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

 

Mary, Mother of Carmel, Mother of Mine

Decor Carmeli

Décor Carmeli, Taranto, Italy (Unknown artist)

 

I entered into the dim lit chapel and there you are sitting with your beloved holy child in your arms. I sat nearby and began to pray, then you turned your gaze to me and invited me to enter into your sacred and tender heart.

Oh Mother of Carmel, your brown habit and your blessed baby’s white spotless tunic, so beautiful and pure. Am I dreaming?  Am I awake? This precious moment by your side, in your presence. I can’t help but to reflect on your life with your divine baby, Jesus. In your arms cuddling with you, while you tenderly and carefully took care of him and his needs.

How many times a day would you have contemplated his holy face? I’m sure you were mesmerized by his sweetness and gentleness.  Those tender moments of intimate bonding with you and Joseph—those days living with him, watching him grow and play happily in your sacred space, being safe in your holy home.

And when evening came, I can picture Joseph resting peacefully in his bed watching you both cuddle with each other while getting ready to sleep. How many prayers did you recite him? Did you talk to him about his Abba?

And at dawn, your precious child waking up in your arms and looking at your motherly loving eyes. Your face was his first sight after his peaceful and restful night as he encountered the look of love. Then, after you fed him, you wrapped him in your arms and embraced him so close to you with so much tenderness and profound love that your hearts were beating as one.

All those precious moments, you pondered in your heart. So blessed, such intimate moments with God’s Son. Oh, Mother most holy! How was your heart keeping it all together? Filled with so much love and wonder!

Then, Jesus grew into a beautiful and gentle child. Always by your side and Joseph’s. So eager to learn the things of his Father. Those quiet and silent years of solitude and communion together as a holy family in Nazareth. Living together in pure contemplation. Those moments of intimate conversations and prayer at home, the three of you.

Then, comes that fateful trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover—How many times you travelled that route, but this time was different. On your way back, you and Joseph realized that your beloved child wasn’t there in the caravan with the group. The anguish that you both must have felt. I could only imagine. Those terrible days searching for him everywhere and not finding Jesus. Till you went to the Temple, and found him there talking with the elders and scribes. In his Father’s house.

Oh holy Mother! What did your heart understand at that moment? What did God the Father reveal to you and Joseph? And Jesus telling  you— He’s doing the things of his Father—preparing for his mission ahead. Did you understand the enormity of it? Did your heart receive the gift of detachment then? To surrender your Son to his Father totally?

How difficult this must have been for you! You trust in God and you ponder all these things in your heart.  Teach me Mother of love, to ponder the things of God in my heart, to trust Him completely, to seek God’s will alone in my life.

Holy Mother of Carmel, and Mother of mine, this is my prayer: May our hearts always learn to trust in the Lord. May our hearts always learn to love God more and more. May we always live to love Him for ever more.  

As I leave the Chapel, I gaze at your loving eyes Blessed Mother and I thank you for this encounter and for this special moment of grace. To God be all the glory!

Mater Salvatoris, Flos Carmeli, ora pro nobis!

~ My Personal Reflection

 

Virgen del Carmen y yo en Toledo

Last year’s visit to the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Toledo, Spain. This photo of me is taken a few days prior to the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Unforgettable blessed days in Spain ❤

 

 

The Mystery of Tears

 


“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears…” ~ Psalm 56:8


 

woman art by karen wallis

Art by Karen Wallis

 

There is a mystery about tears sometimes, when they appear as gift divine, descending like a torrent or a flood which nothing can deter or stop or dam. They come unbidden, swift. Their flow is free, and yet they are a weight that prostrates a soul to earth and seems to push it in the dirt, until the soul is one with it.

There is a mystery about tears sometimes, as if they were not human but divine; as if the heart of God could not contain its pain and in his love has found someone to share his tears.

There is a mystery about tears sometimes, when one knows, without knowing, that his soul must cry. For only tears like these can pierce a stony heart that does not want to love.

~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty

“You’ll make me cry!”
His gentle fingers
stroked her cheek. “You couldn’t—
even if you tried. No one ever mourns
or weeps once they’ve arrived and known
the true embrace, the everlasting kiss of peace.”

~ An excerpt from the poem ‘Dialogue” by Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S. 

 

 

Gift and Witness

 


If only you knew the gift of God. ~ John 4:10


 

blue jay

Photo credit to Jeffry Westerhoff

 

We bear a tremendous responsibility for one another.
Each of us is a minister of Christ.
Each of us has to witness to him.
Everything we do, say, or even think has either a positive
or negative effect on others.

Nothing is neutral.
Bad example, carelessness about faults, lack of charity;
all these things effect the purity and love of a community.
And following from that weaken the charity of the whole Church.

St Paul entreats us no to trifle with the precious grace of God.
This grace, which is nothing less than God offering himself is available now.
Now is the acceptable time,
Now is the significant time.

If we had a lively faith, grasped this fact, we would indeed give no offence —
put no obstacle in another’s way.

Do not trifle  with the precious gift of God.

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

 

friends by the water

Photo source unknown

 

For a Proud Friend, Humbled

In that least place to which all mercies come
I find you now, settled in peace, at home,
poor little one of Yahweh.

On your face only response of love lies,
with no trace
or drifting hint of what had brought you low.

Down steps of like unworthiness I go
weighted with heart (and how heart can oppress!)
to see you humbled into gentleness
(and into innocence) so utterly.

Pray me, my blessed, into your company.

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

 

 

Thoughts on Contemplative Life

 


“All things hide a mystery; all things are veils hiding God.”
~ Blaise Pascal


 

bird art by susan hall

Contemplation, art by Susan Hall

 

The vast separation between the good life and the holy life is always far more than we realize. The difference is not evident simply in the exterior activity of life. The generous accomplishments of a good person may outshine the limited works of the holy person. What distinguishes the holy person is the interior quality of a soul seeking God, and this is often not seen so visibly. The good life will always be observable to some degree, but whether or not a life is truly holy can easily be concealed in its essential truth. The most important acts of a holy life take place in secret, within quiet depths of the soul. And these most important acts are the offerings it makes for others. There is no great love of God unless a soul is great in offering itself for others. And this begins in the intensity of its prayer, where God alone sees.

The word holiness ought not to be tossed about too lightly, as though the reality were easily reached. There is a danger that an overworked and casual evocation of holiness as the goal of life reduces the immense challenge of giving all to God to a manageable habit of steady, low-cost generosities. Dorothy Day kept on her bedside table a striking phrase of Dostoevsky that conveys, by contrast, the starker reality of a true offering: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”  It is precisely the harsh and dreadful nature of sacrificial love that makes such love and the offering that accompanies it most fruitful for the salvation of souls.

A task in prayer that must be repeated with regularity: to search for the deeper solitary region of the heart where a single word spoken in silence has more impact on our soul than hours of replete eloquence taking place at the shallows of life.

 

~ A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty, ‘The Contemplative Hunger’

 

Jesus and Saint Teresa of Jesus art by Maccha chmkoff

Apparition du Christ à Thérèse d’Avila, art by Macha Chmakoff

The Mystic Face

I never try to probe the sky’s blue span:
I never look to deep into the sea
But the dim face of a tragedian
looks out at me.

Neither the night nor day can find a place
where I have not been shaken with surprise
at the white beauty of a holy face 
and two great lonely eyes.

 

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

 

 

A Heart of Compassion

 


“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”  ~ Luke 6:36


 

Jesus and me by unknown artist 2

Artist Unknown

 

God is the author of all tender-heartedness and goodness.

Misericors — a heart always inclined to another in compassion, a pitiful heart. A heart that is always good — that is, wishing good to another. Wherever we meet these qualities, there, we can be sure, is God.

We have to be perfect as our Father is perfect, and especially as he is perfect in these qualities.

Let me look at my heart. Is it unfailingly tender towards others? Unfailingly bent on their good? Or do I see that there is a lot of hardness there?

Am I perhaps kind to some, but not to others? Kind at sometimes but not always? Not when I am upset, put-out, hurt . . . ? Do I wish well to others only when their good doesn’t conflict with what I think is mine?

God is the fount of tender-heartedness and goodness. Ask him for the grace to drink deeply of this fountain. Want these God-like qualities with all your heart. Seize the opportunities each day offers to exercise them, no matter how much it costs pride and self-interest.

~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, ‘Living Love” ~ O.C.D.

 

Sacred Heart of Jesus burning in love for us

Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning for love of us, inflame our hearts for love of Thee. . .


The Kingdom of God

Not towards the stars, O beautiful naked runner,
not on the hills of the moon after a wild white deer,
seek not to discover afar the unspeakable wisdom,—
the quarry is here.

Beauty holds court within,—
a slim young virgin in a dim shadowy place.
Music is only the echo of her voice,
and earth is only a mirror for her face.

Not in the quiet arms, O sorrowful lover;
O fugitive, not in the dark on a pillow of breast;
hunt not under the lighted leaves for God,—
here is the sacred Guest.

There is a Tenant here.
Come home, roamer of earth, to this room and find
a timeless Heart under your own heart beating,
a Bird of beauty singing under your mind.

 

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

 

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Awake, O my harp, your chords, in praise of the Virgin Mary! Lift up your voice and sing the wonderful history of this Virgin, the daughter of David, who gave birth to the Life of the world!

~ Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Inmaculado Corazon de Maria

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and optional memorial of Saint Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), he is one of Mary’s greatest cantors. He has exalted her in her privileges and in her unique perfection: “You, O Christ, and Your Mother are the only ones who are beautiful under every aspect, because there is no uncleanness in You, O Lord, and no stain in Your Mother.”

St. Ephrem also speaks in a notable fashion about the action that Mary exercises over the lives of Christians. He guides the faithful to invoke Mary as Mother and Mediatrix and to take refuge in her Immaculate Heart with humble and filial trust: “Mary is the hope of those exiled who can attain reconciliation and reenter paradise.”

Owing to the elegance of his writing style, St. Ephrem has been called the “lyre of the Holy Spirit.” In addition, his Mariological teaching has earned him the title of “Marian Doctor.”

~ By Rev. Virgilio Noe

 

Jesus and Mary with a rose

Madonna and Child, by artist unknown

 


“The greatest Syriac Father and most renowned Patristic poet, Ephrem the deacon is an example of liturgical fidelity and charitable service to all.”
~ Pope Benedict XVI


 

 Prayer of praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Ephrem The Syrian:

O Virgin, most pure, wholly unspotted, O Mary, Mother of God, Queen of the universe, you are above all the saints, the hope of the elect and the joy of all the blessed. It is you who have reconciled us with God. You are the only refuge of sinners and the safe harbor of those who are shipwrecked. You are the consolation of the world, the ransom of captives, the health of the weak, the joy of the afflicted, and the salvation of all. We have recourse to you, and we beseech you to have pity on us. Amen!

 

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

 

 

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


O Jesus, grant that I may penetrate the secrets hidden in Your divine Heart.


 

Sacred Heart of Jesus2

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, art by Jose Luis Castrillo

 

After we have contemplated the Eucharist, a gift crowning all the gifts of the love of Jesus for men, the Church invites us to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. We may call the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the feast of His love for us. “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary; “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” the Church repeats to us today, showing us that it is truly “in the Heart of Christ, wounded by our sins, that God has deigned to give us the infinite treasures of His love” (cf. Collect). Today’s liturgy inspired with this thought, reviews the immense benefits we owe to the love of Christ and sings a hymn in praise of His love. “Cogitationes cordis ejus,” chants the Introit of the Mass” “The thoughts of His Heart”—the Heart of Jesus—“are to all generations” to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine.” The Heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sin, to wash in His Blood, to feed with His Body. The Heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, disillusioned by the vicissitudes of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. Jesus Himself is our support on the hard road of life. “Take up My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, Alleluia” It is impossible to eliminate sorrow from our life; yet if we live for Jesus we can suffer in peace and find in the Heart of Jesus repose for our weary soul.

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

 


“O Jesus, now that I have been brought into Your most sweet Heart, and it is a great good to be here, I do not want to let myself be easily torn away from it. Oh! how good and pleasant it is to dwell in Your Heart! Your Heart, O good Jesus, is a rich treasure, it is the precious pearl which I have found in the secret of Your pierced Body, as in a furrowed field. Who could cast aside this pearl? Rather I will give all the pearls in the world, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and affections and I will purchase it for myself. I shall entrust all my cares to Your Heart, O good Jesus, and without fail it will support me. I have found Your Heart, O Lord, O most benign Jesus: the Heart of my King, my Brother, my Friend! Hidden in Your Heart, what is there that I shall not ask of You? I shall ask that Your Heart be mine also. If You, O Jesus, are my Head, can I not say that it is mine as well as Yours? Are not the eyes of my head also mine? Then the Heart of my spiritual Head is my Heart.  What joy for me! You and I have but one heart. Having found this divine Heart which is Yours and mine, O most sweet Jesus, I beseech You, O my God: receive my prayers in that sanctuary where You are attentive to them and, even more, draw me entirely into Your Heart”
~ Saint Bonaventure


 

 

My painting of Jesus Sacred Heart

This is a little prayer area I have in my house and I placed there a painting I did of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ❤  “Choose the divine Heart for your sacred oratory, wherein to offer to God your petitions and prayers that may be pleasing to Him.” ~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Feast of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus ❤