Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THANKSGIVING AND THE EUCHARIST: THE GIFT OF MERCY AND LOVE

For thy gracious blessings we give thanks, O Lord,
 
For thy loving kindness, we give thanks, O Lord.

Celeste said, ‘I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me’ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Beloved daughter, remember what the divine Word, God-Man, said, namely that He would be with you to the end of the world because He would be the food and nourishment of human beings, indeed He would be their life in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
In this instance My mercy has not been able to go further in giving, because no greater gift can be given. At this point hold yourself still in admiration as you contemplate the countless good things you have received.
Christ instituted this Sacrament immediately before His Passion at the cost of His Blood poured out for the benefit of all. For them He would thus become their drink, their nourishment, their life and substance.
Behold then where the salvation of the just lies, behold the source where they receive all the lights and knowledge of the eternal truths. There they are filled to full measure and overflowing from the torrent of love where they become immersed in God and made able to produce the most abundant fruits of every virtue, especially love for the neighbor, because this Sacrament is love.
There they receive the Holy Spirit with all His gifts because they are transformed into God by My beloved Son. You see now, Daughter, what dignity this sacrament gives you, and how My great Mercy is without bounds: there has been no restraint in My giving. Hence your whole life should be a continual preparation for and thanksgiving for My Mercy.                                          74. Spiritual Exercises for December, med. 18


Thanksgiving is all about food.  What we put in our mouths says a lot about us.  What comes out of our mouths says even more.  As Superioress in Foggia, Celeste would share almost daily her ‘ferverinos’ with her community for their growth and edification the inspirations she received from her Beloved.  Most of her mystical inspirations came either in the presence of, or after the reception of Holy Communion – during the time of thanksgiving.  As you all know, the word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving.  In one way or another, her writings were all about thanksgiving. Her ‘ferverinos’ were like mobius strips – a circle never ending, continually flowing in and out of itself: it goes around and around, always coming back to trust and thanksgiving for God’s mercy and love.   Like Celeste, we are to make of our whole life a
Drawing Sr. M. Linda Magbiro, OSsR '12
sacrifice of praise to the glory of the Father by responding the only way we can for all the ‘torrent of love and mercy’ God has dignified us in being nourished by the sacrifice of His Beloved Son by being transformed into a never ending Communion of Thanks and becoming ourselves Living Eucharist for the world.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

THE GRADES OF PRAYER

This will be a bird’s eye view of Ven. M. Celeste Crostarosa’s Grades of Prayer.  I, myself have only just begun to reflect on them in earnest.   In Celeste’s early life it was either Our Lord or her Confessor who ordered her to write out her mystical experiences.  In her later years, Celeste wrote down of her own volition these 134 handwritten pages which she called the Grades of Prayer to edify her community and the young women put in the Sisters’ care.  Generally, she was inspired to write and share the richness of her mystical experiences she received during Holy Communion or Adoration.    

We have Italian Redemptorist Frs. Dominico Caponi and Sabatino Majorano to thank for the great service of gathering and studying our foundress’ writing.  American Redemptorist Fr. Joseph Opptiz studied the works of those Italian Fathers and translated their writings into English as well as giving us his own interpretation of Celeste’s spirituality for our benefit.

Maria Celeste Crostarosa was a mystic.   Like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and others before her, Celeste used the imagery of the ladder to describe the steps of prayer toward union with God.  Celeste’s ladder is taller than most, consisting of sixteen rungs or steps.   Today we will reflect only on the First Grade.  In the First Step she uses the Song of Songs to illustrate the marriage union of the one being (the Bride) with the Trinity (her Beloved Spouse).  Above all else, Celeste was Trinitarian and Christocentric  - Christ is the ladder we climb; a gift from the Father planted in the merciful self-emptying (kenosis) of the Son whose image is stamped on believers by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, our participation in the life of Christ is a transforming union drawing the soul up the ladder to God.

She describes each step in two phases; the first is the gift of prayer, and the second is the fruit of the effects of the gift: our response.  As we begin to look at the Grades I have selected pearls, samplings from Celeste’s First Step so that we may focus more easily on her shining insights.

·        Most of the time Ven. Celeste writes in the third person.   But then she will assert herself at certain times and say, “This is how I see


The First Step on the Mystical Ladder of Prayer of the Spirit
Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa

The Gift:  Truth and Faith in God
The Bride says in the Song of Songs:  her Beloved is like a stag that leaps over mountain and hills: the Song is explaining what faith does to the soul. 
Firstly, she recognizes the voice of the Beloved. This voice is the certainty of truth found in divine mysteries.  The soul listens to these in the speeding word that flashes by the spiritual ear.  To those who seek the Beloved’s face with a longing so pure and real, it is a gentle voice that lights up everything, creating wonderful emotions, some still, some active.  With respect, this reminds us of the Beloved: the wonders we believe in and the Divine Essence.

The Response:  
The soul stands there in astonished wonder.     She cannot keep up with the Beloved for her mind has its limits; she would love to catch up and embrace Him. Sweet Lord, let my lips say what my heart feels about Holy Faith: this is the first step on the mystical ladder, a princely highway that leads her to union with God.  

The Gift:
This is the ladder Jacob saw reaching from earth to heaven.  The earth is the Holy Catholic Church.   The prophet saw angels going up and down the ladder.  These are the facts and lights about the mysteries of Faith.  Faith is planted there and the soul rests on this steadfast base: Christ, the cornerstone.  Through the merits of Jesus, my Word-made-Man, the soul receives in her spirit multifaceted blessings through Holy Faith.  By Faith, the greatest Good becomes hers.

The Response: 
This is how I see it:  you have put into me a kind of longing, a longing to gaze upon you, to see you through your own truth –loving eyes.  This need to fix my gaze upon the Beloved One bears with it nothing of the sensual.
The core of this first step of faith-filled prayer is sheer truth.  It urges us to gaze with the greatest respect upon God as the sum-total of all good, the Highest God and to see all things through the eyes of the Beloved.  The simpler this act of faith, the greater is the quiet, safe rest she finds in God.

The Gift: 
While looking at God with this gaze of sheer faith she is disturbed by daydreams and other nuisance-things from the lower senses; even so, with faith, she gazes with great peace and calm upon her object of beauty.   The soul enjoys such oneness that the inferior part is completely relaxed as it shares the simplicity of the spirit.  This is a straight-out gift of the Holy Spirit; this is done by loving, not achieving.

The Response:
So by God she shares the loving acts of the will.  The Holy Spirit has sown a sacred love in her will and this love has the power to share this divine gift which comes through supernatural love, not by any action of the soul.
I could weep so broken-hearted for the tragedy of the unhappy world that values you so little and whose faith is nearly dead. 
The pathway of prayer is to know the truth of the divine mysteries.  The knowledge of the faith forms the road and the pathway to prayer.
Oh, if all were believers, all would be saints!


I’ll try to unpack this now with the help of Fr. Oppitiz’s commentary.

So, what is prayer?  Prayer is an interpersonal relationship, an inter-communication, a mutual exchange between a personal, loving God and a responding, loving creature.   Faith is the pathway to God.  Thus, faith and prayer go hand-in-hand every step of the way.    Prayer is also the pathway to truth.   According to Celeste, unless prayer is rooted in faith, both prayer and truth are incomplete.  What is truth?  Truth is about the truth of a personal God and the truth about the praying creature: the Creator and the created.

Celeste speaks of the fixed gaze. This fixed gaze is the intense focus of the whole person on the Loving Plan of the Father opened to us by and in and through Faith. 
This turning toward the Lord in Faith, she realizes, is initiated by God who draws her to God’s self by implanting deep within her, and within every person, a longing for the Divine at the very level of being.  Once a person practices this fixed gaze, they will begin, little by little, to see all things “through the eyes of the Beloved.” 

Simplicity is the fruit of this First Step of faith-prayer.  When we confront our creatureliness and recognize our utter dependence on the Divine we can more easily let go of the distracting nuisances in prayer that drift through our minds by simply turning our loving gaze back on God. This is, as Celeste says, a straight-out gift of the Holy Spirit.

Celeste’s prayer at the end of the First Steps of Prayer is that all would be saints.  She firmly believes one cannot be a saint without prayer and there can be no prayer without faith

Questions for Reflection:
How does Faith shape my prayer?

What phrase, or phrases, from the First Step moved my heart?

                    What is my response to this gift?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

PLANS

All that is hidden will be made clear,
all that is dark now will be revealed.
What you have heard in the dark
proclaim in the light;
what you hear in whispers
proclaim from the housetops. 
Bernadette Farrell

Though in the form of God, Jesus did not claim equality with God but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, human like one of us.  Flesh and blood, he humbled himself, obeying to the death, death on a cross.  For this very reason God lifted him high and gave him the name above all names.  So at the name of Jesus every knee will bend in heaven, on earth, in the world below, and every tongue exclaim to the glory of God the Father, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Phil. 2:6-11

The best-laid plans of mice and men /often go awry.  Robert Burns
Man proposes but God disposes.  Prov. 16:9
God writes straight with crooked lines.

Moira                                10/2014
Nothing goes smoothly according to plan.  “I had a plan to…”   You fill in the blank.    Disrupted plans are not unusual.  This is just one of the struggles of everyday life we all experience.  Still we ask, “Why it is our plans are always frustrated?”      Because we are the ‘created’ and not the ‘Creator.’ And we are not in heaven, yet, where all things will be revealed.  We are called to use our creativity here in the kingdom of God right now.

There is another saying that will help us put things in perspective and give us some peace of mind: Pray as if everything depended on God.  Work as though everything depended on you.    St. Augustine  

Through our prayer and work we are participants in God’s plan.  Ven. Celeste described this participation in ‘The Design of the Father,’ and it is summed up in our Const. #3 quoting Lumen Gentium, From all eternity, by virtue of a plan born of His mysterious and utterly gratuitous love for us, God wishes to call us to live in communion with Him, to give us His Spirit of love so that He might constantly live with us and in us.  
That being said, even Celeste had times when her plans felt like they were falling apart.  She was at her lowest while the new rule was being established; even Alphonsus wrote letters to chastise her: “It is always profitable to humiliate a soul overwhelmed with favors from God.” 

Celeste took this all to prayer and her Beloved re-assured her saying, “Live your life of constant dying to yourself, living crucified in My holy Flesh...always united to the joy of My Divine Spirit.”  And, “All that they shall do to you with regard to this work I shall consider as done to Myself and not to you.  But be assured that you shall see this work established.  Hope in Me."  These words strengthened Celeste, gave her peace of heart and she continued her work for the Lord.

This calls for much self-emptying.  Jesus is our model of self-emptying as we heard in the letter to the Philippians.  No one can say for sure that Jesus, being fully human, knew how his life would end on earth.  But with a loving and open heart he walked the path laid out by God the Father always united in joy with the Divine Spirit.   After Jesus died on the cross he rose again and brought us all the promise of new life.

Remembering our call to live in communion with God by means of being Christ in the world today, we walk the path laid out for us.  We cannot see the road ahead.    Our plans in life may feel like they go awry but they really may be blessings in disguise.  In looking back, we see how God has been with us every step of the way where growth and hidden grace is revealed as we receive unexpected new life. 

So with prayer, work, hope in God, a healthy dose of self-emptying and an open, loving heart we can proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

THINK, THEN SPEAK













Jesus spoke to Celeste:
"Friend of my heart, what joy and pleasure that you speak to me all the time and I always listen to you. I bless your insistent supplications which you make for your own self as well as for you neighbors."  
Florilegium 87

Celeste responded:
"Let me speak and exhale the love that is in my heart.... I will tell everyone you are my entire Love, Life, Heart and my very Soul."  
Florilegium 26.

To us:
"Saying only the good things people need to hear, so that your words may give grace to those who hear."    
see Eph. 4:29


Monday, September 15, 2014

ASSOCIATE COMMITMENT SUNDAY

Homily  given by Rev. Paul Borowski, CSsR
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip.  After a good meal and a bottle of wine they bunked down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”  Watson replied, “I see millions upon millions of stars.”

“So what does that tell you?” asked Sherlock.  Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”

Holmes was silent for a minute and then spoke. “It tells me someone has stolen our tent!”

A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a very skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

“So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me…”  “Yes?” says the surgeon.

“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated BMW engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?”  The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied quietly to the mechanic,  “Try it with the engine running.”

Perception.  One can see the same thing, witness the same event and we can have two outlooks on the matter.  The Feast we celebrate today can be looked at in the same way.  To us Christians in the year 2014 we see the cross as a sign of our redemption, of our salvation.  It has become a part of our life and perhaps it may have become a part of our life in the sense that it is so ordinary.  We enter into this Church and as we bless ourselves with Holy Water we make the sign of the cross – yet how often do we reflect on what that sign means.  I am sure that in your homes you have many a cross or crucifix on the walls of your living room, dining room or bedroom.  Perhaps like me you have a cross hanging on the rear view mirror of your car.  Many of us wear crosses around our neck, but once again do we realize what the cross means?

If you were to ask the people of Christ’s time about the cross they would give you a different answer to what it meant to them as opposed to us.  To the people of ancient Israel and the Roman Empire it was an instrument of torture, it was a means to put to death the worse possible criminals of their day.  As St. Paul writes:  “Cursed is he who hangs up the tree.”  For the people of Jesus’ day the cross was a terrible thing.  If Christ lived and died during our present time perhaps instead of a cross he would have been put to death in an electric chair or on a gurney with a lethal injection.  Our celebration today is to remember what the cross truly is:  a sign of how much our God loves us that he would allow His only Son to suffer such a terrible death.

Perhaps we have lost sight of the true meaning of the Cross.  One of the saints of the Church was once quoted as saying that the Christ was not crucified on a gold cross between two brass candle stands in a cathedral but he was crucified on a wooden cross between two common criminals on a dusty hill.  St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, said that when we gaze upon the cross we should see two things.  The first is what our sins have done in crucifying the Lord.  Again, there is no easy way to say this so we must admit that our selfishness, our carelessness towards others and our God lead Jesus to sacrifice his life on the cross so that we might live.  His death on the cross and his resurrection frees us from sin and death and gives us new life.  But Alphonsus did not stop there, he goes on to say that when we gaze on the cross we should also see the immense love that our God has for us.  In fact this love is a crazy love, a love that would go so far.  So, when you go home today and you look at the crosses in your house perhaps we can say a prayer of thanks to our God for loving us as much as he does.  Perhaps the crosses that we have will no longer just be ornaments that decorate our house or our necks but will be daily reminders of a God who is crazily in love with us.

In today’s Gospel from St. John we heard proclaimed one of the most famous passages of all Scriptures.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”   (John 3:16) The passage is John 3:16 and it has been made famous not by any great preacher but if you are a person of my generation you might recall seeing this written on a place card at many a sporting event in the late ‘70s and during the ‘80s. 

Stewart became a born-again Christian, and was determined to "get the message out" via television. His first major appearance was at the 1977 NBA Finals; by the time of the 1979 MLB All-Star Game, broadcasters actively tried to avoid showing him

At various sporting events a man by the name of Rainbow Man would position himself to get on TV and hold a sign with John 3:16 written on it.  Everyone knew the Rainbow Man, everyone knew John 3:16 and everyone knew what it meant.  The Rainbow Man, whose real name is Rollen Stewart made it his mission to spread this Good News.  There he was at Olympics and World Series, decked out in a Rainbow Afro Wig driving TV producers crazy since he kept getting in the camera’s view.  He would take a Portable TV with him to these sporting events so he knew where the camera would be looking.  He once was banned from the Olympics since they thought he was a spy and the John 3:16 was some type of code.




John 3:16 “For God so loved the world” is probably well know because of the work of the Rainbow Man, Rollen Stewart.  However, in 1992 he was arrested and charged with kidnapping when he broke into a hotel room outside of Los Angeles and held a few people hostage.  During the siege he had a pistol that he used to fire at incoming planes into the Los Angeles airport.  All along the windows of the hotel he placed John 3:16 placards.  He was finally apprehended and is presently serving three consecutive life sentences.  His next parole review will be in 2017.  He was also found guilty of setting off several stink bombs at various locations in years prior to 1992.

What happened to Rollen Stewart?  His story is one that shows that the message of the cross, the message of John 3:16 must not just be for external show but must take root and abide deep within each one of us.  The love that God shows us in the Exaltation of the Cross is a love that we must show to one another.  If we simply allow the Cross to remain a decorative item we run the risk of allowing it to have no meaning in our lives at all.

So today we celebrate a glorious feast -- a day to remember that by his death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day we have been loved by God and been made his chosen people.  Take a look at the crosses and crucifixes you have in your house or on your person.  Don’t let it just sit there as an ornament but as a real reminder of what our faith is all about.  We believe in a God who loves us insanely and calls us to love one another with the same passion.  May we never forget to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  AMEN!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

FOLLOWING THE HOLY REDEEMER


Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer: the official title of the Order  and the Congregation.

Being a visual person, I immediately got sidetracked by the various depictions of the Holy Redeemer.   In the pre-Vatican days, the sisters wore hand-painted disks which were tucked into a frame sewn over the heart of their habit as a reminder that she was to wear, as it were, all the divine virtues of the Lord Jesus Christ engraved on her heart as a seal as “a visible witness and ‘living memory’ of the Paschal Mystery of redemption in today’s world.”  Const. 1   Everyday, we Redemptoristines continue this practice when we put on a pin or necklace with the portrait of the Redeemer. 

In her autobiography, Ven. M. Celeste tells us she was about five years old when Jesus first spoke to her heart.   Years later, when she was in the Novitiate, Celeste received a vision of Jesus who made her understand that a new Institute should be founded in the world by means of her, and that all the rules and laws which should be observed in it would be an imitation of Him.  Two days later she had another vision of Jesus dressed in the colors of what was to be the habit of the new institute: a joyful dark red tunic that would remind the world of

God’s deep and infinite love for all humankind and a sky blue mantle to remind us our goal: heaven.   Jesus spoke to Celeste with these words, “I call you, dear soul, because I want you to be clothed with all the things that make Me beautiful, thus you will be the image of Me and I shall live a life of love in the world by dwelling in your heart.” Autobiography

What makes Jesus beautiful?  Looking at the traditional painting of the Holy Redeemer we see a blond, blue-eyed Jesus.  Perhaps to a dark-haired and eyed Neapolitan like Celeste, this appearance of Jesus was ethereal.   The contemporary depiction of the Holy Redeemer, to me, looks like Pierce Bronson.   Mighty attractive.  But...

But what makes a person beautiful?  It is their inner qualities.    Jesus told Celeste he was ‘Pure Love.’  That is who we are called to follow, Pure Love. 

How can we do this?  Your Constitution 5 states: “The more we strive to live the love of Christ, the more the thoughts and feelings of Christ will fill our spirit and our heart, the more we will become His faithful images and the more also will we be able to be true witnesses of the love of Him who is our beginning and our End, our Way and our Life, our Shepherd and our Master.” 

“Our response is to follow the path of the Redeemer. Our ideal is to make His purity, His simplicity, His obedience to the will of His Father, all His attitudes and all His choices truly our own.  The more we progress in this transformation of ourselves in Him, the more we will be able to be a living witness of His charity.  It is through the revelation of this charity that our brothers and sisters will discover in Jesus Christ the one Truth and the one Hope.”  Const. 14 

We are to be a living image of Christ’s redemptive presence in this world. Our whole life is to be that of Christ’s so with St. Paul we can say, “Life for me is Christ.”  Phil. 1:21 

How do we achieve this?   To follow the Redeemer is not easy.  We are called to share in the Paschal Mystery.  “Love of the cross is essentially love and imitation of Jesus Christ.” Const. 29   But, “We learn from Him the true way of humility and self-denial.” Const. 27   By taking time to “contemplate Him who is Pure Love itself, all our being becomes transparent in the light of Christ who is our all.” see Const. 16    “We find light and strength in the Word of God, and in the Eucharist so that we can, following the example of Christ, make of our whole life a sacrifice of praise to the glory of the Father.” see Const. 21

Today’s Gospel for Holy Redeemer Sunday comes from John and ends with, “Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” Jn 3:21  


Our deeds are to be done in God.  That is our call to transformation into the Redeemer, “We strive to become a clear and radiant witness of God’s mysterious and utterly gratuitous love for us.  Const. 1   It is through Christ in fact, that we have known and received this love which is directed towards all but in a very special way towards the poorest in order that our brothers and sisters may be fully aware of the love by which they are eternally loved by Him.” Const. 4    

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
What makes Jesus, the Redeemer, beautiful to me?
Celeste says Jesus is like a Crystal I the Sun with facets reflecting the innumerable qualities of God      Unconditional Love, Mercy, Prince of Peace, Counsel, Lord of the Harvest, Son of Justice, Savior… 

How do I witness to God’s love for me?
When I share my story of God’s love and miracles in my life
Reaching out to others

How do I image Christ’s redemptive presence in the world?
What Would Jesus Do?
There is nothing created that has not been redeemed. Gorge Colon, CSsR
The Biblical definition of redeemed is when the closest relative gets back what was lost.  Jesus became our closest relative when he became man.

Are ‘my deeds’ done in God?
Do I do things for God or to be noticed?

Recommended book:
The Naked Now by Richard Rohr 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

PEACE PRAYER



Moira '14

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY
As we thank God for 
our country
may we remember
all the places
in the world that long for
justice and peace.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP

                                                    OUR HANDS WITHIN YOURS       

                                                               
O Mother of Perpetual Help,
please listen to our story,
as we place our hands within yours,
show us your dear Son’s glory.

O Mother of Perpetual Help,
release us from our qualms,
as we place our hands within yours,
while gathered in your arms.

O Mother of Perpetual Help,
from sin bid us to cease,
as we place our hands within yours,
we will trust in your peace. 
                               
                                                  O Mother of Perpetual Help
                                                  accept our grateful love
                                                  as we place our hands within your
                                                  send blessings from above.

                                                                                                       TEXT: Moira Quinn, OSsR
                                                                                                       TUNE: St Columba

Saturday, May 10, 2014

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY



O my Mother you are a pure crystal which sparkles most clearly.  

You are a true image of the Original,
a Portrait of Jesus!

                                                          Ven. Maria Celeste



Happy Mother's Day!  Celeste was speaking of our Blessed Mother Mary with the above words,
but can't we all say that OUR Mothers sparkled clearly and were for us the first and true portrait of Jesus?

This is a picture of my Mother, Mary.  I am the blondie and my sister Irene seems to have a question in mind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY


We praise you, Lord, for Patrick who on the Emerald Isle
did plant the faith in Jesus
with gentle voice and smile.
And with a little shamrock
proclaimed the Trinity
that all the world may worship
in Christian unity.
                         Text: Moira Quinn, O.Ss.R.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

THE PROMISES OF CHRIST


When we pray "Make us worthy of the promises of Christ," what are we asking for?   What are the promises of Christ?  Peace, rest in this life and eternal life in the life to come. 

Oh yes, and crosses too.  They come in all sizes: small and large, simple and complex.

Do we rejoice in all these promises?

Listen to the words Jesus says to his followers:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  The peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Jn 14:27

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (cross) upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Mt 11:28-29

Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” Jn 11:25  

Do we believe these promises of Jesus?   What do they entail from us?  An open heart, willingness to change, growth in our relationship with God and others, an acceptance of crosses and self-emptying that leads to new life and resurrection.

How can we achieve these promises of Christ? 

One of the practices of Lent is making more time for God in our lives.  That is where we can begin to find the peace and rest we need in our hectic lives. Jesus once said to Ven. M. Celeste, “You are for me alone and I am for you alone; I am your Solitude and Repose; I am your sweet Company, your profound Centre of Peace where I will accomplish that which I promised.”  Florilegium 50

Then Jesus Christ made to Celeste a present of his divine Heart and gave her at the same time…unbreakable promises of uniting her to Himself eternally in faith, hope and love.  It seemed to her, from that moment, she was raised to a new life.  Florilegium 69

At another time Jesus said to Celeste, “All the crosses and troubles of life which the Father might be pleased to send you are not only to obtain your eternal crown, but also that you might be living images of my Humanity.”   Florilegium 118 

I am sure you are like me and don’t enjoy ‘crosses and troubles.’   But they are a part of being human.  If we are called to be ‘living images of Christ’s humanity’ then we are called to accept the crosses in our lives and see how they change us, how we can grow from them and experience new life in Christ.   

Coincidently, when thinking on this theme, I read an excerpt of James Martin’s new book, Jesus: A Pilgrim in AMERICA magazine about taking up our crosses.  Some of the things he said were: We don’t have to look for crosses, they come.  We are invited by God to accept our crosses, God’s gift is usually not what we expect and wait for new life in the resurrection, it will come.    http://americamagazine.org/issue/take-your-cross

One way to see if we are changing and growing in our relationship to God and others is to review our day.  1 Corinthians 13:3-4 has a simple formula to gauge how we are doing.  It says:   Love is patient; love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

While reflecting on our day we can paraphrase this by asking ourselves:  Am I patient?  Am I kind?  Am I jealous, boastful, arrogant or rude, and so on…? 

Reflecting on our day is not meant to get us down on ourselves – we are human, after all; things happen.   It is meant to be an eye opener so we can see where change and growth are needed. 

If you continue to read 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13 the last line says, “Now I know only in part; then (in heaven) I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. For now, faith, hope and love abide, and the greatest of these is love.”  That is another promise of Christ.   Love abides.  So, do not be afraid.   Love never ends.   This is what Jesus promised Celeste that she/we will be united to Him eternally in faith, hope and love.  Now that is cause to rejoice in the promises of Christ!    

What promises has Jesus promised you?


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CHANGING TIMES


The last phrase of our Redemptoristine Mission Statement is: ‘...in our changing times.’   That is one thing we can all count on – changing times.  How do we live life in our changing times?   The only answer is trust in God.

When Celeste was 17, the Lord said to her, “I wish to be your Guide.  Love me alone.  I am totally yours and have chosen you to be my spouse.”  Young and old, we have heard the call to have Jesus as our Guide, our confidant, our love, our spouse.  Through thick and thin, whether we were aware of it at the time or not, God is always there with us; loving us in our changing times.  
Dew of Grace                                          Moira '13
At Christmas time I came across a quote from the Father to Celeste:  “At the hour of my Incarnation there burst upon the world the dawn of the Divine Sun upon the earth; the Dew of Grace of the Holy Spirit upon all my creatures.”  That phrase ‘Dew of Grace’ bespeaks the gentlest quality of God’s tender love toward being with us; the Dew of Grace is an all-encompassing outpouring of blessings upon each and every one of us.


How do we live life in our changing times? The present often seems to be a struggle.  But because we know in our hearts the gentle tender love of God toward all God’s creatures, we follow Jesus’ example and in turn are gentle and loving towards others AND ourselves during times of tribulation and turmoil.  In the last phrase of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Remember, I am with you always.” 28:20   That gives us cause to trust in God. 

The past is a jumble of change.   And we’ve lived through it!  Only by hindsight do we remember the unexpected graces that were given us for which we are now grateful.   

The future is yet to be. We can only imagine what change is next.   Let us walk together remembering the past with Jesus’ tender loving presence among us and move into the future with trust and imagination knowing that God is always with us in our changing times.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Christmas was just a month ago.  All the lights and decorations have been boxed and put away in storage, but remnants of the holiday’s goodies can still be found in the refectory. 
 
What remnants can still be found of the Christmas spirit in our lives?  Should they be just remnants?
 
In the classic movie A Christmas Carol, the Spirit of Christmas Present says, ‘We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three-hundred and sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem.  He does not live in hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year.’
 
The Three Spirits of Christmas held up to Scrooge, as it were, mirrors of his life and he came to believe there was a better way to live his life.   By the end of the classic story, Scrooge is overflowing with Christmas joy and gave his word to be ‘…as good a man as the good old city knew…’
 
What keeps us from living that Christmas spirit three-hundred and sixty-five days a year?
 
Today, as our tradition, we celebrate the Incarnation.   Why is that central to our charism?  We turn to our foundress to hold up the mirror to give us the answer.
 
When Celeste was a novice the Design of the Father was revealed to her.   She wrote down the Father’s words, “Stamp on your spirit the features of his life and the resemblance of him that comes from imitation.   Be on earth living and inspired portraits of my beloved Son.  Carry him about as the life of your heart and as the goal of your existence and as the Master of your spirit.”   
 
In her Autobiography she wrote,  This instruction was for her soul like a polished mirror into which she remained gazing continually as at the dazzling light of the sun (the Son) and found herself at once drawn into the divine splendor of her Well-Beloved.”   Celeste was called from the beginning  to be for the world  a Mirror of God’s Love. 
 
That is our call also. We are to fix our gaze on the Son and, as if gazing in a mirror, see not only the splendor of His Being, but in our own being a living reflection of God’s eternal love.   “It is in this that the Redeemer is able today to accomplish His work of salvation in us and through us.” Const. 5    For, “The more we strive to live the love of Christ, the more the thoughts and feelings of Christ will fill our spirit and our heart, the more we will become His faithful images.” Const.6
 
Celeste describes Jesus, the only Begotten Son of the Father as the mirror of the Father.   She invites us to look into this mirror of the Son saying, “Those who are pure of heart know My Father because they look upon Him fixedly with a gaze of love.” and adds: “They are children of the light because with the vision of right intention, they gaze into the mirror of the divine perfections of their God.”   ‘The Mystic Who Remembered’ by Joseph Opptiz, CSsR
 
Jesus continued to instruct Celeste with these words, “In my wisdom, goodness, and infinity I call you, dear soul, because I want you to be clothed with all the virtues that make me beautiful, thus you will be the image of me and I shall live a life of love in the world by dwelling in your heart.”   Florilegium 4. Colloquies, III, 18 (28)
 
Celeste responded, “I no longer saw myself, but I saw You in my very self and myself transformed into You, my Most Pure Love.”
 
Like a double exposure of a photograph, one superimposed on the other, we endeavor to be Christ to one another:  “To be a living copy and faithful portrait of Jesus so that he might find himself in you, and you recognize yourself in him, your God through faith.”  Florilegium 6. Spiritual Exercises for December, med. 3 paraphrased
 
This is our call to transformation:  the call to be mirrors of God’s love and to live the Spirit of Christmas the whole three-hundred and sixty-five days of the year being as good a nun / associate as the good old monastery knew!