First Mass aftermath

My God, I am yours for time and eternity. Teach me to cast myself entirely into the arms of your loving Providence with a lively, unlimited confidence in your compassionate, tender pity. Grant, O most merciful Redeemer, that whatever you ordain or permit may be acceptable to me, take from my heart all painful anxiety; let nothing sadden me but sin, nothing delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of You, my God and my all, in your everlasting kingdom. Amen. –Suscipe of Mother Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy

Suscipe Latin for receive. Traditionally the word Suscipe is associated with St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, as he established his Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Ignatian formation strives to dispose one’s soul of obstacles, ridding oneself of all disordered attachments. Once exercised, stripped down, complications and impediments removed, an empty soul can properly seek and align itself with Divine Will.

Suscipe of St Ignatius: ‘Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.’ 

Celebrated mass, surprised by the depth of the sanctity. Upon the same grounds as the marvelous retreat center is a retirement home for Sisters of Mercy nuns. The thirty-two females being spiritually directed this week, I believe, are all Sisters of Mercy nuns. Beginning this post is a quote from the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. It is received from a painting posted on the stairwell next to my room. The artwork in the retreat center and the retirement home is incredible. Mass is celebrated in the retirement home. I am allowed to walk through to attend mass. Aside from mass, it is off limits. My room is on the second floor. Across the hall is a large comfortable library. Sisters gather in the library. Directly, beneath my room is a chapel, including a tabernacle hosting the Eucharist. The Eucharist is directly below my room. I must comment on the quietness at Our Lady of the Pines. Interiorly and out of doors, it retains a depth, a prayerfulness and tangibility. I credit the populating religious, consecrated individuals focusing their energy upon spiritual discernment. During lunch, I noticed an elderly gentlemen push his walker through the dining room, exiting the room in order to eat on a patio. Already seated, I gathered my tray and followed him. Through hand signals, he welcomed me, gesturing silence. I deduced from his physical articulation he has taken a vow of silence during his retreat. His appearance and apparel makes me think he is a retired priest from the Youngstown Diocese. Together we sat upon the patio immersed in silence, a bluff in front of us, leeside a small pine forest descending to lower ground, walking paths waiting for exploration.

Back to mass, seated amongst approximately sixty religious, I felt tremendous stress. Nothing to do with them or the location. It was all about me. Concentrating upon my personal life, my experiences: past, present, and future, how could I not be filled with awful stress, anxiety and worry. I must be who I am. Brutal honesty is necessary for proper growth. Right now it is pouring down rain. Rain shellacking, I sit next to the large bay windows, rain obstructing the view of all three windows. It is appropriate. I have been attending mass at St Paul’s Shrine daily, mass and adoration, feeling the power and presence of my effort. However, it was not until mass at St Bernadine’s chapel here at Our Lady of the Pines retreat did I comprehend how much stress, anxiety; disordered emotion, thoughts, memories, and overall state of direst fills me. I could barely hold back tears, and in fact several fell out. I had to distract my mind from a younger sister’s voice directly behind me. To absorb and immerse myself within its beauty would have completely unraveled me. Two thoughts fixated during mass. Yesterday the saint of the day was St Maria Goretti. During his homily Father Phil told of Allessandro Serenelli, the man she forgave, sitting next to her mother during her canonization. The rapist and murderer of the little saint sat next to her mother during her official recognition as a saint. It may be extreme, overly dramatic, yet I identified with Allessandro at mass today. The second thought touches upon the Old Testament reading: Jacob wrestling with God, attaining a new name through the tussle, becoming Israeli, a Patriarch of God’s chosen people. The priest told of a conversation with a rabbi. The Rabbi said, ‘Christians talk of loving God. Jews talk of wrestling with God’.

Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley

Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley


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