A Cyrano de Bergerac Moment

When i was about 19 yrs old, I started running a couple miles a day, and celebrating the result, I was going to buy my first dress, with my own money.  I had a wedding to go to, and I was “adulting”.  I didn’t own a dress.  I borrowed the last one I wore, so this was a bit of an event for me.  I walked into the dress shop, a little excited, which was unusual for me, since I was neither interested in fashion or shopping.  The clerk greeted me, and I told her what I was looking for.  As she was assessing the project in front of her, me, she said, “Well let’s see what we can do.  You have shoulders like a football player.”  I was crest fallen.  Yes,I had inherited my father”s broad shoulders.  The envy of my brothers, and apparently not a positive feature, when buying a dress.  I had my mother”s big feet and my father’s linebacker shoulders…. not an ideal self image for a young woman.  

This is the thing though, I really had no idea that these features were something undesirable, until somebody told me they were.  So now getting a dress became about identifying as a football player…I already had been told that big feet were not ideal. 

Why do we do this to ourselves and each other.  My shoulders  were God’s idea, not mine, they are something of my Dad’s that I will have forever.  A gift, a memento of sorts.  

I have so many blessings, why focus on this trait that someone, somewhere decided should be scoffed at. 

A Priest once said, if you feel envious, ask God to help you see your own gifts…. hmmm…it kind of makes my big feet and broad shoulders seem like an ungrateful complaint. Like when children say they’re bored, and Mom says, “Well I guess these toys can go to Goodwill then if they bore you.”   Maybe it’s just perspective  I lack.  

Week of Saints (February 24-March 2 ,2019)

Sunday, February 24:  Bl Tommaso Maria Fusco, Priest, Founder (1831-1891)

Shepherding sheep, he learned wisdom from the simplest things. He desired to belong completely to God in the Religious Life of a Franciscan. Once his gifts were recognized he was made vice master of novices.  He set up hermitages, and was said to be not so much a man who prayed as a man who became prayer. His preaching was clear and simple, convincing and strong.

“May work and suffering for God always be your glory and in your work and suffering, may God be your consolation on this earth and your recompense in heaven.  Patience is the safeguard and pillar of all virtues.”

Monday, February 25:  St Ceasarius of Naizanzen Christian (d 369)

He was the brother of Gregory of Naizanzen and a medical doctor.  Resisting persuasion to abandon his faith, he gave away his possessions for a life of prayer.

Tuesday, February 26: St Isabel of France, Christian, Founder (1224-1270)

Isabel is the sister of St Louis, and daughter of King Louis VIII of France.  She refused marriage for a life of consecration to God, and caring for the sick and poor.  She founded the order of the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She never became a nun.

said of St Isabel…

“We beheld in her a mirror of innocence, and at the same time an admirable model of penance, a lily of purity, a fragrant rose of patience and self-renunciation, and endless fountain of goodness and mercy.”

Patron: Sick

Wednesday, February 27:  St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Religious (1838-1862)

Educated by the Jesuits, and cured of a serious illness twice, he felt he was called to religious life.  Having been turned down by the Jesuits, he eventually joined the Passionists.  It was there that he received the name St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.  His life of consideration of others, penances and his patient endurance of tuberculous won the admiration of those around him.  He died at 24 years old.

Patron:  students, youth, clerics, seminarians

“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things but to do the ordinary well”

Thursday, February 28: Saint Hilary, Pope (d 468)

St Hilary was born in Italy and was used by St Leo I the Great on many assignments.  As Pope he worked to strengthen the Church of France and Spain.  He also rebuilt many churches in Rome and raised St John the Lateran. Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul.

“Little children follow and obey their father. They love their mother. They know nothing of covetousness, ill-will, bad temper, arrogance or lying. This state of mind opens the road to heaven. To imitate our Lord’s own humility, we must return to the simplicity of God’s little ones.”

Friday, March 1: St David of Wales, Priest, Founder, Bishop (520-589)

St David is maybe the most famous of British saints.  There is not a lot of information about him, but it’s known that he became a priest, missionary and founded many monasteries.  He and his monks lived an austere life, eating only bread an vegetables.  David ruled his diocese to a very old age. The legend is that once while he was preaching a dove descended to his shoulder and the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard.

“Be joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.”

Patron:  Wales, poets, vegetarians

Saturday, March 2: St Angela of the Cross, Founder (1846-1932)

She had a great devotion to Christ Crucified as a child.  Her spiritual director at age 16 encouraged her to spiritual life.  After being turned away from the Carmelites she started caring for cholera patients.  She eventually became a Daughter of Charity in Seville Spain.  She became ill again, and had to return home.  It was then that she received a vision that was calling her to a mission to the poor, and she began keeping a spiritual diary to record what she understood of the life to which God was calling her. Thus the Congregation of the Cross was born. They worked with the sick, the poor, orphans, the homeless, finding them food, medicine, housing, and other needs, living solely on alms, and keeping only enough for themselves to continue their work.

“The nothing keeps silent, the nothing does not want to be the nothing suffers all.  The nothing does not impose itself, the nothing does not command with authority, and finally the nothing in the creature is practical humility.”

Inspiring Thoughts

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
St. Francis de Sales

“Keep your soul at peace, in order to be able to be attentive and very faithful to the inner movement of the Holy Spirit.”
Saint Peter Julian Eymard

The Sound Of Silence

If you’ve ever been in a quiet neighborhood, or even more so in the woods, after a heavy snow, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  When blankets of white, grace the branches of the trees, and cover the ground.  It feels almost sacred, like the snow shouldn’t be disrupted by man, and there is a tangible silence.  The world is still spinning, nature still moves, but it feels like time has stopped for just that moment.  It is a magnificently beautiful experience that I cherish.  

In reality snow is actually a natural sound insulator, because of the pockets of air trapped between the flakes.  God, in His wisdom, gave us this gift of contrast to our modern world   It can be a little disappointing that the snow plows come, and the salt is dispersed, and we have to pull ourselves away from this pause, for work and school.  

Coming home from the March for life one year, traffic was stopped on Interstates and marchers were trapped in buses and cars.  Food, water, and gasoline were brought to the stranded, and several Masses were celebrated.  How tremendous that must have been, in the silent winter oasis that God prepared for them.

I’ve also experienced this same sort of thing, in a way, at convents.  If you’ve never been to one think about “The Sound of Music”, Maria didn’t fit in, because she was too loud, in voice and movement.  They moved quietly and slowly.  It’s beautiful, this constraint, the purposeful spirit of calm, it seems almost contemplative, and leaves one with a feeling of peace, just like the snow.  A void of noise to be filled with the silence of God.

Living silence in a very busy and loud world, takes effort.  Rushing and hurrying is loud, not to our ears maybe, but to our souls, and the souls around us. Retreats offer us this silence, but maybe we should take a look again at the religious communities. Maybe we should make silence for ourselves…just walking from the chapel to and through our task for the day…in search of that sound of Silence.

A Week of Saints (February 17-23, 2019

Sunday, February 17: St. Theodulus, martyr (d 309)

He was an official or member of the household of the governor of Palestine who, upon discovering his adherence to Christianity, ordered him to be crucified at Caesarea.

Monday, February 18: Bl John Of Fiesole/ Fra Angelico ( 1400-1455)

He is patron of Christian artists and born in Florence.  around 1400 in a village overlooking Florence. He joined the Dominicans, taking the name Fra Giovanni. His own techniques included broad-brush strokes, vivid colors and generous, lifelike figures. His choice of subject matter aimed to generate feelings of religious devotion. Among his most famous works are the Annunciation and Descent from the Cross.

Regarding Bl john of Fiesole, “One has to believe that this good monk has visited paradise and been allowed to choose his models there.”   Michelangelo

Patron:  Christian artists

Tuesday, February 19:  Bl Alvarez of Cordova, Religious (1350-1430)

Alvaro was born in Spain and entered the Order of Preachers.  He preached in Spain and Italy, and spread the practice of the Way of the Cross throughout the West


Wednesday, February 20: St Jacinta(1910-1920)  and St Francisco Marta (1908-1919)

Three Portuguese children, while shepherding sheep, received apparitions of Our Lady near Fatima.  War was in the land, and religious organizations were disbanded in this area.  At Mother Mary’s first appearance, she asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months, and to learn to read and write and pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” She asked them to pray for sinners and the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II. Portugal  was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary’s final apparition on October 13, 1917. Not long afterward they both died of influenza.  The shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is visited by up to 20 million people a year.

Patron: bodily ills; captives; people ridiculed for their piety; prisoners; sick people; against sickness

Thursday, February 21:  St Peter Damian, Bishop, Doctor (1007-1072)

Peter was orphaned, and treated poorly by his one brother.  He was kind to the poor, and often shared his table with them.  Peter was taken under wing by his other brother, who was Archpriest of Ravenna, escaping the neglect of the first brother.  Peter became a professor, and left teaching for the Beneditines.  Peter was devoted to sacrifice and prayer He became the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony, and encouraged his Priests to live a life of moderation and prayer.  Peter was happy to retire and live as just a monk again.

“He pours light into our minds, arouses our desire and gives us strength… As the soul is the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is the life of our souls.”

Friday, February 22:  The Chair of St Peter the Apostle

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church. Jesus told Peter that “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” It is with this pastoral responsibility given him that the Pope shepherds Christ’s flock.

 The Chair is “a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity.”  Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, February 23:  St Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr (d 155)

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (Turkey), disciple of St. John the Apostle and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.  At 86, Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the saint’s body burned.

“Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd, and their false teachings and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning.”