In Our Mother’s Heart

 

Virgen de Guadalupe y yo

Virgen de Guadalupe, art by Cecilia Spihlmann (my photo)

 

At the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 1999, Pope St. John Paul II elevated Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day to a solemnity. The Holy Father proclaimed her to be the empress of all the Americas.

This message went deep into my heart and I said to God, “Does this mean that the Holy Father is telling us of the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—she who is destined to crush the head of the Evil One with her heel? Is this a prophetic utterance that is foreshadowing a glorious restoration that we cannot see as yet?

Let us pray that this is so.

 


Be like little children, resting with total confidence in the heart of our Blessed Mother. Every day, she shows us how to incarnate her Son and his words. The Sanctifier will bring pain, but if we surrender and remain still, Mary will transform that pain into joy. When all of us place our trust in her, we find ourselves together in the heart of Jesus.


 

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, ora por nosotros y el mundo entero! 

 

 

The Fruits of Our Lives

To help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ…  Philippians 1:10-11

angel of love

 

What counts in your life and mine is not successes but fruits. The fruits of our life are born often in our pain and in our vulnerability and in our  losses. The fruits of our life come only after the plow had carved through our land. God wants us to be fruitful.

The question is not, “How much can I still do in the years that are left to me? The question is, “How can I prepare myself for total surrender so my life can be fruitful?”

Our little lives are small, human lives. But in the eyes of the One who calls us the beloved, we are great—greater than the years we have. We will bear fruit, fruit that you and I will not see on this earth but whose reality we can trust.

Solitude, community, ministry—these disciplines help us live a fruitful life. Remain in Jesus; he remains in you. You will bear many fruits, you will have great joy, and your joy will be complete.

Prayer:

Remain in me, dear Jesus.

~ An Advent Meditation by Henri J.M. Nouwen

You Surpass All Praise

This prayer, found in Egypt, was chiseled by an anonymous hand on a terra-cotta. It derives from the 3rd or 4th century. The text is inspired by the angel’s salutation to Mary.

Annunciation by von schlogl

“The Annunciation” art by Von Schlogl, 1918


O
immaculate Virgin,
Mother of God,
full of grace,
the One Whom you brought forth, Emmanuel,
is the fruit of your womb.

In your Motherhood
you have nurtured all human beings.
You surpass all praise and all glory.

I salute you,
Mother of God,
joy of the Angels,
because you surpass in fullness
what the Prophets have said about you.

The Lord is with you:
you gave life to the Savior of the world.

~ 3rd-4th CENTURY 

 

– By Most Rev. Virgilio Noe

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of The Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary!

 

My Visit to Seoul

 

Korean Orchids

Beautiful Orchids at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea (photo taken by me) November 2018

 

I just got back from a week trip to Seoul, South Korea with a group of friends. Seoul is an amazing city with a rich culture and wonderful people. It was my first time in Asia and I didn’t know what to expect. It was a magnificent experience! I was in awe at every place I visited during those days in Seoul. I also celebrated my 58th birthday there with my group of friends enjoying a delicious Korean BBQ and touring the city. There is so much to see while you are there. Koreans are very hospitable and welcoming. The days passed by so fast but left an everlasting memory in my heart for which I am very grateful.

Here I share a few photos I took and also a bit of the history of the Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul I had the blessing to visit.

*For more information please check ‘Catholicism flourishing in South Korea’ at:            http://www.catholicdigest.com/news/nationworld/catholicism-flourishing-south-korea/

The Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception (also known as the Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul 

Is located in the heart of downtown Seoul, the cathedral is not only the first parish church in Korea but also an important symbol of the Korean Catholic Church.
Myeong-dong was called “Myeong-rye-bang” during the Joseon Dynasty. It was the place where the first Catholic community was formed in 1784.
Fr. Eugene Coste of the Paris Foreign Missions Society began planning the construction of Myeong-dong Cathedral in 1892. The Cathedral was consecrated on May 29, 1898, to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as its patron saint.
In 1900, the relics of the martyrs who were killed during Kihae  Persecution (1839) and Byungin Persecution (1866) were moved to the crypt of the cathedral from Yong-san Seminary. In 1942, Korean priest Fr. Rhee Ki-jun was appointed pastor of Seoul, making him the first Korean bishop in history. In 1945, the name of the cathedral was changed from Jong-hyeon to Myeong-dong, in celebration of the Liberation Day of Korea.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Myeong-dong Cathedral became the center for democratic movements in the country while the Korean Catholic Church played an important role in the expansion of human rights. Until now, Myeong-dong Cathedral continues to stand as the community landmark and it is reaching toward the world through prayers and missionary work.

Besides its historical value, Myeong-dong Cathedral was designated National Historic Site #258 for being one of the earliest and most notable examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Korea. The cathedral floor plan is cross-shaped, with the main building rising to 23m and the bell tower to 46.7m. The cathedral retains the pure Gothic style without architectural adornments.

~ Information taken from the Myeong-dong Cathedral parish office

 

Korean Cathedral 8

Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul (photo taken by me) November 2018

 

Korean Cathedral 3

The façade of the Cathedral is pure Gothic style with no architectural adornments; the interior design of the building, however, shows aesthetic beauty with arched side aisles, stained glass and other artworks. The altars, religious paintings and statues also add religious and aesthetic value to the church. (photo taken by me)

 

Korean Cathedral 9

Myeong-dong Cathedral Main Altar (photo taken by me)

 

Korean Cathedral 4

Statue of St. Andrew Kim Dae-geon/Side Altar, He was the first native Korean priest to die for the faith. (photo taken by me)

 

Korean Cathedral Martyrs

Painting of the 79 Blessed Martyrs of Korea/Side Altar (photo taken by me)

 

Korean Cathedral.jpg

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was consecrated by Archbishop Paul Rho Ki-nam on August 27, 1960, with the intention to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. In 2014, the grotto was relocated to the left side of the entry stairway of Myeong-dong Cathedral. (photo taken by me).

 

Korean Cathedral 6

The Stable is ready for Christmas Eve ❤ (photo taken by me)

 

Korea destinations

At the N Tower in Seoul… (photo taken by me)                   “Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.” ~ Gilbert Parker

 

Korea views

Views of Seoul… (photo taken by me)

 

Korea N tower

A bit hazy today in Seoul but nevertheless beautiful views…         (my photo)

 

Korean Inchon airport

Christmas Tree at Incheon Airport ❤ The Best Gift is the Gift of Love!                                            December 2018 (photo taken by me)

 

Holy Martyrs of Korea, pray for us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ The King

 


“O Jesus, Prince of Ages, King of Nations, be the sole Ruler of my mind and heart.”
~ Divine Intimacy


 

Cristo Rey

Christ The King (Artist Unknown)

 

O divine King, most amiable Jesus, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Spouse, my Master and model, I renew today the total consecration of my being to You, begging You to take absolute dominion over me. Be my Sovereign, my Ruler, my Guide. Direct and govern me entirely, so that everything may turn to Your greater glory. Be King of my memory, of my intellect, of my will, of my emotions; I wish all to be completely subject to you and I invite You to reign in me.

Your Kingdom is a kingdom of Truth, of Love, of Justice and of Peace.

Grant that Your reign of Truth may be established in my mind, destroying all error, deceit and illusion. Enlighten me by Your divine wisdom.

Grant that Your reign of Love may be completely established in my will, to move it, draw it, and direct it always, so that I may no longer be moved by self-love, or by creatures but by Your Holy Spirit alone. Make this weak, mean, rebellious will of mine strong, generous, constant; make it grow stronger by the persevering exercise of virtue, and by the gifts of Your Spirit.

Grant that Your reign of Justice may be established in all my actions, so that all I do, having this characteristic, may be a work of holiness, accomplished with purity of intention and with the greatest fidelity in order to give You pleasure and accomplish Your holy will.

Grant that Your reign of Peace may be established, not only in my soul but also in my sensibility, so that, in harmony with the superior part of my soul, it may give You glory and neither retard me nor be an obstacle to union with You.

~ A Meditation by Sister Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.

 

Jesus king of my heart

 

Jesu, were you nothing but a memory
How fragrant would that memory be!
But O, you are my living Love,
Sweetness itself, my life’s delight.

Music of unearthly timbre
Of soaring joy no human ear can catch.
Beauty, beyond the frontiers of thought
Jesu, God’s dear and holy Son.

(‘Jesu dulcis memoria’, trans. R.B.)

Jesus, King of my heart and King of the Universe, I Adore You!

 

Wishing you All a Very Blessed Feast Day of Christ The King!  

 

Reflections on the Dark Night ~ Part Two

 

29.100.6

El Greco painting of the Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, where St. John of the Cross was kept prisoner (It has been proposed that the Dark Night of the Soul was composed while John was imprisoned in Toledo, between 1577 and 1579).

 

A Pure Heart Create in Me, O God (Ps. 51:12)

The purified heart has been finally and fully claimed by God can, paradoxically, become progressively purer and more fulfilled in him right till the moment of death. This is because God himself expands its capacity with his inpouring love, fills the enlarged space with more love, which expands it further—and so the process goes on. But never without our full consent. A helpful prayer is “My God, penetrate and possess me to the uttermost—and don’t take notice when I squeal in pain.”

It is fear of suffering that holds back so many from the unqualified gift of themselves to God, so that he can do whatever he likes with them. But has he not promised he will match every trial with enough grace to bear it? Of course this may well mean that part of the trial will be the experience of desperately needing more, and more, and more grace.

However, this in itself provokes a constant plea for what we know we cannot endure without. It engenders intimate knowledge of our own helplessness—“Without Christ I can do nothing” (cf. John 15:5)—coupled with a reckless confidence—“With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”

The truth is that grace can be flooding into us while we remain unaware of it and experience no comfort. This happens because we are only too prone to think, as soon as we realize we are over-coming, “Aha! I’m getting somewhere! I’ve conquered! How brave and strong I am! How far I’ve advanced in virtue! I hope everyone else is noticing this!”

Such self-congratulations and the tendency to various forms of self-exaltation arise from those buried roots that only the passive purgations can eradicate. So God’s work progresses in direct relation to our humble receptivity to grace, and humility, as is well known by the humble, comes above all through dire humilations. What appears to be the curse of being refused the grace we need is really the blessing of being given it in abundance, but minus the extra grace of the awareness to enjoy it. Being what we are, this last grace would engender pride. Only those with great humility dare say, “He who is mighty has done great things to me” (Luke 1:49).

 

beauty-and-fire-vesna-delevska

Art by Vesna Delevska

 


Candle and Pinecone Sequence

This flame’s shape is like a spear—
or else a dagger—leaving wounds concealed
behind the bulwark of the living flames of love,
which do not burn.

Lights illuminate our darknesses
and flames give warmth—though the uncircumspect
receive what could be stigmata, exposed
or else concealed in heart, or brain, or bloodless hands.

This flame’s symmetry is like a spear’s keen blade
or else a dagger, small but dangerous,
shaped to deal out penetrating wounds
mysteriously secret, all of them
deep buried in the heart’s blind fastnesses
spousal gifts from those living flames of love.

 

~ A reflection and poem by  Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

 

 

 

Reflections on the Dark Night

st-john-of-the-cross-in-the-dark-night-of-the-soul-290-william-hart-mcnichols

St. John of the Cross in the Dark Night, art by William Hart McNichols 

 

The purpose of the dark night, according to St. John of the cross, is to lead us into the full day of perfect loving union with the Trinity. This means that we merge with Christ in all his resurrection glory and joy, though in this life these attributes will manifest themselves only intermittently and mutedly, for we are still confined by the limitations of our physical existence. Faith in the reality of this full union, hope that Jesus will lead us into it if only we follow him trustingly all the way to the tomb, and the unconditional love of our as yet imperfect hearts—these are the attributes that through the dark night “join Beloved with lover, lover transformed in the Beloved,” as John puts it in his poem, “In one dark night.”

During these necessarily passive nights, grace penetrates all levels of our inner being to eliminate every trace of sin. It invades—as long as we stay receptive—those deeply rooted, perverted tendencies for which we are not personally responsible, but which do influence our behavior and attitudes in numerous unloving and even evil ways (At this stage of the spiritual journey there is no deliberate evil action, but indeliberate blindness to others’ serious needs can well operate because of some hidden complex of insecurity, anxiety, or the like).

Pulling Up Roots

In the so-called “active nights,” we purposefully do what we can, with the help of grace, to accomplish the cleansing, and in fact we must persevere in such activity till death. In the passive nights, divine help and activity penetrate where we cannot to reach those stubbornly embedded roots of sin so that they are either wrenched out or dissolved away.

To use a gardening analogy—we can easily deal with bedding plants, whether flowers or vegetables, using handforks and trowels or larger forks and spades. If we labor hard enough, we can even dig up some of the bigger shrubs and small tress with perhaps a heavier shovel and fork and a grubbing tool.

But what do we do about an oak or pine tree? True, it can be cut down and the stump burned out, using more advanced power tools and a number of skilled helpers. But say for some good reason we want to have the whole tree taken out by the roots. In that case, outside help and implements like tractors, mechanical diggers, and maybe explosives, together with experts to use them, have to be employed. We can only stand back and let it happen, though it is true we ourselves have initiated the procedure. For whatever reason, we want it done.

Similarly, in the deeper passive nights, we have to invite God in to do the work for us, because our own tools and strength are inadequate. This invitation may itself be more passive than active, in that we may not clearly realize in the intellect what our heart is saying to God, but its motive is always love and only love.

This means we do not want to be cleansed just so we can self-righteously admire our own virtues and, satisfied with what we see, set about planning our exact place in heaven (near the throne, of course), much as we would choose prime site for our palatial new home with all modern conveniences. Nor does it mean our chief motive is an urgent desire to escape the pains of hell.

Rather, the love motive wants the ultimate cleansing for quite different ends. It longs to be used by God to give him honor and glory and to share in Christ’s redemptive work for others, to become perfectly adaptable tool for Jesus to use in his ongoing work in the world. It wants to be a channel cleared of all debris and pollution so that, through it, divine love can pour living waters into the world for healing of humanity’s wounds. It longs for every obstruction to this in-and-out flowing to be removed, if need be by divine force and through its own agony.

It wants to be made a kind of compelling advertisement for the power of divine grace over human weakness. In its humility and self-awareness of its own inadequacy and unworthiness, it wants others to see it as it is and exclaim. “If God can do that for her—and we all know what she’s like—then there is hope for me!” It wants these others to catch its own insatiable thirst for grace and so become reckless in their longing for God and their readiness to suffer all and even die in order to be purged and so reach full love-union with him.

~ A Reflection by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

 


The soul cannot come to this union without great purity, and this purity is not gained without great detachment from every created thing and sharp mortification. This is signified by the stripping of the Bride of her mantle and by her being wounded by night as she sought and went after her Spouse; for the new mantle which belonged to the betrothal could not be put on until the old mantle was stripped off. Wherefore, he that refuses to go forth in the night aforementioned to seek the Beloved, and to be stripped of his own will and to be mortified, but seeks him upon his bed and at his own convenience, as did the Bride, will not succeed in finding him. For this soul says of itself that it found him by going forth in the dark and with yearnings of love.
(Dark Night 2:24:4). 


 

 

The Source

 

THE-ONLY-REST-SACRED-HEART-OF-JESUS-_57

The Only Rest ❤ Sacred Heart of Jesus, antique 19th lace holy card – France

 

I have a shrine within me.
Tapers burn there day and night
flowers gather round the candles—
colors and living flames
mingle in extravagance of bloom,
celebrating love and chastity.

I meet you here in stillness.
My head against your tranquil heart
bends in homage, rests in peace;
my own heart dares to merge
with that unquenchable furnace from which
we both derive our reckless gift of self.

This is the living flame of love,
this is the source of primal energy,
of every urge to impetuous offering
of myself. Here, with bowed head
and face against your breast
I drink the strength I need, and give my all.

 

~ A poem by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

The Most Important Thing in Life

 

Sparrow art by jake weidman

Art by Jake Weidmann

 

When I was haltingly beginning to acknowledge both God and Christianity, I asked myself in the midst of my travail: “What is the most important thing in life?” The answer came without hesitation: “The kingdom of heaven within.” I was startled. I should never have expected a reply like that. But when I look back over my life, I see that this is precisely true. The times when I felt most alive, most real, most complete, were those when I experienced that state of being I had called “the kingdom of heaven within.” At these moments peace established itself in me.

Without being able to define anything. I had known I was one with God and through him one with all people. Without being able to understand the why and how of the chaos of the world or the chaos in my own heart, I had yet been sure that all things were ordered well and held safely in the hollow of God’s hand. Without being able to explain how, I had been filled with a tranquil joy.

Without any doctrinal background, I knew the truth—that God was love, that I lived and moved and had my being in him, that in some obscure fashion he was working out his will in me, and I might trust him and be at peace.

Yes, this was the kingdom of heaven within, and this was the most important thing in life for me. The times when I had entered into this state of soul had been the times when something enormous had happened to me. On my faith in this reality I could build the whole structure of my existence.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and the rest shall be added unto you.”

This realization was one of the crucial happenings of my life. Now I had a focal point. I had a purpose for living—full of meaning for me because it was based on the reality of my own experience. I knew exactly what I wanted from life—I wanted to enter more and more frequently, more and more completely, into this state of being called the kingdom of heaven within. From a bewildering disorder, life became astonishingly simple.

I thought back carefully over the circumstances I was in when I attained this state. These were what I would seek to recapture and cultivate. Many of the items of everyday living were found useless for my purpose, and I put other things in their place. I still did not know why, how, when, or where. I simply relied blindly on an experiential truth to be the light in my darkness.

What I really did was entrust myself to God, and looking back, I can see now the unerring way long which he led me to my true destination once I put my hand in his. Now that he had brought me to the Church, everything was clear. This state called the kingdom of heaven within was the very presence of God in the soul who loved him. It was the Christ-life within. To enter into God in this way was to enter into something of the state that the blessed enjoy in heaven, to become submerged in Christ, to taste here and now the bliss of eternity.

This was the life of identification with Christ to which all Christians are called, and which the Church extols as its goal. As members of his mystical body, they were incorporated into him, sharing his divine life, and fed by his sanctifying grace. The more fully they merged themselves with him, the more completely they were the instruments of God’s will, the nearer they approached the state of the saints. Self still existed, but only as Christ’s vehicle for loving, working, and suffering, only as a husk inhabited by the fertile seed of the Holy Spirit.

At last I understood the life principle of my soul, the source of all my restless yearnings and mysterious, luminous peace over the years. Now it was clear—God had been calling me, as he calls each soul he sends into the world, to a share in his divine life, to identification with his Son, to sanctity.


How for his praise
to order my new ways?
I would be no more myself, but he
using my breath and blood and song
to his own end, my life long.

So do I say—Master, your way
in mystery and wonder has evolved
my safety, and my curse resolved.
Glory and honor and homage are your due.
After the refining fire I bow to you. 

 

~ A reflection and poem by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S.

 

 

Reflections on Peace

Peace winter

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God” (Mt 5, 9). These are the words of Jesus from his sermon on the mount. They tell us something about ourselves, and they tell us something about God’s Kingdom. By our baptism, we are called to live in Christ’s peace, and this peace is at the heart of God’s Kingdom.
Before his passion and death, Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” . . . He told them to trust in God and to trust in him as he went away to prepare a place for them (see John 14, 1-3). After his resurrection, he appeared to his disciples saying “peace be with you.” The disciples were fearful and in hiding. They had abandoned Jesus in his moment of greatest need. Still, Jesus returned to them with love, understanding and compassion to give them his peace.
We are followers of Jesus. He calls us to trust him, and to trust that God the Father has a wonderful plan for us. Jesus gives us his peace – a peace that is beyond all understanding, a kind of peace that only he can give – so that we can become all that he has called us to be.
We are all members of his body: the hands, the feet, the voice and face of Jesus. We are called to share his peace – in the classroom, the schoolyard, in our communities, and in the world. Each time we forgive, share with, help, comfort and care for one another, the peace of Jesus and of God’s Kingdom becomes more real for everyone to see.
As we go out into the world, let us remember Jesus’ words “peace be with you” and carry them in our hearts. We ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to share Jesus’ gift of peace through acts of kindness, as a sign of his kingdom’s everlasting peace, where the Father has prepared a place for each of us, beloved sons and daughters of God.

~ A Reflection by Tony Consentino, RCCDSB

 

a winters tale poppy collection

A Winter’s Tale by Jacqueline Hurley from the War Poppy Collection 1914-1918 Remembrance Day

 

God our Father, your Son Jesus gave up His life to free us from the power of sin and death.
He showed us that the greatest love is in giving up one’s life for others.
Today we remember those who fought and died for our freedom. We ask you to bless and console them together with their families.
Help us to understand the sacrifices they made in leaving their loved ones to face the horrors of war. May we never forget their generosity.
May your Holy Spirit give us the courage to resist evil in all its forms and show us how to be peacemakers through prayer and action, lest we forget those who fought, suffered and died that we might have the freedom and peace we enjoy today.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen!

~ A prayer for Remembrance Day by Tony Cosentino, RCCDSB 

 


“A single poppy has the soul of a thousand heroes and the tears of a million loved ones ❤ Let us always remember them! Let us always pray for peace!