My Beloved Is For Me

 

The Transverbaration of Saint Teresa

Transverbaration of the heart of Saint Teresa of Avila, by unkown artist

I gave myself so totally,
and the exchange has thus been done
that my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

When that sweet Hunter from above had wounded and o’erpowered me,
and left me in the arms of love, my soul abiding languidly;
new life came in recovery, and the exchange has thus been done
that my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

The arrow used in wounding me with his love he had deigned to fill,
and so my soul was made to be at one with its Creator’s will.
No other love could e’er fulfill,
since to my God surrender is done,
and my Beloved is for me,
and I’m for only my Loved One.

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘Flame of Love’
  

 

The Epiphany Of Our Lord

Bradi-Barth - AU-90

The Magi, art by Bradi Barth

“He whom the Virgin bore is acknowledged today by the whole world…Today is the glorious Feast of His Manifestation” (RB).
Today Jesus shows Himself to the world as God.

Epiphany, or Theophany, means the Manifestation of God; today it is realized in Jesus who manifests Himself as God and Lord of the world. Already a prodigy has revealed His divinity…the extraordinary star which appeared in the East. 

The Magi saw the star and immediately set out. They had no doubts: their unbounded faith was strong and sure. They did not hesitate at the prospect of the trials of a long journey: they had generous hearts. They did not postpone the journey: their souls were ready.

A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is an inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness, and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.

The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star—at one point—disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui credidi et certus sum (2 Tm 1,12); I know whom I believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust him. 

In this spirit let us accompany the Magi to adore the new-born-King. “And as they brought forth from among their treasures mystical gifts, let us from our hearts bring forth something fit to offer Him.” (RB). 

 

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

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God  

The Blessed Mother holding little Jesus in a garden. By a Belgian artist.

Madonna and Child, Art by Bradi Barth

Today’s Gospel

LK 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

 

On this feast of Mary the mother of God, I would like to emphasize specially the word today’s Gospel associates with her: treasured. “Mary treasured these things and reflected on them in her heart.” She pondered them, turned them over, sought out their causes, saw their implications, allowed them to work their way into the marrow of her bones.

Bl. John Henry Newman said that this treasuring quality of Mary makes her the patroness of theology. He furthermore observed that theology is one of the marks of a healthy Catholicism. Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Dante, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Newman himself, and John Paul II are all Marian figures in this sense.

So when you know your mission, be astonished by what God has done, and never stop treasuring it.

~ By Bishop Robert Barron 

Simplicity Serves Best

Nativity ~ By unknown artist

To a Christian it is very simple to come into contact with God. God is not just the goal at the end of a long and hard journey. In Jesus Christ, God is the way itself. As soon as we take the first stumbling steps on this way, we are together with God. 
No demanding exercises in concentrating are needed, no heroic asceticism. The only thing needed is to genuinely love Jesus. Love entrusts itself to the beloved, opens itself to him or her, trusts him or her. If such a genuine love of Jesus fills our hearts, then everything else will follow.
Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. We don’t need a telescope to scout for God. God is near; he is our traveling companion. We need only let him take us by the hand. Since God has shown himself on the earth and has pitched his tent among us, he is “grab-able” to all.
It is not through profound speculation that we grow in our relationship with God, but through the unsophisticated faith of the heart, and the trust in what transcends human understanding. When we bow before the mystery that has come so close to us in Jesus, then he reveals himself most clearly. 

~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

Miracle in Our Midst

Angel to shepherds by Carl Bloch

Angel to shepherds in the field ~ Art by Carl Bloch

The oxen and the mules who silently witness the birth of the child in Bethlehem may be wiser than we, who like to talk the divine to pieces. Before the miracle of Christmas, only silence is appropriate. Even if some words are said, they do explain that which cannot be explained; they can only attempt to convey that the mystery of Christmas is totally unfathomable.

The shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem experience something wonderful when the angels appear in shining glory, proclaiming what has happened. For a moment, all of heaven comes near to earth. But angels soon leave, and the night becomes cold and dark once again.

Yet something definitive has changed in the hearts of the shepherds. They leave heaven behind them in order to seek out the sign promised by the angels. There is nothing exceptional about the child they find, and the glory of the Lord which they saw in the field is hidden here in the shoddy stable and manger in which the child lies.  It is all so ordinary.

There have been many wonders and miracles in the history of Christianity. But when the incredible happens—when God becomes human—it takes place in the utmost simplicity, without a stir. No special wonders are needed. The incarnation of God is itself the great wonder. A miracle so great and astounding that not even eternity is enough to understand it. But to God it is so self-evident and natural that he has no need to make anything of it.

~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

Christmas Within

A manger filled with Love ~ Art by unknown artist

 

The mystery of Christmas is not a reality outside of you. It is realized only if it becomes a reality within you.
Mary and Joseph sought shelter. And the King of Kings  was satisfied with a poor stable and manger meant for cattle. Is there a shelter for him within you—he doesn’t ask for much—or are you so preoccupied with your own that there is no room for him?
If you let Jesus be born in you, you become a messenger of love. Then you will no longer do anything just for your own sake. Everything will be inspired by Love. If you continually make a home for him in your heart, he will continually become visible in and through you. As he is ceaselessly born of the Father, he will ceaselessly be born in you.
Do not think that you must have something big and magnificent to offer him. It is his presence that makes your poverty shine with divine light. He is most comfortable in the simple and unassuming, if only the door is opened to him.

~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

Eternity Born in Time

 

The Nativity by Bradi Barth

The Nativity ~ Art by Bradi Barth

Christ—the Word—is eternally begotten of the Father. “The Lord said to my Lord: You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.” (Entrance antiphon for Christmas, Mass at Midnight).
It happens outside of time, in the mystery of eternity. In this birth, God reveals his own blessedness. Continuously, he goes outside of himself, and he does this so completely that, in and through this, he gives birth to a Son who is just like him, just as great, just as divine as he is.
The Son is like the Father in everything, except in that he is the one who receives  everything and the Father the one who gives everything.  He is God in the manner of the Son, and the Father is God in the manner of the Father. God is not a monologue; God is dialogue. And the harmony between Father and the Son is so complete, so full of life, that it forms a Third in the communion. The Spirit is the spark of love that always jumps from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father.
That God has revealed himself to you, this is the great Christmas gift to you. This gift also contains an order of trust. You must bear witness to the true love that has become visible on earth, when the Son who is eternally begotten of the Father is born in time as well.

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is the birth given most attention at Christmas. But if you don’t see this birth in connection with the eternal birth of the Word from the Father, then you miss what is essential. Then all that is left is a little romantic mood-making: a sweet child who for a few moments may touch your heart, but who is really not allowed to seize your heart.
God’s Incarnation is the greatest mystery in Christianity, the most incomprehensible and unfathomable. How can the great God make himself so little? How can this vulnerable, crying baby be “my Lord and my God”?
It is precisely  this mystery that is the great stumbling block for non-Christians. But if you believe this, you have the solution to all the riddles and difficulties in the world.
Then you can no longer doubt that God loves his creation. That the Almighty God has become a little child, for our sake, is a definitive proof of the definitive victory of his love. To doubt that you are loved by God is only possible if you forget the manger.

~ A Christmas medidation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.   

 Wishing you All a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

My Winter Garden

 

Simple, yet beautiful!

My Winter Garden ~ Photo source unknown

Winter has finally arrived, all is white in my garden.
The beauty and stillness of this season is so good for times of prayerful anticipation of Your holy birth,
I love my garden at this holy time. I wait for Your blessed arrival one more time into my heart.

Oh precious Baby, lover of my soul and a constant companion in my life.

Beloved friend and savior, the whole earth and universe is full of Your glory. Everything is impregnated with Your precious aroma.
There is a deep quietude around my garden and around my heart. I sense Your holy presence soon to come.

There are no birds or colorful flowers in my garden at this time. The blanket of the white snow covers it all.
All nature is in reverence. It is also waiting like me for Your coming.

Oh blessed Baby, let me prepare an inn in my heart for you. A place of welcome, of warmth, of love.
A place where You can grow and unite entirely to me. Let me be still my Beloved. Let me joyfully sing praises to You here and for eternity.

Oh happy heart that rejoices in You! 

 

~ My Personal Reflection

The Living Flame Of Love

Painting by Celine Martin : St John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross ~ Art by Celine Martin

“This was requested of me by the Carmel, as he was known. I focused on creating a strong contrast with the cross.” Céline’s note. (taken from the Archives du Carmel de Lisieux)

Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God. 

1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.

3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.

4. How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.
~ Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

Saying “Yes” to God

Franz Ittenbach 1813 Königswinter - 1879 Düsseldorf Maria Immaculata. 1838. Öl auf Holz. Unten links signiert und datiert ''F. Ittenbach. 1838''. Min. rest. Gerahmt. 41,6 x 28 cm

Maria Immaculata ~ Art by  Franz Ittenbach, 1879

When John writes about the wedding in Cana, he very briefly points out that “the mother of Jesus was there” (Jn 2:1). Where Jesus is, there is Mary as well. She is always there. When Jesus dies, Mary is still there. She is under the cross. Why is Mary always there? Not directly to help Jesus, but to help us.

“Do whatever he tells you,” she says to the waiters in Cana and to all of us. She exhorts us to listen to her Son and to do what he asks. She not only says it: She is, in all of her life, a model of listening and obedience.

The fact that Mary wholeheartedly followed God’s will made it possible for him to save humankind. In and through Mary, the whole creation says “yes” to God and receives his gift. Through Mary, God’s request receives a perfect answer. Without her “yes,” the dialogue between God and humankind wouldn’t have progressed.

At the same time as her “yes” gives God opportunity to save you, it also gives you occasion to follow her. She teaches you to say the same “yes” to God as she did, so that the salvation of the world can be your personal salvation as well.

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

A Very Blessed Feast of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary!