Sunday, July 31, 2011

Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey

Everybody knows that July 31st is the feast of Ignatius of Loyola but I wanted to remember another American Saint who died 54 years ago today. I pray to him often because he always seems near to me and eager to answer my prayers. I am really sure Fr. Solanus Casey would be a good friend to anyone who asks for his help!

Father Solanus Casey and his 'favors' (Capuchin mystic)

When Father Solanus Casey died in Detroit on July 31, 1957, all he left after 86 years on this earth were a small crucifix, an old pair of sandals, several religious pictures, a wooden statue of St. Anthony, some dog-eared religious books, a knot of heavily darned socks and a framed, 40-year-old picture of his family.

But he left another rich legacy — a long list of curious "favors" to an equally long list of devoted believers.
Father Solanus Casey had come to Detroit to be a Capuchin friar. During his years as a priest he spent time in other states, but he began and ended his career in Detroit.

The thin, bald ascetic with horn-rimmed spectacles and a flowing gray beard spent 23 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. He was a man of rare holiness. A mystic.

Barney Casey was the oldest of 16 children of an Irish-American family from Superior, Wisconsin. He'd already been a lumberjack, a prison guard, and a streetcar motorman. One day while driving the streetcar through a tough section of Superior, he came upon a drunken sailor stabbing a young woman.

"The scene remained with him," wrote his biographer, James P. Derum. "To him the brutal stabbing and the sailor's hysterical cursing symbolized the world's sin and hate and man-made misery.

"He saw...that the only cure for mankind's crime and wretchedness was the love that can be learned only from and through Him who died to show men what love is."

Barney believed the Lord wished him to dedicate his life to Him and he decided to study for the priesthood. But he was having troubles academically. Then he planned a novena, prayers to Mary in preparation for her Dec. 8 feast of the Immaculate Conception. He became aware of the Blessed Virgin's presence: "Go to Detroit," he distinctly heard her say.

Lugging a trunk, he went to Detroit.

In 1897 he took the name of St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century Spanish nobleman, intellectual, missionary and preacher. Six years later he was ordained.

Because he ranked only in the lower half of his class, his teachers recommended that his priestly office be severely restricted. He could say mass but was not permitted to expound from the pulpit on dogma. He was not allowed to hear confessions except under emergency circumstances.

He spent some time in New York, in Yonkers and in Harlem. Here began the series of inexplicable events that were to be linked to him for the next 36 years.

Father Solanus began promoting a prayer group, the Seraphic Mass Association, in which all members had access to the prayers of the entire group. He offered to help those in distress to fill out the prayer group's application card and in doing so he would listen to their problems.

Unexpectedly quick recoveries and remarkable solutions to their problems shocked and delighted the petitioners and the word spread. Father Solanus suddenly found himself very busy and his superior, Father Provincial Benno Aichinger, directed him to keep a record of these "special favors."

Father Solanus returned to Detroit in 1924, 28 years after first arriving as a novice. He stayed as doorkeeper until 1945, the year before he retired.

During his 21 years as porter at St. Bonaventure, he filled seven notebooks with more than 6,000 requests for help from petitioners. And to some 700 of these he recorded reported cures from cancer, leukemia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, arthritis, blindness, and other maladies. These brief postscripts also report conversions of fallen-away churchgoers and favorable resolutions of domestic and business problems.

Not all the requests were granted. Gertrude Brennan complained about a minor sinus problem to the priest. At the time he was in the yard of the monastery swatting flies with a fly swatter. He continued swatting during her complaint. She took his actions to mean that some minor annoyances were merely that.

His humility never allowed him any embarrassment when a sinner asked him to hear a confession and Father Solanus had to call for another priest to be the confessor. It did, however, bother a young friar who often was called. But eventually the friar came to see that Father Solanus wasn't bothered by his "lower rank." He simply accepted what God had allowed for him.

But his humility did not protect the other priests and brothers from his singing in a high squeaky voice while playing the violin. An ill friar once told a visitor to quickly turn on the radio because Father Solanus had just gone to get his violin to try to cheer the invalid, and he hoped the radio would discourage him.

The long list of favors granted included one to the Chevrolet motor company. In 1925 the firm was near bankruptcy when an auto worker, John McKenna, who feared losing his job, enrolled Chevrolet into the Seraphic Mass Association for 50 cents. Two nights later the company got an order for 45,000 machines.

During the Great Depression, the number of daily patrons of the monastery's soup kitchen tripled and Father Solanus joined the expanded efforts. Arthur Rutledge came to Solanus with a stomach tumor. Solanus told him go back to the doctor and check again, then come and help in the soup kitchen. The doctor found that the tumor was gone and the kitchen had a new volunteer.

But Solanus' was not the ideal fund-raiser. Once he went to a bar for a beer with a kitchen worker. The bar owner handed him a check for the soup kitchen, but Father Solanus said, "Oh I didn't come here for that; I came for a beer. You have a very good beer and you have a nice place here."

Suffering from overwork, Solanus was sent to Brooklyn in 1945 and later to a farm area in Huntington, Indiana, where he received about 200 letters a day. He tried to answer the letters, but in his 80s and suffering with arthritis, the friars had a rubber stamp made of his signature.

Again and again, in his letters, he repeated his life's message — that confidence in God is the very soul of prayer and becomes the condition for supernatural intervention in our lives. "God condescends to use our powers if we don't spoil his plans by ours," he frequently wrote.

In January 1956, diagnosed with skin cancer, his superiors decided to send him back to Detroit to be near expert medical care. His contact with petitioners was restricted.

A novice recalled that on the last Christmas evening before the death of Father Solanus, he overheard the friar playing his violin alone in the chapel, singing Christmas carols to the Christ Child.

Father Solanus died July 31, 1957, on the 53rd anniversary of his first Mass.

After his death, Clare Ryan, a former Detroiter, started the Father Solanus Guild. Mrs. Ryan believed that Father Solanus cured her on two occasions: of stomach cancer in the 1930s; and 20 years later, of paralysis of the legs.

In the 1950s her legs began to swell, and doctors told her that she would be in a wheelchair soon. She consulted Father Solanus. "Stand up," he said. "Then he slapped both my legs and said to them, 'Stand up and do your job.'

By 1964 the local group had grown to about 3,500 members nationally. They wanted some action toward his canonization. In 1974 Brother Leo Wollenweber started gathering the evidence and filled two big, gray filing cabinets. TV programs told of Father Solanus, and in 1994, Unsolved Mysteries had a show about his "mysteries."

Finally, after 30 years, Pope John Paul II approved the reading of the decree declaring the heroic virtues of Casey. This gives him the title "Venerable," the first of three steps in the rigorous process toward canonization. If he becomes sainted, he will be the first American-born man thus honored. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1976.

Father Solanus was buried in a small plot on the monastery grounds. Later, in 1987, his body was exhumed, given a new robe, and placed inside the St. Bonaventure chapel in a crypt. Today thousands of members of the Father Solanus Guild and others carry around as relics threads from his brown habit in decoratively crocheted badges.
(Information gathered from The Detroit News files and from a booklet by Boniface Hanley, O.F.M. )

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Please help yourself to my book "Time For Reflections".

It can be downloaded in E Book Format FREE from HERE.

Please pray for me. Thanx.

God bless.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our Hearts As Bethany

James Tissot's Jesus at Bethany

This is a post I wrote as one of my Sunday Meditations about a year ago on my personal blog, Daughter of the King. The Gospel for that Sunday was the account of Jesus visiting the home of His friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. I thought I would share that post here in celebration of both St Martha, whose feast we celebrate today, and St Mary Magdalen, whose feast day was last Friday.
These two beautiful saints, it has often been said, represent the image of the Contemplative (Mary) and the Active (Martha). Choosing the better part, I believe, comes when we learn how to be both, often simultaneously!

Our Hearts As Bethany
I would like to look at today's Gospel (Luke 10:38~42) from a slightly different perspective. It is one related to an experience I had about a month ago while listening to and reflecting on a meditation I had heard on this very reading.
Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were friends of Jesus. The house in Bethany was a place Our Lord often visited during His earthly life. Scripture tells us that: "foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has no where to lay his head." (Luke 9:58) But Jesus knew that He would be welcomed at this home of His friends at any time.
In today's reading we hear how the two sisters related very differently to Our Lord. Martha was always busy with the details of showing hospitality to their Divine Guest, while Mary, as always, was content to sit at His feet and hang on His every word. I sometimes imagine Lazarus in this scene in the background just rolling his eyes at the two of them. Our Lord gently but firmly rebukes Martha in her complaints about her sister's refusal to help; He tells her that Mary has chosen the better part. We never find out Martha's reaction to Jesus' rebuke.
During the evening of reflection in which I heard the meditation on this reading, we were given some quiet time for personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It was during this time that the thought occurred to me that our hearts should be Bethany for Our Lord. He desires each of us to welcome Him, give Him a place to rest, and simply sit at His feet.
I don't think Jesus was all that upset with Martha; he realized that the preparations she was making were necessary, but He also desired her company.
He desires ours as well. Our hearts being a Bethany for Jesus is a thought that has remained with me since that prayerful evening. It helped me to realize that preparing my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion is important, but once I have done that, He simply desires my loving attention to His Presence. The same holds true for my visits with Him during my holy hours. I don't have to spend every one of those hours in formal prayer; sometimes it is just enough to sit quietly and prayerfully gazing at Him in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:2).

My Dear Lord Jesus,
Come Divine Guest and find my heart a place of welcome rest. May You always find my heart and soul ready to receive You. May I never again neglect Your Presence within me because my head is too busy with the details of my day. You always felt welcomed at the home of Your friends in Bethany; may my heart be like Bethany, always ready to receive and welcome You.
May I prepare it as Martha did, then choose the better part, and sit at Your feet as Mary did.
Help me to be content in gazing upon You in prayerful adoration as You gaze lovingly upon me.
Thank You for desiring to be with me always.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


We welcome again today Father Paul Wharton to the Community of Catholic Bloggers. Fr Paul manages a great Blog/Website which I urge you to visit (link below).

Here's what Fr Paul has to say:


Years ago a Hasidic Rabbi reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, "The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!"  "What stone?" asked the holy man.   "Last night an angel appeared to me in a dream," said the villager, "And told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a holy man who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever."

The rabbi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. "He probably meant this one," he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. "I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it."  The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, possibly the largest diamond in the whole world. 

He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. The next day at the crack of dawn, he woke the rabbi and said, "Now, please, please give me whatever it is that enables you to give this diamond away so easily."

Ever since the rich, young man in the gospels many Christians of all times and places have had to deal with the question of how much is too much?  That rich man became the only person mentioned in the gospels that actually turned his back on Jesus and walked away.   Why?  Jesus asked him to sell everything he had and give to the poor. 

Not every Christian is asked to give away everything.   But everyone needs to consider this question: “Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us?”  Someone has observed that in this age of consumerism we buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like. 

            Not every Christian is asked to sell everything and give to the poor.  But every Christian has the absolute obligation to charity.  St. Basil the Great, wrote these challenging words:  “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”  

            Ouch!   Now I don’t think that we need to limit our wardrobes to one only one or two outfits.  But how many of us have clothes in our closets that we haven’t worn in years and may never wear again?  Many of us have lots of things that we just had to have – a bike, a car, a piece of jewelry, a home entertainment system, etc – believing that when we got what we wanted we would be happy.   But such happiness is quite fleeting. 

            Go through your closets.  Give away what clothes you haven’t worn in years or won’t consider wearing because they are out of style.    Consider having a yard sale and giving the proceeds to a Food Pantry.

            I have conducted hundreds of funerals and attended too many others to count.  I never saw a moving van following the hearse to the grave.  In the end, the only thing that really matters is our relationship with God.  (That is how and why that Rabbi could give away the diamond.)  Charitable giving is an essential part of that relationship.   We give time, talent and treasure away as a sign of our faith in and love for God. 

[Father Paul Wharton has been a priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (West Virginia) for 29 years.  He has a blog on spirituality entitled “Hearts on Fire” that can be located here:  In it he shares stories, poems, prayers, videos, songs, scriptures, quotations, etc. in the hopes something a viewer reads may kindle his or her heart as happened with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.  Hearts on Fire also includes suggested reading – articles and books – as well as some of his own writing and recent homilies he has preached.]                               

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Modern Day St. Maria Goretti

As a Benedictine Oblate attached to Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek, I receive their newsletters regularly. This past week the newsletter announced that the monastery is going to serve as "home base" for Father Giovanni Salerno's "Friends of the Missionary Servants of the Poor of the Third World." Father Salerno's mission is in Peru and the good Benedictines treated us to a letter he wrote containing a story of a young girl that I want to share.

None of us can forget Natividad. She was from a family of eleven children who were and still are very poor. We accepted the five younger siblings of Natividad, but we were not going to accept her because she could help her mother at home, finding firewood and carrying water. Regardless, she came every day to the cafeteria to help with the catechesis for those about to make their first communion. One day, Natividad left the cafeteria and did not return home. Her mother came to us very concerned, asking about her, and we were all very surprised that she had not made it home. We searched for her all night, and the following day we found her on the bank of a river, dead with marks suggesting that she had been strangled. You can imagine the suffering of her parents, especially her mother who seemed inconsolable.

One morning the mother came to give us good news. The night before she had a dream in which she saw Natividad, dressed in white in the middle of a field of lilies, who told her: "Do not cry, I am well and I can help you more than before. Now I will tell you what happened so you can give testimony: While I was waiting for the bus to return home, some youths kidnapped me and took me to an abandoned house next to the river. There they got drunk while I was tied up. Then, one tried to abuse me, but I saw what he wanted to do, and I was able to pull scissors from my book bag and defend my purity; he was so angry he strangled me. Go to the abandoned house and in the bushes next to the river you will find the scissors and the cord they used to strangle me." The mother went to the house and found the things, just as Natividad had said.

The rest of the girls from the cafeteria found out what happened, and they saw a great similarity between Natividad and St. Maria Goretti, who had also died in defense of her purity. They decided, then, to form a group called "St. Maria Goretti" and they would have Natividad as their intercessor. The group was founded for girls to vow to Jesus that they would live lives of the holy virtue of purity. When the time came to open our schools, we wanted to put the girls' school under the protection of St. Maria Goretti, so as to offer her life as an example of holiness and to remember the life of the girl who had lived among us - Natividad - as one who had been able to live like the Saint.

Many people in today's world would scoff at the idea of preserving purity. I think this story illustrates one of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God." Those who scoff do not care about seeing God. But good parents and grandparents will not proffer the spirit of this world to their children. They will see that their children keep good company rather than bad and help them grow in virtue. They will never accept "everybody else is doing it" as a reason to sin. They will protect the purity of the young ones and point them to the kind of children like Natividad who preferred death rather than sin as inspiration.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Lady of Medjugorje's Monthly Message to Marija Pavlovic

Our Lady of Medjugorje - Message of July 25, 2011 to Visionary Marija Pavlovic 
"Dear children! May this time be for you a time of prayer and silence. Rest your body and spirit, may they be in God’s love. Permit me, little children, to lead you, open your hearts to the Holy Spirit so that all the good that is in you may blossom and bear fruit one hundred fold. Begin and end the day with prayer with the heart. Thank you for having responded to my call."

ALL Things

Romans 8:28 ~ We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according his purpose. (NAB St. Joseph Edition)

During his homily yesterday, my pastor offered a commentary regarding this passage that was a true "epiphany" for me.

Often, I think this passage is misinterpreted to mean that "good things happen to us when we love God".

Some relate this verse to "All things happen for a reason".

What my pastor stressed, in sharing his thoughts, and what I had NOT paid much attention to before now, is the word "ALL".  "We know that ALL things..."

"This means", said my pastor, "the joys AND the sufferings...the good times AND the trials....the feel-good days AND the sorrows and challenges....ALL things work together for good".

Perhaps it's just me, small, imperfect, finite, and not always the sharpest tack in the tool shed...but I had never considered it quite that way.

It's beautiful, isn't it?

It goes right along with the "Redemptive Suffering" that we discussed last week on this blog.

ALL things work for good for those who love God.

Without Christ, without His Sacrifice, without His Redeeming Grace, our bad days are just that: BAD DAYS.

But Romans 8:28 offers a whole new outlook on that, doesn't it?

Trusting in God's Word means that even our "bad days" are, for those of us who love God, "good days".

Each challenge, each trial, each sorrow, each test, each suffering, is working WITH each joy, each success, each adventure, each happy moment, and each celebration...ALL for the GOOD.

I hope this thought brings you comfort, as it did me.

The Treasure Within

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. - Matthew 13:44
Meister Eckhart said that each person has a vintage wine cellar but they seldom drink from it.
The kingdom of God is here. Now. We are not always aware of it. We often walk around clueless, unaware of God’s presence in our everyday lives.
Then grace happens. Something wakes us up. And we are suddenly aware of the treasure hidden within. The pearl of great price.
When I went to Mass this morning, I was upset that I had not yet written the gospel reflection for today. I was tired and grouchy and not feeling very inspired.
After communion, our youth choir sang Our God Is An Awesome God. They built up to a loud chorus and then started singing a cappella. Slowly the song grew quieter and became more of a prayer of praise.
I started singing with them, praising God for all His goodness. And the next thing I knew, tears were running down my cheeks.
Sigh. Our God is an awesome God and He is here with me now. I need to go and sell what I have, let go of my wants and my to-do lists and my “should-haves” and focus on what God is calling me to do at the moment.
I need to let go of all that is not God so I can focus on the treasure within.
I need to get out of God's way.
Grace. Free gift. We don’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. And when we least expect it, we find it. That pearl of great price. That treasure buried in the field. 
That vintage wine.
Dear Lord, thank you for the graces you rain down on me everyday. Help me to live in the moment and let go of all that is not from you and to be more aware of the treasure within me. Amen.
first posted 7/24/11 on Thoughts on Grace blog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Father Paul Wharton.

Please forgive me dear readers for breaking one of my own suggested rules and posting two items on the same day. You'll soon understand why.

I have "met" recently through the Internet a priest who manages a great website. I urge you to visit him soon. Meanwhile, he has kindly agreed to share with us his homily for this weekend. Hence my posting again today.

Here is what Father Paul Wharton has to say:

July 24th - The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings for Sunday’s Mass can be found here:

How do you describe the indescribable?
What can you say about the invisible?   
How can you explain the inexplicable?
The truth is that words aren't good enough, but sometimes words are the best we can do. 
What Jesus found helpful was to tell the stories we call parables.                                                                                        
The parables today give us a glimpse, a taste, a sense
of what was at the heart of Jesus preaching: the kingdom or the reign of God.

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom many people thought
he was going to set up a political kingdom.   Not so!  
Some think today think he was talking about
the place we all want to go when we die. Not so! 
To speak about the "reign of God" 
instead of the "kingdom of God"
helps me to begin to understand
that what Jesus is talking
is found whenever and wherever people put or
at least try to put God first in our lives.            

In today's gospel, Jesus speaks about three ideas to keep in mind.

First, sometimes God can come to us in an unexpected or surprising fashion.
In Jesus' day it was not uncommon to find buried treasure because through the centuries many armies had passed through there.
Hearing of an approaching army, people would hide whatever they could.
Now, according to the law, found treasure belonged to the property owner.
That’s why the man had to sell everything and buy the field. 
So when God surprises us, we have to respond and do something
or the treasure of a genuine relationship with God can never be ours.  
In a word, we are called to REACT!

Second, sometimes we find God
because we are actively searching and seeking for God's presence or help in our lives.
For example, a person in the hell of alcohol or drug addiction cries out in desperation or someone or his or her loved one is diagnosed with cancer turns to God wholeheartedly.
Jesus tell us when we seek God, we must commit ourselves to the search. 
"Half measures avail us nothing." In a word, we are called to COMMIT!

Finally, Jesus wants us to know
it is important to sort the good from the bad. 
The word the Church uses for doing so is discernment. 
We consider something in light of the Bible in general & gospels in particular. 
We find out what the Church has taught and saints have said.
We talk with a spiritual director, a priest, or a knowledgeable person
We pray that God will show us God's will.
In a word, we are called to DISCERN!

Today's first reading tells us that given the choice of anything,
King Solomon asked for wisdom, an understanding heart.
Today's gospel is an invitation to put God first in our lives.
If we react, commit, and discern,        
if we say “YES!”to God,
we will find the greatest treasure of all:                                
a relationship with our great and glorious God.


The choice that God gives King Solomon in today's first reading reminds me of a

A man was talking with God in prayer and asked, "Is it true that for you a thousand years are like a minute?"

God answered, "I suppose you could say that."

"God, is it also true that for you a million dollars is like a penny?"

God replied, "I suppose you could say that."

The man continued, "May I have one of your pennies?"

God laughed as God said, "Yes, in one of my minutes!"

[Father Paul Wharton has been a priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (West Virginia) for 29 years.  He has a blog on spirituality entitled “Hearts on Fire” that can be located here:  In it he shares stories, poems, prayers, videos, songs, scriptures, quotations, etc. in the hopes something a viewer reads may kindle his or her heart as happened with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.  Hearts on Fire also includes suggested reading – articles and books – as well as some of his own writing and recent homilies he has preached like the one you just read.]


Over a short period that this Blog has been in existance we've now managed to reach 50 posts already.

Praise the Lord that our first faltering steps into this new venture have, so far, proved successful. Long may we continue, God willing.

I've been thinking how we can improve our humble offerings further. Here are some thoughts:

1  Each one of us can encourage more readers by mentioning this Blog on our own personal Blogs every now and then. Perhaps a special posting or a mention about something we've contributed here or that someone else has contributed.

2  We can also encourage our personal readers to carry our Community Badge on their Blogs with a link to us.

3  When commenting on other peoples' Blogs we could perhaps, tactfully and politely, mention the Community Blog and encourage visitors here.

4  We can help each other by not crowding each other. By this I mean let us not post several contributions on the same day; but hold back when someone else has already contributed on a particular day. We can do this by checking for any already sheduled posts to be published on a certain day. By posting only one contribution a day we don't crowd our followers with too many posts together then nothing for a few days.

Also, some directories, (like one we've joined in the UK), feature each of our posts as they appear here - including any pictures we may post, in order to attract and direct readers to us. If several of us post on the same day the directory may feature each contribution for a short time only.

5  I hesitate with my next suggestion because it requires work. And here may I publicly thank Mary and Karinann for all the good work they have done to start this Blog and maintain it.

Some Blogs, like Karinann's, have a feature on top of the page where you can click and link to various hidden pages. Should we have such a feature entitled "Meet the Authors" where each one of us writes a short resume of who we are?

Anyway, enough for now. My brain can only handle five items at a time and I've mentioned them above. Further contributions from anyone are welcome.

Meantime, Congratulations everyone on reaching 50 and may God bless us all and our endeavours.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

Welcome to Sunday Snippets, a meme hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing. If you'd like to read interesting and thought provoking posts - or even some fun stuff for a change of pace, visit RAnn.

Since we have so many writers and quite a few posts from this week, just click on our blog title and scroll through the writings as you please. And thanks for visiting. We hope you enjoy our work.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Purpose of Human Existence

Picture source Sophia Institute Press. The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur can be ordered from them.

I am currently reading a book I have looked forward to reading for a very long time. This secret diary of Elisabeth Leseur is indeed a spiritual treasure. The following is an excerpt:

"To do each day, humbly, and so that God alone may see it, all the good that one can do; always to seek out all the misery and grief within reach in order to relieve them; to cultivate in oneself a lively sympathy for everyone; and to do all this for God alone - that is the goal of all human existence."

page 10 of the diary.

Working for the Lord

Something about growing up in a church where the heroes are martyrs and missionaries, and the Lord is the Lamb of God who not only laid down his life in ransom for us, but also suffered humiliation and torture to go with it, makes someone blessed with faith as a child wonder, "What can I do for Him?"

I started college as a Psychology major only to switch to business, Management Information Systems, because it was going to be important to be making money after four years at Notre Dame (85-89), even if the tuition was a small fraction of what it is now.  As I entered the work world, as a programmer analyst, I was finding a problem reconciling spending long hours programming on a green screen with serving Christ.

By my third job, 4.5 years out of school, I was working on a gal's computer one night when I noticed she had this verse hanging just past her computer monitor on the wall of her cubicle.

Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.  Colossians 3:23-24

It was good motivation working for the family, the future children my husband and I were hoping to have, but this was much better motivation!  I didn't have to be doing mission work, working as a physician, or living as a nun to serve Christ the Lord.  Instead
whatever  my work was could be worked at with my heart as it was Christ the Lord that I was serving.

I stopped by her cube the next day and she happened to have a duplicate of the verse to give me.

This wasn't the most profound learning, I suppose.  It did give me a great deal of strength and determination giving meaning to the tasks I was doing.  It hung in my cube for many years after that, and I still have it.

I think it would have saved many years of wasted opportunities if I had also gained an understanding back in my twenties or earlier of the Mystical Body of Christ.  The chance meetings with believers and potential believers throughout the day are potentially much more of an opportunity to serve Christ the Lord than the work itself.  Of course this applies not just to the workplace, but everywhere we encounter people throughout the day.  From the people inside our own house, on our street, the teachers and kids at the daycare, the people in line with us at the supermarket, and the cashier and bagger too.

Jesus tells us, "
You did not choose me, but I chose you . . . to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last."  John 15:16

Jesus tells us, "
Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God."  Revelation 3:2

These are two very strong calls from Christ our Savior, our King, and our Lord.  We need to strengthen what remains in us--our mind needs to be filled with the knowledge of Our God and what is essential to loving and serving him.  We need to strengthen the Church, the body of Christ, bearing
fruit that will last.

Every day we wake up we have so many unexpected chances to receive and give love to Our Lord.  Whether or not someone has the love and comfort they need from our God  in the form of human touch, caring depends on us remaining in Jesus as the branches on the Vine we need to be.  This gal in the cube, remained in him, and had a small quiet verse she never spoke aloud that 
helped me find meaning in the mundane.  

Of course it also is evidence of this verse:

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

Loving Him in those we meet, and loving others with the love Christ has given us.  Loving because we were first loved by Him!  Loving with our words, kind gestures, our prayers, and our attempts to nurture each other on the way to heaven. 

Other people have helped me at work.  Some have given me a couple of ibuprofen when I had a headache.  Others have helped me by working early, late, or both so together we could be successful.  This gal giving me this little verse was her bearing fruit that will last.  I don't know if I'll see her again on this side of eternity, but I have hope to see and thank her and Praise God with her when we see Christ in his Glory!

She is not the only one, but I am trying to watch the length of this post (unlike on my blog).  Those that gave me ibuprofen, or brought me water or coffee when I was on crutches, or bought little outfits or toys for my young children, or lunch when I was pregnant, or made me oatmeal and tea for breakfast because I needed to have a nice way of starting my day, were all loving me with Christ's love.  They also were bearing fruit that would last because they taught me to see the beautiful souls around me and get my myopic self past the task, to see why Christ loves us all so much and the huge privilege to be part of his mystical body.

Of course there are those that do serve Christ in his Mystical Body as consecrated nuns, so perfectly dependent on their Savior that Christ living in them shines for all the world to see!

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The Liturgy of the Hours often includes the most helpful scriptures to give us brief meditations to sanctify or day.  Colossians 3:23-24 was the afternoon reading yesterday.  I noticed it comes up frequently with the mid-morning and noon readings.  Since I depend on the convenience of Universalis website there is probably a reason for this that I don't understand.  

There are other readings that I noticed repeat as the "Sext", "Terse", and "Afternoon" readings that are also some of the most key verses in the Bible, handbook for living that it is, that teach us how to remain in Christ and live each moment for Him, letting him love in us, bearing fruit that will last.

Mid-morning reading (Terce)1 Corinthians 10:24,31 
Nobody should be looking for his own advantage, but everybody for the other man’s. Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God.

Noon reading (Sext)Colossians 3:17 
Never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Afternoon reading (None)Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The School of the Family

The School of the Family Book Review

     It's always discouraging yet eye opening to read a book about the Catholic Faith, thinking you already have a fairly good grasp of it, then after a chapter or two of the book, realize, you don't.  That was the ongoing realization for me as I read Chantal R. Howard's book, The School of the Family.  In fact, I read through her book with a pencil in hand to highlight the many ideas that challenged my own thinking and encouraged me as a parent.  This book was published by Leonine Publishers in 2010 and is 213 pages in length.  The premise of the book seemed obvious, the home is where the tenets of the Catholic Faith are taught to the children.  If you want to raise your children in their faith (Catholic Formation), it has to start in the home.  We all know this as Catholic parents but her book illustrates a deeper level of commitment all Christian parents should adhere to in child raising.

     Chantal R. Howard delves into her own personal journey through her upbringing by a free spirited mom who left the family "to discover the spirit that was leading her" and then returned a devoted Catholic wife and mother.  Her father was an adventure seeking young man who wanted to party and live the good life.  He too, was raised Catholic yet "his faith was just lessons learned, not a life that was lived."   Both her parents yearned to find what they were missing and their conversion led them both back to the Catholic Church and they did so with zeal.  They raised their six children in the faith and Chantal's life blossomed by being centered in Jesus Christ and living a sacramental life.

      Chantal's life was "the school of the family" in practice with daily mass, Catholic Faith Formation, homeschooling, family business, athletics, world travel, discernment of vocation and the death of her father.  Her mother's devotion to Jesus and her vocation of wife and mother; so inspired Chantal that she is currently homeschooling her own four children with her husband, Dr. Peter Howard a theologian who is the founder and President of the Fulton Sheen Society and Director of the Catholic Hour Movement.

     Chantal's memoir includes her own struggles with marriage and having to learn to keep her eyes on Jesus to guide her through their marital and familial challenges.  Her role model for mothering is Mary and she desires "to allow the grace of God to make up for her insufficiencies."   She discusses the challenges all mothers face in this secular society and how we are called "to live this art of love by offering our bodies as sanctuaries to our unborn children, setting our careers aside, giving our hearts away in love, and laying down our lives for the sake of our children.  This is the hidden life of sacrifice that holds the mighty power to help us and our children triumph over this world and live secure in grace.  If we choose to be like Mary, embracing our vocation in the light of the Holy Spirit, then our way of salvation as mothers is secure."

     Not only is this Chantal's story but she gives her reader "The Family Rule" to help others keep their lives focused on their spiritual goals.  She reminds us that The Holy Family is our shining example of how to live virtuous and holy lives.  She included a marital examination of conscience "to evaluate whether we are actually loving our spouse."  Her "Family Rule" emphasizes the ideal method in raising a family rooted in the power of Christ.   She admits it's not easy and her book should be considered a "survival manual."  It is chock-full of insights from the great writings of the saints and Pope John Paul II on how "to protect our families against the attacks of the devil so they will bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God."

     Whether we like it or not, the family is a school by which our children learn what values the parents truly believe, what level of priority is Jesus in their lives and whether they embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Chantal advises "it is our duty as parents to provide the family life that challenges our young people to live in virtue, preparing them to enter into good, holy friendships and ultimately into friendship with God."  I would highly recommend her book,The School of the Family for it's many informational and thought provoking insights.  You can purchase her book at Tiber River Company and learn more about Chantal Howard at her own website The School of the Family.

I was given a free copy of this book to review from The Tiber River Company.  I received no monetary compensation for this review.

God Bless,

On Stage.

They say the whole world is a stage and we are actors on it. They also say this life is no rehearsal – this is it. One and only life. Get on with it!

Let’s consider for a moment we’re on a stage. What part does God want you to play? Are you in a leading role? Centre stage? A great Christian orator, writer, pastor, celebrity or role model?

Or have you only got a minor part? Waiting on the side-lines, behind the curtains, for your time to be in the spotlight?

Whatever role God has given us in this life to witness on His behalf and to spread His Word; we’d better be ready because this is the most important task we’re ever asked to perform in this one life which we have.

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-20

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Prayer My 11 Year Old Son Wrote

This prayer was written by my son and he also picked out the pictures to accompany it.  It was originally posted on my blog, and we received a positive response so I thought I would post it here.

I hope you enjoy it!

Oh Lord, help us at every twist and turn, 
rise and fall, 
and protect us from all of the exiled angels and deceptions.  

 We thank you for our family, our friends, our pets, and are good times in life.
 You are our master, we are your servants, 

You are the king, we are the peasants, 

You are the shepard, we are the sheep.
You are the creator, we are the creations.


The Action of the Holy Spirit

If you follow the 1962 liturgical calendar you know that we just celebrated the fifth Sunday after Pentecost. I like to think of this part of the Church year as the time of the Holy Spirit because the "after Pentecost" always reminds me that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for a reason - to give the apostles and disciples the seven gifts to spread the good news of Christ, and that is what all of us are supposed to be doing today.

The length of time after Pentecost is the longest season of the liturgical year, the time when also we contemplate the Holy Spirit working in the baptized and confirmed person to bring the soul to oneness with God, following the example of Jesus.

Surrender of our will is essential to the action of the Holy Spirit in us, yet our human weakness resists mightily. Like two year olds, we want what we want when we want it and the way we want it. When the Spirit meets this kind of resistance in our hearts, He desists from the work of our sanctification because He will not do violence to our liberty. He is the Spirit of love, desiring that we participate lovingly in His work. To receive His graces we must yield willingly. It matters not what our feelings are - overcoming reluctance, resistance, fear, anger, and other negative emotions is all about our will. We may feel abhorrence in giving up pleasures and certain habits we are accustomed to, but our will to do it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is true love of God and opens our souls to even greater graces.

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. writes in Divine Intimacy:

By giving us grace, without which we could have done nothing to attain sanctity, the Holy Spirit inaugurated His work in us: He elevated us to the supernatural state. Grace comes from God; it is a gift from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity: a gift created by the Father, merited by the Son in consequence of His Incarnation, Passion, and death, and diffused in our souls by the Holy Spirit. But it is to the latter, to the Spirit of love, that the work of our sanctification is attributed in a very special manner. When we were baptized we were justified "in t he name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"; nevertheless, Sacred Scripture particularly attributes this work of regeneration and divine filiation to the Holy Spirit.

We can only walk the narrow path to sanctity by the grace of God. In this time of the Holy Spirit, it makes sense to think deeply about being a saint - being what we were created to be. Some questions that demand honest answers regarding the action of the Holy Spirit in us are:

What am I attached to that is keeping me from growing in being Christlike?

Do I spend time in prayer every day?

With what disposition do I assist at Mass? Is it just something I do to "get it over with so I can do what I want to do"? Am I seeking a greater understanding of the meaning of the Mass?

Do I seek an ever deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church and think about why God wants me to live according to them?

What am I lying to myself about in how I am living my life?

What kind of books am I reading, TV shows do I watch, movies do I see? Do they make me desire the salvation of souls, including my own? Do they bring joy and true relaxation, inspiration and peace to my heart or do they aid in enslavement to sin?

Do the people I associate with lead me into sin?

What kind things am I doing for others in my life?

What penances and sacrifices do I make to train my will and please God?

Am I willing to surrender even my life with a generous heart if God asks for it?

Some of these questions are downright scary to think about, but answered honestly can open our hearts to let the Holy Spirit have freer reign in us, if we so will.

Until the end of the world, we are in the time of the Holy Spirit. Let's all submit our wills to the action of the Holy Spirit every day in every little way that we can so that this world will be a better place to live, we may save our souls, and many more saints will be raised up to glorify God.