Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

An excerpt from John Paul II's Apostolic Letter to Families-1994


By describing himself as a "Bridegroom", Jesus reveals the essence of God and confirms his immense love for mankind. But the choice of this image also throws light indirectly on the profound truth of spousal love. Indeed by using this image in order to speak about God, Jesus shows to what extent the fatherhood and the love of God are reflected in the love of a man and a woman united in marriage. Hence, at the beginning of his mission, we find Jesus at Cana in Galilee, taking part in a wedding banquet, together with Mary and with the first disciples (cf. Jn 2:1-11). He thus wishes to make clear to what extent the truth about the family is part of God's Revelation and the history of salvation. In the Old Testament, and particularly in the Prophets, we find many beautiful expressions about the love of God. It is a gentle love like that of a mother for her child, a tender love like that of the bridegroom for his bride, but at the same time an equally and intensely jealous love. It is not in the first place a love which chastises but one which forgives; a love which deigns to meet man just as the father does in the case of the prodigal son; a love which raises him up and gives him a share in divine life. It is an amazing love: something entirely new and previously unknown to the whole pagan world.

St. Peter Church Mansfield, Ohio
At Cana in Galilee Jesus is, as it were, the herald of the divine truth about marriage, that truth on which the human family can rely, gaining reassurance amid all the trials of life. Jesus proclaims this truth by his presence at the wedding in Cana and by working his first "sign": water changed into wine.


PRAYER TO THE HOLY FAMILY:

God our Father, in the Holy Family of Nazareth you embraced our world with great tenderness and love, and renewed family life in the pure and noble dignityyou intended from the beginning.

To Mary and Joseph who walked the path of faith with courage and fidelity, you entrusted Jesus, your Son, to grow in stature and wisdom and in favor with all. Enfolded in the love and warmth of that family the beginnings of our redemption took hold.

Lead us to grow in the warmth and gentleness of the Holy Family, that ‘gentle image of the Trinity’, poor in the eyes of the world, rich in the treasures of heaven, hidden and unknown on the earth, contemplated by the Angels.

Like Jesus, Mary and Joseph who contemplated your will, Father, as it unfolded, may we, too, hold your Word, ponder it in our hearts, and respond with courage and generosity as Jesus makes his home in us.

Deepen our love for one another and enable us to live in peace, united with you and with each other. Inspired by the way of life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, lead us to union with your Divine Son. We ask this through Chris our Lord. Amen.





Peace be with you!

Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SATURDAY OF OUR LADY-ADVENT MEDITATION


Sorrowful Mother Shrine-Bellevue, Ohio

An Excerpt from Catherine de Hueck Doherty's Poustinia


Mary was the still one, the quiet one, the recollected one. She didn't speak much for she was also the listening one, and that is why she could keep so many of his words in her heart.

The still ones, the listening ones, are the children of the Father, and do his will. Mary was the mother of the Son, the daughter of the Father, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Yes, she was the listening, the praying, the still one and therefore she saw God. Yes, Mary quite definitely must have seen God in many ways. Often darkly, as in the glass; perhaps occasionally in a blinding revelation or love. But this is speculation. What isn't speculation is that she followed Christ in his passion...

Mary enters into this marriage of love and passion which the Lord accepted and through which he redeemed us. Pure of heart, she saw God. She followed him, her Son, right to the foot of the cross, and beyond to his grave. Hers was a com-passion. She shared his passion not only in a physical way but also in a spiritual, emotional, and deeply tragic way.

As I sat at Mary's feet and watched her with the eyes of my heart, I realized that a fantastic question had been presented to her. It took faith to accept that first announcement of the angel which told her that she was full of grace and that God would be born of her. Mary had that faith. Of her own free will she accepted to be the mother of the Messiah...

I remembered that many had asked me what compassion was. Now I felt that I was ready to tell them. It was Mary. Mary who experienced the passion of her Son as no one else experienced it. 



Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ADVENT MEDITATION

From the publication, "One Bread, One Body"

I promise: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience
Community of the Holy Family

At Vespers on the last eight days of Advent, the Church traditionally prays the "O Antiphons." We cry out to Jesus: "O Wisdom, " " Rod of Jesse," "O Emmanuel," etc. I suggest another "O Antiphon, " that is,"O-bedience."

The Christian life is a life of obedience. If we don't obey God, we don't have life in the Spirit (Acts 5:32). If we don't obey Him, we don't love Him (Jn 15:10)...

If Mary had not obeyed, she would not have been the mother of God. If Jesus had not obeyed, He would have have become a human being and died on the cross to save us. Jesus' obedience destroyed the reign of sin and brought justification to all people.

As we near Christ's Christmas coming, the Lord is calling us to obey Him as never before, to break new ground in obedience, and to be pioneers in obedience. The Lord wants us to be the first in our city, parish, family, business, or neighborhood to obey in all areas of His plan for us. Obey now; obey for the first time; obey first, obey all His commands. Live a life of obedience.

I came across this article just moments after I had a conversation with a fellow Carmelite about the virtue of obedience.  The little blue book laying on my kitchen counter seemed to speak to me, "Take up and read."  "Take up and read."  After reading the above selection for the day, I was consoled that the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this article, for I think it is very appropriate for secular Carmelites who wish to take their promise of obedience seriously.

The virtue of obedience has come up many times in my life lately. I've had more than a few community members approach me and ask me to speak about obedience.  I am glad that they, like the author above, want to be pioneers in obedience. This article will be very useful in discussing this elusive virtue. I say elusive, because the ugly head of individualism shows its face everywhere. And if one is caught off guard, one can easily fall prey to the perversion of the virtue of obedience. The perversion takes place, when the soul confuses obedience with control.  Some people find superiors controlling. Some people find a spouse controlling. Some people find a boss controlling. Why do I need to be obedient to Father so and so? Why do I need to be obedient to my husband or wife? Why do I need to obey my boss? This is the way of the world. No one is supposed to tell us what to do!  Yes, this happens, even in Carmel.

However, there are those truly rare souls who want to be formed and fashioned into the image of Christ, who was obedient unto death. These souls look for opportunities to be obedient. Why? Because they are passive individuals who do not like to think for themselves?  No! An emphatic, "No." These are holy souls who are like the saints. They viewed superiors and others in authority as the voice of God!  These people possess a submissive and docile heart, ready to obey at a moment's notice. I love these types of souls. They are very giving and help immensely in community.These are the souls who are ever-ready to "break new ground in obedience."  

Do you lack obedience? Are you anxious or afraid of obedience? Then, keep this in mind:  Obedience frees us from the anxiety of discernment.  

This is very important to remember if one has a spiritual director. Following the advice of one's confessor of spiritual director is all that is required when receiving direction in the spiritual life. Remembering of course that he or she does not ask you to do anything sinful or uncharitable. We are speaking of directors who wish to keep you on the true path of obedience to Christ and his Church.

The secular Carmelite is asked to obey the Rule. Here is a small excerpt about this virtue:

The Rule (#15)
The promise of obedience is an exercise of faith leading to the search for God's will in the events and challenges in society and our own personal life. For this reason the Secular Carmelite freely cooperates with those who have responsibility for guiding the community and the Order in discerning and accepting God's ways: the Community's Council, the Provincial and the General.

As secular Carmelites we can examine our conscience and ask ourselves a few questions of discernment:

*Am I faithful to the Order by praying each day?

* Do I support, encourage, and cooperate with my local council?

*Do I obey the Rule and the Constitutions of the secular 
  Carmelites?

*Am I faithful to my local council by studying the assigned 
  formation materials?

*Do I make an effort to lighten the burden of the president and the 
  council, or do I just show up for meetings, never really 
  participating in the life of the community?

Only you know if you are being obedient to your Carmelite promises.  Only you can decide "to break new ground in obedience" and live like the saints. We can all do this one moment at a time in life. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to stand at attention, ready to respond when the Lord calls: "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will."

Let us pray for each other!


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds


Saturday, December 14, 2013

SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

Happy Feast Day to all ~especially to all Carmelites!
St. John of the Cross, pray for us!











Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, December 6, 2013

ADVENT MEDITATION

THREE DEGREES OF CONVERSION
From Deep Conversion Deep Prayer 
by the late Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.

Photo: R. Massaro-Sorrowful Mother Shrine, Bellevue, Ohio

THE FIRST DEGREE: 
MORAL CONVERSION

We need to ask first of all: what is a mortal sin? It is the knowing, free and willing rejection of God in favor of choosing something incompatible with him. This alienation from him is not a mere mistake but rather a knowing choice that includes preferring some created idol that excludes loving him and our neighbor. A mortal, deadly sin is a freely chosen rejection of supreme Beauty and Goodness, the blessed Trinity...the first degree of conversion, therefore, is a 180-degree reversal: " I renounce my idol, Lord; I want you instead. I am sorry, very sorry. With your grace I am going to change my life. I freely choose to repent. I shall receive your sacrament of reconciliation."

THE SECOND DEGREE: 
MAKING AN EFFORT TO AVOID SMALL WRONGS, VENIAL SINS

Here the person makes efforts to avoid small wrongs, venial sins. These do not destroy one's essential love for God and neighbor, but they do wound it. Even though they aren't colossal, they remain disorders. The reader should notice that when we speak about "willed venial sins" the first adjective is important indeed.Without intellectual awareness and, therefore, freedom there is no willing, no sin. We are talking about things we can control, not mere mistakes, not mere feelings. For example, it is not a sin to feel impatient when children or adults annoy us by obnoxious behavior...Sin here means guilt. There is no guilt, thus no sin unless we freely choose some wrong action or omission. To snap back at a person usually is a free action and thus with guilt.



St. Teresa of Avila describing the soul in the Third Mansion

THE THIRD DEGREE:
LOVING GOD AND NEIGHBOR WITHOUT LIMIT

As we have noted above, there are several ways of describing this third step of conversion: loving God and neighbor without limit, giving oneself beyond the call of duty, going all the way with God, living like the saints lived. Chesterton called this lofty holiness a revolution. At this stage of growth these individuals are not simply rather better than ordinarily good folk--they are vastly superior in sheer goodness.




Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Monday, December 2, 2013

ADVENT MEDITATION



If we are to witness to Christ in today's marketplaces, where there are constant demands on our whole person, we need silence. If we are to be always available, not only physically, but by empathy, sympathy, friendship, understanding and boundless caritas, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflagging hospitality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.

True silence is the search of man for God.

True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temptation, the depthless precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.

True silence is the speech of lovers.  For only love knows its beauty, completeness, and utter joy. True silence is a garden enclosed, where alone the soul can meet its God. It is a sealed fountain that he alone can unseal to slacken the soul's infinite thirst for him.

True silence is a key to the immense and flaming heart of God. It is the beginning of a divine courtship that will end only in the immense, creative, fruitful, loving silence of final union with the Beloved.

Yes, such silence is holy, a prayer beyond all prayers, leading to the final prayer of constant presence of God, to the heights of contemplation, when the soul, finally at peace, lives by the will of him whom she loves totally, utterly, and completely.

This silence, then, will break forth in a charity that overflows in the service of the neighbor without counting the cost. It will witness to Christ anywhere, always. Availability will become delightsome and easy, for in each person the soul will see the face of her Love. Hospitality will be deep and real, for a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hospice to the world.

From Poustinia by Catherine de Hueck Doherty


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds