Monday, September 28, 2009
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
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!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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
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
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.
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.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
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
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
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!
[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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
To many, this may sound a bit extreme, in fact, it may look like Jesus is being completely overlooked.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is the most perfect response to the Word of God that any mortal may make. Her response, "Fiat" at the Annunciation, which continued to the Cross and beyond, to the very day of Pentecost (events linked so beautifully in Pope John Paul II's encyclical, Redemptoris Mater) is the same response of the Heart that "contemplated" all that took place during Jesus' infancy, hidden life at Nazareth, public ministry, Passion and Death.
The First Saturdays were requested by our Lady to Sister Lucia in order to make reparation for the insults and indignities to Her Immaculate Heart. If someone despises the Mother, they cannot love the Son. The Two Hearts are in complete communion.
And so, to honor the "Sweet Heart of Mary" we are honoring the Son. She is the Immaculate vessel that made His Incarnation, Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection possible.
She truly shares in His mission to save the world.
Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque, the blessed mediator of the messages of Jesus of this devotion, was drawn not only to adoration, but to reparation in not only accepting, but desiring suffering.
At first glance, I was "put off", as the English might say.
And yet, the beautiful spirituality that this woman of God gave to the Church was one of identification with the Suffering Servant, the Jesus Who was abandoned, mistreated, tortured, hated, despised and rejected. The Suffering Servant of Isaiah.
Don't we all have suffering to bear?
And yet to "love sufffering" in order to be made in the imitation of Jesus, as Saint Margaret Mary so faithfully and beautifully exemplifies, is a great grace, a touch of the divine that we must urgently petition Jesus to give us. It is not in our human capacity to do. Only the love of a Saviour that went to the depths of suffering, of hell even, can give us the ability to love suffering as means to belong to Him, to witness to Him, to atone for those who, in the words of the Angel of Fatima, "do believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You."
We have Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament directly after Holy Mass each Thursday and use the "Litany of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim" to intercede for all priests.
(A beautiful pamphlet of this litany is available from the Institute on Religious Life, Tele: 847-573-8975; www.religouslife.com).
To obtain the indulgence the faithful must attend Mass in an oratory or Church and offer prayers to "Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to his heart" during this blessed time and fulfilling the other requirements of Confession (within eight days before or after), Holy Communion, prayer for the Holy Father and being free of attachment to venial sin.
What a wonderful grace!
It would be a wonderful gift to gain this indulgence for a deceased priest who baptized, administered First Holy Communion, granted absolution, witnessed marriage or anointed one.
Jesus, Victim and Priest, have mercy on us and upon all your priests!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
There is a great joy and thanksgiving in being able to savour the taste of home-grown vegetables, especially the sweet taste of tomatoes fresh from the vine.
There is a tradition of blessing the produce of the summer on our Lady's Assumption Day, August 15th, as well as herbs, as a sign of the fruitfulness of the earth being linked to the fruitful virginal motherhood and discipleship of our Lady, who did not suffer the decay of death because of Her Immaculate Conception and "Fiat" to the Word of God throughout her life. Her fruitfulness is eternal. The fruits of the earth point us to the spiritual fruitfulness we are to imitate in the Blessed Virgin Mother of God.