The Visitation


O my Mother, most holy Virgin Mary, be always my model, my support, and my guide.


 

The Visitation by Bradi Barth

The Visitation, art by Bradi Barth

 

“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.” These words are from today’s Gospel (Lk 1, 39-47). Mary, in the exquisite delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help. Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.

If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity. However, she was in no way disturbed: charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says: “Charity seeketh not her own” (1 Cor 13,5). How many times, perhaps, have you omitted and act of kindness, not to spare yourself a hard journey, but only to avoid a little trouble. Think how uncharitable you are and how slow to help others. look at Mary, and see how much you can learn from her!

Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature. Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God. Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more. Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such, even in respect to her neighbor. In your case, perhaps, although you know how to humble yourself before God and recognize your lack of perfection in the secrecy of your heart, it displeases you to appear imperfect before your neighbor, and you quickly resent being treated as such. Are you not anxious to have your dignity, education, and ability recognized, as well as the more or less honorable offices or charges which have been entrusted to you? Your dignity is a mere nothing, and yet you are so jealous of it. Mary’s dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures.

~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

The Visitation2

Art by Bradi Barth


O Mary, how great is your humility when you hasten to serve others! If it is true that he who humbles himself will be exalted, who will be more exalted than you who have humbled yourself so much?

“When Elizabeth caught sight of you she was astonished and exclaimed: ‘Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? But I am still more astonished to see that you, as well as your Son, came not to be served, but to serve… It was for this purpose that you went to Elizabeth, you the Queen, to the servant, the Mother of God to the mother of the Precursor, you who would give birth to the Son of God, to her who would bring forth a mere man.

“But your profound humility in no way lessened your magnanimity; the greatness of your soul was not opposed to your humility. You, so small in your own eyes, were so magnanimous in your faith, in your hope in the Most High, that you never doubted His promises, and firmly believed that you would become the Mother of the Son of God.

“Humility did not make you fainthearted; magnanimity did not make you proud, but these two virtues were perfectly combined in you!

“O Mary, you cannot give me a share in your great privileges as Mother of God; these belong to you alone! But you want me to share in your virtues, giving me examples of them in yourself. If, then, sincere humility, magnanimous faith, and delicate, sympathetic charity are lacking in me, how can I excuse myself? O Mary,  O Mother of mercy, you who are full of grace, nourish us, your poor little ones, with your virtues!”
(cf. St. Bernard).

 

 

God In Your Neighbor

 

love of neighbor hear my plea art by rochelle blumenfeld

Art by Rochelle Blumenfeld

 
Since God has become human, he himself has become your closest neighbor. He so identifies with us that we can meet and love him in each and every human being. “If you have met your brother, you have met God,” the desert fathers said.

We can only truly love our neighbor if we see him or her as God does. God sees right through our exterior into our depths where the Spirit witnesses that we are children of God (Rom 8:16). God says of every human being: This is my child, my beloved (Mt 3:17).

Jesus Christ is the light of each of us, a light that shines in the darkness (Jn 1:4-5). Love sees this light. To encounter this light is to meet the most personal in your neighbor, the center where he or she is most authentic.

Humanity is most human in the divine. John of the Cross writes: “The center of humanity is God.” Love doesn’t attach itself to nonessentials: talents, character, intellect. Love jumps over all obstacles that the other might have erected, and meets him or her in the center. When you behold the core of your neighbor, you love and revere God in that one and that one in God.

~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

The Most Holy Trinity


“I return thanks to You, O God, one and true Trinity, one sovereign divinity, holy and indivisible unity. (RB).”


 

The Holy Trinity art by Andrei Roublev

Icon of The Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev, 15th century

From Advent until today, the Church has had us consider the magnificent manifestations of God’s mercy toward men: the Incarnation, the Redemption, Pentecost. Now she directs our attention to the source of these gifts, the most Holy Trinity, from whom everything proceeds. Spontaneously, there rises to our lips the hymn of gratitude expressed in the Introit of the Mass: “Blessed be the Holy Trinity and undivided Unity; we will give glory to Him, because He has shown His mercy to us”: the mercy of God the Father, “who so loved the world that He gave it His only-begotten Son” (cf. Jn 3,16); the mercy of God the Son, who to redeem us became incarnate and died on the Cross; the mercy of the Holy Spirit, who deigned to come down into our hearts to communicate to us the charity of God and to make us participate in the divine life. The Church has very fittingly included in the Office for today the beautiful antiphon inspired by St. Paul: “Caritas Pater est, gratia Filius, communication Spiritus Sanctus, O beata Trinitas!”; the Father is charity, the Son is grace and the Holy Spirit is communication: applying this, the charity of the Father and the grace of the Son are communicated to us by the Holy Spirit, who diffuses them in our heart. The marvelous work of the Trinity in our souls could not be better synthesized. Today’s Office and Mass form a veritable paean of praise and gratitude to the Blessed Trinity; they are a prolonged Gloria Patri  and Te Deum. These two hymns—one a succinct epitome, and the other a majestic alternation of praises—are truly hymns for today, intended to awaken in our hearts a deep echo of praise, thanksgiving, and adoration.

~ By Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. ~ Divine Intimacy

 

 

O eternal Trinity, You are a deep sea in which the more I seek the more I find, and the more I find, the more I seek to know You. You fill us insatiably, because the soul, before the abyss which You are, is always famished; and hungering for You, O eternal Trinity, it desires to behold truth in Your light. As the thirsty hart pants after the fount of living water, so does my soul long to leave this gloomy body and see You as your are, in truth.

O unfathomable depth! O Deity eternal! O deep ocean! What more could You give me than to give me Yourself? You are an ever-burning Fire; You consume and are not consumed. By Your fire, You consume every trace of self-love in the soul. You are a Fire which drives away all coldness and illumines minds with its light, and with this light You have made me know Your truth. Truly this light is a sea which feeds the soul until it is all immersed  in You. O peaceful Sea, eternal Trinity! The water of this sea is never turbid; it never causes fear, but gives knowledge of the truth. This water is transparent and discloses hidden things; and a living faith gives such abundance of light that the soul almost attains to certitude in what it believes.

You are the supreme and infinite Good, good above all good; good which is joyful, incomprehensible, inestimable; beauty exceeding all other beauty; wisdom surpassing all wisdom, because You are Wisdom itself. Food of angels, giving Yourself with fire of love to men! You are the garment which covers our nakedness; You feed us, hungry as we are, with Your sweetness, because You are all sweetness with no bitterness. Clothe me, O eternal Trinity, clothe me with Yourself, so that I may pass this mortal life in true obedience and in the light of the most holy faith with which You have inebriated my soul.

~ By Saint Catherine of Siena

 

Holy Trinity2

The Blessed Holy Trinity by unknown artist

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast of The Most Holy Trinity!  ❤

 

Global Warming

 

Jesus hold the world

Painting by unknown artist

 

Because people do not love, the world is a very cold place. There is lust. There is temporary commitment to what appears to be love. But real love is something else entirely.

Love is God. Love is a Person. Love is stronger than death. The heart of God calls us to give him our heart, which means to give him ourselves. We must hold nothing back. It is by loving God in the nitty-gritty routine of our daily life that we make up for the coldness of others hearts.

~ By Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

faithfulness by akiane kramarik

Faithfulness, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

“All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, the light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.”
~ John 1:4-5

To Live with The Spirit

Holy Spirit visual blessings

 

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
that emulates the freedom of the sky.

Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
it has cast down forever from its hand
the compass of the whither and the why.

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to Him
toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind’s whim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
and though it surges Godward to its goal,
it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
the peace that is the listening of the soul.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

The Sanctifier: God’s Spirit Is Your Spirit

 

Pentecost2

Pentecost, art by Ladislav Záborský

 

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). These words are usually interpreted as if they exclusively spoke about life in heaven following death, but they are primarily about the everlasting life we carry within us here on earth. This everlasting life begins when Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Every Christian must experience Pentecost, which is when he or she enters into the holy of holies, into God’s own life, and for ever after feels at home there. When the Spirit fills you, you learn to think God’s thoughts and love with God’s love. Everything Jesus has done and taught is given insight from within, because the same Spirit who filled and led Jesus in everything he did now fills you as well and has become your Spirit, too.

“As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you,” writes Saint John, “and so you do not need anyone to teach you…his anointing teaches you about all things” (1 Jn 2:27). It isn’t possible to say that the words of Jesus are too difficult to understand or comply with. You have an inner teacher who explains everything while giving you the strength to live what Jesus has said.

You are capable of so much more than you think; you have received God’s own life…God’s Spirit, who lives his life in you, if only you let him. “All mine is yours,” says God when he gives you his Spirit. The divine life is no longer something foreign to you. It is the air you breathe.

~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 


O Holy Spirit, teach me to know You, to want You, to love You, and to prepare myself to second Your action in my soul.
~ Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.


 

 

In the presence of the Holy Spirit by signesnadelin

In the Presence of The Holy Spirit, art by Signe Sandelin


Holy Spirit, I see You coming down into the soul like the sun which, finding no obstacle, no impediment, illumines everything; I see You descending like a fiery thunderbolt which, in falling goes to the lowest place it finds and there it reposes, never stopping on the way nor resting on the mountainous or high places but rather in the center of the earth. Thus You, O Holy Spirit, when You come down from heaven with the fiery dart of Your divine love, You do not repose in proud hearts or in arrogant spirits, but You make Your abode in souls that are humble and contemplative in their own eyes.

 ~ By St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi, Carmelite nun and mystic  

 

Wishing all of you a very joyful and blessed Feast Day of Pentecost! ❤

The Flower of Carmel

 

Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St Simon

Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St. Simon Stock, unknown artist

 

Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel) is one of the most beautiful prayers ever written to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“The Flos Carmeli is a Carmelite hymn and prayer. Flos Carmeli is Latin for “Flower of Carmel” and was first used as the sequence for the Feast of Saint Simon Stock (May 16). Beginning in 1663 it became the sequence for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16). It is said to have been written by St. Simon Stock himself (c1165-1265). The prayer is taken from the first two stanzas of the sequence.”

“Oral tradition tells of St. Simon Stock praying with a passionate intensity to Our Lady of Mount Carmel during a time of great distress and hardship for the Order. With fervor and faith, he prayed for the first time the Flos Carmeli prayer which he wrote. And Our Lady answered that prayer. Thus, for seven centuries the Flos Carmeli continues to be prayed to the Blessed Mother with the firm faith that she will answer its request with her powerful help and intercession.” *

* Copied from the Website of the Carmelite Sisters, OCD.

The prayer below is from the first two verses of the longer sequence. I love this prayer very much and we also sing it (the hymn version) together with our Lay Carmelite community at our monthly meetings.

Flos Carmeli Prayer

O beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine,
Splendor of Heaven, holy and singular,
who brought the Son of God,
still ever remaining a Pure Virgin,
assist me in this necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help and protect me!
Show me that thou art my Mother.

O Mary conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

Mother and Beauty of Carmel, Pray for us!
Virgin, Flower of Carmel, Pray for us!
Patroness of all who wear the Scapular, Pray for us!
Hope of all who die wearing the Scapular, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Friend of the Sacred Heart, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of Mary, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Our Patron, Pray for us!
O sweet Heart of Mary, Be our salvation!
Amen!

 St. Simon Stock, pray for us!

 


Mother of Mount Carmel, I kiss your Holy Scapular and thank you for this precious gift. Help and guide me always. I place my confidence in your intercession. Never has it been known, dearest Lady and Mother, that anyone who fled to your protection was left unaided. Amen!

(Bl Nuno Alvares Pereira, 1360-1411)


 

 

 

Centuries of Love

rosario de rosas rosadas

 

How many centuries of love and prayer brought the Rosary to us in this simple, childlike form we have it today? The hand of God must have slowly fashioned it, as he himself let the beads of years slip to the earth, one by one, each containing within itself his loving care, his providence, his mercy, his justice and his infinite charity, each gift of his loving-kindness to us.

It grew slowly with the infant Church. How many chanted it throughout Christendom in the days when Christians sought first the kingdom of heaven, knowing that all the rest would be added to them!

When did it become a string of beads? Our Lady must have liked the simplicity that made it available to all—children, youth, and all the ages of men and women, both the learned and unlearned. “The Psalter of Mary” it was called: three times fifty Hail Marys said by anyone in the place of the one hundred and fifty psalms of the Office, in the days when many could not read. And tradition has it that she blessed it and gave it to St. Dominic to give to others. It is a heavenly lasso, perhaps, to entice her wayward children back into her motherly arms!

It is part of so many recent apparitions, in which she has so emphatically told the world, through the lips of children, to pray the Rosary. How slender a thread to hold our disintegrating world up! And yet how strong. It consists of a short string of a crucifix, one large bead, three smaller ones, and then another large one. This short string is attached to a circlet of beads: five decades, or sets of one large bead and ten smaller ones.

How childishly simple beads , made of anything and everything, strung in orderly rows, beginning with the cross. It is her Son’s cross, which she never can or will forget. On the crucifix, we recite the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…” Then on the first large bead, the first Our Father: “Our Father, who art in heaven…”—her Father and ours. The Father who chose her to be the mother of his Son. The Father who is so pleased with her. The Father who made her immaculate, a vessel of predilection. Then on the three small beads three Hail Marys, Gabriel’s angelic salutation, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you…” which forever resounds in her ears. The last large bead for the Glory Be, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…” She must love that so, she who is Our Lady of the Trinity! And then the measured, evenly recurring Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and Glory Be said for each decade.

While reciting each decade we meditate on a particular mystery, or event in her life, as she leads us through the whole of her life, so full of mysteries. Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries—deep as the seas of eternity. Simple as the smile of a child. Leading us to the very heart of God, through her who gave him his human heart.

Rosaries are held by millions of hands: the chubby ones of babies, the smooth, beautiful, strong and manly hands of youth, the capable and gentle hands of women and men, the gnarled and work-worn hands of old, the transparent  and weak hands of the sick. Sinners and saints hold them, and, letting them pass through their fingers, bead by bead, enter an unspeakably beautiful symphony of love, woven of two prayers—the Hail Mary, given us by an angel; and the Our Father, revealed by the Son of God. They are music that lead us on to heights uncharted and unknown, to where God dwells.

A promise of salvation and peace! As we pray, we will remember her promise that she will hold our disintegrating world together and will help us restore ourselves and it, to her Son.

Our life Is a Rosary

Much has been written and will yet be written about the Rosary, that simple, profound, almost unfathomable prayer to the gracious Mother of God, which takes her children again and again on the pilgrimage of her life and her Son’s, until, through it, their lives and God’s become one.

Still, there is another “rosary” that many of us miss completely. It is the one that opens up right at our feet, day by day, hour by hour, on the road all of us must travel, the road to God. It is a strange rosary. Its mysteries embrace the life of Christ and his mother, in the Mystical Body of his Church. It is the rosary of our own life.

~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

Today, May 13th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. On this day in 1917, our Lady made her first appearance to three shepherd children, Jacinta (age 7), Francisco (age 9), and Lucia (age 10), at Fatima in Portugal. She appeared to them once a month from May to October. The lives of the three children were entirely transformed by the heavenly apparitions. In each of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, she insisted on praying the Rosary. “Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world.”  Lucia often repeated and emphasized what Our Lady has recommended to her.
In the final apparition on October 13th, 1917, Our Lady silently held out the scapular (the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel). Lucia had said that the Blessed Mother wants everyone to wear it: “The Scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.”  

Fatima3

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal ~ Photo taken by me (January 2015)


The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima is built on the spot where three children saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Fatima2

The Chapel of the Apparitions ~ Photo taken by me


The Chapel of the Apparitions is at the very heart of the Basilica and the exact location of the apparitions is marked by a marble pillar which holds the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

Fatima4

Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!


Our Lady of Fatima

O Most holy Virgin Mary,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima
and reveal a glorious message.
We implore you,
inspire in our hearts a fervent love
for the recitation of the Rosary.
By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption
that are recalled therein
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer.
Amen!

 

Wishing all of you a very happy Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima and a very blessed Mother’s Day! ❤

rosa rosada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ascension of the Lord


“So then, the lord Jesus after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. 
But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.”
~ Saint Mark 16:19-20


 

Ascension of Christ by william blake

The Ascension, art by William Blake, 1805

 

God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavens, says Saint Paul. Does this mean that it is wrong to have both feet on the ground, to actively work for a better world? Of course not. Living with a focus on heaven must make one even more engaged in the well-being of the world. Heaven is love, the giving and receiving of love. And the one who carries heaven in his or her heart will even now love as much as that makes it possible. In this way, life on earth becomes more like life in heaven—a little of heaven comes down to earth.

We are the body of Christ on earth. Jesus, our head, is in heaven. It is the head that directs the members of the body. If we really live as Christians, our actions are guided by a heavenly code. Christ, our head, leads us in all that we do. To have our heart in heaven and heaven in our heart doesn’t just mean that we long for heaven. It also means that we live life on earth in a heavenly way.

The members who let themselves be used, who let the head determine what they are to do, accomplish something lasting here on earth. But those who want to function without contact with the head will only cause confusion and chaos.

If you share communion with Christ in your heart, you are already now living a heavenly life. And, together with him, you are to lead others to the Father.

~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

The Gaze of Love

“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face”; your face, Lord, do I seek!
Psalm 27

Jesus and me by unknown artist

‘Gazing into the eyes of the Beloved’, by unknown artist

 

My Beloved,
My heart yearns for your gaze.
Your presence reveals this yearning in me.

It is so necessary to gaze upon you, O Lord 
When I’m here in your presence.
Your gaze heals me and comforts me,
Your healing power transforms me and renew me.

To contemplate your face, Beloved, is all I seek.
You are the gaze of love.

Your peace I yearn and desire.
Your friendship, is all I want and all I need in order to live in this exile.

O Beloved,
My heart cannot contain your beauty when You gaze at me
With so much tenderness and infinite love.
I want to live for these precious moments of intimacy with You.

You embrace me with so much delicacy, and I feel so loved.
O Lord, I feel so calm and whole in your presence.
You hold my hand and I feel your guidance and affirmation,
Knowing that You are constantly in me and with me.

You bless me Lord.
I need you Lord, like oxygen to my lungs.
Like sight to my eyes.
Like food to sustain my body.
Like light to illuminate my mind and soul.

You are my all, Beloved.
May I live in You all the days of my life and forever.

~ My Personal Reflection