Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Memorial of Blessed Dina Bélanger

The Canadian Church celebrates today the optional memorial of a very holy Canadian woman, a contemporary of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known as the "Little Flower of Canada": Mary, Margaret, Dina, Adelaide Bélanger was born in Quebec on April 30, 1897 and baptized the same day.

When Dina’s brother died at three months old, her grieving mother started visiting the poor and ill bringing nourishment and compassion. Dina often went with her. Discovering she didn’t have a patron saint, she resolved to be the first St. Dina.
Gifted with music, she studied piano at the Conservatory of Music in New York from 1916 to 1918. But instead of becoming a concert pianist she entered the Congregation of Jésus-Marie at Sillery on August 11, 1921 and as Sister Marie Sainte-Cécile de Rome took her final vows on August 15 1928. Teacher of music, she contracted scarlet fever after caring for a sick pupil and developed tuberculosis. For the rest of her life she taught whenever she was not too ill to do so. Died of September 4, 1929, age 32. A great mystic who entered into the mystery of love at the heart of the Trinity, she revealed her intimacy with God in her diaries and autobiography written at the request of her superiors. Beatified in 1933 by Saint John Paul II.


PRAYER COLLECT

O God, the source of all holiness, who raised Blessed Dina Bélanger to the heights of divine love and made known to her the treasures of the heart of your Son, grant that, through her prayers and her example, we may faithfully carry out your will in all that we do. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


For further information:

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/belanger_dina_15E.html
http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2010/09/blessed-dina-belanger-mother-ste-cecile.html

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
          From the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII, "Munificentísimus Deus", defining the dogma of the Assumption of Mary into heaven
 - November 1, 1950. 


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Booklet of the Divine Office with Gregorian Chant for Morning and Evening Prayer on the liturgical 

Solemnity of the Assumption - August 15





The beautiful centuries old antiphons of the liturgy for the Assumption gathered in the official prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, speak of our faith around Mary and the perfect way in which the Mystery of Redemption was accomplished in Her, thus fulfilling the Plan of God:

Christ ascended into Heaven and prepared an everlasting place for His Immaculate Mother, alleluia!

Through Eve the gates of Heaven were closed to all mankind through the Virgin Mother they were opened wide again, alleluia!

The Virgin Mary has been exalted above all the Heavens; come, let all men glorify Christ the King, whose Kingdom will endure for ever, alleluia!

All generations will call me Blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, alleluia!

Arise, O Virgin Queen, you are for ever worthy of our praise; take your place in the glorious dwelling place of the Eternal King!

The Lord has chose Her, his loved one from the beginning. He has taken Her to live with Him.

Glorious things are said of you, O Virgin Mary!

Blessed are you, O Mary, for the world's salvation came forth through you; now in glory, you rejoice for ever with the Lord!

The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels; let all believers rejoice and bless the Lord!

The Lord has made you so glorious that your praise will never cease to resound among men.

We acclaim you, Holy Mary, as Queen of Heave; the Sun of Justice came froth from your bridal chamber!

The Holy Mother of God is exalted in glory, above the choirs of angels, in the Kingdom of Heaven!

We share the fruit of life through you, O daughter blessed by the Lord!


**************

Some mystics of the Church have been given a profound insight into the mystery celebrated by the Church under the title of the Assumption.  
Here are two examples from two mystics in the way to sainthood, whose writings have been declared by the Church free-from theological error:


I

The Assumption as described by Venerable Maria of Jesus of Agreda in her "Mystical City of God" 



Our Redeemer Jesus entered heaven conducting the purest soul of his Mother at his right hand.

She should be his Companion for all eternity, possessing such a likeness to Him, that none greater can be possible between a Godman and a creature. In this light the Redeemer himself presented Her before the throne of the Divinity; and speaking to the eternal Father in the presence of all the blessed, who were ravished at this wonder, the most sacred humanity uttered these words: "Eternal Father, my most beloved Mother, thy beloved Daughter and the cherished Spouse of the Holy Ghost, now comes to take possession of the crown and glory, which We have prepared as a reward for her merit.
She is the one who was born as the rose among thorns, untouched, pure and beautiful, worthy of being embraced by Us and of being placed upon a throne to which none of our creatures can ever attain, and to which those conceived in sin cannot aspire. This is our chosen and our only One, distinguished above all else, to whom We communicated our grace and our perfections beyond the measure accorded to other creatures; in whom We have deposited the treasure of our incomprehensible Divinity and its gifts; who most faithfully preserved and made fruitful the talents, which We gave Her; who never swerved from our will, and who found grace and pleasure in our eyes.

The most holy soul of Mary was immediately raised to the right hand of her Son and true God, and placed on the royal throne of the most holy Trinity, which neither men, nor angels nor the seraphim themselves attain, and will not attain for all eternity. This is the most exalted and supereminent privilege of our Queen and Lady, that She is seated on the throne with the three divine Persons and holds her place as Empress, while all the rest are set as servants and ministers to the highest King. To the eminence and majesty of that position, inaccessible to all other creatures, correspond her gifts of glory, comprehension, vision and fruition.


The full chapter on the Assumption can be read here:





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II

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as explained to the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta in her "Book of HeavenVol. 18  



I began to think about the feast of my Celestial Mama Assumed into Heaven; and my sweet Jesus, with a tender and moving tone, added: “My daughter, the true name of this Feast should be Feast of the Divine Will.
It was the human will that closed Heaven, broke the bonds with its Creator, made miseries and sorrow enter the field, and put an end to the feast that the creature was to enjoy in Heaven. Now, this creature, Queen of all, by doing the Will of the Eternal One always and in everything – even more, it can be said that Her life was Divine Will alone – opened the Heavens, bound Herself to the Eternal One, and restored in Heaven the feasts with the creature.
So, the true cause of this feast is the Eternal Will operating and fulfilled in my Celestial Mama. It operated such prodigies in Her as to astonish Heaven and earth, chain the Eternal One with indissoluble bonds of love, and capture the Word even into Her womb.
The very Angels, enraptured, repeated among themselves: ‘From where comes so much glory, so much honor, such greatness and prodigies never before seen, in this excelling Creature? Yet, it is from the exile that She is coming.’
Astonished, they recognized the Will of their Creator as Life operating in Her; and, trembling, they said: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy - honor and glory to the Will of Our Sovereign Lord. And glory, and trice Holy - She who let this Supreme Will operate.’

So, it is My Will that, more than anything, was and is celebrated on the day of the Assumption into Heaven of my Most Holy Mother.
It was My Will alone that made Her ascend so high as to distinguish Her among all. Everything else would have been as nothing, had She not possessed the prodigy of my Will.
It was My Will that gave Her Divine Fecundity and made Her the Mother of the Word. 
It was My Will that made Her see and embrace all creatures together, becoming the Mother of all, and loving all with a love of Divine Maternity. And making Her the Queen of all, It made Her rule and dominate. 

On that day, My Will received the first honors, the glory and the abundant fruit of Its work in Creation, and It began Its feast, which It never interrupts, for the glorification of Its operating in my beloved Mother.
And even though Heaven was opened by Me, and many Saints were already in possession of the Celestial Fatherland when the Celestial Queen was assumed into Heaven, however, She Herself was the primary cause, having fulfilled the Supreme Will in everything, and therefore we waited for She who had honored It so much and contained the true prodigy of the Most Holy Will, to make the first feast for the Supreme Volition. 
Oh! how the whole of Heaven magnified, blessed and praised the Eternal Will, upon seeing this sublime Queen enter the Empyreum, in the midst of the Celestial Court, all circumfused by the Eternal Sun of the Supreme Volition! They saw Her all studded with the power of the Supreme Fiat; there had been not even a heartbeat in Her which did not have this Fiat impressed on it. And, astonished, they looked at Her and said to Her: ‘Ascend, ascend higher. It is right that She who so much honored the Supreme Fiat, and through whom we find ourselves in the Celestial Fatherland, have the highest throne and be our Queen.’ And the greatest honor that my Mama received, was to see the Divine Will glorified.”  Book of Heaven August 15, 1925

Thursday, August 09, 2018

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross - Edith Stein

Today's feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Carmelite martyr of Nazism of Jewish origin, has been incorporated to the universal Church liturgical calendar as an optional memorial. In Europe this day ranks as Feast since she was proclaimed co-patroness of Europe together with Sts. Catherine of Siena and Bridget of Sweden in 1999.


Divine Office proper for this day:
Edith Stein was born of Jewish parents in 1891, becoming an influential philosopher following her extensive studies at major German universities. Converting to Catholicism she became a major force in German intellectual life, entering the Discalced Carmelites in 1933. She was arrested by the Nazi regime in 1942 along with many Catholics of Jewish extraction, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz, dying there in that same year.
Office of Readings
SECOND READING
From the spiritual writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(Edith Stein Werke (Freiburg, 1987), 11:124-126)
Ave Crux, spes unica!
We greet you, Holy Cross, our only hope! The church puts these words on our lips during the time of the passion, which is dedicated to the contemplation of the bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.
Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood, because he was obedient even to the death of the cross. He came into the world not to do his own will but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.
Before you the Redeemer hangs on the cross stripped and naked, because he chose poverty. Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.
Stand before the Lord who hangs from the cross with his heart torn open. He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.
The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.
The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the cross: from his open heart the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.
Through the power of the cross you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the divine heart. That charity enables you to spread everywhere the most precious blood in order to ease pain, save and redeem.
The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriously to renew your alliance with him? What will your response be? Lord, where shall I go? You alone have the words of life. Ave Crux, spes unica!

RESPONSORY
We preach Christ Crucified, a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the pagans,
--* but for those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks, we preach Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The desire of my heart and my prayer rises to God for their salvation;
--* but for those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks, we preach Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.

PRAYER COLLECT
Lord, God of our fathers, you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta to the fullness of the science of the cross at the hour of her martyrdom. Fill us with that same knowledge; and, through her intercession, allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth, and to remain faithful until death to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son for the salvation of all men and women. 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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Holy, Holy, Holy ...

Let us listen to the Little Daughter of Divine Will as she encounters the Most Holy Trinity:

As I was in my usual state, I seemed to see the Most Holy Trinity. They were looking at One Another, and in those gazes Their beauty was so great that They would remain ecstatic at the mere gazing upon One Another. In this state They overflowed with love, and were as though stirred by that love, to then become more intensely ecstatic. So, all of Their good and delight was comprised within Themselves, and the whole of Their eternal life, beatitude and exercise, was enclosed in this word alone: ‘Love’. And the whole beatitude of the Saints was formed by this perfect operating of the Most Holy Trinity. 

While I was seeing this, the Son assumed the form of the Crucified, and coming out from Their midst, He came to me, sharing with me the pains of the crucifixion. And while remaining with Me, He brought Himself once again into Their midst, and offered His sufferings and mine, satisfying for the love that all creatures owed Them.

Who can say Their delight, and how satisfied They were by the offering of the Son!
It seemed that, since in creating the creatures nothing had come out of Their interior but contained flames of love; so much so, that in order to give vent to this love They began to create many other images of Themselves - only when They receive what They have given, are They then satisfied - that is, love They gave, love They want. So, the most awful affront is to not love Them. Yet, Oh God, three times holy, who is there that loves You?

After this, They disappeared; but who can say what I understood? My mind got lost, and my tongue is unable to articulate a word.

Luisa Piccarreta – Book of Heaven: January 13, 1903

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Peter, The Rock - On the Feast of the Cathedra of Peter

The feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter has this year a very unique flavor with two living Popes gathering at the same solemn event in St. Peter Basilica.

Two living Popes, yes, but ther is no doubt whatsoever as to who the Vicar of Christ is currently.

The embrace of Francis and Benedict is an eloquent testimony. Pope Emeritus continues to teach us even without words.

Another Pope of ancient times teaches us today also, in the Second Reading of the Divine Office, what do we believe of Francis, our Pope:


From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope

The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter’s faith


Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues:
 And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And
 upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told:
 To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But
 it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.


Pope Francis has a unique style that reminds us more of Jesus Himself than of any of his predecessors in the Chair of Peter. His freedom to love has been a cause of concern for some who are not used to the workings and the Power of the Spirit in their own lives. People who know the Faith only through what is written in books are going to stumble with Pope Francis because we are living extraordinary times and the Spirit is moving in extraordinary ways.

But our Faith, and the Chruch of Jesus Christ is based on the Rock. Not because Pope Francis has it all together but because Jesus gave His divine Word that He wants it so, and He is the foundation supporting the Rock.

Once again it is the Humility of God that is the stumbling block for our lack of humility, especially in our times when we have come to be certain that we see things more clearly, and know better what the Church and the world needs, than the Pope -and than God Hiimself.

May God bless and keep Pope Francis, and continue to guide him as he leads us forward in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ The King - Closing of the Year of Faith



On this last Sunday of the Church calendar we celebrate the solemnity of CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE.

From this humble blog we greet our Lord and King and give thanks for His Kinship of Love, Sacrifice, and Salvation upon us, and we repeat with so many martyrs of the last century:


¡¡VIVA CRISTO REY!!


LONG LIVE CHRIST THE KING!!


Today is also the closing of the YEAR OF FAITH which we have been celebrating since October 2012.

During this special Year we've had a special emphasis on the Creed, the prayer of the Church which summs up our Catholic faith, the faith I profess with Pope Francis and the whole Church

It is especially meaningful the celebration of the Eucharist that Pope Francis held today with all the Patriarchs and leaders of the Churches in full communion with Rome.
During the singing of the Creed, Pope Francis held in his hands a small urn containing the remains of the Apostle Peter, the first Pope, which were exposed to the public for the first time. Here is the video:



I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.
                          Amen.


The Year of Faith has been a year of incredible GRACE from God not only for the Church but also in my own life.

We've seen the amazing workings of the Holy Spirit in the leading of the Church through the historic and humble resignation of Pope Benedict and the gift of Pope Francis to the Church and the world.

In my own Diocesan Church we've seen also the resignation of our Bishop upon reaching the retirement age, and the appointment of our new Bishop.  Then, we've also had a change of Pastor at my parish.

But above and beyond these external -and important- changes, I've been blessed with a renewal of my own faith and my own vocation and place in the Church.

This might be a good time to reflect, how has the Year Of Faith influenced your own life? How has the Spirit touched (blessed - disturbed) you over the last 13 months?

May we all continue to grow stronger in our Faith, our Hope, and our Love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple - Pro Orantibus Day -

Although not recorded in Scripture, today the Church celebrates the Consecration of the Infant Mary to God in the Temple of Jerusalem.


The story is related in some of the apocryphal gospels, and is extensively recorded in The Mystical City of God of the Ven. Maria de Jesus de Agreda (book II ch 1). Here are some excerpts (#421-422):

421. The three years time decreed by the Lord having been completed, Joachim and Anne set out from Nazareth, accompanied by a few of their kindred and bringing with them the true living Ark of the covenant, the most holy Mary, borne on the arms of her mother in order to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem. The beautiful Child, by her fervent and loving aspirations, hastened after the ointments of her Beloved, seeking in the temple Him, whom She bore in her heart...
Thus they pursued their journey from Nazareth to the holy city of Jerusalem, and also the parents of the holy child Mary felt in their hearts great joy and consolation of spirit.

422. They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed Anne on entering took her Daughter and Mistress by the hand, accompanied and assisted by saint Joachim. All three offered a devout and fervent prayer to the Lord; the parents offering to God their Daughter, and the most holy Child, in profound humility, adoration and worship, offering up Herself...
Having offered their prayers, they rose and betook themselves to the priest. The parents consigned their Child into his hands and he gave them his blessing. Together they conducted Her to the portion of the temple buildings, where many young girls lived to be brought up in retirement and in virtuous habits, until old enough to assume the state of matrimony. It was a place of retirement especially selected for the first-born daughters of the royal tribe of Juda and the sacerdotal tribe of Levi.

On this special Marian feast, the Church celebrates also her contemplatives, the lives consecrated to God in a life of prayer. Thus this is also called "Pro Orantibus Day" -the Day For Those Who Pray-

Pope Francis marked the ocassion by visiting the contemplative monastery of the Camaldolese nuns in Rome, and prayed with them Vespers as well as a time of adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. 
Here is a short video of the visit:



Some references for the Pro Orantibus Day: http://www.cloisteredlife.com/pro-orantibus-day/

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Saint Joseph

May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and on the first day of this month the Church invites us to look at Joseph, her husband. Yet instead of focusing on Joseph's working example, let us listen this time to a possible description of the confidential sharing of his bride about what kind of person was Joseph, how they met and got engaged, and how was their relationship.

Mary speaks:
There was my natural life and my supernatural life. I lived as a daughter of Israel, attending the synagogue, learning the Jewish scriptures and fulfilling my role. No one would have singled me out. I dressed and ate as others. I participated in family life and in the community life at Nazareth.
The Three Divine Persons
Yet, within me, my soul was absorbed by this light that revealed God. I understood God as taught by the scriptures, that He was one and there was no other. But my supernatural light brought me to understand that within this oneness there were three perfect Persons, all eternal and almighty. I did not share this with others, because I could not fully describe my experiences.
Meeting Joseph
Then, I met Joseph. He was kind and thoughtful. He, too, was holy and devout. Holiness joined us together. My soul rejoiced in his presence and I shared with him some beginning revelations, those that I could put into words. He always responded and I could see that my words gave nourishment to his soul. So, we spoke often. Our Jewish faith gave us many common themes. He was a just man, always living according to the Mosaic Law.
I could not explain my attraction to him. This attraction itself was a mystery and somehow, it shared in the mystery of God and the three Persons. The more I was absorbed in God in heaven, the more I felt attracted to Joseph on earth. God, himself, had singled him out and, my love for Joseph in no way violated my love for God. The two went together in a mystery that I could not understand but which was so evident to me.
The Proposal to Marry
Then came a special moment. I can never forget it. Joseph was older than I and he had never thought of marrying again. However, as we shared our mutual love for God, we both felt an attraction which we knew was there but we never spoke about. Then, one day, under a divine inspiration, Joseph asked me to be his wife. At this point, I had to tell him what God was doing in my soul. I told him that I felt absorbed by God and, in these great gifts I had given myself totally to God, that I had consecrated myself in a way that no daughter of Abraham would even think of doing. I had told God that I would be his perpetual virgin. This was the first gift. I also explained to Joseph that my attraction for him and his attraction for me was part of my divine experiences, that as I was absorbed into God, my heart was also moved closer to Joseph. So, I placed this great mystery before him in the only words I knew. He, somehow, understood. Yet, both of us did not know the outcome. I knew he was a just man and would ponder the situation.
Joseph’s Decision
Soon, however, he returned and said that, through me, God had touched his own heart and he, too, felt drawn into this holy calling. He would share in my virginal consecration. Again, he asked me to be his wife, with the understanding that he would always love me and protect me as a husband but would never ask me for the rights that a husband has regarding his wife.
We both knew that God had consummated a great gift. We were more mutually joined in our hearts than any other couple who had promised to marry each other. We were betrothed and we told everyone. No one else knew the great mystery. In the eyes of all, we were just like any other betrothed couple, waiting for the day when Joseph would tell my parents that he wanted to take me into his home. This would be the final and concluding moment.
In my own heart, my heavenly call and my earthly call had come together. This question was now answered. When I consecrated my virginity to God, I did not know how this could ever be fulfilled in my Jewish culture which made no such provision. God, in whom I had trusted, had everything prepared and I rejoiced in God my Savior.
www.locutions.org/2012/03/joseph-my-husband/

The greatest of God's interventions in our world since the Big Bang of Creation, which was the Incarnation of the Word, happened in the hiddenness of the most common and ordinary of places and human stories: youth, love, decisions, doubts, choices, fidelity, obedience, paradox, freedom, risk taking ... Just a mix that may be found in any of our lives ... if we too choose to live and walk in God's Presence. God has a magnificent plan for each one of us also. 

May Saint Joseph intercede for us today, together with Mary, his most Holy Spouse, so that we too may open our freedom to the breath of the Spirit in the silence of our heart. And may we work out with God, through prayer, the direction we are to take in every fork, small or big, of our life journey.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Peace

A sentence in today's reading from Isaiah 26,1-6 strikes me with the strength of a revelation.
(I'm translating from the Spanish liturgical text for the first reading at mass)

"Open the gates that a just people will enter ...



"They keep peace because they trust in the Lord" 



What I hear here is that only when we truly trust in the Lord can we forget our claims and even our needs, and thus live in peace, receive peace, and create peace.

It is not just Justice what is at the root of lasting Peace, because given our infinite desire -created to match our capacity for God- a desire that we experience as "nothing is enough", it will translate into a greediness that justice cannot hold back if our heart and our lives are not rooted firmly upon the Lord.

Let us pray today with the Psalm, Blessed are those who trust in the Lord". Let us pray for that trust for ourselves, but let us pray especially for our world in dire need of this kind of Peace -as we trust in the Lord.

Maranatha!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

Today the Church celebrates the last Sunday of its calendar with the solemnity of Christ The King, the Alpha and the Omega.

Whether we know Him or not, believe in Him or not our lives will be measured, ultimately, according to our submission to His Rule.

Too bad that we don't like this kind of language -left alone the reality of having to surrender to anyone -God included. It is too bad because we were born for this surrender to our Savior King.

The second reading of the Divine Office today gives us a hint, in the words of Origen -one of the Fathers of the Church- as to what can we expect from Christ's Kingship:



The kingdom of God within us will reach its highest point when the Apostle’s words are fulfilled, and Christ, having subjected all his enemies to himself, will hand over his kingdom to God the Father, that God may be all in all.
Note this about the kingdom of God. It is not a sharing of justice with iniquity, nor a society of light with darkness, nor a meeting of Christ with Belial. The kingdom of God cannot exist alongside the reign of sin.
There should be in us a kind of spiritual paradise where God may walk and be our sole ruler with his Christ. In us the Lord will sit at the right hand of that spiritual power which we wish to receive. And he will sit there until all his enemies who are within us become his footstool, and every principality, power and virtue in us is cast out.
Then God will reign in us, and we shall enjoy even now the blessings of rebirth and resurrection.
Christ is the only King who wants all and each one of us sitting in the throne with him sharing in the Glory of the children of God. He gave his life in the cross to conquer this legacy for us. This is our future in following Christ's lead.
In our times it has become almost common place to find accounts of what technically is called Near Death Experience. As an example I recommend, one of them is leading, right now, the New York Times "bestseller" list, Heaven is For Real. This kind of stories shortcut organized religion but can give us some taste of how true and real our Catholic religious faith is in spite of all the trappings and sinfulness of those who have passed it on to us -and in spite of our own poor discipleship and our doubts.

We can be sure that we will meet Christ in a more or less distant future. And when we meet him the issue will not be to present ourselves holy and without sin before him, but to be able to choose Him and trust Him in spite of our sins -past and present- because that's the only thing he needs to save us: that is, that we choose to be saved.

Let us think about this. Let us pray for this ultimate grace in our life and in the life of those we love. Let us become familiar with this choice for Christ in our life. Let us practice some training in making the most decisive choice of our lives, a choice that no human being can skip.

And let us rejoice as we sing with all the Saints.

Christ Jesus, Victor!
Christ Jesus, Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dedication of Our Inner Temple

Today we have this beautiful reading at Mass from the First book of Maccabees (4:36-37,52-59)


Judas, who was called Maccabeus, took command of the army in place of his father, Mattathias, and he defeated the army of King Antiochus which was commanded by Lysias. Then Judas en his brothers said, See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it. So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed heaven, who had prospered them.

So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burn offerings ... There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.)



We have here a great account of rebirth and renewal: the Israelites had been reduced to slavery, their temple desecrated, and their identity lost as well as their self esteem. But starting from the revolt of a small portion of their people they have come far enough to be able to recognize the need and the possibility of restoring and cleansing the sanctuary, and they are now united to dedicate/consecrate it anew. The result is an explosion of JOY, and the realization on an astonishing fact: the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.


It seems to me that this is a beautiful metaphor for our own soul and its ups and downs. It is a magnificent temple originally dedicated to God but often reduced to slavery when turned away from God.

When God is not worshiped, there is always another god taking over the worship. If God is not the center of our lives, I (we) become the center, and the result is selfishness, competition, violence, sadness... you name it, because there is no room in the universe for multiple gods, we inhabit a One God universe.

Thus if my life is not centered in God, the best thing I can do is to begin a personal revolution, like the Maccabees, against the tyrant who is ruling my life for its own benefit and against my greater well-being and good, against my own self-centered egotism.

I don't have to wait, like the Maccabees, until all my inner demons are crushed to re-dedicate my personal temple to the Holy Spirit again. As Catholics we have already a victorious Savior who has made available for us the way to our original greatness. We only have to present ourselves with our plea before the Throne of Mercy -the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Then we can experience the deep Joy of being reconciled with our deepest Center, of having the legitimate Leader who gives us identity and direction clearly before our sight so that we can not only follow Him but become one with Him.

No matter how hard we try to create unity among peoples and nations, the only way to true unity is becoming each one united to/with God, then we automatically become one with each other. Isn't that what heaven is about already on earth?


I think it's important to be aware that when the disgrace is removed -as the text shows us- the new temple is even more magnificent than the old one, and the people recognize themselves to be so much more privileged than before they lost their freedom and their temple.

Ultimately our journey on earth is about allowing the Spirit of Christ to fully take over our life in the complete consecration of utter surrender to God. This is the condition in Heaven, these are the saints -we were born to become saints, no less. And we will not be ready to join them until we have the same dedication of our inner temple to God that they had. There are not more or less saintly saints in Heaven, each and everyone of them is a saint because they have given their ALL to God -to the God who gives himself totally to us.

If God is not the Center of the whole of our life, then we may need to take a look at what are we using the journey for, because everything else will be left behind. We may be wasting our time and our life.

And also, once we have allow God to take over the whole of our being and life, our mistakes, errors and infidelities will mean absolutely nothing, as if they never were except, perhaps, that thanks to them and in order to overcome them we engaged ourselves in the challenging revolution of a serious Journey to our final destination.

Friday, November 11, 2011

San Jose Articles: Abortion and the Unborn Child in International Law

Last month a pro-life document created by a team of 31 experts in International Law, international relations, international organizations, public health, science/medicine and government named as The San Jose Articles was presented at the United Nations, the European Parliament, and several other international forums. Due to its relevance I'm publishing here the Articles as well as some background information taken from the San Jose Articles website:



It is now commonplace that people around the world are told there is a new international right to abortion.

Those delivering this message are influential and believable people; UN personnel, human rights lawyers, judges and others.

The assertion they make is false. No UN treaty makes abortion an international human right.

Even so, the assertion is gaining traction around the world.


The San Jose Articles were created to help governments and civil society promote human rights through a proper understanding of how the rights of the unborn child are protected in international law. The articles should be used to counter false assertions, such as the erroneous notion that abortion is a human right.

The purpose of the San Jose Articles is to provide expert testimony that no such right exists and also to demonstrate that the unborn child is already protected in human rights instruments and that governments should begin protecting the unborn child by using international law.



ARTICLE 1. As a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception.

ARTICLE 2. Each human life is a continuum that begins at conception and advances in stages until death. Science gives different names to these stages, including zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult. This does not change the scientific consensus that at all points of development each individual is a living member of the human species.

ARTICLE 3. From conception each unborn child is by nature a human being.

ARTICLE 4. All human beings, as members of the human family, are entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and to protection of their inalienable human rights.  This is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international instruments.

ARTICLE 5. There exists no right to abortion under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law.  No United Nations treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion.

ARTICLE 6. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) and other treaty monitoring bodies have directed governments to change their laws on abortion.  These bodies have explicitly or implicitly interpreted the treaties to which they are subject as including a right to abortion.
Treaty monitoring bodies have no authority, either under the treaties that created them or under general international law, to interpret these treaties in ways that create new state obligations or that alter the substance of the treaties. 
Accordingly, any such body that interprets a treaty to include a right to abortion acts beyond its authority and contrary to its mandate. Such ultra vires acts do not create any legal obligations for states parties to the treaty, nor should states accept them as contributing to the formation of new customary international law.

ARTICLE 7. Assertions by international agencies or non-governmental actors that abortion is a human right are false and should be rejected. There is no international legal obligation to provide access to abortion based on any ground, including but not limited to health, privacy or sexual autonomy, or non-discrimination.

ARTICLE 8. Under basic principles of treaty interpretation in international law, consistent with the obligations of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, and in the exercise of their responsibility to defend the lives of their people, states may and should invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.

ARTICLE 9. Governments and members of society should ensure that national laws and policies protect the human right to life from conception. They should also reject and condemn pressure to adopt laws that legalize or depenalize abortion.
Treaty monitoring bodies, United Nations agencies and officers, regional and national courts, and others should desist from implicit or explicit assertions of a right to abortion based upon international law.
When such false assertions are made, or pressures exerted, member states should demand accountability from the United Nations system.
Providers of development aid should not promote or fund abortions.  They should not make aid conditional on a recipient’s acceptance of abortion.
International maternal and child health care funding and programs should ensure a healthy outcome of pregnancy for both mother and child and should help mothers welcome new life in all circumstances.

We — human rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, elected officials, diplomats, and medical and international policy experts — hereby affirm these Articles.

San José, Costa Rica
March 25, 2011