Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Memoriam

In memory of my dear Aunt Nanny,(Helen Lenox Springer), who died on 1 January, 2004, and to my beloved maternal grandparents, John Mason and Edith Helen (Sheely) Hopkins, who died forty years ago, I offer this hymn in honor of them.




"Be Still, My Soul" was sung at my grandparents' funeral in August of 1969. It expresses their faith in the Lord, and my own faith, given to me by God, through them.
May Aunt Nanny, Grandpa and Grandma Hopkins rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, December 29



Today we commemorate St. Thomas Becket, also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury, martyred for his stand against civil powers usurping those of the Church. He is a relevant saint for our own day, when secular powers are undermining and taking away civil liberties, especially those pertaining to the Church and the exercise of religious freedom.

St. Thomas, pray for us, that we may remain faithful to God and His holy Church no matter what the cost!



Image from: http://fullhomelydivinity.org/images/Becket%20icon.jpg

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cor Jesu Oratory, Christmas 2009


Here are some photographs of Cor Jesu Oratory this Christmas:








May the Infant King, His most Holy Mother, and good Saint Joseph, bless you in every way.
A blessed Christmas to you all!

Saint John, Beloved of the Lord, pray for us!



Today, the 27th of December, is the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist. His feast is suppressed in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, because it is the Sunday of the Holy Family. He is commemorated in the Extraordinary Rite in a low Mass, and optionally in a High Mass (sung).

Saint John is a very important saint. His Gospel begins with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..." The mystical and sacramental meaning of the Incarnation are very important in Saint John's Gospel. In the Extraordinary Form, this first section of his Gospel is read after each Mass. It is a meditation upon the reality that God-is-with-us.

In honor of Saint John I offer this, the opening antiphon (introit) of the Mass in honor of Saint John in the Extraordinary Form:



Saint John, the Beloved, pray for us, pray for priests, that we all may love the Lord and Spouse of the Church with the fervent love you lived so well!

Image:http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.aiwaz.net/uploads/gallery/st-john-the-evangelist-4154-mid.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.aiwaz.net/panopticon/st-john-the-evangelist/gi4154c240&usg=__-uA2iXQXfCYS3xSIr7_rk-qXxk0=&h=717&w=520&sz=148&hl=en&start=14&tbnid=YWk6OuQqYFbeLM:&tbnh=140&tbnw=102&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dst.%2Bjohn%2Bthe%2Bevangelist%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DG

Friday, December 25, 2009

Puer nobis natus est



A child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and he shall be called the Angel of great counsel. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he hath worked wonders.
Introit for the Third Mass of Christmas Day



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Magnum Mysterium


The Adoration of the Kings and Christ on the Cross, attributed to Benedetto Bonfigli (about 1465-75).


Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
There has been a lot of preparation for all kinds of activities and the next few days will be busy for most. Some, however, have no one in this world to share the Christmas celebration. These, especially, are most beloved by God; they share in the loneliness and solitude that our Lady and St. Joseph must have felt the night Jesus was born. "No room at the inn", the Gospel writers tell us. No room for the Son of God, His most Holy Mother and His valiant and obedient Guardian. No room.

And so, the God of Gods, the Lord of Lords, the Son of the Eternal Father is born where animals were kept. The simple animals of the stable witness the miraculous birth. They even, in some traditions, keep the Baby Jesus warm. They represent all of creation; the very creation this Child, as Second Person of the Trinity, created.
Only they are privileged, with the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, to be present at this most wondrous event.

The angels, shepherds and in this image, the Magi, will come to adore the new-born King. But in the silence of the night, the Word came to us. Silently. In solitude.
The solitude and poverty of the Crib will repeat itself at the Cross. Mary, Mother of God, is there also, with a few faithful women, and St. John, the Beloved Disciple (perhaps like St. Joseph?). Jesus wears a simple covering for modesty; like the swaddling cloths. The wood of the Cross replaces the wood of the manger. Instead of angels and shepherds, the cursing, accusing and taunting voices of the soldiers, the thieves and some of those who wanted His death surround Him not with "Gloria in excelsis Deo" but words of hatred and violence.

The Cross and the Crib are two sides of the same mystery: the great and boundless Love of God that shows itself in suffering, poverty, and contempt. "O Magnum Mysterium" is an ancient term for the Christmas mystery, but it is also a description of the Paschal Mystery. It is good to keep them together; otherwise, we are either mindless of the sufferings of the Lord and of others, or we are dragged down into despair by human suffering and anguish.
The words of this beautiful song are:

O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in præsepio.


Beata virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Christum, Alleluia!


Translation:

O great mystery
and wondrous sacrament,
that animals should see the newborn Lord
lying in their manger.

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy
to bear the Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!




Our prayers and remembrances to you all; whether you are immersed in family activities, visiting friends and relatives, or are alone these days. God loves you so much He comes as an innocent Child, so vulnerable that He would frighten no one or make them feel anything but devotion (as one does before a new born child). And shown at first, to the animals. Never feel that you are ever alone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Magnificat!



Magnificat anima mea Dominum!
My soul magnifies the Lord,
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has looked on his servant in her lowliness,
From this day all generations shall call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And Holy is His Name.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ave Maria



In these days preceding Christmas, take some time to reflect, meditate and rejoice in the "new song" that our Lord Jesus Christ has brought to us in His Birth. His Holy Mother loves us all as her children. She is the instrument by which God's Face was revealed to this world grown so cold, dark and hellish. She is the Mother at the crib as well as the Mother beneath the Cross. She shares our joys and sufferings.

Take time to pray a Rosary, reflect before her image, do some kind deed to someone in need in Her honor.

And for your Advent reflection, I offer this video in Her honor:



or this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAULcisUEGw&feature=related

Fourth Sunday of Advent



The Gospel today in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is from St. Luke, chapter 3, verses 1-6. It sets the tone for these last days before the feast of our Lord's Nativity on December 25th. The call to conversion, to penance, to openness to God and His marvelous works is sounded by Saint John the Baptist. Saint Luke records the exact historical moment of the Baptist's call to prepare the way for the Messiah, the "anointed One". And he shows how this call is recorded in the Prophet Isaiah with these words:

The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight;...What is crooked must be made straight. and rough ways smooth. Then all mankind shall see God's salvation.

This call is extended to us, today, after all these years of the preaching of the Gospel. The Word of the Lord is timeless, it "breaks into" our history in the Sacred Liturgy where Christ is present, truly present, as He was on the days He walked this earth.

Saint John the Baptist is a relevant saint for these times (as he has been throughout the ages), but especially so for our own day. The darkness of sin and evil, the breakdown of family life, the lack of reverence for human life in all its awful manifestations, the lukewarmness of so many, and the hostility to the Truth, Jesus Christ our Lord, in His Church, manifest for us who believe, the urgency of the call to repentance, fidelity and witness in the midst of this present age.

God is faithful. He sent us His Son to die for us, to give Himself to us in the Most Holy Eucharist and in His Holy Church. God gave us a Mother, Mary Most Pure. He also has given us the witness of countless saints who through their lives of heroic virtue and intercession for us gives us the strength and inspiration to live for Him.

In the Mass of today, the Opening Antiphon (Introit) calls down the "dew" of God: His Holy Spirit, upon this parched and tired earth.

Skies send down dew, and let the clouds rain the Just One; let the earth open and flower forth a Saviour. The heavens tell God's glory and the sky proclaims the works of His hands.



May the Lord, His Blessed Mother, Saints Joseph and John the Baptist help you to prepare for the great feast of Jesus' Birth. Know that you all are in our small monastic community's prayers each day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Today is the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, the Star of the New Evangelization.
We had our formation day with our laity and celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Mass.
May our Lady, the Queen of the Americas, and the Rosa Mystica, pray for our nation, for all the world, that the culture of death may be defeated, during this most dark of hours.
Ave Maria!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Blessed Feast of our Lady's Immaculate Conception!


Pope Benedict dedicated his pre-Angelus address to an explanation of why Mary is "Immaculate" and what that title might say to us.

He quoted from the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Luke in providing the illustration for the visitors and pilgrims at St. Peter's.

Referring to the passage from Genesis first, he recounted the words of God in Gen. 3:15 about how, after original sin, God made a promise to Satan, then in serpent form, that "the offspring" of woman would strike at his head.

And, the pope continued, "the day would come when 'a son of woman' would do this very thing.”

"So, through the offspring of the woman, God himself wins," concluded Benedict XVI.

He "has defeated once and for all the age old tempter."

For this reason, he explained, so often you see the renderings of the "Immaculate One" with the serpent underfoot.

Turning to today's Gospel, the Holy Father noted, "The evangelist, Luke, on the other hand, shows us the Virgin Mary that receives the announcement of the celestial Messenger. She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, true Zion in which God wishes to make his dwelling. She is the young descendant from which shall be born the Messiah, the just and merciful King." It was through her that God decided to rebuild his people, said the Pope.

"Differing from Adam and Eve, Mary remained obedient to the will of the Lord, with all of her being she pronounces her 'yes' and she puts herself fully at the disposal of the divine design."

"She's the new Eve, true 'mother of all the living,' of all that through their faith in Christ receive eternal life."

"What immense joy to have as a mother Immaculate Mary!" the Holy Father exclaimed to the crowd, explaining that they can ask her for help in times of need. "Each time that we experience our fragility and the suggestion of evil, we can turn to her, and our heart will receive light and comfort."

We must remember in the trying times, he continued, that "we are her children and the roots of our existence are deeply rooted in the infinite grace of God."

He then invited the faithful to entrust their lives, families and the entire world to the Immaculate Virgin, that we might find in her as the Church does a "star" to direct us to the course of Christ.

Pope Benedict plans to take his own advice and entrust himself to the Virgin Mary at the monument dedicated to her in Rome's Piazza di Spagna later this afternoon.

Image: Murillo's Immaculate Conception
Text:http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=99294

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day


We had a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with our superior, Fr. William Felix, our oblate, Fr. James Thomas Benzmiller, and Vi McMahan, our consecrated lay member with her daughter and son-in-law, Patty and Fred Nowak.
Here is a picture of our Thanksgiving table. Now, I'm not one for crazy pictures that show all kinds of "supernatural things"...but this is unusual, the lighting that is.
I should have turned down the light over the table, but think what you will!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where was the first Thanksgiving?

An interesting article filled with all kinds of religious and historical facts that are relatively unknown in our country.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09326/1014871-37.stm

Give Thanks to the Lord Always


The Gospel reading at today's Mass was of Jesus healing the ten lepers(Luke 17, 11-19). Their cry to Him, "Jesus, Lord, have mercy!" brought the Divine Compassion to them and they were restored to health.

But only one of them returned to give thanks.

Leprosy is a horrible disease. It is called "a living death" because the flesh of the one afflicted decomposes while the person still lives causing terrible disfigurement and alienation from the family and community.

Leprosy is a metaphor for sin; the disfigurement of a soul in mortal sin is even more horrible than the physical destruction of leprosy. Only Jesus, the Divine Healer, can restore the soul to life with His Precious Blood, and give the life-source of His grace to keep one from a living death.

We should reflect upon whether we are like the one leper who returned to Jesus to give Him thanks for all that He does for us, all that He provides, or if we neglect to thank Him, especially when he answers our prayers. Today, the day our nation observes Thanksgiving Day, it is especially important that we give thanks, even if we are suffering or in need. The gift of life and love that God so generously gives to us is the reason we give thanks. To be grateful even when things are difficult is a sign of the health of the soul. May we be given this grace and persevere in the darkness descending around us on all fronts.

May the Lord bless our families, our communities, our nation; may the men and women in the armed services who are so valiantly doing their mission in very difficult and dangerous situations receive every grace and blessing. May we know the grateful attitude of the one leper who returned to give thanks.
(Icon source:http://www.atheavensgate.com/The%20Miracles%20of%20Christ/10-The%20Healing%20Of%20The%20Ten%20Lepers.html)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Display of our Icons and Sacred Art


This is a display that was recently at St. Therese Parish, Rothschild, WI. of the reproductions of our iconography and Christmas ornaments.

If you are interested in our reproductions, original icons, or Christmas ornaments you can log onto our iconography website: http://www.nazarethstudio.com.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beauty Brings Joy to the Human Heart

Today our Holy Father met with artists in the Sistine Chapel.
Here is recap of his talk.
We, as iconographers, look to the wisdom and guidance of the Church, especially from our Holy Father, in our apostolate of sharing the fruit of our contemplation in Christian sacred art.



Friday, November 20, 2009

A Cute Pause from the Darkness and Depression of this Day

We sing Gregorian chant every day in honor of the Lord and His Church.
But on our way home from a presentation on icons and our religious life we were singing parts from this very entertaining video...Enjoy! And hallelujah! Jesus is Lord and King of All!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Recent Visitor



Friday morning as we were about to set out for the Sung Requiem Mass for a friend of our community, we saw this critter sitting on our porch.




He was nonplussed at the presence of humans, sat on our porch in a chair looking very comfortable and ready for a meal.

Br. Joseph said he tried to crawl up the sceen of the window on our porch, looking like he owned the place.

We went to the funeral.

When we arrived home several hours later we thought he was gone.

No such luck.

He was rolling around in the yard on his back, having a good old time.

This racoon looked like he was well fed and was maybe a pet of someone. But we were hesitant to approach him or to let our dogs out for fear he was rabid or maybe would be rather aggressive towards them (or they towards him).

He eventually left; we're not sure where he went or why he stopped by.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Archbishop-elect Jerome Listecki, formerly our bishop of La Crosse, WI, will become the Archbishop of Milwaukee, WI sometime in January 2010.
May the Lord bless him, give him every grace, and help him in his new assignment.
He has been a good shepherd of our diocese. He has blessed us with his support of our Public Association of the Faithful and asked us to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the Traditional Latin Mass) on Sundays in our new home, Cor Jesu Oratory.
Please pray that God will give us a holy and dedicated Bishop for our Diocese of La Crosse.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November, Month of the Holy Souls In Purgatory


During the month of November it is a tradition to pray each day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

This belief, held from the beginning of the Church, is sometimes forgotten or ridiculed by even Catholics, who should know better.

Our monastic community visits the cemetery each day from November 2nd to the 10th with prayers, psalms, and Scripture to pray for the Faithful Departed and to gain a plenary indulgence for the Holy Souls. It is our privilege to pray for all of the deceased in this way. But all the faithful should make a point to do the same, even if only for one or two days.

I am convinced that Purgatory is God's Mercy made manifest; how can we even think that most of us (including religious, even monastics!) can enter Heaven with all of our "baggage"...the resentments, the attachments to creatures and creaturely things, the lack of charity and our own sinful tendencies? God wants us to be completely FREE...completely HIS! And our lack of devotion and attentiveness to His Will is a constant obstacle to being free.

Purgatory is a great Mercy.

We should not forget our loved ones, our friends, our enemies, and the most forgotten...those who have no one to pray for them after death. It is a great act of charity to remember the souls of the faithful departed. Not just in November, but always.

Not to bring attention to myself, but I always try to remember those most forgotten at the Memento of the Dead at Holy Mass. Hopefully, when I die, they will be there to escort me to my place of purification, and ultimately, to the Kingdom of God.

Pray for the dead.

They will be eternally grateful. And you will make friends for everlasting life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mary Ann Bucheger, Requiescat in pace



Our eldest member of the Institute of Saint Joseph died last week. Her Mass of Christian Burial was on Saturday, October 31. We recommend to the charity of your prayers the soul of Mary Ann Bucheger.

Mary Ann was a consecrated Lay Member of the Institute of Saint Joseph, belonging to the Annunciation Fraternity. She was in effect, a consecrated widow. She was a wife and mother of 13 children. In her later years, after her husband's death, she joined our Public Association of the Faithful and lived as a consecrated member for many years.

She was a quiet, joyful, dedicated and happy soul. We feel the loss of her earthly presence but know that she, as a faithful servant, has seen the Lord Jesus and will know the joy of His Kingdom. But we still ask for your prayers. None of us knows if we are fully ready to enter into His Kingdom. And so it is a great act of charity to pray for all of the dead, no matter how we may think of their lives on earth. God Alone knows all. And so we pray, "Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and the all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen."

This is her obituary:

Mary Ann Bucheger, 87, of 10520 Cty Hwy S, Chippewa Falls, town of Anson, died Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls.

She was born December 2, 1921 in Butternut, WI the daughter of Joseph and Anna (Pichler) Wagner.

Mary Ann married Raymond Bucheger on January 3, 1946 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Butternut.

She was a very devoted member of Sacred Heart Church in Jim Falls where she was an active member of the choir, St. Marie Circle and St. Joseph’s Institute. She enjoyed gardening, making jams and jellies, and hearing about the activities of her family, to which she was very dedicated. We will miss you Mom.

She is survived by: four sons, Francis R. (Vicky), Charles J. (Pauline), Patrick F. (Donna) all of Chippewa Falls and Terence A. (Cheryl) of Pewaukee; seven daughters, Jane (Glenn) Jurek of Glenview, IL, Anne (Ed) Schultz of Andover, MN, Barbara Hedrington of Chippewa Falls, Lorraine M. (John) DeGrood of Lakeville, MN, Catherine T. (Kevin) Aubart of Chippewa Falls, Rose Mary (Joe) Cibulka of Hudson and Stacey Bucheger of Chippewa Falls; 21 grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren; and four brothers, Frank (Betty), John, Edward (Sheila) and Louis (Kathy) Wagner all of the Park Falls area.

Mary Ann was preceded in death by: her husband, Raymond on January 9, 1993; two sons, James P. and Vincent J. Bucheger; her parents; two sisters, Theresa and Rosalia; and three brothers, Leonard, William and Joseph Wagner.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 31, 2009 at Sacred Heart Church, Jim Falls. Rev. Brian J. Jazdzewski will be celebrant of the funeral Mass. Interment will be in Hope Cemetery, Chippewa Falls.

Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, October 30 at the Horan Funeral Home, Chippewa Falls and from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. There will be a Christian Vigil Service at 7 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

Family prefers memorials to the St. Joseph’s Institute.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Benefactors Beware!

by
Fr. William Paul Felix


I opened up the local Sunday newspaper to discover an interesting article in the religion section. The title of the article read – Heavenly harmony: happy sounds are coming from a long-vacant church near…through efforts by a large group to turn the majestic structure into a recording studio. The picture accompanying the article was that of a barren sanctuary resembling an ancient Roman basilica of the fourth century. It was, in fact, a picture of a 102 year-old parish church built by polish immigrants in 1891. The church sat 1,200 people – a virtual polish cathedral. It is reported to have been the largest rural church built in the country. It closed in 1970 merging members with a nearby Catholic congregation. The entire interior of the church was auctioned, including all of the magnificent imported stain glass windows.

Renovations plans call for all of the intricate artwork to be replicated as accurately as possible, on the pillars, walls, and ceiling of the church. But wait! Don’t get your wallet out yet – not until you understand just exactly what the project is about. You see, this church has drawn the attention of a renowned music studio designer from Chicago and, as the article says, “has galvanized an effort to renovate the 102 year old building” into a recording studio. That’s right – a recording studio! Plans call for the maple-floored sanctuary to be renovated into a large recording studio, with four smaller recording areas under the massive balcony, retaining the majestic 45-foot high ceiling in the nave.

The project was discovered when late one night a rock band was practicing inside the former Catholic church. Neighbors came to check out what was going on. The band told the neighbors they had approval to be there and were practicing. They didn’t believe it. As irony would have it, the local community embraced the project. The article reported that scores of people have volunteered time, money, and materials in an effort to renovate the church – or should I say sound studio. A local heating and cooling contractor donated more than $50,000 worth of furnaces, ductwork and installation.

If you sense something missing from this story you are correct. How did the local Catholic congregation fair in all of this? Did they receive a substantial contribution for their mission and ministry? It was quite the opposite. The Catholic parish actually agreed to a 50-year lease for $1.00 a year! I guess they have the satisfaction knowing that unlike the saints and martyrs of the early church who turned the pagan Pantheon into a Christian basilica, they have the honor of turning a “basilica” into a pagan shrine.

Pardon my intended exaggeration but there is truth in what I say. It simply goes to show how much more easily it is to find benefactors and supporters for such things as a recording studio or a sports stadium, than it is for that which is meant to give exclusive honor and glory to God. I have some experience in this. For twenty years I have been working as a co-founder of a religious community to find a place for a small group of monastics to live, pray, and develop their apostolate of sacred art, in addition to using the place for the spiritual formation of lay and priest members. Only recently did we find a pastor and a congregation generous enough to bequeath us with a small rural parish facility closed in the 1990’s. We still cannot live on the property because of the necessary repairs that have to be done. Progress is being made, slowly but surely. I know how difficult it is to find benefactors willing to support that which is solely for the glory and honor of God.

There is further irony to this story. Before my community was given the property we are now developing, we looked at another closed parish not far from the very church being made into a recording studio. This property was far more plain and simple, and happened to be under the same pastoral care as the other. Were we offered the property on a 50-year lease and for $1.00 per year? No, our offer was $200,000 plus all repairs – what a deal! It only goes to show that God does have a sense of humor. (I guess I should have asked to use the property for a sound studio?)

To faithful Catholic benefactors, here is the moral of my story. There are all kinds of non-profit projects and causes that find sympathy in the hearts of people today. (I recently received the report of a community foundation in which a flag in front of a historic building has its own trust fund!) What is hard to find are benefactors who have a preferential love for that which is done solely for the glory and honor of God. Thank you and we need you!

Fr. William Paul Felix is co-founder of the Institute of St. Joseph, a public association of the faithful in the Diocese of LaCrosse, WI. He can be contacted through the Institute of St. Joseph at www.isjoseph.com.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Novena in Honor of Saint Joseph


Each Wednesday our monastic community has Mass in honor of Saint Joseph, when this is possible, according to the liturgical calendar, but the intention is always the enrollment of the Saint Joseph Novena, which we pray after Mass.

You can enroll the living and deceased in our Wednesday Masses for one year. We have an Enrollment Card that can be sent to the one you have enrolled. This is a very good gift for weddings, birthdays, the death of a loved one, and just anyone you would like to enroll, especially if they are sick or are in need of prayers.

You can log onto our website, http://isjoseph.com (also at the side bar) and enroll anyone you would like.

Saint Joseph is a wonderful patron. He is "master of the interior life" and a great patron of families, the sick and dying, and those who are in need of employment.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque, Saint of the Sacred Heart



Today we commemorate a great Saint of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque. She is a witness to the profound love that Jesus has for every one of us. Her life is a testimony of suffering, courage, fortitude and sincerity. Read her life and see for yourself how much she suffered in order to make the message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved.

Saint Margaret Mary is a favorite saint of mine. She did not have an easy life. And yet, she is the one who made possible, through her fidelity and constancy, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and the universal practice of the First Friday Devotion, which involves reception of Holy Communion, and prayer before the Eucharistic Lord in reparation for the indifference, contempt, and sacrilege that so many Catholics commit.

My homily to the school children today centered on the fact that Jesus, as Man, desires friendship with each of us. He is truly God. But in His Sacred Humanity, he desires our friendship, just as we desire to have friendship. He was like us in everything except sin. And so the desire of His, that we be His friends, is not something alien to our understanding.

The First Friday Devotion really is centered in making "reparation" to Jesus' Sacred Heart, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, which is the most vulnerable sign of His Love for us. He puts Himself into the care and the hands of the Priest; He is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity beneath the sacred species of bread and wine, which with our eyes we see, but with faith we know that they are Him. He asks us to show our friendship by honoring this most humble "immolation" of Himself by receiving Him in the state of grace and spending time in loving, adoring, thanking and interceding for His children.

Saint Margaret Mary is a sign to us of the immense love that Jesus has for each and every one of us. Let us repay that love by being willing to spend time with Him in His Sacrament of Love and being willing to repent for our sins. Let us make time to "repair" for the ways we have abandoned, betrayed, or even rejected Him, taking the sins of the world into our prayer, making an act of friendship with Him, Who has loved us so much.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us!


Today at Morning Prayer we sang this hymn in honor of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila):

Teresa, yet a child in years,
You left your home with heart afire,
To spread abroad the faith in Christ,
A martyr, ready in desire.

A death more gentle will be yours,
With pain far sweeter, yet more keen,
For wound divine will pierce your soul
With its consuming flame serene.

O victim of undying love,
Make our poor hearts in fervor grow;
Protect all those who trust in you,
And save us from eternal woe.

O Jesus, Spouse of virgins pure,
Their happy ranks your praises sing
For ever, with that melody
Known but to virgins and their King. Amen.



(From the Mundelein Psalter; Chicago/Mundelein, Illinois; 2007)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amore Infinito: A tribute to Pope John Paul II

When I was in the seminary, one of our professors told us that the way the Faith was transmitted throughout history was not only in the preaching and correct teaching of priests and bishops, but also in bringing the teachings of the Faith to the "common person"; in other words, through song and ritual. He then said that in this time, the teaching of Pope John Paul II should be put into song, into a popular venue, in order that the core of his teaching about life, love, God, the dignity of the human person, etc. could be made "incarnate" in the lives of "everyman".

This, I believe, has been done in the new release of "Amore Infinito", a collection of the Pope's poetry set to beautiful music and performed by the great Placido Domingo, along with Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Vanessa Williams and Katherine Jenkins. Raymond Arroyo interviewed Placido on "The World Over" last Friday night. He spoke of the inspiration and depth of the Pope's poetry which is now put to music. And it is truly beautiful.

Today, the superior of our Institute of Saint Joseph, Fr. William Felix, gave us a copy of the CD and we listened to it while doing a mailing. Spectacular! There are songs in English and in Italian. And even if you cannot understand Italian, the beauty of the language, in and of itself, will move you. I love Italian. It is so expressive of the human soul. You can read the words in translation but just listening to the music and the words is breathtaking.

Now I am not advocating this for use at Mass. Oh, no. We use Gregorian chant exclusively in our monastic liturgies and some hymns with chant in the English Mass.
But for reflective listening, this is just perfect.

I recommend this CD highly.

It is making the truths of the Faith present in the words of the Servant of God, Pope John II, in a way that will be very positive for everyone, especially those who are searching.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Miracle of the Sun, October 13, 1917

Lucia, 1917
Today is the anniversary of the "Miracle of the Sun" at Fatima, Portugal. It was prophesied ahead of time and there were thousands who witnessed it, including secular and anti-Catholic journalists. There is no question that this happened.

And yet, it still is not something known to the average Catholic, or even an historical event that is recounted in secular situations.

The Call of Fatima, reiterated by all the Popes of the last 92 years (since the apparitions in 1917), is to prayer, penance, and conversion of life. This is the Gospel Message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet, it took a miracle of the sun "dancing" to get peoples' attention. This is only to highlight the words of Our Lady to a call to prayer, penance, love of the Lord, obedience to the Church, prayer for the Holy Father, and especially the Eucharistic message of Fatima, which preceded the appearances of our Lady by the Angel of Portugal who taught the children how to adore our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

We have a great hope; even if things look dark and evil seems to proliferate.
We have the love of a Mother who is so compassionate, so concerned for our welfare, that God allows Her to visit us at the beginning of a century of hell: martyrdom throughout the Twentieth Century surpasses any other time in the history of the Church. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us, that we may be faithful to Jesus and His Church in these times of trial and distress!

Winter Scenes in October




This was the sight behind our house this morning...the snow is still here. For now.
Like I said before, this is Wisconsin. We could have a heat wave tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sister Petra, Master Artist

Sr. Petra, our Oblate Sister, is not only an accomplished iconographer, but also is a very talented sacred artist with statues. Her studio is our garage, which is unfortunately a place of storage for many other things and is, at this time, not a good place for working, since the temperatures are quite cold and the snow has fallen as of this day (October 12).

Her recent work as been with statues for a local church and a former convent which is now a historical society residence. Here are some photos of her work, which she was also assisted by two lay members of our association, who are also artists.




May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, present in the most Blessed Sacrament, be loved, praised and adored, in every tabernacle throughout the world, even to the end of time. Amen. Alleluia!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....in October!



After our Community Meeting, Noon Prayer, and Dinner, we went outside and saw this most beautiful scene behind the convent. Christmas in October, so to speak.
I don't remember the snow staying like this so early in the Fall.

Then we saw this sight:


We affectionately called her, "Our Lady of the Snow Beret and Muffler".

It'll probably be 80 degrees on Wednesday. This is Wisconsin, ya know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Important Message

The protection of children is absolutely a part of our duty as citizens and parents.
There is something that you need to be aware of. I am not competent to speak of it in any detail, so I am asking you to log onto http://www.americanpapist.com/blog.html
(Video: Protecting Traditional Marriage and Preserving Childhood Innocence)
to read it for yourselves. This is important. We need to be aware of the insidious and pernicious activity of those at the highest level. May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph help and protect us!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Memorial of Saint Bruno, October 6


Tomorrow we commemorate the founder of the Carthusian Order, Saint Bruno.
The life of the Carthusians has been documented in the film "Into Great Silence", which many have become familiar with this most unique form of religious life. I was able, along with Br. Joseph, to see this magnificent work when it was first released in a theatre in CT. The Carthusians are probably the strictest Order in the Latin Church; they practice a complete separation from the world and live their days in the "silence of solitude" gathering for the Divine Office in the middle of the night (when the rest of the world is either sleeping, awake because of illness or trials, or just sinning!) and in the evening for Vespers.
And yet, these monks are the most human in their simplicity, fidelity, and awareness of the human condition.
They remind all of us that "God Alone" is the goal to which all Christians are called.
Their understanding of their life of sacrifice and consecration is "to make Saints, not canonize them."
Very well put.
The American foundation of Carthusians has a website which can be found at the links sidebar (Carthusians in America).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!


Today we have the privilege of offering the Mass of Our Lady of Rosary, as an External Solemnity in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The Lady of the Rosary is a very important historical and religious figure: throughout history, the praying of the Holy Rosary has brought about conversions, reversals of historical situations (such as Lepanto where the Muslims were attempting to invade Christendom and even today in the Philippines where a massive Rosary rally with millions in the streets reversed a violent situation).

After Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, we prayed the Litany of Loreto (in Latin), prayed to our Lady of the Rosary, blessed roses that were distributed to the faithful, and ended with the "Salve Regina".

Here are excerpts from today's homily.

Today we celebrate the External Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is kept on October 7th. October is traditionally the "Month of the Rosary", where special devotions such as we will have today after Mass are prayed in the family, by individuals, prayer groups, and parishes. Although May is "Mary's Month", October is a particular time to renew our devotion to the Holy Rosary, even if we pray it daily throughout the year.

The prayers that compose the Rosary come from Sacred Scripture: the 'Our Father', the 'Hail Mary', and the 'Glory be' (which although not explicitly from Sacred Scripture, is implicitly derived from it). The 'Apostles' Creed' is the ancient formula of our Faith; the Fatima Prayer, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins..." is in its essence, a prayer that synthesizes the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ to save sinners and to share this mission with us in our prayers and penances.

The mysteries of the Rosary take us from the Annunciation to the Coronation of Our Lady, making the events our our Lord's life the subject of our meditation as we pray the vocal prayers; Pope John Paul II called this "the School of Mary"--by holding the beads in our hands, praying the words of the prayers with our lips, and with mind and heart 'contemplating' upon the mysteries of our salvation, we are formed interior in the image of the Son by the care of the Mother.

This particular day was instituted by Pope Saint Pius V to thank God for the victory of the Christian forces who prevented a Muslim invasion at Lepanto--a victory attributed to the people praying the Rosary. Other historic events since that time have been effected by the praying of the Rosary by the multitudes...

Padre Pio often called the Rosary "his weapon". He prayed countless Rosaries throughout the day. He was rarely seen without a rosary in his hands.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta prayed many rosaries each day, especially as she walked through the slums, or travelled throughout the world. Her sisters continue to do this, praying countless rosaries as they travel and do the work of the Lord.

The Rosary is a weapon in our spiritual battle. The prayers from our Lord, the 'Angelic Salutation'(the Hail Mary), the Church's Sacred Tradition are sacramentals and can bring grace to the one who prays in faith. The blessed rosary beads have the prayer of the Church and when used in faith and prayer can be the means of gaining a plenary indulgence. The Mysteries of our Salvation bring the soul into contact with the saving mercy of the Lord and teach the essence of our Catholic Faith.

We need the Rosary more now, than ever. Just in the last week, there was an 'International Day of Blasphemy' when people were encouraged to mock, deride, or curse God. The Holy Father has been viciously attacked in the media in Great Britain for his planned visit there. While many graces have been given and the witness of faith is tremendous, the pilgrimage throughout England of the relics of Saint Therese has been ridiculed and even condemned in the media there. And those are just three examples of the evil, unbelief, blasphemy, hatred of God, His Church, His Vicar.

Our Lady of Fatima, the Lady of the Rosary, asked the shepherd children to pray for the conversion of sinners, especially those who had no one to pray for them. This is a great act of charity and mercy: to pray the Rosary for "those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love" the Lord. We can call down God's blessing upon our homes, our families, our communities by the devout praying of the Rosary. Next to Holy Mass, the Sacraments, and the Divine Office, the Rosary is truly one of the most efficacious prayers and means of growth in holiness.

The Rosary, prayed devoutly and sincerely, leads us to a greater participation in the Holy Mass. True devotion to Our Lady, according to the teaching of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, always leads us to Her Son. May the graces of this day fill us with a renewed love for Mary's Rosary and a greater appreciation for this most sublime Sacrifice.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Today in the Extraordinary Form we celebrated the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. In the Ordinary Form, her feast was on October 1st. One of the advantages of celebrating both forms is that we are able to celebrate her feast twice!

I must give a public thanksgiving and attribution to Saint Therese for my conversion to the Catholic Faith and for my vocation as a monastic and a priest.

From a very early age I was attracted to her. This may sound strange, but when I was first introduced to Catholicism at the age of ten, I found out about Saint Therese, read everything I could find about her, and over the years was influenced and formed by her "Little Way".

She has seemed to adopt me as her own child. Even in the years of difficulty and darkness, she has been with me.

Her "Story of a Soul" has been my spiritual "food and drink"; she has acted, in a sense, as my "Novice Mistress", teaching me to love God in every moment of every day, seeing that difficulties and obstacles are the means to union with God, that "external" religious practices must always be filled with the interior desire to love Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Her "dark night" that preceded her most excruciating death by tuberculosis, when even making an act of faith was a heroic effort, is a great consolation to me, and is a sign of her relevance in this world where so much unbelief, blasphemy, hatred of God and His Church are rife.

She wanted to "eat at the table of sinners"; she was in complete solidarity with those who our society considers "lost": the prostitute, the apostate, the forgotten ones.

This, in my opinion, is the true greatness of the soul of Therese Martin, the "Little Flower", who as one author has put it, is "as strong as steel".

May Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face pray for us; may she bring us to the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of the Church, where we find the peace, joy, and charity that so inflamed her heart!

Friday, October 2, 2009

SS. Angelorum Custodum, The Holy Guardian Angels


I love the feast of the Guardian Angels. What a tremendous gift they are to us. They are there every moment of every day, protecting and guarding, inspiring and guiding us.

There are many stories of how the Guardian Angels have protected, guarded, and inspired many saints and people even today.

Just recently, I was driving home from doing some errands. It was rainy and overcast. I was in a hurry to get home. All of a sudden, from the left lane (I was in the right) a wagon behind a truck hauling it came loose, and a bunch of loose wood and other things came flying at me. Thanks be to God, they missed me. But if they had hit me, they would have hit the windshield, and who knows what would have happened!!

All I said, (I am ashamed to say), is, "Oh, God!" I wasn't afraid but just shocked by the debris flying around me.

I attribute my safety to my Guardian Angel. I could have been hurt or killed by this random incident. Evidently, God still wants me around!

In the Office of Readings for today (part of the Divine Office we pray as religious and priests) Saint Bernard has some very important things to say about our Angel Guardians:
"...the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need."

Pray to your Guardian Angel. Ask for his intercession and assistance. And never let yourself feel alone. You are never alone. His angel is there to guard and protect you!

Color change

I have considered several requests to change the background color (which, by the way, is not meant to be pink but purple in honor of Saint Joseph's color, but anyway)
I hope this is easier to read.
I appreciate the input.
It means people are reading the blog!
Yipee!!
I have some planned blogs for later today and tomorrow.
I haven't died or gone AWOL.
I'm still here.
Gosh, that's a lot of "I's",,,I'm supposed to be dying to myself in this vocation...oh well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Just Learning How to Do This

I just found comments from several weeks past that needed to be published.
Dumb me; I'm just learning how to do this "blog-thing."
Thank you for your comments and your interest in our community. Be assured of our prayers and our gratitude.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Christmas CD

We are happy to announce a Christmas CD that is a fund raiser for the Institute of Saint Joseph, in particular, for our renovation of the former Sacred Heart School, now the Cor Jesu Priory.
This CD has Christmas music by our own Oblate Priest, Fr. James Thomas Benzmiller, playing traditional Christmas music on the organ of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in La Crosse, WI, with the narration of the Christmas story by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.
You can log onto our site for more information.
Help us to make our June 2010 dedication a possibility!
Thank you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saint Padre Pio, pray for us!


Today is the Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcino, or more popularly known, as Padre Pio. He is a contemporary Saint, dying in 1968. He lived a life of heroic virtue while having the wounds of Jesus for fifty years.

Padre Pio is a very important person of the Twentieth Century. He lived a life of untiring service as a Capuchin friar, priest and "victim soul" during the most tumultuous years of the 1900's--witnessing first-hand the First and Second World Wars, the encroachment of modernity, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and the years of increasing immorality and the denial of the rights of God.

Most especially, Padre Pio was a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God by the miraculous events that surrounded his life: visions, bilocation, mystical reading of souls, healings, and ultimately the impression of the Five Wounds of Jesus: the stigmata, as well as the scourging. And yet, these extraordinary manifestations of his being in solidarity with the Crucified Lord were not the reasons for his canonization.

It was his heroic virtue: the living of the supernatural life of Christ in his life that makes him a saint. The "signs" of God's blessing and workings in his life were for the faithful. The true reason he is a saint is because he loved the Lord Jesus with a faithful and enduring love.

He loved our Lady, especially in her Holy Rosary, where the basics of our belief as Catholics is repeated over and over..."Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." In the mysteries of the Rosary, which he prayed unceasingly, he united himself with the saving mission of the Lord and His Mother.

The Sacrifice of the Mass was the very reason he got up in the morning and the reason he made thanksgiving throughout the rest of the day. It is reported that he arose at 2 AM to prepare to celebrate the Holy Mass each day and could not stop thanking the Lord throughout the day for this sublime privelege.

He is the "martyr" of the confessional, spending countless hours hearing confessions and giving absolution. Any priest who has spent only an hour or two in the confessional knows how taxing and sacrificial this ministry can be. And yet, Padre Pio tirelessly spent time in hearing the confessions of the faithful to bring healing, salvation, and comfort to his penitents.

Padre Pio, saint of the Holy Mother, the Holy Sacrifice, and the confessional, pray for priests during this Year of Priests, that they may follow your sublime example.
Pray for the faithful, that that may grow in love with Mary, the Holy Eucharist, and learn to confess often in the Sacrament of Penance in order to grow in the love of Jesus and to experience the Divine Mercy He wishes to impart! Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Retreat

I haven't posted since Monday because our community is on retreat this week.
We're reading the Rule of Saint Benedict and meeting before Evening Prayer to discuss it. So, you could say that Saint Benedict is a kind of "retreat master".

What is interesting, for me, is that we have different editions of the Rule with different commentaries, and so there is an opportunity to see things from different points of reference (some old, one new). There are only three of us, so it doesn't get too confusing!

I had a seminar class with a Benedictine Abbot on the Rule of Saint Benedict in the 1980's when I was a graduate student, so it is a real treat to return to the beautiful teachings and the venerable texts of the monastic life in the Christian West and have time to reflect upon them in greater depth.

We ask for your prayers, assuring you of our remembrances.

I'll be back in the next few days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy name day, Sr. Petra Rose of Sorrows!


Tomorrow, September 15th, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, is Sister Petra Rose of Sorrows' name day. She is an Oblate Sister of the Nazareth Community and has been a consecrated monastic sister since 1992.

She is a very important person in our community. Her talent for iconography, sacred music, and being the "straw boss" (as I affectionately call her) for our renovations at Cor Jesu Priory is incredible.

Thank you, Sister Petra, for your loving devotion to our Lord, to His Church, to living the consecrated monastic life in our Nazareth Community.

And I cannot leave out a very important part of Sister's life: HER "cloister dog", Chipette, known as "Chip" who although being very annoying by barking at the washing machine, the microwave and the vacuum cleaner, as well as the printer on the computer, is Sister's companion and guardian.

Our Lady of the Passion, pray for us!


Tomorrow is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is known in the Eastern Church as "Our Lady of the Passion," who is clothed in red, symbolizing our Lord's Passion, instead of the blue mantle of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

But in both the instruments of our Lord's Passion are held by the two Archangels in the corner of the icon.

The Child Jesus is looking up to them; his sandal is falling from his feet. The Mother holds Him closely to herself.

And yet she is looking out at us. As if to say, "This is what the 'sword of sorrows' means." She lived the Sorrows long before Jesus was arrested, tortured, and crucified. The First Sorrows are: The Prophecy of Simeon; The Flight into Egypt; the Losing of the Child in the Temple.

And the remaining Sorrows are at the time of the Lord's Passion and Death: His Way of the Cross, His Crucifixion, His Body taken from the Cross and His Burial.

Our Mother of Sorrows accompanies each one of us, her children, in our sorrows. We can be assured of her compassion and assistance. Her solidarity with us, especially at times of grief and loss, is a Mother's love.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross




Introit for today's Mass in the Extraordinary Form:
Surely we ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; in Him is our salvation, our life and resurrection; through Him we are saved and set free.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

St. Monica: More than a Mother





On Sunday, August 30, the Holy Father gave this talk as a part of the praying of the Angelus.

In [The Confessions of Saint Augustine] we learn that St Augustine drank in the name of Jesus with his mother's milk, and that his mother brought him up in the Christian religion whose principles remained impressed upon him even in his years of spiritual and moral dissipation.

Monica never ceased to pray for him...St. Augustine not only converted but decided to embrace the monastic life and, having returned to Africa, founded a community of monks.

...St. Monica had become for this son of hers, 'more than a mother, the source of his Christianity.'

...The history of Christianity is spangled with innumerable examples of holy parents and authentic Christian families who accompanied the life of generous priests and pastors of the Church...Let us think of Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, a husband a wife, very close to us, who lived at the end of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th and whose beatification by my Venerable Predecessor, John Paul II in October 2001 coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation 'Familiaris consortio.'

In addition to illustrating the value of marriage and the tasks of the family, this Document urged spouses to be especially committed to the path of sanctity which, drawing grace and strength from the Sacrament of Marriage, accompanies them throughout their life (cf. n. 56). When married couples devote themselves generously to the education of children, guiding them and orienting them to the discovery of God's plan of love, they are preparing that fertile spiritual ground from which vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life spring up and develop. This reveals how closely connected they are, marriage and virginity illumine each other on the basis of their common roots in spousal love of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the Year for Priests, let us pray 'through the intercession of the Holy Cure of Ars, [that] Christian families become churches in miniature in which all vocations and all charisms, given by the Holy Spirit, are welcomed and appreciated' [from the Prayer for the Year for Priests]. May the Blessed Virgin, whom we shall all now invoke together, obtain this grace for us.
(from L'Osservatore Romano, n. 35 (2009), 2 September 2009).

One of the central emphases of our Association is the need for holy families, in the imitation of the Holy Family of Nazareth, in order to promote and nurture holiness and the "preparing that fertile spiritual ground from which vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life spring up and develop" in order to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, the Bride of the Lamb.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pray for Priests


The last entry about the unfortunate "musings" of a certain priest, who by the way, has been causing dissent and confusion for many years, has given me an incentive to call all those who are reading this blog to make sacrifices and to pray for priests.

The priesthood is attacked daily, not by mere humans, but by the powers of hell.
"Strike the shepherd, and the flock will be scattered(Matt. 26,31)." As the Apostle Paul reminds us, our real struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities and powers.

The Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon against the forces of darkness. Pray the rosary for your priests.

These times require us to be vigilant and prepared. The best way to strengthen our spiritual lives and to beg for others, especially our priests, is to offer our Holy Communions, Holy Masses, and times of Adoration for these intentions.

We have not been abandoned or left without the necessary assistance. But we cannot depend upon our own stength, intellect, or will power. God's grace must come to our aid.

The opening words of the Divine Office,"O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me," are the prayers we must raise in faith, hope and love.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!


Our monastic community devotes at least four hours, sometimes more, each day to prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament. We begin our day with Exposition at 5:15 A.M., pray the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer and have about an hour of silent adoration before Holy Mass at 7 A.M. We pray Mid-Morning Prayer after Mass as a Thanksgiving, have Mid-Day Prayer at 11:45 A.M. before dinner and then have another 45 minutes of prayer, the Rosary, Litany of the BVM, and Evening Prayer at 5 P.M.

Prayer before our Lord Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament is a central part of our living "the life of Nazareth".

Today, the feast of the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, an article by a priest from Notre Dame University was posted that ridicules and even denigrates prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as "obsolete".
Father McBrien ends his article with this statement: "Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward."

To which, I, along with our community respond: "Rubbish".

This is an outrage.

If you read this and are also outraged, please log onto http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/perpetual-eucharistic-adoration
and let them know what you are thinking.

I end with this prayer:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You!
Pardon those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love you!

Saint Benedict: "A teacher of civilization"

Continuing our reflection upon the Pope's talk to the assembled Benedictines at Monte Cassino earlier this year, we take up the section that deals with Saint Benedict as one who directed his monks to Christ "as the one great ideal". This is important for all Christians, no matter what state in life, to rededicate themselves to the Son of God, the Incarnate Word made Flesh, the Prince of Peace.

[H]e [Benedict] was a teacher of civilization who, in suggesting a balanced and adequate vision of the divine requirements and ultimate destiny of the human being, always also kept clearly in mind the needs and reasons of the heart, to teach and inspire authentic brotherhood so that in the complex social relations people would not lose sight of a spiritual unity that would always be capable of building and fostering peace. It is not by chance that the word PAX is used to greet pilgrims and visitors at the entrance of this Abbey, rebuilt after the dreadful disaster of the Second World War; it rises like a silent warning to reject every form of violence in order to build peace: in families, in communities, among peoples and throughout humanity. Saint Benedict invites every person who climbs this hill to seek peace and follow Him..."(Ps 33:14-15) [Rule, Prologue, 17].

Saint Benedict offers families, communities, and society in general a path to peace. The monastery is to be a paradigm of love, service, fraternal relations and a sign of the world to come, in the words of Saint Bernard, "a paradise on earth". Lofty ideals, yet something that this age needs so desperately.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Do not be anxious"


From the homily at Cor Jesu Oratory, 6 September, 2009
14th Sunday after Pentecost, 1962 Missale Romano


Epistle: Gal 5,16-24
Gospel: Matt, 6, 24-33

"Do not be anxious."

How much do we need to hear these words spoken by our Lord in today's Gospel. No matter who we are or what our circumstances, the ever-present anxiety--existential anxiety, if you will--seems to be in the very air we breathe.

The daily news report, the cost of living, the uncertain future of health care, the concerns of financial stability, the divisions within families and communities, and especially the factions within the Church, arguing, accusing one another and acting as though the Church was a political party, rather than Holy Mother Church.

The labels, "liberal," "conservative," even "traditional", really have no place in the Church. One must be CATHOLIC--faithful, obedient, observant. Roman Catholic. The example of our Holy Father in his teaching of the "hermeneutic of continuity", that there is to be no "rupture" between the years before the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and after, that all is to be interpreted in the light of Sacred Tradition: this the authentically Catholic position. Now this is a great challenge and it will take a great many years to develop what this means in so many areas of Catholic life. But we have Pope Benedict's teaching and example to give is light and direction.

"Do not be anxious."

The root of much of our anxiety is the struggle that goes on within each of us to "serve two masters" (refer to the Gospel). We want to do what is right and good on the one hand; but we also want what we want. The effects of original sin are always a force to be reckoned with. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to "walk in the Spirit," to be "lead by the Spirit." What does this mean?

Saint Paul provides us with an examination of conscience. The works of the flesh--unredeemed humanity--will prevent us from entering the kingdom of God(immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, jealousies, angers, quarrels, factions, parties, envies, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and such like). All of these sins are self-centered and disordered. None of these brings about union with God. None of these shapes and forms one in "the image and likeness of God." Because they cause disorder and disfigurement in the soul, they are the root of anxiety: the attempt to follow two masters; wanting heaven and one's selfish choices at the same time. This cannot bring about inner peace. In fact, in serious and extreme cases, it can threaten to destroy the personality, as in certain cases of diabolical obsession or possession.

Instead, what will bring about greater peace is the fruit of virtue, the list Saint Paul gives that is the opposite of the works of the flesh...

In today's Gospel, Jesus is telling us that we cannot be divided in our primary loyalty. We have to make a decision: God or the world (by this I mean a naturalist, materialistic way of thinking and living). We cannot serve two masters...When we decide to live a supernatural life of faith, developing the virtues and experiencing the fruits of the Spirit, we act and think more like God. Our trust in His providential care is strengthened and deepened.

The more we know God and live in His Love, the more our trust in Him will grow. The foundation of our lives will be on firm footing. Jesus uses the examples of the birds of the air, the lilies and grass of the fields in our Gospel to demonstrate that if God cares so much for them, how much more will he care for us. This is why we must "seek first His Kingdom and His justice". We will never be abandoned by the Heavenly Father.

This is why we must heed his Word: "Do not be anxious."...

May we offer our gifts at the altar today and include all of our worries, concerns, anxieties and frustrations, as well as all of those we want to remember, and our very selves...that as our simple gifts of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, all our cares and intentions will be transformed by Him to become the means by which we increase in our union with Him, that all may be sanctified by His loving Presence.

We ask the intercession of Blessed Mary and Saint Joseph who lived believing in the Heavenly Father's care and protection.

The Charism of Saint Benedict

This Tuesday, September 8, the Feast of the Birth of Mary, will be the first anniversary of our monastic community taking on the black scapular as a sign of placing ourselves beneath the patronage and teaching of Saint Benedict. We are not Benedictines but have chosen the Rule of Saint Benedict as our guide and spirit in living our monastic consecration.

Pope Benedict XVI recently made a pilgrimage to Monte Cassino, the Benedictine Abbey that is the site of Saint Benedict's tomb. He met with representatives from the Benedictine Order, monks and nuns, from throughout the world. Over the course of the next week, I would like to share some important points and insights of the Holy Father's talk to these assembled monastics.

LET YOURSELF BE CONQUERED BY CHRIST

To live no longer for ourselves but for Christ: this is what gives full meaning to the life of those who let themselves be conquered by Him. This is clearly demonstrated by the human and spiritual life of Saint Benedict who, having abandoned all things, set out to follow Jesus Christ faithfully. Embodying the Gospel in his life, he became the pioneer of a vast movement of spiritual and cultural rebirth in the West...

...[W]e read in the biography [authored by Saint Gregory the Great] that, while leaning out of the window,'his eyes fixed on the stars and wrapt in divine contemplation, the Saint felt that his heart was burning...for him the starry firmament was like the embroidered curtain that veiled the Holy of Holies. At a certain point, his soul felt transported to the other side of the veil, to contemplate the unveiled Face of the One who dwells in inaccessible brightness'(A.I. Schuster. Storia di san Benedetto e dei suoi tempi, Ed. Abazzia di Viboldone, Milan, 1965, p. 11 and ff)..."

Saint Benedict did not of course receive this divine gift to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, but rather so that the charism with which God had endowed him might enable him to reproduce in the monastery the very life of Heaven and to re-estabish the harmony of creation through contemplation and work. Rightly, therefore, the Church venerates him as 'an eminent teacher of monastic life' a 'doctor of spiritual wisdom in his love of prayer and work'; a 'luminous guide of the peoples to the light of the Gospel' who 'lifted up to Heaven on a shining path,' teaches men and women of all epochs to seek GOd and the eternal riches prepared by Him"(Preface of the Saint in the monastic supplement to MR, 1980, 153).


Saint Benedict, Father of Monastic Life, pray for us!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Maria Bambina

Tuesday,September 8, is the Feast of the Birth of Mary. A little-known devotion in the USA is "Maria Bambina" or the baby Mary, a statue or image of her as an infant.

The Catholic liturgical tradition honors the birth of only three people: Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist. I came across an interesting fact recently that in the early Church, the deaths of martyrs and saints were celebrated as their "birthday into heaven", but there was controversy about celebrating even the births of Jesus and Mary. Origen thought that because the pagans celebrated their births (and especially since it was a birthday celebration that Herod agreed to cut off the head of Saint John the Baptist), Christians should not celebrate the birth of even our Saviour.
Well, he evidently got over-ruled!

The celebration of our Lady's birth is most important in this day and age. We not only honor her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into heaven, but also the day when she began her earthly life borne from the womb of Saint Anne.


Devotion to Maria Bambina is a manifestation of the "culture of life": an appreciation of God's wondrous gift of life and the mission of our Lady to be the "Ark of the Covenant" that would hold the Son of God. She is the Mother who brought up the Lord of All with Saint Joseph. She is the Mother who stood beneath the Cross and received all of us as her children. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit who prayed with the Apostles in the upper room as Mother of the Church.


Honoring our Lady as an infant is not just sentimental.
It is a way of affirming that God, indeed, is in our midst; that He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to redeem us.


Maria Bambina, pray for us, pray for our families, pray for the unborn and all those who are vulnerable to the evil so present in this "culture of death." Amen.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cor Jesu, Caritatis Victima, Venite Adoremus



Come let us adore the Heart of Jesus, victim of charity!

We sing this each Friday when we are able to have the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The picture is from Cor Jesu Oratory, our future home.

The verses of this responsory are as follows:
Greater love than this no one has, that one would lay down his soul [life] for his friends.
Christ has layed down His life for us, and has washed us from our sins in His own Blood.


May the Heart of Jesus, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, loved, and adored, at every moment in all the tabernacles throughout the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On a Lighter Note: "The Guardians of the Cloister"




Most enclosed communities have a wall, grilles, partitions, what have you.

We're not quite at that stage.

But we have a formidable means of protection and guardianship.

It's the canine crew.





The one on the left is a Jack Russell "Terror" (Kieran); the one on the right is a Sheltie who has "herding issues"(Tessa).

As my brother-in-law has said, "Nobody is going to get into this house without you knowing about it!"

Yes, the barking can be, well, annoying, to use a decent term.

But they are "cloister dogs".

We have to work to socialize them, because they are not used to strangers. But do they ever love anyone in black or grey (the color of our habits)!

Kieran, the "Terror", is a typical Jack Russell. He is affectionate, very intelligent, extremely strong-willed, a bit temperamental (after 6 PM he "shuts down" and is not amused to be bothered) and loves to jump and do obstacle courses (like in the living room).







Tessa, the black and white Sheltie, is also affectionate, loyal and obedient although she is very shy with strangers and does NOT like to be picked up (she is known to have been muzzled at the vet's). And she barks at any noise, which sets off Kieran, which causes general mayhem. She is very fond of "herding" Br. Joseph when he wants to leave a room; so far, we have not been able to cure her of this, despite viewing numerous episodes of "It's Me or the Dog" with Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet.






And yet, these dogs are a part of our life; they give us opportunities to laugh, to be patient, to persevere, to have the ancient companionship of the canine.




How could you resist this?














Or this?






Yeah, I know, it's getting kinda "doggy" here.


But I'm glad we have them here; they have been a wonderful source of companionship for Br. Joseph, especially when I was gone to the seminary and then teaching in Connecticut last year. And they give us an opportunity to care for something other than ourselves; to look beyond our own immediate needs. That is why I believe God provided us with the pleasure of our pets.


Not to replace children. But to augment something in our lives.