Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passion Sunday 2010

All glory, laud, and honor, to thee Redeemer King! To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

"Only by self-abandonment, only by the disinterested gift of the “I” in favour of the “you”, only in the “yes” to the greater life, the life of God, does our life also become broad and great. Thus this fundamental principle established by the Lord is ultimately identical to the principle of love. Love, in fact, means letting go of oneself, giving oneself, not wanting to possess oneself, but becoming free from oneself: not retiring into oneself – (what will become of me?) – but looking ahead, towards the other – towards God and towards the men that he sends to me. And once again, this principle of love, which defines man’s path, is identical to the mystery of the cross, to the mystery of death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ." ~Benedict XVI, Homily on Palm Sunday 2009

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annunciation: FIAT!

I always remember my dear sisters in the religious life today, perhaps because of the radical way their spiritual motherhood reflects Mary's virgin motherhood. (I was blessed to have three of my four bridesmaids--among others--enter convents within a year of my wedding! No reflection on the quality of my spouse.) There were some awesome orders entered: the Nashville Dominicans (three friends), the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (maid of honor), the Sisters of Life (one friend), and the Servants of the Lord (three entered, two stayed). May their tribe increase!

Here, via the Anchoress, is a reflection from a Dominican nun from 2009.

"Mary and Eve were the only two women in history who were given the opportunity to choose the good without the hindrance of disorderly passions, the effects of original sin. Mary was completely free, as Eve was, to choose the good. Whereas Eve doubted God’s fatherly love for her, Mary fully believed that God is Father, that He could conceive the Child He promised within her womb."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to make/renew your consecration.

Act of Consecration

If possible, you should go to the Sacrament of Penance and receive Holy Communion on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, the actual day of consecration.

Consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate

O eternal and incarnate Wisdom! O most amiable and adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the eternal Father, and of Mary, ever-virgin! I adore you profoundly in the heart and splendors of your Father during eternity; and I adore you also in the virginal heart of Mary, your worthy Mother, in the time of your incarnation.

I give you thanks, because you annihilated yourself, taking the form of a slave in order to free me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify you, because you were willing to submit to Mary, your holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me your faithful slave through her. But I have been ungrateful and faithless; I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to you in my Baptism. I have not fulfilled my obligations. I do not deserve to be called your child, nor yet your slave; and since there is nothing in me which does not merit your anger and rejection, I dare not come by myself before your holy and divine Majesty. So I have recourse to the intercession of your most holy Mother, whom you have given me for an intercessor with you. It is through her that I hope to obtain from you contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.

Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to you.

I, N_________, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands the vowsof my Baptism: I renounce forever Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises, and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose you this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the valueof all my good actions, past, present and future. I leave to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.

Receive, O good Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that submission which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to your maternity, and in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored you. I declare that I wish henceforth, as your true slave, to seek your honor and to obey you in all things.

O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by you, so by you He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom you love and teach, whom you lead, nourish, and protect as your children and your slaves.

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave ofthe Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ your Son, that I may attain, by your intercession and by your example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen. ~St. Louis de Montfort

Consecration: Prayer of St. Augustine.

Today is the final day of preparation! I will post the consecration prayer and suggestions later. Have a beautiful feast of the Annunciation, and may God bless you in your devotion to Mary!

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day Seven
Prayer of St. Augustine
O Jesus Christ, you are my Father, my merciful God, my great King, my good Shepherd, my only Master, my best helper, my beloved friend of overwhelming beauty, my living Bread, my eternal priest. You are my guide to my heavenly home, my one true light, my holy joy, my true way, my shining wisdom, my unfeigned simplicity, the peace and harmony of my soul, my perfect safeguard, my bounteous inheritance, my everlasting salvation.

My loving Lord, Jesus Christ, why have I ever loved or desired anything else in my life but you, my God? Where was I when I was not in communion with you? From now on, I direct all my desires to be inspired by you and centred on you. I direct them to press forward for they have tarried long enough, to hasten towards their goal, to seek the one they yearn for.

O Jesus, let him who does not love you be accursed, and filled with bitterness. O gentle Jesus, let every worthy feeling of mine show you love, take delight in you and admire you. O God of my heart and my inheritance, Christ Jesus, may my heart mellow before the influence of your spirit and may you live in me. May the flame of your love burn in my soul. May it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart. May it glow in my innermost being. May it spread its heat into the hidden recesses of my soul and on the day of my consummation may I appear before you consumed in your love. Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Consecration: It is Jesus you seek.

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day Six

(from an address given by John Paul II at Tor Vergata, World Youth Day 2000)

This evening I will give you the Gospel. It is the Pope's gift to you at this unforgettable vigil. The word which it contains is the word of Jesus. If you listen to it in silence, in prayer, seeking help in understanding what it means for your life from the wise counsel of your priests and teachers, then you will meet Christ and you will follow him, spending your lives
day by day for him!

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord's grace are winning!

Dear friends, at the dawn of the Third Millennium I see in you the "morning watchmen." In the course of the century now past young people like you were summoned to huge gatherings to learn the ways of hatred; they were sent to fight against one another. The various godless messianic systems which tried to take the place of Christian hope have shown themselves to be truly horrendous. Today you have come together to declare that in the new century you will not let yourselves be made into tools of violence and destruction; you will defend peace, paying the price in your person if need be. You will not resign yourselves to a world where other human beings die of hunger, remain illiterate and have no work. You will defend life at every moment of its development; you will strive with all your strength to make this earth ever more livable for all people.

Dear young people of the century now beginning, in saying "yes" to Christ, you say "yes" to all your noblest ideals. I pray that he will reign in your hearts and in all of humanity in the new century and the new millennium. Have no fear of entrusting yourselves to him! He will guide you, he will grant you the strength to follow him every
day and in every situation.

May Mary most holy, the Virgin who said "yes" to God throughout her whole life, may Saints Peter and Paul and all the Saints who have lighted the Church's journey down the ages, keep you always faithful to this holy resolve!

To each and every one of you I offer my blessing with affection.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Consecration: Did not our hearts burn?

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day Five

Luke 24:13-32: The Road to Emmaus
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Consecration: The suffering of Christ.

Week Three, Day Four

"'Christ does not explain in some abstract way the reasons for suffering, but says first of all: 'Follow me', 'Come', with your suffering share in this work of salvation of the world, which is realized through my suffering, by means of my Cross' (Salvifici Doloris, n. 26).

This is the true meaning and value of suffering, of the pain which is physical, moral and spiritual. This is the Good News which I wish to pass on to you. To our human questioning, the Lord responds with a call, with a special vocation which is grounded in love. Christ comes to us not with explanations and reasons which might either anaesthetize or alienate us. Instead, he comes to us saying: "Come with me. Follow me on the way of the Cross. The Cross is suffering". "Whoever wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me" (Lk 9:29). Jesus Christ has taken the lead on the way of the Cross. He has suffered first. He does not drive us towards suffering but shares it with us, wanting us to have life and to have it in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Consecration: So you are a king?

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day Three
John 18:33-19:6
Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?"

Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world."

Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?"

Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."

Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, "I find no crime in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?"

They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.

Pilate went out again, and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.

Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!"

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Consecration: More hidden things.

Have a blessed Solemnity of St. Joseph!

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day Two
Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Miriam, the Gender Specialist.

We were sitting in the warm sun, after a morning of flu...

Mom: "You have a beautiful heart, Miriam."

Miriam: "Thanks, mom."

thoughtful pause

Miriam: "Girls' hearts have roses in them."

Mom: to self "Oh, gag me!"

another long pause

Miriam: "And boys' hearts are full of thorns."

Mom: wonders to self "Huh. A Sacred Heart reference?"

Consecration: Knowledge of Christ.

We begin the third and final week of preparation! This week is focused on growing in knowledge of Christ.

Week Three: Knowledge of Christ
Day One

John 14:8-20
Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that
day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Consecration: Christ's attitude toward Mary.

Week Two: Knowledge of Mary
Day Seven

from St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

63. Here I turn to you for a moment, dear Jesus, to complain lovingly to your divine Majesty that the majority of Christians, and even some of the most learned among them, do not recognise the necessary bond that unites you and your Blessed Mother. Lord, you are always with Mary and Mary is always with you. She can never be without you because then she would cease to be what she is. She is so completely transformed into you by grace that she no longer lives, she no longer exists, because you alone, dear Jesus, live and reign in her more perfectly than in all the angels and saints. If we only knew the glory and the love given to you by this wonderful creature, our feelings for you and for her would be far different from those we have now. So intimately is she united to you that it would be easier to separate light from the sun, and heat from the fire. I go further, it would even be easier to separate all the angels and saints from you than Mary; for she loves you ardently, and glorifies you more perfectly than all your other creatures put together.

64. In view of this, my dear Master, is it not astonishing and pitiful to see the ignorance and short-sightedness of men with regard to your holy Mother? I am not speaking so much of idolaters and pagans who do not know you and consequently have no knowledge of her. I am not even speaking of heretics and schismatics who have left you and your holy Church and therefore are not interested in your holy Mother. I am speaking of Catholics, and even of educated Catholics, who profess to teach the faith to others but do not know you or your Mother except speculatively, in a dry, cold and sterile way.

These people seldom speak of your Mother or devotion to her. They say they are afraid that devotion to her will be abused and that you will be offended by excessive honour paid to her. They protest loudly when they see or hear a devout servant of Mary speak frequently with feeling, conviction and vigour of devotion to her. When he speaks of devotion to her as a sure means of finding and loving you without fear or illusion, or when he says this devotion is a short road free from danger, or an immaculate way free from imperfection, or a wondrous secret of finding you, they put before him a thousand specious reasons to show him how wrong he is to speak so much of Mary. There are, they say, great abuses in this devotion which we should try to stamp out and we should refer people to you rather than exhort them to have devotion to your Mother, whom they already love adequately.

Dear Jesus, do these people possess your spirit? Do they please you by acting in this way? Would it please you if we were to make no effort to give pleasure to your Mother because we are afraid of offending you? Does devotion to your holy Mother hinder devotion to you? Does Mary keep for herself any honour we pay her? Is she a rival of yours? Is she a stranger having no kinship with you? Does pleasing her imply displeasing you? Does the gift of oneself to her constitute a deprivation for you? Is love for her a lessening of our love for you?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Consecration: Great and hidden things.

Week Two: Knowledge of Mary
Day Six

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Introduction

1. It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world.

2. Because Mary remained hidden during her life she is called by the Holy Spirit and the Church "Alma Mater", Mother hidden and unknown. So great was her humility that she desired nothing more upon earth than to remain unknown to herself and to others, and to be known only to God.

3. In answer to her prayers to remain hidden, poor and lowly, God was pleased to conceal her from nearly every other human creature in her conception, her birth, her life, her mysteries, her resurrection and assumption. Her own parents did not really know her; and the angels would often ask one another, "Who can she possibly be?", for God had hidden her from them, or if he did reveal anything to them, it was nothing compared with what he withheld.

4. God the Father willed that she should perform no miracle during her life, at least no public one, although he had given her the power to do so. God the Son willed that she should speak very little although he had imparted his wisdom to her.

Even though Mary was his faithful spouse, God the Holy Spirit willed that his apostles and evangelists should say very little about her and then only as much as was necessary to make Jesus known.

5. Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her "Woman" as if she were a stranger, although in his heart he esteemed and loved her above all men and angels. Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged.

6. I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding. She is the vast and divine world of God where unutterable marvels and beauties are to be found. She is the magnificence of the Almighty where he hid his only Son, as in his own bosom, and with him everything that is most excellent and precious. What great and hidden things the all-powerful God has done for this wonderful creature -- as she herself had to confess, in spite of her great humility: "The Almighty has done great things for me."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Consecration: A sword will pierce your own soul...

Week Two: Knowledge of Mary
Day Five

Luke 2:34-35

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Consecration: What have you to do with me?

Week Two: Knowledge of Mary
Day Four

John 2:1-12
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pondered in the heart.

Week Two: Knowledge of Mary
Day Three

Luke 2:1-19
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this
day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased! When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Week Two: Day Two

Luke 1:39-56

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
And Mary said,

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts;

he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree;

he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,

as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Consecration: Week Two begins.

We've completed the week on self-knowledge -- now, the second week of preparation is devoted to growing in knowledge of Mary, Mother of God.

Week Two: Day One

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Week One Ends: Self-Knowedge.

Consecration: Week One, Day Seven

Examination of Conscience

(I like this examination of conscience from Totus Tuus ministries, but feel free to use another if you find it more fruitful!)

Set aside a time to reflect on your most common sins and faults. What are the behaviors that you frequently confess? Seek to discover the root of these sins and shortcomings. Reflect on the major sins of your past life and then examine them to discover their root. A pattern will occur. It is important to understand that the inclination to sin is not a sin until one consents to the sinful tendency.

You will find in this analysis that the obstacles or negative manifestations are chiefly the result of one of three dominant inclinations: PRIDE, VANITY, and SENSUALITY.

To aid you to better recognize these three root sins, some of their most common manifestations are listed below.

PRIDE: The decision to base my security and self-esteem on MYSELF.


HAUGHTINESS includes: having an elevated concept of myself; annoyance with those who contradict me; easily judging others negatively, and hence easily gossiping about them; difficulty in recognizing my own failing or acknowledging when I've hurt someone; obstinacy to ask, seek or render forgiveness; insincerity in order to hide my faults; hypocrisy; fury when others fail to thank me for favors; unwillingness to serve; impatience, keeping others at a distance, brusqueness in my daily contact with others; thinking that I'm the only one who knows how to do things right; unwillingness to let others help me; over-rationalism so that I judge anything I don't agree with to be in error; being too opinionated; and in practice not believing that I need God, even though I may pray.

SELF-LOVE manifests itself in the following: permitting nobody to contradict me; growing annoyed if I don't get my way or if I'm not considered or consulted; refusing to assent unless everything is explained to me; nursing grudges a long time, not letting go of minor annoyances; rebelling against what I don't like or what seems mistaken to me; unwilling to take directions from anyone; acting authoritarian; inflexibility; thinking of myself first; my agenda, ideas or interest takes priority over everyone else's; being indifferent to others and their needs, tastes and viewpoint; stubbornness in disrupting my plans when someone asks me for something; great calculation in my relations with others and with God; liking to be heard, always thinking my conversation is the most important; centering games, entertainment and activity around myself; easily take offense.

VANITY: The choice to place my security in OTHERS, in what they think of me.


Wanting others to admire me; thinking that I'm good, successful or valued only when others recognize my talents; being dominated by concern for what others think; shyness because I'm afraid others won't like me; becoming easily discouraged at my failures; two-facedness or hypocrisy in the attempt to make myself accepted; abandoning or silencing my principles in order to "fit in"; easily judging others when they don't like me; and speaking openly of their "errors" when I have an appreciative audience; desiring to have exclusive friendships or being possessive toward my friends; joining the "in group" in order to appear popular and valued; breaking confidences; stretching the truth, or lying outright, in order to make myself noticed or appreciated; always talking about myself and my accomplishments.

Seeking to be the center of attention; severe disappointment when others don't appreciate my views, personality, home, etc.; seeking to be accepted even if I have to compromise my principles; being haunted by fear of rejection; rejoicing in failures of others and an inability to genuinely rejoice in their successes - I'm too jealous or envious.

SENSUALITY: Placing my security and self-esteem in THINGS and FEELINGS.


I DON'T FEEL LIKE IT: Giving primacy to my feelings; my daily activity depends upon my emotional state – whether I feel like it, whether I like the person I'm dealing with, or if I like my task. Avoiding responsibilities when I don't feel good; accomplishing my responsibilities at the last minute just to finish them, without concern for perfection in what I do; wasting time easily; when I'm not under a deadline I only do what I like most; fleeing anything which exacts bodily mortification; complaining about everything; if I'm a little under the weather, everyone knows about it.

MATERIALISM: Always wanting what is the newest or the most up to date; never wanting to throw anything out; being attached to personal possessions; excessive worry about things and about money. I need things to feel good about myself. I spend excessive time shopping or waste money on things I don't really need.

LIFE OF PLEASURE: Passing easily from friendship to animosity in relating to others, as if people were disposable objects like a paper cup; the need to be liked and to feel the affection of others is a high priority. Always looking for the most comfortable, that which requires least effort, the easiest for me, and the most comfortable situations. Daydreaming, not controlling my thoughts; constructing castles in the air in which generally I play hero(ine) or the center of attention. At meals, eating only what I like, rejecting everything else even if it hurts another or wastes food. Having to see everything, experience everything; excessive curiosity; seeking pleasures, even to the point of endangering my purity with thought or actions.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Breaching the world's resistance.

This excerpt from Servant of God Madeleine DelbrĂȘl (via The Anchoress and the incomparable Magnificat) screams to be shared. It expresses so clearly, so eloquently the deepest yearning of my heart--the heart of a sinner who needs so much the Church militant fighting for her soul--and its deepest joy. I've put into bold my particularly favorite phrases: choose your own.

As the pregnancy enters the "heavy days," it strengthens me to remember that our suffering, even such a natural suffering as birth or death or loss, can become--in the world of the spirit--another great battle won for God.

Here she is:

"What we are trying to do is realize that, while we are on earth, faith places us in the heat of battle, a permanent struggle, a constant choice between Jesus Christ and that which in the world remains hostile to God; to do so is to accomplish within ourselves the Church’s own vocation.

On the earth, the Church is made for fighting; by vocation, she wages war against evil; by mission, she stands on the front lines of evil; by office, she delivers from evil.

The Church’s combat will never cease to be bloody: the frontiers she defends will never cease being attacked and the liberation she fights for is always violent. A realistic love for the Church necessarily entails taking your blows and living with bruises. Now, what gives the Church’s combat meaning, what outlines the meaning of her history is hope.

To march ahead, to multiply, to liberate, the Church must fight, with her eyes and her heart set on God’s promises. Locally -or we could say physically- the frontier of the Church passes directly through each one of us. This is the line that divides good and evil; it is the line that separates the “with God” from the “without God,” the “for God” from the “against God.”

The place that Christian hope assigns to us is that narrow ridge, that borderline, at which our vocation requires that we choose, every day and every hour, to be faithful to God’s faithfulness to us. While we are on earth, this choice cannot help but tear us in two. But hope never allows us therefore to fall to self-pitying. It is the suffering of the woman who is bringing a child into the world. Each time we are thus torn apart, we become as it were breaches in the world’s resistance. We open up space for God’s life to pass through. Nothing can carry us more deeply into the inner reality of the Church."

A log in my eye.

Consecration Preparation:Week One, Day Six
Luke 6:41-49

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Consecration: More Teresa.

Week One, Day Five
St. Teresa of
Avila , Interior Castle 1.2
The soul in the states of sin and grace

While the soul is in mortal sin nothing can profit it; none of its good works merit an eternal reward, since they do not proceed from God as their first principle, and by Him alone is our virtue real virtue. The soul separated from Him is no longer pleasing in His eyes, because by committing a mortal sin, instead of seeking to please God, it prefers to gratify the devil, the prince of darkness, and so comes to share his blackness. I knew a person to whom our Lord revealed the result of a mortal sin and who said she thought no one who realized its effects could ever commit it, but would suffer unimaginable torments to avoid it. This vision made her very desirous for all to grasp this truth, therefore I beg you, my daughters, to pray fervently to God for sinners, who live in blindness and do deeds of darkness.

In a state of grace the soul is like a well of limpid water, from which flow only streams of clearest crystal. Its works are pleasing both to God and man, rising from the River of Life, beside which it is rooted like a tree. Otherwise it would produce neither leaves nor fruit, for the waters of grace nourish it, keep it from withering from drought, and cause it to bring forth good fruit.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Consecration: The Interior Castle

I'm a little late on this today, but it's worth it even at the after-dinner hour!

Week One, Day Four

St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle 1.1

On the beauty and dignity of the soul

"I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions. Now if we think carefully over this, sisters, the soul of the righteous man is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes His delight. For what do you think a room will be like which is the delight of a King so mighty, so wise, so pure and so full of all that is good? I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity. In fact, however acute our intellects may be, they will no more be able to attain to a comprehension of this than to an understanding of God; for, as He Himself says, He created us in His image and likeness. Now if this is so – and it is – there is no point in our fatiguing ourselves by attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though it is His creature, and there is therefore as much difference between it and God as between creature and Creator, the very fact that His Majesty says it is made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul's great dignity and beauty.

"It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are – those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle – that is to say, in these bodies of ours."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Consecration: A mystery to ourselves.

Week One, Day Three

John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis 2.10

The human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption

"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself." If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly – and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being – he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he "gained so great a Redeemer," and if God "gave his only Son" in order that man "should not perish but have eternal life."

"In reality, the name for that deep amazement at man's worth and dignity is the Gospel, that is to say: the Good News. It is also called Christianity."

Friday, March 5, 2010

More on self-knowledge.

Week One, Day Two
from Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ

"The only fruitful self-knowledge, and the only true one, is that which grows out of man's self-confrontation with God. We must first look at God and His immeasurable glory, and then put the question: 'Who art Thou, and who am I?' We must speak with St. Augustine: "Could I but know Thee, I should know myself." It is only in recognition of our metaphysical situation, only in awareness of our destiny and our vocation that we can become truly cognizant of ourselves. Only the light of God and His challenge to us can open our eyes to all our shortcomings and deficiencies, impressing upon us the discrepancy between what we ought to be and what we are. Contemplation of one's own self in this light is animated by a profound earnestness; it is vastly different from all species of a neutral and purely psychological self-analysis.

"Still, can we avoid becoming a prey to despondency, when we peer into the dark abysses of our failures? Will not our zeal abate, our vigor be paralyzed, when we see how remote we still are from our goal, and how much lower we rank than we had supposed? Can anyone acquire a clear insight into his inner wounds and weaknesses without becoming discouraged? Certainly, self-knowledge may result in discouragement and despondency, on the supposition that our general attitude still remains a purely natural one. The true Christian, however, who lives by the Faith, will not be driven to such utter despair by self-knowledge, nor collapse under the weight of his sins when sensing their import and magnitude. For he knows that God wills his sanctification; that Christ, "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins," has called him, and laid His hand upon him. In defiance of all his sins and all the darkness in him, he will say with St. Thomas Aquinas: 'O Loving Pelican, Lord Jesus, wash me clean in thy blood.' He knows that he can accomplish nothing through his own power but everything in Christ. Not by his own force shall he span the abyss that yawns between him and God: Christ shall carry him over, if he is willing to follow Him without reserve.By His light, there is no darkness that cannot be dispelled, nay, even changed into radiating brightness. 'Darkness shall not be dark to Thee, and night shall be light as the day.' "

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book plug!

Since I forgot to link the excerpt from today's consecration meditation, I must put in a plug for the book. Dietrich von Hildebrand's Transformation in Christ is a true spiritual classic. With meditations on self-knowledge, humility, patience, and all sorts of Christian virtues, the book a the perfect Lenten (or life) companion. My favorite part is actually the chapter on self-knowledge: he talks about false forms of knowing ourselves (such as self-worship) and the limitations of various psychological analyses of ourselves before really delving into what it means to know ourselves and be known in Christ.

Check it out.

Consecration: Knowing ourselves.

The first part of the preparation for total consecration to Mary is devoted to gaining knowledge of self, the second to knowledge of Mary, and the third to knowledge of Christ.

Week One, Day One
(from Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ)

"If unconditional readiness to change and true penitence constitute the first foundations of our progress toward the goal which God's mercy has assigned to us -- our transformation in Christ -- the next decisive step along that road is the acquisition of self-knowledge. So long as a man is ignorant of his defects and of their real nature, all his endeavor (be it ever so laudable) to overcome those defects will end in failure. Not infrequently we meet persons who, while sincerely bent on reforming, direct all their attention to merely imaginary faults of theirs, thus fighting against windmills and leaving their real defects untouched. In monastic life this danger is prevented by the discipline specific to a religious order. By his superior to whom he owes obedience, the monk's attention is directed to his real shortcomings and imperfections (including potential dangers) even before he is clearly aware of them himself. . . . Nevertheless, the final accomplishment of our transformation -- the total uprooting of our vices, the levelling of hills and filling up of valleys -- requires a thorough knowledge of our defects. We must beware of neglecting the basic part played by intelligence in our psychic life. For all voluntary acts are conditioned by knowledge. The radical uprooting of a defect of character requires an interior knowledge of that defect.

True self-knowledge is a necessity for him who desires to be transformed in Christ. He must be filled with a real thirst for securing, in the light of God, an accurate notion of himself, such as he is; he must endeavor to get rid of all illusions of complacency, and to detect his particular vices and weaknesses. He must conform to the summons of St. Catherine of Siena, "Let us enter into the cell of our self-knowledge." But he must not believe that self-knowledge is easy of attainment, nor that -- once he forms the desire for self-knowledge -- all his defects will reveal themselves to him in due course. With a healthy distrust of himself, he should continue supposing that he is still entangled in a mesh of illusions, and pray: "Cleanse me of my hidden weaknesses."