Monday, May 29, 2017

Photo: R. Massaro (c) 2017 Spirit Singing Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine North Jackson, Ohio


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit- Sixth Hymn of Virtue: Gentleness

Photo: R. Massaro (c) 2017 Spirit Singing- Poor Clare Monastery North Canton, Ohio

Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

(Please enjoy this post from the archives)

People are given to complimenting each other's clothing, hair and external accessories. That is the way of the world. As Christians, we are striving to weave beautiful and holy garments with the fabric of virtue provided by the Holy Spirit.

St. Paul tells us to clothe ourselves in virtue. This holy attire should be evident for all to see, but as St. Teresa of Avila tells us, people who possess true humility and virtue usually are unaware that they possess these spiritual gifts. The saints spend their entire lives constantly striving to achieve virtue, totally unaware that the virtues they possess is what attracts others to them.

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017 Spirit Singing  Walsh University Chapel Canton, Ohio

I recently saw a statue of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus. The statue is a representation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have only seen icons of Our Lady under this title, never a statue. And it is truly a beautiful statue that is displayed in the chapel of Walsh University in Canton, Ohio. I bring up this point because of Our Lady's garment on this statue. Icons are typically full of symbolism. The gold in the background of icons represents the glorious light of heaven. If you look closely, you will see the gold shining through Our Lady's garment in the photo of this statue. This light symbolizes what Christ said to the apostles and to us, “Let your light shine before men.” Not that they will say how wonderful we are but for others to give glory and praise to God.

The Gospel reading this past Saturday was about Our Lord's Transfiguration. We heard in that Gospel that his clothes became radiant as light. This manifestation was a glimpse of his glory that the apostles were blessed to witness. Jesus, a living icon, displayed his glory amidst the brilliant light of heaven! And then the voice of the Father: "This is my beloved Son, listen to him."

Reflecting on this statement, I can't help to see the similarity between the Father's command and what Our Lady said at the wedding feast at Cana. She stated to the servant, "Do whatever he tells you." In other words, listen to Him. I'm confident she said this with great gentleness and charity.

As Christians, we can ask ourselves, have I displayed the holy attire of gentleness in my dealings with family, friends and co-workers? Or, am I harsh and demanding? St. Therese tells us she (through the Holy Spirit) perfected her physical manner to become gentle in her voice and in the way she looked at others. She desired that her whole being reflect the love that was in her heart.

As Carmelites, we know that we must strive for this holy gem of virtue. Why is gentleness so important? Because the holy garment of gentleness has the light of mercy shining through it! If we, as sinners, want to be treated gently and mercifully by Our Lord, we must treat others in this same manner.

I believe these virtues are angelic qualities we must long for and possess before we are fit for the kingdom of heaven. We know that St. Paul even names one rank of angels as Virtues.

I meditate on the gentleness exhibited by the Archangel Gabriel when he addressed the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation: “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God.” Wouldn't those be lovely words to hear at our judgment? Let us pray that when the Lord summons us home, Our Lady will be by our side defending us poor sinners before the throne of God. And may we hear those gentle words that were spoken to Our Lady, “Do not fear, little one, you have found favor with God.”

Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, pray for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit-Fifth Hymn of Virtue: Kindness

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017SpiritSinging

 The Lord's kindness is everlasting
 to those that fear him.” (Psalm 103)

Continuing this series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, let's take a closer look at the fruit or virtue of kindness.

We might first ask the question, “What is kindness?” When reflecting on this virtue, it seems to get lost somewhere between gentleness and patience, two distinct fruits of the Spirit. According to the definition in the dictionary, kindness describes a person who exhibits love, affection, and a gentle nature. In our spiritual life dictionary, we agree with this definition but also want to take it to a higher level, a level of the Spirit. Kindness is a holy attribute of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Recently, I watched a repeat of EWTN Live with Mother Angelica. Toward the end of the program, there was a caller who seemed to make an impression on Mother Angelica. Although the caller was troubled by something, her voice was gentle and peaceful. Mother Angelica remarked on this, saying something to the effect, “Be very grateful for your gift of gentleness, my dear. Many people work very hard for what seems to come very naturally for you.” We could take her statement and insert any one of the gifts or fruits of the Spirit-we could say, "be very grateful for the gift of patience, be very grateful for the gift of kindness, because many spiritual people desire these gifts." And it is sad to say, but many people never receive these gifts in this life. Why? Attraction to worldly desires and pleasures are stronger than a desire for prayer and self-denial that bring about virtue in the soul.

In St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, she teaches us that the soul in the second mansion is not content with staying there and not because they want to advance. They do not want to advance because they are still attracted to the world and to sin.

This stage pertains to those who have already begun to practice prayer and have understood how important it is not to stay in the first dwelling places. But they still don't have the determination to remain in this second stage without turning back, for they don't avoid the occasions of sin
Interior Castle, II:1

If a person dies in this state, he must be purified in the holy fire of Purgatory. Once God purifies his heart, he receives all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their full glory, and the soul is prepared for the beatific vision. 

When speaking of spiritual gifts that we do possess, we must be very careful that we do not take credit for any virtue or gift that God has bestowed upon us. We could boast and say we obtained such and such a gift by our own efforts at prayer. We must be careful not to steal the Lord's glory. If we must boast, we must boast in the Lord (I Cor 1:31). Remember, God chooses the weak to shame the strong. We must remain humble in the sight of the Lord.

If we know a person who is kind, they will most likely be gentle and patient and loving as well. The fruits of the Holy Spirit could be likened to inseparable friends. When you see one, you see the other!

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 SpiritSinging Upper Basilica Lourdes, France

The meeting between Our Lady of Lourdes and Bernadette has always impressed me. Bernadette was lowly in the eyes of the world. She was poor and uneducated. Yet, Our Lady appeared to her and showed her great kindness, saying to her:  “Would you do me the favor of coming here for fifteen days?” Bernadette said that no one in her life had ever spoken to her with such great kindness. 

May we imitate the beautiful kindness of Our Lady when we deal with others. May we be especially kind to those who are looked at unfavorably by our society. May we offer them the sweet fruit of the Spirit and share with them what the Lord has given to us: His love, mercy, and kindness!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Friday, May 12, 2017


May 13, 1917-May 13, 2017

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing Comforter of the Afflicted Shrine Youngstown, Ohio


O Most Holy Virgin Mary, 
Queen of the most holy Rosary, 
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima 

and reveal a glorious message. 

We implore you, 

inspire in our hearts a fervent love 

for the recitation of the Rosary. 

By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption 

that are recalled therein 
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask, 
through the merits of Jesus Christ, 
our Lord and Redeemer. 

Two Seers of the Fatima Apparitions
Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto Canonized
by Pope Francis

Official Canonization Photo from the Vatican

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017SpiritSinging Our Lady of Sorrows Shrine Bellevue, Ohio

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit- Fourth Hymn of Virtue: Generosity

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

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Fourth Hymn
of Virtue: Generosity

Continuing this series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit I would like to talk about Generosity in light of Fr. Emmanuel Sullivan's work entitled Mary and the Holy Spirit in the Writings of John of the Cross.

Fr. Sullivan writes that the early Carmelites gathered together for a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ. Allegiance to Jesus Christ was, and is the main point of the Rule written by St. Albert of Jerusalem. This is the Rule that is still followed today by the religious family of our Order. We know from our Carmelite history that the early hermits of Mt. Carmel were dedicated to Our Lady.

Each of us has a story to tell of how we came to enter the family of Carmel. But we must remember that it was the Lord who inspired in us the grace to answer this call. From the Vatican Document, Lumen Gentium 44,2.

Thus the religious vocation is given only to those whom God has especially marked out, but the gift, which they have received, becomes the common heritage of the People of God.

We must be generous in answering this special call to Carmel, not only for our own personal holiness but for the entire Body of Christ and the world. We must never lose sight of the fact that our humble prayer, no matter how weak or imperfect, has merit in the sight of Our Lord.

Many people, even Secular Carmelites, believe it or not, are under the impression that Secular members are simply "wannabees" of the Order. This is simply a perverted notion of our vocation. Our Rule states:

The Secular Order forms an integral part of the Carmelite family; its members are therefore sons and daughters of the Order, and share in fraternal communion, though in a state of life essentially different from that of the religious, its same vocation of holiness and its mission in the Church.
Article 1

St. Therese certainly appreciated her vocation of prayer within the Order. Although she was cloistered, this did not deter her from her desire to spread the Gospel to all parts of the world. She knew that her Carmelite vocation of prayer was the life-blood of the Church and that her prayer helped priests and missionaries and the entire Body of Christ. She is the poster child for the hymn of the Carmelites: "I have been zealous for the Lord, God of Hosts!" Most of us would agree, that she is one of the most generous souls we have come to know and love.

Since we are discussing the fruit of "generosity," let's look to Our Lady, our spiritual model, that we as Carmelites are called to imitate. We know that she gave her whole being to God with her Fiat. She held nothing back from the will of God for her life. We see her union with God in her glorious generosity of body and spirit. She imitated God the Father who gave his only Son for us-his most generous gift of salvation and redemption for all mankind. Jesus opens the gates of paradise for us. Who can fathom his gift of generosity, with his gift of eternal life for us in his kingdom, with Mary, and all the saints? Who can fathom His gift of generosity in remaining with us in the Blessed Sacrament? Who can fathom Our Lady's gift of generosity in giving Jesus, our Savior, to all mankind?

Our Carmelite vocation is the gateway to spiritual marriage with the Holy Trinity. Prayer and the reception of the sacraments are the key to the mystical life. The Carmelite life, the Christian life is not a boring life. It is a great adventure of discovering "deep caverns" of the mystery of God, as St. John of the Cross describes.

Fr. Sullivan also writes that Mary belongs to each member of Carmel.

As Carmelites, we have placed the desire to fulfill our promises in her hands. We have asked her to lead us up the summit of Mt. Carmel to Christian perfection and holiness.

Our promise/vow formula:I,___________of the ____________,desiring to follow the Crucified and Risen Christ in the Secular Order of Carmel, renew my profession/vow, and I promise to tend toward evangelical counsels of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, and of the Beatitudes, according to the Rule of life of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.

I confidently entrust my promise/vow to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel.

We may not be able to understand in this life how it is possible for her to care deeply about each of us individually, but we can get some idea of this mystery by knowing that God has enlarged her heart, because she is "full of grace." She is Mother of the Church. She is Mother of each individual member of the Body of Christ!
There is room in her heart for you!

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 Spirit Singing Regina Health Center Richfield, Ohio

In our family of Carmel, our priests, brothers, and religious sisters place themselves under the authority of the Abbot, or the Mother Superior. How much more should we place ourselves under the authority of our Blessed Lady? How do we do this? I think it takes childlike simplicity.

Scripture tells us to call on God as "Abba" or "Daddy." Then, why should we not cry out "Mama" to Our Blessed Mother? She will fly to us as a concerned, loving mother if we desire to increase in holiness.

Our Lord tells us, "By their fruits, you shall know them." Let us ask ourselves: 

Am I bearing fruit as a Carmelite? 

Am I a generous Carmelite?

A sign of an authentic prayer life is total generosity with God. Let us ask ourselves:

*Am I generous with the time I give to God in mental prayer?

*Do I offer my time and talents to my Carmelite community?

*Am I generous in praying for others, or are my needs the focus of my prayer?

*Am I content with doing the minimum that the Order requires?

*Do I give Jesus, through Mary, all that I am, and all that I possess, or do I hold back a selfish, particular attachment to the world?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful with the spiritually sweet fruit of generosity. May we make a generous return to the Lord for all he has done for us!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fruits of the Holy Spirit-Third Hymn of Virtue: Goodness

There is an old saying:
 "The eyes are the windows of the soul."

Isn't this old saying true? It seems that we are able to look into someone's eyes and see if they are happy, sad, or troubled. We can get a sense if they are of a good or bad spirit. This of course, is not to judge a person's heart, for only God can do that, but the eyes definitely give us a glimpse into the spirit of a person.

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta saw Christ in the Poor. St. Charles de Foucauld saw Christ in those who persecuted him. St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes saw God as her "Joy."

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity could see the hidden mystery of the Trinity.

St. Therese saw God everywhere-in everything-in everyone.

Bernadette's eyes saw the beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One has only to look into the eyes of a saint to see the goodness within.

Today's subject of Goodness, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is His spirit that we possess in which goodness becomes a part of us. It permeates us and becomes part of our personality, to the extent that others may observe the light of the Holy Spirit in us and remark, "He is so good!" Or, "She is so good!"

Church philosophers have much to say on this deep subject of Goodness. They reflect on the nature of creation and all things as coming from the one Good-God. I will leave you to the doctors of the Church if you wish to study the subject of Goodness in depth. I would highly recommend reading St. Augustine. For my part, I wish to give a simple reflection on the fruit of goodness in our lives.

So, what is a good person like?
A good person is a pure person with no hidden agenda. A good person is a trusting and childlike person but wise in discernment of spirits. A good person is just and merciful. A good person desires good for all, even for their enemies.

Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil. Cling to what is good. Love one another with the affection of brothers. Anticipate each other in showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit...Have the same attitude towards all. (Romans 12:16).

The above scripture passage from St. Paul is a lesson in fraternal charity. As Carmelites, we must remember that fraternal charity is an important part of living out our vocation. I would say it is the heart of our vocation, not just as secular Carmelites, but as baptized Christians. Love, or Charity, is the highest gift that we are to share with each other and the world. Fraternal charity flows from goodness.

Our Rule states:
The Secular Order sets before its members ideals, based upon the charisms and teachings of the Order's saintly Founders, which constitute their particular way in Christian holiness. These are; a deep sense of God's love; fidelity for contemplative prayer with the spirit of detachment it entails; and generosity in the practice of fraternal charity and the apostolate. They will place themselves under Our Lady's protection, and endeavor to live out these ideals in her presence.

A good person is a living example of the Good News of the Gospel. A good person manifests his goodness in works of charity. He lives the Beatitudes-the perfection of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Let us not grow weary of doing good; if we do not relax our efforts, in due time we shall reap our harvest. While we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially those of the household of the faith. (Galations 6:9-10)

I guess St. Paul is telling us that (spiritual) charity begins at home! As Secular Carmelites, let us love those of our household, of our own particular community. Let us discern if we are practicing fraternal charity.

An examination of conscience in light of fraternal charity:

*Do I pray for the priests and religious of the Order?

*Do I respect the leadership of my local community?

*Do I pray for the deceased members of the Order?

*Do I pray and reach out to the sick members of my community?

*Do I pray for the members of my community?

* Do I love the members of my community equally, or do I play 

*Do I keep in touch with the isolated members of my community?

So far, in this series of the Fruits of the Spirit we have talked about the gifts of Joy and Peace. We know that a good person is full of joy and peace. These good people are so filled with the Spirit, that others want to imitate them and possess these treasured gifts as well.

Let us cling to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who will transform our hearts to be like his own Good and Merciful Heart.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS