In order to receive Mary’s love, in order to receive her who was totally consecrated to God, Joseph must have had to enter into this consecration himself…..When Mary told him about herself, Joseph received her as she was, and, since he loved her, his only desire could have been to live what she lived. When we love someone, we receive what is most secret in that person and we desire to live it too. If it were any other way it would be the proof that we do not really love that person, since love is concerned with what is best, most intimate and most secret in a person. Truly choosing to love someone means loving what is most profound in that person. What was deepest in Mary was that she belonged to God. Joseph therefore chose this out of love for her, and so consecrated himself to God by the very fact that he loved her. —Father Marie-Dominique Philippe ‘The Mystery of St Joseph’
Our Lady’s Knight
“‘A peaceful sky, there are such things,’ I recalled from a popular song; and now I marveled at it. A rainbow high, there are such things,’ and I was thrilled by it that morning. ‘Have faith and trust in what tomorrow brings; you’ll reach the stars, because there are such things,’ the song continues. Believe me mother I do have confidence in it. I’m willing to prove its worth, even with my life. As I speed through the blue sky and soar gallantly through the universe, I feel as if I were peering dauntlessly in search of anyone or anything that may tamper with, endanger, or plot against the things we Americans love you and cherish. I am absolutely certain that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–the things we love so much, the things that men like myself sacrifice their human existence for–shall continue to be realities in America. There are such things, and there shall always be such things in America! ‘
There Are Such Things
A heart that’s true, there are such things
A dream for two, there are such things
Someone to whisper “Darling you’re my guiding star”
Not caring what you own but just what you are
A peaceful sky, there are such things
A rainbow high where heaven sings
So have a little faith and trust in what tomorrow brings
You’ll reach a star because there are such things
Healing the Eight Stages of Life
Ann had tried unsuccessfully for twenty years to help her son Tom who kept angrily withdrawing from the family. Tom had acted this way ever since his difficult birth followed by many days in an incubator. During that time, Tom, alone and separated from his mother’s love, struggled to survive. Now twenty years later, Tom still lived as if he had to struggle to survive alone. His mother still found that the more she tried to love him, the more Tom would distance himself. Finally, Tom eagerly left home for college and had little desire to ever return.
One day Ann decided to hold Tom’s photo on her heart and ask for the love of Jesus and Mary to flow through her heart and change her son. But after praying this way for several days, she discovered that Tom was only getting worse. When she asked herself “why?”, she was shocked to discover that, even while she prayed, her love was conditional on Tom’s changing. She took the photo again and prayed for Tom, allowing Jesus and Mary’s unconditional love to flow through her even if Tom never changed. As she closed her eyes and prayed, this time she saw her son in a blue sweater rather than in the suit he wore in the photo. A few days later she saw this same sweater in a department store and bought it to give to Tom at Christmas.
Several months later Tom came home for a short visit and said, “I don’t know why but the last couple of weeks I’ve been eager to spend some time at home, perhaps stay during Christmas. Maybe you can put in a word to Santa Claus that I want a blue sweater like all the fraternity brothers have”. Tom then describe the exact same sweater Ann had seen in her prayer and had bought two months ago. Ann laughed and said, “We will have Christmas now!” So she pulled out of her secret hiding place the sweater Tom had just described for the first time. Ann told Tom how she saw the sweater as she prayed for him. Tom was amazed at how much God loved him, even telling his mother to get him a sweater two months before she knew he wanted it. They held each other and cried as they experienced how God was healing their relationship. Now they go for long walks together and share their hearts.
Prayer guarantees no fast or infallible solution. But if we love one another with the depth of Jesus’ unconditional love, our hearts–like Ann’s–will change even if our Toms do not. When we pray for another, that person may receive or reject the love of Jesus. But the more we give the depth of Jesus’ unconditional love, the harder it is for another’s heart to keep rejecting our prayer. Even stubborn Saint Augustine held out for only seventeen years when facing the prayer of his persistent mother, Saint Monica. Augustine’s stubbornness made Monica a patient saint. We simply pray and leave the results up to God who will deepen our love and is always full of surprises. Ann never would have guessed that a blue sweater would heal Tom. So too, Saint Monica prayed that Augustine would stay away from wicked Rome. But God’s answer was to send Augustine to Rome where he met Saint Ambrose who converted him.
Two Mass readings feeding upon one another.
My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more,
the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.
What is too sublime for you, seek not,
into things beyond your strength search not.
The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,
and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.
Water quenches a flaming fire,
and alms atone for sins.
Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached
that which could be touched
and a blazing fire
and gloomy darkness
and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
No, you have approached
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
The soul, advancing from step to step in holy prayer, becomes so resplendent that it is impossible she should not be admired, and that even the world, seeing her in the midst of the desert, solicited by so many sins, walking faithfully, and resembling a column of odoriferous perfume rising toward the sky, should not exclaim:
Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke, of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense, and all the powders of the perfumer?
But this applause is a hidden and sweetened poison, which very often causes the saintliest and devout to lose their justice and their devotion.
Let him whosoever hears his own praises turn towards those of God: let him persuade the praiser not to praise a thing of so little worth; but to draw up the praises of God out of our lowness and littleness. And if he cannot so soon fix his gaze on the Divinity, let him at least praise Jesus Christ, man, our true Solomon, and that principally in three things, His flesh, His cross, His Glory, saying: Behold worthy is His flesh, the bed of his Divinity and of His soul, surrounded by more than sixty valiant soldiers, who defend against every one who could cause it fear: that flesh which is not inclined to sin like ours, but by the hypostatic union, and by the empire it holds over the angels, it is altogether perfect and impeccable:
Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel, surrounded the bed of Solomon, and all holding sword’s and most expert in war: every man’s sword upon his thigh, because of fears in the night.
As for the Cross, how holy is it!
St Francis de Sales ‘The Mystical Explanation of the Canticle of Canticles’
Friday proves a celebratory blessing in prayer, sharing vespers and Adoration with the Benedictines at St Andrew’s Abbey. It is a powerful experience; silence intense, voicing of Psalms as a choir, concluding communal activity with the singing of ‘Salve Regina’—remembrance of prayerful evenings with the Brothers Minor of Fort Wayne. It proves simple in manliness, the sharing of faith with brothers, men humble before the Eucharist. I have extended an invitation to the Man of Prayer to join me on Friday evenings. Authentically, he is steeped so deeply in prayer, the invitation arises purely. Though treading upon the lunatic fringe, his dedication to prayer, his sacrifice and ability to remain hidden, able to hold his tongue amongst those keen in perception and practice, I would be honored to be accompanied by the Man of Prayer, to share in profound concealed prayer and Adoration. I received a call from John the Hermit the past week, placing my thoughts upon him. Though undergoing the rigors of a serious prayer life, I could not see him accompanying. I witnessed him in Massachusetts amongst the Maronite monks of Adoration. He was unable to withhold the immature tendency to talk too much, constantly isolating himself with monks and pouring himself out upon them. I am blessed God has provided the strength and furthering to grasp the essential nature of holding one’s tongue in order to advance–wise virgins refusing to share their wine with the foolish. Wisdom and understanding is beheld, exercised, and shielded within a developed prayer life through the consistency of silence, the tendency toward silence opposed to expression. The significant other and I were sharing a fondness for lyrics of Robert Plant, singer of the classic rock band Led Zeppelin, ‘living reflection of a dream’. Within the ‘Rain Song’ lines emerge relevant: ‘Speak to me only with your eyes….Ain’t so hard to recognize – These things are clear to all from time to time.’ A final thought. Mass at Our Lady of Peace in Shaker Heights lifted with inspiration. The priest apologized at the end of Mass for forgetting to offer prayers to a dear longtime friend, a priest who passed away yesterday. He voiced the passing of Father Wilfred Smith, loosening knots within my heart. I visited with the priest over the last year at the Jennings Center, getting to know him fairly well. As his mental competency and health declined, he demanded a ceasing of visitors. He desired to be left alone as he approached death. I felt the tenderness of God when the day after his passing the news was offered so simply. I spoke to the priest after Mass, sharing with him my experience, learning from the priest father possessed a sister who is a cloistered nun, and a nephew who is priest. News I was unaware of. The day was long and night is upon me. God is good and all giving. An encore with lyrics for the significant other.
It is a springtime of my loving
The second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing
So little warmth I’ve felt before
It isn’t hard to feel me glowing
I watched the fire that grew so low
It is the summer of my smiles
Flee from me Keepers of the Gloom
Speak to me only with your eyes
It is to you I give this tune
Ain’t so hard to recognize –
These things are clear to all from time to time
Talk talk talk talk
I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us…
But I know that I love you so
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion
I see the torch we all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient
Upon us all a little rain must fall.
Just a little rain.