Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 15 April 2017 (Holy Saturday)

HOLY SATURDAY

Have you ever heard a full orchestra performing a majestic symphony? The conductor paints a most beautiful tone color by skilfully commanding an interplay of the instruments and as the excitement in the audience builds at very rapid rate, we anticipate the magnificent musical climax. But then, abruptly, every instrument is brought to complete silence. The audience holds its breath as we await the conclusion of this story in sound...a whole-rest pause has been introduced to heighten the emotion of this dramatic moment of expectation. A pause, a rest period can be used with intense effectiveness to add strength and power to the rich depths of a moment in time. We see this so powerfully in the Gospels.

In the Gospel of John we watch as Jesus makes powerful use of a dramatic pause. The Pharisees had coordinated what they must have thought was a full proof plan to trap this much hated "Rabbi". The woman was caught in adultery, they had dragged her into his presence, they had gathered up their bricks to stone her. 

The scene was set. 

And now they confronted the "Teacher". In their view, there was no way out for Him. They had 
covered every base and He would have to condemn her to death or deny the Law of Moses.  Jesus, the Master Musician, introduced a dramatic pause in that climactic moment of tense expectation: "They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but  Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger." (Jn 8:1-77)

And everyone froze! 

The Master had expertly brought the dramatic pause to impose silence on the anticipated violence. 

AND JESUS BROUGHT THIS SINNER TO SPIRITUAL LIFE.













When the Lord's friend, Lazarus was dying, the Savior imposed a waiting period of 4 days before He went to the home of His friends. Lazarus had by that time died, was prepared for burial, bound in burial cloths, placed in the tomb.  There could be absolutely no doubt that Lazarus was dead. 

Jesus stood before the tomb AND HE PAUSED.

All eyes were on Him, absolute silence filled the taut air.  

"Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.  You always  hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will  believe you sent me.”

AND JESUS HAD BROUGHT A MAN BACK TO LIFE FROM THE DEAD.


















And so it is that we arrive at this day in Holy Week. Holy Saturday. The Passion and Death of the Lord is behind us.

We walked with Him along the Via Dolorosa as He absorbed our ugliness to give us His Beauty.  And now, we are made to pause. A silence descends into our souls as we await the glory of His Resurrection when God will raise Jesus to life. 

What do we hear the Lord whisper to us in the deep quiet of our souls as He "writes in the dust with His finger".

Are our lives being silently woven into the Passion and Death and soon to be Resurrection of Our Savior?



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 8 April 2017

TODAY'S READINGS:

EZEKIEL 37: 21 - 28
JEREMIAH 31
JOHN 11: 45 - 56

Today, when we step into this powerful scene in the Gospel of St John we find ourselves faced with a situation that has to be life-changing for our spiritual journey back to God through Christ. 

In this dramatic passage, we stand shoulder to shoulder with many other people in the hot, dusty burial grounds. We have just witnessed Jesus awakening Lazarus from death.

The crowd around us had been stunned into awed silence but now, eyes wide with shock, they turn to look into the eyes of equally speechless friends. Tongues are loosening. And slowly, in hushed voices, words expressing division begin to be heard. Fears begin to surface and people were divided: some believed in Him with their whole being, some began to denounce Him. How could anyone denounce someone for raising a man from death to life? What could be the source of the growing fear within? 

We have to understand that many of that number depended completely on the Temple power and on its leaders to be able to live in financial security, for their families to be accepted and to be part of their community. They were aware that this unknown "Prophet" from Galilee was a threat to the Temple and to the Pharisees so their fear-filled hearts, even having witnessed this death to life event, were divided. They erred on the side of caution and security, and ran to report Jesus to the Temple authorities.

To accept Jesus as Lord can often bring division into our fear-filled hearts. On Sundays we acknowledge Him as Lord and God but on Monday and the rest of the week, do we trust Him to resolve our daily fears? Does He really know my fear? Lordship over death doesn't stop Jesus from feeling  deep compassion for our sorrows and fears. "Christ's Heart is Human-Divine, the God of loving, maternal tenderness made flesh" (Pope Benedict XVI)

When temptations press in on us, can we hear Him tell us, "Your weakness is My might. Your safety lies in letting Me fight for you".

When we are very scared of financial demands, when it's hard to meet debts, can we hear Him say,  "I am your purse-bearer. Draw from Me, depend on Me. My supplies are limitless. I am the world's CFO. Let Me prove my promises". 

When we are overcome by sorrow, can we hear Him say, "I am the Man of sorrows. Let me teach you some of my most treasured lessons which I share only with my close friends. Let me help you wield the weapon of the power of a prayer pressed from grief".

Can we allow the One Who overcomes death to awaken us from the death of daily fear into God's new life or will our souls divided by our fears ?

"Yes, I  believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world” (11:27). Yes, O Lord! We also believe, notwithstanding our doubts and darkness; we believe in you because you have the words of eternal life. We want to believe in you, who give us a trustworthy hope of life beyond life, of authentic and full life in your kingdom of light and peace" (Pope Benedict XVI)


And you?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 1 April 2017

Mass Readings for April 1 2017.

Jeremiah  18: 20
Psalm       7
John         7: 40-53

In today's Gospel we hear these thought-provoking words..."No one has ever spoken like this man". The guards had been instructed to go to arrest the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. But having listened to His voice, His tone of deep Authority, they returned to the Jewish leaders without their prisoner. We have to ask, why? What stopped them from  carrying out their orders? Was the tone of Jesus filled with the Unseen Authority of God? We go to another moment which speaks to our souls and reveals an answer to our question. This was an incident that happened shortly before the incident we read about in the Gospel of today.

The city of Jericho is thought to be the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world. Its name means, FRAGRANT.

At the time of Jesus, Jericho was flourishing with the construction of new villas, wines and spices and perfumes and dates were in abundance. It was the playground of the rich and famous. Herod the Great often languished there in his winter palaces. Because such opulence attracted such wealth, it was also a magnet for beggars. The main streets were lined with hundreds of them, all begging and loudly clamoring  for alms from the rich who were passing by. Among them was a man named Bartimaeus. Into this bustling scene came Jesus the Christ. He was walking with His disciples along the road that connected Jericho to Jerusalem where the Passover would soon begin. He was walking toward His Passion and Death.

Now, there was no media at that time giving updates on which people of importance  would be arriving in the city. But a far more effective method of advertising was at work. Word of mouth. News had traveled very fast among the beggar world that Jesus of Nazareth would be in Jericho so before He even got to the pathway, multiple voices were raised, pleading to Him for help. He had already passed by the beggar Bartimaeus when above all the shouts and bustle and sounds came a voice, 

                               "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me".  (Mark 10: 46-52 )

The beggar was told to be silent but he continued to shout. And the Master stopped in His tracks. 
What happened next speaks to the mystery of a tone heard by the Lord in the voice of the beggar. And the Unseen Authority in the Lord responded. What do we understand about "tone of voice"?
Do you remember when you were small and you were about to do something dangerous? Like stepping off the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming car? Do you remember that tone in your parent's voice that made you freeze on the spot? Have you ever been at the end of your strength,on your knees, weeping, pleading with God to help you?

In both instances, our voice takes on a particular tone, one that demands immediate attention, be it from another human being or from God. It's a tone that holds depths of ourselves, reaching out to someone whom we desperately need to hear us. This was the tone that passed between the beggar and the ears of Jesus in Whom was the Authoritative Voice of the Holy One. It was the spirit in Bartimaeus which alerted the Spirit of God in the Son. That very same authority that would later be heard by the guards who, as a result would not arrest Him.

 And Jesus said, "Call him over" ( Mark 49 ). Then, "throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet". In this remarkable gesture usually read unnoticed, there's a world of meaning for us. "Throwing his cloak aside..."  This beggar's cloak was his entire world of possessions. It gave him modesty during the day, protection from the intense heat of the sun during the day, warmth during the cold nights. When he threw it aside to run to Jesus, he was leaving every single thing that he owned.  The Spirit of the Living God had heard the tone of deep humility and trust and faith and need in the shout of the beggar. And the Savior responded... "COME". 

What tone do we use when we call out the Lord's name? What do we leave when we run to Him when He calls us? Can we truly believe in the Voice that holds such Authority to give life? If we did, would our tone of asking ever be the same again? It was to be the last miracle which Jesus performed before His Passion: 

"His is the last miraculous healing that Jesus performs before his passion, and it is no accident that it should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light." (Pope Benedict XVI).

It was the miracle of Light into the darkness. Bartimaeus gave his all to enter into the Light. 

What of us?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 25 March 2017 (Feast of the Annunciation)

IT IS THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD.

TODAY'S READINGS:

ISAIAH  7
PSALM  40
LUKE     1

It is just about impossible to profess our belief in God without looking to Mary, the WOMAN who is the "indispensable, central component of our faith in the living, acting God" (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). And our liturgical readings today are filled with mysteries which cause our souls and our minds to soar to our Most Loved Mother.

Sacred Scripture today takes us across centuries of time...the Angel of the Lord asks a young woman if she will, " bear the Son of the Most High" in her womb. This, she is reassured, will happen when the Holy Spirit "will overshadow " her. ( Luke 1 ) Immediately we are transported back to the book of Exodus ( 40: 34 ) when the pillar of cloud overshadowed the "tent of meeting" and THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE TABERNACLE.

Mary is to become God's living tent, His new Tabernacle, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD WILL FILL HER BEING. She is to become the meeting place through whom God will move among his people. She will give Him flesh and bone and because of her, God will be seen, Face to face. St Paul helps us to understand something of what this means when he speaks about another "tent of meeting" .....US!! Our own earthly bodies become God's dwelling place when, like Mary we receive Him in the Most Holy Eucharist and He unites us so closely to Himself that He becomes "Bone of our bone and Flesh of our flesh" (Corinthians 5: 1-5 )

How does Mary reply to the Angelic greeting? We hear her say, "Be it done unto me according to your will". 

Mary's response echoes the cry of the great King David from centuries before, "Behold! I come to do Your will, O God"  (Psalm 40) Mary was empty of self and God filled her. She was the "Beloved daughter of the Eternal Father, the admirable Mother of the Son, the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit. (St Louis de Montfort). MARY WAS THE WORLD OF GOD. And when we say, "Mary", she says, "God"!

This brings us to another of the many mysteries to contemplate in today's Scripture readings: the order which God used to come to us, walk among us, heal us, suffer for us. God so ordered that He would humbly make Himself present to us by entering the womb of Mary. The whole of His creation could not contain His splendor or his power and yet the Creator ordered, willed to enclose Himself in the womb of a Woman. Why therefore would we try to improve on this, God's formula of order? Should not we humbly go to God through the same Woman? 

TO JESUS THROUGH MARY?

St. Louis de Montfort, that giant of a spiritual warrior for the Queen Mother gave us the 33 Day Consecration To Jesus through Mary. It involves a daily prayer during a 33 day period of time and through it lives are transformed and changed forever. You might ask....What makes this consecration so powerful? 

Firstly, in this prayer we are going to God through His own chosen "tent of meeting". This requires deep humility from us and obedience to His Way. God rushes to a humble and obedient heart. During those 33 days, Mary takes us on as her children, those given to her by Jesus when she stood at the foot of the Cross, "Woman, behold your son...." and daughters and children. And when Mary takes us on, she helps us to get to know ourselves and we move from the city of self to the City of God, from the school of Mary into the college of Christ. (Saint John Paul II).

Once we make the Total Consecration of our hearts to Jesus through Mary, our lives change forever. Everything we own is grasped for God by her....our families, our health, our finances, our deepest worries, our joys. They all become the possessions of this gentle loving Mother at whose name all the demons of hell tremble. Where her children are at risk, this Mighty Mother wears combat boots. 
We become empty of self and like our Mother, we have space in our souls that can be filled with God and we can join our voices with Mary and King David to proclaim;

"BEHOLD, I COME TO DO YOUR WILL"
AND GOD WILL ANNOUNCE THE SPLENDOR OF HIS LOVING PRESENCE IN OUR SOULS.


(The next 33 Day Consecration to Jesus through Mary will begin at 7:15 PM for one hour at the Welcome Center of Our Lady of LaSalette shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts on April 10, 2017. All welcome.)

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 4 March 2017

Can you hear the longing in God's Great Heart in today's Liturgical readings? They speak of a God Whose desire is to forgive,  to heal and to love us deeply when we humbly draw close to Him. His words reveal a Heart laid bare in His longing for our love.  If His Voice is muffled, perhaps because we are  spiritually hard of hearing, can we borrow the Wisdom of our Christ to pierce through our deafness so that we can allow His  beseeching words to wash over us and allow His Whisper to be heard:

"I WILL LOVE THEM FREELY....I WILL BE THE DEW....SPLENDOR AND FRAGRANCE AND BEAUTY AND STRENGTH  WILL BE SHOWERED ON THEM". (Hosea 14)

How can we prepare to receive such treasures? In today's Gospel, the answer comes from Jesus and it's staggering in its simplicity:  "LOVE ME! LOVE GOD WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART, SOUL AND MIND".   (Mt 12 )

And the splendor and fragrance and beauty of God will be showered on us.  As we try to take in His request, as we struggle to understand how we, mere human beings could ever adequately love God, the Holy One, with our  whole heart and soul and mind, Jesus, the Beloved One, gives us the "how to"....  "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF".       (Mt 12 )

Well now, there's the rub! I'm a monumental failure at that part!  When I was very young and I was struggling to understand "fractions" in arithmetic, my mother used to tell me, "Make the equation  simple and little". 

When I first met St Therese of Lisieux, I remembered my mom because our Little Flower gave me a similar solution to that great difficulty   which I face in the spiritual journey.....loving God in my neighbor.  St Therese used to teach us to make things small, find "little ways" to love.
Yet, she knew that even loving in "little ways" was beyond her so she used to say to Our Lord, "Let me borrow Your Love".

So as I follow in her footsteps, knowing that for me too even little ways of loving can be beyond me, I "borrow" from Him as I try to find some 
"little ways" to love Him with all my heart and strength and will by loving the folks whom He places in my days....

I smile when I meet rudeness.
I say, "Hello" when I want to walk by.
I touch when a shoulder is stooped in sorrow or weariness.
I stay silent when words might divide.
I sit now wondering, what are your "little ways".

Like me, do you ever think about how paltry are these, your gifts to show God your love? If you do, we turn again to remember little St Therese....
"Oh! What a miracle, Lord. My feeble love enthralls You".

Anna Rae Kelly is a  Daughter in the secular discalced order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and permitted to serve her within the charism of reconciliation of Our Lady of LaSalette.
Wife and mother. Master of Theology; Master of Science. Retreat leader, spiritual director, speaker on Mariology and Carmelite spirituality, author and webmaster of www.annaprae.com.

Lenten Blog 2017 - Saturday, 11 March 2017


TODAY'S READINGS:

DEUTERONOMY 26; 16-19
PSALM 119: 1-2, 4-5, 7-8.
GOSPEL ( MATTHEW 5: 43-48 )

When we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us through the treasures of God's words to us in these readings from the Liturgy for March 11, we may find ourselves faced with an invitation to listen to the Will of God and if we do this with humility and obedience we will begin to understand what His gaze sees when He looks at us. God sees us as His "treasured possession" and He wants to set us "in praise and in fame and in honor, high above all nations". (Deuteronomy 26). 

I remember many years ago, a woman said to me, "YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD" . I'd never heard such words and their impact on me was profound. These words in Deuteronomy remind me of that moment ....to be God's "treasured possession" whom He wants to set up in "praise and fame and honor, high above all the nations". Makes me feel like I'm a member of a Royal Family. And this is exactly what we are if we are "A CHILD OF GOD"... members  of a Royal Family.

God asks that we allow Him to robe us in Himself. St Augustine once said that God's deepest desire is the Divinisation of our souls. In other words, He desires that we give Him permission to draw us into Himself, make us so close that "the two become one flesh, so that they are no longer two but one" ( Mark 10:8 ). We have to stand in awe at such a desire. If I were one with God, it would mean that my life would change forever because I would love like Him; encourage others the way He did; be obedient as He was; take on the burdens of others as He did; walk in His footsteps; start to look like Him.  

Would not that be a wonderful, transforming, miraculous thing! Like you, I sincerely want to give our Savior His Heart's desire...to give Him my soul. But when life is harsh and bills need to be paid and the car won't start and dear friends are ill, I get so busy taking care of business and being anxious about what tomorrow might bring that I forget about the Will and Desire of our Loving Lord.

How do I stop to ask..."Are You running with me, Lord?”. How can I be endlessly aware of His Presence in every moment of the day so that I can allow Him to work in my soul to make us "one"?  To walk in the Lord's Way, to allow Him to transform me into Himself, I have to first of all find Him where I am right here, right now because right here and right now is exactly where He Wills me to be. I have to learn to live IN THE PRESENT MOMENT!

St Therese of Lisieux once reminded us of an astonishing fact...

"If I did not simply live from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future.” ... because God has not yet given us the graces for the future so if we go there in our minds, we go alone and we become paralyzed in our fear!

So to walk hand in Hand with God, giving Him permission this very moment to unite my soul to His own I can do small things to walk His Way:

I can forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13 )
I can promise without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12 ).
He will teach me how to love when love is not shown.  ( Matthew 5:43-48 )


When I ask humbly for His grace to be drawn into His Divine Will right now, in this present moment, to walk in His Way, I allow Him to change me, let me share His countenance, and He will robe me in Regal Clothing, make me His "treasured possession" and shower me with "praise and fame and honor" in His Mighty Love.