Wednesday, February 27, 2013



Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that since the Church is a body composed of different members, she could not lack the most necessary and most nobly endowed of all the bodily organs. I understood, therefore, that the Church has a heart-and a heart on fire with love. I saw, too, that love alone imparts life to all the members, so that should love ever fail, apostles would no longer preach the Gospel and martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. Finally, I realized that love includes every vocation, that love is all things, that love is eternal, reaching down through the ages and stretching to the uttermost limits of the earth.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Sunday in the Year of Faith


St. Ignatius was the third bishop or patriarch of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John. Ignatius was arrested and led to Rome to be martyred, on the way, he wrote a series of letters that have been preserved. He was the first writer to use the term Catholic Church.

From a letter to the Romans from St. Ignatius of Antioch

I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God’s side. Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you, still my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in my for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.” I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world I want only God‘s bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed from the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish. Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God. 

(Scroll down to heading of St. Ignatius)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spiritual Life Dictionary


Photo: R. Massaro St. Patrick Church Kent, Ohio
Judas fell prey to Logismoi

A Greek term used in Eastern spirituality to describe
temptation in thought.

Logismoi (pronounced log-is-me) is described in the writings of the desert fathers as real demons that tempt us to sin by way of our thoughts.

I have been fascinated by this word and the spirituality behind it for a number of years after hearing a Byzantine priest expound on this subject. It was a spiritual revelation for me at the time. Not so much by the fact that we are tempted in thought in a very deep and real way, but I was deeply moved by the way in which he explained how demons are involved in this intellectual battle for our soul.

It is a daily battle, indeed, is it not?  So many temptations bombarding us from without and within on a moment-by-moment basis.  If one does not constantly stand guard at the door of one's heart, well, the battle is over very quickly and we are the ones who are defeated.

The desert fathers who wrote and taught about the intellectual demons were a kind of spiritual psychotherapist to the monks under their direction. The monks were required to report to their spiritual father throughout the day and reveal their most intimate thoughts and the temptations that passed through their minds. The wisdom of the spiritual father directed the monk in his effort to purify his thoughts and to become less of a target of the spiritual demons that afflict man in his interior battle for purity of heart.

Let's stop for a moment in this little study of mental temptations to ask ourselves a few questions:

Did I check my thoughts today?

Did I renounce thoughts of criticism, complaining, jealousy, envy? 

Did I speak uncharitably about another?

Did I give in to the demons of criticism, gossip, anger, and complaint?

According to the early fathers, there is plenty going on within us before we make the final ascent of giving in to temptation. Here are the eight patterns of evil thought according to Evagrius Ponticus (346-399):

and pride.

The five stages of logismoi according to Fr. Maximos of Mt. Athos:

1.  Assault - the logismoi first attacks a person's mind
2.  Interaction - a person opens up a dialogue with the logismoi
3.  Consent - a person consents to do what the logismoi urges him 
     to do
4.  Defeat - a person becomes hostage to the logismoi and finds it 
     more difficult to resist
5.  Passion or Obsession - the logismoi becomes an entrenched 
     reality within the nous (mind) of a person

Spiritual illnesses such as scrupulosity can be the result of logismoi. That is why it takes a good spiritual director to help one overcome these serious spiritual problems that afflict some souls for years. The spiritual director becomes a sort of exorcist if you will-he helps the soul to be delivered from these demons who hold the soul hostage. Logismoi can also be a root cause of a person's addiction, a spiritual malady that manifests as a physical addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.

What can we do to overcome temptations in our thoughts? The answer: prayer!  Logismoi comes to us when we are at prayer to break our spirit. It is Satan's way of getting us to stop praying.  According to St. Teresa of Jesus and also the early church fathers, we are to ignore these temptations. Another problem spiritual people have is that they believe they can stop all thoughts from entering the mind.  This is nonsense according to St. Teresa. She tells us clearly that as long as we live in the body we will have this battle. But, do not lose heart! If we are faithful to prayer and meditation, we will be given the gift of perfect prayer: contemplation. This is a gift in which imperturbable peace is given to the soul. This gift of peace, that no man can give, is our spiritual armor that protects us from falling into sin through logismoi. But we must be careful as well, to always be on guard, for even great saints have been tempted and tried until their death.

Let us pray for each other, that we be on guard on what goes in and out of our heart and mind. And let us guard ourselves against becoming living logismoi-feeding others with evil suggestions and comments. Let us foster an interior silence and peace and be found in that blessed state of  'prayer without ceasing' and that purity of heart of which St. Paul speaks. Let us be living witnesses of the Kingdom, where we do not fail in charity, in thought, word, or deed.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


From a holy card I received in France, where
great devotion to St. Maravillas exists

I consider myself to be a mere nothing, so incapable of any virtue. But it seems to me as if the Lord wants me to let all this nothingness be lost in him, and for him to live in me. For a while I have had a sort of attraction just to stay loving and adoring the Lord whom I feel in the deepest recesses of my soul, however obscure and hidden he may be. It's as if I am aware of someone better inside me. It's like the different dwellings of the soul that St. Teresa speaks about. Father, could it be the case that what the Lord wants of me is to remain like this, loving and adoring him in greater or lesser emptiness, in sorrow or in joy, just observing how he can do whatever he likes in the center of this soul, just letting him work?
(Letter to Fr. Torres-1932)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Sunday in the Year of Faith

(Disciple of St. Polycarp)

Photo: R. Massaro(c)2013SpiritSinging
Knowing, my beloved Marcianus, your desire to walk in godliness, which alone leads man to life eternal, I rejoice with you and make my prayer that you may preserve your faith entire and so be pleasing to God who made you. Would that it were possible for us to be always together, to help each other and to lighten the labor of our earthly life by continual discourse together on the things that profit. But, since at this present time we are parted from one another in the body, yet according to our power we will not fail to speak with you a little by writing, and to show forth in brief the preaching of the truth for the confirmation of your faith. We send you as it were a manual of essentials, that by little you may attain to much, learning in short space all the members of the body of the truth, and receiving in brief the demonstration of the things of God. So shall it be fruitful to your own salvation, and you shall put to shame all who inculcate falsehood, and bring with all confidence our sound and pure teaching to everyone who desires to understand it. For one is the way leading upwards for all who see, lightened with heavenly light: but many and dark and contrary are the ways of them that see not. This way leads to the kingdom of heaven, uniting man to God: but those ways bring down to death, separating man from God. Wherefore it is needful for you and for all who care for their own salvation to make your course unswerving, firm and sure by means of faith, that you falter not, nor be retarded and detained in material desires, nor turn aside and wander from the right. Read more

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday of Our Lady

Photo: R.Massaro (C) 2013 SpiritSinging

Prayer of St. Faustina to Our Lady

O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer you my soul, my body, my life and my death and all that will come after it. I place everything in your hands, O my Mother, cover my soul with your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with your power against all enemies and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue. Fortify my soul that pain may not break it. Mother of grace, teach me to live by God’s power. O Mary, a terrible sword has pierced your holy soul. Except for God, no one knows of your suffering. Your soul does not break, it is brave, because it is with Jesus. Sweet Mother, unite my soul to Jesus, because it is only then that I will be able to endure all trials and tribulations and only in union with Jesus will my little sacrifices be pleasing to God. Sweetest Mother, continue to teach me about the interior life. May the sword of suffering never break me. O pure Virgin, pour courage into my heart and guard it. Amen.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stations of the Cross

Here is a short video I put together of  the unique stations of the cross located on the grounds of the shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted in Youngstown, Ohio. The music clip is from "Abba Pater" by Pope John Paul II. To purchase the CD from Amazon click here.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Audio Meditation for "Pure Wednesday"
(Click on Photo)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Three Pillars of the Lenten Season

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: efforts at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity which covers a multitude of sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1434

For the Secular Carmelite the three pillars of Lent are not an annual observance that we try to fulfill. These sturdy pillars are what we cling to each day as we try to live out our vocation to live the Beatitudes.

The First Pillar: Prayer

Faithful to our Lord's invitation and to His example of praying without ceasing, and also to the Carmelite Rule's central command "to meditate on God's law day and night and to watch in prayer", the Secular Carmelites will prefer before all else to remain in the presence of God, continually fulfilling His holy will.
The Rule of Life, Article 4

Second Pillar: Fasting

The Secular Carmelite highly esteems the invitation of the Lord to deny himself and willingly to take up his cross daily and follow Him; he will therefore gladly mortify himself in union with the sacrifice of Christ, remembering too Our Holy Mother Teresa's remark that "prayer cannot be accompanied by self-indulgence" (Way of Perfection 4,2).
The Rule of Life, Article 6

The Third Pillar: Almsgiving

The Secular Order of The Discalced Carmelites sets before its members ideals, based upon the charism and teachings of the Order's Saintly founders, which constitute their particular way in Christian holiness. These are: a deep sense of faith in God's love; fidelity to contemplative prayer with the spirit of detachment it entails, and generosity in the practice of fraternal charity and the apostolate.
Rule of Life Article 2

We can read in the above excerpt from our Rule a summary of the three pillars of our call as Carmelites. Our main charism is contemplative prayer. The Lenten season brings this more into focus as we challenge ourselves to be more faithful to our commitment to seek the face of God in prayer.

Article 2 also mentions a spirit of detachment. This means not only to fast from exterior things but also from the sins we are attached to. This detachment will help us grow in union with God. Our Rule states, we must endeavor to practice fraternal charity at all times. Our love must be sincere. If our prayer life is authentic, the love we have for God will inspire us to perform acts of charity for our neighbor.

Another spiritual pillar we must cling to is almsgiving. Basically, almsgiving means charity. Let us give to our neighbor the love and respect they deserve as children of God.

Let us pray for each other; may our Lenten journey of prayer, detachment and love for one another help build up the holy body of Christ.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Monday, February 11, 2013


The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, is a list of 112 short phrases in Latin. They purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few anti-popes), beginning with Pope Celestine II (elected in 1143) and concluding with current pope Benedict XVI's successor, a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", whose pontificate will end in the destruction of the city of Rome.
Source: Wikipedia

Note: Although the Prophecy of the Popes according to St. Malachy has never been sanctionedd by the Church, it makes for interesting reading.  Let us give thanks for all that our Holy Father Benedict XVI has done for the Church, and let us pray for his successor.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Friday, February 8, 2013



From her cell in the infirmary, the 14th of August, 1906, Elizabeth of the Trinity announces to Mother Marie of Jesus,(the Prioress) that tomorrow evening she will begin her annual retreat. She knows all too well it is the last one:

Photo:R.Massaro (C)SpiritSinging2012

Lourdes, France
I am delighted to meet you on my great journey. I leave with the Blessed Virgin on the eve of her Assumption to prepare myself for eternal life. Our Mother (Mother Germaine) did me so much good by telling me that this retreat would be my novitiate for Heaven, and that on the 8th of December (fifth anniversary of her clothing), if the Blessed Virgin sees that I am ready, she will clothe me in her mantle of glory. Beatitude attracts me more and more; between my Master and me that is all we talk about, and His whole work is to prepare me for eternal life.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Seven Mansions and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit a Meditation Series on the Interior Castle

As I have mentioned before, the Order of Carmel is preparing to celebrate the 5th centenary of St. Teresa's birth in 2015. Therefore, all Carmelites in this year of 2013 are reading and studying the Interior Castle, her classic work on the spiritual life.  Soon, our community will be hearing about the Third Mansion.  If you would like to follow along in our study, I'll post these articles I wrote a few years ago.  Please click on the "Interior Castle" label at the end of the post to read Mansions 1 and 2.  In the Interior Castle, St. Teresa does not reflect on a gift of the Holy Spirit for each mansion, this is my own personal reflection on her writings.

Photo: R. Massaro (C)Spirit Singing-Sorrowful Mother Shrine-Bellevue, Ohio

The Third Dwelling Place

We are considering in this meditation series what St. John of the Cross teaches; that we must possess all the gifts of the Spirit before we enter the last of the "Wine Cellars" (Seventh Mansion according to St. Teresa). In the third mansion we are learning how the gift of the Fear of the Lord helps the soul to make progress into the higher mansions.

In the inner wine cellar
I drank of my Beloved, and, when I went abroad through
all this valley
I no longer knew anything,
and lost the herd which I was following
St. John of the Cross-Spiritual Canticle-Stanza 26

St. Teresa tells us that we must be on constant guard so that we do not fall back into sin, since we are still so close to the first mansion, we may very easily return there. We must be humble and fearful of our human weakness and rely on God's help for perseverance in the spiritual life.

The characteristics of the soul in this mansion:
*Desire not to offend "His Majesty"
*Are well-ordered souls who like to be in control
*They like to meditate
*They spend their time well
*They perform works of charity
*They may complain about dryness and lack of consolations
*Their penitential life is well-balanced
*They judge their spiritual progress according to spiritual consolations

In this mansion we reflect on the Spirit's gift of:

Fear of the Lord
This gift fills the soul with a sovereign respect for God,and makes it dread, above all things, to offend Him.

We recall when discussing the Sacrament of Penance that there are two types of contrition: perfect and imperfect.  The person who possesses imperfect contrition is afraid of the pains of hell, more so than offending God.  The person who possesses perfect contrition is sorrowful that he has offended God.  We could also apply this type of thinking to "Fear of the Lord."

There are souls who suffer from a type of spiritual neurosis called scrupulosity. This is a self-centered fear in which the soul concentrates on self and the fear that they are not truly forgiven by God. The truly humble soul who possesses true Fear of the Lord, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is one who knows that they can do nothing without God's help.  They know they are sinners and readily accept his mercy and forgiveness. They have a great love for God that is translated into a great, yet holy and pure fear of not wanting to offend him.

In this third mansion, St. Teresa stresses the need for great humility. Let us pray that we not fall into a sense of false-pride when we experience consolations, and thereby come to expect them.  We can test ourselves by our reaction when the Lord denies them to us. Do we become angry, irritable, sulky--not wanting to approach prayer? We must ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to pray. Let us seek the Lord for himself and not his gifts.  Remember, we have entered Carmel, a penitential order.  As St. Teresa tells us, a little dryness in prayer is nothing to complain about.  It is necessary for our purification and spiritual growth.  Let us truly accept the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and discover the joy in accepting all that he sends us.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Our Father: Touching the Hem of God

After hearing today's Gospel reading, I was reminded of an article I wrote a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy this "post from the past."

There was a woman in the area who had been afflicted with a hemorrhage for a dozen years. She had received treatment at the hands of doctors of every sort and exhausted her savings in the process,yet she got no relief; on the contrary, she only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and put her hand to his cloak. "If I just touch his clothing, she thought, "I shall get well." Immediately her flow of blood dried up and the feeling that she was cured of her affliction ran through her whole body. Jesus was conscious at once that healing power had gone out from him..."Who touched my clothing?"..."Daughter, it is your faith that has cured you. Go in peace and be free of this illness." (Mark 5:25-34)
We sometimes go to great lengths to find that one special prayer that will touch the heart of God. We pray novena after novena, and other special prayers, and these are all good, but why do we not turn to the prayer that Jesus himself taught us? Just like the woman with the hemorrhage who suffered for twelve years with no relief, finally she touches the hem of God-Jesus-who knows her need and rewards her faith and simplicity.
The apostles saw the union between Jesus and his Father and wanted to experience this union for themselves. "Lord teach us to pray!" The apostles pleaded. He answers by teaching them a simple prayer from the heart. A prayer of a child addressing his loving Father in heaven who knows our needs before we ask:

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray":

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us the wrong we have done
as we forgive those who wrong us.
Subject us not to the trial
but deliver us from the evil one.
(Matthew 6:8-13)
The Our Father is a very powerful and important prayer in the teachings of St. Teresa of Jesus. In the Way of Perfection, she teaches her nuns the great value of praying the Our Father well. In fact, in this spiritual work she describes how this prayer, if said well, and with the heart, leads to the gift of perfect contemplation.

When St. Teresa describes the Our Father, she flys away in Spirit when speaking of this prayer, and for us her writing becomes a literary ecstasy in which she gives praise to God for a few paragraphs before coming back to the task at hand describing how to pray.

"Our Father, which art in the Heavens." O my Lord, how Thou dost reveal Thyself as the Father of such a Son, while Thy Son reveals Himself as the Son of such a Father! Blessed be Thou for ever and ever...Oh, how appropriate, daughters, would perfect contemplation be here!"

"O Son of God and my Lord! How is it that Thou canst give us so much with Thy first word?...How can it be that, in the name of Thy Father, thou shouldst give us all there is to be given, by willing Him to have us as His children--and Thy Word cannot fail?"
She tells us we can get lost in prayer and contemplation with just meditating on the first words of the prayer: "Our Father." (Way of Perfection, Chap. 27).

Let us pray the Lord's Prayer with great love and devotion-a simple prayer that can lead to the heights of mystical contemplation.

Let us pray this prayer for each other.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus

Feast Day: February 11

Photo: R. Massaro (C) SpiritSinging 2013
St. Teresa of Avila, Cadiz, Ohio

Continuing our series describing the prayer life of the soul according to St. Teresa's, today, we turn to her teaching on rapture and suspension.

"Rapture and suspension, in my opinion, are both the same. But I am used to saying suspension in order to avoid saying rapture, a word that frightens.  And indeed the union just described ( we covered this in the previous post) can also be called suspension.  The difference between rapture and union is this: the rapture lasts longer and is felt more exteriorly, for your breathing diminishes in such a way that you are unable to speak or open your eyes. Although this diminishing of these bodily powers occurs in union, it takes place in this prayer with greater force, because the natural heat leaves the body, going I don't know where. When the rapture is intense (for in all these kinds of prayer there is more and a less), when it is greater, as I say, the hands are frozen and sometimes stretched out like sticks, and the body remains as it is, either standing or kneeling. And the soul is so occupied with rejoicing in what the Lord represents t it that it seemingly forgets to animate the body and leaves the body abandoned; and if the suspension lasts, the nerves are left aching.
Spiritual Testimonies, 59, No. 7

Here is a video of the late Fr. Thomas Dubay, the great teacher on Carmelite spirituality.  I had the privilege of meeting and talking with him one-on-one in the early eighties.  A moment I will never forget!  What a beautiful soul!  I'll be sharing more of his teaching as we continue this series on prayer.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Faith of our Fathers

Sunday in the Year of Faith

ST. AMBROSE-(337 AD-397 AD)

Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose, was an archbishop of Milan who became 
one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors 
of the Church.

St. Ambrose writes in praise of gentleness, pointing out how needful that grace is for the rulers of the Church, and commended to them by the meekness of Christ. As the Novatians have fallen away from this, they cannot be considered disciples of Christ. Their pride and harshness are inveighed against.

1. If the highest end of virtue is that which aims at the advancement of most, gentleness is the most lovely of all, which does not hurt even those whom it condemns, and usually renders those whom it condemns worthy of absolution. Moreover, it is the only virtue which has led to the increase of theChurch which the Lord sought at the price of His own Blood, imitating the lovingkindness of heaven, and aiming at the redemption of all, seeks this end with a gentleness which the ears of men can endure, in presence of which their hearts do not sink, nor their spirits quail.

2. For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders, let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off. For we read that the Shepherd in theGospel Luke 15:5 carried the weary sheep, and did not cast it off. And Solomon says: Be not overmuch righteous; Ecclesiastes 7:17 for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?

(Source New Advent-Continue reading...)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Photo: R. Massaro (C)SpiritSinging2013
Statue in the Grotto at Lourdes, France

The Ten Principal Virtues of the most holy Virgin

1.    Profound humility
2.    Lively Faith
3.    Blind Obedience
4.    Continual Prayer
5.    Universal Mortification
6.    Divine Purity
7.    Ardent Charity
8.    Heroic Patience
9.    Angelic Sweetness
10.  Divine Wisdom
(From True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds