Tuesday, July 9, 2019

HOLY REDEEMER SUNDAY, Third Sunday of July

On this third Sunday of July, we Redemptoristines, along with our Redemptorist priests, brothers and associates around the world, celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Redeemer.  The official name of the Redemptoristines is actually the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer.
This feast celebrates the mystery of our salvation:  God the Father gives the Son, born of the Virgin Mary, to become the living image of God’s own Love and by the Love of the Son who, in giving Himself for us, restores us to our original dignity.   This abundant outpouring of love is revealed today in our Redemptorist family by our witnessing, through prayer and mission, to Christ’s life of love for the salvation of the world. 
Twice this past weekend, I had the opportunity to witness reflections of God’s Love.  The first was my nephew’s wedding to his beautiful bride.  They looked at each other with such love as they were united together in a life of love: ‘…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life.’ 
The second was when I visited my friend in the nursing home.  At one point her husband passed by the window where we were sitting and she looked with such love at the door then: expectant, waiting.  He appeared at the threshold with the same look of love. A redemptive love that said, ‘I am here for you, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish you all the days of my life.’     
By loving as God does, Jesus, the visible image of God, restores us to our original dignity.  These two couples reveal to each other, and us, the Life of Love that restores us, unites us, redeems us.  

Friday, June 7, 2019


It is our custom to select cards with the fruits and gifts of the Spirit on Pentecost to serve as a reminder of what we already possess as baptized individuals into the one body of Christ. 

Just as this watercolor of the outpouring graces of the Holy Spirit washes across this one piece of paper so too is our community awashed with graces.  Yet, when the one piece of paper is divided into many cards, each individual card, though unique with its flowing design, is still of one piece.  We are like that: all connected yet having our own special  gifts and talents to offer in service to our community and to our world.   

When I was painting this watercolor I was humming a song I heard from a cassette tape made by the St. Alphonsus ‘Rock’  Church in St. Louis, ‘Spirit, Fall On Me,’  imagining the graces falling down upon us all like a waterfall - imagine Niagara Falls - with plentiful water, refreshing water.  That is God’s way with graces – showering on us plentiful Redemption.  

At the bottom of the waterfall are ripples pushing out further and further ever expanding from the base of the waterfall to affect everything around it.  We are those ripples when we use those graces that have fallen on us for the benefit of all. 

As we receive the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit may we be refreshed by the plentiful graces falling on us by the powerful, joyful out-pouring of the Spirit upon us individually and as a community and ripple-out those graces to the entire world. 

Monday, March 11, 2019


Excerpts from the Intent of the Father 
and the Associate Constitution

With desire I have desired to give my Spirit to the world and to communicate it to my creatures endowed with reason, in order to live with them and in them until the end of the world.

So that my creatures, then, might keep in mind the never ending love with which I have loved them, it has been my good pleasure to choose to make of you a living memorial (“viva memoria”), for all the people of the world.   (So that) His works are always alive before me. (To) continue the mission of the Redeemer and so guide the world towards that which is the end and fulfillment of the world:  becoming a new heaven and a new earth where God will be all in all. 

Consequently, stamp on your spirit the features of his life and be on earth living and inspired portraits of my beloved Son.  You will carry Him about as the Life of your heart, as the Goal of your existence and as the Master of your spirit.

What phrase or sentence touched your heart?

Painting by Briton Riviere:   The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert

Today’s Gospel was the Temptation in the desert.

What do you see in this picture?
Area looks desolate – no vegetation  ~ Spring brings new life.
Lent means Spring, as in the lengthening of days.  This year Easter is so late that it truly will be light and bright on the day of resurrection.

Is this twilight between sunrise or sunset?
Red sky at night sailor’s delight.  Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
‘Stars’ ~ Venus above his head and Jupiter by his shoulder
This past February, Venus and Jupiter rose before the sun each clear morning in this configuration, so this could well be a winter scene.

Vulture symbolizes:  purification / insight to choose your path  / Death or doom  (vulture’s heads are bald to keep them clean while eating carrion and they urinate on their feet to sanitize them from bacteria in the carrion.

On what is Jesus sitting?     It looks like a throne.   Devil tempts him with worldly power.  But, as Blessed Celeste says, ‘Christ reigns from the Throne of the Cross.’

What is Jesus thinking?  

This Lent, how can I strive to live more fully
the love of Christ in my life?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


     What is your relationship to soil?

    Without dirt we would not have 
                   bread and wine 
                  for the Eucharist.
 So the dirt beneath our feet is holy.  

Have you ever had an experience of 
                    ‘holy ground?’

How can we show our reverence to the earth? 

   How could we prayerfully live sustainably 
in our choices of buying food, preparing food, 
       disposing of scraps, using leftovers…?

      How can we express our gratitude? 

    During this Lent how can I keep 
           my soil/soul life healthy?

What do I hope will bloom this Easter?

Friday, February 1, 2019


Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.     - Prayer from the Blessing of the Throats

Saturday, February 2, marked the end of the Christmas/Epiphany season.  (You can take down your decorations now.)  The day is known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Jesus to God in the Temple at Jerusalem 40 days after his birth.  The Light of Christ has come into the World!

This day is also called Candlemas day because around the world in churches and monasteries candles are blessed for the coming year. In Germany, and other countries, at the end of Evening Prayer on Candlemas Day and in anticipation of the feast of St. Blaise, they bless the faithful’s throats with lit candles.  I can only imagine the blaze that could cause if the priest were not of steady hand!    

In our monastery in Beacon were celebrate this ritual, without lit candles, thank you, for our own good health against diseases of the throat and other ailments, and for all the sick recommended to our prayer.

St. Blaise died in 317 and was a physician, bishop and martyr. The most famous legend about him was while he was in prison for refusing to renounce his faith, he miraculously cured a little boy who was choking to death on a fish bone.

May Christ our Light, through the intercession of St. Blaise, cast out all shadows of doubts and fears and cure our illnesses as we joyfully sing full-throated in praise to the God who hears and answers our prayers.  Have your throats blessed.  And as an extra precaution, get your flu shot! 

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Advent is the most beautiful of liturgical seasons.  It is a time of watching and preparing, of hopeful expectation and joyful anticipation.  Advent is the season where we ponder the comings of Christ. The Mass readings of Advent begin with the Second Coming of Christ to earth, the Parousia. (par-u-cia). The word Parousia means ‘to be present.’  Isn’t that what Advent is about?  To be present to the mystery of God: past, present and future. We remember with our ancestors of the past their longing for the coming of the Messiah. We rejoice and celebrate Jesus’ incarnation, his coming in the flesh 2000 years ago.  In the present, we recognize Jesus, our Messiah, in our midst in the here and now, where he is gracing us in every facet of our lives as we look to our reward at his ‘Second Coming.’

If you follow the daily readings at Mass during Advent you find they are filled with much imagery.  A few years ago it got to the point that I felt inspired to illustrate the Great O Antiphons.

Some of you may be scratching your head and saying, ‘The Great what?’ You know at least one of them by heart, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel… ’   It is probably the most beloved of all Advent hymns.   In the
monastery, as a final preparation for Christmas, we sing these ‘Jewels of Advent,’ the last 7 nights before before Christmas Eve.   The Great O’s are sung during Evening Prayer just before the Magnificat beginning December 17 and then continue for the next 6 days with a different ‘O’ sung every night until December 23.  They are also sung, or said, as the Alleluia verse at Mass during those days.   

The exact origin of the ‘O
Antiphons’ is not known. Boethius (480–524) a Christian philosopher in 6th century Rome made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. During the next century at the monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire of Fleury in central France, these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they were in wide use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome.  The hymn, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel,’ dates back to the 9th century.

The original O Antiphons, of course, were in Latin. But over the years there have been many translations.  My handout is one of the more modern translations.   
  December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of
  December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of
  December 21: O Oriens (O Morning Star)
  December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  December 23: O Emmanuel (O
Whoever put together all the Latin Antiphons was having a good time because if you take the first letter of each invocation, then read it backwards; it forms an acrostic in Latin:  ERO CRAS.  This can be understood as Christ response to his people's plea, “Tomorrow I will come."

You may say, ‘Wait a minute.  Christmas is on the 25th not the 24th.  Why end on the 23rd ?’  True enough, but thanks to the tradition handed down to us by our Jewish ancestors in the faith, we begin the liturgical day at sundown. So, the evening of the 23rd is Christmas Eve, and as a result, therefore, the Christmas liturgy begins at Evening Prayer on the 24th.  I know it sounds confusing but that is the way it is.

To add to the mix, an alternative English medieval practice arose of moving all of the antiphons forward by one day so they began on December 16th.  They added an antiphon involving Mary to the end on the 23rd.  
O Virgo Virginum…

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before you, or after shall be.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel at me?
The thing you behold is divine mystery.

So they took the ‘V’ from O Virgo and added it to the acrostic so it became Vero Cras, "Truly, tomorrow."

This additional antiphon was only eliminated from the Church of England liturgy in the year 2000, thereby restoring the Great O Antiphons to their original form.

The O Antiphons are all scripture based, or at least they are alluded to somewhere, in the Jewish Testament.  Each Antiphon has three parts:
◊ They all begin with an exclamation of a Messianic title:   O Wisdom, O Root of Jesse, O Morning Star….
  They are followed by an attribute, a description of the power of God:  Giver of Law,  Sign of God’s Love,  Source of Life, Promised Savior….
◊ And then conclude with an invocation to Come and:  Come and teach us, Come and open the way, Come and Redeem us, Come and set us free…

Did you know the name Jesus, Jehoshua, means in Hebrew ‘Jehovah saves or sets free’?  That is the underlying theme of all the O’ Antiphons: our longing for God to set us free.

In many cultures, to know the name of another person gives you power over that person.  Think of the power we have in knowing, in our limited way, some of the names for the ineffable God; and the awareness of some of the attributes of our incomprehensible God.  Because of this power, we dare to cry out, to demand that God come to our aid to open our hearts and teach us, to hurry up and unite us to God’s self, to redeem us and set us free.  And this God has done and is still doing so until this day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


‘We heard in the Paul’s letter to the Ephesians these words, “we are God’s work of art, created in Christ to do the good things God created for us to do and today the Church celebrates one of God’s masterpieces, Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa.   To many however, when you mention her name the response is not one of great joy but more one like Who?  To the small band of her followers in this room she is model, guide and companion even centuries later.

Paul further says we exist to display the immeasurable riches of God’s grace and kindness in Christ and the gift of faith given to us in Christ . This is what saints do and it was what Blessed Celeste did in her life. Like Martha in the Gospel came to do, she was also able to come to believe that Christ was the Messiah and Son of God who had come into the world to save us.  Her world was a special world just as Martha and Mary’s world was, she knew and believed that in Christ Jesus, “whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Giulia Crostarosa was born in Naples in 1696, the 10th of 12 children. She was considered by some as the “darling of the family” both intelligent and high spirited.  There was much to be discovered about her as she grew in her understanding of who she was.  She invites us this day on here Feast day to continue to grow in our understanding of who we are as a people of God.
When you want to understand something about a founder such as Celeste you look to her writings, Her writing was so focused on the one who was the redeemer of humankind and thus we have a community who recall and who contemplate as only they can, the one redeemer’s actions for us today and every day, Celeste heard Jesus’ command when he said to her and he says to us. “Do not love any creature, love only me. Imitate my life and unite whatever you do with the works of my life.”   Blessed Celeste went about with eyes focus and heart dwelling in the life of Christ her teacher and redeemer.

She, as many young women did in her day and age, entered religious life and when while still in formation as a novice, she had a revelation that she would be the instrument by which a new rule and order of nuns would be established. She wrote “With desire I have desired to give my Spirit to the world and to communicate it to my creatures endowed with reason, in order to live with them and in them until the end of the world. Out of immense love, I have given them my Only Begotten Son.” 

With the support and collaboration of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who later became her friend the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer was founded on the Feast of Pentecost in 1731. That is the beginning of the story but it certainly doesn’t end there. Like many founders of new communities she was misjudged, she was called a troublemaker, delusional, and to even some she was considered a witch. But persistent in her call she remained strong.

She was eventually expelled from the original monastery for being one her companions could not understand and so she turned to her Beloved  Jesus, who was to show her the way. Blessed Celeste’s heart was always focused on founding a new monastery and new way of life and so she continued her quest in Foggia, where she became a prolific writer and mystic.

The spiritual journey of Maria Celeste was filled with many mystical experiences and is characterised by obedience to conscience, by constant searching for the meaning of the gospel, and by living simply. Here where I invite to do your home work and read more of her life or just turn to her living followers today and let them tell you the whole of the story. Maria Celeste died at Foggia on the 14th September 1755. At the moment of her death, Saint Gerard Majella, her spiritual friend, declared he saw her soul flying to heaven as a white dove.” That’s quite a story of the one who followed the life of her redeemer.  I found that as I reflected more, it was fascinating for the situation here as she began with Carmelite roots but also had a tie to Francis as well.  In 1731, on October 3, the Vigil of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Maria Celeste has a vision of Our Lord with St. Francis and Alphonsus Liguori. She discovers that Jesus wishes to have Alphonsus be the first superior of a men's Institute, with the additional charge to "…Go and preach to every creature that the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Today we celebrate Celeste let us reflect upon the words of their own constitution: the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer accomplishes its mission in the Church in close fellowship with the entire Redemptorist family. The Order is, in fact, closely linked by its origins, name and
spirituality, with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The twofold Institute is called to achieve a common goal in a complementary fashion. The apostolate of the Redemptorists is sustained by the contemplative life of the Nuns and their ministry gives incentive to the life of prayer and contemplation of the Nuns who are themselves fully missionary (cf. Canon 674), The mission of both is to be faithful witnesses of the love of the Father and to continue in this way with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Mystery of Christ Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of mankind."

On this feast day may you remember always the vision of Celeste and live the words of St Paul in Ephesians, God has raised you up, In union with Christ to display the riches of God’s grace and kindness in Christ. May you echo Celeste vision in your life when he joins Paul in saying, “Life for me is Christ.