Showing the Face of Christ

Jesus prince of Peace by Akiane

Prince of Peace, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

He who eats the Bread of the Lord must in turn be “eaten up” by others. Having received God, who is love, we must give love. We who work in the front lines of spiritual warfare know that this is the only answer for a world so desperately in search of meaning.

Only when we who call ourselves Christians show the face of the resurrected Christ will seekers of God be able to see and touch him. This has to be done person to person. It cannot be done en masse. Each person needs to know that he or she is loved—loved as a friend, loved as a brother or sister in Christ. Only in the eyes of another can we find the image of Christ.

~ A meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty


“This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
~ 1 John 4:21


 

Gently

resting on the heart of Christ

Resting on the Heart of Christ, art by Giotto di Bondone (1304-06)

 

Christ told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else. How important it is to be gentle with oneself!

We so often flagellate ourselves, dwelling on our sins and thinking we are horrible people. We harass ourselves, thinking of the wrong decisions we have made and the sins we have committed. We wound ourselves unceasingly, and we exhaust ourselves in the process.

We forget that the gentleness of God is part of his mercy. We forget that if we but turn to him and say, “I’m sorry”, the sin is erased completely. He does not remember the sin. His mercy overshadows all.

How do you learn to be gentle? St. John used to recline on the breast of Christ. I think we will become gentle with ourselves and others if we do likewise. Then we will hear the heartbeats of God, and we will be able to help others hear them.

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty


“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
~ Matthew 11:28-29


 

Healing

ChristCleansing the leper

Christ healing the leper, art by Jean-Marie Melchior Doze, 1864

 

The pity of God is immense and profound. It is like a fresh wind that comes up suddenly on a torrid day. It is like a cool evening, when the sky is pink and blue and red, and beautiful to behold. It is as gentle as a loving mother rocking a cradle. It is like oil that softens the heart.

If we let God’s pity penetrate the deepest levels of our being, so many painful things will disappear. If we allow the gentleness of Christ to take hold of us, so many of our inner hurts, fears and negative emotions can be assuaged. We will find our depression lifting, for it is Christ himself who visits the very depths of our heart. Having lifted up the crushed and bruised soul, he embraces the whole person, and speaks words of tender affection. Even sin can be burned up in this pity, for God loves sinners.

If we enter into the divine pity, we will ourselves be able to extend it towards others, embracing them, holding them, and calling them “Brother, sister, friend.”

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

 



“A leper came to him and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to,’ he said, ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured.'”

~ Matthew 8:2-3


“Let us not grow tired of prayer: confidence works miracles.”
~ Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, O.C.D.

 

 

One Thing is Necessary


“O poor little one, tossed with tempest, without all comfort, behold I will lay thy stones in order, and will lay the foundations with sapphires.”  (Isa. 54, 11.)

Jesus by george kordis

Icon of Jesus by artist George Kordis

 

If we only knew the one thing necessary! (Luke x., 42.) If we only thought of building the one house upon the one foundation! But what can we expect? We build upon the sand.
Is it any wonder that the house will not stand? Such winds blow! Such floods come down! And when the dilapidated building has almost tumbled to the ground, we go into retreat to try to prop it up. And like a child who sees his house of cards collapse and wishes to put it up again, we think about making fresh resolutions and new practices, as external and shallow and incoherent as those which have preceded them: therefore, as frail; and our building is bound to come to the ground once more when smitten by the winds and the floods. And we do not think of trying to find the rock, we do not endeavour to build upon a solid and deep foundation. Do we even know that our building must have a foundation?

In order to erect a building, one must first of all pay attention to the foundations. Without a foundation there is nothing solid, nothing strong, and nothing lasting. The important thing, therefore, is to know the foundations of the Spiritual Life, and to lay them down strongly, and to set the building of perfection on the one basis, apart from which nothing can be erected: “for no one can lay other foundation than that which has been already laid.”

Would that we could say with St. Paul: “According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation which is Christ Jesus.”  (I Cor. III, X-XI.)

If the natural rock possesses such astonishing abundance of beauty and wealth, what must be the magnificence, and bounty, and graciousness of the Spiritual Rock, the Living Stone, the Good, the Lovable, Christ! And what should we think of ourselves who are called upon to be living stones built up, a spiritual house, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Jesus Christ, the Corner-stone of life! Weakness takes root with Divine Rock! Sullen clay finds a home in the Living Spiritual Stone! The finite goes in quest of the Infinite! The streamlet loses itself in the great Ocean of God! How lifeless and insignificant when unflooded by His Light!

When the Master spoke of the unshakable house whose foundation was cut deep into, and built upon a rock, He was speaking of Himself as the only safe and secure foundation for the soul amid the winds and waves and whirl-blasts of time. The rain fell, the floods came, the winds beat vehemently upon the house, but did not shake it for it was embedded in the impregnable and unchanging Rock. The rock then is a happy symbol of the sustaining power, the grandeur, the majesty of Christ, to whom we must cling until He draws us down to dwell within Himself. There we shall find the riches of His wisdom and knowledge which will enable us to go through life, not only as strong and mighty warriors, but with a superabundance of love which renders the rough ways smooth, and makes bearable the painful.

Taking root in Christ is seldom accomplished in a day. Little by little through fidelity to His inspirations, we take a firmer hold of the strong and loving Lord. It is not always easy to be faithful to grace, but it is the building up, stone by stone, of this spiritual house in which we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Jesus Christ, which accomplishes the task.

We catch glimpses here and there, of the marvels of grace in the souls of others. We see men and women of the world bearing weighty burdens of care and responsibility with a smile upon their lips and a kindliness of manner at which we wonder. Others, with lifelong sorrows pressing upon the heart—sorrows from which there is no escape, but about which the sufferers are silent and uncomplaining, because of their love for Him to whom they offer holocausts within the shelter of their soul. Could we but see the thousands of hidden sanctuaries ablaze with the light of heeded grace, we should strive to be of the number of those whose ambition it is to keep aglow every taper of spiritual light shed upon us by the inexhaustible bounty of the Holy Spirit. These sanctuaries are everywhere—not only in the cloister but all along the highways of life, amid the din and noise and laughter of the world, down among the slums and water fronts of great cities, even in the midst of corruption where it seems impossible for sinlessness to thrive; there we find the exquisite touch of God’s grace, for the Master has His friends in every walk of life.

Locality is no obstacle to the entrance of Divine Grace within the soul. It halts before each casement begging for admittance; we have but to open the door and bid it welcome and our house will be flooded with light which, day by day, will increase in brightness until all things will be seen and judged by the brilliancy of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of the friends of Christ and He has many such. These friends are generally hidden, but their strength, resulting from fidelity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, is felt by others who are influenced and sustained by it. The things that are visible to the naked eye are, for the most part, temporal, whereas the things hidden and unguessed, unlooked for and obscure, are eternal.

How often does not our superficial spiritual life leave Jesus outside and on the surface! And He Himself declares that He wishes to dwell within the soul, and the soul to dwell within Himself. (John XV, 4.) Is not the point to which souls must be brought to-day, when so many of them have forgotten the paths of the Interior Life—the fundamental dogma of the Indwelling of God in the soul?

The abiding of Christ involves the positive clinging to Him. It is like the growth of friendship; at first these two people were very little to each other, but by interaction and acts of kindness they grew to know each other better, then one took more hold upon the other’s thoughts, the influence became stronger; when outwardly separated they were less and less apart in thought. The drawing near of two friends or their separation is like nothing else. It is the mysterious action of one person upon another. So is the soul’s coming to the Master of Love. The mind is more constantly filled with His Presence, His influence gradually penetrates through the whole soul, shaping and forming the character. The first question in coming to any decision is, “What would He wish?” The last question when any work is done is, “Will it be pleasing to Him?” The whole character is swayed and controlled by His influence. How wonderful it is to see many a rough, undisciplined, self-centered man pass beneath the spell of that Sacred Presence and gradually become transformed, still indeed himself, but with all that unmistakable characteristic that betokens His work.

~ A Meditation compiled by A Religious, ‘In Love with the Divine Outcast’ 1934

 


“A God is the Divine Guest of my soul, dwelling there day and night, desirous of receiving the unceasing homage of my intimate friendship and my love.”


 

 

Live in the Light!

 

art by akiane kamarik between my fingers

Between My Fingers, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

Light is a symbol for everything that is good in our lives. God knew we can’t live without light, and therefore the first word he uttered when he, in the beginning, created heaven and earth were: “Let there be light.” And there was light. And God saw that the light was good (Gen 1:3-4).

We see for ourselves that the light is good. That is why we seek it out whenever we can. Unfortunately, we often look in the wrong direction.

Even though God separated the light from darkness on the first day of creation, we often do not see the difference. We confuse the two, seeing light as darkness and darkness as light.

We no longer have clear insights. Things have gone so far that, at times, it is considered a pity to possess clear, unequivocal answers to the questions of life. Some hold that it is a sign of courage to dare living with doubt. Still others stretch tolerance so thin in ethical and religious questions that they no longer see any line between true and false. They think everything is equally good.

Is humanity intent on taking creation back to the original chaos? God has drawn clear lines between light and darkness. But humankind—no longer listening to God—can’t distinguish between day and night, good and evil, left and right.

Yet, the light is there, independent of our confusion, and offers itself to anyone who is open to receive.

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

 

 

Let There Be Light

Over the water of the world again
the Spirit broods;
Over the chaos the minds of all
and down the dream-deserted solitudes.

I know His ominous presence, and I hear
His prophecy of flight
over a world of thought at the first clear
and thunderous dismissal of the night.

How shall that burst of radiance be greeted
as, from the black abyss,
the first day wakens when it hears repeated
that cry to light, torn out of Genesis?

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

 

art by akiane kamarik the reflection

The Reflection, art by Akiane Kramarik

Through Division to Unity

Holy Spirit within ones soul by rebecca brogan

The Holy Spirit within one’s soul, art by Rebecca Brogan

 

Jesus says: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (Lk 12:51). To understand the meaning of what Jesus says, we must remember that there are two kinds of peace: a false one and true one.

Jesus definitely came to bring peace, true peace. But in order to accomplish it, he must first destroy the false peace. This process of destruction is a kind of warfare, and it starts when the fire, which Jesus had spoken about in the previous verses, burns in someone. This fire is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit shakes us up in order to show that all that appeared peaceful has nothing to do with true peace. The Spirit exposes our egoism and narcissism. The Spirit forces us to question old values and to gather all our energy—which formerly went in all directions—so that it begins to focus on a single goal: God.

From time to time, you will get a foretaste of the unity and peace which the Spirit keeps creating in the midst of all the unrest. A foretaste that encourages you to persevere by making you understand that the unrest is a sacred unrest moving you toward an unimagined peace.

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

 

Pax et Bonum!

 

 

Walking On The Wind

 

Jesus come to me2

Come to Me, art by Yongsung Kim

 

Slow were his steps, for he came from far away. He didn’t want to hurry lest I get startled at his approach.

When he arrived, he bent and took my hand, saying, “Come, let us go to where my Father walked.” We went. It seemed as if our path was but a gentle wind. I had never walked upon the wind. But it was gentle, soft and singing. It sang its joy that he who made it now walked upon it. I could only listen to this song, for it is the Trinity who sang to me in that strange wind we walked upon.

It seemed to me that I began to see both outside and inside at the same time. The world was before me, and so were the hearts of men. I did not understand what happened. I could only absorb the unabsorbable.

I felt a change. His hand tightened upon mine. The gentle wind became a roar. He said, “Listen to it. In it you hear the hunger of men’s hearts for me. You cannot hear as well as we: my Father and I and the Holy Spirit. But you can hear. Ephpheta: let your ears be opened!”

I lost all sense of whatever had been real to me. I entered the roaring wind, holding his hand and trembling as leaves do on a windy night.

Have you ever entered man’s hunger for God? Pray that you never do, unless it be his will, for tears will fill your mind, your heart, your soul. You will drown in your own tears, unless you hold his hand.

Somewhere, some time, I came back, back to the Mass that was going on, in time to feed on bread and wine given to me by him who held my hand and taught me to walk upon the wind.

 

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 


O most Blessed Virgin Mary, assumed into heaven, I beg you to purify my senses so that I may begin to enjoy God even while I am on earth.


 

Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary2

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, art by Bradi Barth

 

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption shows us the route we must follow in our spiritual ascent: detachment from the earth, flight toward God, and union with God.

Our Lady was assumed body and soul into heaven because she was Immaculate; she was- all pure—free not only from every shadow of sin, but even from the slightest attachment to the things of earth, so that she “never had the form of any creature imprinted in her soul, nor was moved by such, but was invariably guided by the Holy Spirit” (J.C. AS III, 2,10). 

The first requirement for attaining God is this total purity, the fruit of total detachment. The Blessed Virgin, who lived her earthly life in absolute detachment from every created thing, teaches us not to allow ourselves to be captivated by the fascination of creatures, but to live among them, occupying ourselves with them with much charity, but without ever letting our heart become attached to them, without ever seeking our satisfaction in them.

In her Assumption Mary speaks to us of flight toward heaven, toward God. It is not enough to purify our heart from sin and all attachment to creatures, we must at the same time direct it toward God, tending toward Him with all our strength. The Church has us pray in today’s Mass for the Feast of the Assumption, “O Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was assumed into heaven, may our hearts, enkindled by the fire of Thy love, continually aspire toward Thee” (Secret). Our earthly life has value for eternal life insofar as it is a flight toward God, a continual seeking after Him, a continual adherence to His grace. When this flight fails, the supernatural value of our existence lessens.

Mary has been taken up to heaven because she is the Mother of God. This is the greatest of her privileges, the root of all the others and the reason for them; it speaks to us, in a very special way, of intimate union with God, as the fact of her Assumption speaks to us of the beatific union of heaven. Mary’s Assumption thus confirms us in this great and beautiful truth: we are created and called to union with God. Mary herself stretches out her maternal hand to guide us to the attainment of this high ideal. If we keep our eyes fixed on her, we shall advance more easily; she will be our guide, our strength, and our consolation in every trial and difficulty.

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

“O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and Mother of men, we believe with all the fervor of our faith in your triumphal Assumption, both body and soul, into heaven, where you are acclaimed as Queen by all the choirs of angels and all the legions of the saints. And we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord who has exalted you above all other pure creatures, and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love.” (Pius XII)

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

God Took the Risk

garden after the storm art by alexi zaitsev

Garden after the Storm, art by Alexi Zaitsev

 

When encountering suffering—whether in ourselves or in someone else—the important question is not “How can God love us when these things are allowed to happen? but rather “We know that God loves us, so what is God’s meaning in allowing such sufferings?”

‘Why doesn’t God, who is almighty, interfere?” many ask. But God’s power is the power of love. And “love” is patient, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things” (1 Cor 13:4, 7).

God refuses to be dragged into the spiral of violence. If God were to use power and authority to end all evil in the world, he would be no better than we are. God does not dictate; he respects us.

God has given us the unfathomable honor of letting us be collaborators in the work of creation. He has shared his intelligence and freedom with us and let us participate in the completion of creation. That God has taken a great risk in doing so is something we experience daily.

But God has esteemed us so highly as co-creators that he doesn’t hesitate to pay the price.

If God wasn’t love, it would be easy for an all-powerful God to take away our freedom and reduce us to marionettes and mechanical puppets. Then everything in the world would be perfect. But we would also be robbed of our dignity.

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

Christ art by arild rosenkrantz

He Suffered, art by Arild Rosenkrantz (England c.1928)

 

O Lonely Christ of Charing Cross

O lonely Christ of Charing Cross, Rue de la Paix,
Boulevard Anspach; O lonely Christ of a thousand
celebrated thoroughfares and foreign-sounding streets.
Why is it that I have to meet you here, so far from home,
When I have seen you lonely, too, in Harlem and Fifth Avenue? In
Edmonton, Yukon, and Portland, Oregon; in Chicago, San Francisco,
Toronto, Kalamazoo, you were lonely too.

O lonely Christ of everywhere, why stand you there and here,
so still, so sad, looking at the hurrying crowds who pass you by—Why?

Why are your eyes so full of hunger, longing, pity and compassion?
Why do you lift your nail-torn hand and then let it fall again
with so much sadness, as though you were a beggar about to beg, alas?

Why is it that I have to meet you across all continents, all celebrated thoroughfares,
small, dingy streets and palatial avenues, as well as wild and distant places?

You answer nothing. You just look.
O Christ of Charing Cross, so lonely, 
you weep because the multitudes are hungry for your love and know it not.
And because you hunger to be loved by those who know you not.

Give me the key, Beloved, so that I may open your loneliness and,
entering, share its weight. Behold my heart that you have wounded with your love.
Make it a door for all to come to you. Give me your voice and words of fire
that I may show them you.

~ A Poem by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

 

 

 

Flower of Carmel

 


O Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.


 

Our Lady of Mt Carmel photo taken by me in Alba de Tormes

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, photo taken by me at Iglesia de la Anunciacion y Sepulcro de Santa Teresa de Jesus in Alba de Tormes, Spain on July 16th, 2017

 
Devotion to our Lady of Mount Carmel indicates a strong call to the interior life, which, in a very special way, is Mary’s life. The Blessed Virgin wants us to resemble her in her heart and mind much more than in externals. If we penetrate into Mary’s soul, we see that grace produced in her a very rich interior life: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted giving of herself to God, and of constant contact and intimate union with Him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone where no creature has ever left an imprint; here reign love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men.

Those who wish to live truly devoted to our Lady of Mount Carmel, must follow Mary into the depths of the interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, of life wholly consecrated to seeking God and tending wholly toward the divine intimacy; and she who best realizes this very high ideal is Mary, Queen, Beauty of Carmel. “Judgement shall dwell in the wilderness and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness and security forever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence.” These verses, taken from Isaias (32, 16-18) and repeated in the Office proper to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, delineate very well the contemplative spirit and, at the same time , they are a beautiful picture of Mary’s soul which is a real “garden” (Carmel in Hebrew signifies garden) of virtues, an oasis of silence and peace, where justice and equity reign; and oasis of security completely enveloped in the shadow of God, and filled with God. Every interior soul, even if living amid the tumult of the world, must strive to reach this peace, this interior silence, which alone makes continual contact with God possible. It is our passions and attachments that make noise within us, that disturb our peace of mind and interrupt our intimate converse with God. Only the soul that is wholly detached and in complete control of its passions can, like Mary, be a solitary, silent “garden” where God will find His delights. This is the grace we ask of Our Lady today when we choose her to be the Queen and mistress of our interior life.

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

Wishing all of you a very Blessed Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Star of the Sea