Monday, September 15, 2014

Is there one who would not weep?

Is there one who would not weep?...


Today we celebrate in the Catholic Church the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. 

 This moving video - displaying beautiful artwork, poetry, and vocals - is a tremendous meditation on the sorrows of the one person who most understood and felt Christ's pain on the Cross.  

I think if we knew sorrow like that we would die...  

Mary is called Queen of Martyrs because of the spiritual martyrdom she experienced when her heart was crucified with her Son's broken body. God in rent flesh (flesh given to Him by her very own flesh.)

"Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!" was undoubtedly the litany of sorrow rushing forth in a river of tears from her pierced heart. (From Genesis 2:23. Note the complete reversal from the first creation to the new creation from the Cross. The first? Adam's joy and excitement at the Woman being taken from his own body. The new? The Woman's sorrow and desolation over the suffering of the New Adam who came forth from *her* body.)

"And your own heart a sword shall pierce.." ( Luke 2:35 Simeon's prophecy to Mary during Christ's presentation in the Temple as a helpless baby. At the crucifixion she still sees her helpless baby..)

How will your life console God?

Love.  Please.. please love!


"Stabat Mater" (english translation from latin)

At the cross her station keeping, 
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, 
All His bitter anguish bearing, 
Now at length the sword had pass'd.

Oh, how sad and sore distress'd 
Was that Mother highly blest 
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs; 
She beneath beholds the pangs 
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep, 
Whelm'd in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain 
From partaking in her pain, 
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruis'd, derided, curs'd, defil'd, 
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation, 
Saw Him hang in desolation, 
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love! 
Touch my spirit from above; 
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt; 
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through; 
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain, 
Who for all my sins was slain, 
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee, 
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me, 
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay, 
There with thee to weep and pray, 
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best, 
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath, 
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound, 
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd 
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh, 
Lest in flames I burn and die, 
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence, 
Be Thy Mother my defence, 
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays, 
May my soul Thy goodness praise, 
Safe in Paradise with Thee


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Imagine You Were Crippled... There's the Spiritual Life

Imagine this scenario please. (With all due reverence.)

Both of your legs are crippled and you're on a quarter mile long, oval foot racing track with 100 other people who are all suffering from the same difficulty.  Everyone is in wheelchairs and they are scattered about the track.  Some are by themselves.  Some people are paired with others.  There are several small groups talking in circles and a few larger groups are gathered about.

Imagine, too, that 75% (or 50% or 90%, it doesn't much matter) of these handicapped individuals do not acknowledge that they are in wheel chairs.  In fact, these particular individuals (whether by themselves or in groups, it doesn't much matter) are comparing themselves to everyone else.  Whether in thought or voice this particular percentage of people (and sometimes the other percentage of people join into these discussions and musings) are all convinced that they are very fast runners.  They love to think about their style of racing and they love to talk amongst themselves about their own racing accomplishments.  Much to your surprise (being yourself one of those crippled) everyone, in fact, thinks he is the fastest, the best - some kind of racing god.

Now, not everyone always entertains these thoughts.  Many have admitted (difficult though it was) and accepted (difficult even further still) that they are not able to even walk, much less win a foot race.  You notice that the more peaceful an joy filled people are those who have come to grips with their state of affairs.  They tend to be the older ones though not everyone. There are still plenty of angry old people who think they are best runners even though they cannot run at all!

You are bewildered at all of this.  "How can all of these physically handicapped individuals - handicapped just as I am - sincerely think that they can run??  I know they sincerely believe this delusion but why do they deny their own handicap and limitations?"


This, of course, is a parable.  The handicapped individuals are all of us.  The track is our world.  The handicap itself is our spiritual blindness, or our pride, or our sinfulness.  The disgruntled folk are those among us (indeed, any of us at any given time) who like to think we're very good and blameless and better than other people.  The joyful individuals are those who have admitted the truth that they cannot run.

I think we all, deep down inside, for various reasons compare ourselves to others.  This makes us very unhappy - we all know that.  We like to judge ourselves as superior to each other in whatever way we happen to be justifying at the present moment.  "She's dumb, I'm prettier, he's lazy, I'm holier, I'm better than him because..."

In so many ways we have convinced ourselves that we can run when, in reality, we are very proud and self-focused.  The happiest among us are those who seldom think of themselves.  They're called the Saints.  

If the goal of life were to jump to the moon we would boast of jumping one inch higher than someone else and another would brag about his new trampoline that lets him double or triple his jumping height.

Yet, everyone falls infinitely short of ever jumping to the moon.  

The point in the spiritual life is not "How high can I jump?"  The point is to stop pretending you even *can* jump.  As little children, we just have to let the Father pick us up and take us up into the Heavens.  

Christ can heal our moral handicaps and can teach us to walk and eventually run.  He can make "our feet swift as those of hinds and enable us to go upon the heights." - Habakkuk 3:19


“I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by the passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself, such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new. We are living now in a age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (Prov 9:4) And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for.” 
- St. Therese of Lisieux

"Unless you turn and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."   Matthew 18:3

I think Heaven's door is very small and only if we bend very low in humility can we hope to enter.  Faith and true love take great humility.  Accepting the truth takes great humility.  To admit what I am... very little.  

Shhh! There's the secret to happiness! Now go to tell everybody you know.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The glass could be smaller (even though it's half empty.)

Such were the words I saw today on a bumper sticker sporting a picture of a half empty glass.

"The glass could be smaller."


So are you a glass is "half empty" or "half full" kind of person?

We struggle with negativity, complaining, and pessimism sometimes don't we? I know I do.

Ever complained about your current life circumstances and then passed a poor person on your drive to wherever you were going in your car?

Or have you ever complained about some technology not working in your life and then realized many people don't half a roof to sleep under or know if they'll have another meal?

First world problems..

Now I'm not trying to dismiss people's legitimate problems and real sufferings.  But I do want to refocus our attention.

The glass in your life may, for a time, be half empty but there are still so many blessings and graces to be grateful for.  The glass could, after all, be smaller.  Things could be much worse.

Have you all seen those "Gratitude Lists" going around people's Facebooks? They're awesome.

I have found that gratitude refocuses our attention away from the empty part of the glass and back where it belongs: the incredible good that is already present in so many ways.

To grow in gratitude, to have an "attitude of gratitude" is a great grace to pray for; to beg for.  A grateful heart is always focused on the grace of the present moment and responds accordingly to it.  It has a joyful acceptance, a willing receptivity, to all that God has brought or allowed to happen.  

When you pray beg God to give you the gift of gratitude and continually seek to grow in gratitude.  Grateful people see the truth - everything is is a gift.

And we should always be grateful for gifts!