Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The LORD says:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah,
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
(Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
And the rest of his brethren shall return
to the children of Israel.)
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
And they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace. Micah 5: 1-4

As we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, on this Feast of her Birth,   I consider…
Can the Lord take something small and make something great of it, or take someone small and make someone great of them?

Indeed, the answer is a resounding “Yes” as we see clearly in this reading from Micah today.

The Lord chose our Heavenly Mother, Mary, to be the Mother of Jesus, our Lord and God. The reading from Sacred Scripture in Micah says, God chose her from Bethlehem-Ephrathah, “too small to be among the clans of Judah.”

Sometimes do you feel small and wonder “Can the Lord use me since I feel like nothing?" Again, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Look what he did with Mary; he can do the same with us. Of course, only Mary will be the Mother of the Messiah, but we can be someone’s spiritual mother today. We can nurture them and speak tender encouraging words to them as only a mother can comfort.

Especially as we give our “Yes”, as Mary did at the Annunciation, to be used as an instrument of the Lord, He will move in wonderful ways through us. We don’t have to think of being great or famous or any nonsense like that, just great today in small ways by doing a little something for someone that seems great to them.

When I feel overwhelmed with a sense of my littleness, I think of St. Therese of Lisieux, that great and wonderful saint that taught the “Little Way”—here’s a link to read more about her: When I remember this way, I can take a breath of fresh air better and aim to do something little that only the Lord can make great.

Even Jesus, as Micah continues, relied on the strength of the LORD, “He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD,…” and in the power and majesty of his name.

By this way, we can do great things on this earth:

  • ·      Believe
  • ·      Joyfully surrender
  • ·      Give our “Yes” to be used
  • ·      Focus on being a blessing to someone today
  • ·      Rely on the strength of the Lord 
  • ·      Stay in the Word
  • ·      Do all in the powerful name of Jesus

And then Micah reminds us He shall be our peace.
This is the way of peace.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Phil 1: 2

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hymn of Peace

Dove, symbol of peace, whispering message of peace to me in our backyard.
This verse of a hymn by James Quinn, S.J. resonated with me yesterday morning...
    "Make us the servants of your peace,
      Renew our strength, remove all fear,
      Be with us. Lord, throughout this day,
      For all is joy if you are near."

So let's take a look at this by breaking it open.

First, "servants of peace" ~~this speaks to me of a longing to be an instrument of peace by bearing this fruit interiorially in order to bring this presence of peace to others, maybe even without a word. Do we make it happen by ourselves? No, we ask for it and grow in it. That's why the author uses the words "make us..." we acknowledge God as the author of all goodness and all good gifts.

Second, "remove all fear" ~~over and over the holy scriptures, especially the words of our Lord Jesus say, "Be not afraid." There's no doubt as humans we face fears; different circumstances in our lives make us feel afraid, so we humbly ask again, "remove" these. Fears weaken us if we allow them to linger long. Our strength is renewed daily as we recognize and admit our fears and surrender them. 2 Timothy 1: 7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, charity and a sound mind." Often fear is rooted in lies of the enemy, know the one whispering the untruths about our goodness, worth and value. Truth is, we are good because God created us in his image and likeness, we are of great worth because we are his beloved children and we have value because we've been given many gifts to share with others.

Next the words, "be with us" ~~here's an invitation to the Lord saying, I want you close to my heart today. I want to be near your heart. Draw us closer, please. In this knowledge that He is with us, we can stand firm against anything that happens, especially the most difficult things in life.

Finally, "all is joy" ~~daily believe He is near and with you always and joy will increase. "Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength." Nehemiah 8:10.

Peace & all joy be yours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

In The Woods

Glendalough Monastic Ruins in Ireland

"You will discover things in the woods that you never found in books. Stones and trees will teach you things that you never heard from your schoolteachers."       St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Grace Pouring Down

"Your grace is like rain pouring down on me night and day." *
Grace? Are you familiar with that word?

In order to receive from our Father the blessings He desires to bestow on his children we need grace. This is undeserved help from God, and best of all, it's free. We need grace to be able to respond to God's love, to live as his children, inherit his blessings and especially eternal life.

So it is very important to be in a habit of asking for the graces we need and desire. This is another excellent practice that will lead us on the road of holiness--to a life of intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit--the Most Holy Trinity.

When considering "grace is like rain pouring down..." think of rain--a really good rain shower, nothing severe, but like a heavy rain that waters the parched earth. Rain that makes everything fruitful. When this rain of grace comes, it covers us--every part of us from head to toe. When we say it is pouring rain, we mean it is showering, not sprinkling--it's the difference between a lot and a little bit. It's abundant grace that He's pouring out on his children, in the light and the dark, in the night and the day, in the good times and the bad, in sickness and health, when I slumber and when I am awake--at all times. His love never ceases.

Christ said, "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life." John 4: 14

Listen to what Saint Cyril of Jerusalem said long ago in response to that holy scripture, "This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirt water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one on the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it."

Saint Cyril continued, "In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit."

So, let us pray, Father, rain down your grace upon us and open our hearts to repentance so that the well of living water may spring up within us. Give us what we need and what our hearts desire--more of You! Let the grace that pours upon us make us loving, fruitful and magnanimous people who lead good and holy lives and help others on the path that leads to eternal life. Amen!

* Bao La Tinh Chua

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Almighty God

Songs of many different cultures refresh my soul.
Yesterday, I shared the refrain to a Vietnamese song
called "Bao La Tinh Chua".

Each line in the refrain seemed rich with abundant life
as I sat and pondered it, so I want to sip each with you.

The first line of refrain begins with--Almighty God--
need I go any further yet?

What does it mean to be Almighty?

God, who created everything, is called the Father Almighty.
First, He loves us and so created everything for us.
Additionally, He rules everything and can do everything, and
ultimately, "nothing will be impossible with God." Lk 1:37

When I personalize this and believe firmly, as I suggest is a good practice, I say to myself--God is my loving Father and I am his adoring daughter. He created me, loves me, cares for me, provides for me, converts me, restores me, and refreshes me daily.

He is a universal Father meaning he's created everyone everywhere,
and will do the same for each of us as we firmly believe
in His almighty love and power.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Prayer Walking

This is my favorite form of exercise--prayer walking. Okay, so I’m killing two birds with one stone. The old expression meaning, I achieved two things with one action. This is something I’ve enjoyed doing for decades. It’s a discipline—that is, sometimes I have to force my will to get to the park where there’s a walking trail. The first half mile I can feel a little stiff, but going on the second mile I’m loosened up and happy to be there. 

Yes, there are certain prayers I pray—I meditate on the mysteries of the rosary for the day. BTW, those mysteries focus on the life of Christ, not Mary as some are mistaken. Then I call on the litany of my favorite saints and invite them to come and be with me—to intercede. A few of them are: St. Therese of Liseaux, St. Joseph, St. Benedict, St. John Paul…who I call on is a whole other story—so for now…I continue brisk walking and pray for the sanctification of priests whom I know and then usually pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before my three miles are finished. Somewhere in between the litany and chaplet, I listen after asking the Lord to speak to me—in that still small voice. 

This is my favorite form of exercise--prayer walking. Okay, so I’m killing two birds with one stone. The old expression meaning, I achieved two things with one action. This is something I’ve enjoyed doing for decades. It’s a discipline—that is, sometimes I have to force my will to get to the park where there’s a walking trail. The first half mile I can feel a little stiff, but going on the second mile I’m loosened up and happy to be there. 

Today I received lovely thoughts about motherhood, from conception to the birth of a child and how that nine month period puts mothers in the throes of the paschal mystery. The what? Paschal mystery—meaning the dying, rising and going forth of life. Like Jesus when he lived, then died and rose again. It’s what we experience in life whether we realize it or not. 

So regarding motherhood, I was thinking about the joy of conception—there’s a rising, generally, speaking until the first bump in the road of pregnancy—maybe that “bump” is slight morning sickness or perhaps more severe, maybe there is tiredness, or repulsion of certain foods, and thus we’re dying to self. We cooperate with this experience of discomfort to bring life into this world. One day we might feel well and the next day not so much. And such is the paschal mystery that can change from day to day, week to week or month to month. Certainly throughout nine months or a year we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of the paschal mystery—up and down, again and again, dying and rising and going forth. 

But here’s the main point that resonated with me this morning on my walk—there’s birth after dying—there’s rising to new life, like after Jesus’ passion and death, there was the resurrection of his body. When women go into labor to deliver the child, that’s real suffering—real dying—pain brings death to self--not literally, but figuratively speaking. But, then the child is born. There is new life. So remember whenever you are going through painful experiences and dying to self, there is new life coming. 

New life coming--now take that thought on your next prayer walk!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Peace Quotes by Saints

A great means to preserve continual peace and tranquility of soul is to receive everything from the hands of God, both great and small, and in whatever way it comes.
--St. Dorotheus

'See, my children, a person who is in a state of sin is always sad. Whatever he does, he is weary and disgusted with every thing; while he who is at peace with God is always happy, always joyous. . . Oh, beautiful life! Oh, beautiful death!'
--St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

He who is humble easily obeys everyone, fears to offend anyone, is at peace with everyone, is kind with all.
--St Thomas of Villanova

"Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy." (300)
--Diary of St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?
--Saint Gerard Majella

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
--Blessed Mother Teresa

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
--St. Francis de Sales

"Keep your soul at peace, in order to be able to be attentive and very faithful to the inner movement of the Holy Spirit." (To Mme. Stephanie Gourde, November 25, 1850)
--Saint Peter Julian Eymard

“Peace begins with a smile.”
--Blessed Mother Teresa

“If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
--Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. The rest will be given.”
--Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."
--Saint Francis of Assisi

"Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you."
--Saint Jerome

The servants of God...whether provoked by word or work, by keeping themselves tranquil and peaceful, evince a perfect nobleness of soul.”
--Saint Thomas Aquinas

”By humility a man finds grace before God and peace with men.”
--Blessed Giles of Assisi

”We must sometimes bear with little defects in others, as we have, against our will, to bear with natural defects in ourselves. If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind anyone of his natural defects.”
--Saint Philip Neri

”The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.”
--Saint Alphonsus Liguori

"Opting for peace does not mean a passive acquiescence to evil or compromise of principle. It demands an active struggle against hatred, oppression and disunity, but not by using methods of violence. Building peace requires creative and courageous action."
--Pope John Paul II

She  who is silent everywhere finds peace.
--St. Teresa Margaret

She who desires peace must see, suffer and be silent.
--St. Teresa Margaret

“Always receive with equal contentment from God’s hand either consolations or sufferings, peace or distress, health or illness. Ask nothing, refuse nothing, but always be ready to do and to suffer anything that comes from His Providence.”
--St. Teresa Margaret

Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's, if we are always criticizing trivial actions - which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives.
--Saint Teresa

Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity according to its very notion, causes peace.
--Thomas Aquinas All works of love are works of peace.
--Blessed Mother Teresa

Let us not be justices of the peace, but angels of peace.
--St. Therese of Lisieux

Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labors.
--St. Therese of Lisieux

Peace is not just the absence of war. Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakable faith.
--Pope John Paul II