Who Is A Gardener?

woman and the roses

 

And who is a flower gardener? A person who prays to God in beauty. A painter of the Lord. A musician of God. A poet of the Almighty. A person who makes beauty in the colors of flowers.

No one—atheist, communist, sinner, or saint—can pass a flower garden without stopping. In some places, raising flowers is an art almost beyond our understanding. A person’s soul, a nation’s soul, can be expressed in a garden.

Who is a flower gardener? An utterly dedicated person, who loves each flower tenderly, and knows intimately the ways, habits, likes and dislikes of each one. He is someone who gives beauty to everyone—not ordinary beauty, but God’s beauty. And if a gardener did not know God before he became interested in flowers, if he perseveres, he will know him soon, and know him intimately.

Who is a flower gardener? A person who sooner or later falls utterly in love with God, who approaches flowers reverently (you have to, otherwise they will not grow for you), and thus silently shouts his love of God. The one who grows flowers gives God to man, and becomes possessed by God themselves.

Gardeners grow beauty for the Lord, and to bring others closer to him. Each flower, tree, or bush, wild or tame, is God’s love letter to us; each reflects an infinitely small part of his beauty. Yet, this small part can be so enchanting, so overwhelming, so healing, that words can fail to describe it.

 ~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 


Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?
~ Saint Augustine of Hippo


 

“Christ within us,
Light above us,
Earth beneath us,
Love surrounds us.”

 

Happy and Blessed Earth Day! 

Through Darkness To Light


A few years ago I visited Gaudí’s masterpiece the Basilica De La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It was so awe inspiring to see the beauty of this unique Basilica. Its stained glass windows are magnificent. I was marveled by seeing the light coming through these windows and not only was I completely awed by their beauty but it also gave me an “illumination” inviting me to enter into a profound inner reflection about my spiritual life. It was an unforgettable experience.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
~ Desmond Tutu



Here are a few photos I took during my visit to La Sagrada Familia

barcelona pics2 “But man does not create…he discovers.” ~ Antoni Gaudí

barcelona pics7

“The amount of light should be just right, not too much, not too little, since having too much or too little light can both cause blindness.”
~ Antoni Gaudí 

barcelona pics3
Gaudí was a devout man. He went to church twice a day. He believed with conviction his architectural ability was a gift from God.

Gaudí famously insisted: “My client is not in a hurry”. His client, of course, was God.

 

A Meditation

The human being is like a field. In this field a treasure is hidden (Mt 13:44). Deep within you, you carry enormous riches, you carry divine life. Before you can get to the treasure, you must work your way through many layers where you are confronted with many different things which may appear to be completely different than the treasure you are seeking. You may be surprised that so much disorder and impurity exist within you.

It is important that you understand what it is you seek, so that you don’t lose courage in face of what you must confront. You are seeking the light within you, but you can’t avoid meeting your darkness as well. It is through allowing some of the light to enter you that you become conscious of your darkness.

When you seriously strive to be good and loving, then it will be revealed how much evil and lovelessness there is within you. The more you take pains to be true, the more your untruthfulness shows.

You don’t have to focus on your mistakes. If you seek God with your whole heart, the mistakes will show themselves. Then it is important not to close your eyes to them, but rather observe them in all their misery.

It is not particularly encouraging to be face to face with all the impurity we carry within. it can be heartbreaking. But it is in a broken heart that we find the way to the treasure. But don’t get stuck in your misery, keep your eyes on God. He is your treasure.

 

~ By Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D. 

 

Blessed Are You, O Mary

 

Anunciacion de Maria

Mary’s Fiat, by unknown artist

 

You go to Jesus through his Mother. She possesses the secret of prayer and wisdom, for she is the Mother of God. Who else can teach you to burn with love, but the Mother of Love? Who else can teach you to pray, but the Woman of prayer? Who else can teach you to go into the silence of deserts and nights, the silence of pain and sorrow, the solitude of joy and gladness, except the Woman wrapped in silence? Who can span the bridge between the old and the new, the “converted you” and the “unconverted you,” except the Blessed Virgin Mary, the bridge between the Old and New Testaments, the Jewish girl who brought for the Messiah, Son of the Almighty?

~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

Virgin Mary by bradi brath

Blessed Virgin Mary, art by Bradi Barth

 


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.



You Surpass All Praise

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

 

Wishing you all a blessed Feast of The Annunciation of the Lord! 

Holy Saturday: The Great Silence


“May this Saturday, a day of transition between the agony of Friday and the glory of the Resurrection, be a day of prayer and recollection near the lifeless body of Jesus; let us open wide our heart and purify it in His Blood, so that renewed in love and purity, it can vie with the “new sepulcher” in offering the beloved Master’s a place of peace and rest.”


Jesus and mary4 art by Gustave Moreau

Pietà, art by Gustave Moreau (1876)

When Dante and Virgil reach the deepest pit of hell, located at the center of the earth, they begin to climb upwards because gravity has been reversed. This image symbolizes many truths. One is that when a great reversal takes place in our lives, we are not immediately aware of it. Dante and Virgil are still groping in the darkness, but they have reversed their course and are heading toward the light.

Holy Saturday represents those times when a great change has taken place in our lives but we are not yet aware of it. For example, after a deflating blow, often it takes our egos days, months and even years to begin to experience the deep peace of humility that the shattering event has caused. At first we feel only the death throes of what we have called our life — numbness, anger, anxiety, depression. But once the waves have subsided, there emerges the indescribable serenity of the Real Self.

Holy Saturday, is like a seed that has broken open in the ground but has not yet broken through to the surface. The growth that lies in darkness has not yet reached the light of consciousness. And when it finally breaks through to the surface, the effect is often so gentle that we don’t even recognize its presence. This is true regarding various transformations in our lives. C.S. Lewis, for example, compares his experience of coming to believe in Jesus Christ as “when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake” (Surprised by joy 237). Lewis had spent many years reading, thinking, inwardly wrestling with and outwardly debating the existence of God and the claims of Christianity, but when the gift of faith finally arrived, he was not engaged in thinking about God nor did he feel deep emotion. Suddenly, he was conscious that faith had been given to him. The moment of transformation comes not with a thunderclap but as a gentle rain falling upon our parched, wearied, and wounded souls — unannounced. Carl Jung once said that when healing arrives, only one word can express its epiphany — miraculous. One moment, something struggled with for years is torturing a person, and the next moment is gone. Psychiatrist Theodore I. Rubin relates how a great personal failure threw him into a pit of depression and self-hate. He could not turn off the self-hating machinery of his mind and spent sleepless hours of self-torturing ruminations. He sought professional help and struggled with his demons to no avail, until one night before going to sleep he decided with his heart, “Leave it all be… That night I slept peacefully. In the morning my depression was gone” (4-5). We experience such miraculous healings in many other ways. For example, one day we discover that certain people or situations that had imprisoned us for years no longer provoke us to fear or rage. Or we respond with joyous alacrity to requests that we had previously done so grudgingly. At such times, we don’t know how the change has taken place or even when it came about. All we know is that the whole inner atmosphere of our soul has been changed. As Saint Teresa once said, often we receive the fruits of our labors all at once.

Holy Saturday, writes Karl Rahner, “is a symbol of everyday life” (24). It expresses the growth that accrues hidden in the darkness of our souls and resurrects in God’s time.

~ A Meditation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D.

Good Friday: The Glory of the Cross

The Cross of Christ, art by Bradi Barth

The Cross of Christ, art by Bradi Barth

God’s glory is not a radiant majesty elevated on a throne. God’s glory is a glory of love. And love has never radiated so gloriously as on the cross. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). When God gives his life for us, he reveals his love in all its glory.

When we see the pierced hands and open side of Jesus, we can say: “We thank you for your glory.” The resurrected Lord obtains his glory from his wounds. In all eternity, we will praise his wounds as signs of his love for us.

At the cross of Jesus, you can learn where to seek your glory. “The glory that you have given me I have given them,” says Jesus (John 17:22). You can find your true identity—and reach the fullness of your life—only if you, like Jesus, spend yourself in love.

The glory that Jesus reveals in his wounds teaches you that suffering is not without meaning. By itself, suffering is something that passes. But the love you’ve suffered remains forever.

No human life is without suffering. The one who suffers in love shares in God’s glory.


“All my salvation and joy are in You, O Crucified Christ, and in whatever state I happen to be, I shall never take my eyes away from Your Cross.” ~ St. Angela of Foligno


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

Holy Thursday: The Gif of Love

The Last Supper art by Bradi Barth

The Last Supper, art by Bradi Barth

“Having loved His own … He loved them unto the end” (John 13: 1-15), and in those last intimate hours spent in their midst, He wished to give them the greatest proof of His love. Those were hours of sweet intimacy, but also of most painful anguish. Judas had already set the price of the infamous sale; Peter was about to deny his Master; all of them within a short time would abandon Him. The institution of the Eucharist appeared then as the answer of Jesus to the treachery of men, as the greatest gift of His infinite love in return for the blackest ingratitude. The merciful God would pursue His rebellious creatures, not with threats, but with the most delicate devices of His immense charity. Jesus had already done and suffered so much for sinful man, but now, at the moment when human malice is about to sound the lowest depths of the abyss, He exhausts the resources of His love, and offers Himself to man, not only as the Redeemer, who will die for him on the Cross, but also as the food which will nourish him. He will feed man with His own Flesh and Blood; moreover, death might claim Him in a few hours, but the Eucharist will perpetuate His real, living presence until the end of time.
Today’s Mass is, in a very special way, the commemoration and the renewal of the Last Supper, in which we are all invited to participate. Let us enter the Church and gather close around the altar as if going into the Cenacle to gather around Jesus. Here we find, as did the Apostles at Jerusalem, the Master living in our midst, and He Himself, through the person of His minister, will renew once again the great miracle which changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood; He will say to us, “Take and eat … take and drink.”
It was Jesus Himself who made the arrangements for the Last Supper, choosing “a large room” (Luke 22:12), and bidding the Apostles to prepare it suitably. Our hearts, dilated and made spacious by love, must also be a “large” cenacle, where Jesus may come and worthily celebrate His Pasch.

The washing of the feet art by Bradi Barth

The Washing of the Feet, art by Bradi Barth

During the Last Supper and coincident with His gift of the Sacrament of love, Jesus also left us His testament of love—the living, concrete testament of His admirable example of humility and charity in the washing of the Apostles’ feet, and His oral testament in the proclamation of His “new commandment.” The Gospel of today’s Mass (John 13:1-15) shows us Jesus, as the Master, washing the Apostles’ feet; it ends with His words: “I have given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do.” It is an urgent invitation to that fraternal charity which should be the fruit of union with Jesus,  the fruit of our Eucharistic Communion. He mentioned it in precise words at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give unto you: ‘that you love one another’ as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (ibid. 13,34).

If we cannot imitate the love of Jesus by giving our body as food to our brethren, we can imitate Him at least by giving them loving assistance, not only in agreeable circumstances, but also in difficult and disagreeable ones. By washing His disciples’ feet, the Master shows us how far we should humble ourselves to render a service to our neighbor, even were he most lowly and abject. The Master, who, by unceasing proofs of His love, advances to meet ungrateful men and even those who have betrayed Him, teaches us that our charity is far from His unless we repay evil with good, forgive everything, and even willing to repay with kindness those who have done us harm.
The Master, who gave His life for the salvation of His own, tells us that our love is incomplete if we cannot sacrifice ourselves generously for others.


O Jesus, grant that I may fathom the immensity of that love which led You to give us the Eucharist.


 

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

 

The Deadly Venom of Jealousy


Judas asks the Jewish authorities, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” Jesus predicts his betrayal at the Last Supper. ~ Matthew 26:14-25


 

Judas The Betrayal art by Duccio di Buoninsegna

The Betrayal, art by Duccio di Buoninsegna

In Frank Stockton’s fable “The lady, or the Tiger?” we see how savage possessive love and jealousy can be. The story is set in ancient times, in a country where a semi-barbaric king has devised an ingenious method for determining a man’s guilt or innocence. The king built an enormous amphitheater with a door on one side of the arena and two doors on the opposite. The accused would enter through the single door, walk to the other side, and stand before one of the other two doors. Behind one was a hungry tiger; behind the other a beautiful young maiden. The accused had to open one of the doors. If he chose the door that concealed the tiger, the beast would devour him instantly. If he opened the other, he received the beautiful maiden as his bride.

It so happened that the daughter of the king had fallen in love with one of her courtiers, and he had fallen in love with the princess. They professed their love to one another, but it proved ill fated, for the affair became known to the king. Since it was a crime for a commoner to fall in love with the princess, the man was condemned to the arena.

But the princess was clever. She found out by trickery which door concealed the lady and which concealed the tiger. And her lover knew that she would obtain this information. So when he entered the arena, he glanced over to catch some sign as to which door he should open. The princess did give a sign. She raised her right hand slowly and with a slight movement that only her lover could see, she motioned to the right. The youth smiled in relief and opened the door on the right.

Did the princess send her lover to certain death or to marital bliss? We might presume the latter, but should not judge too hastily. When the princess found out which door concealed the lady, she also discovered who the lady was — a damsel of the court, a maiden of peerless beauty, whom the princess had often seen throwing glances of admiration upon her lover. Also, the princess perceived or thought she had perceived that these glances were returned. She had often seen them talking together, which filled her with jealous rage. She hated the woman behind the door and could not bear the thought of this creature she loathed being wed to the man the princess loved. But could the princess send her lover to certain death? Now, what greeted the man when he opened the door on the right — the lady, or the tiger? Stockton ends the story with this question.

Jealousy is fierce and barbaric. It will destroy what it loves rather than surrender it to a hated foe. The factors of jealousy and hatred can help us to understand the betrayal of Judas. William Barclay writes, “Judas was the only non-Galilean in the apostolic band, the man who was different. Perhaps from the beginning he had the feeling that he was the odd man out. There may have been in him a certain frustrated ambition… He clearly held a very important position [among the apostles]. He was the treasurer of the company… There can be no doubt that Judas held a high place among the twelve — and yet he was not one of the intimate three — Peter, James, and John… It is not difficult to see him, even if he had a very high place among the twelve, slowly and unreasonably growing jealous and embittered because  others had a still higher place. And it is not difficult to see that bitterness coming to obsess him, until in the end his love turned to hate and he betrayed Jesus” (76-77).

Jealousy can be frightening in its intensity, and triangular relationships can be the most corrosive and destructive forces in our lives. The deadly venom of jealousy can destroy those around us and eat us up inside. Shakespeare was right. The green-eyed monster “mock[s] the meat it feeds on” (Othello 3.3.166-67). It devoured Judas and can do the same to us.

 

~ A Meditation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

The Supper At Bethany


Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoints the feet of Jesus but Judas protests that the oil could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. ~ John 12:1-11


Mary of Bethany5

The Supper at Bethany (unknown artist)

Picture yourself on a beautiful summer evening, sitting around in lawn chairs in your backyard, talking with friends. As dusk descends you do not notice the fading light because your eyes adjust automatically to the gradual waning of the day. This illustrates how we can change gradually without noticing.

It seems almost inconceivable that Judas, an intimate of Jesus, could betray him for a pittance. But we are told that “[Judas] was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.” In short, stealing had become a habit with him. As the habit of stealing gradually grew, Judas’ conscience deadened as he rationalized why what he was doing “wasn’t so bad.”

In Paradise Lost, Satan  slips into paradise during the evening twilight. “Twilight … the short arbiter twixt day and night” (IX, 50). Symbolically, Milton is representing the deadly process of arbitration that we enter into when we allow our conscience to make concessions. As the darkness of evil gradually and imperceptibly settles over our lives, we do not notice what is happening until it is too late.

Allegedly, when Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper he searched for models whose faces depicted his conceptions of each disciple. One Sunday, when da Vinci was attending Mass in the choir Cathedral, he spied a young man in the choir whose countenance captured da Vinci’s ideal image of Christ. The young man’s face embodied innocence, compassion, love, and tenderness.

Many years later, da Vinci had only one more disciple to paint — Judas. To find a man whose face would reflect deceit, avarice, a life of sin and despair, da Vinci scoured the prisons of Milan. There he found his subject, a man whose hardened features reflected a life of crime.

As the man was sitting in da Vinci’s studio to be painted, he began to cry. When the master asked him what was the matter, the poor wretch said, “Maestro, don’t you recognize me? I sat for you many years ago. I was the young man you painted to represent Jesus.

It is frightening that often we do not recognize the most drastic change in character that takes place within us until after it has been accomplished. Judas did not realize that whatever he stole from the common purse, he stole from himself. He robbed himself of his own humanity. The same is true with us. There is no such a thing as ‘petty’ theft, for no loss of soul is inconsequential.

~ A Meditation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

 

 

The Fragrant Sacrifice of Love

 

Mary of Bethany the unction of Christ art by julia stankova

The Unction of Christ, art by Julia Stankova

In the Gospel of John we read how Mary of Bethany takes a whole bottle of expensive pure nard and pours it out over the feet of Jesus (Jn 12:1-8). This bottle contains a fortune, the costliest and very best that Mary has. When she has poured it out over Jesus’ feet, she dries them with her hair. What a waste! She uses no towel to dry his feet; she uses her hair, herself.

Since that time, there have always been people who feel drawn, yes forced to do as Mary. People, who in their innermost being know that they must give everything, not just what they have, but what they are. They must give their whole self. They must give it all at once. They don’t even ask what purpose it serves. But the whole Church, the whole world, is filled with the fragrance of their devotion.

There is no other incident in the gospel which so clearly expresses the uniqueness of the contemplative life. Those who enter such a life, whether in a monastery or in society, ask no questions about their talents and whether these will bear fruit, nor do they ask whether the contemplative life will develop their personality. All they think about is to give all their love to the Lord, spreading a fragrance everywhere.

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


Radiating Christ

by Blessed John Henry Newman

Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with Your Spirit and Life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly,
that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with
may feel Your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us but only Jesus!
Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine, as You shine;
So to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus, will be all from You, none of it will be ours;
it will be You shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise You in the way You love best, by shining on those around us.
Let us preach You by our words and by our example,
by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do,
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You.
Amen.


Love Song

Jesus and the beloved disciple2

St. John The Beloved Disciple resting in the Heart of Jesus ~ By unknown artist

Long ago, an ordinary man called John laid his head on the breast of Christ, and listened to the heartbeats of the Lord. Who can guess what that man felt as he heard the beat of that mighty heart? None of us will ever be in his place, but all of us can hear, if we listen, the song of love God sings to us. If we meditate on the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, we will hear, not only his heartbeats, but our own hearts beating in unison with his. We will be united with our Lord and our God.

God’s heart is our only true resting place, the oasis to which he calls us. The key to his heart is identification with all his little ones, a deep love that requires so great an enlargement of heart that we cannot even aspire to it unless God shows us the way.

Let us pray for that enlargement of heart.


“I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35 


A Meditation by Catherine Doherty, Madonna House Apostolate