Sunday, November 27, 2022

Advent

"IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD.” (Jn 1:1)

AND MARY SAID, "BEHOLD! I AM THE DOULY OF THE LORD. LET IT BE DONE UNTO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD." (Luke1:38)

“AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US." (Jn 1:14)

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The greatest love story of all time is being re-told. A mystical door is opening from Heaven to inflame earth in the "burning Furnace of Love" that is God's passionate Love affair with His people. He is madly in love with our soul and His love is revealed in and through "The Word." 

We search and dig and pray to try to hear and understand what this "Word" is saying to us. His language is sometimes beyond us because we are finite. He is Infinite. He is totally Other. We are totally dependent on Him.  

"When God loves us, He is loving Himself in us."

Inherent in these words is a staggering truth... that if God loves Himself in us, then He must be Present within us. 
                                   How to fathom such a profound and eternal meaning?

In Sacred Scripture, The Word speaks, so we go there to "sit at His feet" to hear His Voice. 
                                   
And to hear Our Father's response.

Jesus, The Word, spoke in the darkness of the stable of His Birth. We sit at the mouth of that cave and we look inside. We see His Poverty. In this, we hear Him inviting us to let go of attachments that make our hands stick to things that can do damage to our souls. "Attachments can be dangerous because they prevent us from relying on faith. And they can ultimately make us prey to the devil. Detachment is non-possessiveness and opens a soul-space for God to fill it with poverty of spirit."

Like Mary, the Douly of the Lord, we say our own YES to that gift of poverty.

And the Father sees His Son's Poverty growing within us. God the Father is seeing and loving in us something of what He saw and loved in His Son. As He gazes on us, we hear His delight with our small gift and He proclaims to all the hosts of Heaven: 

                  "BEHOLD! MY BELOVED... IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED." (Mt 3 :17)
                    
During His life on earth, we see Jesus, Savior, Son, as Humility enfleshed. He is the Doulos, the Bondslave of God. Everything He said and did and had, came from His Father. In Matthew 3:6, John is baptising many in the waters of the Jordan. To be submerged in the waters was an external marker for an interior confession of sin and a desire to repent. Jesus, Son of God, Redeemer before time began, approaches John to ask to be baptised. In that moment, He, the Innocent One, not only aligned Himself with my sins, He was expressing ownership of them. For all of us. In full view of the great number
of sinners waiting to confess and to repent, He, the Christ, waited in line and was submerged in our place. 

And when the Savior came out from the waters, the Voice of God was heard:

                       "BEHOLD! THIS IS MY BELOVED... IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED."

When we wait in line to confess our sins and our spiritual pride tempts us with a hundred reasons to abandon such a place of humiliations, we may be given the grace to attend to another whisper: God can use even my sins for the salvation of my soul. But more, much more, we can offer our humiliation to God for the soul of another, one who never prays and who will not do penance, to be brought back to God through my offering. 

 And at the words of absolution, the Father sees more of His Son in us and we hear His delight:
                                 
                       "BEHOLD! MY BELOVED... IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED." 

It was a shocking and terrifying and electric moment when Jesus, Lord raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. The scorching sun must have blazed on that scene among the caves of tombs. And into that stunned silence, Christ Jesus walked to the entrance of the tomb. Suddenly, He raised His hands and arms high into the air. His head was thrown back and His eyes stared up toward Heaven. And then He gave a great shout that must have rocked the silent crowd. 

Jesus was addressing His Father and His Voice was filled with holy joy:

"Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." (Jn 11:38-44)

In deeply challenging circumstances, when even friends don't fully stand by us, when all that should be just isn't, do we ever throw our hands and arms high in the air and shout a great shout of utter holy joy in the midst of our storm: Father, Thank you. I know that you always hear me?

And the Father's Gaze sees the faith and holy joy of His Son alive in our soul, and He replies:
                                        
                          "BEHOLD! MY BELOVED... IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED." 

Our fallen human nature is being pursued by Love in every passage and event in Sacred Scripture. The Word is speaking Himself into life in, through and with us. Christ is the Father's "entire Locution and Response, given to us as Master, Brother, Companion, Ransom, Reward." (St John of the Cross)

This is never more miraculous and powerful and uncontained than at that moment when we leave our seats to walk forward to the Altar where the Unbloodied Sacrifice has been offered to the Father at the hands of the priest. On our way up the aisle, we offer ourselves: all that we were, all that we are, all that we have, all that we will be.  
                                
We receive the Word made Flesh, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

To give Himself to us, the Son had to be totally annihilated so that we can be totally filled with God. The Breath of the Father, through the Spirit, breathes in the Son, now actually and Physically Present on our tongue or in our hand. We are breathing the Breath that empowers us to communicate with God and the Hearts of the Trinity are now beating in our own. 
           
AS HE GAZES ON AND IN US, THE FATHER CAN NOW PROCLAIM IN FULLNESS TO ALL OF HEAVEN:
                              "BEHOLD! MY BELOVED... IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED." 

                                                      And the Word speaks into our depths...

                                                   "DON'T CLING TO ME.....GO AND TELL" (John 20:17)

“WHEN GOD LOVES US HE IS LOVING HIMSELF IN US. HE THUS MAKES US HIS EQUAL."




Friday, November 18, 2022

SILENCE IS THE CROSS ON WHICH WE MUST CRUCIFY OUR EGO

"SILENCE IS THE CROSS ON WHICH WE MUST CRUCIFY OUR EGO." (St. Seraphim of Sarov)

When words of detraction have wounded us, or we have been sorely misunderstood, and when then we do not defend ourselves, our silence becomes a Sacrament and we permit God to use it as His holy tool to purify our soul. 

In the death to our disordered self, we lose chunks of the self that destroy our soul. We lose all the disordered attachments that bind us.  Our tainted ego is silenced. In our silent and hidden suffering, offered into the Savior's, He then invites us to join Him in winning souls: those who were and those who are; and those who are yet to be born because God is the Eternal NOW. 

And He draws us ever deeper into His Mighty, Loving Heart. 

We become one with Him.

Monday, November 7, 2022

FEAST DAY OF ST. ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY

NOVEMBER 8 IS THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY. SHE LEADS US INTO DEPTHS OF GOD IN HER FINAL RETREAT, JUST BEFORE HER VERY PAINFUL DEATH FROM ADDISON'S DISEASE. THE FOLLOWING MEDITATIONS ARISE FROM DAY FIFTEEN OF HER LAST RETREAT. 

                                 (EXTRACTS FROM " A SPACIOUS PLACE")

Day Fifteen

 

There is a spiritual world and beyond contained in this FIFTEENTH DAY reflection because in it, Elizabeth draws us into a mere glimpse of the MIGHTY POWERLESS ONE... MARY, MIRIAM, HOUSE OF GOLD, SEAT OF WISDOM,  TOWER OF DAVID, ARK OF THE COVENANT, GATE OF HEAVEN, REFUGE OF SINNERS, PUREST OF CREATURES, and when we say, "MARY" she says "GOD". 

 

Today our Mighty Mother, the Mother who wears combat boots as she protects us, is in our sight and we are in hers and we march behind our Warrior Queen toward the conclusion of our mystical journey with St. Elizabeth into the Most Holy Trinity.

 

On the FIRST DAY of her reflections for our retreat, St. Elizabeth reminded us that: "no-one has penetrated the depths of the mystery of Christ except the Blessed Virgin Mary".  

 

St. Elizabeth goes on to reveal to us that: "The Mother of Grace will form my soul so that her little child will be a living, 'striking' image of her First Born".

 

Questions…


1) Is Mary herself a living, "striking" image of her Son? What aspects of Christ does she reflect? What aspects of Christ do I currently reflect to those around me?

 

2) Could Mary have become the mirror of the Son if she had any self-image?

 

3) Her Son revealed, "...for anyone who has looked at me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). Could He have been the "striking image" of the Father if He had any self-image?

 

4) Do the Son and the Mother embody "nescivi" which means seeking no other knowledge but knowledge of God alone?

 

5)  Is this what I seek? Could this be my desire for my "eternity already in progress" (Day One)?


The Prayer to the Trinity

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth f from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.

O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.

And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased

O my 'Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour! (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)


Questions...


6) Do I know the work He has set aside for me to do during my life time?


7) Do I recognize that this work will continue to be mine in and for all eternity?


"WORK WHICH WILL BE HERS FOR ETERNITY AND WHICH SHE WILL ALREADY PERFORM IN TIME, WHICH IS ETERNITY BEGUN AND STILL IN PROGRESS" (Day One, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

 




Thursday, November 3, 2022

All Souls Day 2022 - Heroic Act of Charity

 The Heroic Art of Charity Prayer for the souls in Purgatory.

"O MY GOD! FOR YOUR GREATER GLORY AND TO IMITATE AS CLOSELY AS POSSIBLE THE GENEROUS HEART OF JESUS, MY REDEEMER, AND ALSO TO TESTIFY MY DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN, MY MOTHER, WHO IS ALSO THE MOTHER OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY, I PLACE IN HER HANDS ALL MY SATISFACTORY WORKS, AS WELL AS THE FRUIT OF THOSE WHICH MAY BE OFFERED FOR MY INTENTIONS AFTER MY DEATH, THAT SHE MAY APPLY THEM TO THE SOULS IN PURGATORY, ACCORDING TO HER WISDOM AND GOOD PLEASURE. AMEN."

Passage from Sacred Scripture for meditation:
"Thus he made atonement for the dead that they may be freed from sin" (2 Maccabees 12:46).

(Extract from "God's Tapestry in Time - the Story within the story," A Rae-Kelly 2022)

Friday, October 14, 2022

Lay Fast for Priests 2022 - Closing Message

For seventeen years, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face has been the Patroness of the Lay Fast for Priests. From Heaven, and through us, she continues to silently and lovingly fulfil what was her desire during her life to become a missionary. She has caused the Lay Fast for Priests, which she began in the United States all those years ago, to become the global Lay Fast for Priests. This year, we, people from 172 countries, will offer sacrifice for all priests – those who were, those who are and those who are yet to be ordained. Together, tomorrow, we will pray the prayer which she herself wrote. Here is that very prayer:

O Jesus, eternal Priest,
keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Your Holy Love surround them and
shield them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit and
may the souls to whom they minister be their joy
and consolation here and in Heaven
their beautiful and everlasting crown.
Amen.


Lay Fast for Priests 2022
ARK Ministries
www.annaprae.com



Friday, September 23, 2022

FEAST DAY OF ST. THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS AND THE HOLY FACE

October 1 is the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

This year, this will be the final feast day of our Saint before 2023, when the world will celebrate a year of great joy for the 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF HER BEATIFICATION which took place on April 29, 1923.

{Other Language Translations: [SPANISH] [PORTUGUESE] [ITALIAN] [POLISH] [GERMAN] [FRENCH] [RUSSIAN]}                            

The world knows her as Therese of Lisieux, as the Little
Flower, as St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Pope
Pius XI described her as the guiding star of his pontificate and
declared her "the patroness of all the missions"  (Bishop A.A.
Noser). 

Countless Churches across the world have been dedicated
to her name. Numberless homes, rich and poor alike, have statues
and photographs of her in their little alcoves and on their walls.

Who is this Little Flower of God? How could she possibly
touch my daily challenges, my relationship with God, my prayer
life, my fears, my family hurts, my memories, my joys, my
hopes?

How could she, a French nun who lived over 100 years ago,
give meaning to my sufferings today?

Her name, which holds mystical depths, is a door which opens to reveal
answers to these profound questions.

Light begins to shine for us into a first mystical depth that plumbed her life 
when we focus on how she is often called simply, St. Therese of the Child
Jesus. In this abbreviated form of her name, we recognize her
deep love for the innocence, vulnerability, total dependence of our
Savior as Child of Mary. And her choice of name causes us to pause, 
like St Therese, and to curl into the arms of Our Mother to ask her 
to teach us humility, smallness, hiddenness, abandonment to God. 
Therese lived these. 

Her name opens our own pathway into the arms of Our Immaculate Mother 
because there, Our Beloved Spiritual Mother will reshape us into those spiritual 
depths of holiness. She will etch out the Features of her Son 
and imprint them in our soul. 

We may begin by remembering...what is our name? Our Baptismal
name, our Confirmation name? 

Both were inspired by the Spirit Lord, Roah, Mighty Breath of the 
Father and the Son, breathing this name into our soul, as He did into Therese. 
Do we give life every day to the virtues of the saints whose names we chose? 
Has this been our life-mission thus far? 

Therese's life mission was to reveal the Child Jesus Who was Humility 
made Flesh. 

Her life in Carmel imaged His Humility.

But, as Father John Clarke OCD reminds us, a mutilation of her name
leads necessarily to a mutilation of her message, her entire life,
her devotion to the Passion of Christ and her desire to use the
merits of Christ to bring salvation to others. 

Therese was gripped by the Image of the Holy Face described
in Isaiah 53, "…despised, rejected, pierced, crushed, oppressed
"... for the transgressions of his people he was punished,… He
bore the sins of many."

From her sickbed, St. Therese revealed to Mother Agnes the
powerful and eternal mission within her name. "These words of
Isaiah ... have been the whole foundation of my devotion to the
Holy Face, or, to express it better, the foundation of my whole
piety. I also have desired to be without beauty, to tread the
winepress alone, unknown to every creature" (Father Guy
Gaucher OCD).

We may now ponder the glorious message hidden within the second part 
of the name of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. 

How can that message, so brutally made visual in the Holy Face, be 
understood by us as it was by Therese? 

It was by entering into and immersing herself in the suffering of the Holy Face 
that her great love and faith and trust spills over to enrapture us 
at those times when we too may be invited to share in His suffering 
for the salvation of our soul or for the soul of another:

"Your lot is indeed a beautiful one, since Our Lord has chosen it for you, 
and has first touched with His own Lips the cup which He now 
holds out to yours".

These profound words of our saint give eternal meaning 
to the suffering we may endure in our own days and that of our dear ones. 
In prayer, Therese's insight draws us into the mysteries and power 
of abandonment to God's Will and into His Death and Rising. 

A second door is opening into the mystery of the message of St. Therese. 

We began by stepping a little way into that mystery by asking 
how we could encounter Humility in His Sacred Humanity and 
we found our answer in the first part of Therese's name. 

Now, the latter part of her name in Carmel brings us face to Face 
with The Suffering Servant. 

If we feel trepidation, daunted by those interior fears that torment us 
when we behold the Suffering Christ, taunts like: I could lose my health, 
my family could be damaged, I could be financially ruined if I follow 
the Savior. 

St. Therese quiets us. She reminds us:

"Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply gratitude and surrender".

So, how therefore can we begin to surrender, to become docile to 
His Will and unglue ourselves from our own determined will 
to abandon ourselves into God's Will?

St. Therese gives us her "little way" of breaking our own will into 
full abandonment into God's Will. Spirit Lord may inspire us with 
our own "little ways" of surrender....

We may have been waiting with great anxiety for a particular letter 
concerning a financial matter and when it finally arrives, 
we leave it, unopened, for at least an hour, 
abandoning all it contains along with all the anxiety and 
fear at the foot of the Cross of the Savior ...
and our will is made subject to God's Will. 

United with Christ's on the Cross, our small sacrifice is grasped 
by the mighty power of Spirit Lord and spiritual miracles happen. 

A loved one may be turn back to God after years of rejecting His love; 
a suffering and fear-filled woman may hesitate on entering an abortion clinic 
and decide to give life to her unborn child; a great grandchild 
who will only ever see photographs of us 
may be filled with a passionate love for the Savior and 
may be the one whose heartfelt prayer will lift us from Purgatory 
into Heavenly Union in God. 

"Prayer causes the Heavens to pour down the Righteous One".
(Hans Urs von Balthasar)

Prayer offered through Love soars beyond place and time.

"...LOVE IS  ALL THINGS, AND THAT, BECAUSE IT IS ETERNAL, 
    IT EMBRACES EVERY TIME AND PLACE". 
(St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face)

AND LOVE HAS A NAME.                   

IT IS THE LORD.

(Extracts from Seven Petals by Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS, Teresian Press. 2022. 
Seven Petals and other Carmelite Teresian Press titles and all TMP productions are available from https://carmelite.org.uk/)


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

WHY WE FAST FOR PRIESTS... on 15 OCTOBER 2022

St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, once said,

             "A priest goes to heaven or a priest goes to hell 
              with a thousand people behind them."

Graces flooded into St John Vianney and he gave God his "Fiat", every moment of every difficult day. He passionately loved his priestly life winning souls for God through a radical self-surrender into crucifixion with Christ. He fought spiritual battles for the souls in the Shepherd's care. He endured interior and exterior sufferings in union with the Shepherd, the Christ. 

IPSE CHRISTUS.

St. John Vianney lived the life that every priest is ordained to live in God for us, the sheep of the Shepherd.

Each year, across the world, on the Third Saturday of October, we, the people of God, unite to offer prayer and sacrifice for all priests, those who were, those who are, those yet to be ordained. Our spiritual offerings are not bound by place or time (St. Therese of Lisieux). Our priest gave his "FIAT" to God on the day of his Ordination and every day since. And Christ began to share His mystical gifts with him. 

The priest, IPSE CHRISTUS, gives us Christ in the Holy Eucharist. He forgives our sins. He calls us to follow him into white martyrdom. His voice walks us into Eternal life as he anoints us at our physical death. 

Christ Jesus shares the gifts of His Passion with every ordained priest, His suffering and His death to Self, totally surrendering into Father (St. John of the Cross). The priest participates with the High Priest in His mighty battle to win multiple souls for the Father when he embraces Christ's gifts in His Passion.

When a priest willingly endures Christ's suffering or persecution or abandonment, he fulfills his vocation to purchase for God all the souls who have been entrusted into his care. Whether his suffering is interior or exterior or both, there will be Mary, standing at the foot of the priest's cross, praying him into her Son, our Shepherd, the High Priest. 

We look at the crown of thorns that adorns the head of our priest. One thorn may be his desire for earthly security, another perhaps a desire for honor and praise, another a desire to be liked, another his loneliness, another, discouragement.  Many more thorns pierce his head and soul, some of which may never be spoken aloud but every thorn may cause a priest to stumble.  Each thorn rips the flesh of our priest and when embraced, each tear purchases a soul for God. And there, beside Our Mother Mary, we too stand at the cross of the priest, praying him into Christ as he suffers under his crown of thorns to win our souls for God.

"The guards in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, punching him. They put a blindfold on him and taunted him, 'Who hit you that time?'" (Luke 22: 63-65)

CHRIST. IPSE CHRISTUS

When the spirit of the world blindsides our priests with assaults that come from unexpected places and people, it is our prayer and sacrifice for them that will steady them, restore their spiritual balance. 

The priest. IPSE CHRISTUS.

Our prayers are our presence, standing beside them as they shield us from those blows.  

The 17th, ANNUAL, GLOBAL LAY FAST FOR PRIESTS will take place on SATURDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2022

On Saturday, October 15 our sacrificial prayer will be offered, a sacrifice unseen by those around us but grasped by the whole of Heaven.

We place our fast and our prayer in the thurible of angels as they ascend and perfume Heaven for our priests: for those around the world who are enduring white or red martyrdom for us; for the protection of their souls; for a deepening of their vocation to embrace their thorns; for a renewed abundance of graces so that they will lead "a thousand people behind them" when they go to Heaven.

Will you join us this year in our world-wide fast for our priests? 

Fasting is praying with the body.

In recent years, a deacon in Namibia invited his entire village to fast from water for priests. And they did.

Women from Afghanistan courageously fasted with us, under threat of persecution.

And the Lord will never be outdone in generosity for any gift we give to Him out of love for others...

"Truly I say to you... you will receive a hundred times as much... in the age to come." 
(Mark 10:29-30)

PLEASE CONSIDER JOINING US BY SIGNING UP AT THE LINK BELOW.



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