St. John the Baptist: Baptism

 

Icon4
Icon of St. John the Forerunner, art source unknown

 

A Sonnet for St. John the Baptist:

 

Love’s hidden thread has drawn us to the font,

A wide womb floating on the breath of God,

Feathered with seraph wings, lit with the swift

Lightening of praise, with thunder over-spread,

And under-girded with an unheard song,

Calling through water, fire, darkness, pain,

Calling us to the life for which we long,

Yearning to bring us to our birth again.

Again the breath of God is on the waters

In whose reflecting face our candles shine,

Again he draws from death the sons and daughters

For whom he bid the elements combine.

As living stones around a font today,

Rejoice with those who roll the stone away.

 

~ By Malcolm Guite – this sonnet was published in the book ‘Sounding of the Seasons,’ a cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year.

The Life of Prayer – Meditation #2

 

Jesus Let us adore Him art by annie henrie
Art by Annie Henrie

 

Since prayer does not consist in thinking much but in loving much, a life of continual prayer will consist much more in love than in thought. Nevertheless, a certain amount of mental activity is necessary, either to direct the heart toward God, or to maintain it in this direction.

The soul who applies itself well to mental prayer will easily be able to collect in itself some good thoughts which it can use during the day to keep its heart turned toward God. Therefore, it will be useful for the soul to try to recall these thoughts often in the midst of its occupations, and to apply them practically to its life.

Thus, for example, if during prayer, we have been considering God’s infinite mercy toward us, we shall strive to preserve this thought even during our occupations, recognizing many signs of this mercy in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves. in fact, many happenings which, from a purely human point of view, are unpleasant and painful, hide, in reality, great mercies of the Lord who, by means of the sorrows, fatigues, and the trials of life, wants to detach us from creatures, make us practice virtue, and advance in goodness. Likewise, in our dealings with our neighbor, we shall try to imitate God’s mercy. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk 6,36). Although our prayer was spent in aridity, without leaving us any definite thought, but only a deeper realization of our nothingness and the infinite greatness of God, we shall make a treasure of it by attempting during the day to fulfill our duties in a spirit of humility and homage to God. We shall rejoice if some opportunity occurs for humbling ourselves, acknowledging our littleness—even before creatures—and exalting the grandeurs of the Lord.

In this way prayer will not be an isolated item in our day, but will permeate it, by conferring on each action and circumstance the tone of continual prayer.

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

 

 

“Give me, O Lord, such great fervor and immense love that I shall see no difference between this or that life, this or that state, person, time, or place, but shall do what is most pleasing to You, whatever or wherever it may be, tending always to You by the affection of my soul. Grant that I may see all things in You, and nothing but You in them, ever eager and anxious to serve You in all things; and that, all on fire and burning with love, I may not take into consideration what is easiest and most agreeable for me, but only what is most pleasing to You.”
~ St. Bonaventure   

 

 

 

Love’s Choice

 

“O God, O Creator, O Spirit of life overwhelming Your creatures with ever new graces!
You grant to Your chosen ones the gift which is ever renewed:
The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!”
~ St. Angela of Foligno

 

The Body and Blood of Christ by Theophilia
The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
Art by Cecilia Lawrence ~ 2018

 

This sonnet is about the experience of receiving Holy Communion:

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air,

A little visitation on my tongue,

A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung

A moment to the palate’s roof and fled,

Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes. Through wine and bread

Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light

Too bright to be denied, too absolute

For consciousness, too strong for sight,

Leaving the seer blind, the poet mute;

Chooses instead to seep into each sense,

To dye himself into experience.

 

~ A Sonnet for Corpus Christi, by Malcolm Guite. It was published in ‘Sounding the Seasons’ a cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year.

 

 

“The eternal tide flows hid in Living Bread. That with its heavenly life too be fed…”
~ St. John of the Cross, O.C.D
 

 

 

Wishing you all a very Blessed Feast of Corpus Christi!

 

The Way of Gratitude

 

Holy Spirit by carolle powell
The Holy Spirit, art by Carole J. Powell

 

How can we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let joy, and thus him, for he is joy, fill us?

There is a king’s highway that leads directly to the goal, and that is gratitude. It is unthinkable that one could be grateful and unhappy at the same time. The remarkable thing about gratitude is that it naturally and almost automatically grows and tends toward an ever greater unselfishness. It begins rather egocentrically: I have received a gift that makes me happy. My gratitude is kindled by the fact that one of my needs has been satisfied, that one of my wishes has been fulfilled.

But as soon as I begin to give thanks, my attention, which was at first fixed on myself, turns toward my benefactor, God. The emphasis, which before was on me, is transplanted little by little into God. I thank you because you have given me. I thank you because you are so good to me. I thank you because you are so good that it could occur to you to think of me. I thank you because you are so wonderful.

I become more and more freed from myself and ever more fascinated by God’s love and beauty.
It begins with me and ends with you. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!” (Song 4:1).

Again, it is the Eucharist that gives us a splendid example of this progressive shift from man to God, from the gift to the Giver. We begin the Eucharistic Prayer thanking God for creating us, for in his mercy coming to help of all people, for sending his Son To save us.

But it always ends with the great doxology (praise), in which man, in total forgetfulness of himself, is completely absorbed in God’s glory: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.”

 
~ A Meditation of Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

“Come Holy Spirit, come,
and enkindle in us the fire of your love.”

 

 

A blessed Pentecost Sunday to you all!

 

 

The Spirit, the Hidden Treasure in Your Field

 

Holy Spirit within ones soul by rebecca brogan
The Holy Spirit within ones soul, art by Rebecca Brogan

 

The goal of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is Pentecost. If God has become man, if he has suffered and died for us and risen from the dead, it is in order finally to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it with crystal clear words: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).

In one of the manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel, it says “May your Holy Spirit come”, instead of may “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). God’s kingdom is identified with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with him, God is truly Lord in us.

The theology of the West is sometimes criticized for its “mono-Christ-ism”. It seems that theologians have devoted themselves in a biased, almost exclusive way toward Christ. But we cannot understand Christ, the truth, if we are not led by the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Perhaps this is also the reason why the theology of the West is so cold, dry, and abstract. The flame is missing. We have needed the Charismatic Renewal to become aware that the Church is not only the Church of Christ but also the Church of the Holy Spirit.

There are three Persons in God. We may not omit or pass over any one of them. Each one of the three Persons has his own function and his own role. We miss out on something essential if we limit ourselves to one or two Persons.

In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). We could speak of a cosmic Pentecost, which prepared, and in some way even anticipated, the actual and definitive Pentecost. The Spirit is present from the beginning, and he sighs in creation and makes it sigh with him. “We know”, writes Saint Paul, “that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains” (Rom 8:22). It begins already on the first day of creation, and this groaning is the work of the Spirit.

It is man’s calling to be a conscious pneumatoforos (Spirit bearer). What is unconscious in creation becomes conscious in man. It is his function to interpret the language of creation, to be in harmony with it and articulate it, so that it becomes a song of praise that not only God but even his fellowmen can understand.

 
~ A Mediation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

Holy Virgin, I Beg You

 

Mary Mother of God The teotokos
Mary, Mother of God: The Teotokos, art by Bradi Barth

 

St. Ildephonsus of Toledo, Spain, was proclaiming the joy of being “a servant of Mary” already in the 7th century. In one of his prayers he brings to full light the idea of Mary’s virginal Motherhood as a model of spiritual life for the Christian.

Mary must obtain for us from the Holy Spirit the grace for Christ to be formed spiritually in us just as she, through the power of the same Spirit, fashioned Christ according to the flesh.

 

Holy Virgin, I beg you:
enable me to receive Jesus from the Spirit,
according to the same process by which you bore Jesus.

May my soul possess Jesus
thanks to the Spirit
through Whom you conceived Jesus.

May the grace to know Jesus
be granted to me through the Spirit
Who enabled you to know how to possess Jesus
and bring Him forth.

May my littleness show forth the greatness of Jesus
in virtue of the Spirit in Whom
you recognized yourself as the handmaid of the Lord,
desiring that it be done to you
according to the word of the Angel.

May I love Jesus in the Spirit
in Whom you adored Him as your Lord
and looked after Him as your Son.

~ St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

 

~ From the book “Prayers to Mary” by Most Rev. Virgilio Noe

 

 

May, a blessed month with Our Lady!

 

The Old Has Died

 

trusting in the Lord art by Elizabeth Wang
Trusting in the Lord, art by Elizabeth Wang

 

By the cross of Jesus Christ “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). Not the world as God created it, but the spirit of the world: the conceit, the greed, and the egoism that are within us.

All this has died to me, Paul testifies. Therefore, it can’t control me, it has no claim on me, it can’t be the starting point of my actions.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the world has made its mark on you. But this cannot hurt you if you merely see it as a trace of something that has died. Nobody can be afraid of what has already died. The new life in Christ is your genuine reality.

Many people who begin to spend time in interior prayer complain that they become so very absent-minded. Thoughts rush in like horses in a gallop. What am I to do about that? they wonder uneasily. What definitely not to do is fight these thoughts aggressively or be afraid of them. If you fight or become afraid, you show that you take these thoughts seriously.

The only thing to take seriously is the new creation within you, the new life which is the life of Christ in you. Everything else is completely uninteresting: it has died, and you don’t have to lose time and energy on it.

The Christian life is so much simpler than you think. You don’t have to walk around fighting all kinds of things, or desperately try to conquer God. A Christian begins in the victory. The old has irrevocably died and come to an end. You must rest in the new that you already been given.

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

 

 

When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus, He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours.
~ Saint Angela Merici

 

 

As It Could Have Been

 

walk-with-me-by-yongsung-kim-
Walk with Me, art by Yongsung Kim

 

In the Bible, it is primarily the books of Job, Lamentations, and Psalms that express the darker side of our journey to God. The bright side is perhaps best described in the Song of Songs.

The Song of Songs sings of the only essential thing in life for which we were created: Love. And it does so with spark, enthusiasm, and an irresistible faith in love. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song 8:7).
This unparalleled poetry shows us how the world could have been had we not lost paradise. Love is enough in itself. For those who live in absolute love, few words are needed to talk about God. Innocence or sin are not treated. Love encompasses all, and neither questions nor answers are needed any longer.

This devoted and burning love points to the new fire which the new Adam has come to light on the earth (Lk 12:49). It is a prophecy of the jubilant love dance of the blessed at the wedding feast of the Lamb. It sings of the love between Christ and the Church, between Christ and every Christian. Such is the Christian life, such as it ought to be. The two who enjoy each other “among the lilies” (Song 2:16, 6:2) are the great Lover, God, and his beloved bride, humankind.

The Christian life has nothing to do with objectivity and cold duty. To the ones who enter into relationship with God, life becomes and adventure of love.

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

 

 

“O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved!”
Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

 

God Alone Suffices

 

Icon 3
Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Paternitas 1855 (State Museum of Palekh Art)

 

Ultimately, there really is only one thing you unequivocally can ask God: that he be your all. There is no need to coach God as to how best he ought to fulfill your needs. God is all, and, when he gives himself, he gives you everything you need. If you possess God, there is nothing more for which you can ask.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is completely focused on God himself: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. Following that, you are free to ask for what you think you need, but these special petitions must always be rooted in surrender to—and longing for—God’s very self.

The closer you are to God, the more emphasis is on the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The more you trust God, the less you are inclined to specify your prayers for the various needs you may have for yourself and others.

There is a restless concern that is not of God, a restlessness that comes from trying to carry the suffering of the world on your own shaky shoulders, rather than laying it in God’s hands.

The one who in surrender commends the world to God will continue to feel compassion for all who suffer. But it is a compassion that is held up by a deep peace rooted in the knowledge that God, who is almighty, loves everyone and can assimilate everything in his plan to save the world.

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

God Is Not Angry!

 

Cross in a blizzard art by jozef chelmonski 1907
Art by Jozef Chelmonski (1907)

 

Our God is different than we think. We have all heard of a God who demands atonement, a God who is just and wants restitution for the injustice he has been suffering. But our God is not justice. Our God is love.

We don’t need to reconcile God to us. God is reconciliation itself. God has never turned his gaze from us. It is we who have turned away from him. God had been waiting for us all along. No, not only waited. . .God has run to meet us with such overwhelming proofs of his love that it ought not possible for us to close our eyes to them.

It is not for us to appease God’s anger. God is not angry with us. Love is not resentful (1 Cor 13:5). It is, rather, God who tries to calm humanity’s anger. But he hasn’t been able to, since humanity is still angry at God. Has there ever been a time like our own in which humanity has been so cruel toward God? God is accused as never before: “What kind of God is it that allows for so much evil?”

Much of this human revolt against God is in reality directed toward a caricature of God—a God who seeks to judge, a God who looks for the first opportunity to punish. Such a God is only to be feared or despised.

But a God who hangs defenselessly on a cross, and who—with arms outstretched in a worldwide embrace—tries to unite all people with himself and one another, such a God is not hard to love.

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

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this trying and unprecedented times with COVID-19 Global Pandemic. . .
May God’s strength, healing and peace be with us all and the whole world!