Monthly Archives: June 2015

Rending garments

Jacob rending his garment at the news of Joseph's demise, a portion of Joseph's multicolored coat presented as proof.

Jacob rending his garment at the news of Joseph’s demise, a portion of Joseph’s multicolored coat presented as proof.

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amal’ekites, David remained two days in Ziklag; and on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes rent and earth upon his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and did obeisance.  David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”  And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people have fled from the battle, and many of the people also have fallen and are dead; and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”  And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilbo’a; and there was Saul leaning upon his spear; and lo, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him.  And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amal’ekite.’ And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and slay me; for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’  So I stood beside him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen; and I took the crown which was on his head and the armlet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”  Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and so did all the men who were with him; and they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.  And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amal’ekite.”  David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed?”  Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, fall upon him.” And he smote him so that he died.  And David said to him, “Your blood be upon your head; for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have slain the LORD’S anointed.'”  –2 Samuel 1

“I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy.  What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”  –Matthew 26

As I was walking this morning the Biblical concept of rending garments played through my mind.  I toss out scripture, allowing the word of God to work for itself.  Pretending, portending nothing.  The idea of extreme sorrow, a severe affront to truth, an ending, death, demanding the shredding of one’s clothing, stripping the body of what once brought warmth and shelter.  It is a natural reaction I experience, mentally playing out the act in times of harsh consternation.  Maybe it is instilled through teachings, yet when something is a horrible affront, I feel the need to rip my shirt from my chest.  That which use to clothe is no longer appropriate.  I must strip myself naked before God because the deepest truths, those things that mean everything to me, have been altered.  I can no longer live the way I once did.  Everything has changed.  I stand exposed before God, pleading for assistance.  During meditation before the Eucharist there are times, I will involuntarily and violently wrench my head, matters internally being ripped asunder, a tearing away at myself, cutting loose obstacles.  I must be careful, weary of myself, allowing God to perform the extractions.  Rebellion for the sake of rebelling is an affront.  Typically rebellion is a knee jerk reaction arising from pride and stubbornness.  Within purposeful rebellion, obedience must exist.  It is a serious, grave, act to rend one’s garments.  The last example witnesses the High Priest conducting the act in rejection of Christ, demonstrating the destructiveness such a serious act can declare within faulty discernment.  In the face of truth, being alive, we cloth ourselves, sheltering our existence, moving forward in convictions.  Rending our garments, rebelling in the face of Christ for the sake of establishing identity, can be conducted in a multitude of ways. Rebellion against spiritual growth, the rejecting of truth, is the negative aspect of the rending of garments.  On the positive side, I am convinced, the rending of garments demonstrates growth.  Maturing psychologically and spiritually, there are times we need to rend our garments, rip clean from our bodies that which use to clothe us, to mature and grow up.  In the light of truth, under the protection of Mary, the saints abiding, the Church providing, Christ sanctifying: we must not fear, able to pass through and ascend while stripped bare; raw, sensitive, and vulnerable–understanding God will provide new clothes.  The rending of one’s garment properly done is the shedding of an old skin, the tearing away from that which we have outgrown, advancing in the sunshine of the Holy Spirit.  We must not fear detaching ourselves from that which no longer carries us toward Christ. May we aspire to one day be attired like Joseph of the Old Testament, to be so bold as to clothe ourselves in a multicolored brilliant coat of majesty provided by Our Lord.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.  –Matthew 6

The mind of a storyteller, I cannot help but marvel at the Old Testament. There are sections that right from the first reading amazed–the tale of the marauding avenging Jehu, riding hard upon horses, another. Befuddling, abandoned to scrambling for a clue, I acquiesce to mystery, convinced my conviction that prayer is my ultimate solace is an absolute. ‘Be still and know I am God’ is a reality, a daily practice, meaningless as a concept. Anyway, as a storyteller, admiring Homer, embracing the longer quote from the start of second Samuel, I love the humanness, the confounding ambiguity within Divine Word. The man who comes from Saul’s camp, a defeated Amalekite honoring his victors, is put to death by King David. In defeat, he comes across King Saul who begs him to kill him. He seems to be an obedient man, astoundingly a man of sorrowful destiny. Displaying proper signs of mourning, respectful, he brings ceremonial gifts and news to King David, honoring a king he was just warring against, a war commander who just slaughtered his people. The man seems virtuous extending himself heroically, humbly doing the right thing, in fact a difficult thing, one contrary to his core beliefs and inner most loyalties. His flexible, willing to accept defeat, servitude brings forth his demise. David puts him to the sword for his audacity to raise his hand against God’s anointed. Dying, the man must have been perplexed. Most likely, I am wrong. I adore mysteries, allowing them to humble, establishing the fact human reasoning are plain and simple not the path to enlightenment. Truth is complex, errors prone for those quick to take action, those willing to declare truth. Christ did not sacrifice himself on the cross so I could figure everything out and espouse my way into transformation. St Thomas Aquinas, the highest of intelligence, rejected the exercising of definitive written expression. It was more important to transform himself through contemplative prayer. Prayer, humility, and obedience, the practicing of faith, hope, and charity unromantically offer the keys to a higher state of being. I prefer the act of rending my garment, then saying or doing something that would irritate God, especially in regards to Ann. To know someone is so wrong, an abomination within every breath, is excruciating in demand, forcing a new way of being–silence and surrender. The fact the only recourse is continual growth in the face of obstinate immaturity, wisdom the only solution to ignorance, that to love God even more, to turn the shattered being of another into a process of fulfillment remains as the only source of consolation, is a hard pill to swallow. God provides the symbolic act of the rending of garments as a proper physical and mental release; tears a means of physical cleansing. When a priest captures my ear, for myself becoming an anointed one, I hear repeated messages in their tune. Father Roger possesses a reoccurring theme, the idea of prayers, holiness earned through prayer and virtue, as able to provide healing for others. Scripture is rampant with examples supporting the nourishing.


Inventory: where am I?

I am pleased, feeling I am growing, learning about myself, through this blog. One of the things I hope to accomplish with the upcoming time off work, during the retreat, a time of religious concentration, writing and reading, is an organizing of this blog. I will conduct no work, not even work around the house or cooking. My time will be dedicated and focused upon God, therefore channeling activity creatively. I am proud, pleased to perceive, God working through my writing efforts, fiction and poetry both blossoming. I do fear my writing mind, due to it previously being a source of waywardness. Writing can lead to severe drinking. Now, I am convinced it can assist in sobriety. The desire to write is not evil in and of itself. If creative efforts, any efforts, draw me away from God, distract and negatively affect my prayer efforts, they are useless, something to be abandoned. I will not remain attached to anything that leads me away from God. I remember in a previous post, months ago, when I was working with Abbot Lehody a lot, I think it was him, who made the remark that the greatest, no it was Henry Suso, that the greatest spiritual exercise is to abandon the pursuit of God. That is, an effort to pursue God can be in truth nothing more than the pursuit of one’s self, a detrimental attachment to egotism. Self-love futilely drives many toward God. Can I give up God in order to allow God to reveal Himself to me? The point I want to make clear is that I am proud of my writing efforts. My writing is properly associated with a healthy identity. In the coming week, I want to organize more, linking back to previous posts, categorizing better. I will also add a page. A one year sobriety inventory will be taken, exploring where I am, and what the future holds, even if that is a declaration I lack complete clarity regarding the future. In the blogging beginning, one of the points stressed was the importance of finding our individual way within the vastness of the Church; revealing our effective role within the magnificence and immensity of the Church. Not allowing the intense magnitude of everything the Church is to overwhelm our smallness. How do we become properly small, as the Little Flower teaches, within the enormity of the Universal Church? An incident Sunday with the Benedictines focused my attention in this direction. My friend Carol commented during a slide show with one of the brothers, an intimate viewing limited to Carol, myself, and the Benedictine monk, quaint and personal. Carol pointed out a priest in one of the sixties looking photos as the former Bishop Pilla, stating she recalled as a child playing with him. It made me comment that it is amazing the intimate stories we all have with Church hierarchy or other powerful assets of the Church. Though the Church is immense, vast, intricate, complicated to the highest degree, its simplicity touches us all profoundly; tenderness and closeness for every individual. The monk smiled, stating, ‘yes, it is so true’. That is why I find it so moving to be taking the retreat to the Our Lady of the Pines retreat center. Once, I conducted research regarding the origins of the title for Our Lady, I felt invigorated that I discovered a Spanish touch to the matter. When I told my Spanish mother, about the Canary Island apparition, she became excited, informing me how when she was young her brother took a vacation to the Canary Islands. The islands seemed so exotic, remote and mysterious to her. The world was a much larger and unknown place in the fifties. She said her brother Tony brought back photos, telling her of black molten rock, volcanic activity, and how different the islands were from the home they knew as children. So once again, I feel Our Holy Mother moving about, playing out Her grace-providing role, touching with love the life of myself and my mother. That also connects back to an earlier post I did. One I link back to now. My parents were married in the El Pilar Basilica. The church honors the first apparition of Our Holy Mother, actually a bi-location as she was alive during the appearance to the apostle James. Bottom line, I am pleased with blogging efforts, although there will be another page added and more interconnectedness with previous posts during the upcoming retreat.

An early image revisited. Purity, high fashion to the divine extreme

A favorite early image revisited. Purity, high fashion to the divine extreme, a beautiful bride of Christ.


Knowing myself is the beginning of all wisdom

We shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God: let us think of his greatness and then come back to our own baseness; by looking at his purity we shall see our foulness; by meditating upon his humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble.

If we turn from self towards God, our understanding and our will become nobler and readier to embrace all that is good: if we never rise above the slough of our own miseries we do ourselves a great disservice.  –Teresa of Avila ‘Interior Castle’

Getting to know myself, it is good to return to routine and schedule, allowing my focus to effectively return to God.  Yesterday marvelous, extending myself socially exhausts me.  A wonderful day, it is good to return to that which brings the greatest depth to life: the Eucharist, prayer and meditation, mass with the Poor Clares.  Routine: morning coffee and today a cinnamon roll gifted from Carter’s girlfriend upon visiting a Toledo bakery we discussed; reflection upon my life, avoiding self-absorption, exercise—walk/jog in Cain Park and onto St Paul’s for mass and adoration.  It is good to return to that which provides structure, the establishing of closure.  Dr. Nichta defines my effective mode of living…primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically.

The negative aspect of my personality must be realized.  I am not naturally in tune with my feelings, nor the feelings of others.  Too much social activity reinforces unconstructive tendencies.  I lose a bit of focus upon propriety if I spend too much time with others. At St Paul’s, a celebration of baptism occurred after mass. There was a group of attractive proper young women attending, all in fine dresses, appearing exquisite. I was overwhelmed by the experience, distracted, uncomfortable, made weary by the women. Later at the Cathedral, a woman wearing yoga pants assisted the young man selling olive wood finery from Bethlehem. It took a serious effort not to stare at the assistant. For all the spiritual progress I make, concentrating my Lady Undoer of Knots novena upon loneliness and lust, a warfare still takes place. I should add these struggles occurred while thoroughly enjoying the companionship of Carol, whose trust, admiration, support and friendship grows with every encounter. Prayer, quiet time, reading, writing allows my natural tendencies to center myself upon God.  There is a delicate balance establishing healthy mental effectiveness.  I feel blessed to have discovered the retreat, a week focused upon reflection and prayer—religious pursuits; study, writing and prayer, while centered amidst a structured Catholic environment: scheduled meals, daily activities, mass with the sisters, overall a healthy large social gathering, including group meals.  My expectations are low, demanding only seclusion and Catholic structure: a balancing between isolation and community.  Anything beyond and above, I am considering a bonus.

The title Our Lady of the Pines originates from a fifteenth century Mary apparition on the Canary Islands, located between Morocco and Spain.   A link to the Basilica del Pino official website.

Our Lady of the Pines from the basilica

Our Lady of the Pines from the basilica

Basilica del Pino

Basilica del Pino


God’s Will: where I am, is exactly where I need to be.

The victory of suffering from ‘All We Know of Heaven’, wisdom within bedtime reading—the ultimate story of the Son of God: the Triumph of Weakness, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Antoine observes a visiting Tibetan abbess smash crabapples with her heel into the earth.  She, the Venerable Cello–spiritual mother to over six thousand nuns, feeds herself with the dirty created mush.  The simple religious woman entered the Cistercian monastery with a group of visiting Tibetan monks.  The Trappist were unaware she was a woman until her nickname, Cello, was explained.  The holy woman, saying over a thousand rosaries a day, is an immense survivor.  When the Chinese occupied Tibet she fled through the Himalayas with thirty of her religious sisters.  Only three would survive the mountainous trek.  With respect to her gender, she was removed from the Catholic monastery, placed in the guesthouse.  Antoine worried she would be insulted.  The other Tibetan monks laughed at his concern, expressing the fact Cello would contently sleep upon the sidewalk if asked.

As sunlight drew away from the orchard, it came to him (Antoine), the thread that bound their lives together.  Cello was abandoned by society.  She was marginal.  The abbess was as defenseless and as irrelevant to the world as an orphan.  And as a monk, so was he.

The experience of many days clicked into a clear order in his head.  Antoine saw before him a Cello who had survived immense suffering in the Himalayas to offer a living witness to anyone interested: nothing less than the reversal of world order.  As weak as she was—as weak as all humans are—Cello was fully awake.  The wisdom of peace was hers, an old woman grounded in “suchness,” her smile shining through all things and meeting no opposition.

He (Antoine) saw that his own behavior was to blame for his sour discontent.  His growth as a monk had been checked by his own longing for a better place to live, better people to live with. 

Marginalized, yet dignified--magnificence within poverty and worldly exile.

Marginalized, yet dignified–magnificence within poverty and worldly exile.


A day of worship

God is good and gracious, supplying fellowship and exhausting activity upon the eve of a celebratory retreat week  God teach me to relish and live within the moment.  A Slovakian Benedictine monastery, blessings, the companionship of those humble in faith, a significant sprouting, the abundance of splendor in simple refrain, a Cathedral, Coventry, Moroccan food, and always St Paul’s centering, the expression of faith, hope, and charity.  Sometimes we are given approval for all that we are doing.  The Eucharist again pronounced in proclaiming majestically its presence, carrying the offering in mass to a priest awaiting, a friend abiding, others watching, friends amassing, Benedictines offering salutatory words of honor and petitioning–the company of those focused in faith, a Friday date for adoration promised.  Brother Mario serious and solid in direction.  Brother Louis amiable, courteous and humorous in sharing. Rev. Michael Brunovsky, a Benedictine high school principal, well-versed, articulate, ora et labora, espousing history, a glowing.  An abbot, Reverend Gary Hoover, knowing, guiding, smiling and shining brilliance with eyes. The Church is a wonder.  Humble in servitude, quiet in preparing, knowing the subtlety of prayers being answered, happy to receive the fortunes of properly alms giving.  Some days are better than others.  Lord I have so much to offer, please use me.  I am Yours, please receive me, gaze upon me, allow me to learn from those who give so much to Your glorious body here upon the earth.  Hail to the Catholic Church.

Admirable Saint and Doctor of Humility, you practiced what you taught, assiduously praying for God’s glory and lovingly fulfilling all work for God and the benefit of all human beings. You know the many physical dangers that surround us today often caused or occasioned by human inventions. Guard us against poisoning of the body as well as of mind and soul, and thus be truly a “Blessed” one for us. Amen.

St Benedict medal

St Benedict medal

St Andrew's Benedictine monastery

The splendors of a youthful Mary.  The Pillar of Fire Tabernacle sitting aside, unseen, at St Andrew’s Benedictine monastery

A minimalist Benedictine house of worship, choir stalls a plenty.

A minimalist Benedictine house of worship, choir stalls a plenty at St Andrews.

St Andrew, a Slovakian saint, as well as his namesake the apostle, blesses the Benedictines.

St Andrew, a Slovakian saint, as well as his namesake the apostle, blesses the Benedictines.

The prettiest of Slovakian mannequins.

The prettiest of Slovakian mannequins, history and culture preserved from the wrath of communism.

The most handsome of postulates, a day away from solemn vows.  Good luck kind and wise black Irish brother.

The most handsome of postulates, a day away from solemn vows. Good luck kind and wise black Irish brother. Carol, you are not still talking to him are you?


Overcoming ourselves to enjoy life and grow spiritually: Freedom over enslavement

The novel ‘All We Know of Heaven’ moved me.  The young man, having entered the monastery, enjoying a solid novitiate, suddenly struggles mightily with lustful thoughts, bringing to a halt his ability to sleep and the endurance of inner turmoil.  His days become drudgery and toil.  Even more devastating is the fact his severe temptation is homosexual in nature, calling into question his very worth as a man.  His fearful thoughts force him to nearly attempt self-castration, going as far as cutting himself before stopping himself.  Within our personal struggles, battling our deepest demons, exist the greatest opportunity for grace, within our wounds Christ comes at us the strongest, within our brokenness is the greatest opportunity to know the love of God.  “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  (Romans 5).  An area Dr. Nichta and myself discussed in depth yesterday was the idea of self-knowledge elevating contemplative efforts.  To know who I am is to become a more effective seeker of God.  Brutal honesty is necessary in realizing my weaknesses, for within my weaknesses is the area for the greatest growth, and therefore the pouring down of the greatest graces.  Ultimate victory must come through the defeating of that within us which is the furthest from God.  Freedom comes from the expanding of faith, hope, and charity, opening ourselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, acquiring the understanding to know the things that take us away from God, the wisdom to to discern the difference between enslavement of the flesh and the freedom of spiritual expansion.  Immediate sensual gratification, the indulgence of all our wants, desires, fantasies and worldly desires is placing ourselves in slavery to immaturity, an undisciplined childish approach to life, a diet of candy and sweets. Everlasting freedom is spiritual warfare, the task of doing the things in our heart we know are righteous.  God’s ways are not foreign and unknowable.  We are gifted with a conscious.  It is the discipline, the accomplishing of the difficult that is our demanding task.

In the novel, contemplate this episode.  After a community vote, the young man is accepted, personally by the abbot, to swear solemn vows.  Previous to the scene, the young man sat outside the meeting, slightly able to hear, distinguishing a heated argument.  The loud voice of Martin, the Irish monk the main character developed an infatuation with, experiencing an episode in which he expressed his feelings to Martin, became audible.  They had not spoken since.  Martin ignoring him intensely.   Martin could be heard yelling and arguing with the abbot.  Relying upon reason, self-conscious, the main character prepared to be rejected, dejectedly aware of his failings.

“This is the grand silence.  Forgive me,” Dom Jacques (abbot) whispered as he sat down at his desk, “but I wanted you to know that the lengthy chapter had nothing to do with you.  We took the vote before any shouting began.  In five minutes, that was all over.  We’ve accepted you.  Congratulations.”  He pointed to a chair, and Antoine (main character), shaking in the knees, went to sit.  Relief washed over him so suddenly that he nearly missed the chair and fell on the floor.”

“You should know,” the Abbot continued, “that Brother Martin and I have been at odds.”  His expression was sober.  “An argument broke out between us over the possibility of his transfer to another abbey.  I was thrown off balance.  I’m afraid.  Not prepared for an outburst in chapter, I lost my temper.”  The Abbot folded his hands.  “And as it stands, I think Martin is resolved to leave religious life altogether.”

Antoine’s mouth dropped.  Though tension had melted when he learned of his acceptance, this was now checked in thinking that he might have had something to do with Martin’s leaving.

“Reverend Father,” he said, “There’s something you should know.”  He blinked several times.  Straightening his back, he stumbled on, hardly knowing what to say.  “When I asked to be moved in the dormitory because of my mattress, I told you a lie.  My request had nothing to do with a mattress.  Truth is, I am strongly attracted to Brother Martin.”

“The matress?” Dom Jacques asked.

“Yes.  I told you that my mattress was shaped for someone else and kept me from sleeping.  But you see, it was really Martin who kept me awake.”


Antoine closed his eyes for a moment and tried to rephrase his tumble of words.  “Yes.  Please understand I’m…I think I’m attracted to Martin.  What I mean is…I think I’m a homosexual.”

The Abbot waited for more, but Antoine had nothing more to say.  A moment went by and the Abbot looked at his watch.

“Yes,” he said.  “Each of us has his burden to bear.  Listen, Brother, it’s getting late.  You’d best get to bed.”

Antoine stood and walked to the door on unsteady legs.  He hesitated, thinking the Abbot had not heard correctly.  Perhaps he should repeat the confession.  The Abbot spoke again.

“Antoine,” he said.  “Pray for Brother Martin.  Pray for God’s blessing upon him.  You of all people might be in the best position to do that.”

“Yes, Reverend Father.”  Antoine stood at the door for a moment, then he left the office and made his way to bed.  There it was, simple and straightforward: a request for prayers.  Nothing more.  His heart pounded as if it slipped into a higher gear.  He felt winded.  Even if the Abbot had completely misunderstood his confession, the deed was done.  He had claimed something sexual about himself, and what was more, had announced it aloud.  There was no going back.  He did not want to go back.  A new sense of identity had begun to bloom, and he felt he knew himself far better than before.  The confession left him stronger.  

That is a powerful scene.  The young man’s anxiety was unfounded.  His fears stronger than reality.  He would come to terms with Martin, understanding Martin’s clashing with the Abbot had nothing to do with him.  Even deeper the psychological healing of understanding himself, developing a profound sense of who he was allowed him to overcome his personal inclination toward sin.  Ambiguities replaced with certainty, self-knowledge allows for personal growth upon a deeply spiritual level.

Other thoughts mingle, yet I want to leave everything.  Let that resonate.  An ending with something lighter.  Now for something different.  My secret garden, Cain Park provided mesmerizing, tantalizing meditation, exotic in nature as Chinese acrobats entertained, beauty displayed, the joy of life played out upon the stage.  The Golden Dragon Acrobats.  Here is a video clip.  Wonderful night of observing physical grace refined.  These remarkably athletic and skilled young men and women naturally put a smile upon the face.  Spellbinding, this young lady was a personal favorite. I met her after the show. She was with a group selling memorabilia. Her beauty, exuberance, strength, joy, and innocence were captivating, disarming, invigorating and a blessing from God to encounter.

Golden Dragon Acrobats

Golden Dragon Acrobats


Gaze of Jesus

A session with Dr. Nichta today. Going in, I felt there was nothing of consequence to discuss. After what seemed like a couple breathes and a flood of words, the fifty minutes concluded. The overall message established: I am being moved into a new realm of maturity. Afterwards sitting in front of the Eucharist at St Paschal Baylon, a woman, Shirley, approached me asking if I would repose the Eucharist at nine. The person signed up to come in at eight texted her, informing her they could not make it. I was honored, truly humbled and touched. Shirley showed me the routine, proper placement within the Tabernacle, providing keys, showing me around the sacristy, how to extinguish candles and turn off lights. Once, she left me alone with the Eucharist tears burst forth, my heart beating with joy, adoration, and a sense of wonder. I feel God is trying to tell me something, yet I am not quite sure regarding details. Sitting for the final hour, I pleaded, praying, begging for understanding. To be made aware how He wanted me to serve Him. Abstinence and sobriety I am proud to offer, yet there is so much more I feel I have to give. I was not sure about time since I did not bring my telephone into the church, however bells at the half hour made me confident there would be hourly bells. Sure enough, a wonderful sounding occurred, before nine distinct individual tones announced the arrival of 9:00 PM. Reposing, positioning myself behind the monstrance and altar, kneeling, looking up at the Eucharist, I just felt an overwhelming love to serve. It was a marvelous way to end a day.

Driving home, listening to Pope Francis expound upon Mercy, a prayer concept was presented: the gaze of Jesus, allowing Jesus to look upon us:

“I found three different manners of Jesus’ gaze upon Peter”.

The first is found at the beginning of the Gospel according to John, when Andrew goes to his brother Peter and says to him: “We have found the Messiah”. And “he brings him to Jesus”, who “fixes his gaze on him and says: ‘You are Simon, son of John. You shall be called Peter”. This is “the first gaze, the gaze of the mission” which will be explained “further ahead in Caesarea Philippi”. There, Jesus says: “‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church’: this will be your mission”.

…in the meantime, Peter has become an enthusiast of Jesus: he follows Jesus…Gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus speaks of eating his body and so many disciples say at that moment: ‘This is hard, this word is difficult’”. Thus, “they begin to withdraw”. Jesus then “looks at the disciples and says: ‘Do you want to leave too?’”. And it is “Peter who responds: ‘No! Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life!’”. This is “the enthusiasm of Peter”. This is the first gaze: the vocation and the first declaration of the mission”. And, “how is Peter’s spirit under that first gaze? Enthusiastic”.

The second gaze we find late at night on Holy Thursday, when Peter wants to follow Jesus and approaches where He is, in the house of the priest, in prison, but he is recognized: “‘No, I don’t know him!’”. He denies Him “three times”. Then “he hears the cock crow and remembers: he denied the Lord. He lost everything. He lost his love”. Precisely “in that moment, Jesus is led to another room, across the courtyard, and fixes his gaze on Peter”. The Gospel of Luke recounts that “Peter cried bitterly”. Thus, “that enthusiasm to follow Jesus has become remorse, for he has sinned, he has denied Jesus”. However, “that gaze transforms Peter’s heart, more than before”. Thus “the first transformation is the change of name and of vocation. Instead “the second gaze is a gaze that changes the heart and is a change of conversion to love”.

“We don’t know what the gaze (third) was like in that encounter, alone, after the Resurrection. We know that Jesus encountered Peter, the Gospel says, but we don’t know what they said. The third gaze is the confirmation of the mission; but also the gaze in which Jesus asks for confirmation of Peter’s love. Indeed Jesus ask three times—three times. Peter denied Him three times; and now the Lord for the third time asks him to show his love. Each time when Peter says yes, that he loves Him, he loves Him, He gives him the mission: ‘Feed my lambs, tend my sheep’”. Moreover, at the third question — “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” — Peter “was grieved, nearly weeping”. He was sorry because “for the third time” the Lord “asked him, ‘Do you love me?’”. And he answered Him: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you”. And Jesus replied: “Feed my sheep”. This is “the third gaze: the gaze of the mission”.

Three gazes of Jesus upon Peter. The first is the gaze of the choice, with the enthusiasm to follow Jesus. The second is the gaze of remorse at the moment of that sin so great of having denied Jesus. The third gaze is the gaze of mission: ‘Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep”. It doesn’t end there: ‘you did this for love and then? Will you receive a crown? No. I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go”

Rembrandt and the face of Jesus

Rembrandt and the face of Jesus

Lesson on St Paschal Baylon from Catholic online:

Franciscan lay brother and mystic. Born to a peasant family at Torre Hermosa, in Aragon, Spain on Whitsunday, he was christened Pascua in honor of the feast. According to accounts of his early life, Paschal labored as a shepherd for his father, performed miracles, and was distinguished for his austerity. He also taught himself to read. Receiving a vision which told him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, he became a Franciscan lay brother of the Alcantrine reform in 1564, and spent most of his life as a humble doorkeeper. He practiced rigorous asceticism and displayed a deep love for the Blessed Sacrament, so much so that while on a mission to France, he defended the doctrine of the Real Presence against a Calvinist preacher and in the face of threats from other irate Calvinists. Paschal died at a friary in Villareal, and was canonized in 1690. In 1897 Pope Leo XIII declared him patron of all eucharistic confratemities and congresses.