Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Bleeding Woman

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen. 

When a woman is afflicted with a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period.  Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstruation, and any article of furniture on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstruation.  Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; he shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.  If she becomes freed from her affliction, she shall wait seven days, and only then is she to be purified.  Leviticus 15:25-2

Legislation specified by God to Moses on Mt Sinai, Mosaic Law divinely proclaimed.  Moses, God’s chosen leader of Israel, unable to look upon the face of God, a poor speaker, established the means God’s chosen were to live by.  Time after time, the chosen would abandon the covenant.  Naomi, one of the chosen, of the clan of Benjamin, was a woman who feared God as a child.  Through this fear and admiration, she became acquainted with misery.  She would become an outcast due to a physical ailment.  It was her blood, her womanly bleeding lasting well beyond the prescribed seven days, and the loss of a holy grandfather.  The bleeding was continual.  The monthly curse of the woman would not stop.  Twelve years she suffered the affliction.  It took everything from her: materialistically, physically, and socially.  Her life of desolation continued in isolation.  None could heal her.  Prayer, itself, abandoned her.  Ambivalence replaced thoughts of God.  Resignation to the world became her life.  Spiritual matters consisted of a state of disgrace.

Without communal worship, she still conversed with God, talking gently, asking forgiveness for the fact she despised life, expressing the wish never to have known birth, pleading for an exit, begging for mercy.  Asking, why was I born? There was nothing more she desired than to not be.  Death.  It was not hate, nor bitterness, rather defeat.  She had lost her husband, righteously granted a divorce by the priest from the Tribe of Levi, the descendants of Aaron, brother to Moses.  The officials of the Temple banned her from actively participating in the world of her upbringing.  The sacred was closed to her.  Her family shunned her, convinced she was a curse.  None could touch her.  She could touch none, and even more the things she touched became unclean, unworthy of others.  Physicians who tried unsuccessfully to heal her wasted the moderate wealth her husband gave her in parting.  Indigent and desperate beyond hope, she clung to the idea of being done with life.

Life as an exile started to change when she began living on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in a shelter gifted to her by anglers, four fishermen from various families belonging also to the tribe of Benjamin.  Hidden in an alcove, the hut escaped detection from the main roadway, yet a side path led directly past its rear.  The fishermen built a bigger shelter a short distance to the north, more convenient to the Roman roads.  The hut was just a small one-room shelter from the weather, a former place to stow fishing gear.  It was perfect for Naomi as it provided lodging and the isolation she needed, while also involving her with others.  The men would leave her fish as well as figs, olives, herbs, fruits and vegetables.  She ate little and the men were always obliging.

The dilapidated hut appeared as a blessing.  Something about its location along the shores of the Galilei seemed mystical to Naomi.  The doorway and two windows, openings for handing in vessels of dried salted fish, faced out onto the sea.  Over three years of serving no purpose, the hut became a garbage retainer.  People discarding unwanted items within.  It was literally a dump when Naomi took ownership.  One of the fisherman left her a cart to fill, promising her a donkey once it was ready to be hauled away.  Naomi spent days emptying the hut, surprised at the variety of items thrown into it.  Once she had the hut barren, she swept the ceiling, the walls, and the floor.  The fisherman, witnessing her dedication, supplied her with whitewash stucco to cover the walls, also supplying hay for bedding.  Naomi built a new door and shutters for the windows from branches she gathered, taking over a week of nonstop laboring to complete the task.  Her home was finalized with the decorating of flowers.  Two salvaged broken vessels from the removed refuse served as vases adorning the front door.  Rooted in the vessels, precious cross shaped purple flowers gathered from Mount Carmel lifted themselves to the sun, posing for the observing.  Naomi, relishing dirt underneath her fingernails, dug and refashioned the landscape.  After six months of occupation, constantly working in her yard, she created a rock pathway leading to the shore of the sea, a rock fire pit for cooking, while planting flowers artfully about.  Naomi took to waving at the few men, women, and children passing, those coming near on the water.  Her disposition was also being redecorated.  Others took the time to check on her if only to wave in greeting, to marvel at the beauty of her home.  What once existed a useless hut fading into its surrounding, an invigorating home of life, intelligence, and beauty appeared.

The only visitor she enjoyed for lengthy visits was Susanna.  Susanna, named in honor of the lily—her mother renowned for her love of flowers, was an old childhood friend. Susanna, now living in a distant village of her husband’s, sought Naomi out after learning of her fate through gossip.  As girls they were fun-loving playmates, known for decorating their hair with lilies as well as other flowers.  Maintaining childhood fancies, the two worked together, gardening upon Naomi’s yard.  Susanna would tell stories about her grandchildren.  The stories brought tears to Naomi.  It made her reflect upon the grandchildren she had been banished from.  Susanna told of her family so lovingly that Naomi understood she wanted her to share in life.  She wanted to share thoughts of children growing.  She acted out of love, not malice, or petty disguised animosity.  Susanna would come on the Sabbath, or the day after, coming for the whole day, bringing something sweet to eat, honey, and plenty of smiles and good cheer.  She suggested Naomi should consider raising bees, selling the honey to the fishermen.

It was during one of Susanna’s visits that Naomi learned of the healer Jesus, a new teacher of God, a man speaking words never heard before.  One of Susanna’s nephews, Bartholomew, was traveling with Jesus having become one of his chosen disciples.  The nephew referred to the man as Master.  Whispered words hinted the teacher was the Messiah.  Susanna herself heard the man speak, and told of the enchantment his winged words possessed.  ’More than a prophet’, she would say.  Naomi was not sure what to make of the talk.  There were always religious fanatics wandering the land of Israel.  Susanna even spoke of giving everything up and joining her nephew.  She knew her nephew since he was born and she saw a miraculous change within the young man.  She tried to speak of what she perceived surrounding her nephew and his Master, however she became frustrated with words, disappointed with her explanation, positive it did not embrace matters.  She wanted to tell how the teacher’s voice sounded, yet she was lost for words.  Her words were not winged.  Susanna insisted that Naomi must search out this teacher and healer.

“You must tell him of your affliction.  He heals.  Miracles blossom about him like flowers.”

“It is useless.  I have tried everything.  The verdict is final.”

“This man is something new.  You must at least hear him speak.”

“Susanna I am feeling old.  I am tired.  This small hut has become enough for me.  I watch the sea and the birds.  It is enough.  You are kind and your visits mean so much, but please do not bring false hope.  The decree is done.”

“I want you to offer prayers.  Consider what I say in your silence and solitude with God.  Listen with your heart.  He will speak the words I desire, yet cannot.  Do not take my word.  Take His.  Listen in silence.”

Naomi did consider what Susanna mentioned.  Her friend was a moderate person; a good wife, mother, and grandmother; moral in behavior and thought, always serious about her religion as her father and brothers were Pharisees, proper studying and highly educated in Scripture and the Mosaic Laws.  She had to admit she had never seen her friend express herself in a manner such as she did regarding this teacher who healed.  Others were speaking about the man also.  One could not help, but hear reports of his wandering.

Susanna’s insistence made Naomi think.  From a conventional woman came crazy talk.  There were many false prophets and religious zealots wandering about.  It was nothing new amidst the shores of the Galilee.  Never had her friend become enamored with one.  Naomi knew this.  The women held firm to the proper throughout her life.  Naomi considered the matter as she sat on a large rock with a natural declivity that produced a reclining seat of comfort.  It was a favorite perch.

This beautiful day, enjoying sunshine and blue skies, Naomi stared out beyond the waters of the sea, penetrating on into the wonder of creation.  She noticed the odd flight of a particular bird, its path winding around the blinding light of an undeviating sun.  In a matter of seconds, the bird was hovering above her, flapping its wings as it held steady aloft seemingly desiring to alight.  The brightness of the sun highlighted the bird from behind as it blinded, making it appear larger.  A white dove of splendor it became.  Observing the spectacular bird, an internal voice crystallized, vanquishing thought.

“Seek my Son.  Touch him.  Have faith.  Be healed.”



Tired and content

Long pleasant day of Cleveland consecrated life exploring. Overall message resounds of humility, simplicity, and maturity. The communities visited include: The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and O.F.M.s at St Paul’s Shrine, Mercedarians at St Rocco, the Jesuits at the Jesuit Retreat House, and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word.  All were hospitable, generous in opening their lives to the public. Maturity just absolutely centers as my concentration. Nothing spectacular. Nothing dramatic. St Mary Thomas, the world renowned artist Poor Clare sister, embodied the concept perfectly. I met her, touring her studio, speaking with her, taking her picture. I did not include my first photo. I snapped the picture as she suddenly decided to fix her habit in order to ensure her appearance was perfect. I love the St Damiano cross in the background. In the photo of her adjusting her wardrobe, she bends over enough to show the entire cross. It is an interesting photo. I posted this one as it captures the radiance of her face. She is a religious doing marvelous things within humility, maturity and simplicity, profoundly exercising faith, hope, charity, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit. I was startled to discover she is mentally sharp, articulate, and completely in possession of her mental faculties. Behind cloistered boundaries, she appears old, frail, and physically struggling. In person, she is full of life. She conducted a half hour lecture in the church. Unfortunately, I missed her words. The Mercedarians at St Rocco, a brother community to the order I enjoy celebrating mass with at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, provided a humble explanation of their order from an engaging brother. A genuine younger man devoted to his order and vocation. A remarkable feature of the day was an authenticity in conversation, exploring Catholic faith with mature interest, The Mercedarian brother told of the history of St Rocco, an Italian Parrish. The burgeoning Italian community determined the necessity of a Catholic church. Funds were raised by a priest none were really familiar with. Questions arouse. The answer equated to the priest disappearing with all the money. Truth would be revealed the man was never a priest. The Jesuit retreat center provided a biographical video on the life of St Ignatius. However due to too much time spent at St Paul’s we were running behind schedule. We could not tour the grounds, cutting the visit off prematurely. The final tour was the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, special in regards to my companion for the day Carol’s intimacy with the community. She attended a Catholic school, St Bartholomew’s, run by the sisters, an extended childhood filled with memories and stories of deceased sisters. The attending sisters enthusiastically shared memories and reflections. Carol cares for the grounds of the community, the sisters identifying her as the Flower Woman. The day ended with the discovery of a small single standing Marian chapel upon the grounds. The posted Mary statue, the High Way Mary, stands centered in the chapel. It was quite a discovery. The chapel is open twenty-four seven, absolutely calling for a return visit and Rosary prayers. A lay associate fell into natural conversation with us, walking with us through out the tour. Sitting in the chapel, she shared her life with us. Simple honest conversation. No delusional spiritual directing. No pontificating. No attempting to convince one another of spiritual superiority, or extreme knowledge of the church. No deranged attempts at impressing one another. No name dropping. Simple mature adults exchanging faith, hope, and charity. She would continue with us outside to the grounds, resting in the Marian chapel with us, pulling out her Rosary beads with us.

Highway Mary in the Sisters of the Incarnate Word Marian chapel.

Highway Mary in the Sisters of the Incarnate Word Marian chapel.

Sister Mary Thomas

Sister Mary Thomas

A painting, oil on acrylic, from Sister Mary Thomas' studio.

A painting, oil on acrylic, from Sister Mary Thomas’ studio.


Saturday porch sitting

The pursuit of the religious life is a challenging endeavor. In reality, all of life challenges. This afternoon, speaking with my landlord/roommate, the Presbyterian minister, he informed me he was fired from his position as a Hospice chaplain. His only source of income. He is devastated. Putting aside personal opinions, offering compassion, I provided fellowship. He wanted to discuss details, telling me a family complained, feeling he overstepped boundaries. Their father was dying and he sat with them. They asked if they could be alone with their father.  He responded affirmatively, leaving the room. He could not recall exact details. The day of the event or other specifics, yet he thought he recalled reentering the room. His recollection was cloudy. He then proceeded to inform me he was on probation for complaints from nurses regarding personal conversations. The nurses were uncomfortable with his inquisitive nature. The stunning news only called forth a friendly nature. I halted imagination, not allowing the advancement of speculation.  I even stopped him in his exploration of details, stressing it was over. No dwelling. It was time to look ahead. I offered advice. Prayer, without a doubt, was called for; consolation with a spiritual director, a letter of apology to the Hospice.  The desolation he expressed could only be properly handled through a mature response. God was speaking.

Jogging and walking today, the maturity I have been centering upon came into finer definition. It is through knowing myself, the accepting of limitations, the recognizing of strengths, and the willingness to endure through vulnerability, weakness and humility. I know who I am and who I am not. Teresa of Avila stresses the determining factor of proper self-knowledge. We cannot mature if we do not see ourselves for who we truly are. In regards to the pursuit of the religious life, that can prove difficult. The majority of pursuers become convinced they can do nothing wrong as long as God is their aim.  Many of my quotes from saints touch upon the concept. Those mature in faith understand the intense responsibility and challenge before them. Even under the strictest and most devout pursuit they are on guard against selfish ambitions. They do everything to ensure depth, the avoidance of manipulating faith for self-love. Spiritual maturity is difficult since it is so easy to become self-righteous, self-promoting, constantly seeking those who support and nurture delusion. Water seeks its own level. There is an elderly gentleman at St Paul’s who often looks at me with scrutiny. I feel him questioning my efforts. I admire the man, respecting his humble mature behavior, absorbing his doubt, embracing it as a means of questioning myself, ensuring authenticity. I like the examination.

Reasoning, I determined, a consecrated religious has a greater chance of attaining maturity through the sacrifice and obedience to the Church.  They undergo formation through a spiritual director, superiors, education, and fellow religious brothers and sisters. They are forced to answer to those directed upon them. They are held accountable for their words and actions. Acquiescence is a way of life. Through formation a sound prayer life is established. Infusion imparted. God is active in the maturing. Retreats strengthen, alone time with God. The consecrated life is not just taking. It is sacrificing. Speak to consecrated people and most will agree it is belittling at times. They give their very life to the Church. Bishop Sheen has a widely read book amongst religious titled ‘A Priest is Not His Own’. Through such demands of vulnerability and surrendering maturity is achieved. I am convinced for similar reasons marriage offers maturity, while the single life, greater in potential, stagnates most in a life of immaturity. In marriage, one is no longer his or her own.

In regards to the spirituality of Teresa of Avila, advancement from the third room to the fourth, the first truly mystical room, is important to understand. The third room is the advancement of one past the stage of a beginner. However progress has been made through sheer free will, reasoning and conscience. The religious pursuer has done everything themselves. They still do not know themselves, able to identify their weaknesses, and tendencies of self-absorption. Delusion remains. Most will fall in love with looking about the third room. They become attached to socializing, dancing about, developing a reputation, becoming a noted identity, a self-perceived celebrity. Throughout Teresa’s writing she stresses the importance of not becoming enamored with a room, so caught up in looking around, one is never able to advance beyond. The third room most will never exit. Many will regress backwards. It is the room when self-love, the manipulating of faith, hope, and charity for self-aggrandizement becomes a reality. The fourth room is beautiful in being. Once maturing, developing in prayer and the virtues within the third room, one is lifted into the fourth room. Grace is received. Detachment from the world, freedom from the cravings of sin, a presence within the heart flowering; and above all of that, within the stillness and quietness of the inception is the awareness that it is nothing of one’s doing. It is all God. Infusion into a ready, weak, open, vulnerable, and willing individual of prayer and state of grace. A humble person who is truly advancing in self-knowledge.

Mass today brought greater clarity regarding maturity. What it is and what it is not. First, examination of mass preparation. I utilized the wonderful downtown library drive-thru window, picking up an amazing individual I am intrigued by Sister Hrosvitha (many spellings of her name). There will be more on her to come in the near future. An hour remaining to the start of mass, I decided to park my vehicle, enjoying a lake view for pleasantry and meditation. The immensity of Lake Erie, sailing boats decorating, quieted the mind. Walking into mass, a gentleman from early recovery, a kindly devout man, a fine artist, greeted me. I made a point of walking over to him shaking hands. He mentioned Calix would be the following morning, excited, encouraging me to attend. I smiled in reception of the words. Walking to my normal seat, hidden behind a column, I noticed another recovery gentleman, a clownish man, sitting in my row. I just did not feel like another recovery entanglement. I sat in an abnormal seat, feeling exposed throughout the mass. The presence of Ann haunting for usually I can feel her attendance. However within all of this chaos, all glory goes to God, I was able to center myself, focusing fixedly upon God. I felt unsteady, not having my column to my back, yet I honed in. I utilized the distractions to draw me closer to God.

That reminds me of the Homily and a friary incident. It was the feast day of St James, the Brother of Thunder with John of the Gospels, the apostle honored in Spain through the ancient tradition of the Santiago de Compostela. Father Sam designated James as the Greater, also mentioning the other apostle James the Lesser. During friary days, our meals could be raucous events, unless of course silence was ordered. Once the reading was concluded the floor was open to communal conversation. Brother Corey, a lovable Dow Syndrome young man joining the order, a postulant partner, began teasing me. One of my greatest thrills during friary days was Brother Corey searching me out because he missed an office and needed someone to pray with. What a blessing that was. During the teasing, the fun-loving, always ready to joke, Brother Corey kept calling me James the Lesser. His antics erupting great laughter from himself. I could only smile. Brother Pio, in my humble opinion the holiest, most mystical, of the brothers—a future priest who will massively strengthen the Church, striving to do no less than his namesake, Brother Pio sat next to me during Brother Corey’s amusement. He leaned over to me expounding. “It is good he calls you the Lesser.  Those who are the least will be first in heaven. James, a Thunder Brother, was greater in the eyes of the world. Who knows who is greater in the eyes of God? It is better for others to look at you as a lesser”. The thought of Brother Pio brings such joy. There is a mature soul, and understand I do not even think he is in his thirties yet. If a reader is curious in the recent photo posted, he is the brother in the third row whom the Bishop’s staff is photographically touching. There were stories that when he first joined, Father worried about him. His voice was so awful, he proved to be an intensely abrasive element during prayers. Another insight. While brother would pray he would lose himself in ecstasies, eyebrows twitching, absolutely lost. Brother Corey would stare, busting into laughter at times. Away from the chapel, you could catch him imitating the strange brow movements. Brother Pio would also position himself absurdly at times. Dramatically kneeling, hands held high in prayer, or clutching his heart with both hands for the entire hour. Never doubting, well to be honest–a statement about me–at times I did, his authenticity. I determined the acts were genuine, and if not his intent was to subject himself to ridicule, scrutiny, and attention in order to battle through them into clear concentration upon emptiness and the absolute reception of the Eucharist. I know attention meant nothing to him. During social events he was approachable, yet disappeared quickly, always opting out of casual socializing whenever nonattendance was offered as an option. I watched him closely, always aware of what he was doing. A man almost half my age, yet I never took my learning eye away from him. I noticed during communal conversation, whenever he determined a conversation devolved into superfluous banter, he politely, nonassertively, slipped away.

Anyway back to mass, this is becoming long, consuming more time then intended, God is good providing and giving to those humble in patience and simplicity. After mass, after the circus departed, in the absence of adoration and regular communal prayer due to a wedding, a handful of people sat in silence and prayer. There was God being revealed, the Eucharist consumed still freshly lingering. It reminds me of a popular child’s story by E.B. White: ‘Charlotte’s Web’. I always admired the beginning. The story starts at an end. A lively country fair is concluded. The remnants of festivities littered about. The fun-loving curiosity seekers parted. That is where the story begins. A Holy Hour before the Tabernacle, quenched through prayer, stillness, and silence. Invigoration ensued. Parting from the Church, the Philippine prayer leader Shirley called me over to her in the gathering room, desiring to know how my retreat went. Through flowing Holy Spirit inspired conversation, she told me something stimulating. During her ‘great conversion’ as she calls it, she spent a three day Eucharistic weekend retreat at St Paschal Baylon with the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. The weekend was essential in her formation, sprouting a tremendous devotion to the miracle of the Eucharist. She knew Father Paul Bernier, the fact he served in the Philippines for so many years. She knew his book on the Eucharist. Her mature advice impressed me, she encouraged me to pursue, praising the Third Order of the community, yet also understanding that most important I discern the call of God.   

I want to end with powerful words from a priest’s website. He covers Teresa of Avila’s thoughts with intelligence and depth. He is staunch in his reprimand of relying upon centering prayer, a prayer of quieting as an immature approach to faith. The words are Teresa’s. He quotes her several times in proof for his stance against the reliance upon centering prayer. So much other work needs to be done. I toss in the need to always beware of the Eucharist.  My quieting is done before the Eucharist, not emptying being filled, often while praying a Rosary or the Divine Office, at times simply talking to the Eucharist. Overall, St Teresa slams home the idea of proper prayer.

Firstly, he who reasons less and tries to do least, does most in spiritual matters. We should make our petitions like beggars before a powerful and rich Emperor; then, with downcast eyes, humbly wait. When He secretly shows us He hears our prayers, it is well to be silent, as He has drawn us into His presence; there would then be no harm in trying to keep our minds at rest (that is to say, if we can). If, however, the King makes no sign of listening or of seeing us, there is no need to stand inert, like a dolt, which the soul would resemble if it continued inactive. In this case its dryness would greatly increase, and the imagination would be made more restless than before by its very effort to think of nothing. Our Lord wishes us at such a time to offer Him our petitions and to place ourselves in His presence; He knows what is best for us. I believe that human efforts avail nothing in these matters.  –‘Interior Castle’





Closing out a Friday

Exhausting full day, another Friday turn-around shift, starting with an early Dr Nichta session, leaving me longing for a return to the psychological writings of Jung.  Today’s session was powerful, yet still processing, need to do some reading before putting something together. Doctor introduced the influence of my imagination, an intuitive approach to life opposing my natural personality trait of sensory, a concrete approach to life, logical and through the senses.  Feet firmly planted on the ground, I must be in order to establish stability.  Stout upon a sound foundation, I can pursue and soar.  My imagination is my weaker tendency, yet I have an active, willing to take command, sense of imagination.  My thoughts are easily seduced into imaginative fantasies.  Unreined, it can be destructive.  It is what kept me drinking, allowing fear to dominate, imagining the worst of scenarios, running crazy in possibilities.  Yet now as a burgeoning maturity and confidence firmly plants my feet upon the ground, I am intrigued by the possibility of bringing my imagination under control, allowing it to blossom as never before, while maintaining my conviction to the contemplative life.  Jung declares strengthening the weaker aspects of our personality produces the transformation leading to an individual heightened capacity, a psychic change.  I vaguely recall Jung commenting that one cannot understand his work until one is older.  Conceptually, someone younger can comprehend his writing, yet it could never ignite a spiritual transformation.  Eucharist adoring, knowing who I am and who I am not, the clarity I am experiencing during mass, within prayer, at all times in the presence of God, is astounding.  Enough!  Time for sleep.  Mass and prayers today with the Mercedarians.  A rock-n-roll movie in the evening, The Band’s ‘Last Waltz’ directed by Martin Scorsese.  I enjoyed it, while detached.  More thoughts on that will be explored this weekend. Looking forward to a wonderful weekend, including visiting three religious communities as a part of the Diocese pilgrimage program promoting the support of the consecrated life on Sunday.


A Saint’s poetry snippet on prayer

Even as Elijah, mounting to the sky,
Did cast his mantle to the earth behind;
So when the heart presents the prayer on high,
Exclude the world from traffic with the mind:
Lips near to God, and ranging heart within,
Is but vain babbling, and converts to sin.

3rd verse A Preparative to Prayer
St Robert Southwell

The link is to a neat website detailing the life of the amazing martyr Jesuit priest/poet St. Robert Southwell

Oct. 25 - St. Robert_283721


Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, Holy wisdom, love most bright; Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned, With the fire of life impassioned, Striving still to truth unknown, Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding, Hark, what peaceful music rings; Where the flock, in Thee confiding, Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure; Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure. Thou dost ever lead Thine own In the love of joys unknown.

This hymn sweeps me away every time it is sung.  The words poetically express personal yearnings.  Beautifully, succinctly, it praises the majesty of God beyond human understanding.  That which can be perceived in the deepest of prayer, quietness and stillness before the Eucharist.  That which is hoped for every moment reposed within the presence of God.  That which is tasted during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  That which is touched when our hearts are opened through the acquiescing of pride and free will, holding tightly to the virtues of love and humility.  That I hear within the singing of this hymn. The words are from the poet laureate Robert Bridges, centering the words upon the last movement of Bach’s “Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”.

During meditation before the Eucharist, I felt the desire to stress my interior vision of Christ the majority of time I am quieting myself.  It is the resurrected Christ in all of his magnificence, radiant in luminescence, I visualize in prayer.  The Divine Mercy Christ, touching his heart, rays of bluish white and red pouring forth.  The infant Jesus is recognized at times, the Liturgical season and the Rosary guiding imagery.  Yesterday, I posted a video with microscopic images of sperm cells actively swimming about, life striving, passionate to become embodied.  Such a delightful mystery to observe.  The Holy Spirit within the miracle of life.  The splendor enlarges when the realization of the Holy Spirit impregnating the obedient Mary.  What a wonder.  A Polish priest I knew remarked that there it was, that was the defining moment of mankind.  Mary’s fiat, and then within her womb the conceiving of Jesus, One of Three.  The Word incarnate.  The Divine baby poor in utter simplicity, during the travels of holy common, poor working parents, Saint Joseph and the eventual Queen of Heaven.  How could she not become the Queen of Heaven after all of that?  The Infant of Prague provides blessing, a testament to my friend Janette in Toledo. Sister Patricia told me, vague on why, or sources, yet she said “James you realize Jesus, eternal in being, was always going to come. God always intended His Divine Incarnation. Before original sin, Jesus was destined for birth, the ultimate grace to mankind”. The teacher Jesus, the man Jesus, the wise, unassuming, kind, compassionate, obedient, insightful, and also passionate when it came to His Father is also an image.  The proclamation of the Kingdom of God is the third mystery of the Luminous mysteries.  The Beatitudes.  Then the most striking, the most penetrating image of Jesus within prayer is the Passion of Christ.  The crucifixion propels forward the deepest message of the life of Jesus, the piercing of the heart of Mary.  His death defines the greatest. Sister Patricia remarks “His death, His passion and crucifixion was not God’s intent. It was a consequence”. May the blood of Jesus always wash over my heart nurturing love and humility within my disposition.


A pleasing statue

Staying in God’s presence and placing ourselves in God’s presence are, to my mind, two different things.  In order to place ourselves in His presence we have to withdraw our soul from every other object and make it attentive to that presence at this very moment….But once we are there, we remain there, as long as either our intellect or our will is active in regard to God.  We look either at him or at something else for love of Him; or, not looking at anything at all, we speak to Him; or again, without either looking at Him or speaking to Him, we just stay there where He has placed us, like a statue in its niche.  And if while we are there, we also have some sense that we belong to God and that He is our All, then we must certainly thank Him for this.

If a statue that had been placed in a niche in some room had the ability to speak and were asked “Why are you there? it would answer, “Because my master, the sculptor, has put me here.”  “Why don’t you move about?’  “Because he wants me to be perfectly still.”  “What use are you there?  What do you gain by staying like this?”  “I’m not here for my own benefit, but to serve and obey the will of my master.”  “But you don’t see him.”  “No, but he sees me and is pleased that I am here where he has put me.”  “But wouldn’t you like to be able to move about and to get closer to him?”  “No, not unless he ordered me to.”  “Isn’t there anything at all that you want then?”  “No because I am where my master put me, and all my happiness lies in pleasing him.”  –St Francis de Sales letter to St Jane de Chantal
Venice church St Mary Assumption

St Peter statue Venice church St Mary Assumption