Sunday, September 27, 2015

Heartbreakers:The Seven Sorrows of the Saints

Photo: R. Massaro St. Luke Chuch, Danville, Ohio

Recently, on September 15, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There is a beautiful devotion to Our Lady under this title that one can pray on rosary beads, it's the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. Although I'm sure our Blessed Mother had many more sorrows than the traditional seven that are listed below, the Church asks us to meditate upon these while saying this Chaplet.

1.  The Prophecy of Simeon
2.  The Flight into Egypt
3.  The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4.  Mary meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
5.  The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
6.  The taking down of the body of Jesus from the Cross (Pieta)
7.  The Burial of Jesus

Here is a website that will help you to learn to say the Chaplet that is also known as the Servite Rosary:

When we read the lives of the saints, we learn that many things in life made them sorrowful. Similarly, in today's society, there are many issues that cause Catholics, Christians, and good people to be sorrowful.  The saints are people who strive to console the heart of God by living a holy life and in some way try to make up for those who offend Him. Let us consider how the saints would be spiritually wounded in light of today's society (these are in no particular order):

1. God is Not Loved in the World; He is Rejected By Man.

The Prophecy of Simeon is the First Sorrow of Our Lady. While holding the Christ Child, the holy man raises his eyes to heaven and states, Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word, for my eyes have witness your saving deed displayed for all the people to see... (Luke 2:29-31).

God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer, and He is rejected over and over again by people who desire to live as they please. There is no sense of sin or thought of offending Almighty God. Even among the faithful, there are those who reject him and the Church's teachings.

2.  The Lord's Day is Not Kept Holy.

On Sunday, it's business as usual in the marketplace and in our homes. Long gone are the "Blue Laws" our country once observed. While most Blue Laws or "Sunday Closing Laws" have been repealed, some laws such as the sale of alcohol remain in effect. The laws that were established in the age of Puritanism were not enacted to give people a day of rest, but were written to respect the Sabbath.

The lack of keeping the Lord's Day holy must have been a sorrow for St. Pope John Paul II, because he wrote an Apostolic Letter on this very subject. Here is a quote from his letter:

Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a "weekend", it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see "the heavens". Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so

 It is clear then why, even in our own difficult times, the identity of this day must be protected and above all must be lived in all its depth. (Dies Domini, No. 4, 30).

3.  Abuse, torture, and killing of God's children.

The Second Sorrow of Our Lady is the flight into Egypt.  Herod desired to kill the Christ child.  In our society, there are many, many, who desire to kill children while they are still living in their mother's womb. Children are abused, tortured, and starved on a daily basis in some homes. In the Middle East, Christians are being persecuted and beheaded for their faith in Jesus Christ.

4.  The worship of false gods.

The third sorrow of Our Lady is the loss of the child Jesus in the temple.  When Jesus was found, he boldly declared,  Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?  In our society, it seems that the Father's business is none of our business. We live in an age of materialism, individualism, and relativism, spiritual illnesses in which we worship ourselves and not God.

5.  Presuming on God's mercy.

One has only to speak to a neighbor, relative, or friend, or pick up the local newspaper and read the obituaries to learn that absolutely everyone is going to heaven. And not just going there by way of Purgatory, but going there directly when they die-the condition and state of being of a saint. 

In our society there is a deep lack of a sense of sin, and no desire to be accountable or purified of the sins one has committed during his or her life. Then,when one dies, a funeral becomes a eulogy in which the deceased is lifted on a spiritual pedestal and canonized by the family.

6.  Blasphemies against the Holy Eucharist.

Today, our Lord has many enemies. There are those who wish to desecrate the most Holy Eucharist. Churches are vandalized. Statues and religious articles are destroyed or desecrated by those claiming artistic freedom. Even among the faithful, sacrilegious communions take place.

7.  The Blessed Mother is not duly honored in the world.

St. Louis de Montfort, in his spiritual masterpiece, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, writes:

It was through the blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world. (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Introduction, No. 1).

I admire good Catholics who never seem to tire of defending Our Lady and explaining her role in the Church: to bring each soul to her Son, Jesus Christ. She is our model of prayer, humility, and obedience. 

At the beginning of this article, I listed the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. Sadly, we could update and lengthen this list in light of how Our Lady is treated in the world today. 

Our Lady of Lourdes spoke these tender words tinged with sorrow to St. Bernadette:  I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the next

Yes, Our Lady confirms what we have come to know, that life and striving for holiness is, at times, a "Valley of Tears." But in God's mercy and goodness, he gives us joys to balance our afflictions. He gives us the joy of receiving him in the Holy Eucharist. The joy of having good and holy friends to imitate, the Communion of Saints. The joy of having a Holy Mother who never abandons us, even when we are sorrowful to the point of despair over our sins. As Catholics, we have the "best of both worlds." Why? Because we have Our Lord present with us in the Blessed Sacrament and we can receive him daily if we wish. And, if we are faithful, we will be with him forever.

We have discussed the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady and of the saints. If you have the courage, consider the  "Seven Sorrows" of your own personal life. Whatever our sorrows, or our great sins, if we are truly sorry, the Lord forgives us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we have repented, he then consoles us. The Holy Spirit is the great Consoler. Our Lady of Sorrows, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday of Our Lady

Photo: R. Massaro-Lourdes, France

An excerpt from Pilgrims With Mary by John Maloney, P.P.

Round the whole life of Mary there is the serene calm of a great silence. The great things of God are done in silence. When the night was on its way and all the world was asleep the Savior was born. Right through the story Mary was ever present, but nearly always silent.

She must have loved the silence of the hills, the lovely calm of those hidden years. Jesus also loved the quiet of the hills. There in the early morning and through the nights He found refreshment, alone in the prayer of God.

Ours is a world of noise; and we tend to need the companionship of noise. And unless we are careful our souls become like a crowded inn, and the gentle knocking of God at the door is drowned in a babel of voices clamoring for attention. 


Immaculate Virgin, grant me something of that silence full of love and peace which always filled your soul. Make my ear always attentive to God's word. 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday of Our Lady

Photo: R. Massaro Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio

Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility.
St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin

Peace be with you!

Sunday, September 6, 2015


 Today's Term: Punctuality

The Call to Prayer: Be on time
Photo: R. Massaro St. Agnes Church Orrville, Ohio

Punctuality? Really? You may be thinking, what does this have to do with the spiritual life? Well, I think it is a very important part of the spiritual life.  Punctuality may not be one of the most recognized gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it truly is a gift from God.

You may live in a divided household; your spouse may be the punctual one, or perhaps it's the other way around.  Do you know someone who is habitually late for an appointment? Are you the person who tries to keep the other person accountable for being on time?  Yes, it's a challenge for many of us in our busy lives as we try to juggle errands, activities, and appointments.

Think of the many times we rely on the punctuality of another person. We go to our doctor and he's running late. His lack of punctuality causes us stress, unless we have the gift of patience where the lack of punctuality on the part of another does not disturb the calm of our heart.

How many times have we been "run off of the road" by someone who is probably running late for work or an appointment? Their lack of punctuality and their response to it threaten the lives of others on the road. Yes, a lack of punctuality can be dangerous, especially in the spiritual life.

Being punctual for Mass, prayer time, and religious activities says a lot about who we are and the desire we have to be at attention and "ready for service" to the Holy Spirit. In the monastic setting,  the manner of punctuality effects the keeping of the rule. For religious persons, those in monasteries and religious communities must be punctual so that the prayer life of the community is not disrupted. The punctuality of all the members is essential for unity and peace, which reflects the common vision of their charism.

 St. Therese of the Child Jesus is an example of a saint who tried to be punctual. She writes about this in her Story of a Soul. She says that she wanted to be obedient, even in small things. When she was writing her memoirs and heard the bell, the call to prayer, she would stop writing in mid-sentence. That small act of self-denial took great effort on her part until she matured in the virtue of punctuality.

Here is what one of my favorite writers, Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, in his great work The Spiritual Life says about punctuality:

Punctuality is an integral part of the observance of a rule of life. Not to begin an exercise at the prescribed moment, and that without a reason, already constitutes an act of resistance to grace, which admits of no delays; it is to run the risk of omitting or at least shortening this exercise from lack of time. If it is question of some public exercise of the ministry, a delay often means considerable inconvenience to the faithful; on the part of a teacher lack of punctuality sets before the students a bad example which they are but too prone to follow.

The Spiritual Life. The Very Reverend Adlophe Tanquerey, SS.,D.D.. Society of St. John the Evangelist, Desclee & Co., Imprimatur, Michael J. Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore, May 24, 1930.

When we go to Mass we expect the celebration to begin on time. When the priest is late, we begin to worry that something may be wrong. It gives us spiritual security to know that the Mass is going to take place each day at a specific time. We should make every effort to be on time for Holy Mass.

A lack of punctuality can lead to a greater fault that is hard to cure: procrastination!  Sometimes procrastination is caused by laziness, sometimes it's a state of denial when we find a difficult situation hard to confront, or there is a difficult task we put off over and over again. If we are not careful, this becomes a habit and a way of life in dealing with difficult situations.

Jesus tells us that death comes like a thief in the night. Death will not delay at the prescribed moment. Therefore, we must be vigilant and spread the Gospel without delay. We must be found at all times doing the will of God, so that when death arrives, we are prepared and ready to meet Our Lord face-to-face.

As Secular Carmelites, we are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. We should make every effort to keep the designated hours of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. We should be on time for these prayers and say them at the proper hours. Many of us delay these prayers, take shortcuts, then try to make it up later in the day. 

In the spiritual life, we fail many times by being late or even absent from prayer. However, we are very demanding that God be punctual. We want him to answer our prayer, now! Or, at prayer, we think, I'm here, God. Where are You?

Let us pray for each other, that we be punctual, diligent, faithful, and respond quickly to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS