Friday, September 30, 2011

Self-Abandonment to God

From Mother Mechtilde de Bar:
I beseech you to offer me mightily and with insistence to God, and to pray Him to mobilize all the powers of my soul, in such a way that I would die a thousand times rather than offend Him. This fear of falling into evil gives me a thousand apprehensions and prevents me from being perfectly resigned to having to go forth from here, although I abandon myself to God as much as I can. Very willingly would I descend into hell rather than than displease God; help me in this by your prayers. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Sacred Liturgy and Mary Most Holy, Parts 2 and 3

The continuation of the series from Rorate Caeli, Part 2 and Part 3.
The Most Holy Virgin has a considerable position in liturgical worship, because she is linked, with an indissoluble connection, to Jesus Christ, who is the center. She is, together with Jesus Christ, the masterpiece with which God displayed His power and His goodness. Because Jesus was born of Mary, she takes greater part in all of His gifts and in His life; she also takes part in His glory and in the distribution of the goods of grace. She received from all creatures and presents it all to Jesus Christ. Thus we have the Mediator between God and men: Jesus Christ; and we have the Mediatrix between Jesus Christ and mankind: Mary – she sings her Magnificat, offering God all the praises, honor, and requests that the creatures send her. (Read both posts, HERE and HERE.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

God Will Provide

Some truths we must remember. To quote St. Francis de Sales:
Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of His providence, and He will help you in all situations. When you cannot walk, He will carry you. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sacred Liturgy and Mary Most Holy, Part I

Some quotes from the late Fr. James Alberione:
The liturgy is the court service of the Church before the Divine King, it is the social worship, regulated by her; it is the most worthy thing that a creature may give to the Most High.

There are three kinds of prayer. The private prayer of the Christian, who, in the privacy of his room, or in the mystical shadow of the temple, elevates himself to God on the wings of faith and love, is beautiful. Jesus Christ and the Church desire this prayer, and recommend it to all the faithful (see St. Matthew, vi, 6).

Collective prayer is more efficacious; it is the one by two or more persons, joined together to praise God, to ask for His mercy, to thank the Divine Goodness. In fact, Jesus Christ said, “if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 19). And the reason for it is further presented, “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 20). It is Jesus who prays with them.

But the most sublime one is the liturgical prayer. Here, it is the Church herself, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, who prays. The liturgical prayer is the breath of the mystical organism of the Church; it is the vital and sanctifying activity of the Eternal Priesthood and of the Visible Priesthood. The Priest, when he celebrated and when he administers the Sacraments, is, as it were, absorbed in unity of action by Jesus Christ.

Glory to the Most High. The Liturgy is, thus, the great prayer of the Church. She prays to God: each time the Holy Mass is celebrated anywhere on Earth; each time a soul, receiving the Sacraments, acquires supernatural life, either because she rises up from sin, or because she increases in grace; each time the Priest blesses in the name of the Church or in which a Christian makes use of a Sacramental.

Liturgical prayer is unceasing; for the pure Oblation is offered to God continuously from East to West; and for, without interruption, men are sanctified by the sacred rites. How pleasing is to the Lord this most perfumed incense, that rises from the thurible that is the heart of the Church. This heart of the Church is always holy, always thankful to God, because Jesus Christ has created it pure, immaculate. (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Pio

It is his feast. Here is a biography of our modern thaumaturge. To quote:

From his early childhood, it was evident that Padre Pio had a deep piety. When he was five years old, he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. He liked to sing hymns, play church and preferred to be by himself where he could read and pray. As an adult, Padre Pio commented that in his younger years he had conversed with Jesus, the Madonna, his guardian angel, and had suffered attacks by the devil.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Call of Matthew

Fr. Mark analyzes the painting by Caravaggio in light of the Scriptures:
The call of Matthew, as recounted in his Gospel and as portrayed in Caravaggio's painting, is more than the story of one man's experience of Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago. It is your story and mine. It concerns each one of us just as much as it concerns Saint Matthew, for the Lord Jesus says: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. . . . For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:12-13). (Read entire post.)

Soul-Pain

I enjoy reading Father Lawrence Lovasik's book The Hidden Power of Kindness (Sophia Institute Press, 1999) over and over again. The following is a passage which never fails to leap out at me:
Soul-pain is the price of conversions. No sin can be blotted out except by the soul-pain we know as supernatural contrition. If you want to win souls for Christ, you must be willing to endure the anguish for sin that sinners do not experience, in order to win ultimately the grace of repentance for them. You may have to go through the agonies of delayed hopes for many hearts, and even seeming failure at the end, for someone whose soul has been your deep concern. But your sincere devotion to bring a soul to Christ will not be in vain. God knows the secret workings of His grace in souls.
I recommend Fr. Lovasik's book as spiritual reading for any time of the year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"A Tranquil Mediocrity"

 From Laudem Gloriae:
"God does not give Himself wholly until He sees that we are giving ourselves wholly to Him." --St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa laughs somewhat mischievously at those who are afraid of doing too much for God, and under pretext of prudence, measure their acts of virtue with a yardstick: "You need never fear that they will kill themselves; they are eminently reasonable folk! Their love is not yet ardent enough to overwhelm their reason. How I wish ours would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail's pace! As long as we do that we shall never get to the end of the road. Do you think that if we could get from one country to another in a week, it would be advisable to take a year over it?" (Int. Castle, III, 2).
...
To become generous, we must learn to do with our whole heart, not only what is a duty, but also what, though not obligatory, will give more glory to God...[to do otherwise is] settling down into a tranquil mediocrity.
--Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., 290

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2015: The Year of Prayer

According to Communicationes:
ROME-ITALY (11-09-2011).- The Carmelite bishops who came to the Extraordinary Definitory have petitioned the Holy See to declare 2015 a year of prayer. In a letter addressed to the Pope our Carmelite bishops are requesting this declaration from Benedict XVI in view of the celebration of the Fifth Centenary of the Birth of Saint Teresa.

They announced this on Sunday afternoon to the superiors of the Extraordinary Definitory just before it ended.

It was the turn of the Latin American group to plan the Eucharist for Sunday morning. Bishop Gustavo López (presider at it) invited the members of the Extraordinary Definitory and the bishops present to live to the full their allegiance to Christ and take seriously St. Paul’s message in the second reading and let one’s ability to forgive grow to the measure desired by Christ in the day’s Gospel passage (“seven times seven”).

Work in the meeting hall resumed at 9:45 a.m. when the bishops were introduced and asked to share a little about their experiences as Carmelites and bishops.

Following that Bishop Braulio Sáez delivered a conference on what local churches expect of the Discalced Carmelites. His talk stood in for that of Bishop Silvio Báez who, unfortunately, could not attend the get-together of our OCD bishops. Father General read a note from Bishop Báez which received a sympathetic reply from the entire Extraordinary Definitory through an expression of solidarity for the very difficult situation currently found in his diocese.

Bishop Braulio asked those present not to try to find excuses for the hard times we are in, nor a scarcity of vocations, nor for secularization. . . The Lord goes on inviting us in these times and believers are expected to answer Him. Bishop Braulio re-evoked the reference made by Father General to Saint Teresa earlier in the meeting and called his Carmelite brothers to live in suchwise as to incarnate and prove the identity given them by the Teresian charism.

“We Carmelites ought to consider ourselves one of those creative minorities mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI—called to help the societies in which we live find again the best of their heritage.” Just as Blessed John Paul II said, religious life benefits from a glorious past, but has much to accomplish in the future.

Following what was noted by the Aparecida Document, Bishop Braulio challenged us not to complain, but to re-read the Gospel as Good News for the reality in which Carmel finds itself.

To do this the children of Saint Teresa–just as Latin America’s Carmelite Major Superiors stated at their recent meeting in Londrina, Brazil—are called to return to the true heart of their vocation and remain alert to the teaching of their Foundress and Teacher, go to the very essence of the Carmelite charism, with fidelity to the Church, by living consistently its contemplative and apostolic dimension (Martha and Mary must always coexist).

Each community, Bishop Sáez went on to say as he cited once again the document of the Aparecida meeting [of the Latin American episcopal conferences], has to share an outpouring of the life of Christ (= “pastoral conversion”). This is valid not only for any Christian community at all, but most especially for Teresian Carmelite communities. This means to live in Christ by prayer, the liturgy and fraternal community life, so as to thereby share what one lives out as he/she meets others, particularly the most materially and spiritually poor and needy.

Bishop Braulio referred again to the Aparecida document, as well as to Bl. John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 23, and asked the Major Superiores mayores to live and induce the practice of “pastoral charity” in their circumscriptions: grafted onto Christ Christ –with one’s eyes fixed on our Spouse. We are to open ourselves to the reality of the Church and not avoid the problems, needs, hopes and plans for evangelization of the local churches with the joys and suffering of their people, as we think to safeguard our charism.

He see three keys to assist Discalced Carmelites in this process of responding to the demands of shared local church life: 1) live an intense experience of life in Christ within ourselves, that transforms us,(according to Benedict XVI writing in Deus Caritas Est; 2) live intensely community life in a Teresian manner so as to serve as an example of communion for the local church; and 2); live intensely a commitment to mission so as to announce openly the Gospel, thus rendering specialized service to the ecclesial communities in which our Teresian Carmel is present.
In the late afternoon the Extraordinary Definitory, happily accepted the letter that the bishops had drawn up and will send to His Holiness the Pope, in order to ask of him the dedication of the year 2015 as a Year of Prayer with Saint Teresa as its Patron Saint. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mystical Substitution

Fr. Mark has been sharing some magnificent meditations from Mother Mechtilde de Bar on reparation and the Holy Eucharist:
If then, a religious of the Holy Sacrament wants to understand the spirit of her vocation, let her hold herself always in a state of victimhood in Our Lord's holy Presence, and if she wants to live in a state of true victimhood, let her, at times, see herself as an object of love and of good pleasure before her Divine Lord, who willingly receives the reparation she makes to His glory and, at other times, see herself as an object of horror and of wrath before her Sovereign Judge, who demands in justice the expiation due Him for so many profanations. Let her, on the one hand, believe herself called to all that is most holy and divine in the spiritual life; and on the other hand, believe herself called to what is most mortifying, most crucifying, and most annihilating in the life of penitence. Finally, let her remain in a state of indifference with regard to the effects of Mercy and Divine Justice, which she is bound her honour equally in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar by virtue of her profession.
Let there be no cross, disdain, suffering, death, or annihilation that she will not embrace with joy out of zeal for Divine Justice, for the expiation of all the sins of profanators of the Most Holy Sacrament; just as there are no virtues, graces, merits, perfections, holiness, blessings, praises, adorations, prayers, and good works, that love and piety would not cause her to seek with ardour for the reparation of the honour and infinite glory, the grandeurs, and the excellences, of the same Holy Sacrament. (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Silence of God

It is only apparent. From VIS news:
VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father travelled by helicopter from the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to the Vatican, where he held his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall. In his catechesis he dwelt on the first part of Psalm 22, focusing on the theme of prayers of supplication to God.

The Psalm, which reemerges in the narrative of Christ's Passion, presents the figure of an innocent man persecuted and surrounded by adversaries who seek his death. He raises his voice to God "in a doleful lament which, in the certainty of faith, mysteriously gives way to praise".

The Psalmist's opening cry of "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is "an appeal addressed to a God Who appears distant, Who does not respond", said the Holy Father. "God is silent, a silence that rends the Psalmists heart as he continues to cry out incessantly but finds no response". Nonetheless, he "calls the Lord 'my' God, in an extreme act of trust and faith. Despite appearances, the Psalmist cannot believe that his bond with the Lord has been severed entirely".

The opening lament of Psalm 22 recurs in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in the cry the dying Jesus makes from the cross. This, Benedict XVI explained, expresses all the desolation the Son of God felt "under the crushing burden of a mission which had to pass through humiliation and destruction. For this reason He cried out to the Father. ... Yet His was not a desperate cry, as the Psalmist's was". (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bride of Christ

Rosalind Moss becomes Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God. Te Deum laudamus!  To quote Bishop Slattery:
In every age and place, the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, is at work in the Body of Christ to regenerate and extend the various forms of consecrated life by which the Church is enriched and made present in the world.

Beginning with the vocation of Saint Antony of Egypt, the Father of every form of consecrated life in East and West, and continuing through the charisms of Saint Pachomius, Saint Basil, Saint Augustine, and Saint Benedict, and of the myriads of holy founders and foundresses in every century the Church has never been without new and varied expressions of the call to follow the poor and virginal Christ, obedient unto death, even death on a Cross.

Moreover, from Apostolic times, unmarried women and widows have sought to imitate the Daughter of Sion, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her unconditional surrender to the will of the Father and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Having said her "Yes" in response to the message of the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin of Nazareth became blessed above all women, the Joy of Israel, and the Glory of Jerusalem.

Among the women who seek to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary and aspire to share in her spiritual motherhood today, are the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope. The mystery of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the luminous pattern of their ecclesial mission to all peoples: Jew and Gentile, young and old, rich and poor.

Contemplating that mystery, they rejoice that the Light of the World has come, and receive the Child Jesus, Israel's Hope and Consolation, from the arms of His Blessed Mother as did Simeon; their mission is to teach others to do likewise, and so find hope in this valley of tears.

They listen to Simeon's prophetic utterance and recognize in his arms the Promised One, who from the altar of the Cross will offer Himself to the Father as the Atoning Lamb. Thus are they compelled to undertake works of catechesis so that all peoples may find in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the wellspring of salvation, life, and resurrection.

They observe Anna, the Daughter of Phanuel, who gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel; strengthened by holy Anna's courage and zeal, they will devote themselves to a missionary outreach to "those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death," to apostolic works of evangelization, to the consolidation of family life, and to the promotion of a Catholic culture of goodness, beauty, truth, and life.

New foundations of consecrated life are fragile undertakings; they must welcome the wisdom of past generations with humility and gratitude, learning from the teaching and example of the saints who never grow old. It is by a sure and praiseworthy instinct, then, that the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, have chosen to graft their tender shoot onto the age-old tree of the Benedictine tradition. (Read more.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monks as Outcasts

Here are some words which can be applied to all who are trying to live the contemplative life.
From the beginning, monks have elected to live outside the conventional configurations of power, both ecclesiastical and secular. The Church is essentially eschatological, a community of outsiders in the world. Within the community of outsiders that is the Church, the fathers and mothers of the desert constituted yet another community of outsiders. The monastic heart suffers a certain affinity with the outcast, with the person who lives on the edge, with those who question "the done thing," with those who risk intoning "a new song" (Ps 97:1). This is the price of life in the light of the Kingdom. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our Holy Mother St. Teresa and the New Age

How genuine Carmelite spirituality transcends the lies of the New Age.
St. Teresa of Avila's understanding of the link between the trinity and all other human mysteries is enough to discredit the pseudo-mysticism of the New Age, according to a Spanish prelate.

Bishop Cecilio Raúl Berzosa Martínez of Ciudad Rodrigo said this Sept. 4 at the conclusion of the weeklong 2nd International Teresian Congress.

Bishop Berzosa is the author of "Nueva era y cristianismo. Entre el diálogo y la ruptura" (New Age and Christianity: Between Dialogue and Rupture).

He explained that St. Teresa's "The Way of Perfection" provides "keys or antidotes to confront the mystical deceits of the New Age." For example, he drew from her teachings to refute pantheism, and the pretension of being able to save oneself.

The prelate detailed spiritual features and theological elements of New Age and highlighted some of the points in which it contrasts with Christianity. He contrasted it with the mysticism of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross....

Bishop Berzosa went on to point out four spiritual "lies or temptations" of the New Age, which already appear in Genesis and whose author is the Tempter: You will be like gods (pantheism); you will never die (reincarnation), you will know good and evil (moral relativism and subjectivism), and your eyes will be opened (Enlightenment esoterics).

"The Christian faith is not an esoteric initiation," he said. "Nor does salvation consist of an experience of cosmic plenitude through a process of reincarnation." (Read entire article.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Conjugal Love

A quote from Dietrich von Hildebrand:
The physical union between man and woman still retains its subjective significance and its intrinsic beauty. Is conjugal love in itself not sublime enough to sanctify and justify this union? Is not the reason for the creation of woman stated in Genesis: "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself." Can a childless marriage be regarded as a failure, as something that did not fulfill its meaning? Can we justly assert that it would have been better if such a marriage had not been brought to pass? Can it not have its full divinely-appointed meaning simply as the highest communion of love, and glorifying God by this very fact? Is not the ideal of marriage fulfilled to an even higher degree when both partners, even though childless, belong to each other in the most perfect conjugal love, in unchangeable loyalty to one another, in imitation of the union of the soul with God, than in the case of a marriage with perhaps many children, where the partners are unfaithful to each other and desecrate the sacred tie by lack of love and loyalty?...Is this not a clear indication that marriage is a symbol of the union of the soul with God, that it possesses, as such, a sublime importance and that it exists in the first place for its own sake and not exclusively for the sake of any result that it produces? (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As the Morning Rising

A meditation for Our Lady's Nativity, which is tomorrow.
How amazed, then, was the whole of creation at the Birth of this creature, the most amiable in the eyes of God, because She was the one most full of grace and merit! Hugo of St. Victor affirms that the Virgin Mary can be compared to the dawn which ends the night, because the centuries which preceded Her had been in darkness. Mary Most Holy is the true forerunner of the light of grace: She is the Star that announces the Sun of Justice, Who will be born from Her womb. In fact, “all the time which passed from the fall of Adam to the Birth of Our Lady, was an endless darkness, a long, deep, icy night. And yet at timers a star rose to brighten up those times: it was the holy Patriarchs and Prophets who enlightened the ignorance of those people by their virtue.” But the holiness and virtues of all the Saints turn pale compared to the Mother of God. “The Virgin Mary is the most refulgent dawn, Whose magnificent splendour obscures that of the ancient Fathers.” (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thoughts on Chapel Veils

I think that this blog post is a grand meditation on human respect in general.
I was hung up about being seen as holier-than-thou if I wore a chapel veil.  And I, too,  had this longing in my heart for a *long* time to wear one. I had read much on veil wearing in booklets, blog posts and articles. Through that reading, prayer and supportive discussions with my husband my desire grew. I wanted a very personal way that I could show my love, respect and belief in Our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist. A gift to Him and a reminder to myself. In the simplest terms it is for me an outward act of Faith, Hope, and Love. I have been wearing a chapel veil to Mass and Adoration now for the past two years. I started wearing one after the day I realized that, for me personally, it would be an act of humility. Because everything in me wants to blend in and not stand out. I don't want people to judge me or not like me. Unfortunately, I focus too much on people pleasing. This fear of mine is/was rooted in pride. I had to force myself to just wear it to Mass one time. Sure, I got some looks the first few times, but that's because I'm the only one at my parish wearing one. People will naturally look at something that is new or different. Now, I get nothing. No looks or comments. It turned out to be no big deal after all. Just like most things in life that we like to stress about.
I also have to point out that my fear wasn't just the thought of others judging me as little-miss-piety, but that they would think that I was somehow judging them. I didn't want other women thinking that I was somehow saying (by my wearing a veil) that they weren't holy without one. It's laughable really, that any woman would think that just because they cover their heads that they are somehow better or closer to God than other women. It's also laughable that anyone would assume that just because a woman would cover her head that she would somehow think less of those that don't. The whole thing is ridiculous really. What we women do to ourselves and to one another. Over-thinking everything. Will we be judged? Will they feel judged?....it's endless, isn't it? (Read entire post.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Memories of Mother Teresa

From Ireland's Cardinal Brady:
Mother Teresa wrote in her diaries that her first year of this new mission was fraught with difficulties. She had no income. She had to resort to begging for food and supplies. She experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the relative security of convent life. She wrote in her diary: ‘Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross … Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard.’

The fact is, anyone who earnestly desires to follow Christ will, sooner or later, come to this same decisive moment in their life. For most of us, it confronts us many times, even many times in the same day! It is that moment when, with the full weight of our own free will, we are invited to first choose and then to trust in God’s will and logic when our own will and ‘logic’ is drawing us in a more comfortable, even a more reasonable direction.

This tension is played out in the Gospel passage we have just heard. Peter rejects the idea of a Christ who will suffer greatly and be put to death.  For him, the cross represents failure and who wants to be part of a failure? It is worth remembering that Peter is also a strong man.  Trusting others, even a good man like Jesus, was never going to be easy. Yet that is what Jesus asks him to do. He asks him to set aside his human instinct for strength, for security, for certainty and logic and to accept the utter poverty of the cross.  By rejecting suffering and death, Christ tells Peter that he is thinking, not as God thinks, he is thinking as human beings do.  St Paul tells us all that we must put on the mind of the Lord.

‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mt 16:24). It is interesting to note that Jesus does not say here that you must take up ‘my’ cross.  Instead he says to each disciple that he must take up ‘his’ cross. There is always a temptation to imagine that we already know beforehand what our cross and time of testing will be. It is often much more difficult to recognise the cross Jesus intends for us personally and to accept it once we have recognised it. It is one thing to know about carrying our cross in the abstract; it is another to live it in the daily anguish of our deeply personal hopes and fears. Each of you I know will have your own personal cross that you carry with you here today. (Read entire article.)

The Sacred Wounds

They are our glory. In the words of St. Pius X:
Do not despair, however, because Christ foresaw that his Church would be persecuted; and it must be a glory for us to carry the Wounds of Our Divine Redeemer. If the world hates you, Christ says, know also that it hated me first. Remember those words that I said: The servant cannot be more than his master; if they have persecuted Me, also you will be persecuted: "Si Me persecuti sunt, et vos persequentur."

In the world, you will be troubled, "pressurant habebitis," but be trustful: I have overcome the world: "Ego vici mundum;" and this victory is assured by the very word of Christ, who guards and protects His Spouse, the Church, and repeats to her the words of Isaias: The peoples and the realms who have not served you will perish, "Gens et regnum quod non servierit Ubi, peribit," but you will not end until the end of the world, "Ecce ego vobiscum sum usque ad consummationem saeculi."

Also, even in tribulation, consolations will not lack. You will always have the one that is clear when good is done, when duty is accomplished, when suffering with Christ, secure in the predestination to the eternal award, conforming yourselves to the image of the Divine Son. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Beauty as a Way to God

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict recently said:
Today, I would like to consider briefly one of these channels that can lead us to God and also be helpful in our encounter with Him: It is the way of artistic expression, part of that "via pulchritudinis" -- "way of beauty" -- which I have spoken about on many occasions, and which modern man should recover in its most profound meaning.

Perhaps it has happened to you at one time or another -- before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of poetry or a piece of music -- to have experienced deep emotion, a sense of joy, to have perceived clearly, that is, that before you there stood not only matter -- a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, an ensemble of letters or a combination of sounds -- but something far greater, something that "speaks," something capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul.

A work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human person who stands in wonder before the visible reality, who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colors and sounds. Art is capable of expressing, and of making visible, man's need to go beyond what he sees; it reveals his thirst and his search for the infinite. Indeed, it is like a door opened to the infinite, [opened] to a beauty and a truth beyond the every day. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward.

But there are artistic expressions that are true roads to God, the supreme Beauty -- indeed, they are a help [to us] in growing in our relationship with Him in prayer. We are referring to works of art that are born of faith, and that express the faith. We see an example of this whenever we visit a Gothic cathedral: We are ravished by the vertical lines that reach heavenward and draw our gaze and our spirit upward, while at the same time, we feel small and yet yearn to be filled. … Or when we enter a Romanesque church: We are invited quite naturally to recollection and prayer. We perceive that hidden within these splendid edifices is the faith of generations. Or again, when we listen to a piece of sacred music that makes the chords of our heart resound, our soul expands and is helped in turning to God. I remember a concert performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach -- in Munich in Bavaria -- conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the conclusion of the final selection, one of the Cantate, I felt -- not through reasoning, but in the depths of my heart -- that what I had just heard had spoken truth to me, truth about the supreme composer, and it moved me to give thanks to God. Seated next to me was the Lutheran bishop of Munich. I spontaneously said to him: "Whoever has listened to this understands that faith is true" -- and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God's truth.

But how many times, paintings or frescos also, which are the fruit of the artist's faith -- in their forms, in their colors, and in their light -- move us to turn our thoughts to God, and increase our desire to draw from the Fount of all beauty. The words of the great artist, Marc Chagall, remain profoundly true -- that for centuries, painters dipped their brushes in that colored alphabet, which is the Bible.

How many times, then, can artistic expression be for us an occasion that reminds us of God, that assists us in our prayer or even in the conversion of our heart! In 1886, the famous French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel entered the Basilica of Notre Dame in Paris and there felt the presence of God precisely in listening to the singing of the Magnificat during the Christmas Mass. He had not entered the church for reasons of faith; indeed, he entered looking for arguments against Christianity, but instead the grace of God changed his heart.

Dear friends, I invite you to rediscover the importance of this way for prayer, for our living relationship with God. Cities and countries throughout the world house treasures of art that express the faith and call us to a relationship with God. Therefore, may our visits to places of art be not only an occasion for cultural enrichment -- also this -- but may they become, above all, a moment of grace that moves us to strengthen our bond and our conversation with the Lord, [that moves us] to stop and contemplate -- in passing from the simple external reality to the deeper reality expressed -- the ray of beauty that strikes us, that "wounds" us in the intimate recesses of our heart and invites us to ascend to God.

I will end with a prayer from one of the Psalms, Psalm 27: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple" (Verse 4). Let us hope that the Lord will help us to contemplate His beauty, both in nature as well as in works of art, so that we might be touched by the light of His face, and so also be light for our neighbor. Thank you. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blessed Ildefonso Cardinal Schuster, O.S.B.

The devil is afraid of holiness.
Ildefonso Schuster, the son of a Roman tailor, the Abbot of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls, and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan, was at the same time a scholar learned in the Church’s liturgy, in history, in art, in catechesis, spirituality, and archeology; he was a shepherd of souls, a diplomat, and a peace-maker. Beneath the scarlet robes of a Prince of the Church, he remained a monk, a child of Saint Benedict. Thus was he able to say:
Before all other things, and even above all things, O Venerable Brothers, we are essentially adorers. “This is how one should regard us, as ministers of Christ” (1 Cor 4:1). After that we must also be ministers of the people, the salt of the earth, and fishers of men, etc. but first, it is absolutely necessary that we be true servants of God: Ministers of Christ . . . appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God (Heb 5:1).
As Cardinal-Archbishop, Blessed Schuster never failed to direct the energies of his priests toward the One Thing Necessary. A few days before his death he withdrew to the seminary he had built and there he delivered a final message to his seminarians, warning them of the futility of an apostolate without personal holiness:
I have no memento to give you apart from an invitation to holiness. It would seem that people are no longer convinced by our preaching; but faced with holiness, they still believe, they still fall to their knees and pray. People seem to live ignorant of supernatural realities, indifferent to the problems of salvation. But when an authentic saint, living or dead passes by, all run to be there. . Do not forget that the devil is not afraid of our [parish] sports fields and of our movie halls: he is afraid, on the other hand, of our holiness. (Read entire post.)
More on Blessed Ildefonso, HERE.
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