Saturday, January 31, 2015


These last three years we have been true wayfarers along with Jesus, the Wayfarer.  A wayfarer is someone who has traveled, journeyed.  We have all definitely done that in the last three years by literally moving from Esopus to West Park to Beacon and three sisters to  assisted living  at Meadowview, and then to Lourdes. Now recently, Sr. Mary made her final journey to heaven. Communally, we wayfared by way of transitioning, regressing, accepting and continually growing into our new reality. 

When I look at this picture of the Wayfarer, I see it as Jesus welcoming each of us with open arms.  Jesus is ever ready to shepherd and guide us, protect and bless us.    To me it looks like he is about to place his hands around my shoulder, and on the shoulder of whoever is on the other side: you, you, you…each one of you. That made me think of a yoke; as in Jesus saying,  ‘Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened, and  I will give you rest, take up my yoke and learn for me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.’  Mt. 11:28

On reflecting on the image of the yoke (a curved piece of wood that fits over the shoulders of two draft animals so they can work together) I thought that is what Jesus is like: He is the yoke that holds us together and guides our lives in a gentle manner; not by force but by love and an invitation to journey with him.

This invitation to journey with the Wayfarer didn’t intimidate our Foundress, Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa.  We know this aspect of Jesus as Wayfarer inspired Celeste to give her all and follow the one she loved throughout her life. 

In our day, Jesus the Wayfarer travels the road of life with us.  United by love, our love for God, our Redemptoristine life and each other, we journey together with Jesus regardless of our human differences that occasionally trip us up.    Strengthened by the grace-filled yoke of Jesus we rise to be our better selves and continue our journey sure in the knowledge that the Wayfarer will always be by our side.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


At our last meeting we looked at Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa's First Step on the Mystical Ladder of her Grades of Prayer which was about faith in the one God and the knowledge of the faith which forms the pathway to prayer.  It was about ‘the gift’ of gazing at God with sheer faith and ‘the response’ to see all things through the eyes of the Beloved.

As I did last month reviewing the First Grade of Prayer, I will only give you highlights of her more lengthy writings.  To review see Nov. 9, 2014.

Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa

Hope and Trust: Dependence on God with full confidence
that is born of hope
when one learns to abandon oneself to all that comes to us is from the Father in Christ through the Spirit

Oh most pure Truth, You are the faith that brings the soul all the divine treasures: and in your purity I discover my supreme Goodness in all His beauty.  But this lovely sight holds me in a purgatory of love because the true light of this faith highlights the difference that exists between Your most pure being and my own being; and if it was not for that lively confidence and hope in You that this faith produces in the soul, then it would receive a great torment from this divine beauty of Your own being. But the certainty that faith communicates to the soul, as in the previous grade of prayer, increases her hope and trust without her soul understanding how she has received it.

In that passive understanding she receives the knowledge of the wisdom, goodness and power of her Beloved through that cloud of shining faith and sees the beauty of her resplendent eternal sun, and then the soul recognizes her beginning and her ultimate end.

On this second step of this ladder, she finds her peace, as the bride does in the Song of Songs, under the wings of her Beloved and His divine attributes. 

She finds her secure refuge under these divine wings, and in Him she places all her hopes; in Him she hides all her miseries; in Him she rests in all her crosses; in Him she places all her desires; in Him she rejoices in every pain and trouble that she receives from creatures.  All fears are banished from her heart because security abounds in her soul.   In a single loving look she offers Him not only her whole self and her needs, but all the miseries of her neighbor.

She does not do this in prayer but in surrendering her heart to Him. And then the bride receives all the blessings of her beloved God and feels she has received the remedy for all her needs, and has been granted not only whatever graces she has requested, but also whatever she could desire. Therefore, such a soul cannot remain for long in pain no matter what she suffers, either externally or internally, because of the certainty of hope that faith produces a most complete and sublime trust in her beloved God.

Without holding back on anything, she gives her Beloved her own self. He, likewise, gives Himself entirely to the soul so that she may possess as her own all His divine attributes.

Therefore the soul never doubts her God, nor is she terrified by the dispositions that her Beloved ordains, be they arduous to her senses, or be they sweet, for He is never to be distrusted or feared. Because of the recourse she has to Him in her weaknesses, He is honor bound to rescue her as her father, to assist her and love her as her husband, and benefit her as her monarch. Here love is powerful in reconciling the soul to every trouble or pain; it matters little to her, because her heart expands so as not to be limited to the narrowness of her own littleness. And so she awaits the outcome of everything with great tranquility. 

The soul sees clearly that she no longer belongs to any creature; nor expects any benefit from anyone at all.   So, she declares her gift of self to Him with no other intention except to make herself entirely of Him whom she alone loves and enter into His heart - to dwell there exclusively and indivisibly. Here the bride says only one thing, “I am Yours alone and You are everything to me! (for) My Beloved is for me and I am for Him.”

Where to begin!  Celeste shares so many thoughts swinging and swaying between discovery and mystery, joy and pain, surrender and peace, exclusively and indivisibly giving herself to God while experiencing detachment from any creature.  All these are kept steady by the virtues of hope and trust, faith and love. 

The second step on the Mystical Ladder, it seems to me, is more a matter of will born of faith
“in surrendering her heart to Him” than in prayer; a conscious act to trust and hope in God in every situation and to respond to all circumstance as would Jesus.   The goal is to make oneself entirely of Him. In the Associate Constitution #5 it states this clearly, “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.”

In a way the first two steps of the Grades of Prayer remind me of the first two steps of Alcoholic Anonymous Twelve Step program, but in reverse.  Celeste’s first step begins with God is God, my All, and then takes the next step recognizing her weaknesses, limits and littleness.    The first two steps of AA’s program are
admitting that one cannot control one's weaknesses and then to recognize a Higher Power.   

Celeste sees this climb up the ladder as a purgatory of love because she is keenly aware of the Truth, the difference between herself and God, and her need for God in her life.  It is only with active faith, trust and hope that she finds rest from all her fears and crosses.

Even today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord takes up this theme in Celeste’s expression of ‘purgatory of love’ when Jesus presents himself at the Jordan to be baptized and John’s reaction is, “I am not worthy.”  But John is a man of hope and trust, faith and love and baptizes Jesus that he may be one with us and we may be one with God.  As Celeste explains, “Without
holding back on anything, she gives her Beloved her own self. He, likewise, gives Himself entirely to the soul so that she may possess as her own all His divine attributes.”

So, to me, this Second Grade of Prayer is more about an actual state of being than prayer.  And yet, it is in prayer when we contemplate on God’s unconditional love for us and our love for God that our hope and trust grows as we continually surrender our hearts to our Beloved and in turn
receives all the blessings of our beloved God who is our All.

Reflection questions:
What phrase, or phrases, from the Second Step touched your heart?How does Hope and Trust shape your prayer?
What ‘divine attributes’ have you received from the Beloved?