DEVOTIONS

I thought I’d transfer most of the devotional links which I have on the DEVOTIONS page for my church:  Mass Readings, Daily  Mass, Adoration, Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc. for your convenience here.

DAILY MASS READINGS

DAILY MASS

LIVE ADORATION  (find the page on this link)

DIVINE OFFICE 1    

     DIVINE OFFICE, text only

     COMPLINE FOR SUNDAY NIGHTS 

DIVINE MERCY CHAPLET:

        Text

        Video

ROSARY:

       Video, all mysteries

Video, Scriptural:

                  JOYFUL

                   LUMINOUS

                  SORROWFUL

                  GLORIOUS

SEVEN SORROWS ROSARY

 

Save

Save

What My Soul Can Bear

Tonight I realized that Jesus does not give me what He needs or wants to give me in a moment of grace, but ONLY WHAT MY SOUL CAN BEAR.  This thought came to me as I began rereading part of UNDER THE GAZE OF THE FATHER, p. xxvi.  The author is explaining one such moment in the life of Ven. Conchita:

“That day she heard again:  The Father is here looking at you…the Son, offering you His Blood…and the Holy Spirit beating His wings to come to  your soul.  The Three Divine Persons desire to enter your heart, and to form in it their throne…their cross…their nest…This I heard, and I remained confused…overwhelmed… inflamed before such condescension.  He made me see His greatness…power… immensity… Wisdom…and Love…and I (…) placed my forehead on the ground, and I opened the doors of my soul to that most Blessed Trinity, which is real…imprisoned… locked…in a host.’

Just Friday I wrote my post,“HIDDEN FORCE,” which begins with my little question to Jesus in the tabernacle, “What are you doing in there?” and His response, “I am knitting together the broken universe.” I am dumbfounded by the comparison of my little conversation with the Lord, then Conchita’s situation—same Lord, same host—but what a profound difference!  Conchita seems to me , in her being overwhelmed, confused, inflamed, to be a perfect example of a soul receiving only what it can bear.  No matter how holy, humble, pure the soul, it is bound to be overwhelmed, confused, inflamed by the presence of the Gift  which ever threatens to annihilate our miserable incapacity.  Tears, prostration, abandonment—what other response can there be? Especially since the overwhelming Gift is “real…imprisoned…locked…in a host.”

This is, for me, a vision of Adoration: the adorer—naïve,  unsuspecting, assuming an ordinary posture and understanding, expecting the simplest gift—and the Adored, Holy, Majestic, Pure and Loving beyond all thought and imagination, containing Himself and all the Desires of His manhood and Divinity in a little white host so as not to overwhelm the little one. I have not even begun to process “the most Blessed Trinity, which is real…imprisoned…locked…in a host.”

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

‘Hidden Force” — The Simple Path to Union

       Unable to sleep early this morning, it was the Hidden Force that played on my mind.  As I lay half asleep, half awake, the Holy Spirit wrote an entire post for me drawing on memories, buried scriptures, and recent meditations on passages from The Simple Path to Union.

When I first began daily Adoration, I used to sit and gaze at the tabernacle.  I would ask the Lord,  “Jesus, what are you doing in there?”  Unexpectedly, one day He answered me,  “I am knitting together the broken universe”—an answer that drove me to tears.  You know the way a bone heals?  It knits together, drawn by the life-force, the powerful urge to healing.  This is the kind of knitting which Jesus does in His hidden life in the tabernacle, His Eucharistic life. [Post:  Jesus, What are You doing in there?]

The Holy Spirit drew me to the vision of the valley of dry bones of Ezechiel.  The famous prophecy of chapter 37 which depicted for Ezechiel how Yahweh could, from dry bones, separated and broken, bring to life a dead people.  I thought of another image from Simple Path, an interior vision similar to that of Ezechiel:

 134 – My Victim Souls Have the Power to Bring Back to Life Dead Hearts, Diary of a MOC — Feast of the Sacred Heart Jesus.

             This morning in Mass I saw Jesus interiorly in my heart in radiant Light holding His Heart in his left hand. His entire being was Light, not just His Heart. A Light moving out, expanding, penetrating…. A Light that also drew you into Himself.

             Then tonight I began to see Jesus again in the same way; but there was no light coming forth from Him, and the heart I was now seeing in His hand was small, shriveled and black. It seemed like a dead heart to me. I could not understand what the Lord was revealing to me. After the Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, our Lord explained:

             “The Light of God will not shine forth for a time. It is you (meaning plural) that must keep My Light shining in the world. This heart dead in sin, which I reveal to you tonight, (this one dead heart represented many), will come back to life through the blood of My martyrs of love. Receive tonight on the Feast of My Sacred Heart these hearts….Water these hearts with your tears of sorrow, pray for them through the prayer of your pure suffering, bless them with your kiss of love and anoint them with the graces of My Eucharist. It is the life of My victim souls that has the power to bring back to life the dead. My daughter, raise up many victims of love, for many will be lost during the time of great darkness”. (6/15/12) [The Path, p. 354]

             How often we look around us at the broken world and feel so helpless.  The need is so great, and we are so small and helpless.  But we are not helpless.  Years ago, Jesus revealed to Conchita that from the moment of His conception, His heart suffered an interior martyrdom of agony for souls, an interior passion that would actually be assuaged in His physical passion.  Yet what the world continues to see is that exterior passion.  He told her:  “Through the external Cross, which all can see, I was a victim acceptable to the Father by shedding My blood, but it was above all through the interior cross that redemption was accomplished.”  Then later:  “I want, more than external martyrdom, interior martyrdom of the heart. That is why I want them to unite themselves to My Heart which is broken more than any other. “ [Conchita: A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, p. 317]

            Another passage from The Simple Path to Union:

  39 Martyrdom of the Heart, Diary of a MOC

            The martyrdom of the heart is the martyrdom of suffering with Love and for Love. My daughter, if you could only understand the fruit of the martyrdom of suffering, you would desire nothing else on earth. The hidden life of suffering with Love and for Love is of far greater worth than great and small works tainted with human recognition. Believe in the hidden force contained in the martyrdom of the heart. This is the purest fragrance of love that has the power to conquer the enemies of God. (11/9/12) [The Path, p. 139]

We see that it is in union with Christ in the Eucharist that we participate in martyrdom of the heart—it is this hidden martyrdom that generates the hidden force which brings to life dead hearts, that knits together the dry bones, the broken universe.  Jesus also tells Conchita:

            “I am the Head of the Church, and all who are Mine are the members of this same Body and must continue in union with Me, expiation and sacrifice till the end of time. My passion was consummated on Calvary, but those who form My Church must continue the passion in themselves, offering themselves in reparation for themselves and for others to the Trinity in union with Me, victims with the Victim, and having the same qualities of victims.” [Conchita, p. 327]

Such a life seems impossible to us, but the Path teaches us in Chapter 3 that our ordinary life is a hidden force:

            “In our daily hidden lives we are given the opportunity to live the hidden martyrdom of love. We make every one of our acts, including our daily chores, into acts of love. We become the “hidden force” that has the power to transform hearts and nations and to pierce all darkness. Jesus promised us this power to love through His words to St. Faustina, “And great will be your power for whomever you intercede.” [The Path, p. 152]

             St. Faustina tells us:  “My sacrifice is nothing in itself, but when I join it to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it becomes all-powerful and has the power to appease divine wrath” (Diary 482)

In The Simple Path I find Pope Francis speaking about “martyrs of everyday life”:

            There is also the daily martyrdom, which does not result in death but is also a “loss of life” for Christ, people doing their duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus. These people are the fathers and mothers who every day put into practice their faith by devoting their lives for the good of the family. [The Path, p. 153]

The Holy Spirit brought to my mind all the hidden souls who live and suffer in union with the Eucharistic Christ, the many monks and nuns—not just those names whom we associate with sanctity, the St. Teresa’s, Padre Pio’s, St. Faustina’s—but of their unknown, innumerable companions, the little souls hidden away.  What is it that they did that was remarkable?  Their lives were simple and ordinary, even in the monasteries and convents:  intense daily prayer of course, but also cooking, baking bread, cleaning, washing dishes, tending gardens or fields, sewing church vestments, petting the monastic cat, etc.  All ordinary actions such as we do every day, but charged with the hidden power of martyrdom of the heart, the daily grind that chews us up and transforms us into God’s bread, the hidden force that knits together the broken universe.

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Intimacy of SUFFERING WITH

          In our Love Crucified Community, Jesus tells us,  “Suffer all with Me, no longer two, but one, in My sacrifice of Love.”  In an earlier post, “The Kiss of Jesus,” I commented,  “The Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.” I continue to come back to that reflection, that it is in suffering WITH Christ that we enter intimacy.

It is not enough that we “offer it up”—this offering I learned as a child from my mother.  No, to suffer with is intimate.  To offer up is to stand outside, independent, separate.  Love Crucified teaches us:

“…unless we touch His wounds, love remains an idea in our minds with no power to heal our hearts. By touching His wounds, we touch His love, the love by which He laid down His life for us. We touch Christ’s wounds by uniting our sufferings with His.

                        “This condition exists because only through our own sufferings are we able to come personally to touch the sufferings of Christ.…Because when we touch Jesus’ sufferings, we touch Love itself.

            “For example, if we never suffer the pain of rejection, we can never come to know and experience the rejection that Jesus suffered.

            “This is the necessary process to union with God. St. Paul tells us there is a condition for us to be “children of God” and “fellow heirs with Christ”: “provided we suffer with Him”  (Rom 8:12-17) (The Simple Path, p. 86-87).

            How long has it taken me to learn this:  only through my own sufferings can I experience the sufferings of Christ. If I dodge, distract myself, or complain, I dodge, distract myself from Christ who is Love Crucified. Or another way of putting it:  Through my wounds I enter the wounds of Christ.

This week I watched THE SEVENTH CHAMBER, the life of Edith Stein, canonized by Pope John Paul in 1998.  She has been on my heart all week.  The brilliant child of a Jewish family in Germany, she became a professor of philosophy, a skeptic of religion.  But when she read St. Teresa of Avila’s INTERIOR MANSIONS, her conclusion was, “This is the truth.”  St. Teresa led her to conversion, to the Catholic Church.  After persecutions began under the Nazis, she entered Carmel to become Sister Teresa Benedetta of the Cross—not to dodge persecution, but because she wanted an intimate relationship with Christ.

Her sufferings were great, as she endured  betrayal of professional friends and the agonized refusal of her family, especially her mother, to accept her conversion to Catholicism or her vocation to the Carmelites.  Even the order itself wondered if she had chosen Carmel as a refuge from persecution.  But Edith had realized finally that religion was not a set of moral directives but a Person.  Her joy in her suffering was in this extraordinary relationship as she learned intimacy through what she suffered.

Counseled to leave the country, she finally went to Carmel in Holland, where the Nazis intruded to extricate her and her sister, Rosa, to Auschwitz.  As her superior wept, Sister Teresa Benedetta  comforted her with these words—not to be concerned because,  “I have finally accepted my destiny.”

            One of the greatest sufferings endured by St. Teresa Benedetta was the crushing oppression of her people by Hitler whom she viewed as a satan.  What she meant by “I have finally accepted my destiny” is that she would embrace all suffering, one with her people, one with her Christ.

This word destiny recalled to me a reflection which I wrote on Romano Guardini’s article “Acceptance”:

“Destiny is not an accident.  It possesses a logical consistency which is determined externally by the connection of events but also internally by the nature and character of the person involved [29].”  Finally, acceptance of self means that I consent simply to be.  Here is the rub:  “I did not confront the possibility of my own existence and decide that I wished to be, but I was cast into being.  I came forth from the lives of my parents, of my ancestors, out of the condition of the age.

This “age” I remarked, “ is filled with the effects of unredeemed original sin…complicated by repeated, serious, unrepented personal sin.”

            How is destiny fair?  It is not, nor can it be; not for us, not for Edith Stein. But Romano Guardini reminds us:

“Through the Incarnation, He stepped into the space which forms a single chain of destiny for him who lives in it.  God stepped into history.  When the eternal Son became man, He did so in reality, without protection or exception, vulnerable by word and act; woven, like us, into the stifling web of effects that proceed from the confused hearts of men….He does this prepared for all that would happen to Him, without reservation, without evasion, without resorting to resistance or craft.  Men, who have really no power over Him to whom is given ‘all power in Heaven and on earth,’ inflict a bitter destiny upon Him.  But this is the form of His Father’s will for Him.  This will is His own will; to accomplish it is the ‘food’ of His life.”

Sister Teresa Benedetta of the Cross told her superior,  “I have finally accepted my destiny.”  THIS is the destiny which she accepted, cast as she was into her unique place in history, among her people, in her family—the sweet destiny of suffering with Christ.  For her, the Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.

Before she is sent to Auschwitz, she is explaining the seven chambers of St. Teresa of Avila’s INTERIOR MANSIONS to another sister.  After revealing the meaning of the first six chambers, the sister asks her, “and what of the seventh?”  The saint replies, “I have not yet entered the seventh chamber.”

Full union with Love Crucified would come with the saint’s embrace of all the sufferings that went with the gas chamber of Auschwitz, for her—the seventh chamber of Union. This suffering consisted not only of her personal physical distress and that of her sister Rosa, but also included her sufferings for the people around her, the Jewish men, women, and children who were also ravaged by Nazi oppression.

As I reflected on this precious saint, I realized once again that my unique sufferings are the key to the unique intimacy, Union, holiness, which God has chosen for me personally. To enter holiness is not to enter a state of being so much as to accept my destiny, God’s Will, the Cross.  Holiness is to embrace a Person, Christ, Love Crucified, through the intimacy of suffering.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Examen of Consciousness– Father Michael Gaitley

For a couple of years now, I’ve been looking for a better examination of conscience than many of the traditional ones that I’ve used.  I came upon this material, taken and adapted from the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, M.I.C.; and I was elated.  As we approach the Holy Days, we may find it useful.

The examination of conscience …is basically a mental review of the previous 16 hours or so of consciousness—thus, some people prefer to call the examination of conscience an examination of consciousness. Some people find it helpful to write in a notebook or on note cards because (1) writing helps jog the mind and (2) it provides a record of one’s spiritual life, which can then easily be reviewed before going to confession or spiritual direction.

               First, we should put ourselves in the presence of God. In other words, we should begin with the attitude that the examen is a time of prayer, not just a mental exercise. Devoutly making the sign of the Cross may be enough to do this. Next we just have to remember one word,

B-A-K-E-R.

Point #1: B stands for “blessings.” According to St. Ignatius, this is the most important of the five points.

There are different ways to go about this. One helpful way is to begin by thanking the Lord for some of the “bigger” blessings favors we have received over the course of our lives: life itself, faith in Him, faith in His resurrection, the gift of our vocation, family, etc. These are blessings for which we can never thank God enough.

Then we should spend a few moments recalling how the Lord has blessed us in specific ways throughout the day being reviewed. We may review the day chronologically or spontaneously focus on a particular blessing that comes to mind. This is an opportunity to thank the Lord for His presence in our lives in His Word, the Sacraments, our prayer, our loved ones, creation itself.  We then thank and praise God for these signs of His love for us. These are what St. Ignatius calls “consolations.” The daily practice of personally giving thanks to the Lord will deepen our awareness of just how truly blest we are and thus, we’ll develop a continual attitude of gratitude.

Point #2:  A stands for “Ask.” Although we already placed ourselves in the presence of God when we began the examen, here we need to ask for a special grace from the Holy Spirit. The review/examine should focus on our relationships, our relationship with the Lord and with others. In addition to our thoughts, words and actions, we should also consider our emotions. Our emotions indicate whether we have a proper disposition about what we are asked to do. The Examination of Conscience is an exercise in understanding how God is leading us and our response.  Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we’ll remain blind to our sinfulness.

Point #3: K stands for “Kill.” Why “kill”? Because it was our sins that killed and crucified Jesus. There are also certain feelings and ways of thinking that can take away the joy Jesus wants us to have. They are literally are “kill-joys”.

During this third point, we look at our thoughts, words and actions.  So, again, we gaze across the conscious hours of our day. This time, however, we look not for peaks but valleys, what Ignatius calls “desolation.” In other words, we pay attention to those times during our day when our hearts dropped.

Why might they have dropped?  Perhaps because of some sinful thought, word or action we committed. Or maybe because of someone else’s sin.  Or perhaps we lost our joy because we felt overwhelmed by problems due to our lack of trust in the Lord. We didn’t accept the challenge of these problems as a share in the Cross. We should have been more peaceful about it and offered it up as a prayer for others.

            [Another item we can examine here is whether or not we have entered into the “violence of sorrow” of our wounds—This fall Lourdes, Mother of the Cross and our spiritual mother, spoke to us about the “violence of sorrow.”  She entreated us to “enter into the violence of your sorrows.”  We cannot suffer with Christ or one another, if we do not enter the sorrow.  In our human weakness, we try to dodge pain, turn away, avoid by varied means.  These are three reasons we do not enter our “violence of sorrows”:

1) We minimize them. Do not constantly tell yourself,  “I have no sufferings to speak of.”  You suffer exactly the crosses which Christ gives you—however little or great, you suffer them—and in entering your sorrows you live the Mass.

2) We distract ourselves from them.  You know how that works:  busy, busy, television, telephone, and insufficient quiet time to reflect on your life with Christ.

3) We complain. The smallest complaints neutralize the sacrifice of love.  We comfort ourselves in these insipid ways and refuse to enter the pain of our sorrow.

Point #4: E stands for “Embrace.”  Having identified areas in which we have failed to follow the Lord, or failed to walk in the faith He calls us to, we express remorse for those attitudes or acts in which we thwarted His love. We then allow Jesus to embrace us, sinners that we are, with the rays of his merciful love. While praying over this point, it may be helpful to think of the image of Divine Mercy. Imagine the rays of this image embracing you with His forgiveness.

Point #5:   R is for “Resolution.” As a result of our examination we make specific resolutions to improve or response to the Lord’s call. The choice must be concrete, tangible, attainable.  Since Ignatian spirituality is about decisive action, it is indispensable to make a “do-able” resolution and then to hold yourself accountable. This is where keeping notes can be very helpful.  So for example if during step #3 you recognize that you were uncharitable to someone your resolution will be to apologize or be especially kind to them the next time you see them.

 

 

“Consume me incessantly!” St. Theresa of Lisieux

            One of my regular spiritual practices is frequent spiritual communions.  Through the last two years, I have often reflected on the practice, constantly struggling to enter more deeply, to keep my prayer spontaneous and fresh.  Then today, I revisited New & Divine, St. Theresa’s “To live in One Single Act of Perfect Love”—as I pray with each chime of my clock all through the day, it seems that this truly is what I seek.

Hugh Owens explains on p. 83:  “…the love of God is not a series of acts but a single successionless act in which a soul can actually abide through perfect abandonment.

“Thus on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, 1895, St. Therese performed the most important act of her life, her ‘great offering.’  She wrote:

‘In order to live in one single act of perfect love, I offer myself as a victim or holocaust to your merciful love, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God.’”

            What a tender, extraordinary prayer of the heart!  Yet what most struck me is the central short phrase:  Consume me incessantly.”  This should be the constant prayer of our hearts—this act of spiritual communion.

            In Sept. 2015 I read in The Simple Path to Union with God:  “Advice from St. Cajetan:    ‘Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to use Him as you judge best, but give yourself to Him and let Him receive you in this Sacrament, so that He Himself, God your Savior, may do to you and through you whatever He wills.’”

            Recognizing something new in this phrase “let Him receive you,”  I realized that Communion works both ways: I consume Jesus and Jesus consumes me. I am communion, bread for Jesus.  Together, we are communion, bread for the Father.

            I was reminded of a letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch; so rich is this word of one of the earliest bishops and martyrs of the church that I repeat it in its entirety here:

A letter to the Romans  by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c.35-108 A.D.):

            “I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.

“The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on.

“The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God’s side. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world. Do not harbor envious thoughts. And supposing I should see you, if then I should beg you to intervene on my behalf, do not believe what I say. Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you – still – my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.” I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God’s bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish.

“I am no longer willing to live a merely human life, and you can bring about my wish if you will. Please, then, do me this favour, so that you in turn may meet with equal kindness. Put briefly, this is my request: believe what I am saying to you. Jesus Christ himself will make it clear to you that I am saying the truth. Only truth can come from that mouth by which the Father has truly spoken. Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God. If I am condemned to suffer, I will take it that you wish me well. If my case is postponed, I can only think that you wish me harm.”

                                    ***

Who or what are the lions in our simple, ordinary lives?  Let us realize that we, too, are ground by the teeth of the beasts in our humble way, to be the bread of God.

How humbled and privileged should we be to long for this communion, to be consumed and to consume. I remember the words of Jesus.  When He said, “Eat my body,” he used the Aramaic word for chew.  We should pray: “As I receive you, my Jesus, receive me into Your Body, Your Sacred Heart.   Chew me up, swallow me entirely, consume me completely, Your little victim of love.  My love has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.”

            Like St. Theresa, may I live as the perfect living holocaust, live in love, not through a series of acts but in a single successionless act, abiding in holy abandonment, crying, “Consume me incessantly!”

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Hardness of Heart, Part 2: Faith & Trust

AUDIO (parts 1 & 2)

As I continued to ponder Hardness of Heart,028-abraham-sacrifices-isaac I have had some additional thoughts, some of them related to earlier posts.

One of the consequences of hardness of heart is that it makes us deficient in faith and trust.  The object of faith is God Himself.  Faith, the theological virtue infused through the Holy Spirit at baptism, enables us to submit our intellect and will to God. It is only through faith that we are able to approach God.

Mary’s faith is the perfect example and model of faith.  As all of us do, Mary used her understanding to approach God, but did not rely on it, stand on it alone, for it would have failed her.  Her FIAT, “let it be done to me according to your word,”  was based, instead, on faith.  At some point, human understanding, however well developed it may be,  always fails.   Mary entered her Fiat,  Mary entered the Mystery of God through the darkness of faith.  Understanding will carry us only so far.

No transition exists between understanding and faith:  understanding is a human faculty; faith is a divine virtue.  Understanding requires use of the intellect; faith requires abandonment of the will to God along with intellectual consent. We must leap a gulf from understanding to faith.  One does not flow smoothly into the other.

Here is the irony:  our seeing, our human understanding and expectations blind us to Who God Is. It is only when we abandon understanding for naked faith, cleaving to God in the darkness of faith, that we truly see.

When we conceive a vision or understanding or expectation of God, our hearts are bound to that expectation, which is limited.  We cleave to the expectation, to our own vision of God and not to God Who Is.

Jesus Himself said:  “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God”  [Mt. 5:8].  To be pure of heart is to be emptied, divested of plans, designs, expectations and visions of our own devising—all of which blind us.

The aspect of the Mystery that we understand and perceive can be expected; but the greatest dimension of the Mystery is not understood by the intellect, is unknown, is unexpected, is apprehended only by faith, approached only by abandonment to it.  St. Albert the Great tells us:  “ He cannot be comprehended, but can be loved in his fullness with a pure heart, for he is above all lovable and desirable, and of infinite goodness and perfection.”   He tells us also:  “… simply cleave to God with faith and good will in naked understanding.”

For these reasons abandonment is superior to understanding.  Abandonment is consonant with faith—it is how faith operates in us.  Faith leaps forward into darkness leaving understanding behind in open-mouthed bewilderment.  Faith steps out unseeing, open arms clutching nothing, cleaving naked to the mystery of God.

All of our lives we have read and heard about the faith of Abraham.  God told him to take his only beloved son, Isaac, and to sacrifice him on the mountain.  This YES to God which he willingly gave was full of darkness, for it completely overwhelmed his understanding. It was not rational for him to kill the child of the promise—how then could he be the father of many?  God’s request made no sense—it contradicted events as Abraham saw them—in the natural order.  Yet he assented. In darkness he assented. His Yes was complete though he understood nothing about it at all except that he had to give his complete Yes.

How wonderfully do St. Albert’s words apply to Abraham as also to Mary:  “the devout man should cleave to God with naked understanding and will …for it is his delight to be with the sons of men, that is those who…seek him with a pure and simple mind, empty themselves for him, and cleave to him.”

As I wrote earlier:   “Mary’s FIAT was the unqualified, open response of a heart utterly divested of design, plan, or expectation–a heart free to receive the completely unexpected….”  Doesn’t this also describe the faith of Abraham?  However powerful in the will and sincere the fiat of the heart, it doesn’t eliminate the sorrow, the pain of those who “empty themselves for Him.”  We can only imagine the struggle of Abraham within himself as he forced himself calmly to lead his only son to immolation—facing the destruction of the promise that God Himself had given him—that he would be the father of many. Yet he emptied himself, divested himself of all hope, all expectation, all desire, all plans, and cleaved naked to His God in the darkness of faith.

Not only does Abraham show faith, but also trust.  When we have divested ourselves of every last crutch, every last hope, nothing remains but for us to trust the God whom we cannot understand, but love. As Job 13:15 says,  “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Save

Save

Save

Hardness of Heart

sorrowful-mother-icon1

AUDIO (parts 1 & 1)

Today I must speak of wounds and the blindness of many years, and of hardness of heart.  Recent years, especially the last few weeks and days, have brought home the realization that I am a deeply wounded mother, [like so many others], wounded by my broken expectations and by the ingratitude of my children.

After years of struggling to understand and help them to get on their own feet after years of drug addiction, misuse of alcohol and general irresponsibility—you get the picture—I finally accepted this week my complete loss.  Shock and hurt that so much that was valuable to me has so casually been discarded by them.

This has been a cherished, if difficult revelation today.  This wound I have known before as I struggled decades ago with a young son with whom I could do nothing.  But surely, I reasoned with myself, here I was dealing with an adult; here I could make a difference at last.  Yet the wound remains, as it was, yet dredged deeper.

The image is sharp in my mind:  that of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, “How often have I longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not!” And neither would my children.

This week I had to eject my grown children from my home and take a hard tack against them.  I have entered again that same old wound, but at a deeper lever.  Why?  Why?  What was God trying to teach me?

During Adoration, as I pondered this revelation with a pierced heart, I began to read in THE SIMPLE PATH TO UNION WITH GOD, P. 41:

“Hardness of heart is not the exclusive domain of Christ’s enemies; it is also found in those closest to Jesus, the disciples, who had left everything to follow Him. The gospel tells us that they did not recognize Him when he walked on water because ‘they had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.’ They must have been amazed at the miracle but failed to grasp its meaning: that Jesus has divine authority over all of creation.

“It is the same with us; our hardness of heart blocks us from understanding fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives. Like the apostles, we all need to live the process of purification and allow God to take us beyond our expectations.

[Our expectations are based on our human understanding and knowledge. Our understanding is always only human–never grasping  MYSTERION, forever missing the mark. Abandonment is superior to understanding. We can never plumb the deep things of God–better to cleave naked, to plunge in faith.]

“A hardened heart is set in its ways. It reduces the work of God to make it fit in its natural logic and experience. It is not open to see beyond what it controls. A pure heart, on the other hand, believes that for God nothing is impossible. It is docile and malleable, willing to be pierced, pruned and made new by God.

            “The soul which receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its heart, arrives at a moment of decision:   accept the gift or remain in darkness.”

I did not want to own hardness of heart.  I’ve always seen this as the sin of the Pharisees, an obstinacy, a culpable unwillingness to see.  I saw myself as longing for God’s will in my life, accepting all from His hands, totally abandoned to Him—so how could I suffer hardness of heart?  But I was convicted here, because wasn’t this the problem?  “…our hardness of heart blocks us from understanding fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives.”

Lo, these many years, and I mean decades—how is it that I have not understood fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in my life?  For I understood now that it is the hardness of my stubborn heart, set in its ways, full of its own expectations, that set me up and sustained in me such a wound.

Expectations, my own expectations, devised of the desires of my mother’s heart, hardened my heart, made it brittle, unable to respond to what Jesus was doing in my life; and I could not see, in my blindness, anything beyond my own expectations and hopes.  It is our own expectations that blind us.

I had failed to see that Jesus has divine authority over creation, over me, my children and all that happens in all of our lives.  My heart, hardened in its limited expectations (which always seem righteous in themselves), is too small.  I have conceived in my own heart a vision of what my children’s salvation would, could, or should be instead of emptying my heart of my own designs, my own petty attempts to control.  God’s own recourse is to break open that brittle heart, so small and inadequate to His Uncreated Love and Light, to HIS vision of salvation for my children.

How ironic. All my life I have been praying,  “Be it done to me according to Your Will.”  But this describes also how we should submit to Plenitude, to the Fullness of His Will as we abandon our limitations and poverty of our own will.  Over the many years the prayer had reached my mind, but evaded my heart.

You see how I describe this reflection as touching on wounds, blindness, and hardness of heart?

All of this reading comes from the section of The Path on KNOWLEDGE OF SELF AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.  Finally, I read:   “The soul which receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its heart, arrives at a moment of decision: accept the gift or remain in darkness.”

Our Love Crucified community teaches us that it is in our wounds that Satan plants his lies, the roots of our disordered tendencies.  Here was mine: to use all my love, compassion, and substance to save my children—but what was hidden under this deception [Satan’s deception and my deception of myself]  was the sinful attempt to control what only God may control.

As I continue to reflect on this merciful  revelation which God continues to unfold to me, I can finally begin to pray truly,  “Be it done to me according to Your Will.”  Expectations must be shattered for hope to thrive.  Only when we abandon expectations can we be open to what God gives.

Mary’s FIAT was the unqualified, unconditional, open response of a heart utterly divested of design, plan, or expectation–a heart free to receive the completely unexpected Incarnation, Divine birth in a stable, flight into Egypt, hidden  life, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Soledad.  Fiat does not preclude sorrow.  But Fiat does give peace in sorrow. Wholeness in sorrow.  Let us pray for the humility to enter our mother’s Fiat.

Save

Save

Save

The Mass of St. Padre Pio

Recently I was deeply touched by a virtual interview conducted with Padre Pio by his spiritual daughter, Cleonice Morcaldi.  She asked him questions and carefully wrote down his answers about his experience of the Holy Mass, especially on his experience of the passion of Christ during the Holy Sacrifice.  I pray that every priest sees this remarkable document, printed as an article on this blog: http://www.michaeljournal.org/articles/roman-catholic-church/item/the-holy-mass-of-saint-padre-pio. I print the entire article here for you.

+ + +

THE MASS OF PADRE PIO

At every Mass, he relived the Passion of Our Lord

Why the Mass of Padre Pio?

God reveals his greatness through the saints. Thus, we came to know the poverty of Jesus seeing the example of Saint Francis of Assisi; the humility of Jesus in the person of Saint Martin of Porres; the sweetness and meekness of the Lord in the example of Saint Francis of Sales and therefore all the saints show us something of the greatness of God.

In the last century, Padre Pio confirmed with his life something of the greatness of the mystery of Christ Crucified. Furthermore, in the manner of many other saints, like St. Philippe Neri, the holy Cure of Ars, and St. Joseph Calfasso, he had the gift of discernment of souls to help them repent. But until then, such a profound testimony about “what happens” during the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery was unknown. We all know that the Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that is renewed in every Mass, every day. But do we realize what that means? Do we repeat it as an abstract definition of Mass? That is why the example of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is so edifying, he who shows us that the Mass is a reality in an active and profound way.

If we want to know what really happens during the Mass, let us remember the testimony of St. Padre Pio: through him, Christ is again giving Himself up to death for us.

The Celebration of the Holy Mass

pio-1

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina shows himself to us as a witness of the supernatural in a special way in the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery.

Padre Pio really lived the mysteries that he celebrated on the altar in his own flesh and soul. The Mass is the bloodless renewal of the Sacrifice of Christ. The Mass is at the same time the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the sacrifice offered at the Cross and “real propitiatory sacrifice to mitigate God and make Him favorable to us.” This vivid experience of the Mass, sacrifice of Christ, was that of Padre Pio during his 58 years of priesthood. And he, whom God marked with the visible signs of His Passion, celebrated Mass experiencing similar pain — but not the same — as that which Jesus had on the Cross.

Cleonice Morcaldi, one of the spiritual daughters of Padre Pio, asked him several times what he felt and lived in each of his Masses. She wrote carefully each of his answers and thanks to her, we have a unique testimony from the Father himself about his Mass.

– Father, what is your Mass?

– A sacred accomplishment of the Passion of Jesus.

– What should I comprehend in your Holy Mass?

– All of Calvary.

– Father, tell me all that you suffer at the Holy Mass.

pio-2– All what Jesus suffered in his Passion, I inadequately suffer to the extent a human creature can possibly suffer. All of it at no merit of my own and only because of His Goodness.

– Father, how could we know about your passion?

– In knowing the Passion of Jesus, you will also know mine.

– Do you have the agony of death, Father, like Jesus in the Garden?

– Probably.

– Does the angel also come to comfort you?

– Yes.

– What FIAT do you say?

– The one of suffering, and always to suffer for the brothers in exile and for His Divine Kingdom.

– You also said…”and they will shout: Crucify him, crucify him!” Who will shout?

– The children of men… more precisely the beneficiaries of His death.

– How was Jesus after being scourged?

– The prophet says: “He became as a whole sore. He became like a leper”

– So, you also are like a sore from head to foot?

pio-3– And is not this our glory? If there is no place left for more sores, we will make sores on top of sores.

[St. Padre Pio’s pajama that shows the marks of blood, caused by the sufferings of the scourging of Our Lord.]

– My God, this is too much! You are, dear Father, too much! You are, dear Father, a real executioner of yourself!

– Do not be afraid. On the contrary rejoice in it. I do not want the suffering in itself, no, but the fruits it gives me. It praises God and saves our brothers. What else could I wish for?

– Father. When at night you are scourged, are you alone or does somebody assist you.

– The Holy Virgin assists me, all of Paradise is present.

– Jesus has made me feel that you suffer the crown of thorns.

– Otherwise the immolation would not be complete.

– What sins did Jesus pay for with the crowning of thorns?

– For all, especially those regarding thoughts, not excluding the vain and useless ones.

– Father, do you have the thorns on your forehead or around your head?

– Around the whole head.

– Father, how many thorns does your crown have…Thirty?

– Ah…yes!

– Father, I think that your crown does not have 30, but 300 thorns.

– You get impressed because of a zero! Anyway, is not thirty contained in three hundred?

– Father, is it true that you suffer the torment of the crowning of thorns during the Holy Mass?

– And you doubt it?

– During the whole Mass?pio-4

– And also before and after it. The crown is never taken away.

[St.Padre Pio, Mystic, Confessor and Stigmatic.  He said:  “Pray hope and do not worry.  Worries are useless.  God is merciful and will listen to your prayer.”]

Father, do you also suffer what Jesus suffered during the Way of the Cross?

Father, do you also suffer what Jesus suffered during the Way of the Cross?

– Yes. But I wish to do so, in order to arrive at the point of suffering to which the Divine Master arrived.

– Who are your Simon of Cyrene and Veronica?

– Jesus Himself.

– Father, at the Divine Sacrifice, do you take our iniquities on yourself?

– It is impossible to do it differently, as it is part of the Divine Sacrifice.

– So, does the Lord consider you a sinner?

– I do not know. But I am afraid to be so.

– I have seen you trembling when going up the stairs to the altar. Why? Was it because of what you were going to suffer?

– No, not because of what I am supposed to suffer, but because of what I should offer.

– Father, what time during the day do you suffer the most?pio-5

–During the celebration of the Holy Mass.

– Father, do you also suffer during the day what Jesus allows you to suffer during the Holy Mass?

– I would not feel well! How could I work? How could I do my ministry?

– At which part of the Divine Sacrifice do you suffer the most?

– From the Consecration to the Communion.

– At which moment of the Mass do you suffer the scourging?

– From the beginning to the end, but more intensely after the Consecration.

– Father, why do you almost always cry when you read the Gospel in the Holy Mass?

– And do you find it little thing that a God talks to His creatures, and they react against Him? That he is injured constantly by their ingratitude and incredulity?

Eucharistic liturgy and concluding ceremonies

The second part of the Mass finds in Padre Pio a liturgist of high class.

Through this singular minister, the Crucified Christ of Golgotha can make happen again the actual, visible and physical incommensurable tragedy of Calvary in a way that a creature is able to do so who is made an efficacious sign of Christ.

In the history of the Sacramental Sign, the stigmatic of Gargano is the only minister, up to this moment, whose flesh also has revealed the Crucified of Golgotha in such a way. In all the centuries in the history of the Church there is no similar case.

– Father, is your Mass a bloody Sacrifice?

– Heretic!

– No. What I want to say that is that the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Jesus is bloodless but your participation in the Passion is bloody. Am I wrong?

– Well… now you are right. Taking it as a personal matter, you might be right.

– Who washes off his own blood during the Mass?

– Nobody.

pio-6The offertory was another moment that immobilized Padre Pio. It was the outstanding part of his Mass.

The Father, with his face full of tears, used to remain immobile, as if transfixed by a mysterious force, his eyes affectionately resting on the crucifix at the altar. He remained still for some minutes, holding the bread and wine in his hands.

– Why do you weep over the offertory?

– Do you want to worm the secret out of me? Well then, it’s the moment when the soul becomes detached from all that is profane.

The Lord used to pull his servant apart to such an extent that it caused him to be insensitive to every profane distraction that occurred.

– Father, the people make noises during the Mass…

– Well, if you would have been at the Calvary, where you heard screams, blasphemies, loud clamor, and threats… that was really an uproar.

– Do you not become distracted because of noises at the church?

– No, absolutely not.

This did not mean that Padre Pio was completely detached from those who were around him participating at the Mass. The total and intimate union with God that Padre Pio had, the moment that his soul was separated from all that was profane, gave to Padre Pio the superhuman possibility of feeling each soul, one by one; all that surrounded the altar.

– Father, are all the souls that attend to your Holy Mass present in your spirit?

– I see all my children who come to the altar, as if in a mirror.

pio-7Padre Pio used to lie down on the Cross of Jesus to consummate the Divine Sacrifice, while carrying all of his children in his heart. The love with which he disposed himself to be immolated was reflected on Padre Pio’s trembling face.

The stigmatic from Gargano, amidst tears and sobs, suffering indescribable torment, actualized the Divine Tragedy of Calvary during the Consecration in such a vivid way that the atrocious torment of Jesus Crucified was translucent in his grievously wounded flesh.

– Father, why do you suffer so much at the Consecration?

– You are too cruel!

With these words Padre Pio eluded the answer. A new attack was foreseeable.

– Father, why you suffer so much during the Consecration?

– Because it is at that very moment when a new, awesome and wonderful annihilation and creation happens.

In a brief and concise phrase Padre Pio now says something else. The most exceptional miracle of the Eucharistic conversion is affirmed with assertive clarity. But he says nothing about his sufferings at the altar in the moment of transubstantiation. Padre Pio hides his intimate and secret participation to the new and admirable destruction and creation from view.

It was not only an evasive answer, because he meant to say many things. The query had not been replied to, and so it was necessary to wait for the propitious occasion to reiterate the question to obtain a more complete answer.

– Why do you suffer so much during the Consecration?

– Revealing the secrets of the Supreme King is desecrating them. You ask me why I suffer. I would like to shed not a few tears but abundant tears. Are you not conscious of the tremendous mystery? God, Victim of our sins! And we are His executioners!

The awesome mystery of the Consecration contains the last hours that Christ spent on the Cross. The crucified of Gargano now relives at the altar, one after the other, each of the last moments of the Crucified of Golgotha. Let us keep in mind what the Gospel says about Jesus. Especially at the introduction of the Crucifixion.

– Father, do you suffer the bitterness of gall?

– Yes, very often.

After tasting the gall the most patient son of Saint Francis speaks of his crucifixion at the altar.

– Father, how do you remain upright at the altar?

– The way Jesus used to hold himself on the Cross.

– Do you mean that you are at the altar hanging from the Cross, the way Jesus did at Calvary?

– And you ask me?

– How can you keep yourself upright?

– The way Jesus kept Himself upright at Calvary.

Regarding the Crucifixion he is asked:

– Did the executioners turn the Cross around to clinch the nails?

– Naturally!

– Do they also clinch the nails for you?

– I think so!

– Do they also turn around your cross?

– Yes, but do not be afraid.

The Divine Master, sitting as King on the Divine Throne of His Cross pronounced His last words as a solemn testament of His Merciful Love for us, under the presence of Heaven and Earth.

– Father, do you also speak during Holy Mass the “seven words” that Jesus stated on the Cross?

– Yes, although unworthily, I also speak them.

– And to whom do you say: Woman, there is your Son?

– I tell her: Here are the children of your Son.

– Do you suffer the thirst and rejection Jesus suffered?

– Yes.

– When do you experience thirst and rejection?

– After the Consecration.

– Until when do you suffer thirst and rejection?

– Normally up to the Communion.

– Did the Crucified Jesus have His innermost Being consummated?

– You should rather say burnt.

– For what did the Crucified Jesus thirst?

– For God’s Kingdom.

Padre Pio’s soul burned with the same thirst. Those were extremely dry hours.

Padre Pios`s burning heart did not receive even a drop of consolation.

– You told me you were ashamed of pronouncing this phrase: “I looked for someone to comfort me, but found none.” Why?

– Because our suffering is insignificant compared to the real suffering Jesus experienced.

– In front of whom do you feel ashamed?

– In front of God and in front of my conscience.

– Don’t the angels of God console you at the altar where you immolate yourself?

– Well, I do not feel them.

– If your spirit does not receive any comfort during the Divine Sacrifice and if you suffer the complete abandonment as Jesus did, then our presence there is useless.

– The usefulness is for you. If it were the way you say, it could be said that the presence of the Sorrowful Virgin, St. John and the pious women close to the feet of the dying Jesus was useless.

The loving heart torn by the sight of such cruel abandonment, would have liked not to remain passive, but to share such atrocious pain.

– Father, why do not share with us a bit of your Passion?

– The Spouse’s pledge is not given to anybody.

– Tell me what could I do to alleviate your Calvary?

– Alleviate? …say rather to make it harder. We must suffer!

– It is painful to attend your martyrdom being unable to help you!

– Also the Sorrowful Mother attended. There is no doubt that it was a consolation for our Divine Master to have His Mother who, instead of being indifferent, accompanied Him in His pain.

– What did the Virgin do at the feet of the Crucified Jesus?

– She suffered watching her Son suffer. She offered to the Eternal Father her pain and the sufferings of Jesus for our salvation.

It is not surprising that suffering such martyrdom, through becoming completely in possession of the victim, to find more pleasure, concentrates on two highly significant points in the person of Padre Pio.

– On posing this question I am not compelled by curiosity. Which one is the wound that hurts the most?

– The head and the heart.

Communion was the summit of Padre Pio`s Mass, the supreme moment of Jesus` Passion.

Bent towards the altar, holding the chalice in his hands tightly and with the Lord in his heart, the seraphim of Pietricina, completely enraptured, remained for a long time with Jesus, without being conscious of the time.

The Father was asked:

– What is the Sacred Communion?

– It is interior and exterior Mercy. A total Embrace. Do not stop begging Jesus to make Himself sensibly noticed.

– Where does Jesus kiss you?

– He kisses me all over.

– When Jesus comes, does he visit only the soul?

– The entire being.

– What does Jesus do at Communion?

– He delights in His creatures.

– Is Communion an incorporation?

– It is a fusion. Like two candles that fuse together and cannot be distinguished one from the other.

– When you join Jesus in Holy Communion, what should we request the Lord for you?

– To let me be another Jesus, all Jesus, always Jesus.

– You gave me to understand that though the Sacred Species are not consumed in you, through your veins flow the blood of Jesus. Are you a living monstrance?

– You say so!

Jesus, while visiting the entire being of Padre Pio, in fusing with Him in such a wonderful way, He allowed the crucified of Gargano to savor with delight the mystery of His Death, (in the same way He delighted at Calvary, when He sealed the Sacrifice offered to the Eternal Father).

In between accents of great fondness and affectionate love and sorrow, Padre Pio consumed within himself Jesus` sacrifice as well.

– Father, why do you cry when you receive Holy Communion?

– If the Church, when referring to the Incarnation, exclaims: “You did not disdain the bosom of the Virgin.” What can we say about ourselves, we as miserable…!

– Do you also suffer during Communion?

– It is the culminating point.

– Do your sufferings continue after Communion?

– Yes, but they are sufferings of love.

– In this union, aren’t you consoled by Jesus?

– Yes, but without leaving the Cross! In that supreme instant a last glance is given.

– Where did the dying Jesus look in His last gaze?

– Towards His Holy Mother.

– And you, where do you turn to?

– Towards my exiled brothers.

“And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit,” writes Saint John about the death of Jesus. It could not have happened otherwise to the crucified of Gargano when he was at the altar.

– Do you also die at the Holy Mass?

– Mystically, at Holy Communion.

– What produces this death in you, is this vehemence for love or for pain?

– Both, but especially for love.

– If you die during Holy Communion, do you stop being at the altar?

– Why? Jesus remained at Calvary when He was dead.

– Father, you told me that at Communion the victim dies. Are you placed in the arms of the Virgin?

– In the arms of Saint Francis.

A pious heart considered the idea that the Sweet Jesus has finally found a soul where to rest with pleasure. This very humble son of St. Francis did not have the same opinion.

– Father, does Jesus take His arms off the Cross to rest on you?

– It is me who rests on Him.

– How much do you love Jesus?

– My desire of loving Him is infinite! But in practice… Poor me! I would be at zero and I am ashamed.

– How will our meeting with Jesus in Heaven be?

– Oh!… The Eucharistic could give us an idea.

Such was Padre Pio`s Mass, and not only men attended it:

– Does the Most Blessed Virgin Mary attend your Mass?

– Do you think the Mother is not interested in Her Son?

– Do angels attend your Mass?

– In legions!

– What do they do?

– Adore and praise.

– Father, who is closest to your altar?

– All of Paradise.

The Holy Mass was over, but in the heart of the stigmatic from Gargano the desire for a continued crucifixion at the altar was not extinguished.

– Would you like to celebrate more than one Mass a day?

– If it depended on me I would never leave the altar.

As the exceptional liturgist could not always stay crucified to the altar, he converted his own person into an altar, trying to make the Passion of Christ always visible.

– You told me you carried the altar with you…

– Yes, to accomplish what the Apostle said: “Taking with me the mortification of Jesus, I am nailed to the Cross”, I punish my body and I convert it into a slave.

– So, I am right when saying that Jesus Crucified walks among us! You suffer continually the whole Passion of Jesus!

– Yes, due to His Goodness and Mercy, as much as a human creature is able to.

– How can you work with so much pain?

– I find my rest on the Cross.

Padre Pio asked God: “Make an altar out of me for your Cross” and his pleading was heard, maybe because this request was never before formulated so sincerely and with so much love.

The altar built by the Divine Artist was beautiful, yes, very beautiful… We have not been seen it’s equal in two centuries of Christianity. Doubtless it was the best ever created.

Jesus was captivated by it, the first one that reproduced His Calvary with such fidelity.

In His delight the Stigmatic from Calvary did not want to raise His Cross in that altar. With joy He put Padre Pio there, crucified in His image. Let us meditate now.

– A Mass! Ask an angel — states Padre Pio — what a Mass is and he will answer: I understand what it is and why it is celebrated, but I cannot understand all the value it has. One angel, one thousand angels, all of Paradise thinks the same. And you, you who receive the benefits from it, you do not want to meditate on it?

– When you go to Mass, continues Padre Pio, concentrate to the maximum on the great mystery being celebrated in your presence: “The redemption of your soul and the reconciliation with God.”

– Father, does the Lord love the Sacrifice?

– Yes, because with It He has regenerated the world.

– How much glory to God does the Mass give?

– An infinite glory.

– What should we do during the Mass?

– Be compassionate and love.

– Father, how are we supposed to listen to the Mass?

– The way the Blessed Virgin and pious women attended to the tragedy of Calvary. The same way John attended the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross.

– What kind of fruits do we receive when we hear the Mass?

– They cannot be enumerated. You will know it only in Paradise.

Conclusion

In the new Heaven and the new Earth that John announced for the end of time, the Holy City will once again be a New Jerusalem, which will descend from heaven, adorned as a wife dressed for her husband. It is the new tabernacle of God among men. God will live amidst His people. The mystic of Patmos also says that the New Jerusalem does not need neither sun nor moon, because it is illuminated by the glory of God. The elected souls who will enjoy that light will have the name of the Lamb engraved on their forehead.

– Father, in Paradise shall we contemplate you crucified?

– For your greater glory.

 

 

Save

TREASURY from “On Cleaving to God” – St. Albert the Great

Before St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila orst-albert-the-great-c-1493 any other number of mystic theologians celebrated by the Catholic Church, St. Albert the Great, c. 1200-1280, blessed us with his mystical theology.  Although the little classic work, “On Cleaving to God,” is attributed to him, modern scholars have discovered implicit references in the work which reveal the thoughts of contemplatives who lived well after him, at least up to the 15th century.  For me, however, it is always St. Albert the Great whom I cherish, especially for this one line to which I return again and again:  “Simplify your heart with all care.”

With gratitude to him, and with the hope that you may also enjoy his wisdom, I have decided to compile this little treasury, especially for those struggling for Union through contemplative prayer.  His entire work, “On Cleaving to God,” only about 28 pages, is easily readable; find it here:  https://www.ccel.org/ccel/albert/cleaving.html

I love the way the paragraphs in the Catechism and in the Diary of St. Faustina are numbered; so for your convenience, I will do the same here.  To begin, a short description.  Born in Bavaria, a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas, he is one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages.   Becoming a Dominican 1223-1229, he is honored today as one of the 36 doctors of the Church.

Some general notes about St.Albert’s constant insistence on “nakedness.” From the beginning he is trying to teach us not to rely on any images, fantasies, constructs of the mind or of the imagination—to have nothing between the soul and the Godhead, to put everything behind us.  He would bid us go “naked,” in “full and complete abstraction”—taking ourselves out of the world of the senses and the imagination.

By “images” he is referring primarily to the constructs of the imagination, but also to constructs of the mind:  the words, phrases, and such on which we rely.  Contemplation would take us beyond mental prayer if we would abandon ourselves to it as he recommends.

In his illustration of the Ascent of Mt. Carmel, St. John of the Cross wrote:  “Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing on the way; and nothing on the Mountain.”  Rev. M.M. Philipon tells us in his book, The Spiritual Doctrine of Sister Elizabeth:  “Like her master, St. John of the Cross, Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity was ruthless in this respect.  ‘We must extinguish every other light,’ and attain to God by nakedness of spirit, and not by building a learned structure of beautiful thoughts” [Doctrine 40].

TREASURY –  [Note:  Italics and bold print are mine. The reading is generally not continuous, but is comprised of selected passages.]

1 –  Chapter 1

On the highest and supreme perfection of man, in so far as it is possible in this life

I [St. Albert is speaking here] have had the idea of writing something for myself on and about the state of complete  and full abstraction from everything and of cleaving freely, confidently, nakedly and firmly to God alone, so as to describe it fully (in so far as it is possible in this abode of exile and pilgrimage), especially since the goal of Christian perfection is the love by which we cleave to God.

2 – Since indeed the Lord God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth, in other words, by knowledge and love, that is, understanding and desire, stripped of all images. This is what is referred to in Matthew 6.6, ‘When you pray, enter into your inner chamber,’ that is, your inner heart, ‘and having closed the door,’ that is of your senses, and there with a pure heart and a clear conscience, and with faith unfeigned, ‘pray to your Father,’ in spirit and in truth, ‘in secret.’ This can be done best when a man is disengaged and removed from everything else, and completely recollected within himself.

3 – There, in the presence of Jesus Christ, with everything, in general and individually, excluded and wiped out, the mind alone turns in security confidently to the Lord its God with its desire. In this way it pours itself forth into him in full sincerity with its whole heart and the yearning of its love, in the most inward part of all its faculties, and is plunged, enlarged, set on fire and dissolved into him.

4Chapter 2

How one can cling to and seek Christ alone, disdaining everything else

Then he should withdraw himself totally within himself and not pay any attention to any object entering the mind except Jesus Christ, the wounded one, alone, and so he should turn his attention with care and determination through him into him – that is, through the man into God, through the wounds of his humanity into the inmost reality of his divinity. Here he can commit himself and all that he has, individually and as a whole, promptly, securely and without discussion, to God’s unwearying providence, in accordance with the words of Peter, cast all your care upon him (1 Peter 5.7)….

5 – Chapter 3

What the perfection of man consist of in this life

For the true pattern of the soul is God, with whom it must be imprinted, like wax with a seal, and carry the mark of his impress. But this can never be complete until the intellect is perfectly illuminated, according to its capacity, with the knowledge of God, who is perfect truth, until the will is perfectly focused on the love of the perfect good, and until the memory is fully absorbed in turning to and enjoying eternal happiness, and in gladly and contentedly resting in it.

6Chapter 4

How man’s activity should be purely in the intellect and not in the senses

So eliminate from your mind all fantasies, objects, images and shapes of all things other than God, so that, with just naked understanding, intent and will, your practice will be concerned with God himself within you. For this is the end of all spiritual exercises – to turn the mind to the Lord God and rest in him with a completely pure understanding and a completely devoted will, without the entanglements and fantasies of the imagination.

7 – [The Devil] is always trying to draw man’s mind away from the Lord God, now by temptations or passions, now by superfluous worries and pointless cares, now by restlessness and distracting conversation and senseless curiosity, now by the study of subtle books, irrelevant discussion, gossip and news, now by hardships, now by opposition, etc. Such matters may seem trivial enough and hardly sinful, but they are a great hindrance to this holy exercise and practice.

8 – For when constructs of the imagination are not allowed to enter the memory and mind, a man is not hindered, whether he be engaged in prayer, meditation, or reciting psalms, or in any other practice or spiritual exercise, nor will they recur again.

9– So render your imagination bare of the images of all physical things as is appropriate to your state and profession, so that you can cling to him with a bare and undivided mind, as you have so often and so completely vowed to do, without anything whatever being able to come between your soul and him, so that you can pass purely and unwaveringly from the wounds of his humanity into the light of his divinity.

10Chapter 5

On purity of heart which is to be sought above all things

earnestly apply your mind to seek constant purity of heart, clarity of mind and calm of the senses. Gather up your heart’s desire and fix it continually on the Lord God above.

 11 – Grasp every opportunity when you can find the place, time and means to devote yourself to silence and contemplation, and gathering the secret fruits of silence, so that you can escape the shipwreck of this present age and avoid the restless agitation of the noisy world.

12… you should with all care, intelligence and effort free your heart, senses and desires from everything that can hinder their liberty, and above all from everything in the world that could possibly bind and overcome you.

13 – So struggle in this way to draw together all the distractions of your heart and desires of your mind into one true, simple and supreme good, to keep them gathered within yourself in one place, and by this means to remain always joined to things divine and to God in your mind, to abandon the unreliable things of earth, and be able to translate your mind continually to the things above within yourself in Jesus Christ.

14 – simplify and still your heart and mind in the Lord God….

 15 – . So simplify your heart with all care, diligence and effort so that still and at peace from the products of the imagination you can turn round and remain always in the Lord within yourself, as if your mind were  already in the now of eternity, that is of the Godhead.

16 – In this way you will be able to renounce yourself through love of Jesus Christ, with a pure heart, clean conscience and unfeigned faith, and commit yourself completely and fully to God in all difficulties and eventualities, and be willing to submit yourself patiently to his will and good pleasure at all times.

17  – For this to come about you must repeatedly retreat into your heart and remain there, keeping yourself free from everything, so far as is possible. You must always keep the eye of your mind clear and still. You must guard your understanding from daydreams and thoughts of earthly things. You must completely free the inclination of your will from worldly cares and cling with all your being to the supreme true good with fervent love.

18 – … your whole mind gathered up with all its powers and faculties in God, may become one spirit with him….

 19 – Chapter 6

That the devout man should cleave to God with naked understanding and will

…for it is his delight to be with the sons of men, that is those who, at peace from such activities, distractions and passions, seek him with a pure and simple mind, empty themselves for him, and cleave to him.

 20 – …the Holy Spirit withholds itself from thoughts bereft of understanding. So the true lover of Jesus Christ should be so united through good will in his understanding with the divine will and goodness, and be so bare of all imaginations and passions that he does not even notice whether he is being mocked or loved, or something is being done to him. For a good will turns everything to good and is above everything.

21 – …even if the inner man is slow to feel devotion, [he] should simply cleave to God with faith and good will in naked understanding.

 22 – you must strip your heart of all love of things of the senses, not just of certain creatures, so that you can turn to the Lord your God with a simple and whole heart and with all your power, freely and without any double-mindedness, care or anxiety, but with full confidence in his providence alone about everything.

 23 – Chapter 7

How the heart should be gathered within itself

So let us withdraw our hearts from the distractions of this world, and recall them to the inner joys, so that we can establish them to some degree in the light of divine contemplation. For this is the life and peace of our hearts – to be established by intent in the love of God, and to be sweetly remade by his comforting.

24 – …the human mind is so distracted by worries that it cannot bring its memory to turn within, is so clouded by its imaginations that it cannot return to itself with its understanding, and is so drawn away by its desires that it is quite unable to come back to itself by desire for inner sweetness and spiritual joy. Thus it is so prostrate among the sense objects presented to it that it cannot enter into itself as the image of God.

25 – [The soul should say to itself:]

He whom I seek, love, thirst for and desire from everything and more than anything is not a thing of the senses or the imagination, but is above everything that can be experienced by the senses and the intellect. He cannot be experienced by any of the senses, but is completely desirable to my will. He is moreover not discernable, but is perfectly desirable to my inner affections. He cannot be comprehended, but can be loved in his fullness with a pure heart, for he is above all lovable and desirable, and of infinite goodness and perfection. [This section and several others following it echo the thoughts and sentiments of THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING,a mystical classic dated from the late 143th century.]

 26 – And then a darkness comes over the mind and it is raised up into itself and penetrates even deeper. And the more inward-looking the desire for it, the more powerful this means of ascent to the mysterious contemplation of the holy Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity in Jesus Christ is, and the more interior the yearning, the more productive it is.

27 – …never give up, never stop until you have tasted some pledge, as I might say, or foretaste of the future full experience, and until you have obtained the satisfaction of however small a first fruits of the divine joy. And do not give up pursuing it and following its scent until you have seen the God of gods in Sion.

28 – If on the other hand our heart and mind can withdraw itself by its desire and love from the infinite distraction below of the things beneath it, can learn to be with itself, abandoning these lower things and gathering itself within itself into the one unchanging and satisfying good, and can hold to it inseparably with its will, it is correspondingly more and more gathered together in one and strengthened, as it is raised up by knowledge and desire.

29Chapter 8

How a religious man should commit himself to God in all circumstances whatsoever

…be empty for him and cleave to him. So now in this way ignore your body and all created things, present or future, and direct the high point of your mind and spirit directly, as best you can, naked and unencumbered on the uncreated light.

 30 – so when some inner disturbance or boredom or mental confusion come you will not be indignant or dejected because of it, nor run back to vocal prayers or other forms of consolation, but only to lift yourself up in your intellect by a good will to hold on to God with your mind whether the natural inclination of the body wills it or not.

 31 – …accept everything confidently and equally, in general and in particular, from the hand of divine providence, agreeing in everything with the Lord in patience, peace and silence. The thing is that the most important thing of all for a spiritual life is to strip the mind of all imaginations so that one can be united in one’s intellect to God by a good will, and conformed to him. Besides, nothing will then be intermediary between you and God.

32Chapter 9

How much the contemplation of God is to be preferred to all other exercises

…let all our actual contemplation, life and activity take place in him alone, about him, for him and towards him who is able and capable to produce with a single nod of his will things infinitely more perfect than any that exist now.

33 – He [God] is infinitely satisfying both to himself and to all others, who contains within himself in absolute simplicity and from all eternity the perfection of all things….

34 Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses and the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found in created things. This, so far as the nature of the way is concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to Dionysius. And this is the cloud in which God is said to dwell, which Moses entered, and through this came to the inaccessible light.

35 – Chapter 10

That one should not be concerned about feeling  tangible devotion so much as about cleaving to God with one’s will

Furthermore you should not be much concerned about tangible devotion, the experience of sweetness or tears, but rather that you should be mentally united with God within yourself by a good will in your intellect.

36deny yourself so that you can follow Christ, the Lord your God, in nakedness….

37 – You will experience because of it great grace, helping you towards the acquisition of nakedness of mind and simplicity of heart.

38 – Chapter 11

How one should resist temptations and bear trials

The servant of Jesus Christ must see to it that he is not so easily forced to withdraw from the face of the Lord and to be annoyed, murmur and complain over the nuisance of a single fly, that is, a trivial temptation, suspicion, sadness, distraction, need or any such adversity, when they can all be put to flight with no more than the hand of a good will directed up to God.

39 – For if you want what is good, but cannot do it, God will make good the deed. For it is in accordance with this eternal law that God has established with irrevocable firmness that deserts should be a matter of the will, whether in bliss or torment, reward or  punishment. Love itself is a great will to serve God, a sweet desire to please God, and a fervent wish to experience God.

40 – Chapter 12

How powerful the love of God is

Now love is such that it cannot rest except in the beloved, but it does when it wins the beloved in full and peaceful possession. For love, which itself is charity, is the way of God to men and the way of man to God. God cannot house where there is no love. So if we have love, we have God, for God is love.

41 – Furthermore, nothing is sharper than love, nothing is more subtle, nothing more  penetrating. It will not rest until it has by its very nature penetrated the whole power, the depth and the totality of the loved one. It wants to make itself one with the beloved, and itself, if it were possible, to be what the beloved is too. Thus it cannot bear that anything should stand between itself and the beloved object, which is God, but presses eagerly towards him.

 42 – Alternatively, the lover is in the beloved when he is united with him by all his desire and compliance in agreement with the beloved’s willing and not willing, and finds his own pleasure and pain in that of the beloved. For love draws the lover out of himself (since love is strong as death), and establishes him in the beloved, causing him to cleave closely to him.

43 – For the soul is more where it loves than where it lives, since it is in what it loves in accordance with its very nature, understanding and will, while it is in where it lives only with regard to form, which is even true for animals as well.

44Chapter 13

The nature and value of prayer, and how the heart should be recollected within itself

…we should beseech him and lay before him with complete confidence the dangers that are besetting us on all sides, completely grief-stricken in ourselves, in humble prostration of mind, in fear and love, and with recollected, composed, mature, true and naked,  shamefaced affection, with great yearning and determination, and in groaning of heart and sincerity of mind. Thus we commit and offer ourselves up to him freely, securely and nakedly, fully and in everything that is ours, holding nothing back to ourselves, in such a complete and final way, that the same is fulfilled in us as in our blessed father Isaac, who speaks of this very type of prayer, saying, Then we shall be one in God, and the Lord God will be all in all and alone in us when his own perfect love, with which he first loved us, will have become the disposition of our own hearts too.

45 – This will come about when all our love, all our desire, all our concern, all our efforts, in fact everything we think, everything we see, speak and even hope will be God, and that unity which now is of the Father with the Son, and of the Son with the Father, will be poured into our own heart and mind as well, in such a way that just as he loves us with sincere and indissoluble love we too will be joined to him with eternal and inseparable affection. In other words we shall be united with him in such a way that whatever we hope, and whatever we say or pray will be God.

46 – This, as I say, is the goal of all perfection, that his purified mind should be daily raised up from all bodily objects to spiritual things until all his mental activity and all his heart’s desire become one unbroken prayer.

47Chapter 14

That we should seek the verdict of our conscience in every decision

… we should return quietly into the inner secret place of the mind in the face of everything said, thought or done to us.

 48 – Above all one should accept everything, in general and individually, in oneself or in others, agreeable or disagreeable, with a prompt and confident spirit, as coming from the hand of his infallible Providence or the order he has arranged. This attitude will lead to the forgiveness of our sins, the deliverance from bitterness, the enjoyment of joy and security, the outpouring of grace and mercy, introduction and establishment into a close relationship with God, abundant enjoyment of his presence, and firm cleaving and union with him.

49Chapter 15

How contempt of himself can be produced in a man, and how useful it is

 50 – Chapter 16 

How God’s Providence includes everything

For so far as the nature of the order of things is concerned, God provides for everything without intermediary right down to the last detail. So nothing, from the greatest to the smallest things, can escape God’s eternal providence, or fall away from it, whether in matters of the will, of causal events, or even of accidental circumstances outside of one’s control.

51 – That is why Bernard says, “God, the maker of everything is so abounding in mercy that whatever size grace cup of faith we are able to hold out to him, we shall undoubtedly have it filled.”

 52 – We should remember this, that everything is possible with God, and that what he wishes is bound to take place, while what he does not wish cannot possibly happen, and that it is as easy for him to forgive and cancel countless sins, however enormous, as to do it with a single sin.

53 – So let us commit everything with full assurance, in general and in particular, confidently and unhesitatingly to divine providence, by which God permits however much and whatever sort of evil to happen to us. For it is good and will lead to good, since he permits it to exist, and it would not exist unless he permitted it to exist. Nor could it exist otherwise or more than he permits it to, because he knows how to, has the power to, and wills to change and convert it into something better. For just as it is by operation of providence that all good things exist, so it is by its permission that all bad things are changed into good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save