Monthly Archives: February 2017

Mary, co-redemptrix

Lord Our God,
In Your eternal wisdom,
You fill out the passion of Christ,
Through the suffering that His members endure,
In the many trials of this life,
As You gave His Mother strength in her agony,
To stand by the cross of Your Son,
Grant that we too may bring loving comfort to others,
In their distress of mind and body,

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin,
Prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son grant, we pray,
That, as You preserved her from every stain,
By the virtue of the death of Your Son, which You foresaw,
So, through her intercession,
We, too, may be cleansed and admitted to Your presence,

O God, whose, Son dying on the altar of the Cross,
Willed that the most Blessed Virgin Mary,
Whom He had chosen as His Mother,
Should be our Mother also,
Graciously grant, we pray,
That we, who fly to her protection,
May find comfort by invoking our Mother’s name,
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit.
One God for ever and ever,



Alone within the body of Christ

Today I encountered a sparsely attended Mass, quiet afterwards, properness settling into worship. Yesterday’s bustle of celebration and socializing proved rewarding, yet within today’s aloneness and silence before the Eucharist my heart easily recognized where it draws its strength. During Mass, the religious sister sat close, behind and to the left, providing consecrated fellowship. My mind and heart felt peace from the festivities, thrilling in conversation, comfortable with mature companionship, and the icing on the cake being the Cuban poet/political science professor enthusiastically expounding on the Battle of Lepanto, Cervantes losing an arm, and the relevance of the Rosary. God is good and all giving, illuminating and enlightening. Tomorrow morning will be breakfast with the Russians, and the purchasing of another chunk of smoked salmon. An amusingly antagonizing priest, a liberal priest prone to poking and prodding the spiritual life of parishioners, one whose homilies usually center upon the failings of those who think they are the most committed to Christ, recently stressed the importance of finding God within all those who are in, have been, and will be in our lives. God has placed them there for precise reasons and to shun them, thinking we can go to God alone and within the depth of our prayer life is a grave mistake. A prayer: Father, I honor the Sacred Heart of Your Son. Brutally corrupted by my deeds, yet symbol of love’s triumph, pledge to all that I am called to be. Teach me to see Christ in all the lives that I touch, and to offer to My Lord living worship through love filled service to my brothers and sisters. I ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Our Lady of the Rosary

By Domincan Father Francis A. Gafney, OP

Lepanto marks the spot of victory,
Over crescent cruel and strong, by forces weak,
Of hallowed cross; of which, “if sign you seek,”
Tis not of man but a Divinity,
The white-robed Pius Fifth the Rosary
Uplifted like the rod of Moses, meek;
Whilst Ottoman on Christians wrath would wreak
And, as of old, engulfed them in the sea.

O Lady of the Rosary today,
Thy clients all beseech thee, hear their prayer,
And beg the Christ Who raging storms did quell,
Bid warring nations cease their bloody fray;
His power and thine honor, we declare;
O Thou All-Fair, thou joy of Israel.

Cervantes at the Battle of Lepanto


Whirlwind Sunday before Lent

A weekend full of work was offset with the celebration of Father Roger’s 50th birthday, a pleasant event.  The Cuban political science professor attended, providing an earful of conversation.  Her impassioned promptings guided to the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles J. Chaput OFM.  She is insistent upon her college students taking interest in his latest book ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’.  Regarding my fascination with Native Americans, I was delighted when she informed me the esteemed religious is a proud American Indian, a member of the Potawatomi tribe.  Native Americans know full well what it is to have one’s spiritual life crushed.  Everything coalesces into the difficulties of embracing the religious life in a devastating world, entwining within my current captivation with Andrei Tarkovsky and Russian film making.  Life presents charm when last week I met an amiable Russian couple operating an international deli close to my home.  I have passed by the deli often, yet never took notice until tending to business across the street.  Exploring the deli/cafe, I came across an elderly man and woman filled with life and conversation.  They insisted I try several dishes, selling me on their Russian smoked salmon, an amazing oily raw chunk of meaty fish delicately presented.  The amount of natural fish oil oozing from the salmon makes for interesting eating.  I feel like a bear eating the delicacy, chewing on the skin and savoring the fat.  They also had me try a buckwheat breakfast dish that has established itself as an early morning favorite.  The couple sells commissioned artwork in their modest business.  Observing the paintings, I stopped at a huge childish image of a man in a red forest taking aim with his bow and arrow at a bear confronting him.  I exclaimed, ‘I like this one’.  The man became excited telling me his son painted this at the age of thirteen, although now as an adult he put aside his paint brushes to become a medical doctor.  The man pulled me by the hand, telling me he had to show me how Russians party.  He led me to his next-door establishment, a quaint series of wooden rooms with the center of the rooms being a sauna.  More of his son’s huge paintings from his early teens decorated.  He preceded to tell me how saunas were a traditional way Russians socialized.  They would come together for hours for relaxation and cleansing—he rents the sauna to groups for four hour blocks.  Prepared Russian food is served, vodka is drank, with a billiards table for fun as music plays, while men and women go in and out of the sauna, also utilizing the two massage rooms.  Inside the sauna, moist birch and oak branches are used to fan bodies, supporting the cleansing process.  I chuckled and asked if the vodka aided in the detoxing.  He just smiled and said it is the Russian way.  The discovery of the Russian couple—people of faith, Tarkovsky, and a Youtube video provider Gregory Decapolite I have been investigating, all illuminate the difficulty of devoutly remaining a person of faith under a totalitarian repressive government.  It makes me wonder about all the untold stories of individuals preserving in the Russian Eastern Orthodox faith during the dark days of the Soviet Union.  I posted a lengthy video by Gregory Decapolite at the end of this post highlighting a fascinating story of inspiring Russian nuns challenging their communist oppressors—the orthodox chants backdropping the videos is precious alone.

Opening to Archbishop Charles Chaput’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’


We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our might that this street, this world, where God has placed us, is our place of holiness.

CHRISTIANS HAVE MANY GOOD REASONS FOR HOPE.  Optimism is another matter.  Optimism assumes that, sooner or later, things will naturally turn out for the better.  Hope has no such illusions.

Some men who experience neither spiritual devotion, nor desire to reform their lives, nor zeal for God’s glory nevertheless wish to enter religious life. And why?  Because they hope that religious life will give them some particular advantage which they prize: perhaps physical rest or leisure for reading and study.  In some cases, they want to be fed and clothed and cared for in sickness and old age.  Sometimes the motive is vainglory — the wish to be admired, to acquire a reputation for virtue, to live in a better situation and on a higher plane than they can reach as laymen.  But such desires must be discouraged.  A candidate showing such dispositions must be reminded of the Sage’s remark: “My son, if you enter God’s service prepare your soul, not for delights, honor, or rank, but for temptation. ”  We must point out to such a one, as Saint Benedict directs, all the hard and difficult things through which anybody who desires to follow Christ must pass. Such warnings will induce these aspirants either to refrain from entering religious life, or to rectify their intention.  

The Lord did the same when a certain man promised to follow Him everywhere. Jesus answered him: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”  It is as if He had said to that man: “You say that you follow me, but perhaps you are hoping for an easier life or seeking fame and a high position in the world. Know that you will be disappointed.”  Know that Jesus Christ provides for His followers not ease but trouble; not honor but contempt, insults, dishonor, calumny; not rank, but utter subjection.  In God’s service even rank itself means service and subjection.  If anyone seeks to enter religion to be served rather than to serve, to relax rather than to become wearied, he should be told outright:  “Depart, my brother, depart. You think you will find rest in religious life?  You will find anxiety.  You expect to be praised, taken for good and holy?  You will be blamed and insulted; more often than not even your good deeds will be repaid with scorn.  You seek high rank?  I tell you that to enter religious life means to enter into constant servitude, perpetual subjection.  quoted by Dom Jean Leclercq in ‘God Alone with God’


Cloistered Replication

The desire of heaven and the love of God.  It is long since we came to realize the emptiness, the powerlessness, the nothingness of this life with its false goods, and, forsaking the world, entered the cloister to seek the Sovereign Good alone.  In the measure in which our souls have detached and purified themselves, the desire of heaven has become stronger, and the ardor of our love of God increased almost to impatience.  All we want is God, God seen, loved, possessed without delay.  True, the God of our hearts is here, quite close to us, in the Blessed Sacrament.  But we want Him without any concealing veil.  Sometimes He permits us to find Him in prayer.  But we are not satisfied with such a transient and incomplete union.  We would hold Him in perfect and everlasting possession.  Our bodies stand like the walls of a prison between our souls and our Well-Beloved.  Down with them, therefore; let them cease to hide from us the Sole Object of all our affections!  –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’

THE CLOISTERED HEART IS a way of living for God in the midst of the world. It is heart monasticism that can be embraced by married or single persons, religious or lay. It’s an analogy in which our lives can be “monasteries,” our hearts can live in the “enclosure” of Christ, and all things may be viewed through the will of God as through a “grille.”  Nancy Shuman

The Cloister at Le Mont Saint Michel


Tarkovsky final scene

Images tantalizing and beautiful, the final scene from ‘Ivan’s Childhood’