Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A long email to a friend

For years i've been emailing with a dear friend from Uruguay. Even while i lived in Argentina we were never able to meet. Not because of distance, Montevideo is only 3 hours by boat from Buenos Aires, but because of money at that time. Last February/March while visiting my beloved Argentina again we finally found the opportunity to meet after so many years.

When we met it was before "meeting" Santa Gemma. And still in this time i was practicing as she the Ancient Egyptian faith. With her i performed the last joined ritual in this faith. What struck me then was her dedication and devotion. Later reading about Gemma's devotion to Jesus i often thought about that moment. This woman has a similar devotion although in a different faith. And at times i wonder what if she would have this same devotion for Jesus like Santa Gemma? I know realize that also she at that moment became responsible for finding the road i'm now on.

Emailing i mentioned before the plans to fly all the way to South America again, and thus she happily wants to do another ritual. In my reply i found it was time to explain to her the changes since then and the new found road in Catholicism. I'm curious how she will respond. It's difficult to explain changes in oneself to someone who has different views. It took me a few hours to write.

She has been responsible for many changes for the good in my life. She and my ex in Argentina in their own ways taught me things. And with some of those things the realization comes too late unfortunately. Anyone can mention a few people in their lives who made a significant difference. My mother used the term "an enrichment in her life" once when she talked about someone. And that is a good term. An enrichment like getting to know Jesus and the Blessed Virgin. And i should not forget the enrichment of knowing and finding Santa Gemma.

I often pray for them and beg for their salvation. Obviously like me we offended the first Commandments which still weighs heavily on me. The Blessed Virgin in history and also today has always very much put emphasis on praying for the conversion of sinners. And i so pray for them. Can't i share the same devotion anymore here on this earth i pray that one day we will be able to share devotion again in Heaven. Before the One and Only.

"I deserve to suffer for my sins dear Jesus. Even though you also died for my sins i so wish i could take a little suffering away from You by suffering for my own sins. And when it is in You let me suffer for the sins of whom i love as well. So they will find Salvation and forgiveness. Holy Mother pray for them, Santa Gemma pray for them. They are such fine persons. It is not up to me if this grace will be granted but i ask you to look at their good deeds, their love for their neighbors, for those instances in which they live according to the laws of God. May Jesus close his eyes for their other offenses. And if not may he place their burden on me. I don't deserve forgiveness anyway. But if it saves them please punish me or tell me how i can save them. Anything! Dear Jesus your beloved spouse Santa Gemma has obtained the salvation and conversion of many through Your Mother. The fire within me is not like Gemma's but my love for these extraordinary persons is not different. It is not for me that i ask this but for them. Santa Gemma prayed and asked that you would close your eyes to her want of merit, and open them to your infinite merit. Please my dear Jesus may you open and close your eyes again for them. Amen"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Angelic Salutation

The Angelic Salutation or Ave Maria (Hail Mary) is the part of the Most Holy Rosary which is my personal favorite of prayers within the Most Holy Rosary. It is prayed 53 times if you pray a Rosary of 5 Mysteries.

In the Secret of The Rosary from St Louis Grignon de Montfort (a highly recommended book) the Most Holy Rosary was received by the Church in 1214 by St Dominic who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means to convert the Albigensian heretics (Catharism) and sinners. This includes the Ave Maria. This story has been written down by Blessed Alan de la Roche. The Blessed Virgin mentioned that the Angelic Psalter as She mentioned it is the foundation of the New Testament. And this is understandable because the first part of the Ave Maria are the words of the Angel Gabriel to the the Virgin Mary as we know it from Luke 1:28 and the First Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation. The beginning of our Salvation. St Dominic explained the Ave Maria in most simple words for everyone to understand.

That the beginning was not easy is illustrated in a revelation to St Dominic by the Blessed Virgin and i quote he Blessed Alan de la Roche: "My son She said "Do not be surprised by the lack of success in your preaching. You are trying to plow a ground that has not been watered by rain. Mark that when God wanted to renew the world, He first sent the rain of the Angelic Salutation. That is how the world was made new. In your sermons therefore exhort people to pray my Rosary and you will reap much fruit for souls." This St Dominic did and his preaching had remarkable success.

The Ave Maria has also inspired the composers Caccini and Schubert. I'm sure you have all heard one of the two or both. In case you haven't here is one i especially like from Andrea Bocceli. It is accompanied by beautiful images of the Blessed Virgin. He singes the Latin text of the Ave Maria. The language in which i pray it daily. The text is as follows:

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

This being a blog about Santa Gemma you may wonder what this has to do with her. Well, everything! Imagine how many times she must have prayed it and probably in Italian. I'm sure she prayed it with the Blessed Virgin in her ecstasies. In one of the slides of the presentation in honor of her there is a slide of an early time while still being very young she prayed: “Oh, if at least the Mother of Jesus would love me......if only I could become worthy of being called 'daughter'!” Maybe you have the same questions as she. But the Blessed Virgin was never far. And nor is She for us. St Gemma writes in her diary:

Upon first seeing her, I was a little afraid; I did all I could to assure my­self that it was truly Jesus' Mother and She gave me every sign to assure me. After a few moments I felt entirely happy but I was so moved by seeing my­self, so little compared to her, and so content, that I could not say a word except to repeat the name “Mom”.
She stared, really stared, at me, laughing, and approached to caress me, and She said I should calm down. Yes, of course, happiness and emotion grew in me, and She, maybe fearing that it would be bad for me (as happened other times, indeed one time, which I did not tell about, when for the great consolation I felt in seeing Jesus again, my heart started beating with such force that I was obliged, on the orders of my confessor, to tie a tight, tight bandage around that point) left me, saying that I should go and rest. I obeyed promptly, and in one second I was in bed and She did not delay her coming; then I was calm.

"to repeat the name Mom" Her question and desire as a child were no longer there. Myself I'm not that far yet. I've been raised Protestant. Because of it i still am trying to overcome the fear of paying too much attention to the Blessed Virgin instead of Jesus. My background in religion for years honoring Egyptian gods and goddesses created a fear that i'd deify Her. But slowly I'm learning that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is also devotion to Jesus. Every Mass i burn a candle for Santa Gemma in front of the Blessed Virgin's altar. Yes, i wonder if one day i can really call Her Mother like Santa Gemma. In the meantime with joy i pray the Ave Maria. And not 53 times a day. No, much more.

I would like to end with words from the Blessed Virgin given in Medjugorje on August 25th 1987:

“Dear children! Today also I am calling you all in order that each one of you decides to live my messages. God has permitted me also in this year, which the Church has dedicated to me, to be able to speak to you and to be able to spur you on to holiness. Dear children, seek from God the graces which He is giving you through me. I am ready to intercede with God for all that you seek so that your holiness may be complete. Therefore, dear children, do not forget to seek, because God has permitted me to obtain graces for you. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Santa Gemma: a presentation

Today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin. Hail to the Mother of our beloved Jesus!

With joy i can finally present the end result of 3 days of work on a Powerpoint presentation about the life of Santa Gemma. And i'm happy that especially on this day of celebration i can present it to you.

Although the idea to make it had existed for some time (i never made a presentation before) the reception of an unexpected and for me priceless gift (a relic from Santa Gemma) last friday from a good friend in Santa Gemma sparked the actual work. This presentation is meant as a gift for him. He suggested making it public for all. And hereby that is done.

Making it was a joy. As any minute spend on this beloved Saint is a joy. Not only a joy but also an emotional time. May you enjoy watching it as much as i had making it :)

You find the file here (approx. 33mb due to the music). Anyone should be able to open this zip-file. It does require either Powerpoint '97 or higher or the free Powerpoint viewer which you can download here (approx. 2 mb) if needed.

If you have any trouble leave a comment on this post and i'll try to assist you if i can.

Santa Gemma exáudi nos!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

In Memoriam: Father van Hout

In memoriam:

This weekend our congragation was shocked by the sudden death of our pastor: Father van Hout.

Father van Hout had been in hospital for some time and already had heart surgery. Another operation was planned and the doctors were hopefull all would go well and he would be able to return to his duties. However God decided it was time for him to come to Him. Pastor van Hout was 60 years old and he was vice chairman of the Association of Latin Liturgy since June 2005 and was pastor of our church since February this year. Since i've only been going to this church for a couple of weeks now i never had the pleasure to meet him. Still the news fell hard. While making a Powerpoint presentation about the life of Santa Gemma i was unaware of it. And in it there are Gemma's last words as well as on the last slide the words of our Beloved Jesus that she was not made for this earth but for Heaven. And i would like to think that for Father van Hout as well. Joy and sadness combined. The joy that he is with God and the sadness of having to miss him here guiding us further on that way to God. Even though i am aware you most likely don't know him i ask you kindly to pray for the peace of his soul in the coming time.

-Omnípotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivórum domináris simul et mortuórum, ómniumque miseréris quos tuos fide et ópere futuros esse prænoscis : te supplices exorámus ; ut, pro quibus effúndere preces decrevimus, quosque vel præsens sæculum adhuc in carne retinet vel futúrum jam exutos corpore suscépit, intercedéntibus ómnibus Sanctis tuis, pietátis tuæ cleméntia, ómnium delictórum suórum véniam consequántur. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The meaning of an image

This picture of Santa Gemma is together with the one in which she has her hands folded looking slightly up probably the most well-known image of her. And one must know she was not fond of having these pictures taken at the time. I think nor she, the photographer or anyone for that matter at around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th could have realized that it would appear in books, on websites, on prayercards, on countless walls etc. etc. It is an images which has changed lives including mine.

This image of Gemma (forgive me for not typing the Santa epithet. To me she's Gemma) was the very first image i saw of her after i encountered her name for the first time and became curious. Now i carry it in my wallet, it sits nicely framed next to my bed, i have it next to me when praying the Rosary and it even is my "desktop" on my Blackberry. Believe it or not, when i saw this image for the very first time somewhere late April or the beginning of May this year i knew everything would change. Often i can just sit and look at this image and just ponder about her life and the changes in my own. "Santa Gema, mi camino a Jesús, por favor, ruega por nosotros!" is how i often end my emails. For those who have no knowledge of Spanish it says: Saint Gemma, my road to Jesus, please, pray for us. And that is what she has helped accomplish. Because of her i've started a journey into catholizism. In the books about her we can read she has more than once pleaded for sinners and obtained their conversion. And often without these sinners realizing how this came into being in at the moment. So also in my case.

When i look at this picture of her i often think what she must have been thinking at the moment it was taken. And like an invisible onlooker imagine scenes like her in prayer and ecstasy, sitting in the church (an image i always have when attending Mass), doing housework, Gemma during confession. This may all sound silly for readers. Yet through these considerations i reflect on myself. Reflecting to examine my own relation to God. Where i can and must do better, the way ahead of me, but also the wonder and realization i've taken already a tiny part of the road.

Earlier i mentioned she wasn't fond of having these pictures taken but was told to do so. How often are we asked to do something we don't really want? What if God makes such a request to us? In her humility Gemma obeyed and had the pictures taken. And so must we when God asks. Because as with this picture of Gemma and the changes it has brought to many for the good when we listen to God and follow we may also spread a richness to others beyond the scope of our comprehension.

There is one wish i have. To one day see this beautiful face for real so i will be able to thank her. That is if God grants me permission to enter Heaven when the time comes. In the meantime this picture i will keep with me wherever i go until the day of my own passing arrives.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Prayer in Italian from Santa Gemma

I found this prayer in Italian from Santa Gemma. Since i don't speak Italian i used Google to translate. I hope it doesn't loose any of it's beauty. Feel free to correct me if there are errors in translation since although i do speak English very well, sometimes i do make mistakes not being a native from an English speaking country.

“Gesù, non vi facciano paura i miei peccati, non vi faccia ribrezzo la mia freddezza; riguardate, mio Gesù, all’affetto di questa vostra indegna figlia da voi redenta. Ricorro a Voi solo, Gesù, per sempre più piacervi, per fare la vostra santissima volontà, e per darvi maggior gloria”


"Jesus, do not fear my sins, do not make you shudder my coldness about facilitating, my Jesus, and affection of this, your unworthy child from you redeemed. Recourse to you alone, Jesus, for ever more pleasure, to do your most holy will, and to give greater glory "

Tuesday, September 1, 2009