Thursday, April 27, 2017

Words of Wisdom from the Imitation of Christ

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing-St. Mary Church Wooster, Ohio

God wants you to learn to suffer tribulation without comfort and, submitting yourself entirely to Him, to grow in humility through tribulation. No one so deeply feels what Christ endured as one who has had to suffer as He did. The cross is always ready and waits everywhere for you; you cannot escape it no matter where you turn.

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you and you will always meet yourself face to face. Look upward or downward, within yourself or without; everywhere you will find the cross. And everywhere you must be patient if you desire interior peace and to merit a crown in heaven.

If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry you and bring you to your longed-for end, where there will be no more suffering--though this will not happen on earth. If you carry it grudgingly, it will become a burden and a heaver weight for you to carry, and yet you must bear it.

If you reject one cross, be sure that you will find another, perhaps heavier one.
The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, Chap. 12 No. 4-5.

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) teaches us that we should not go looking for additional crosses in life in order to become saints. She tells us to accept the crosses the Lord sends us each day. She also tells us that we cause our own sufferings in life because we do not know ourselves. We think we are stronger than we are and are capable of carrying a heavy cross for the Lord. How many times we fail because of our pride! 

St. Therese, the Little Flower, shows us the Little Way that leads to perfection. It's the many little crosses in life that perfect us. Look for the little crosses that come your way today. Perhaps it's encountering a disagreeable person, or a situation that will test your patience, or perhaps it's dryness or lack of consolation in prayer. Accept all of these sufferings and pray for others in the world who carry a heavier cross than yourself. 

Do we truly seek the cross? Then we must mortify ourselves. That is the true cross The Imitation of Christ speaks of, Wherever you go, you take yourself with you and you will always meet yourself face to face. Look upward or downward, within yourself or without; everywhere you will find the cross. We have many opportunities each day to die to ourselves with acts of mortification.

St. John of the Cross teaches us that to love Christ is not always to seek the most convenient or easier way of doing things. Our world preaches to us daily of looking for the most convenient method of getting things done, the least painful, the least stressful, the least effort...and so on. 

Here is the admonition from St. John:

Strive always to choose, not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult; Not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasant; Not that which gives most pleasure, but that which gives least; Not that which is restful, but that which is wearisome.  St. John of the Cross

Let us pray for each other!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit-Second Hymn of Virtue: Peace

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017SpiritSinging St. Rita Church Solon, Ohio

On the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood before them. "Peace be with you," he said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced. "Peace be with you," he said again.
John 20:19-21

St. John goes on to say that Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to the disciples and gave them the power to forgive sins. They were given the gift of the Holy Spirit to impart forgiveness, mercy, and peace to the soul in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We could say that true peace of soul is the capstone of the spiritual life. It is only found at the summit of Mt. Carmel after much labor and co-operation on our part with the Holy Spirit. It is the true gift of peace that the world cannot give, and no man can take from us. It is the crowning virtue of the spiritual marriage.

In this state there are no more ecstasies or raptures, or at least very few; these have now disappeared almost completely in order to make room for such peace and quiet rest as are enjoyed by married persons who are sure of each other's love.
Fr. Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life #1470

In this high state of mystical contemplation in which the soul is completely at peace with the beloved-this state that is possessed by the blessed and the saints, inspire us to reach the heights of prayer, too. Listen to how Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. the noted mystical theologian explains this fruit of peace:

A contemplative soul not only possesses peace;it can communicate it to others. A contemplative soul does not allow itself to be troubled in its higher part by painful, unexpected events; it receives all from the hand of God...Wisdom bestows a radiant peace, leading us to love our enemies.

This certainly brings to mind St. John of the Cross who saw the hand of God in his brother Carmelites who were persecuting him during the reform. He described the persecution as coming from God, "who ordains all."

We can ask ourselves to what degree do we possess this treasured gift of peace? Is my peace disturbed at any mere annoyance or trial? Do world events and every day problems try to steal my peace of soul? Or, does nothing disturb my interior peace and communion with the Lord?

When the raging winds and the storms of our life do their best to frighten us and deter us from our path of total trust in God-we only need to turn to Jesus, who, with one word, can rebuke the anxiety in our minds and calm the troubled waters of our soul.

Peace is the fruit of authentic contemplative prayer. Let's keep in mind that any virtuous act is a fruit of the Spirit. If our acts are pure they will produce good fruit in which we find spiritual sweetness. This sweetness is the consolation of the Holy Spirit from whom these fruits emanate. St. John of the Cross explains the effects of true acts of virtue:

Any act of virtue produces and fosters in the soul mildness, peace, comfort, light, purity, and strength, just as an inordinate appetite brings about torment, fatigue, weariness, blindness, and weakness. Through the practice of one virtue all the virtues grow, and similarly, through an increase of one vice, all the vices and their effects grow.
St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Chap. 12, #5.

The Fruits of the Spirit blossom forth from the branches of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peace is the glorious fruit displayed on the sturdy branch of Wisdom.

Blest too are the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9.

The Beatitudes are the perfection of the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These blessed and delectable Fruits of the Spirit are of such lofty sweetness and purity that they give us a foretaste of heaven.

As Carmelites, we promise to live according to the Beatitudes. When we love and show mercy as Christ does, the Holy Spirit invites us to partake of this delectable fruit that is enjoyed by the Communion of Saints.

Come to the Feast!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie,  OCDS

Friday, April 14, 2017


Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing Epiphany Cathedral Nashville, TN

(Concerning two visions of St. John of the Cross)

...The second apparition, toward the end of his life, took place in Segovia. He had called his beloved brother Francisco to come there..."When I had been there two or three days, I begged him to let me depart. He told me to stay a few days longer for he did not know when we would see each other again. And this was the last time I saw him. One evening after supper he took me by the hand and led me into the garden and when we were alone, he said to me: " I want to confide in you what happened to me with Our Lord. We had in the monastery a crucifix, and one day, as I stood before it, it occurred to me that it would be more suitable to have it in the church. It was my wish that not only the friars but those outside could also venerate it. And I did what I had thought of doing.

"After I had put it up in the church as fittingly as I was able to do, I was standing before it one day in prayer--and then he spoke to me: Brother, John, ask of me whatever I should grant you for the favor you have done me here! And on my part I said to him: Lord, what I wish from you is suffering which I may bear for you, and that I may be despised and disdained.

From The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Power of the Holy Spirit-in the hand of the Bishop

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017 Spirit Singing-St. Joseph Church Dover, Ohio

Many parishes during this time of year are celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation.  A lot of preparation takes place before the event. The children and adults, the confirmandi, as they are referred to, must be given instruction before they stand before the bishop ready to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I was confirmed in 1969. The way the sacrament is conferred has changed since I was a young girl. I was confirmed at the age of 12, now teens are a little older when they are confirmed. Today, the candidates stand before the bishop as he or she is confirmed. On October 16, 1969, I knelt before Bishop Clarence Elwell to be confirmed. I also remember being told that as the bishop confirmed me he would slap me on the cheek!  As children, we were petrified about this part of the ceremony. We wondered, will the bishop actually hit us? Will it hurt? We didn't know what to expect, only to brace ourselves for the blow!

I remember walking up the aisle of the church, in a long procession of candidates to be confirmed. At the time, it seemed like two miles until I would reach the altar. I was in procession, behind my uncle, an adult convert, who was beaming with joy, ready to be confirmed.

My mother had helped me with trying to choose a saint for my confirmation name. She told me stories about the saints, which I found fascinating. I remember the agony I went through in trying to decide between St. Bernadette and St. Margaret Mary. I finally decided on St. Bernadette, but as Divine Providence would have it, I was confirmed on the feast of St. Margaret Mary. 

Continuing with my memory of approaching the bishop...I remember kneeling before the bishop and announcing my confirmation name of Bernadette, he anointed me and gently patted my cheek. All that worry over nothing! The power of the the Holy Spirit, through the hand of the bishop, was imparted gently and tenderly with a soft pat on the cheek. 

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit continue to work in our lives. Let us pray that He imparts all of his gifts on us. Gifts that are needed to live with Him in the company of all the angels and saints forever. 

I'll be re-posting a series on the Holy Spirit I wrote a few years ago. These meditations about the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in light of Carmelite spirituality. I hope you are blessed by these posts.

Seven Songs of the Spirit-First Song: Wisdom

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS