of us is experiencing, whatever it may be, in these days with confusion and division everywhere. Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He IS alive. He IS fully human. He dwells in each of our hearts and He intimately knows and f.e.e.l.s. what we’re suffering.

Just as He entered His tomb at death, we are entering the tomb of these times. As Fr. Cantalamessa stresses, Christ was not simply paying our debt. He died “by crucifixion so that the suffering and death of human beings would be inhabited by love!” Christ is the Anchor Who will get us through the major difficulties yet to come and at the very heart of our core message – acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope – is HIS LOVE. Our own hope springs from knowing as surely as Christ rose victorious from death, we shall rise again, through, with and in Him, to a New Beginning as a renewed people in a renewed world. But for now, we must make our way on this worldwide Via Dolorosa which we ourselves have brought to pass.

As we stand at the Foot of the Cross of Christ this week, let us also remember our Mother, given to each of us just before Jesus expired. As we carry our own crosses, let us accompany our Blessed Mother and appeal to her intercession while we continue to pray for one another, our families and our world. In solidarity, we pray and live TNRS way. In union of prayer, I place each of our petitions on a Relic of the True Cross with which I sleep each night, often awakening and praying an aspiration from the Anima Christi prayer, as a wise priest advised: “Passion of Christ, strengthen me.” May the Passion of Christ strengthen one and all as we continue on our way.

From Father Cantalamessa’s homily:

… The Letter to the Hebrews says that Christ “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb 9:14). The “eternal Spirit” is another way of saying the Holy Spirit, which is confirmed by an ancient variation of the text. This means that Jesus, as man, received from the Holy Spirit dwelling in him the impulse to offer himself in sacrifice to the Father as well as the strength that sustained him during his passion…

The connection between the Holy Spirit and the death of Jesus is highlighted primarily in the Gospel of John. “As yet the Spirit had not been given,” notes the Evangelist concerning the promise of living water, “because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:39), that is—according to the meaning of “glorification” in John—Jesus had not yet been lifted on the cross. Jesus “yielded up his spirit” (Matt 27:50) on the cross, symbolized by the water and the blood; John in fact writes in his First Letter, “There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood” (1 Jn 5:8).

The Holy Spirit brings Jesus to the cross, and from the cross Jesus gives the Holy Spirit. At the moment of his birth and then publicly in his baptism, the Holy Spirit is given to Jesus; at the moment of his death, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit. Peter says to the crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost, “Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The Fathers of the Church loved to highlight this reciprocity. “The Lord received ointment [myron] on his head,” says St. Ignatius of Antioch, “to breath incorruptibility on the church.”…

The Church’s creed ends with the words, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” It does not mention what will precede resurrection and eternal life, that is, death. Rightly so, because death is not the object of faith but of our experience. Death, however, touches all of us too closely to pass over it in silence.

In order to evaluate the change brought by Christ concerning death, let us see what remedies human beings have looked to in order to deal with the problem of death, especially since they are the ones with which people still try to “console themselves” today. Death is the number one human problem…

Perhaps better than thinking of our lives as “a mortal life,” we should think of it as “a living death,”a life of dying. This thought by Augustine has been taken up from a secular standpoint by Martin Heidegger who made death, in its own right, a subject for philosophy. Defining life and a human being as a “being-toward-death,” he sees death not as an event that brings life to an end but as the very substance of life, that is, as the way life unfolds. To live is to die. Every instant that we live is something that get consumed, that is subtracted from life and handed over to death. “Living-for-death” means that death is not only the end but also the purpose of life. One is born to die and for nothing else. We come from nothingness and we return to nothingness. Nothingness is then the only option for a human being…

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:54-57)

The decisive factor occurs at the moment of Christ’s death: “He died for all” (2 Cor 5:15). But what was so decisive at that moment to change the very nature of death? We can think of it visually this way. The Son of God descended into the tomb, like a dark prison, but he came out on the opposite side. He did not turn back to where he had entered, as Lazarus did and then had to die again. No, he opened a breach on the opposite side through which all those who believe in him can follow him.

An ancient Father writes, “He took upon himself the suffering of man, suffering in a body which could suffer, but through the Spirit that cannot die he slew death, which was slaying man.” St. Augustine says, “By his passion our Lord passed from death to life and opened a way for us who believe in his resurrection that we too may pass over from death to life.” Death becomes a passageway, and it is a passageway to what does not pass away! John Chrysostom says it well:

We do indeed die, but we do not continue in it: which is not to die at all. For the tyranny of death, and death indeed, is when he who dies is never more allowed to return to life. But when after dying is living, and that a better life, this is not death, but sleep.

All these ways of explaining the meaning of the death of Christ are true, but they are not the most profound one. This one is found in what Christ, through his death, came to bring to the human condition, more so than what he came to remove from it: it is found in the love of God, not in the sin of human beings. If Jesus suffers and dies a violent death inflicted on him by hate, he does not do it merely to pay an insolvent debt owed by human beings (the debt of 10,000 talents in the parable is forgiven by the king!); he dies by crucifixion so that the suffering and death of human beings would be inhabited by love!...

What has then changed about death because of Jesus? Nothing and everything! Nothing in terms of our reason, but everything in terms of faith. The necessity of entering the tomb has not changed, but now there is the possibility of exiting from it. This is what the Orthodox icon of the resurrection illustrates so powerfully, and we can see a modern interpretation of it on the left wall of this Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The Risen One descends into hell and brings Adam and Eve out with him and behind them all those who are clinging to him in the infernal regions of that world…

Death is also a baptism. That is how Jesus describes his own death: “I have a baptism to be baptized with” (Lk 12:50). St. Paul speaks of baptism as being “buried therefore with him by baptism into death” (Rom 6:4). In ancient times, at the moment of baptism a person was completely immersed in water; all of one’s sins and one’s fallen human nature were buried in the water, and that person came forth a new creature, symbolized by the white robe he or she was wearing. The same thing happens in death: the caterpillar dies, the butterfly is born. God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). All those things are buried forever…

All of this, however, has given someone the pretext of saying that Christianity advances by means of the fear of death. But this is terrible error. Christianity, as we have seen, is not here to increase the fear of death but to remove it; Christ came, says the Letter to the Hebrews, to “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). Christianity does not advance because of the thought of our death but because of the thought of Christ’s death!

For this reason, it is much more effective to meditate on the passion and death of Jesus, rather than meditating on our own death, and we need to say—to give credit to the generations that preceded us—that such a meditation was the daily bread of spirituality during those past centuries. It is a meditation that generates emotion and gratitude, not anxiety; it makes us exclaim, like the Apostle Paul, Christ “loved me and gave himself for me! (Gal 2:20).

A “pious exercise” that I would like to recommend to everyone during Lent is to pick up a Gospel and read the entire account of the passion, slowly and on your own. It takes less than a half an hour. I knew an intellectual woman who claimed to be an atheist. One day she unexpectedly got the kind of news that leaves people stunned: her sixteen-year-old daughter had a bone tumor. They operated on her. The girl returned from the operating room with an IV drip and all kinds of tubes coming out of her. She was suffering horribly and groaning; she did not want to hear any words of comfort.

Her mother, knowing her daughter to be pious and religious and thinking it would please her, asked her, “Do you want me to read you something from the Gospel?” “Yes, Mamma.” “What do you want me to read?” “Read me the passion.” The mother, who had never read a Gospel, ran to buy one from chaplains; she sat next to her daughter’s bed and began to read. After a while the daughter fell asleep, but the mother continued reading silently in semi-darkness right to the end. “The daughter fell asleep,” she said in the book she wrote after her daughter’s death, “and the mother woke up!” She woke up from her atheism. Reading the passion of Christ had changed her life forever.

Let us end with the simple but powerful prayer from the liturgy, “Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam tuam redemisti mundum,” We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

(Translated from Italian by Marsha Daigle Williamson)

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News from Medjugorje

Archbishop Henryk Hoser, newly appointed Papal Envoy to Medjugorje, gave a homily last Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Medjugorje which was posted at Mary TV. Archbishop Hoser’s words impel us to embrace fortitude in the face of current challenges. Also in his homily is encouragement to persevere in prayer. We, at TNRS, ever encourage each other to include the prayer of offering ordinary tasks each day, seeking God’s Mercy for all in our hurting world. Our Lady Queen of Peace, intercede, pray for us and with us that your Son’s peace may reign in our hearts, our families, our Church, our countries and in every aspect of our lives.

Additional remarks, noted in an EWTN news report, include:

Archbishop Hoser praised various expressions of faith he found in Medjugorje: the centrality of the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, devotion to the Word of God, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to the rosary, and meditation on the mysteries of the faith and the Way of the Cross. He also praised the frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“From the religious perspective Medjugorje is very fertile grounds for religious vocations,” he said. About 610 priests have cited Medjugorje as a motivating force in their vocation, with the greatest number of these vocations coming from Italy, the U.S. and Germany.

Archbishop Hoser’s Homily:

(Onsite translation to English by the Parish)

Dear Brothers and Sister! I will speak in French. Excuse me, I haven’t yet learned the beautiful Croatian language. We have gathered around the altar on the 5th week of Lent. There are two more weeks dividing us from Easter. In one week it is already Palm Sunday. And in two weeks we are going to celebrate at the end of Holy Week the greatest Christian feast day, the Feast of the Resurrection.

The Word of God that we have heard today, speaks of resurrection. And shows us three perspectives of resurrection, three views. The first one is historic. We know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man lived on this planet in the Holy Land of Palestine. We also know that it was announced by prophets that He was going to be born. Just like the Prophet Ezekiel who we heard today. He brings the words of God who is telling us “I am going to open your graves, and I will lift you up, and he repeats, I will raise you up from your graves. That is a prophecy. He already sees the arrival of the Messiah. We know that Jesus died and rose from the dead. That is the foundation of our faith. Without that foundations of resurrection, our faith would be empty.

The second point of view is liturgical. It is the path of Lent. During 40 days we are going to pray and we continue to pray. We fasted and we shall continue to fast. We have become more generous towards other and we will continue to do more in the future. The spirituality of Lent is very well known here. You know it very well. Therefore, the Liturgical path that is preparing us to reach the third perspective, is the perspective of our life.

A life of each one of us. We live for resurrection. We march toward resurrection. We shall go through death in order to resurrect. The final goal of our earthly life is resurrection. During this path we are to resurrect. Already on a way on that final perspective our conversion is part of resurrection. Jesus says and repeats about the death of the body, but He also speaks of the death of soul. The death of the soul is far more serious, a far greater threat, because in that case we might die for the whole of eternity.

Therefore, each time when we could continue to convert ourselves, we are turning ourselves towards God who is the truth, who is life, who is the path. He is the source of eternal life. It is directing us towards love, because God is love. It’s love that makes us alive. It is merciful love that brings us inner peace and the joy of life. But there are two conditions. The first is faith. Jesus, before performing miracles demanded faith, faith in Him that He could do it. “Lord, I believe in You! I truly believe!” And that faith opens our heart for conversion, and opens our heart through the Sacramental Confession that is mercy itself. Our hearts are opened up through confession, they are purified, and opened up to the Holy Spirit and they are filled by it by the Holy Trinity.

Christ confirms to us in the Book of Revelations, He says that He is standing at the door of our heart, knocking on it. And if the Most Holy Trinity dwells in us we become the temple of God.

I would like to return to the historic perspective of resurrection. In the days ahead of us we are going to read in the gospel, we are going to see that Jesus’ enemies are throwing their nets around Jesus, threatening Jesus more every day. He knows it, He is aware of it, He knows that which the disciples don’t know. There is someone who follows Him on that path of suffering, that Passion. It is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is always near. She suffers with Him. She feels her helplessness. Saint John Paul II said it was her faith. Often we call Blessed Mother, “Our Lady of Sorrows’. Throughout her life she suffered so much pain. And her suffering grows together with Jesus’ Passion all the way to the foot of His Cross, on the Way of the Cross. At the 4th station, we meditate Jesus carrying His cross and encountering His mother. And the gospel tells us that she was the witness of His horrifying death on the Cross. In her own arms she received the massacred body of her Son. The Christian tradition says that before Mary of Magdalene, Mary, the Mother of Christ, encountered the risen Christ.

In the perspective of the life of each one of us, the perspective of resurrection, of course the Blessed Mother is there as well. She accompanies us, she follows us, she participates in our suffering and our pain. If we live in the perspective of God, she is helping us to be saved. She is helping us on our path of conversion. And we have to experience that spiritual presence of hers. We call her especially here, the Queen of Peace. In the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are some twelve titles in which we call her Queen. And Queen of Peace is last.

Mary is Queen. When we contemplate the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, we speak of her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. We meditate upon her Assumption as well as her Crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth. She participates in all the characteristics of the Kingship of her Son, the one who is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. His Kingdom is universal. She is everywhere and we are allowed to praise her and revere her everywhere. We thank her for her constant presence in the life of each one of us, she is by each one of us always present. Queen of Peace, it is the fruit of conversion. She brings peace into our hearts and thus we become peaceful people, peaceful with our families, with our environment, our governments, our societies.

Peace in the world is threatened. Pope Francis, Holy Father, says that the Third World War is partially already here. And the most terrible are the civil wars, those that take place among people who live in the same country. Dear brothers and sisters, I lived for 21 years in Rwanda. Africa. In 1982 Our Lady was appearing there. And she predicted the genocide in Rwanda, 10 years before it actually happened. When she gave that message, no one understood it. In this genocide, in three months, one million people were slaughtered. The apparitions of Blessed Mother in Rwanda were already recognized. She introduced herself as the Mother of the Eternal Word. Also in the perspective of the lack of peace, therefore that call that is so intense here, is so important for the whole world!! We pray for peace, because destructive forces are tremendous throughout the world. It is tragic that families, societies, marriages, countries, are in conflict. We need a heavenly intervention. And the presence of the Blessed Mother is one of these interventions. It is God’s initiative. Therefore, I would like to encourage and fortify all of you on behalf of the Pope, as his emissary. (translator weeps and thanks Jesus and applause in church)

Spread throughout the world, peace, through the conversion of hearts. The greatest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions here. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Mercy, forgiveness. It is the Sacrament of Resurrection. And I want to thank all the priests who come here to hear confessions of the faithful. I have seen today over 60 priests available for confession, serving the people of God. I have spent many years in Western Countries, France, Belgium…and I would say that Confession, individual confession, practically has disappeared in the Western world with the exception of here and there. Therefore, the heart of man is closed. The world is becoming dry. Evil is strengthening. Conflicts are multiplied. Therefore, let us all be the apostles of the Good News, Conversion and Peace in the world.

As I have learned here, I have heard these words: Non-believers are those who have not yet experienced the love of God. When love and mercy of God touches you, you cannot resist it. Therefore, we are going to participate together with those who save lives, we are witnesses of those who are saving lives. As the Franciscans said, there are pilgrims coming from at least 80 different countries throughout the world. This calling has been spread to the ends of the world, just as Jesus said to the Apostles, sending them to the ends of the world. You are witnesses of the love of Christ, and the love of His Mother, and love of the Church. May God fortify you in faith and bless you! (Standing ovation!)

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Press on in Prayer

I don’t know about you, Friends, but I’ve been commenting to others that I feel a great sense of expectancy. It reminds me of the homilies I’ve heard during Advent which have acknowledged the atmosphere in times when Our Lady gave her FIAT and Jesus was conceived. The Jewish people were abuzz with vibrancy concerning the pending arrival of the Messiah. Then, as the Lord embarked on His public ministry, the Scriptures tell us, people were asking John the Baptist, “”Are *you* the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the people intuited, first, that the Messiah was near and, then, that he had come. Emmanuel.

Expectancy. In these days, I’m feeling as I did when the birth of each of my children approached. I know there will be great suffering when the Storm breaks in its fullness yet I also hold dear the promises of rebirth, renewal and rescue with the arrival of the baby of babies, the dream and fulfillment of the neverending intercession of our Blessed Mother as she has come under many titles, to many places in this Age of Mary: the return of so many brothers and sisters to God and His Ways. 

Our reader quietpathways described these times, yesterday, in an image which, I think, characterizes just how decayed and degenerate are societies and cultures, all over the world, when he commented:

It’s good to be reminded of what this current administration is up against, as well as ourselves. Lets not sit back and think, ah, Trump is working on it, the swamp will be drained. The recovery of a country does not survive on Trump alone, but by every next right step of it’s people 🙂
I do wonder how long before we understand that human action won’t be enough. Right now it feels like we’re in a very slow motion train-wreck. There are frantic attempts to put the wheels back on track, but many of the other wheels have already had their lug nuts removed, and are being held to their bare bolts, solely by the grace of God.

Still, we cling to hope for God DOES have a Plan which continues to unfold before us and, as quietpathways exhorts, each of us has next right steps to take in order to accomplish the little we each can do, wherever we are living and loving. We CAN do this. We *can*choose to carry on, filled with hope as we Trust.Do.Love. In God’s economy, that little we can do has great purpose and value. Placed on the Cross with Christ, HE magnifies its effect as it ripples to invigorate all people and places of the world. As hearts are being revealed, the effects of evil choices are being revealed as raw evidence of the breadth and depth of societal and cultural depravity is reported. Please take heart! We remember: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds the more.” (Romans 5:20)

An action item to consider involves signing a petition that all charges against David Daleiden and Susan Merritt be dropped. There are many such initiatives. If you haven’t yet signed such a petition, here’s one promoted by the Manhattan Declaration.

Please continue to pray:

*For David and Susan

*For Charlie and God’s Plan for him as he remains in watchful retirement and we swirl in the ever choppier waters of chaos, confusion and division

* For our Syrian brother and sisters. Such evil and heartache for too long! As Cardinal DiNardo says, It “shocks the soul.”

*For the developing story surrounding the news of the latest use of chemical weapons in Syria. Here, I remind us of the “broad sweep” of events wherein the U.S. will ally with Russia to beat back Islam. Let us ask Our Lady to crush any efforts that attempt to obstruct the establishment of such an alliance.

*For our country and God’s Plan to be fulfilled as we observe the “slow motion train wreck” of its implosion.

*For every country as the world is on fire in many places, fraught with dangerous possibilities. For some solid enlightenment on this reality, I point you to this piece by Victor David Hanson. As you may know, Charlie has great respect for some of the writers featured at National Review. Hanson solidly captures the issues of the day surrounding “the U.S. effectively reasserting itself in world affairs”:

“Rightly or wrongly, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Middle East-based terrorists concluded after 2009 that the U.S. saw itself in decline and preferred a recession from world affairs.

In that void, rival states were emboldened, assuming that America thought it could not — or should not — any longer exercise the sort of political and military leadership it had demonstrated in the past.

Enemies thought the U.S. was more focused on climate change, United Nations initiatives, resets, goodwill gestures to enemies such as Iran and Cuba, and soft-power race, class, and gender agendas than on protecting and upholding longtime U.S. alliances and global rules.

In reaction, North Korea increased its missile launches and loudly promised nuclear destruction of the West and its allies. Russia violated its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and absorbed borderlands of former Soviet republics. Iran harassed American ships in the Persian Gulf and issued serial threats against the U.S. China built artificial island bases in the South China Sea to send a message about its imminent management of Asian commerce. In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State killed thousands in medieval fashion and sponsored terrorist attacks inside Western countries. Amid such growing chaos, a return to former (and normal) U.S. deterrence would inflame such aggressors and be considered provocative by provocateurs.”

Be sure to visit National Review and read Hanson’s suggested, “few old rules for these scary new crises on the horizon.”

*Please remember the prayer given by the Lady of All Nations. Her special prayer reveals she knew these times were coming and, in God’s Plan, she has provided a prayerful antidote to the current evil:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations that they may be preserved from degenration, disaster and war. May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our advocate. Amen.

*For North Korea, in particular, at this time. We know its current alliance with China. We know the prophecy concerning the struggle we face with China and the promise that Our Lady will intervene when all seems lost. In my personal and group encounters with Maria Esperanza, one of my spiritual mothers, I heard her repeatedly warn concerning future struggles emerging with some of the Asian governments. Naming this reality is not meant to induce fear for it is the evil one’s tactic to induce fear. No. This is to evoke prayer while focusing, with great confidence, on God’s Plan.

*Not as a prayer taskmaster, but as a reminder of truth and a purveyor of God’s Hope and Concrete Assistance in this time of real need for us and all peoples, I encourage us to make use of the gifts given by Our Lord and Our Lady in the Flame of Love Prayers:

Prayer #1: Jesus told Elizabeth:

“A great battle awaits you, but you will conquer in the sign of the cross. When you make the cross, think of the three Divine Persons. Make the sign of the cross five times, while thinking of my Five Wounds. Always look at my eyes bathed in blood. Tell everyone all that I tell you.”

Prayer #2: The Unity Prayer about which Jesus said : “Through this prayer, Satan will be blind and souls will not be led into sin… The Lord explained, “Satan being blind signifies a worldwide triumph of my Sacred Heart, the freedom of souls and a full opening of the road of salvation.” 

May our feet journey together.
May our hands gather in unity.
May our hearts beat in unison.
May our souls be in harmony.
May our thoughts be as one.
May our ears listen to the silence together.
May our glances profoundly penetrate each other.
May our lips pray together to gain mercy from the Eternal Father.

Prayer #3:  Elizabeth Kindleman said, “For a long time, I did not dare to record Our Lady’s petition, “When you pray the Hail Mary, include the following petition, ‘Spread the effect of grace of thy Flame of Love over all of humanity.’” When the bishop asked why this should be done, Jesus explained, “Because of the Holy Virgin’s efficacious pleas, the Most Blessed Trinity granted the outpouring of the Flame of Love. For her sake, you must place this prayer in the Hail Mary.” Mary said, “I want to awaken humanity by this petition. This is not a new formula but a constant supplication.”

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee,
blessed are Thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over all of humanity,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Let us also avail ourselves of the Surrender Novena and the Prayer of Miraculous Trust as potent interventions, for ourselves, our families and our world, in these days of turmoil.

How often Charlie reminded us that these things and these days must come. I have long pondered that without God’s Justice we humans are capable of totally destroying ourselves. It is fitting to remember: God’s Justice, wherein His Mercy is embedded, is NOT upon us because He is doing this to us. WE have provoked His Justice by concocting this stinky stew, suffused throughout the world. In the first reading proclaimed at Mass today, we heard Abba clearly convey to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

God is ALWAYS faithful. It is we who have failed in keeping our part of the covenant. God is the same yesterday, today and forever: He is the Source of ALL Goodness. He ONLY acts from Pure Love. He EVER provides the ways back to Him. For these reasons and for all His Goodness and Glory, we praise and thank Him, even in the darkest nights.

Blessed be God forever! Ave Maria eternally!

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Invoking Our Lady Healer of Families

(At Catholic Stand, I discovered this heartening piece by Susan, our TNRS friend. With her permission, I reprint this hope-filled plea via a novena to Our Lady, first posted at Susan’s blog.)

Our Lady Healer of Families (part 1)


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Over the past year or so people have come to me over and over again asking me to pray for their families.  Parents estranged from children.  Children angry with parents.  Spouses at war.  Siblings who don’t speak.  Family members chained by addictions of all kinds.   Family members who are sick and caregivers who are exhausted.  I feel like I am seeing the front lines of the attack on and suffering of the Family.

In my prayer I have felt our Lady tell me over and over again that she is in union with the Divine will.  She is all things relationship with the Trinity.  Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of the Son.  She knows union with God and we can, by following her example, have loving relationships with one another.

This week in my prayers I very clearly heard her tell me that she wants to heal Families.  That she is Our Lady Healer of Families and she wants a devotion under this title.  She asked me to have an Icon painted and a Litany written.  But she didn’t want me to write it.  She identified to me who she wanted to do these two things.  My cousin, Kathleen Carr, to paint the Icon, and a friend of mine to write the Litany.  She called them both, “My daughters, my friends.”  I called both my cousin and my friend.  My cousin informed me she had prayed only the night before about what to paint next — and then I called her in the morning.  She was amazed and quickly said she would do it so I gave her the parameters I saw in my prayer.  Her Icon will be part two of this post.  Please keep her in prayer as she paints.

My friend also agreed to write the Litany but has asked that her name be withheld and that you focus solely on the prayer.  I decided to post the prayer even though the Painting isn’t ready because in the past two days I have had multiple people come to me asking for prayers for their families.  I was told in prayer to promulgate this Litany and so I am posting it now.  We will also be rolling out a full Novena with the painting.  The Novena will be prayed for 9 days and then saying a Rosary.  So without further ado here is the Litany;

Litany to Our Lady Healer of Families

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Heavenly Father

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Alpha and Omega

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Creator of Heaven and Earth

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of Yahweh, the great I AM

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of St. Anne & St. Joachim

Pray for us

Most favored daughter

Pray for us

Most devoted daughter

Pray for us

Most obedient daughter

Pray for us

Most peaceful daughter

Pray for us

Most pure daughter

Pray for us

Most joyful daughter

Pray for us

Most modest daughter

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you

Mary, Daughter of God the Father

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Paraclete

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Consuming Fire

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Peaceful Dove

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of St. Joseph

Pray for us

Most merciful spouse

Pray for us

Most humble spouse

Pray for us

Most selfless spouse

Pray for us

Most hopeful spouse

Pray for us

Most loyal spouse

Pray for us

Most unified spouse

Pray for us

Most affectionate spouse

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you

Mary, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of Jesus Christ

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of the Prince of Peace

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of The Word

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of The Way

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of the Eucharist

Pray for us

Most patient mother

Pray for us

Most gentle mother

Pray for us

Most encouraging mother

Pray for us

Most accepting mother

Pray for us

Most gracious mother

Pray for us

Most consoling mother

Pray for us

Most prayerful mother

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you,

Mary, Mother of God the Eternal Son

Pray for us

Mary, Daughter of the One True God

Put an end to all heresies

Mary, Spouse of the Divine Spirit

Restore unity among all of humanity

Mary, Mother of the Divine Son

Crush the head of Satan and lead all souls back to Jesus

O Most Holy Trinity,

In our efforts to love one another more perfectly

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to sow peace in our relationships

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to care for the needs of others

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to offer up our sufferings for the salvation of souls

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to speak Your truth in word and deed

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to surrender our will to Yours

Unite us and bring healing

Oh Most Immaculate Virgin, Daughter of God the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of Jesus Christ our Savior, you are the perfect example of human relationship with the Divine Will. Help us, O Most Holy Mother, to heal the broken bonds within our families, our friendships, and all our other relationships. Help us to love others the way that Christ loves us with self-sacrificing love. In particular, heal my relationship with (state intentions here). Intercede for us O Holy Daughter, Spouse, and Mother, so that through the mercy of God, the chains of division will be broken, uniting us once again as you are ever united to the Most Holy Trinity. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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