Friday, October 05, 2018

Do You Hear What I Hear? Do You See What I See?

A graveyard full of dead-fallen leaves,
With the earth standing still.
Nothing, nothing for the senses,
Save for the gentle sway of color-filled branches.

All of creation, in transformation,
Gentle breezes on dancing branches,
Giving proof to the presence,
Of a Presence.

My heart is lulled to slumber,
This peaceful silence, oblivious to surroundings,
Demanding a hearing...
A silent heart hears,,, Only a silent heart can hear.

A harmony of movements -
Tree-top branches gently swaying.
Weathered branches softly bending,
No ripple seen on silky waters.

But the heart perceives something-
Or Someone .. in the silence.

"O send me the Spirit!
I will be lifted up with His power!"
 How can you say, "Send me the Spirit?"
When He is there abiding even in His silence?

Enter... Enter
Enter... Within!
He is there... waiting!

Faith will grasp Him,
Love will capture Him.

Sister Helena of Mary, O.Carm.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saint Therese: Love Endures All things

I love this photo of Saint Therese after her death , September 30, 1897. The first time I saw this before I entered Carmel, I was so struck by the peace that was reflected on her face that one would not know how much suffering she endured in the many months she was afflicted with TB.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Our Lady of the Snows

 Feast Day:  August 5

August 5th is a Marian feast celebrated in our Catholic calendar as the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. This basilica is the largest in the world dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. Pope Liberius erected this church in honor of Mary and shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431, Pope Sixtus III commissioned a rebuilding of the Church as an affirmation of the title given to Mary as the "Theotokos" or "God-Bearer." A theological debate about this title was instigated by Bishop Nestorius when he concluded that since Mary bore the God-Man Jesus, she could only be called Mother of Jesus, and not Mother of God, since God existed before Mary. St. Cyril of Alexandria, along with the other bishops, decried this as a heresy. According to their argument, Christ's nature was indivisible. He was both God and Man and therefore Mary is also the Mother of God. St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals. St. John Lateran represents Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls representing the See of Alexandria, St. Peter's representing the See of Constantinople and St. Mary representing the See of Antioch, where Mary spent most of her earthly life.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Blessed Titus Brandsma- Martyr of Dachau

The Carmelite Order celebrates the memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm on July 27. Blessed Titus is not very well known. I even doubt if he is known at all outside the Order of Carmel. But this man of faith, a priest and a martyr, was a man of our times. He was born in the Netherlands in 1881 and entered the Order as a young man. He was ordained a priest in 1905 and was highly educated. He assumed positions in the academic world as a professor of Philosophy and of history of mysticism. He was a professional journalist and in 1935 was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both, before and after the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands , he fought against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of the Catholic education and the Catholic Press. He was finally arrested and was sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps. He showed his strength of character and his heroic virtues by the good example he showed to his fellow prisoners. True to his Carmelite vocation, he embraced the Cross of Christ and contemplated His presence in the solitude of his prison cell. His dark night experience was expressed in a poem he wrote while in his cell, "Before A Picture of Jesus In My Cell." It shows the deep trust and abandonment of a true lover of Christ.

"A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses ny heart:
Sweet Jesus, I in Thee and thou
In me shall never part.

No grief shall fall my way but I
Shall see thy grief filled eyes:
the lonely way that thou once walked
Has made me sorrow-wise.

All trouble is a white-lit joy
That light my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.

If I have Thee alone,
the hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.

Stay with me Jesus, only stay;
I shall not fear,
If reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near."

In 1942, after much suffering and enduring much humiliations, he was given a lethal injection and died in Dachau. Pope John Paul II beatified him November 3, 1985.
Contemplating the lives of the Saints is not just for the reason of admiring them. Their examples serve as beacons of light when darkness sets in. We are still in the Age of Martyrs. Everyday our faith and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus are tested. Just like Blessed Titus, we are called to make a stand for the truths of the Gospel and the truths of the Church, the Bride of Christ, according to our individual vocations and in particular circumstances we find ourselves in.