Monday, November 30, 2009

The Vain Judgments of Men

In the light of last sunday and my struggle how to conduct myself before others i just read this from The Imitation of Christ Book 3.

"The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God rather than in itself. Many men say many things, and therefore little faith is to be put in them.

Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men, yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly for the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in him and as much as he could, but he could not escape being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed all to God Who knows all things, and defended himself by his patience and humility against the tongues of those who spoke unjustly or thought foolish things and lies, or made accusations against him. Sometimes, indeed, he did answer them, but only lest his silence scandalize the weak.

Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man? Today he is here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will not be afraid of the terrors of men. What can anyone do to you by word or injury? He hurts himself rather than you, and no matter who he may be he cannot escape the judgment of God. Keep God before your eyes, therefore, and do not quarrel with peevish words.

If it seems, then, that you are worsted and that you suffer undeserved shame, do not repine over it and do not lessen your crown by impatience. Look instead to heaven, to Me, Who have power to deliver you from all disgrace and injury, and to render to everyone according to his works."

A Prayer for Enlightening the Mind

This is from The Imitation of Christ Book 3. It's fitting because it signifies exactly what keeps me most busy at the moment.

"Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal light, and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me, and vanquish these evil beasts—the alluring desires of the flesh—so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command the winds and the tempests; say to the sea: “Be still,” and to the north wind, “Do not blow,” and there will be a great calm.
Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth, for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed down by the weight of sins, and direct all my desires to heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.
Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love; because You alone can satisfy him who loves You, and without You all things are worthless."

This very much made me think of a prayer of Santa Gemma for forgiveness of sins.

"My Jesus, I place all my sins before You.
In my estimation they do not deserve pardon,
but I ask You to close Your eyes to my want of merit
and open them to your infinite merit.
Since You willed to die for my sins,
grant me forgiveness for all of them.
Thus, I may no longer feel the burden of my sins,
a burden that oppresses me beyond measure.

Assist me, dear Jesus, for I desire
to become good no matter what the cost.
Take away, destroy, and utterly root out
whatever You find in me that is contrary to Your holy will.
At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me
so that I may walk in Your holy light."

St Gemma Galgani, Pray for us!

Come home for Christmas

The article below came across and inspired me to invite others to join in this Novena to St Monica from December 12th-20th for those distant from parish life.

Allow me to quote from the source:

"Catholic Mothers Inspired By St Monica To Pray For A Homecoming This Christmas

The Bishop responsible for the work of Evangelisation in England and Wales is inviting Catholic mothers to pray for those who are distant from parish life.

Speaking to coincide with the launch of the now annual 'Come Home For Christmas' campaign, Bishop Kieran Conry said:

"St Monica is the Patron Saint of Resting Catholics – she was a faithful wife and mother who prayed for years for her son to embrace the Christian faith. God answered her pleas and St Augustine became a great role model for generations of Christians throughout the ages."

“Monica reminds each one of us of the importance and power of Christian prayer, but also of the necessity to be patient. She teaches us that no matter how long it takes we are to be positively engaged - through prayer, love and invitation - in supporting those who are 'resting' Catholics to reconnect with their local Christian community. Motivated by and offering love, I encourage Mothers in particular, but all of us can participate, in nine days of prayer from 12th - 20th December. By the grace of God let's pray that thousands experience a deep encounter with the living God and that the invitations we issue to 'come home' are warmly received."

Come Home for Christmas is a seasonal outreach initiative which aims to offer a welcome to Catholics who for different reasons no longer or rarely attend Mass. Resourced by the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE), it provides outreach posters and invitation cards for Catholic parishes and a bespoke website for those wanting to explore reconnecting with parish life (for the latter see:

St Monica lived in the fourth century in North Africa as a wife and mother of three children. She is revered by mothers because of her tireless prayers for the conversion of her son, Augustine of Hippo. In his teens he joined a sect which taught the Manichæan heresy* and lived a life far from Jesus’ teaching. For 12 years she stormed heaven with her prayers and tears, begging God to bring her son back to the Catholic Faith. Eventually Monica's prayers were answered.

Whilst in Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St Ambrose. Augustine turned away from his old life and embraced Christianity, later becoming a bishop; he was declared a saint and Doctor of the Church serving as an inspiration to those who desire to turnaround their lives in a radical way. One of his most famous writing is his Confessions in which he wrote: “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” (Book 1:1)

Veronica Williams is the founder member of Mothers’ Prayers which is an international prayer group for mothers, whose members join together in prayer around the world. She said: “We know that prayer works and are therefore very happy to support this initiative by promoting this novena. In our network we have hundreds and thousands of mothers praying in small groups united in prayer, and we have seen many mothers who because of their concern for their children come to our prayer groups and rediscover their faith.”

Other participating partners are the National Board of Catholic Women and The Union of Catholic Mothers.

For more information about the novena and outreach materials for parishes please see:"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A moment within

First sunday of Advent, the day of my Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens: Worried if it was vain to wear the Rosary and the relic of Santa Gemma. Yet without Our Lady and Santa Gemma i would not have been standing there in front of the congregation with 7 others (including the sponsors). Right under the Cross. Answering 3 questions and affirmation by the sponsors. A sign of the Cross on the forehead by the preciding priest and concluding prayer.

Although i did follow what was happening, my mind was elsewhere. It was with Him literally above me. How could i stand? I should kneel!

Preparation for Holy Communion commenced. For the first time i went forward for a blessing, arms crossed. Corpus Cristi within arms length and yet still months away. Is it wrong to say i long more for my First Communion than the Baptism and Confirmation just before it? Voy Christo! in Spanish. Many times i think how this moment will be. Yet i also want to have no expectations.

Advent, I should focus on that. His Nativity at Christmas. Prepare for that last armslength in proper order.

Blessed Laura Vicuña

Last saturday the Holy Father received the presidents of Argentina and Chile, Christina Kirchner and Michelle Bachelet, in remembrance of the avoidance of war between the two countries now 25 years ago. This was greatly influenced by the mediation of the late Pope John Paul II.

Blessed Laura Vicuña was born in Chile and died in Argentina at the age of 12. Her story made me think about St Maria Goretti who died at almost the same age. She lived and died around the same time as St Gemma and St Maria Goretti.

"Laura Carmen Vicuña was born in Santiago, in Chile, on the 5th April 1891 to Joseph Domenico and Mercedes Pino. The Vicuña family were Chilean aristocrats, forced into exile by the revolution. They took refuge in Temuco in a poor house, but soon after Joseph Domenico died suddenly, and Mercedes had to take refuge with her two daughters in Argentina. They came to Junín de los Andes. Mercedes came to know the rather pushy Manuel Mora and accepted working for him, but also living with him.

In 1900 Laura went to board with her sister Julia Amanda with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at their school. She was a model pupil: prayerful, listened to the Sisters, available to her companions, always happy and ready to make sacrifices.

The following year she made her first communion with the same fervour and ideals as Saint Dominic Savio, whom she had taken as a model. she entered the Children of Mary. While one of the Sisters was explaining the sacrament of marriage during catechetics, Laura began to understand her mother’s sinful state, and fainted. She also understood because during the holidays on the farm her mother made her pray in secret, and never went to the sacraments. From then on Laura increased her prayers and sacrifices for her mother’s conversion. During the holidays in 1902 Manuel Mora threatened Laura’s virtue; she firmly refused him, sending him into a rage.

She went back to school as a student assistant, because he would no longer pay her fees. With all her heart she asked if she could become a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, but she was denied this because of her mother’s living in sin. She offered her life to the Lord for her mother’s conversion, became more self-sacrificing, and with the consent of her confessor, Fr Crestanello, made private vows. Weak from sacrifices and from other sickness, she was hit by Mora for refusing him yet again. On her final night she confided: “Mamma, I am dying! For a long time I have asked Jesus, offering my life for you, so you will return to God... Mamma, before I die will I have the chance to see you repent?”. “Laura”, Mercedes answered, “ I promise I will do what you ask”. with this joy Laura died the evening of the 22nd January 1904.

Her body lies in the chapel belonging to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Bahía Blanca. At the centenary of Don Bosco’s death, this chosen daughter, who had given her life for the virtue dearest to the Master, was proclaimed Blessed by John Paul II, on the 3rd September 1988."


Beata Laura Vicuña, ruega por nosotros!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis was a Catholic monk who lived in the 15th Century. He is probably best known by his writing The Imitation of Christ an excellent document on devotion and full of adoration for Christ. If you are familiar with the book True Devotion to Mary from St Louis Grignion de Montfort you certainly will be familiar with this book or phrases of it. He also copied the Bible at least four times. When you imagine this had to be done by hand it's quite an achievement.

What i didn't know and just stumbled upon was that the good man lived here not even 50 miles from where i'm living. What a small world! It keeps amazing me that you constantly discover things about the things you are reading and doing. And often answering those questions you were thinking of that day. Without searching, just going about the days business. Sometimes you pray and try so hard to get an answer and then suddenly it shows up. But sometimes one has to pay attention.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Feast of The Presentation of Mary

Today is the celebration of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin. To be honest i had to look up the meaning and background of this feastday :)

The (online) Catholic Encyclopedia says: "Now, the Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (Evangelium de nativitate Mariae) (7-8), state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Germanus of Constantinople adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A crucifix to the heart

How the saints can awaken the love for Our Lord! He works in such beautiful ways!

It is out of this love that i write. So much happens constantly. And i still pray: Speak to me Lord. Am i so blind to not see His works?

The week started on sunday at Mass when we heard that our rector (our parish priest) is going to pick up duties elsewhere. On a personal level this is so sad because he is at this time the only one i can really resonate with. But i am happy for those who will be able to welcome him. I wrote him and reminded him of something Jesus said to Saint Gemma. That His priests are His Dear Ones. I hope he understands. When i write i can get so full of fire. Later after sending i wonder if it was a good idea.

Tonight i saw the movie: Maria Goretti. She is another Passionist Saint who's live was shut short at young age being just a child. She taught me something about forgiveness. How difficult this can be. Especially for those who offend you and hurt you. But isn't it that exactly those people needs Jesus' love the most? If we can find it in ourselves to forgive them. And i mean truly forgive them, not just mere words. Wouldn't that be a beautiful gift to Him?

Today again i emailed with my ex from Argentina. It's strange to say "ex" actually. She lives with someone else yet we know and expressed we still love each other. Yet i asked her to look forward and focus on her current relationship. We were wondering why everything happened as it did. The truth is that through everything that happened i would find Our Lord. And how a great a present is it when she wrtes that she holds an image of our crucified Jesus at her heart in the evening? Even though part me wishes that she woulod be my wife i know that there can be no greater gift than seeing her find Jesus and embrace Him. Love Him and cherish Him. And for this love she already has for Him i forfit everything.

He works in miraculous ways. Sometimes we like to see it in ways we, i could say, we want to dictate. But that's not how it goes. To have faith and pray. And even if we doubt sometimes if He hears us we can trust He does.

There is one more thing i would like to write. This is about Holy Communion. As you may have understood from earlier posts i am in the proces of preparation for baptism. Saint Gemma wrote that the Eucharist is "a school of paradise where one learns how to love". At this time i'm looking through the window into this class. We can also read how profound the longing and the actual First Communion was for Santa Gemma. I do feel this longing to some degree. It is difficult to feel the Lord so close during Holy Communion and still not being allowed to participate. "Domine, non sum dignus...." ("Lord, i am not worthy...") But Your Love is so infinite. I patiently wait o.. Lord. In the meantime you pull me closer to You and teach me.

May we all hold Him close to our heart.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fiducea Mea

Mater Mea, non sum dignus....

Virgo clemens, how often have i made you weep! Even recently! How often have i broken your confidence? Mother, i don't even dare to look at your face. How deeply must i have offended Our Lord? Time and time again... The creatures in the sand are more worthy of His promises than me.

Sancta Dei Genetrix, how constantly i struggle to walk straight on the road! Not having been able to carry the smallest of crosses. Am i simply to weak?

Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii, i weep on every bead because i feel i don't understand. Deliver me from his claws. My heart is drenched in tears for the sins i have committed.

Refugium peccatorum, pray for me, comfort me. Pray that He may open my eyes. That He may have mercy, and in all His Goodness embrace me.

Fiducia Mea, yet you surround me with Your Motherly love. Like with Santa Gemma when You held her in Your mantle when Jesus bestowed this great grace on her. And although i weep i find consolation in every bead that slips through my fingers. Because i know You are with me.

Rosa mystica, how full of pride i am. I shall not walk the road but crawl like the creatures in the sand. And o, my words so cold and mindless! I shall no longer speak unless i must.

Virgo potens, protect me, because no doubt he will try harder to pull me off the road by my feet. Don't let him! Imperet illi Deus!

Deus, qui de beatae Mariae Virginis utero Verbum tuum, Angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis; ut, qui vere eam Genetricem Dei credimus, eius apud te intercessionibus adiuvemur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen

Mother, i simply love You...