All for God

 

Jesus The Forest Meeting by Amy McCutcheon
Art by Amy McCutcheon

 

Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!
~ Matthew 13:16

 

We must resolve to put the whole of our sense life at God’s service. We must refuse to use our senses except when their exercise is for the honour and glory of God.

We can so easily presume that the whole bent of our being is to God, and fail to recognize how we allow ourselves dangerous distractions; how we allow ourselves to notice and nose into other people’s business; how we yield to useless curiosity, indulge ourselves in countless ways.

Hold up! Fix your eyes on the perfect Son. Hold yourself in your hands so that your activities are controlled, that you know what you are doing, and are not drifting by carelessly occupied with trifles, occupied with yourself.

Our whole way of life should be helping us to this true recollection, this concentration on God. Sustained discipline is absolutely essential if we are to belong to God.

‘Many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what your hear, and never heard it.’ Let’s weigh these words.

How utterly privileged we are to know Christ Jesus our Lord. How privileged to have access to his words, his thoughts . . . Do we really see this as an unheard of privilege?  We shall answer that question truthfully by looking at what we do. Are we always most seriously, with everything we have in us, trying to get to know him and trying to live according to his teaching?

. . . The torch is sweeping slowly round our room. Do we want to see the cobwebs? Do we want to remove them? Or do we allow our eyes to rest on them for a brief moment only, and then go on just as before.

 

~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.

 

Jesus, holy and beloved
hold me always in your ‘yes’.
Let nothing matter to me from this moment
but the Father’s good pleasure,
the coming of his kingdom.
Let me not matter to myself.
I have only one short life in which to love
in difficulty and pain,
trusting in the dark and non-seeming.
Opportunities come and pass forever,
never to return.
Let me not miss one,
let my life be lived in total love:

There is no other way of living a truly human life.
 

The Temptation to Shame Others

 

Sieger Köder2
Art by Fr. Sieger Köder

 

John 8: 31-42


Jesus tells the Jewish authorities that being a true descendant of Abraham comes not from physical ancestry but from doing the will of God.


 

Justin Martyr wrote that some Jews who lived during the time of Jesus believed that because they were “descendants of Abraham according to the flesh [they would] certainly share in the eternal kingdom, even though they be faithless sinners and disobedient to God’ (363). This may have been the reason, or one of the reasons why, when Jesus said that if they were slaves to sin then they had no “permanent place in the family,” the people in today’s gospel vehemently assert their descent from Abraham. It is worth noting that it was not his adversaries who lashed out at Jesus; rather, “those Jews who believed in him” did. Here we encounter a common dynamic of daily life, namely, how when we feel threatened our behavior toward others, even those who are close to us, can change in a moment.

Furthermore, today’s gospel sets before us the vindictive venom that we can spew on others when we are either threatened or angry. When Jesus says to his audience that they are not Abraham’s children, they fire back, “We are not illegitimate children!” This retort is retaliatory, for the original Greek contains the implication that “we are not illegitimate but you are.”

Because Mary had conceived out of wed-lock, Jesus was considered illegitimate. In Saint Mark’s gospel, for example, the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth express their contempt of him by saying in derision, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” In the ancient world, a man was called by his mother’s name only if he were illegitimate. One rumor said at a Roman soldier named Panthera was the father of Jesus. The statement, “We are no illegitimate breed!” implies that the rumor of Jesus’ illegitimacy was public knowledge and followed him wherever he went.

Like those in today’s gospel, all of us are privy to the skeletons in other people’s closets. We are keenly aware of the vulnerabilities of others and know where they are susceptible to shame and how to make them feel inferior. When threatened or angry, we can be tempted to attack where others are easily hurt. How often, in a moment of anger, have we dredged up a person’s past and thrown it in his or her face? How often have we gone for the jugular because we felt defenseless? How often have we shamed someone to protect ourselves from being shamed?

 

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

 

 

Connections

 

friends and soul friends
Art source unknown

 

Where did I learn to connect physical things with spiritual truths? My parents never let me forget that every task, however ordinary, is of redeeming supernatural value, if done out of love.

Awareness of little things done well for the love of God is daily living lifted up into the heart of Christ. It means we rise in the morning, aware that this day is given to us so that we may grow in grace and wisdom before the Lord. It means that we have been given another day to spend in the school of God’s love.

In order to enter heaven, we must be lovers. For instance, we wash the dishes for love of God. When you serve your family, do it quietly and efficiently. If you learn to connect serving to prayer, you will grow in wisdom and love, and you will become a light shining in the darkness of the world. This light from your loving service will lead people to God.

 

~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

 

“It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 7:21 

 

 

Brother Lawrence Prayer,
17th century French Carmelite monk

O Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Amen!

Fifth Sunday of Lent

 

Christ and the woman taken in adultery art by lorenzo lotto
Christ and the woman taken in adultery, art by Lorenzo Lotto

 

 

Cycle C: John 8: 1-11


The Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery to see if he will condemn her. Jesus simply says to them, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at her.”


 

In John Cheever’s short story “The Country Husband,” Francis Weed is attending a cocktail party, when the maid serving the drinks arrests his attention. Francis had seen her before, when he was station in Trenon, France, at the end of World War II. She had been the subject of a public chastisement because she had lived with the German commandant during the Occupation.

It was a cool morning in the fall. The sky was overcast and poured down onto the dirt crossroads a very discouraging light…. The prisoner arrived sitting on a tree-legged stool in a farm cart. She stood by the cart while the mayor read the accusation and the sentence. Her head was bent … [and] when the mayor was finished, she undid her hair … and a little man with a gray mustache cut off her hair with shears and dropped it on the ground. Then, with a bowl of soapy water and a straight razor, he shaved her skull clean. A woman approached and began to undo the fastenings of her clothes…. She [stood there] naked. The women jeered; the men were still … the cold wind made her white skin rough and hardened the nipples of her breasts. The jeering ended gradually, put down by the recognition of their common humanity. (391)

When Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” he invited them to recognize the common humanity that they shared with the woman. He didn’t condemn the Pharisees and scribes any more than he condemn the woman. He simply bent down and gave them time to reflect upon their lives. We are told that they drifted away one by one, beginning with the oldest.

The judgment of the Pharisees and scribes was not rash, for the woman was guilty of adultery. Rather, it was harsh. But once they reflected upon their own sins and their desire for a merciful judgment from God, they could recognize their common, frail humanity in the shamed, guilt ridden creature that stood before them. As their judgments softened, their clenched fists loosened and they released the stones they were holding.

 

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

 

 

 

 

He Thirsts For You!

 

He thirsts for you
My photo, April 2019

 

I just got back from the Canadian Conference on Evangelization & Catechesis – He thirsts for you!  in Ottawa from April 4th to 6th. It was a time of great fellowship among many friends from the different Dioceses in Canada. We all had the blessing to listen to great keynote speakers like Dr. Josephine Lombardi, presenting ‘At the well: The encounter that transforms’; Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, presenting ‘From the well to the world’; and  Most Rev. William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary, presenting ‘Returning to the well: Ongoing transformation’. We also enjoyed the beautiful presentation of my dear friend and sister in Carmel Elisa Lollino, OCDS. She did her one-woman play ‘He thirsts for you’.
We also had the wonderful opportunity to attend a variety of educational and inspirational workshops. They helped us to expand our minds and hearts in the Christian faith so we can share it with others.

In the ‘Letter of Welcome’ of the Most Rev. Lionel Gendron, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he stated: “Inspired by the Gospel of John 4: 5-42 the phrase He thirsts for you speaks of God’s desire that we experience deeply his love for us. Saint Teresa of Calcutta, in one of her letters, asks a very important question of the members of the Missionaries of Charity:

Why does Jesus say “I Thirst”? What does it mean? Something so hard to explain in words—if you remember anything from Mother’s letter, remember this—“I thirst” is something much deeper than Jesus saying “I love you.” Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him. (Mother Teresa, Letter to Her Spiritual Family, March 25, 1993)

It is this thirst that the Samaritan woman experiences in her encounter with Jesus at the well. It is this thirst which propels her to go and enthusiastically tell others about what she has learned from Him. It is this thirst that makes her a missionary disciple.

Like the Samaritan woman, we too are called and empowered to become ever more missionary disciples who, having encountered Christ, are filled with the Spirit and sent to spread the Good News. We are sent forth to share with our brothers and sisters that, by the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been saved, we are loved deeply and in a transforming way for God.”

 

Jesus and the samaritan woman
Art source unknown

 

Woman

Walking
in the searing sunlight.
Glare stinging my eyes
with sudden tears.
Behind the fortress walls
of surrounding houses
They surely watch.

I can barely raise
one foot after another.
Dust chokes
my dry mouth.
This pot, my burden
Unfilled,
like a dead weight
on my body.

I walk
this daily walk
of torment.
I walk
Alone.
It has been
for such a long time now.
Must it always be so?

The Well

Today I met him
such a man
as I have longed to meet
for all my life.
Today I met him, I
will never be the same again.

Today I talked to him
such a man
as I have longed to talk to
all my life.
A man who talked with me
as if he had known me
all my life.

Today he looked at me.
He smiled at me
as none else has ever done before.
He knew my sin
and yet
he took my cup.

Joy unquenchable
fills me,
Messiah.
I will speak his words
throughout the land.
I will never be the same.
Because today
I met Him.

~ A poem by Josephine Collett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael

 

Saint Michael unknown artist
Saint Michael the Archangel, art source unknown

 

Michael is a prince of God and page of Mary.
He stands beside the tall throne of his Queen.
He is the warrior who made peace in heaven
and keeps the earth serene.

Then why should I take fright when foes or demons
assail me with their treacheries or wrath,
when I have knowledge that the Queen’s archangel
is keeper of my path?

O heart, believe. The great winged prince of heaven
watches the Queen’s child with a warrior’s eye
and lifts his flaming spear and comes like lightning
at the first cry.

 

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

 

 

“I have great reverence for Saint Michael the Archangel; he had no example to follow in doing the will of God, and yet he fulfilled God’s will faithfully.”
~ St. Faustina Kowalska

 

“O glorious prince Saint Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor, you who shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil, who turn to you with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day. Amen!”