Presence

I can remember as a kid anticipating the visit of an older sibling coming home.  It may have been waiting for their car to pull into the driveway, or watching their plane land at the airport, it was always an event.  My mother could hardly wait, and favorite foods would be prepared, family gatherings planned.   Birthdays and holidays were celebrated early or late, while they were home, to include family, who lived away.  There were prolonged embraces, and every minute was cherished, 

A mother’s heart is stirred by a child in the womb, or a whimper or giggle in the night.  Whether it’s a door that opens or footsteps on the stairs, there is a rush of excitement when I am about to see my kids.  It is so good!  I am at peace, when my children are near…the world seems right.  All I need is their presence, and I have found joy. 

Me with my little capacity to love, can have such immense silent stirrings, when my children are near. 

800548D5-7CEB-417C-8FB0-671C4E9FC91BOur Lord has a limitless capacity to love….what do you suspect is His reaction when we are home, or spiritually available to Him, especially at Mass?  He is always present to us, but I think, often we sit in our pews and wave, rather than engage and truly encounter.  How painful that would be to get a wave from a child, rather than an intimate visit in body, mind and spirit. So, I guess that’s my choice.  Do I want to simply be present and seen, or do I want to encounter and embrace.

A Week Of Saints (July 29-4, 2018)

Sunday, July 29th

St Martha, Disciple of Christ (time of Christ)

Patron: cooks, servants

“Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.” This unique statement in John’s gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.

Martha is busy with the cultural tasks of hospitality, while Mary is listening to Jesus.  He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him that is what Mary has done. 

The next time, Martha is grieving the death of her brother, when she hears that Jesus is in the area. She gets up immediately, leaves the guests and mourning, then goes to meet him.  Martha learned to seek Jesus first. 

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Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks.

Monday, July 30th

St Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Doctor (380-450)

St. Peter was called “Chrysologus” (golden-worded) because of his oratorical eloquence. He practiced many works of mercy.  He fought against Paganism and heretics. He was made a Doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical, and clear sermons.

“The poor stretch out the hand, but God receives what is offered”

Tuesday, July 31st

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (1491-1556)

Patron: educators, soldiers

St. Ignatius was a soldier, but was injured. While he recovered, he read the lives of the saints, and decided to dedicate himself to becoming a soldier of the Catholic Faith. Soon after he experienced visions, but a year later suffered a trial of fears and scruples, driving him almost to despair. Out of this experience he wrote his famous “Spiritual Exercises”. He founded the Jesuit order. 

“Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words”

Patron: educators, education, religious retreats

Wednesday, August 1st 

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori, Bishop, Doctor (-1787)

Raised in a pious home, Alphonsus went on retreats with his father.  Alphonsus received his doctorate at the age of sixteen, and was practicing law, by nineteen. He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. . For thirteen years Alphonsus fed the poor, instructed families, reorganized the seminary and religious houses, taught theology, and wrote. He suffered daily the pain from rheumatism that was beginning to deform his body.  Rheumatic fever left him paralyzed. Alphonsus suffered great anguish, but he overcame his depression, and he experienced visions, performed miracles, and gave prophecies.

“Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.”

Patron:  confessors, moralists

Thursday, August 2nd

St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (1811-1868)

He worked as cutler until eighteen when he went to the seminary at Grenoble and was ordained. He served as a parish priest for several years then joined the Marists and became their provincial at Lyons. He established the Sevants of the Blessed Sacrament whose nuns devoted themselves to perpetual adoration.

“Happy is the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in all things!”

Friday, August 3rd

St Lydia Purpuraria (1st century)

Lydia Purpuraria (1st century) was born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar), a town in Asia Minor, famous for its dye works, (hence, her name which means purple seller). She became Paul’s first convert at Philippi. She was baptized with her household, and Paul stayed at her home there

Saturday, August 4th 

St. John Vianney, Priest(1786-1859)

St. John Vianney, Priest, known as the “Cure of Ars.” His reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him known throughout the Christian world. His life was one of extreme mortification.  Although used to severe austerities, besieged by the satan and flocked by many penitents he was simplistic. 

He heard confessions of people from all over the world for sixteen hours each day. His life was filled with works of charity and love. 

“The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the devil. Thus the Church wishes not only that we have it continually in front of our minds to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ, but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and, above all, when we are tempted.”

Patron:  Priests

I’m Sinful Weak and Sorrowful

 

8868E659-B2E5-499A-BBBE-F3B24F8C708CWhen strong temptations are knocking at my door, I rebuke satan, in Jesus’ name, and turn to Our Lady…pray for us sinners now.  I suppose one could think, but she was sinless, what does she know about sin?  Nothing, but I imagine she knows a great deal about temptation.  I can’t imagine satan leaving her alone, this unblemished lamb, innocent, wholly devoted to God.  Even before she was known to the devil, as the Mother of God, he who couldn’t resist himself, would be tormented by one, who didn’t even glance his way.  Before satan knew she was the Theotokos (Mother of God), her life had to torment him.  Imagine his hatred for Our Lady after the Crucifixion, when he realized who she is.  He tempted Christ; he surely tempted Mother Mary…”God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear” (from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday).  I imagine with her, he was his most cunning, relentless and evil.  So it is, if I need someone on my side, I want the pro.  Our Creator chose Mary to resist the temptations of satan, so much so that She was His choice to carry Christ within her womb, and hold Him in death.  She raised Him to adulthood. He was tortured, disgraced and misunderstood, and Mary, His mother, was present to it all, but without sin.  She watched her son through all of this, without sin.  I’d say if God trusted Mary, to remain sinless, then she would be the one to look to, when temptation strikes.

“So long as she (Blessed Mother) is in your mind, you are safe from deception.” – Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

A Week of Saints (July 22-28, 2018)

Sunday, July 22nd

St Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, (time of Christ)

St. Luke records that Mary was a notorious sinner, and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Our Lords’ Crucifixion, and with Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, at Jesus’ empty tomb.  She was the first to see the resurrected Christ, and the first He spoke to. Mary Magdalene was given the rank of “feast” like the Apostles, and is identified as  the Apostle to the Apostles, by Pope Francis (June of 2016).

Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. 

Jn 20:18

Patron: penitents, perfumers

Monday, July 23rd

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) 

St Bridget was born into a rich and pious family. She had visions of Jesus, The Man of Sorrows, as a child. This dream was very vivid. Birgitta asked Him who had done that to Him. His answer: ‘All those who despise my love”.  She married Ulf Gudmarsson, a prince, and was a devoted wife, and mother to eight children. St Catherine of Sweden is her daughter.

“The world would have peace if only men of politics would follow the Gospels”

Patron: Europe, Sweden, widows

Tuesday, July 24th

St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest, monk, hermit (1828-1898)

Joseph Zaroun Makluf’s father died when He was three. He lived in Lebanon, and was raised by his uncle.  He took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. Following the example of his namesake, he lived as a hermit from 1875, until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him, to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.

“The Church of the Christ is a rock upon which are being shattered the waves of evil.”

Wednesday, July 25th

St. James, Apostle, Martyr (time of Christ)

James and his brother John were referred to by Jesus as “Sons of Thunder.”  These brothers,along with Peter, were the only Apostles at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the garden of Gethsemane and the Transfiguration. James was one of the early martyrs. He is thought to have possibly taken the Gospel message to Spain. 

So also Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Jm  2:17

Patron: laborers, farmers equestrians, veterinarians, woodcarvers, pharmacists 

Thursday, July 26th

St. Joachim & Anne, parents of Blessed Mother (time of Christ)

Anne and Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is nothing really documented about these two Saints.

Patron Anne: children, pregnancy, homemakers ,the childless , poverty, teacher

Patron Joachim: fathers, grandparents

Friday, July 27th

Bl. Titus Brandsma, Martyr (1881-1942)

He was born in the Netherlands, and became a Carmelite as a young man, and a priest in 1905.  He displayed a dazzling intellect and taught at universities. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands,Titus was singled out as an enemy, because he fought against the spread of Nazism in Europe. Arrested, Titus was sent to various concentration camps, where he demonstrated charity and concern. 

Patron:  Catholic journalists, tobacconists

Saturday, July 28th

St Samson, monk, Bishop (late 5th century)

He was a Welsh bishop and evangelizer. On a trip to Ireland, Samson became a hermit with Amon whom he cured of a mortal illness. In Cornwall, he was consecrated a bishop and appointed an abbot. He spent the rest of his life as a missionary, even though he had long searched for solitude. He was one of the foremost (if not relatively unknown) evangelizers of his century.

Inspiring Thoughts

“When shall it be that we shall taste the sweetness of the Divine Will in all that happens to us, considering in everything only His good pleasure, by whom it is certain that adversity is sent with as much love as prosperity, and as much for our good? When shall we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms of our most loving Father in Heaven, leaving to Him the care of ourselves and of our affairs, and reserving only the desire of pleasing Him, and of serving Him well in all that we can?”

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Altar of Sacrifice

 

There was a meeting for families one evening, and many of them came to Mass afterward. I was lector, and looked out at the congregation full of families with young children, and read…  “Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.”  Good grief, I felt like the evening news. I knew the reading before I came to Mass, but it wasn’t until I got to the ambo that I saw the kids.  So, the reading continues that the angel said stop, they got the ram, and sacrificed it instead, but I was aghast  proclaiming that reading to these little ones. At that moment, the Church’s wisdom of this scripture, in the Lectionary, was escaping me… 

I had some precious souls, dear to my heart and in dire need, on my mind.  I was filled with worry for them, trying to “fix” things that were out of my control.  My spiritual director told me that I can’t fix this, it’s not within my power.  Only God and those involved can remedy this.  D1B69AD3-976B-412C-AC93-249651AF918E

I couldnt let my concern for them, drown me.  So, every day at Mass I spiritually lay them on the altar.  In my mind I visualize me placing and leaving them there. I realize this isn’t quite the same as Abraham and Isaac.  There are no raised blades here, but there is surrender and sacrifice.  I am surrendering my control, or at least the control that I think I possess.  I am sacrificing my will for them, and asking for my Father’s will.  I am returning them to the Creator, because only He can “fix” their mind, body or heart. I am entrusting them to a God, Who loves them perfectly, unlike my ability to love.  I am placing them on the altar and not at the foot of the cross, because it is an abandonment of my desire, to relinquish to His.  It is an offering.   

Today, I am grateful for this choice in the Lectionary, this lesson of Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham taught me how to trust God with something that  is most precious.  Because of Abraham, I am learning peace.