Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Magnificat

"He pours contempt upon princess, makes them wander in trackless wastes. They diminish, are reduced to nothing by oppression, evil and sorrow. but he raises the needy from distress, makes family as numerous as a flock. The upright sees it and rejoices but all who do wrong are silenced. Whoever is wise, let him he'd these things and consider the love of the Lord."
(Psalm  107:40-43)

"Whoever is wise...consider the love of the Lord..."

After reading the verses above, it struck me that if you believe you have all you need: power, honor, glory and riches according to the world, you have nothing because you are relying on yourself and not God.

Since there is no room in your heart to receive Him because "self" is all consuming, then you are nothing and oppression, evil and sorrow will be your company.

Whereas if you recognize the poverty of your spirit and your need to rely on God's love instead of the love of self, he will rejoice when God's saving love rules in your heart.

Let your heart be prepared for the coming of Our Lord the son of the most high during these final days of Advent.

This commentary gave great insight for further contemplation for me. I pray it will help your heart's preparation for the coming of our Lord too!

From a commentary on Luke by Venerable Bede, priest
(Lib 1, 46-55: CCL 120, 37-39)

The Magnificat

Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it, and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Savior, whom I have conceived in this world of time.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol his name together.

Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim his greatness and sanctify his name to the limit of their power, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. His name is called holy because in the sublimity of his unique power he surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that he had made.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. In a beautiful phrase Mary calls Israel the servant of the Lord. The Lord came to his aid to save him. Israel is an obedient and humble servant, in the words of Hosea: Israel was a servant, and I loved him.

Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul. But anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

The promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to his spiritual children. These are his descendants, sprung not from the flesh only, but who, whether circumcised or not, have followed him in faith. Circumcised as he was, Abraham believed, and this was credited to him as an act of righteousness.

The coming of the Savior was promised to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. These are the children of promise, to whom it is said: If you belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs in accordance with the promise.

May the love of God wash over you this day that you may believe.

God Bless,

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Visitation

Today I was meditating on the Visitation when Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth. With a story so familiar it is easy to skim the text in Luke and not really enter contemplation. I had not actually stopped to think about the Holy Spiti's active role in this encounter. Once I read the following commentary by Saint Ambrose I was convicted by the Spirit to hasten this morning to confession before Advent is over so that my heart may be ready to receive Our Lord.

My prayer is that this commentary may hasten your heart to prepare for the coming of Our Lord as well.

From a commentary on Luke by Saint Ambrose, bishop
(Lib 2, 19.22-23, 26-27: CCL 14, 39-42)

Mary visits Elizabeth

When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.

When she hears this Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.

Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.

The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for joy, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary’s spirit rejoices she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.

Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

May the love of God wash over you this Advent season so that you may believe.

God Bless,

Thursday, November 1, 2018

All Saints Day!

Growing up Pentecostal, the idea of asking the saints to interceed for me to the Lord our God was a foreign concept. Only recently am I learning to get to know some of them and ask them for intercession. 

And why not?! 

sk friends, family and fellow parishioners of my church to pray for me when I am struggling, or thankful. The idea that there are people who were like you and me up in heaven, in the presence of our King who can interceed for us is amazing! 

So, today on the solemnity of all saints, let's ask for their intercession. Let's thank them for the example of holiness they have left us.

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot
Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning. 
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them. 
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory. 
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendor with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head. 
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

Ask for the saints intercession today. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Alpha and Omega

It is interesting to keep a prayer journal. I was looking over mine for the past month and I was surprised to find a theme to my prayers that I have unintentionally settled into; to understand the will of God for my life.

Then in the Office of Readings this morning, in the second reading, I read from a document that brought a clearer understanding of that purpose for me and for all of us.

I wanted to share that reading with you today. I pray the Holy Spirit may bring to life the desire to fulfill the will of God in your hearth as these words are read.

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council(Gaudium et spes, nn. 40, 45)
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. 

The way in which the earthly and the heavenly city interpenetrate each other can be recognized only by faith; of a history always troubled by sin until the glory of the sons of God is fully revealed. 
As she pursues her appointed goal of bringing salvation to men, the Church not only communicates the divine life to mankind but also in some measure reflects the light of that life over the whole world. She does this especially through her work of restoring and enhancing the dignity of the human person, of strengthening the fabric of human society, and of enriching the daily activity of men with a deeper meaning and importance. The Church believes that in this way she can make a great contribution, through individual members and the community as a whole, toward bringing a greater humanity to the family of man and to its history. 
While the Church helps the world and herself receives much from the world, she has one object in view: the coming of God’s kingdom and the salvation of the whole human race. Every good that the people of God in the course of its earthly pilgrimage can confer on the family of men derives from the fact that the Church is the universal sacrament of salvation, revealing, and at the same time bringing into operation, the mystery of God’s love for man. 
The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was himself made flesh so that as perfect man he might save all men and bring all things into unity. The Lord is the final end of human history, the point toward which the aspirations of history and civilization are moving, the focus of the human race, the joy of all hearts and the fulfillment of their desires. He it is whom the Father raised from the dead, lifted up on high and set at his right hand, appointing him judge of the living and the dead. In his Spirit we have been brought to life and gathered into unity, and so make our pilgrim way toward the goal of human history, a goal in complete harmony with the loving plan of God to make all things one in Christ, the things in heaven and the things on earth. 
The Lord himself says: See, I am coming soon; I bring my recompense with me, to give to everyone what his deeds deserve. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
May the love of God be upon you, that you may believe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How to Pray


I would like to write about prayer today. In the Gospels we are taught how to pray. It is from Jesus himself we receive the best teaching on prayer.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Matthew 6:5-8
Then Our Lord gives us an example of how we ought to pray by teaching us about the goodness of the Father, who knows how to give good things, so that you might ask for the things that are good from Goodness itself. Even as he explains what we ought to do, he is a living example because by explaining it to us so that we may learn by practice, he is fulfilling what he teaches.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)
It is not only our Lord who urges us to pray earnestly and frequently, it was also Saint Paul who taught, Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
We are taught not to offer long and wearisome prayers, but to pray often, and with perseverance. Lengthy prayers are usually filled with empty words. Rather we are reminded to first rejoice in the redemption Our Savior has won for us. Then we are to humbly offer our prayers. Finally, we are taught to give thanks always. This one can be difficult especially in suffering, but it is through suffering that we can discover a deeper joy than we have ever experienced before.
It is through prayer that we can build our relationship with God, with Jesus and with our Holy Mother and all the saints. It is through prayer that we can find Jesus most intimately. Especially through living daily prayer. Our prayers are not just words, but they can also be an excellent way to live our faith, to be boldly Catholic in a world that is darkened by confusion because of sin. In this way, we will be see as the Light of Christ. In this way we can learn to encounter Jesus in all we do.
Jesus has called us to be His disciples. He has called us to be servants of love in order that we might be the physical hands through which His mercy can be dispensed.
We must go to the cross to empty ourselves. There is a great abyss that separates the Creator (God) form the creature (man). We cannot cross this divide by ourselves. It is only by the mercy of our Lord that we can come to him.
I urge you all to give up the things in your heart that do not belong to God for all they do is weigh you down and chain you to this world. Go to confession; let him remove those obstacles for you then you will have more room in your heart for Him. So that you can obtain in your heart a greater capacity to be filled with the mercy and love of Jesus which is pouring out constantly at the cross. All we have to do is go and receive.
In the daily readings today we read about Mary and Martha when Jesus come to visit. Martha is working hard while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. From a worldly perspective, Martha is upset because she is doing all the work while Mary sits and is lazy. But the Lord reminds us that we are not called to see things as the world teaches.
“The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’” Luke 10:41-42
Hospitality is not only about giving. It is about receiving as well. We must learn to receive the gifts God is generously pouring out all the time in order to learn how to give as He gives. We cannot learn how to love our neighbor as ourselves in the light of Christ unless we first receive God’s love and learn how to love by how He loves us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” John 3:16-21
Disciples are called to be the light of Christ so that others may find their path to Him. We must let our light shine in this world, so that the good works seen can give glory to our Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
In order to be this light, we must first receive it. Let us go to the cross, lay our burdens down and let Jesus wash away our sins so that we have a greater capacity in our hearts to hold his mercy and love, and learn to dispense it freely to all in this world darkened by sin. Let us live our faith boldly so that others may find faith and embrace hope instead of despair.
May God Bless you abundantly!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fear No Evil | Cross-Stitch Pattern

The wait for a new pattern is over!

Fear No Evil is a Cross-Stitch pattern designed based on Psalm 23:4:
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are at my side."

This pattern was published first in the 2017 Special Collector's Halloween Issue of Just CrossStitch!
(Page 99)

The words in the Fear No Evil are typographically designed to enhance their meaning in order to enrich our lives. This verse is an interesting reflection on the final journey. "Even though I walk", gives the reader the impression the believer did not quicken his pace when he came to die, but still calmly walked with God. To walk indicates the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its end, resolves to follow the path, feels quite safe, and is therefore perfectly calm and composed. The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not run as though he were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further, he is not confounded nor ashamed, and therefore keeps to his old pace. Observe that it is not walking in the valley, but through the valley. How marvelous! There is no fear of evil when walking with God, for he has conquered death. We go through the dark tunnel of death and emerge into the light of immortality. We do not die, we do but sleep to wake in glory.

This cross-stitch pattern comes with a list of supplies needed, including the DMC floss colors used. A list of stitches used are given along with a brief tutorial. Pattern graph with symbols and a computerized rendering are accompanied with photographs of the finished example I stitched. An enlarged chart with marks is also included. PDF is 12 pages.

(For best results, print pattern on highest quality in printer settings.)

Stitch count dimensions:
153 stitches W x 161 stitches H
14 pt Aida cloth - 11” x 11.5” (appx.)
16 pt Aida cloth - 9.5” x 10” (appx.)
18 pt Aida cloth - 8.5” x 9” (appx.)
22 pt Aida cloth - 7” x 7.25” (appx.)
(Used in photographs: White 22 pt Aida Cloth in an 11.5”x 11.5” espresso colored frame with a 7.5” x 7.5” matte opening.)

Happy Stitching & God Bless!