Friday, February 26, 2010

Lent 2010

Pope Benedict's message. "Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need—the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gratitude for our Priests

Let us pray for them while giving thanks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is Lent?

From Fr. Blake:
Lent is not an orgy of Pelagian self improvement, that turns it into something vain and worldly. Lent is about probing our weakness and offering that to God. "Remember you are dust and to dust we shall return", are words that should dominate our Lent. God takes dust, breathes his life into us and we become human beings, without him we return to dust. Our existence depends on Him, by ourselves we are nothing, blown away like dust in the breeze.

Lent is the time when we are supposed to realise without God we are nothing, and God is everything. That for us Catholics it is the sacraments; Baptism, the Eucharist, Penance, those direct contacts with God himself that give us Life.

Realising we are weak and God is strong, that we cannot depend on ourselves but only on Him, if we are confronted with that, then Lent will have some value for us. If we learn to weep over our sins and to run to him in the sacraments not just for his forgiveness but for his strength then Lent will not be wasted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A New Martyr for Russia

Terry Nelson tells of a heroic young soldier who died for his love of the cross.

On Exterior Penance

A meditation for body and soul.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


A meditation from Fr. Blake. (Via Sancta Sanctis) To quote:
For centuries Christians prepared themselves for the agony of death by meditating on those who willingly accepted death for Christ, their example gave the courage to pray to be delivered "from a sudden and unprovided death", what many now call a "good death". That is quite the opposite of what Christians understand by a "good and holy death", how dreadful for us to die without Confession, unconcious of the sacraments, without the prayer of Holy Church.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lenten Penances

Here are some great suggestions from Fr. Trigilio.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Thorn in the Flesh

A Lenten reflection from Fr. James.
We all take as a given that the goal of Christianity is entering into eternal life; however, attaining this goal requires intense daily effort on our part. The spiritual life is not an easy endeavor because of our wounded human nature. True, Baptism washes away original sin, but we are left with the effects of original sin. We do not have complete control over ourselves. The spiritual life is a continual battle.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Some thoughts from A Solitary Bird.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Story of a Miracle

The intervention of the Little Flower.
The enigmatical expression “my way is secure and I did not go astray following it”, said at the end of the apparition which took place in the monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns of Gallipoli on the night of January 16, 1910, alluded to Saint Therese’s little way of spiritual childhood.

At first, the Carmelite nuns themselves were not able to understand the significance of these words coming from the mouth of a young Carmelite nun, who had died just 13 years before in a far distant monastery at Lisieux in French Normandy. Neither did they understand what was meant by the “confirmation of her little way of spiritual childhood”.

Mother Carmela, the prioress of the monastery at that time and witness to the apparition, related the miraculous event which was documented in the process of beatification of the “greatest saint of modern times”.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Writers, Mystics, and Visions

Some thoughts from A Capuchin Journey.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Akathist to Our Lady of Lourdes

I offer this hymn from the eastern liturgy in thanksgiving to Our Lady of Lourdes for favors received. (from Vultus Christi)

Kontakion 1

To you, our Champion Leader and Mother of Christ our God, do we, your children, sing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for your appearance and miracles that you continue to send down on us as showers of Divine Grace at Lourdes. As through the waters of Baptism we were made new in Christ, so through the waters that gushed forth from the grotto of your appearance we are enlivened by the Grace of God, as we sing: Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Life-giving

Ikos 1

At Lourdes, you appeared as a new Forerunner, O Most Holy Mother of God, telling us to make straight the way of the Lord Jesus and washing us in the miraculous laver of the waters that you caused to pour out upon us. You anoint us with it, have us drink it, and transform us thereby, making us fertile in faith, good works and communion with God in Christ, as we sing:

Rejoice, new Noah, through whom the Holy Spirit moves over the waters of regeneration!
Rejoice, New Elias, causing the clouds to drop saving Waters on the parched earth of our hearts!
Rejoice, New Moses, sending refreshing drink from the dry rock!
Rejoice, New Baptist and Forerunner, for you call all to repentance in the water of heavenly unction!
Rejoice, for you invite us to a feast where the thirst of all is quenched!
Rejoice, for as our loving Mother, you wash away the dirt of our sins!
Rejoice, for you anoint us with the Gift of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, for you gladden our hearts by turning our sorrows into gladness!
Rejoice, for as at Cana in Galilee, the Lord Jesus grants your entreaties on our behalf!
Rejoice, for you came to remind us to do all He tells us!
Rejoice, for you teach us to pray for the living springs that God will cause to rise up within us!
Rejoice, for your love for us is like the trickling of droplets from the mountains that fall into the River of Life, leading to the Divine Ocean!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving Springs!

Kontakion 2

O Most Holy Mother of God, you appeared to your servant, Bernadette, in a grotto and asked her to return there fifteen times. Like St Andrew of old, only she could see your miraculous and light- filled manifestation, singing the praises of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everyone who saw the Divine transformation in the face of your servant, however, could plainly see who it was that she beheld, and they all cried: Alleluia!

Ikos 2

You are a Mountain Uncut, O Virgin Mother, from Whom came the Cornerstone! You are the densely wooded Mount Thaeman from whom the Prophet announced the coming of the Messiah. Through your prayers and intercession, make soft the hardness of our hearts, so that we may sing:

Rejoice, Holy Mountain, pointing the way to Heaven!
Rejoice, O Rock Unquarried!
Rejoice, Hilltop in which God Himself is pleased to dwell!
Rejoice, High Place, leading all to your Son!
Rejoice, Marble Throne on which the Lord Jesus sits as King!
Rejoice, densely wooded fulfillment of prophecy, revealed in the gentle breeze!
Rejoice, for you come to soften the hardness of our hearts!
Rejoice, for you attune our spiritual hearing to the Voice of God!
Rejoice, for you write the Laws of God on the stone tablets of our spirits!
Rejoice, for you dash our sins on the rocks!
Rejoice, for you have power to move the mountain of our unbelief!
Rejoice, for, like Moses, you came down from the Lord's Mountain to crush idols!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 3

You appeared to your servant, Bernadette, in a robe of white, with a white veil, girdled with a blue sash, O Holy Mother of God. Roses shined at your feet and you held a prayer cord with gold chain on your arm on which we say your Psalter, your Rule of Prayer, revealed to a monk of the Thebaid long ago. As we meditate on the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of your Son, in union with you, we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

The Angel Gabriel of old appeared to you to announce that you would become the Mother of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus. As the Mother of God, you are the Mother of His Body that is the Church and so nurture us all on the Milk of His Grace. Singing the Angelic hymn of your praise, we glorify Christ singing:

Rejoice, who said, 'May it be so according to your word!'
Rejoice, whose soul magnifies the Lord!
Rejoice, who gave birth to Christ at Bethlehem!
Rejoice, whose soul was pierced with a sword of sorrow!
Rejoice, for your Son teaches in the Temple!
Rejoice, for He is the Son of the Father, in Whom He is well-pleased!
Rejoice, for your Son agonizes over our salvation in the Garden!
Rejoice, for He accepts the Cup of suffering through scourging, mocking and carrying
His Cross!
Rejoice, for from the Wounded Side of your Crucified Son flows Blood and Water!
Rejoice, for your Son has risen from the dead and ascended to the Right Hand of the Father!
Rejoice, for He sends into the world the Comforter, the Spirit of Peace!
Rejoice for He has taken you into His Kingdom and has crowned you as our Holy Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving Springs!

Kontakion 4

After repeated entreaties from your servant Bernadette, you revealed your name to her saying, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Not understanding what this meant, your servant joyfully repeated this so as to remember to tell the priest, who at first refused to believe in your appearance to her. Upon hearing the poor and simple girl repeat this name, the priest humbly cried: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

O Most Immaculate Mother of God, the Holy Spirit sanctified you at the moment of your Conception in the womb of your mother, Saint Anne. Not even a shadow of an imperfection dared approach her who was to serve in the dread mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as deigned by God, the Father of Lights.
Praising your holy parents, Joachim and Anne, we sing:
Rejoice, Ever-Immaculate Virgin Mary!
Rejoice, Most Immaculate Mother of God the Word!
Rejoice, Ever Pure Vessel into which the Bread of Heaven deigned to make His abode!
Rejoice, for a great Sign appeared in Heaven!
Rejoice, for you are the Woman clothed with the Sun!
Rejoice, for the Lord crowns you with stars!
Rejoice, for the moon is at your feet!
Rejoice, for you have crushed the head of the serpent of old!
Rejoice, for the Rod of Jesse has conquered him!
Rejoice, Holy Temple of the Spirit!
Rejoice, for you are highly favoured by God!
Rejoice, for you held in your arms Him Who holds the universe!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 5

O Holy Virgin Mother, you bade your servant, Bernadette, to "Go, drink and wash in the fountain." As she searched for the spot, she soon found a spring flowing from the same rock in which you appeared. Although the people thought her a fool, they soon came to acknowledge your servant to be a fool for Christ's Sake, and yours, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

You also invite us to come, drink and wash in the fountain of your miraculous water, O Mother of God. Ailments are cured, sight is restored, cancers are healed and souls rancid with the stench of great sinfulness are washed clean in your source of heavenly
refreshment. And what can we ever do or say to thank you for all your love for us? Accept our cries of wonder and gratitude, as we sing:

Rejoice, Holy Physician, applying needful remedies for all our ailments!
Rejoice, for you cure the blind!
Rejoice, for those in sin have seen a great Light!
Rejoice, for the despairing obtain new hope!
Rejoice, for those stricken with cancers are made whole!
Rejoice, for sinful stains are washed away!
Rejoice, for with you nothing is impossible!
Rejoice, for we hurry at your command to "Come, drink and wash!"
Rejoice, for we come to you to fill the empty vessels of our souls!
Rejoice, for your Son forgives us our sins!
Rejoice, for you forbid us to worry, but command us to pray!
Rejoice, for demons are seized with dread at the flowing Rivers of Grace!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 6

You asked your servant, Bernadette, O Most Holy Theotokos, to have a chapel built where you appeared to her. Weeping tears of compunction, she held a lit candle in her hand as a sign of her enduring faith and trust in your intercession as she prayed and joyfully praised you. Favouring the praise that comes from God, rather than that that comes from people, she set out courageously on her mission, crying: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

"The Lady of the Grotto has ordered me to tell the priests that she wishes a chapel built at Massabieille!" cried your servant. "She is a very beautiful Lady who appeared to me on the rock." Not yet knowing your name, Bernadette could not tell the priest who asked her. Praising thy great spiritual beauty, we join with her in acclaiming you, singing:

Rejoice, Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rejoice, Mother of His Church!
Rejoice, Virgin before, during and after His Birth!
Rejoice, Mother of God the Word!
Rejoice, Most Immaculate Theotokos!
Rejoice, Queen of heaven and earth!
Rejoice, our Holy Protection!
Rejoice, our Defender!
Rejoice, Jar of the Heavenly Manna!
Rejoice, Ark of the New Covenant!
Rejoice, who prays ceaselessly for the salvation of our souls!
Rejoice, the Joy of all our Joys!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 7

Your servant, Bernadette endured many calumnies from those who refused to acknowledge the presence of the Mother of Christ among them. She rejoiced at having been found worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ and your name, O Most Holy Mother of God! Pray for us that we may also be found worthy to bear reproach for the sake of our Lord Jesus, as we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

As Christ sent His Apostles into the world, so too did you send your servant, Bernadette, and those that would follow her to witness to repentance and prayer, O Holy Mother of God. Intercede for us that we may have the grace to bear God in our bodies and perform the works of light and children of the light so that people may see and glorify God in Heaven, as we sing:

Rejoice, for these things have not been revealed to the wise of this world, but to children!
Rejoice, for Christ bids the little children to come to Him!
Rejoice, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!
Rejoice, for blessed are those when men say all manner of evil about them for the sake of Christ and yours!
Rejoice, for great is their reward in Heaven!
Rejoice, for so were the Prophets and Apostles treated!
Rejoice, for no student is greater than his Master!
Rejoice, for there is much suffering in the world!
Rejoice, for Christ has overcome the world!
Rejoice, you promise to make us happy not in this world, but in the next!
Rejoice, for we run to our reward with the feet of athletes!
Rejoice, for who may separate us from the love of God in Christ?
Rejoice, O Radiant Foundation All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 8

More and more people came to the Grotto to see your servant, Bernadette. Although you were invisible to their eyes, it was enough for all to see your Light shining on her innocent face, in the fullness of heavenly joy and happiness. Intercede for us, O Most Holy Mother of God, that we may also bear the imprint of your heavenly Light and Peace, bringing your blessing to everyone we meet and to every place we visit, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 8

"Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls will be converted around you!" cry theSaints. And where better to acquire it, if not from the Spouse of the Holy Spirit? May your miraculous water from Lourdes be to us a true inner anointing so that the waters quietly running within us may moisten the spiritual dryness of the world, as we sing:

Rejoice, leading us to Lourdes as to another Mount Tabor to see your Son transfigured!
Rejoice, for it is good for us to be at the Grotto!
Rejoice, for we desire our souls to be tents in which your Son and you might dwell!
Rejoice, for you restore calmness to the turbulent waves of our lives!
Rejoice, for you bid the storms besetting us, "Peace, be still!"
Rejoice, for we ask you to save us as we sink in our disbelief!
Rejoice, for your Radiance outshines that of the sun!
Rejoice, for in your brightness all is made clear!
Rejoice, for you dispel our gloom with the beams of your joyful mercy!
Rejoice, for you lift our spirits on high!
Rejoice, for you anoint us with water as with the Oil of Gladness!
Rejoice, for you cool our passions and satisfy our spiritual thirst!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 9

A rosebush hung from the grotto of your apparitions at Lourdes, Mother of God, a fitting tribute heralding the presence of the Rose of Sharon! Its thorns remind us of the pain and suffering we have in this life, while its aromatic flower signify the joys of heaven that we obtain through your intercession and guidance, as we always sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 9

You are the New Staff of Aaron, O Lady of the Grotto, that budded forth the Author of Life, Christ our Saviour. You are the King's Daughter who is led into His Chambers and all your beauty is within. We praise your fruitfulness and cry:

Rejoice, Enclosed Garden of Mystical Delights!
Rejoice, O Flower of Sharon, perfuming all with heavenly myrrh!
Rejoice, O Lily of the Valley, anointing us with the grace of holiness!
Rejoice, O wondrous Rose, in which the Divine Word became Flesh!
Rejoice, O Marigold, filling our poverty with holy virtues!
Rejoice, Violet of Modesty, handmaid of the Lord!
Rejoice, Snowdrop of Holy Purity!
Rejoice, Holy Lavender, drying the effluvium of our sins!
Rejoice, Divine Thistle, nourishing us with the Milk of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, Sacred Hyacinth, knitting our lives to conform to your Son's commands!
Rejoice, Sweet Bee Balm, leading us to the land of Milk and Honey!
Rejoice, Morning Glory, our Mantle of Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 10

You appeared one final time to your servant, Bernadette, on your feast of the Protection of Mount Carmel, O Mother of God, thereby showing yourself to be a constant source of protection to her and all of us throughout our lives. Cover us with your Mantle always and may we ever live beneath its protecting wings, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 10

Your mantle of Holy Protection was prefigured in the Cloak of Elias the Prophet, O Lady of the Grotto. He it was who established a chapel in honour of the "Messiah to come" on Mount Carmel, the fruitful Mountain that prefigured your coming. His mantle was rent in two as he ascended on fiery chariots to heaven and came to rest on Eliseus, his disciple. May we always find comfort and help in your mantle of Protection, as we sing:

Rejoice, Garment without seam!
Rejoice, Robe of salvation!
Rejoice, Mantle of protection!
Rejoice, who, like Elias, brings us to heaven with the two-part cloak!
Rejoice, covering us with the wings of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, our defender in the day of battle!
Rejoice, for your Grotto has become another Mount Carmel!
Rejoice, for in it we find the Sword of the Spirit and the Helmet of Salvation!
Rejoice, for you turn away the darts of the evil one cast against us!
Rejoice, you are a fruitful Vine on which grew the Cluster of Grapes exuding the Mystic Wine!
Rejoice, for the Oil of Divine Grace is poured over us as over the beard and down to the edges of the garments of Aaron!
Rejoice, for we are invincible under the covert of the wings of your Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 11

Your servant, Bernadette, witnessed to your visitation all the days of her life, O Mother of God. She suffered greatly in both body and soul. She drew her strength from her prayer to you and her close union with your Son, remembering always your promise that she would not be happy in this life, but in the next. We also ask for the grace to be happy with you in the Kingdom of your Son, crying: Alleluia!

Ikos 11

"You will not allow your Holy One to see corruption!" sang the Psalmist. The body of
your servant, Bernadette, is still incorrupt, bearing silent witness, even now, to the
transfiguring power of the rays of Grace emanating from your hands, O Holy Mother of God, as we exclaim:

Rejoice, bestowing on us the Gifts of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, sanctifying us in His Grace!
Rejoice, Vessel through which the Comforter pours on us His deifying power!
Rejoice, for your Grotto at Lourdes has become another Mount Tabor!
Rejoice, for you are a Cloud in which we see Christ, the Word of God!
Rejoice, for your Radiance fills the earth!
Rejoice, Rainbow of the New Covenant, heralding an enduring Testament of
Rejoice, for we are transfigured in Christ Who took flesh from you!
Rejoice, for we participate in His Body in Holy Communion!
Rejoice, for, through you, we shall be as gods!
Rejoice, God has made us a little lower than the Angels!
Rejoice, for, in you, we have become partakers in the Divinity of Christ!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 12

O Most Holy Theotokos and Lady of the Grotto! Pilgrims from the far corners of the earth attend your Shrine and come to drink and wash at the New Siloam at which they find health in both body and soul. Anoint us also with your miraculous waters and may we become bedewed with the heavenly moisture that dries out the effluvium of our sinfulness and sorrows, as we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 12

May the drinking and anointing of your holy and miraculous water at Lourdes, O Lady of the Grotto, make us fruitful in Christ, helping us imitate the Wise Virgins who presented themselves to the Bridegroom, when He came unexpectedly, with lamps filled with good Oil. May we prepare all our lives to greet Him when he comes, singing:

Rejoice, our Good Defense at the awful judgment Seat of Christ!
Rejoice, for you are a New Jacob's Ladder, leading us to Heaven!
Rejoice, for you are a Mountain which we climb to meet God!
Rejoice, for you rain down on the earth the waters of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, for you wash away our sins, though they be as scarlet!
Rejoice, for you make our souls as white as snow!
Rejoice, for you are a Good Mother to all your children!
Rejoice, for you help us stand upright in the life in Christ!
Rejoice, for you hold us by the hand as our constant Guide!
Rejoice, for you protect us from all dangers and temptations!
Rejoice, for you indicate to us the Divine Sun of salvation!
Rejoice, for you are the Star of the Sea!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving

Kontakion 13

O Most Holy Theotokos, Lady of the Grotto! Accept from us this hymn of praise and thanksgiving to you for your constant Motherly care for us, your children. And as at Lourdes you brought great consolations to us through your miraculous streams of holy water, so always intercede for us as we take refuge in you. Ever sprinkle and bedew us with these lifegiving droplets and we will always sing of your glory and invoke your aid, O Lady of the Grotto, crying: Alleluia (Kontakion 13 is read three times).

Ikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are repeated here.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

May your Holy Water that flows from your miraculous Grotto at Lourdes, O Virgin Mother, be for us who partake of it and who are anointed by it, a pledge of your constant intercession for and assistance to us! May it be a constant reminder to us of our calling as followers of Christ that we received in the waters of our Baptism. And may it serve to enlighten our spiritual eyes, bring health to body and soul, and strengthen us always. With you, may we always glorify your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, together with His Father, Who is without beginning, and His Most Holy and Good and Lifegiving Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Théophane Vénard

A spiritual brother of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Relying on Ourselves

A quote from St. Alphonsus, beautiful and true. (Thanks to Esther.)
...The examples of the martyrs teach us also to have immediate recourse to the assistance of God, by earnest supplication, when we feel ourselves disconsolate or weak under affliction. Thus did the holy martyrs. As their torture increased, they multiplied their prayers and secured the victory...

...There have...been examples of Christians who, failing to invoke the assistance of the Almighty, have fallen off from the confession of the faith, and forfeited the glorious crown.

An example is found in the acts of the martyrs of Japan.

An aged man, having been condemned to a protracted martyrdom, endured the torture for a considerable time, but failing to invoke heavenly aid, denied his faith in a few moments before he expired--a startling warning to all, that perseverance in prayer, in times of temptation and distress, is that which alone can insure us the victory....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Maryland

Last year I made a brief but refreshing pilgrimage to the Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I have written of the Grotto before, as a spot favored by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I went there with my mother to pray for some special intentions and gain the Lourdes Jubilee Indulgence. The Grotto is a serene and beautiful spot even in the dead of winter. We were amazed at all the youth groups who were there, praying. On Saturday, there was Mass followed by confessions and Adoration. I confessed to an elderly priest, Fr. George Reed, whom I remembered from high school days. He had given me some helpful spiritual direction when I was seventeen; there he was at the Grotto, still hearing confessions after so many years. There are few things quite like a pilgrimage for putting everything in perspective. People come from all over to St. Mary's Mountain in order to find healing, peace, and inspiration, in the spirit of the original Lourdes in France.

Novena Prayer

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

St. Thérèse's Spiritual Brother

From Zenit (via Terry Nelson):
St. Thérèse's message that sanctity is for everyone resounded in a special way in the life of a Vietnamese Redemptorist who died in a Communist forced labor camp at age 31.

Marcel Van is considered a "spiritual little brother" to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Like her, he strove to be an apostle of love, approaching God with the trust of a little child.

Van was born in 1928 and died at age 31. From St. Thérèse, he learned that he would not reach priestly ordination and that instead, his life would be dedicated to making God present precisely where He seemed most absent.

ZENIT spoke with French Dominican Father Gilles Berceville, author of the French-language book "Marcel Van ou l’infini pauvreté de l’Amour" (Marcel Van or the Infinite Poverty of Love), to learn more about this Servant of God.

Father Berceville says Van's life is a symbol of the interchange between East and West.

ZENIT: Can Marcel Van be separated from the figure of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, considered to a degree today as his great spiritual sister?

Father Berceville: Van was a child of great faith who always had a profound relationship with Christ, constant Eucharistic devotion, the conviction that God is love and a great bond with the Most Blessed Virgin.

At age 14, he discovered St. Thérèse's "Story of a Soul" and, shortly after, he heard Thérèse speak to him. This mysterious exchange lasted until the end of his novitiate.

ZENIT: What did he discover with her?

Father Berceville: With Thérèse he discovered that his desire of sanctity could be fulfilled because it is also God's desire.

God is "condescending": He is not a God that one would think punishes us with rigor, demanding what we cannot do, but a God who thinks how to help us, and in a certain way adapts himself to what we are so that we will adapt ourselves to what he is.

When Van read the "Story of a Soul," he felt united to what he had already experienced. He was freed from his fear of God.

In Thérèse's school, he also learned a new way of praying: as a son speaks to his father. All that a child experiences is of interest to a father like God.

Thérèse also revealed his vocation to him: He would not be a priest. Hence, he had to give up the plan of life he had had up to that point.

He sees the ideal of being an apostle of love in a life hidden from the eyes of the world: a life of prayer, of intercession for priests and sinners, for children and for the Church.

According to his expression, he then shared with God "the infinite poverty of Love."

ZENIT: Marcel Van was a Redemptorist. What does he say to us about the mystery of redemption?

Father Berceville: Marcel Van had the great desire to make God present where he was absent. This was a strong intuition.

During his novitiate, his brothers asked him jokingly if he would like to live with the Communists. He assented. His friends made fun of him.

But he was not joking: He really wanted to love God with the Communists so that at least there would be one person who loved God with those who were "without God."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Other People's Faults

How to put up with them.
If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.
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