Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saint Peter's Mother In Law

This is my 100th post!

Today, I finally get to explain
why Saint Peter's Mother In Law
is one of the principal patronesses of this blog.

Today, Holy Mother Church places her story
before us for the second time this summer.

Last time, Matthew told it. 

This time, Luke is our witness.

God laid the groundwork
for my devotion to this holy woman throughout my life,
but I did not begin to realize this until June 25, 2011.

My three-week visit to the convent was nearly over.

That morning, during my spiritual reading time before Holy Mass,
I read Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis' commentary
on Matthew 8:14-15, part of the Gospel for the day.

I was amazed at how Leiva-Merikakis took two seemingly simple verses
(that I would have skimmed over so quickly and thoughtlessly without his help)
and expounded on them so beautifully for three pages,
just a few hundred words that changed my life
just a little.

The pericope of the healing of Saint Peter's Mother in Law
came alive for me that day,
and I realized that her story is my story too.

In school as a student of Theology,
I was taught that the references to Saint Peter's Mother in Law in Matthew, Mark, and Luke
can be used to prove that Saint Peter was married,
so that can be used as an argument for married clergy.

"Peter, the first Pope, was married, so why can't priests marry today?"

I'm not going to argue against this idea in any length here,
though I believe that Peter was probably a widower by the time he became Pope,
and possibly before he even met Jesus.
But all this is speculation and beside the point,
and I am sorry that it used to distract me from what the texts actually say.

But to get back to Leiva-Merikakis' reflection on the healing of Peter's Mother in Law...
it is absolutely beautiful.

Here are just a few lines:

"The text [of Matthew] literally says, 'He saw her...and he touched her hand...and she was raised up and she began to serve him.' These four particular verbs in this particular sequence offer us a magnificent summary of the whole Christian life." (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word I, p. 341)

So I rejoice this day, as Holy Mother Church picked Luke's account of the same story for part of today's Gospel:

Luke 4:38-39

"After he [Jesus] left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them."

Same story, different angles...

Jesus' authority to heal by simply speaking words is emphasized here,  in Luke's Gospel,
and it is interesting to note that He had just amazed the people by curing a demoniac by His Word.
In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus cures Peter's mother-in-law by touching her; here His Word suffices.

Of the three accounts, Luke's is the only one where Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law
before He calls Peter to follow Him.
I am not quite sure what to make of this, but it is definitely something to think about.

Luke and Mark both mention that others interceded for Peter's mother-in-law with Jesus,
while Matthew tells us that Jesus simply saw her lying there
and decided to heal her without being explicitly asked by anyone.
In this regard, I am torn, because I like both versions of the story.
I like the idea of intercessory prayer,
which is a huge part of my vocation and part of the inspiration behind the title of this blog.
However, I also believe that God's mercy needs no invitation,
that His healing graces are freely offered whether we ask for them or not.
So, I'm going to keep thinking about this, too.

By the way, since this post is way too long already,
I'm just about done here.
If you've made it this far, you deserve a treat!
escape by clicking this second picture...
it will take you to a beautiful reflection
by Saint Francis de Sales
on the healing of Saint Peter's Mother-in-Law.
(I believe he is working from Mark's account.)

+   +   +

Saint Peter's Mother-in-Law,
pray for us!
Help us to recognize the ways in which 
we have been healed by God's mercy and grace,
and to serve our Lord in love
all the days of our lives
as you did.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Prodigal Love of the Heart of my God

My God is an awesome God!

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25) 

It took less than 24 hours for my Lord to accept my surrender and answer on my terms. No, on better terms than I had asked, and infinitely better terms than I deserve.

I said, "Ok, it has been more than a week, and several people have counseled me to be more patient. I give up wanting my prioress to call me quickly. She will call whenever You will it, Lord. But what I would like is simply to know that they got my application."

And what did I just find in my inbox this morning, but an email from my Novice Mistress, confirming that they got my application and I can hope to hear from the Prioress sometime at the end of this week!

Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love, I thank You--this latest blessing of confirmation is more than I asked for, more than I deserve. But You are not limited by my limitations, for then You would not be God!

With the help of Your grace, Lord, I will praise You all the days of my life!

Your foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and Your weakness is stronger than human strength.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Giving thanks after Irene

Giving thanks today...

for the gifts and graces of this beautiful weekend and day:

-sharing laughs with family over the escapades of Sister Bertrille + co.
-babysitting one of God's most precious little angels : : she lives and I am blessed : : hidden grace
-reading the Word on the bridge as she slept in her stroller : : more peace in my soul than I'd had in days
-I sang my favorite songs to her, not embarrassed or self-conscious at all : :  moonless night : : home safe
-F's move to college went well
-the mystery of God's will and providence making good out of my failure : : new arrangement for girls' room
-We made it safely through the storm : : the basement did not flood : : K'nex on this side, Legos on the other
-his gentle reminder that I need to be more patient
-understanding her and loving her more : : good neighbors "roughing it" together
-deep sleep in the pitch dark : : morning dawning beautiful and clear
-the example of John the Baptist, whose feast day is today: "I must decrease, and He must increase!"
-morning clean-up teamwork: : oreos, melted ice-cream, + cherries as a snack for hungry workers
-Our Lady's Statue is back in the garden!
-power came back quicker than expected : : enjoying the luxury of a hot shower at home! : : internet access

Joining the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience today and every Monday:

Blessed be God forever!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love vs. False Dichotomy

Here are some signs that I really need to start obeying as I continue to wait for a word from my Prioress...

because I know that

A) Comparison and Dichotomy are really not doing good things in my life right now.

and, even more than that,

B) Love does not make comparisons or engage in false dichotomies.

But how many times over the last few days (and weeks) have I found myself thinking...

"if only I were in the convent already, I'd be more faithful to x, y, z and I would be happier."

How many times have I found myself longing for a quiet space in which to live, for constant participation in the Liturgy, for a simpler, more focused, and even a more productive life?

Because all these things are definitely only possible in the convent, right?

And I can only be happy when I have all these things, when I am finally perfect, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, all wrong! And I think this is part of the Love War, because whenever these thoughts start, others inevitably follow until I am ready to give up on everything.

Here are some counter-points to the lies of darkness and uselessness and futility...
Here are some words of light and grace and truth:

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the holy ones who are [in Ephesus] faithful in Christ Jesus, // grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."(Ephesians 1:1-2)

these are the opening lines of Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, which my Novice Mistress assigned me for Lectio Divina back in June. Then, I wondered why the words [in Ephesus] were bracketed. The technical explanation, that any community could be inserted depending on where the letter was read, made sense, but I had another idea. What if location does not matter? What if state in life does not matter either?
What if all that matters is that we are "holy ones who are...faithful in Christ Jesus"?

In "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" is all my peace, no matter where I am. If I will to remain in His Love, if I will not to let little things annoy me, I can live fully here and now. I can be happy, if only I choose love.

 I am not in a state of limbo, between the life that I have lived until now and my future, real life in the convent. It is the will of God that I live here now and be present to those with whom I live. From the moment I was conceived, I was already living my real life, which is intensified by the Sacraments and by Love.

Love is the only way to live. Everything else is secondary, inconsequential in light of eternity.

Misery passes, earthly happiness fades, too, and even "all perfection has an end" (Ps 119:96),

but "Faith, hope, and love endure, these three, and the greatest of these is Love." (1 Cor 13:13)

Blessed may You be, Lord, God of Love. 
No matter where I am, You tell me that I am already Yours.
No matter how far I fall, You call me back and welcome me with open arms of love.  
I want to live for love this day, and all the days of my life!
Blessed may You be, Lord, God of Love. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Rose of Suffering


 Today is the feast day of Saint Rose of Lima, a third-order Dominican and the first canonized saint of the Americas.

 Here are two quotes from the writings of Saint Rose, in the Office of Readings for today:

"We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul."

"No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."

Saint Rose of Lima,
pray for us,
that we may bear our splinters of the Cross
with joy and thanksgiving as you did,
for the glory of God and the salvation of souls!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Queenship of Mary, Waiting Days, and New Beginnings

Today is the Feast of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.

No word yet as to whether the Prioress has received my application (though I trust that she has by now), or whether the letter of recommendation from my spiritual director has arrived yet either. Humanly speaking, my acceptance now rests on the reception of these documents and the mercy and love of the Prioress and her Council.

More fundamentally, all my hopes are pinned on God's good pleasure, and I have two reasons for trust:

  1. God would not have let me progress as far as I have unless He willed me to persevere and be accepted.
  2. failing 1, God has some other plan for me that I don't yet know, but He will never leave me an orphan.
Meanwhile, my sister is making preparations for a new beginning of her own this fall: she is college bound at the end of this week. So between the two of us alone, there is quiet a bit of anticipation of things to come.

Today is Monday, and there is much for which to give thanks, as always, so here goes:

Lord, thank You for Your 1000+x Gifts; for Your Infinite Love!

-The Queenship of Mary :: This video clip from Sister Act (just for fun!)

-breath slowing these last few days :: deep calm :: God's patience :: precious encouragement here and here
-monarch on the marigolds :: distant thunder :: raspberries ripe again
-Grandparents home safe :: newly minted Master's homecoming today
-sister piecing her quilt :: mother making handkerchiefs :: cat's cradle with littlest sister (stalling her bedtime)
-fun haircut :: no more headaches :: blister healing faster than I'd hoped
-Discovering Gruda's Poetry :: new desire to learn more about the Theology of the Body
-thoughtful letters from friends
-the grace to always wear my Grandfather's Pardon Cross :: broken chain quickly and easily replaced
-the Word, always inviting to begin again in faith, hope, trust and above all, love.

Joining the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience today and every Monday:

Blessed be God forever!

Gruda's Words

George Weigel's Witness to Hope is one of the best biographies I have ever read. It is clear, compelling, and as I read, several things happen:
  1. I am constantly amazed at how much Blessed John Paul II had to overcome (especially in Communist Poland) and how much he achieved throughout his life. 
  2. I grow more and more grateful for the life and ministry of this pope of my childhood, who I did not immediately appreciate as I should have. But I'm making up for lost time now!
  3. The humor, wisdom, and faith of Blessed John Paul II inspire and challenge me, and I finally discover the richness of his theological and philosophical insights more fully (and at the same time, I also come to recognize the flaws in my own thinking more deeply)
  4. Often, when Weigel references certain writings of Blessed John Paul II I feel compelled to add them to my reading list, or if they are short, look them up immediately. 
On that note, in a chapter of Witness to Hope that I read a few days ago, Weigel references Blessed John Paul II's poetry. Thankfully, (but not to my surprise) my father has a copy of Karol Wojtyla, Collected Poems, which I pulled from the shelf and perused a bit, to my edification.

Jerzy Peterkiewicz, the translator of thise collection, explains that the cycle entitled "Meditation on Death" was first published "under the pen name Gruda, which means 'a clod of earth'" (147) 

Gruda is a fitting name for the author of this cycle, though if I may be permitted to write this, Blessed Pope John Paul II was one of the greatest 'clods of earth' who helped us transition from one century to the next. Still, as the name he chose to pen this cycle under, "Gruda" evokes both the virtue of humility and the admonition from Ash Wednesday: "remember, o man, that you are dust; unto dust you shall return."

That being said (whew, I was beginning to think I'd never get here!), there are three passages from "Gruda's" cycle in particular that struck me because of their relevance to the season of my life and/or their reference(s) to hope:

1) from the first part of "Meditation on Death" -- Thoughts on maturing, section 3, page 150:

"When we find ourselves at the shores of autumn, 
fear and love explode their contrary desires:
fear desiring the return to what was already in existence,
and still is-
love desiring the departure to the One
in whom existence finds all its future."

the shores of autumn: the mornings are growing cooler, and this summer of my life is nearly over, there will be others, God willing, but this one is ending. With this ending, I hope, comes a new beginning, too...but
fear and love explode in their contrary desires...: for all the calm that I have tried to cultivate in my heart during these quiet waiting days,  so much questioning and thinking goes on;  fear and love still war in my heart.
"Gruda's" meditation on death holds true for more than one kind of death. There is no doubt that the day I enter the convent, if this is God's will for me, I will die in some sense. To myself and to the world. And I will live again, my life hidden in God, the One in whom existence finds all its future.

+  +  +

2) from the fourth part of "Meditation on Death"-- Hope reaching beyond the limit, section 1, page 156:

"Hope rises in time
from all places subject to death-
hope is its counterweight.
The dying world unveils its life again
in hope."

I read in this passage another sense of death, this one more literal. Death and decay, sinfulness, all that threatens to separate us from God. But Hope is stronger than all. God has shown me this every day of my life.
Hope rises...
+  +  +

3) from the fourth part of "Meditation on Death"-- Hope reaching beyond the limit, section 5, page 158:

"And so I am inscribed in You
by hope,
outside You I cannot exist."

(This is my closing prayer, no further comment necessary.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who do you say that I Am?

"He said to them, 
'But who do you say that I Am?'"
-Matthew 16:15

Jesus, Love, with this pressing question from today's Gospel, I am confronted by my own utter poverty in the face of Who You Are.

Are You the same to me as You were to Your disciples, as Peter recognized You on the road to Caesarea Philippi? :

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God"
-Matthew 16:16

Can I make this confession of faith with Saint Peter and Holy Mother Church throughout the centuries? Or would I only betray my own hypocrisy by such a confession?

If only I truly knew You, Lord - If I truly understood Who You Are - I think my life would be radically different. I would be better...

No, then, maybe I do not know Who You Are. But that does not mean that I am utterly lost forever, or that my faith is in vain. No, it means that my faith is all the more precious, my hope in You is all the more necessary for my life.

I call You by many names: Jesus Love, Lord of my Heart, Bone Jesu, Jesu Dulce, Jesu Carissime, Domine...

But how often I fall short in my response to Your love! and how greatly I have failed in my role of servant, sister, and (dare I write it?) lover and future spouse!

Yet Your love conquers all my weakness, Your mercy sees only what is good in me - Your life. Every day, I fall and fail to recognize Who You Are. I guess I can say Who You Are more easily than I can live it. Maybe there is a disconnect between my head and my heart. No, I know that there is.

But I trust in Your mercy and in Your love, Lord. I trust in the prayers of the other conspirators in Heaven and on earth. Someday, You will bridge the gap between my head and my heart once and for all. And I shall know Who You Are.

In the meantime, my Jesus, you ask me a question today, as You asked Peter and the others a thousand yesterdays ago, and as You will continue to ask the Church, collectively and individually throughout all her tomorrows.

You ask me,

"Who do you say that I Am?"

and I say this now, before the whole world. I give witness, even if this witness convicts me.

You Are...God.      (and I am she who is nothing.)

and that is enough. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quiet Waiting Days

Blessed be God forever!
forever, amen!

Yesterday morning, I finished my application.

Yesterday afternoon, I delivered it to the post office.

Now, I wait in trust.

Updates to follow in a few days, God willing...

Blessed be God forever, for ages unending, amen!

Love vs. Dualism

This is an excerpt of how George Weigel explains Father Karol Wojtyla's  philosophy and theology of responsible love:

"In freely giving myself sexually to another as an expression of love, I am being myself in a most radical way, for I am making myself a gift to another in a way that is a profound expression of who I am." (Weigel, George. Witness to Hope, 142)

I was struck by this passage, and I wonder if this holds true for every chaste relationship, including those in which the partners remain celibate?

Every day, I strive to dedicate everything I am, have, and do, completely to God, including my sexuality. It is all God's initiative, though.

God not only invites me to give myself freely to Him in the totality of my being (which is itself His gift to me), but He also gives me the grace to do so. In this give and take between the Lord and my soul, I really do discover who I am, at the core of my being.

I once thought that, as someone who hopes to be a nun, sexual ethics and the Theology of the Body would not be important to me.

Now, I am just beginning to realize that I just might have been wrong about this!

In fact, I have been fighting dualistic tendencies of thinking all my life (holy father, Saint Dominic, pray for me!), and here is an answer to them:

I believe that I am a body-mind-soul unity, made for the praise of God's glory in the totality of my being. I cannot just choose to cast off my body, abuse it, or ignore it (as if it would ever let me anyway) without losing my humanity and betraying a huge part of God's will for my life.

In fact, all this talk of me and my body, my body as an 'it' is just feeding into the dualistic mentality. I am so bad at using language!

I am my body, and my body is me. But, unlike the materialists, I believe in the existence of an immortal soul as well. A few  years ago, on a Philosophy exam in college, I did a little bit of speculation as to what the soul is/does:

"As a Catholic, I believe that the soul does exist, and that it is the source of my fundamental identity. It is the part of me that shall never die, even though the body and my brain will one day decay. (Remember o man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return!)...The soul is that which unites the body and the mind, thereby making me a single entity...I am my soul, my soul is me. We cannot be separated or distinguished from one another." (from my practice notes, which I saved) 

At any rate, this book...
(Source) now on my reading list (though it is doubtful that I will get to it anytime soon, as I still have 800+ pages to go in Witness to Hope! and other books in line ahead of it).

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, an amateur theologian
(and even worse philosopher!)
struggling to grasp the truth of my existence
in light of Your Love and Your Truth!

My Jesus, I love You.
My Jesus, I trust in You.
My Jesus, I give myself entirely to You!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maronite Monks of Adoration

A friend mentioned this community in a recent letter.

Maronites are members of the Eastern branch of the Catholic church who have parts of their liturgy in Aramaic. Being attracted to things Eastern, as evidenced here, here, and here, I am a little bit jealous of these monks right now.

At any rate, their vocation video is absolutely beautiful, and well worth watching.

After watching that, although I know speculation is vain, I think that if I did not have my heart set on the Dominican Order, I might easily find myself wondering why there is no monastery of Maronite Nuns of Adoration for me to join.

As it is, I hope and pray to be accepted as a postulant to my Dominican monastery, even while I rejoice at the unity and diversity of all the orders in the Catholic Church. Indeed, the word "Catholic" suddenly has a new depth of meaning for me!

Blessed be God forever, for ages unending, amen!

Blessed Mannes

From Dominicans Interactive
Today is the feast of Blessed Mannes, one of Saint Dominic's older brothers.

I guess that makes him "Tio Mannes" !

Here is a link to a biography of him.

If I had more time, I'd write more.

But I am putting the finishing touches on my application!

Blessed Tio Mannes, pray for us!
and especially for my dear Sister Mary Mannes on her nameday!

Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love, I trust in You!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

late night thanks...

...better late than never. It is not Multitude Monday, but thanksgiving happens everyday, so why not record today's gifts and give thanks to the Gift Giver?

-Lord, I thank You for Your forgiveness and for this amazing story of forgiveness
-the DMV adventure w/ father and sister
-the grace to finish drafting my application letter all the way to the end so that I can send it tomorrow
-family that loves me no matter what
-reminders of that love and God's love everywhere I look
-the recent wonderful visits with family and another one on the horizon
-tomorrow I get to begin again, back to "normal"
-kitchen time after dinner and an episode of Star Trek, cleaning up and dancing and thinking about life
-a gentle hint that maybe "routine" isn't necessarily a great thing if it leads to ruts and anxiety when I break it

Praise be to God, now and evermore.

still counting on His forgiveness...

...because morning aspirations and ejaculations of trust don't always make it through to the end of the day.

At the end of the afternoon, I take stock and find my credit running too high, waters rising over my head again.

It's been another nearly-wasted day according to my dim eyes that can't see through to the other side of this storm looming large. Anger, frustration, doubt, despair break out and I run away from the most ordinary task because I can't seem to pull myself together. I just leave the table half-set for dinner and escape to a corner by myself. I can't let the others see the terror in my heart, my heart just shattering, and for what?

Can lack of perspective be forgiven? Can selfishness? I forget Who I'm dealing with, sometimes.

I ask Him,

"Lord, why did you die for this mess that is my life?

In light of what You suffered on the crucifix for my sake, what have I to cry about?"

And he says,

"Mary, it's all right. I love you and I forgive you everything. and I will forgive everything as many times as you need to be forgiven."

He tells me not to worry. And I do my best, but think seriously that I do need to get to confession soon. "It has been too long, Lord, forgive me." 

"Whenever you can make it, Mary, in the meantime, don't worry. I have already forgiven you."

As the storm ends, my sister comes in to ask me: "do you want water with dinner, Mary?"

"yes, please,"

I realize that she has picked up the pieces that I left behind, and finished the job I started. I thank her. And the storm is all blown away by love and forgiveness, just in time for dinner.

Before I leave the room, I look at my pillow.

One tear mark is shaped like a heart. 

I am loved,

and forgiven.

and now, hours later, as I write this, He says,  "Go and do likewise..."

"tomorrow, I will, Lord, with the help of Your grace. Today is spent, and maybe spent well after all?"

Song of the day

6:40 am.

Wake up, sleepyhead!

Late again--no more than a few minutes to dress before walking up the road to church with D.

But for the first time in these last few lazy morning days, I was not surprised or upset at my laziness.

There would be time enough for Morning Prayer after Mass. Rosary could wait until later, too.

Nor did the anger and frustration that nearly sent me to bed in tears the night before dare to linger.

Instead, this is the song that rose to my heart and lips as I woke up this morning...

...A song of joy, a song of trust in the Lord:
from Psalm 40: 1, 3

Today, by the grace of God, I am working on writing my application letter in the hope that I will have something to send tomorrow. There is so much on my heart and mind with regards to my vocation, I just have to figure out how best to articulate it in a limited number of words.

With patience, prayer, and perseverence, this letter will get written.

My Jesus, I trust in You!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To be a Victim of Love

These are the words of Father Jean C.J. d'Elbee that I read before going into the examination room this morning, from his conference on The Eucharist:

"Let Him [Jesus] be sure of your smile. To be a victim [of love] is to smile. Total abandonment--'O Jesus, I thank You for everything'--that is enough." (I Believe in Love, 235)

When the nurse called my name, I followed her with prayer. After she had done a basic physical check and explained some things to me, I waited with prayer, and read some more of I Believe in Love...
Later, the doctor, perhaps sensing my nervousness and trying to calm me down, said to me, "You're always smiling, aren't you? have a beautiful smile!"

It is a smile for God.

I received the Eucharist this morning, and was surrendering at every moment -- surrendering everything to God Alone. He was my strength, and I did not cry out to anyone but Him.

In the end, the test was a success, though I was incredibly weak about the minor discomfort it involved.

And when it was all over, I gave thanks for my good health, and through some tears of joyful relief I pledged my life to God forever.

It is over. They say that the other test is not necessary, praise be to God. All I have left to do is to write a letter. And after that...just wait on God's mercy.

My Jesus, I trust in You!


Monday evening, I try to help my mother in the kitchen, preparing dinner for family and visiting grandparents.

Learning to kneed bread, the dough is all sticky and unmanageable to my untrained hands until my mother comes and helps me add more flour to tame it.

And I think, and pray...

"Man does not live on bread alone...Give us this day our daily bread...

what's the origin for the English word 'lady'? Didn't the professor of my Medieval Literature class tell us that it originated from words meaning 'bread maker', while 'lord' meant 'bread protector'

...and it does not take much imagination to spin off from this etymology onto a reflection on how the Bread of the World was born of my Lady Mary and how my Lord Jesus is not just my 'bread protector' but my actual daily Bread, in the Sacrament of the Altar, and in the Word!"

* This is a very weak analogy, I know (Mary did not make Jesus herself--by her consent He was formed in her womb by the grace of the Holy Spirit) but somehow reflecting on analogies, weak as they are, can be helpful to me anyway.

* * * * *
and isn't this all just my life? Things go awry so easily (like gluten-y sticky bread dough tying my hands together), I get myself all confused and lost and I just need a little bit of help from others to get un-stuck and back on the right track. Today I am going back to the doctor's office for the test (part of my application requirements) that was originally scheduled for yesterday.

and all I can say right now is, "My Jesus, I trust in You!" But that is enough.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"God always gives more than we ask"

Thus says Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc.

While helping D. look up Theresa/Therese saints for a project, I just discovered Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc, a woman of France. Though her page on the SQPN Saints site does not contain much information, I fell in love with her immediately.

Thanks to Fr. Mark Kirby of Vultus Christi, words like "Cenacle" send a thrill right through the core of my being--Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc founded the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle!  
 (afternoon update: Fr. Mark has written about Saint Marie, this is a link to the posts wherein he mentions her.)

And her quotes are quite beautiful and reminded me of the writings of Saint Francis de Sales, De Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence, and other writings that have shaped my life in recent years.

Needless to say, I had to look up the Cenacle sisters, and to my delight, I found a collection of some of Saint Marie Victoire Therese's writings here. I will definitely have to study them at more length when I get the chance, especially this Act of Consecration, which is only in French. I wish I knew French. But because I have studied Latin and Spanish and am relatively familiar with other Acts of Consecration, I think I can figure it out and get a rough translation, anyway.

That's enough for now...I just wanted to record this amazing find, a gift of Divine Providence to me this day! And now it will be easy to find the website with Saint Marie Victoire Therese's writings again.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Some reflections from my journal, written on August 15, 2009 :

“Nothing can ever separate us from His love.” Romans 8:38
...and so she who loved most purely and perfectly was drawn into Heaven by Love, for her Son would not let her be separated from Him by death.

Rejoice, all you saints and souls of the just!
Rejoice, all you orphans, sinners, and wanderers, you lost children!
Rejoice, heavens!
Rejoice, earth!
and bless the Lord our God this day, for He has taken His Mother from earth to Heaven.
Jesus saved us by His sacrifice on the Cross,
and continually sanctifies us and intercedes for us by His sacrifice on the Altar.
Mary, likewise, being our Mother inasmuch as we are members of Christ’s Body, the Church, also prays to God on our behalf, and graciously bestows all of God’s good gifts on us.
But this day, she holds also the promise of immortality, that will be given at the end of time.
We shall then be like her, and like her Son, and we shall see them as they are. 

*   *   *   *   * 
This day, I rejoice in the mystery of the Assumption of my Blessed Mother into Heaven, and thank God for his superabundant gifts, given through her:

1000+X+46, and still counting...

-mini family reunion :: red hair and freckles :: Aunt Ellie got there first! :: running barefoot :: 
"Around the World" on the basketball court with cousins :: His victories over my fear :: 
F. behind me all the way up :: laughing crazy happiness :: Hallelu! Glory all for the Blessed Trinity :: 

-Gladiolis garden :: kitchen trash duty :: Mary of the Pine Statue :: being with family 
:: finally learning to crochet in the round :: Grandma's "hat"

-today's graces, just beginning :: lessons about oversleeping :: time enough for Office of Readings :: 
candles lit around her statue :: a whole group of girls celebrating with us :: red-headed Thurifer :: 
Abbot's Homily :: greetings in Spanish from my former teacher on the way home from Mass :: rain falling ::
Dominican Brothers making simple vows 

 -today's is the next-to-last doctor's visit before I can send my application to the convent!

afternoon update:
-flooding roads :: lost wanderings in the halls :: misunderstanding :: the embarrassment of rescheduling ::
tomorrow we will try again :: mother's calm acceptance and forgiveness of my carelessness ::
errand of love for a neighbor on the way home :: quiet time alone to think about God's grace :: 
precious memories of June :: the patience of my Novice Mistress is still a light in my life, even out here
-Coming home to this beautiful post by Ann Voscamp :: Wondering if I haven't just had a parallel experience to that of her Farm Boy, though I've not broken any windows, praise be to God!
-I don't have the all answers :: but God knows :: and the ponderings go on...
and always:
  -weakness, uselessness, despair break out daily, showing me how much I need God in my life

:: but the storms are always countered with His gentleness and Love :: and this life is not the only life ::
I have a family waiting for me and praying for me in Heaven!
*  *  *  *  *

Blessed be God forever, for ages unending, amen!

Joining the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience today and every Monday:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

A Holy Card of St. Maximilian Kolbe
  If today were not Sunday, it would be the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish martyr who died of Love in a concentration camp during WWII.

I have a theory that the saints don't mind it in the least when their feast day gets bumped by Sunday, the Lord's Day. For Who was the One that gave them the grace to triumph over death, as He did in His Glorious Resurrection? Who is the One we worship by our veneration of the saints? Christ the Lord, God Alone.

Still, I remember Saint Maximilian Kolbe in a special way today as he is one of my favorite saints.

Here's an excerpt from what I wrote about him in my journal last summer (August 14, 2009):

"Today, I thank God for the example, prayers, and support of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who has been a well-loved companion of mine since childhood. I was first introduced to him by My Friend Magazine's "Saint of the Month" cards--he was one of my favorite saints in that collection.

Since then, he has stayed with me as an inspiration, light, and help, especially in difficult moments of my life, but in ordinary things as well. When I was struggling in Conceptual Physics in college, he joined Saint Albert the Great (O.P.) to help me out and keep me on the right track.  After I had finished Physics, his holy card (image above) disappeared, for a year, but I still remembered him and cited him as being one of my greatest patron saints--along with Joan of Arc-- in my talk for the Crossroads Retreat in February '09. Then, just one week ago, I found his holy card again, just in time for his feast today!

And I am sure I am not the only one who has been helped by Mary's most glorious martyr. He should be an inspiration and example of fidelity and purity to all priests and religious, especially Franciscans.
 And, looking back, I think that his devotion to Mary helped prepare me to grow in devotion to her as well, though I ultimately chose the Consecration and Holy Slavery according to the teaching of Saint Louis de Montfort."

Also, I drew this picture of a legend from Saint Maximilian's childhood... the story goes, he had a vision of Mary offering him a choice of two crowns. 
The red one represented Martyrdom, and the white one represented Purity. 
Instead of choosing one or the other, however, he said, "I choose both."         

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Pray for us!

Blessed be God forever!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

When going visiting...and for life in general

Going visiting later today...some nerves keep popping up. I've prayed about it, but that's not all I've done...

This morning I found some useful advice at Victorian Etiquette, both here and here.

Then, I played the Victorian Period Game from McCord Museum, and got a relatively good score, though I did make some ghastly blunders from time to time.

After that, this afternoon will be a breeze!

My Jesus, I trust in You! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Conspirators

"Having Himself suffered the trial, Jesus can better help those who are being tried. Sin is conquered by the love, 'strong as death,' of Jesus for His Father and for us. It was like a conspiracy of merciful love between the Father and the Son. It is false to think that the Father was harsh in His treatment of the Son--it is even inconceivable. No, Their common plan was to reunite us to Themselves in the 'blood of the covenant'." ( Father Jean C. J. d'Elbee. I Believe in Love, 217.) (empasis mine)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Focusing on Forgiveness and Responding to God's Initiative

Holy Mother Church picked a Gospel reading wherein Jesus talks about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-19:1) for the day after Ann Voskamp wrote about the grace of forgiveness.

And I can't help but wonder at the timing of these words, His Word and her words, and Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis' words all converging at this time. There were several lines in the Commentary on Matthew that struck me as I was reading last night; here is just one of them, and a short reflection:

"The only reason I can forgive,
have mercy, 
be compassionate,
perform a work of holiness,
is that God has done these things toward me first." (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word II, 645)

God's initiative always precedes and far exceeds my own, which is never more than a response. What is my response to be, then?  Praise? Thanksgiving? Adoration? Imitation? Participation? Ideally, my response contains elements from all of the above.

A teacher of mine once challenged his class to think of the praise, thanksgiving, and adoration that we ought to give to God not so much in terms of words, but in terms of right living. Lip service is no good. The words we speak, the prayers we say, the praises we sing...all must be undergirded by our whole being, heart, mind, and soul all working together for the glory of God.

Blessed be God forever, for ages unending, Amen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can Failures Be Forgiven?

<10:45 am-11:05am>

I failed in one of my goals: the one about only posting once each day. Willfully failed. And now, oddly enough, the internet no longer connects for me this morning. But I still feel compelled to write. Maybe Someone is trying to teach me not to set un-realistic goals? I cannot hold back the words, cannot keep to one post each day as I wanted. Because I have to write my days here. I have to record the joys and the sorrows, the struggles, and the lessons, the successes, and the failures. Of course, I cannot let my internet life consume my real life, in the world with living breathing people, my family and neighbors. A line must be drawn somewhere. The question is, where?

Even as I grapple with this question, I am grateful, so grateful that I was allowed to see the photos of my Dominican Brother Novices on the Vocation Blog, and rejoice in the dramatic Name Revelation of each of them before the internet stopped working down here. But the waiting—though it was only two days, it seemed like forever—is over. His name is Peter Joseph, and he is my brother.

*  *  *  *  *

And I am no less grateful that Ann Voscamp’s grace-filled words loaded for me as well. It is “Walk With Him Wednesday” at A Holy Experience, and she writes on forgiveness today...

Which prompted the question, “Who do I need to forgive today?”

Myself, first of all. As the song goes, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer...” and the same might be said of forgiveness. If I am not right with myself, I cannot be right with anyone else either: not with my family and neighbors, and not with God.

So what threatens to hold me back from self-forgiveness? Nothing, if I have a will to let go of everything. God has forgiven me all, and I cast all into the deepest ocean of His unfathomable Love. Everything, Lord. Only by letting go of my doubts, weaknesses, and failures can I truly live my life fully. Here and now. This was true in the Dominican Monastery while I was there for three weeks in June, and it is still true now, during my sojourn back in the world, even if it is harder to practice out here.

But it is time to go. Maybe I will post this later, if I am allowed back on the internet this afternoon. In the meantime, I think I should go help with a bit of housekeeping and perhaps read some of Witness to Hope before lunch if I have time.

Lord, everything I am is Yours.
Help me, I beg You, to be living witness of Your life.
To forgive as I have been forgiven.
To love as I have been loved.
To be a conduit of Your hope for others.
Let me walk with You all the days of my life, Lord!

Veriditas--The Greeness and Beauty of God's Garden

Veriditas is the Latin term for Green-ness - alive-ness - in the writings of Hildegard of Bingen. And the content of this post fits this category, I think.

Throughout the last few years, I have been saying the Office of Readings on a semi-regular basis, to the extent that some passages from the readings, or even whole readings, have become as dear friends to me as Holy Mother Church sets them before my eyes each year. Today’s second reading for the Feast of Saint Lawrence contains one such passage:

“I tell you again and again, my brethren, that in the Lord’s garden are to be found not only the roses of his martyrs.


       In it there are the lilies of the virgins


the ivy of the wedded couples

                                          and the violets of widows.


On no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them.”

–From a Sermon on Saint Lawrence, by Saint Augustine of Hippo. (Second Reading from The Office of Readings)

 God has called all to live in His Garden, to the praise of His Glory! May we never cease to bless and praise His Holy Name!

Blessed Pope John Paul II on the virtue of Hope

“Hope is not empty optimism springing from a naive confidence that the future will necessarily be better than the past. Hope and trust are the premise of responsible activity and are nurtured in that inner sanctuary of conscience where “man is alone with God” and thus perceives that he is not alone amid the enigmas of existence, for he is surrounded by the love of the Creator.”

-Blessed Pope John Paul II, from his “Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization,” 16. (Quoted in Weigel, George. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, 14)

What a beautiful, helpful definition of Hope! Hope is not naive: it is responsible. And it is based on a relationship with God. If we have Hope, it is only because of God’s initiative. God’s free gift of Himself is our wellspring of Hope.

The Shield of Hope

This is the Shield of Hope.

It has a Story and Symbolism.

Story Teaser (see below for the end):

Yesterday I set a goal for myself. But sometimes goals can be difficult to accomplish...did I make it? Read on to find out!

The Shield's Symbolism:

The Cross at the center represents the Dominican Order, to which I am an aspirant. My vocation is a great source of hope to me. Every time I listen to one of the Friars Preachers giving a homily or lecture, or to Word to Life, they help me unlock the mystery of God's Love. I am not perfect, but I am not one of the Perfectae, either! Praise be to God, I have been spared from heresy, only by grace.

The Raven with Bread in the bottom left quadrant represents the Benedictine Order, to which I will always be deeply indebted. I spent my childhood near a Benedictine Monastery and Highschool, which I later attended, and obtained my Bachelor's degree in Theology from a Benedictine College as well. So the Benedictine way of life and spirituality has shaped my life thus far, in ways that I am still discovering. And the monks that I have known have been a great source of inspiration, encouragement, and hope for me in my daily life.

The Lily in the bottom right quadrant represents purity. After the virtues of Love, Faith, Hope, and Humility, Purity is the virtue I most prize and strive to practice in my life. Jesus says in the beatitudes, "Blessed are the Pure of Heart, for they shall see God." And isn't this what we all hope for, above all else? To see God!

The Sun and Cloud at the top left quadrant represents Christ Our Light (Thanks be to God!) who shines through-nay, shines over-our clouds of darkness and despair if only we have the eyes to see. As Saint Paul says, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:35-39)

And what about the blank top right quadrant? It is not empty. It is filled with God's Providence. Lord, I am here, I exist only to do Your will. All I ask for are Your Love and Your Grace that I may always echo Your Blessed Mother's "Fiat! May it be done to me according to Thy Word!" (Luke 1:38)

With this shield, I will continue in the battle for the King of Kings: for Love, in Hope.

*  *  *  *  *
The Story:

Yesterday I set a *very important* goal for myself: I had had enough of my pathetic habit of waiting around, and was determined to speak to a friend about a very important but delicate question concerning my application to the convent. By dinnertime, I had not yet seen her, nor called her on the phone. My mother suggested that I email my friend with the question...To my joy, however, I did end up seeing her soon afterward. To my dismay, I never had a chance to ask her, since there were too many people around, and there was never a convenient break in the conversation.

So, frustrated with myself and a little bit worn out, I left her presence practically in tears. It was a Love War battle. Upon arriving home, I found that I was providentially home alone. I love my family dearly, but sometimes I just need space. Alone, I was able to vent my frustration and fatigue in a relatively peaceful manner. Instead of bursting out angrily at myself as I so often have in the past, I managed to sing the tension away with some of my favorite hymns and antiphons, especially the ones I learned from the Benedictines at college. And I emptied the dishwasher, before heading downstairs to say Vespers, all of which made me feel better, too. After Vespers, I finally emailed my friend with the question, as my mother had suggested. A sad and sorry last resort it was, but it was better than nothing, and I did achieve my goal, more or less.

And then I designed Hope's Coat of Arms. Yes, that meant I was on the computer in the evening far later than I ever should be, but sometimes I guess I just have to fight one battle at a time, no? And Providentially, there is always tomorrow to start over and try again, no?

Praise be to God for Hope, and for the successful conclusion to another Love War Battle!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

To Turn and Become Like Children

Matthew 18:1-5,10, 12-14 is the Gospel for today. And these are my florilegium notes:

"[Jesus] said, 'Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.'" (Mt 18:2)

What does it mean to be child-like? Innocence, trust, and simplicity are some of the characteristics that come to mind...

Bl. Pope John Paul II and Maria Bambina
Aside from the Child Jesus, Tradition has handed down devotion to the Child Mary (Maria Bambina).  Some years ago, a good friend of mine taught me how to pray the Infancy Chaplet and meditate on the virtues of this Infant Mother of ours. Among the countless virtues Mary practiced throughout her life, twelve have been singled out as having been practiced perfectly from her childhood in particular:

*  Innocence  *  Simplicity  *  Humility  *  Obedience  *
*  Patience  *  Love of God  *  Love of Neighbor  *  Detachment *  *  Purity  *  Silence  *  Meekness  *  Modesty  *

With such virtues, the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by storm. For how can God resist a soul endowed with even just one attribute of His Son, the Child Jesus or Mary, His virginal Daughter, Mother, and Spouse?

I am setting this goal for my daily life: to say the Infancy Chaplet every day from now until September 8th, the Nativity of Mary.

Lord, I trust in Your Love.
I am not afraid because You are with me.
All I ask is that You help me to grow in Love 
and in whatever other particular virtues of childhood You desire to see in me.
Lord, I surrender all to You,
for the praise of Your Glory forever!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Day of Joy for Dominic's Children

This is the second post for today...but it's the Founder's Feast and thirteen of my brothers in the Order of Preachers have just received the Holy Habit this morning!

Here they are, in all their glory, along with the sixteen brothers who started out last year:

from Order of Preachers Vocations

Don't ask me to name them all--I can't name more than two of them for sure, but they are all in my prayers everyday.

When last year's class received the Holy Habit, I wrote all their names down on pieces of paper and drew one to pray for in particular, as a sort of representative of the group for me. At that time, the Holy Spirit matched me with Brother Thomas Davenport (I believe he's the seventh from the left in the back row).

Naturally, this year, I went through the 'lottery' again and was assigned to Christopher (in the back row, 8th from the right) He probably has a new name already but I don't know it yet.

Anyway, just looking at this picture makes me so happy! I have never met a single one of these men, but I hope to someday.

I love my Dominican family!

God bless my Dominican family!

Giving thanks on the Feast of Saint Dominic

O Lumen Ecclesiae
Doctor veritatis
Rosa patientiae
Ebur castitatis
Aquam sapientiae
propinasti gratis
Praedicator gratiae
nos junge beatis.
-Traditional Dominican Hymn to Saint Dominic 
(video by the Blackfriars)
 Lord, I thank You for the grace of the Holy Preaching which constantly saves the souls of so many of Your children, including my own.
And today, on this joyful feast, I give thanks to God for more of His 1000+X gifts:  
  • word that they are well
  • 13 minutes faster 
  • rain pouring down
  • ripples on the roadside
  • umbrella sisters encouragement right before Holy Mass
  • librarian's greeting
  • homemade hamburgers
  • the advent of Hope
  • the Pope of my childhood is a Witness to Hope
  • she's a natural
  • fork wars
  • mosquito-less evening (a miracle after the rain!)
  • dry bench by the cliff
  • Love endures longer than the sand it is written in down by the Bay
  • A Mint Chocolate Chip Klondike and bedtime stories
  • continuity in my new florilegium already
  •  chromis simonis and a didrachmon (Matthew 17:22-27)
  • the Papacy endures to this day
  • silence and solitude
  • peace in my heart at the end of a beautiful day
  • Founder's Feast and revelations of Divine Love
  • constant guidance of Divine Providence
  • The meeting went well and the data project is finished
  • quiet waiting days, just living now...
Joining the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience today and every Monday: