Translations

Sunday, July 31, 2022

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

When the Lord has brought us to a place in our spiritual journey where we meet interior roadblocks, dryness and aridity in our prayer life, when we feel like we are in a sort of spiritual homelessness, we often seek Spiritual Direction. 

We search for someone who is learned in Sacred Scripture, who is wise in the discernment of spirits, someone who will be a holy listener, who will see beyond our feelings, who will shed light on our sufferings and help us to understand why God has declined to prevent the circumstances that bring about these trials. 

A spiritual director is someone who pledges their desire to God to spiritually adopt us, pray and offer sacrifice for us, stand in the breach for us, someone who walks in silent and awed humility alongside the Spirit of God to represent our soul. 

Someone who has suffered deeply in order to be given the privilege of being a spiritual director to one of God's chosen few.

The greatest tool in spiritual direction is the relationship between the spiritual director and the Divine.

If finding such a servant of God is difficult, we remember that the Holy Spirit is the Principal Actor in our spiritual journey into Christ, God, Who is the Divine Guest of our soul. He is never not available to direct us. He is never not Present in our soul. He can never abandon Himself. We are One in Him.

It is in, through and with His Holy Spirit that we can discern if our suffering and trials are His chosen tools to purify our soul. We learn a great deal about ourselves when we bring such thoughts to prayer. This is why St. Teresa of Jesus warns us never to leave the cell of self-knowledge. It is in that room that we discover our disordered thoughts, our hidden motives, our self-loving pride which motivates our thoughts and behaviors.

"Dig deep and find diamonds" (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face).  

These "diamonds" that we discover can be understood to describe our interior disorders. The Holy Spirit waits to shed piercing light on these blocks to our spiritual growth into self-emptiness in Christ Whom we seek. We ask His Wisdom to name them and be healed from them. Our disorders are transformed into diamonds when we give them to Him and ask Him for the grace to use them for the salvation of our soul and to transform us into His own Image.

If an incident takes place during our day when our pride feels nipped, the Holy Spirit waits to speak to us in our evening spiritual direction meeting with Him.

We meet Him at our evening,  pre-scheduled prayer time. 

We pray.

We relate the event to Him. 

He may ask us to examine every reaction we felt during the event, be it intellectual or emotional or spiritual.

He will grace us with an awareness of what it was that niggled us in the incident. He may direct us to a particular and very pertinent passage from Sacred Scripture.

And we will begin to find evidence of a disordered thought or a deep rooted selfish feeling or wounded ego, or most dangerous of all, a spiritual snobbery ...most dangerous of all because as St. John of the Cross teaches us, spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all of the 7 deadly spiritual sins. Spiritual pride kills the soul.

In this sacred and spiritually safe space with our Divine Spiritual Director, our knowledge of self deepens, He will heal us and we will give great glory to God. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

When Our Lady appeared for the final time at Fatima, she wore the habit of the Carmelite and she held the brown scapular in her hand. We ask ourselves, what is a Carmelite? Through the gift of Divine grace in the soul, the Carmelite seeks radical transformation into Divine union. Through penance, spiritual purification, hidden sacrificial prayer, offering of self in vicarious suffering for the souls of many and endless loving contemplation of the Triune God, the Carmelite seeks to mirror the heart of Our Lady: filled with self-emptiness. The hidden prayers of a Carmelite, under the banner of Our Queen, become like an underground  nuclear power house. When our prayer passes through her pure hands and when she presents our petitions to God, earth trembles, spiritual miracles happen and countless souls are won for Him.

On Saturday, July 16, the Kingdom of Heaven and all of her children on earth will pause in a silence. We will look to Our Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the one who was the "world of God," the purest of His creatures who was hidden and unknown, the one who was the link bridge between the Old and the New Testament of God. The one who gave us the Incarnate Son.
 
We first meet and encounter God the Son, Christ Jesus in the event that took place in the fullness of time… the Incarnation of the Lord.

In this sacred moment, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity are present when "Jesus is linked with the Holy Spirit from the first moment of His existence in time" (John Paul II General Audience May 1998).

We read the truth of Pope John Paul II’s belief when we read the Word Himself: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me....the Spirit of truth...he lives with you and will be in you" (John 14:10; 14:17).

At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel saluted Mary then he asked her to allow the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High, to overshadow her. God desired to bring forth life "by the breath of His Mouth" (Psalm 33:6). At the Incarnation, the Ruah of the Old Testament brought about "the supreme 'grace of union' in which human nature is united to the Person of the Word" (John Paul II General Audience May 1998). 

This "Ruah" Who gave Christ life in the womb, is the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the tomb. And it is the same "Ruah" Who breathes spiritual life into us, second by second.

          “For you I live and come to be. What would you like done with me?" (St. Teresa of Jesus)

Through the miracle of the Incarnation, every person whose life is brought forth "by the breath of His Mouth" is therefore invited into this "grace of union" with the Person of the Word. At our baptism, we breathe in "the Breath of His Mouth" and our soul leaps for joy and His Breath continues to request union with our souls for the rest of our lives.

St. Teresa of Jesus, our Madre in Carmel, speaks about a love which has "no self-interest at all... All that it desires... is to see... the soul rich with Heavenly blessings." In the Incarnation, we see such a love, filled with self-emptiness, in all its purity and immensity, Heaven embracing earth, all given life in Mary, the Woman who conceives the Redeemer. Mary gifted her own Fiat to this "grace of union" and she in turn gifted it too on behalf of all of us. Her voice is our voice. 

Fiat.

Mary, Miriam, proclaims her Motherhood for all generations when we look at her weaving her way silently among the wedding guests at Cana. When she locates her Son, she makes Him alert to a need: "They have no wine." As we sit there at her knee during those painful times in our journey "of union" into God, when we are dispirited, in deep spiritual dryness and darkness, her voice is once again our own... they have no more spiritual wine. Mary intercedes, Spirit Lord answers. And we are filled with grace to capacity. 

Fiat.

From Cana, Mary set the Lord Jesus on His pathway to the Cross. We encounter Him in every moment as He proclaims the Kingdom of God. When we stagger in our faith, when our prayers seem to be rote and hold no purpose, when His Presence seems far distant, when the spirit of the world assaults us, and we cry out for help from Mary, she replies with one word..."God." Every heartfelt appeal to her passes through her, as if she were a spotless window, and she reflects the Son's answer to our prayer. We follow her gaze and we find ourselves looking at the Savior, staggering with us under the unspeakable pain and weight of our sins on the road which leads to our Paradise (Mt 16:24-26).

Fiat.

When we find ourselves in our spiritual wheelchair, sitting at the pool of Bethesda, once again we turn around and there is the Lord, holding out His hand, lifting us up out of our spiritual disability (Jn 5:1-15).

Fiat.

And finally, when we are lying, spiritually paralyzed in servile fear, entrapped by our pride into an isolated place, Jesus is present and He speaks, "Your sins are forgiven... rise, pick up your bed and go home" (Mk 2:1-12). Friends whose names are unknown have "raised the roof" for us in petitionary prayer.

Fiat.

And Jesus comes. Always. 

Mary has seen our need and has taken it to God before we voice it for ourselves. She is the Watchguard of our thoughts (Lk 2:35). She is our Petitioner beyond compare. She is the Dispenser of all of the graces gifted to us by her Sacred Spouse, the Holy Spirit. She is Our Lady, Queen of Carmel. 

Your name, O Mary, is a precious ointment, which breathes forth the odor of divine grace. Let this ointment of salvation enter the inmost recesses of our souls. 

(St Ambrose)


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Saturday, June 25, 2022

"BEHOLD! YOUR MOTHER."

“BEHOLD! YOUR MOTHER."

    "It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world. Because Mary remained hidden during her life she is called by the Holy  Spirit and the Church "Alma Mater", Mother hidden and unknown. So great was her humility that she   desired nothing more upon earth than to remain unknown to herself and to others, and to be known only to God.

  God the Father willed that she should perform no miracle during her life, at least no public one, although he had given her the power to do so. God the Son willed that she should speak very little although he had imparted his wisdom to her.

  Even though Mary was his faithful spouse, God the Holy Spirit willed that his apostles and evangelists should say very little about her and then only as much as was necessary to make Jesus known.

  Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her "Woman" as if she were a stranger, although in his heart he esteemed and loved her above all men and angels. Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged.

  I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding. She is the vast and divine world of God where unutterable marvels and beauties are to be found. She is the magnificence of the Almighty where he hid his only Son, as in his own bosom, and with him everything that is most excellent and precious. What great and hidden things the all- powerful God has done for this wonderful creature, as she herself had to confess in spite of her great humility, "The Almighty has done great things for me." 

  God has made her Queen of Heaven and earth, leader of His armies, keeper of His treasures, dispenser of His graces, destroyer of His enemies, and faithful associate of His great works and triumphs." (St Louis de Montfort).

    "THE IMMACULATA ALONE HAS FROM GOD THE PROMISE OF VICTORY OVER SATAN." (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

These words were spoken about the Mother of God by a demon during an exorcism: 

    "Every time that she (he would not speak her name) descends onto the earth, we sink even lower. Every one of her glances is a tearing of our brain. Every one of her steps is our end. We are looking to stop her, but we do not succeed because she is more powerful than us. Evil has no power over her. She (Mary) is the terror of hell."

She gives us, her children, a weapon of seeming powerlessness against evil but great might. She gives us the Rosary.

                                                           "BEHOLD! YOUR MOTHER.” 

https://youtu.be/UJcCE9BtrOQ


Friday, June 24, 2022

THE SACRED HEART OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

In the Gospel of St. Luke (Chapter 15), the Lord looks at us.  We see ourselves standing there, under His gaze. 

Then Jesus speaks:

  "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

When He looks at each soul in this story, do I look back at Him through the eyes of the repeat offender, that "lost sheep" that just keeps wandering off?  Or does He see me there, among the many who look at Him from my distant place "in the desert"?

As always, when the Savior speaks, there are limitless spiritual depths and meanings and He addresses the millions of other souls in millions of life circumstances who hear Him and who look at Him down through the centuries. Every one of us is uniquely loved by Him and He speaks to every one of us in our uniqueness wherever we find ourselves this day. 

The Lord Jesus searches out the repeat offender. This tells me that God never gives up on me despite my endless offenses against His Sacred Heart, every day of my life. He Himself deserves all the credit for seeking me and saving me. Yet, when He rescues me, it's His great joy to share His mighty love with others, all those whom He has invited to pray for me. When I am given the grace to “come back” to Him, it's because He has also heard the prayers and pleadings for me which have been raised like incense from countless other souls.  Souls who are great great grandfathers, great aunts, our living children, the souls who pray for us who don't know us but who offer daily petitions for everyone who won't pray in their lives and don't do penance. 

All of this countless host of pray-ers are drawn into the Sacred Heart of the Shepherd as He heads out to seek me, caught in the nets of my sin. And He utters a great shout of victory which they all hear when He catches hold of me and lifts me up high. And they all join in His celebratory joy. They are His "friends and neighbors" and He waits to reward them with Himself.

As for me... He has brought me home to be among you again.

And what of those 99 who are "in the desert" and are silently watching Him leave to go find me? In Sacred Scripture, 99 is a number that speaks to progress and enlightenment in the spiritual life. If I am numbered among the 99, if our Savior is seeing my face looking back at Him from those 99 in the desert, then I am in a privileged place. I'm not lost. I'm "in the desert".

Once again there is much to learn from Christ's words in Sacred Scripture. The ‘desert’ is indeed a place of spiritual enlightenment and progress but the conditions in this desert seem harsh and painful. They involve purgation, spiritual dryness in a wilderness that reveals to me how deeply I'm ruled by my senses, how my pride dictates my actions, how my disordered will enshadows the Will of God from me. It's the place where I learn how my life choices have de-formed my soul. And it's the place where Spirit Lord is re-forming me in order to trans-form me when grace allows me to let fall all of the disordered desires of my soul, where I abandon my all to Him, where my prayer becomes unitive with His, where His Will becomes my will to share with other. 

"No longer I but Christ Who lives within me" (St. Paul).

And I can pray with St John of the Cross:

"If you desire to be perfect, sell your will, give it to the poor in spirit, come to Christ in meekness and
humility, and follow him to Calvary and the sepulcher".

With Christ, I can now claim the soul of the repeat offender, and of the 99, and of all of my family who were and who are and are who yet to be born. 

And my joy within the Sacred Heart of the Good Shepherd will be complete because He and I are One.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

On This Feast Day of Corpus Christi

                                      ON THE FEAST DAY OF CORPUS CHRISTI…
                                        
   "BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED" (Isaiah 53:5).

                                                       Our wounds take us to God. 

It is in the giving of our deep woundedness that we enter into the "clefts" and the "crags" (His Hands and His Feet and His Side) of His Sacred Wounds.

He asks us to give our wounds to Him to allow Him to heal them. If we hold on to our woundedness, we deny Him this reason for His suffering on the Cross and His Death into Resurrection, His and so, ours.

Christ Jesus addresses us:

"O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crags of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your countenance is lovely" (Song of Solomon 2:14).



Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Week Following Pentecost: The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

"COME, FATHER OF THE POOR!
COME, WITH TREASURES WHICH ENDURE!
COME, LIGHT OF ALL THAT LIVE!”

THE HOLY SPIRIT, OUR LORD OF LIFE, IS NEVER NOT AT WORK, LAVISHLY POURING HIMSELF INTO SOULS, FROM OUR BEGINNING, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, AND AT THE TIME OF THE DEATH OF OUR BODIES. 
                                                   
At the spiritual birth of a new soul, and at the time of our physical death when our new spiritual life is about to be born into eternity, the Spirit of the Living God is working in most powerful, hidden ways. 

"The essential rite of the sacrament of Baptism ...signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate's head." (C.C.C. # 1239)

What is happening in the spiritual domain at these most sacred moments of our lives? 

At Baptism, we watch as the ordained priest pours the waters of life over the child. He does this three times to call the soul into new life with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

The Trinity beckons. 

The soul's death to sin and the "configuration to the Paschal Mystery of Christ" have begun.

We often hear the baby crying when those cold, blessed waters touch his/her warm forehead but our senses are feeble witnesses to these moments of eternal awe. What our senses do not see is the silent, mighty rush of the Spirit of God whose power brings about death to sin and entry into life in the Most Holy Trinity. 

We don't see the soul of the baby "leaping" with great joy at the arrival of such a Visitor Whose treasures will endure for the entire life of that soul which is now dead to sin. 

We all look with love on this little baby dressed in white but our human eyes do not behold the Presence of the stunning Beauty of Innocence. 

We do not weep holy tears to be so close to "Light Divine," present in the child, the soul's "most welcome Guest." 

We do not hear the chant of the Heavenly Beings or the astonishing chorus of great joy from all of our ancestors who are praising the Trinity for this new soul's life "configured to the Paschal Mystery" of Christ Jesus. 

And we do not wait with arms high and opened wide as that same Spirit, Who raised Jesus from the tomb of death, floods through the priest to the little child and beyond, to ourselves, standing in silent and reverential awe, praying that He will "fall afresh on us."

At the end of our lives, when Our Father calls us back Home and our physical bodies prepare to die, it is the Holy Spirit of the Living God Who once again moves in unspeakable and hidden ways. Have you known a dear one who has passed from this life after having been in a coma for some time? Or someone who has died having lost hope in Christ Jesus? Perhaps someone whose life-trials have fractured their relationship with God? Maybe someone who has not prayed or received the Sacraments for many many years? In the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 17, we hear Jesus Our Lord praying. He prayed first of all for Himself as He told His Father that His work was almost complete and that He was about to be glorified on His Cross. He prayed too for His disciples whom the Father had given to Him...

But then, He prayed another most wonderful prayer. He prayed for all those, of all time, whom the Father had also given to Him.

In His prayer, He saw you and me. 

"I in them, and You in Me ... so that they may be brought to complete unity ...FATHER, I WANT THOSE YOU HAVE GIVEN ME TO BE WHERE I AM , and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world....Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me." (John 17:22-25)

The Lord Jesus wanted those whom the Father had given Him to be where He is. Wherever we are, today, so is He.  

If this is the desire of the Son, then it's also the desire of the Father, because they are One. He desires that we be where He is. The names of every soul that leapt when the Spirit of Life rushed into them at Baptism were immediately written in the Book of Life. At the descent of the Holy Spirit in that Sacrament, God named them and claimed each one as His Own. 

What did He promise each one of us?

"Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

"Never  will I leave you.” (Isaiah 49)

          "Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 
           Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16)

           "Father, I want those you have given me to be where I am." (John 17).

God keeps His promises. 

So, to those who are in a coma before death ... the Lord repeats, "Never will I leave you".  The body may be comatose but the spirit of the soul is alert to the "sound of the low whisper " heard by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-18).

As we kneel in prayer around the deathbed of that loved one, once again, our senses are feeble  witnesses to the mysteries of God the Holy Spirit, moving without a sound in His child. We join Jesus in His prayer and trust His words ... that the soul of the loved one may be where He is.  

What of someone who is dying and who has lost hope in Christ Jesus? Perhaps someone whose life-trials have fractured their relationship with God? Can this one too be where He is? The Lord Jesus prayed for them in person and tells them, now, at their moment near death, "Never will I forsake you". 

At Baptism, the Spirit of the Living God descended into their infant bodies. AND THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES, THE SPIRIT NEVER LEFT THEM. Christ can never abandon Himself. 

At that moment of death, our Catholic faith reveals to us the astonishing mercy and staggering love of the Savior Who never abandons us. 

The parable of the Prodigal son speaks to us about the power of God's Mercy. The Father looks from afar and sees His lost child, stumbling in sin, humble and almost broken by life's harsh ways, straining forward to reach the Father, to say sorry, to be allowed to come back to Him. God cannot resist humility because whenever it is present in a soul, He sees His Son. And we see the Figure of the Father, His great cloak billowing as He runs toward His child, tears running down His face, arms wide open to clutch his lost child: 

"Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49) 

The Holy Spirit of the Living God has moved that soul to seek God, to seek His forgiveness, His mercy. 

And God rushes in joy to receive him back.

GREAT PARACLETE, TO THEE WE CRY:
"BEND THE STUBBORN HEART AND WILL;
MELT THE FROZEN, WARM THE CHILL;
GUIDE THE STEPS THAT GO ASTRAY;
          HEAL OUR WOUNDS --- OUR STRENGTH RENEW;
 ON OUR DRYNESS POUR YOUR DEW;
  WASH THE STAINS OF GUILT AWAY". 



Sunday, June 5, 2022

On This Day of Pentecost

ON THIS PENTECOST SUNDAY, THE HOLY SPIRIT REVEALS SOMETHING OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THE SUFFERING THE LORD JESUS ENDURED IN ORDER TO "SEND OUT" HIS SPIRIT.

St. Teresa of Jesus teaches us that when we are drawn by the Holy Spirit to a deeper encounter with God in prayer, we are first enticed into a "cocoon" of interior silence. In our little self-made prison, we, like a little silkworm, suffer in order to be transformed into new life in Christ.  Jesus the Lord has passed through such a self-made cocoon of suffering so that we will never be alone in ours and so that He suffers with us in our trans-formation into unity with Himself.

ON THE CROSS, THE SAVIOR CRIED, " I AM A WORM." - "TOLA'ATH."

He did not cry "I am LIKE a worm" but "I AM a worm." Jesus, the TOLA'ATH, allowed Himself to be grafted on to wood so that my soul and souls of many may be washed with His crimson blood and in three days be given life through His Willed death.

On the Cross, Jesus had constructed His own cocoon of willed suffering, to enflesh Himself with
every sin, to absorb the horror of every soul's dark night, to confront evil's furious hatred for everything of God.

God owns all time, human and Divine time. Jesus dwells in the painful, silent, dark cocoon of my soul's passage of transformation. As He is in my cocoon, suffering with me, I too am with Him on the wood, because "mine are the sufferings He bore." (Isaiah 53:4; 1 Peter 2:24)

Christ, dwelling in my soul, within my self-made prison of trans-formation, renames my darkness. On the Cross, Christ absorbed all darkness of all humanity of all time and drew it into Himself. Christ became the darkness, the dense fog of my sin which seeks to destroy my soul. Jesus consumes my darkness and when I pray through that darkness, Christ renames it. It is He. When I allow Him to absorb my darkness, He raises me from it. When I offer to suffer with Him in my darkness, He draws me into His Act of Redemption. When I offer those whose burdens I "share" - they too are drawn into Christ's Redemptive act.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

The conditions for the metamorphosis of St Teresa's little silkworm, the WORM Who was Jesus on the Cross, the worm who is my soul and whom Christ became, are now in place... the gifts of the virtues of the Holy Spirit, present and hidden in our cocoon, have transformed the worm: "... the worm, which was large and ugly, comes right out of the cocoon, a beautiful white butterfly.” (St. Teresa of Jesus)

My soul soars in Christ through unitive prayer.