Catholic

Communion

Years ago, as a young priest confronting the realities of celibate living outside the walls of the seminary, I realized I needed to taste two fundamental experiences to survive both humanly and spiritually.  (Yes, I know that what is truly human is spiritual and what is authentically spiritual is always grounded in the human.)  My soul longed—forgive this melodramatic language—for regular experiences of intimacy and transcendence.  Without these two ego-collapsing and soul-lifting “out of time” moments, I tended to wither as a human being and as a Christian.  With them, I not only survived, I tended to flourish.  And drawing on their energy, I had the ability to be a “beneficial presence”—a healing witness in the Reign of God.  That’s our common destiny as Christians: to allow the Christ in us to render us beneficial.  –Donald Cozzens “Notes From the Underground: The Spiritual Journal of a Secular Priest”

Thoughts to be lifted up, buoyed by the light of St John of the Cross and others darkness.

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St Dominic early morning Holy Hour

The maturity of this communal prayer supplied during the St Dominic Holy Hour soothes with the profound.  At first, I was turned off, due to the simplification of speculating upon an exchange between God the Father and God the Son.  I am convinced Divine Communication must not be lowered down to human understanding.  The danger of reducing Jesus’ method of prayer down to a relatable human level, making Jesus just like all other humans, put me in a defensive mind state.  I am convinced Jesus’ spirituality must be praised in mystery.  Yet hearing the entirety of the prayer verbally read aloud, my heart and mind opened to the message, appeased by the serious humble message.

Reflection.  Jesus prays.  Jesus spends a whole night in prayer with His Father.  No doubt they discussed who should be among the apostles.  They went through the options one by one, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the men who would be chosen.  Jesus interceded for His future apostles, begging His Father for the graces they would need to carry out the mission they were going to be given.  Jesus calls me to follow Him as His apostle.  The call is not a half-hearted or hasty decision.  Jesus has pondered well my strengths and weaknesses before He calls me.  He knows me inside and out and still He invites me to be his apostle and share in His mission.

Called by name.  Imagine what it was like for the apostles to be assembled before Christ in the early morning and hear Him as He called out their names one by one.  What would it have been like to hear your name called?  When Jesus calls out your name the words are more than just an identification tag.  He is calling the whole person, the whole you—with all your personal history, your talents, and defects, your sins and virtues, your daydreams and generosity (your selfishness and pride).  Relish the beauty of this call.  Jesus wants you—the you that reaches from the depths of your soul to your outward appearance.  He wants you to be His apostle.

The mission to heal.  Christ’s call has a very concrete and distinct purpose: the salvation of humanity.  Humanity cries out for healing.  People come from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon thirsting for the truth of Christ’s words and the powerful touch of his grace.  This mission that Christ invites you to share in.  What a privilege!  What an honor to be chosen to be part of the team who will help rescue mankind from the misery of pride, sensuality and egoism, who will bring them to the fulfillment of a life of love and generosity.

Lord, thank you for this time of prayer and reflection.  Many times I forget what you have called me to.  I forget that I am just an individual acting on my own behalf but an apostle acting as your emissary.  I know you have called me with all my defects and weaknesses, but I do not want to use this as an excuse not to grow in virtue and overcome the obstacles of my human frailty (let me not wallow in self-loathing, or become attached to prideful shame). I will work to be a better apostle but at the same time I will have the serenity and peace of knowing that you know perfectly well who I am and whom you have called.

St Dominic receiving the Rosary from Our holy Mother

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Maundy Thursday

Easter Triduum
Sacred Heart
The Cross
A reposed Eucharist
Lonely Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

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Tenebrae in Toledo: Rosary Cathedral

“Look, O LORD, and behold, for I am despised.
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon me,
Which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.
From on high he sent fire;
Into my bones He made it descend;
He spread a net for my feet;
He turned me back;
He has left me stunned, faint all the day long.
My transgressions were bound into a yoke;
By his hand they were fastened together;
They were set upon my neck;
He caused my strength to fail;
The Lord gave me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand.”

Lamentations

A solemn and majestic Catholic tradition exercised in Toledo as I have never experienced it anywhere else; profound and breath taking in the stunning Rosary Cathedral.

Rosary Cathedral Toledo

….One such service celebrated as an introduction to the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) is called “tenebrae”.

The word itself means “darkness” in reference to the darkness held in the heart of the church during the days and hours of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. The order of service for Tenebrae takes its form from the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours….

In its classic form dating as far back as the ninth century and earlier in some regions of Western Europe, Tenebrae was celebrated in the early morning hours on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Historical and liturgical sources indicate that the service of Tenebrae commenced at midnight and was comprised of three separate segments called “nocturns”, each having a collection of specific psalm texts, antiphons and readings, followed by the praying of “lauds” (the morning prayer of the Church). Each of the three “nocturns” featured a selection of specific writings: the first nocturn featured passages from the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah; the second from the writings of St. Augustine; the third from the writings of St. Paul.

Rich in symbolism, the service of Tenebrae incorporates the use of light and darkness to evoke the spiritual reality recalled within the prayer. For instance, as the service was celebrated on the morning of Good Friday in its earliest days, the candles used for lighting were successively extinguished so that by the end only one candle was left burning. While the church found itself in darkness, the lone candle, the light of the one who would sacrifice himself for the life of the world, would remain and be seen as the light in darkness. Hope was restored for God’s faithful ones.

Another feature of the Tenebrae Service celebrated at Toledo’s Rosary Cathedral is the use of black vestments. Normally worn for the Requiem Mass during the pre-Vatican II period, the Cathedral’s black vestments are hand-embroidered and depict in episodic progression the passion and suffering events of Christ’s way to Calvary.

While the Office of Tenebrae has been replaced by the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours today, some parish and cathedral communities offer a hybrid form of the service usually on Wednesday evening during Holy Week as an introduction to the mystery of faith recalled during the Sacred Triduum.

BY THE REVEREND CHARLES E. SINGLER, D.MIN. Rector of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral Director of the Office of Worship, Diocese of Toledo 2008

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Holy Week

Facing Evil

Jesus lived a human life as God’s true Son, overcoming the temptations all of us inherit by being born into this world. On Good Friday, Jesus went to his death trusting that his dear Father would bring victory out of what seemed the total defeat of his mission. In the garden on the night before his death, he seems to have faced for the last time the temptation to fear, but he was able to hand over his life in trust to his Father. He went to his death believing that his way of being Messiah was the way to bring about God’s Kingdom, and he absorbed human evil without passing it on. His faith made this possible. —William A. Barry, SJ , Lenten Meditations

The Presence of God

Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your Spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom

By God’s grace
I was born to live in freedom.
Free to enjoy the pleasures he created for me.
Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended,
with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness

In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

Conversation

Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you, to live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

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Christ’s words to a friend being formed into a lover

Follow your own road without fearing you’ll lose me.  You will find me when you return, even if you’re a thousand years late.

Since your weak and you let life push you around, go wherever it pulls you.  Why struggle if you’ll only struggle in vain.

I will be strong for you.  I will build a mountain with your failures and sit atop the peak waiting for you.

Don’t worry.  The night won’t frighten me and the cold won’t drive me away.  There is no winter as cold as my winter, no night as deep as my night.  I myself freeze the wind.  I myself darken the sky.C

Follow your road.  While I wait for you.  I will be immovable.  Like a boulder.  Or better yet.  Like a tree (cross) clutching the earth with a savage fury.

‘Absolute Solitude’ Dulce Maria Loynaz

The Eternal Broken Heart

In Jesus, God saves us by becoming so vulnerable that we are able to kill him in a vile and humiliating way. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus assure us that God’s offer of friendship will never be withdrawn, no matter what we do. If the cross did not result in a withdrawal of the offer, then nothing we do will lead to a change of God’s heart. We can, however, refuse the offer. Friendship is a mutual relationship, and a person has to accept the offer; he or she cannot be coerced or tricked into it. And any human being’s final refusal of God’s friendship breaks God’s heart. Still, God does not turn away from such a person in anger and rage. God lives eternally with a broken heart. That’s how vulnerable God wants to be. —William A. Barry, SJ, Lenten Meditations

The Presence of God

To be present is to arrive as one is and open up to the other. At this instant, as I arrive here, God is present waiting for me. God always arrives before me, desiring to connect with me even more than my most intimate friend. I take a moment and greet my loving God.

Freedom

I am free…create in me a feeling of awe. Yes, a wonderful feeling of freedom. Thank you, God.

Consciousness

To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord, help me remember that you gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.

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