Category Archives: Carmelite

“With zeal, I have been zealous”

I took “OCDS” off my Facebook profile.
But I feel more Carmelite than ever.

I just don’t know how I can be “Catholic” anymore.  And the questions I have are so deep and existential that no one can answer them but God.

Kindly people are answering with platitudes and apologetics.  Folks, I was reading Catholic Answers when I was 12.  I read the entire New American Bible, with footnotes, from ages 12-14 because at the time as a Catholic among Protestant kids in the South, “Have you read the whole Bible yet?” was a kind of a status question I wanted to be able to answer affirmatively.  I spent most of 1990 and 1991 reading Lewis, Merton, St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. JP2, etc.

St. John of the Cross wrote Dark Night of the Soul while he was imprisoned by his “brothers in Carmel.”  The Dark Night is when one is cut off from “the Church” by the wolves in shepherds’ clothing.The Carmelite motto comes from 1 Kings (3 Kings in the traditional naming) 19:14:

[14] With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.

coat_of_arms_ocd_discalcedcarmelites

 

Juridically, one must be a “Catholic in good standing” to be OCDS.  I do not believe that the man posing in white robes in the Vatican is the Vicar of Christ.  I believe the true Vicar of Christ has been forced into hiding for the past 5 1/2 years, per numerous prophecies, some of which have come to us through Carmelite mystics.

I believe that, in order to truly be a good Catholic, one cannot at this point even pretend to be loyal to a man who:
a) As Archbishop actively covered up sexual abuse
b) Was a Jesuit but broke their Rule by accepting ecclesiastical preferment
c)-zzz) Do I really need to list them?
At this point, anyone who supports “Pope Francis” is either a raging liberal, poorly catechized or so blinded by an oddly inconsistent popalotry that they are willing to say that a cube is round if the “Pope of Humility” says so.
So until this mess is cleared up–and one way or another–I’m tired of playing “undercover Catholic” within the Church, though ironically, it is now the “Vatican II Catholics” who are demanding Ultramontanism.

But I’m going through a deep spiritual crisis, and it’s not one anyone has an answer to, or can answer, except God Himself.  And if and when He does answer, whatever it is, I know I’m not going to like the experience:
1) I’m wrong and Francis is legitimate, and I have to completely rethink my understanding of everything
2) I’m right, and we’re in for some pretty drastic Chastisements before either the Second Coming or whatever the “Era of Peace”/”New Springtime” is
3) The immediate future of the Catholic Church will be more the long, arduous persecution that then Fr. Ratzinger predicted in the late 60s
4) The Orthodox are right, Roman Catholicism is and always has been a vast conspiracy of homosexuals, and I have to rethink several fundamental aspects of my spirituality and theology.
5) The notion that there’s one, “True” Church is wrong and God doesn’t care as much as we’re told He does.
6) Then there’s always the fear of C. S. Lewis and St. Francis de Sales that God’s just the Cosmic Vivisectionist.

I was diagnosed with Epilepsy last month and while researching it, found all these articles with convincing explanations that the Bible is nothing but a series of stories about epileptics having seizures, and I have to admit they’re pretty convincing.

The only thing I cannot accept is that God doesn’t exist, because His intervention is too obvious in my life.

For example, He worked an amazing miracle this weekend, dissipating Hurricane Florence, though most people are chalking it up to “unpredictable weather” and “the media got it wrong,” which means the next time there’s a hurricane they won’t prepare and it will get worse.

I keep asking Him to intervene, and He seems to remain silent while things keep getting worse.

Life is always “One step forward; two steps back,” and us “Older Brothers on the Porch,” begging for the Father to show us some love, get maligned, while His vicars don’t just greet the Prodigal siblings returning (which we’re more than happy to do): they go out to them in the mud and tell them to stay in the mud because God loves them just the way they are, and God made them that way, and we’re the wrong ones for being so judgmental.

At what point does one give up trying?  Which “trying” should I give up?

If God doesn’t care, why should I?

But He remains silent.

I was going to quote Holy Father John, but I decided to quote Eliot’s Ash Wednesday, instead:

“Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will

And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,

Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.”

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Evening Prayer II

If you are a brother or sister in Carmel, or a member of a parish or town named for Our Lady under this title, happy Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel! If you are not, happy optional memorial! (A little humor)

You can find the Carmelite “Propers” (the parts of the Liturgy of the Hours specific to different feasts; as opposed to the Ordinary and the Commons) at this site http://carmelcanada.org/liturgy/office.pdf.
If you can find a way to access the site, please make a donation to them for their service. It is a tragic injustice that the liturgy, which is supposed to be the common prayer of the Church, is copyrighted. I understand in one sense why, but I wanted to provide a convenient blend of the texts, since, though praying online is helpful, flipping between screens or apps can be distracting and cause things to refresh.
So I’ve provided links to different sites, and reflections on each passage to fall under “fair use,” while providing a guide to deeper prayer. Again, please donate to the people who provide these great services for free.

God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

[Hymn]

Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera,
Splendor cæli, virgo puerpera, singularis.
Mater mitis sed viri nescia
Carmelitis esto propitia, stella maris.
Radix Iesse germinans flosculum
Hic adesse me tibi servulum patiaris.
Inter spinas quæ crescis lilium
Serva puras mentes fragilium tutelaris.
Armatura fortis pugnantium
Furunt bella tende præsidium scapularis.
Per incerta prudens consilium
Per adversa iuge solatium largiaris.
Mater dulcis Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam reple lætitia qua bearis.
Paradisi clavis et ianua,
Fac nos duci quo, Mater, gloria coronaris.

Ant. 1 I am the Handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you have said.”
Psalm 122I rejoiced when I heard them say: “Let us go to God’s house.” And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built as a city strongly compact. It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. For Israel’s law it is, there to praise the Lord’s name. There were set the thrones of judgment of the house of David. For the peace of Jerusalem pray: “Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!” For love of my brethren and friends I say: “Peace upon you!” For love of the house of the Lord I will ask for your good. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: — as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. – See more at: http://divineoffice.org/xmas-0101-ep2/#sthash.vQumIqyC.dpuf

How does this speak to us as Brothers (and Sisters) of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel?

Ant. 2Mary heard the word of God and kept it; she pondered it in her heart.
Psalm 127
If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil. In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat, when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. Truly sons are a gift from the Lord, a blessing, the fruit of the womb. Indeed the sons of youth are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. O the happiness of the man who has filled his quiver with these arrows! He will have no cause for shame when he disputes with his foes in the gateways. Glory…
See also http://www.athanasius.com/psalms/psalms5.html

this is one of my favorite Psalms. It speaks particularly to the vocation of the secular, but also to the spiritual fatherhood and motherhood of the Friars and Nuns. The first historical Carmelites were former soldiers who laid down their physical arms for spiritual warfare. The Scapular is both our shield and our token from Our Lady.

Ant. 3The Apostles were constantly at prayer together, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Canticle – See Revelation 19:1-7
Alleluia.
Salvation, glory, and power to our God:
(Alleluia.)
his judgments are honest and true.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
Sing praise to our God, all you his servants,
(Alleluia.)
all who worship him reverently, great and small.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
The Lord our all-powerful God is King;
(Alleluia.)
Let us rejoice, sing praise, and give him glory.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun,
(Alleluia.)
and his bride is prepared to welcome him.
Alleluia (alleluia). Glory…

See also http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/loh/mary/eveningprayerii.htm
How are we preparing ourselves to welcome our spiritual Bridegroom?

A Reading from the Letter to the Galations (4:4-6)

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5
to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. 6 As proof that you are children,* God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. See http://www.usccb.org/bible/galatians/4

To be brothers of Our Lord, we must humbly accept the mantle of obedience, as He did.

Responsory
I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
–I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
For he has clothed me with the garment of salvation and robed me in a mantle of justice.
–My soul will rejoice in my God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
–I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
“Receive, my beloved son, this habit of your Order. This shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.”

Canticle of Mary
Ant. Today we received the Virgin Mary as our mother. Today, she has taken pity on us. Today, all Carmel rejoices in the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin, whose name we bear.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my Spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day forward, all generations will call me blessed, for the almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of His Arm; He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things; the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant, Israel. For He has remembers His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham, and his children, forever. Glory . . .

The privilege of the Scapular is neither a symbol nor a superstition, but to die clothed with the Scapular, the garment of work in a religious habit, is to die doing God’s work.

As we honor the holy Holy Mother of God, under whose name and patronage we live, let us pray with confidence to Christ our Lord and say:
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”;
–may we stand with Mary among the poor and humble of the Lord, so that you may be our only wealth.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”;
–in following the Immaculate Virgin may we come to live that purity of heart which makes us eager to see the Father’s Face.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe”;
–with Mary at our side, may we never cease to trust in the love You have for us as we journey in this night of faith.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “You ought to pray always and never lose heart”;
–teach us to pray like Mary, treasuring Your Word in our hearts and proclaiming it in our lives.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “A new commandment I give you; love one another as I have loved you”;
–united in heart and mind, may we be ready to spend our lives for our brothers and sisters and share with Mary in Your work of redemption.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

Dying on the cross, You said to John, and through him to all disciples, “Behold your Mother”;
–may all those who trusted in Your everlasting mercy [especially ____] rejoice one day with you and Mary in our Father’s house.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

Here list your own intentions.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.
Our Father .. . .

Prayer
Lord God, You willed that the Order of Carmel should be named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Your Son. Through her prayers, as we honor her today, bring us to your holy Mountain, Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the malice and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into Hell Satan, and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Click here for my Litany to Carmelite Saints

Yes! Here, at last, is my understanding of Suffering

For the past couple days, I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, OCD’s Practice of the Presence of God.

A forerunner of St. Therese’s Little Way, whose short collection of letters is often identified as a perfect example of Discalced Carmelite spirituality, Br. Lawrence has never been able to be elevated to the altar even as a Servant of God because we know so little of his life.  Like Thomas a Kempis, and the housewife in C. S. Lewis’s Great Divorce, I think his obscurity even in the eyes of the Church is ironically a sign of his great Sanctity.  Br. Lawrence’s 11th letter summarizes exactly my view on the meaning of illness, and what I pray for when asked to pray for someone who is ill:

Eleventh Letter: I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray earnestly that God gives you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross. He will loose you when He thinks fit. Happy are those who suffer with Him. Accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He judges necessary for you.
Worldly people do not comprehend these truths. It is not surprising though, since they suffer like what they are and not like Christians. They see sickness as a pain against nature and not as a favor from God. Seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of God, out of His mercy and as the means He uses for their salvation, commonly find sweetness and consolation in it.
I pray that you see that God is often nearer to us and present within us in sickness than in health. Do not rely completely on another physician because He reserves your cure to Himself. Put all your trust in God. You will soon find the effects in your recovery, which we often delay by putting greater faith in medicine than in God. Whatever remedies you use, they will succeed only so far as He permits. When pains come from God, only He can ultimately cure them. He often sends sickness to the body to cure diseases of the soul. Comfort yourself with the Sovereign Physician of both soul and body.
I expect you will say that I am very much at ease, and that I eat and drink at the table of the Lord. You have reason. But think how painful it would be to the greatest criminal in the world to eat at the king’s table and be served by him, yet have no assurance of pardon? I believe he would feel an anxiety that nothing could calm except his trust in the goodness of his sovereign. So I assure you, that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King, my sins, ever present before my eyes, as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me. Though I accept that torment as something pleasing to God.
Be satisfied with the condition in which God places you. However happy you may think me, I envy you. Pain and suffering would be a paradise to me, if I could suffer with my God. The greatest pleasures would be hell if I relished them without Him. My only consolation would be to suffer something for His sake.
I must, in a little time, go to God. What comforts me in this life is that I now see Him by faith. I see Him in such a manner that I sometimes say, I believe no more, but I see. I feel what faith teaches us, and, in that assurance and that practice of faith, I live and die with Him.
Stay with God always for He is the only support and comfort for your affliction. I shall beseech Him to be with you. I present my service.

Carmelite Office, Morning Prayer: St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila), Virgin, Doctor and Foundress

Download the Carmelite Propers in PDF.
(This link is the only link I can find from this domain name)

Invitatory
Ant.     Come, let us worship the Lord, source of all wisdom.

Morning Prayer

Ant. 1  For you my soul is thirsting, Lord; my body pines for you.
Psalms and canticle from Sunday, Week I, v. 4, p. 652 (CP., p. 707).
Ant. 2  All your creatures praise you, Lord; your saints shall bless  your name.
Ant. 3  I have sung the praises of your mercies, Lord, in the assembly of the faithful.

READING                                                      2 Corinthians 4:5-7

RESPONSORY
My heart is ever pleading, show me your face. —My heart is ever pleading, show me your face.
I long to gaze upon you, Lord. —Show me your face.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. —My heart is ever pleading, show me your face.
CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH
Ant.     All who love me will be loved by my Father,  and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

INTERCESSIONS
The Lord of glory, Crown of all the Saints, gives us the joy of honoring our Mother, Saint Teresa.
Let us praise him, saying:
Glory to you, Lord!

Source of life and holiness, in your saints you show us the infinite marvels of your grace;  —in company with Saint Teresa may we sing of your mercies forever.
You want your love to blaze like fire throughout the world;  —with Saint Teresa, make us zealous in spreading your charity.
You make friends of your saints, and reveal to them the mysteries of your heart;  —bind us to yourself in friendship so close that we may taste the secrets of your love, proclaim your wonders, and draw others to you.
You pronounced blessed the pure of heart, and promised that they should see you;  —purify our sight, so that we may see you in everyone and be faithful to you in all things.
You resist the proud and give wisdom to little ones; —make us humble of heart, so that we may receive your wisdom for the sake of the whole Church

Our Father . . .

PRAYER (Collect)
Father, by your Spirit you raised up our Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus to show your Church the way to perfection.  May her inspired teaching awaken in us a longing for true holiness.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Flos Carmeli and Litany of Carmelite Saints

Another approach to Rosary meditation, with Carmelite mysteries

Another approach to the Rosary I read about once and use often is to insert a petition or reflection into each Ave.  Sometimes, I keep count by varying the additions.
Pray with me.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Hoky Spirit,  Amen,

Our Father. . .

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in faith] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in hope] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in love] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . .

The First Joyful Mystery: the Annunciation

Our Father . . .

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [announced by Gabriel] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to grow in obedience] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . .

O My Jesus, . . .

Second Joyful Mystery: the Visitation

Our Father, . . .

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [recognized by John in the womb] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to care for others] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . .

O My Jesus, . . .

Third Joyful Mystery: Birth of ?Jesus

Our Father, . . .

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [born in a stable.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to embrace poverty] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . .

O My Jesus, . . .

Fourth Joyful Mystery: Adoration of the Magi

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [adored by all nations.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to give Jesus our best] now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Glory be . , .

O My Jesus . . .

Fifth Joyful Mystery: Presentation in the Temple

Our Father, . . .

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [awaited by Simeon and Anna.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to wait for Him] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . . 

O, My Jesus, . . .

Sixth Joyful Mystery: the Finding in the Temple

Our Father, . . .

1 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

2 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

3 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

5 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

6 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

7 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

8 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

9 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

10 Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, [Who taught the Doctors at 12.] Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners [to find Him in His Father’s House] now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be . . .

O My Jesus, . . 

Why fly to thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God.  Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O Glorious and Blesseed Virgin. 

In the Name of the Father, . . 

 

On the Eighth Commandment

After “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain,” the Commandment that’s probably most often broken  is the eighth. As it happens, the two are often broken simultaneously, as Ephesians 4:29, which sometimes is translated as “unwholesome talk,” and others as “foul language,” attests. Either way, it finishes with the famous, “Say only the good things men need to hear, to build them up. . . .”
When we say things, are we loving our neighbor? Are we loving the person we’re speaking about or the person we’re speaking to by saying them?
As I mostly look out on the world these days and can barely even use my voice, I see the evils that people spread, perhaps unwittingly, with their words.  I regret the many, many times I have done the same. When I laid in the hospital, “Hallucinating” for three weeks that seemed like 3 years in 2013, the guilt I bore for my many unconfessed sins against the 8th Commandment was one of the things that bore down on my conscience. As experiential arguments for Purgatory go, even if I was sacramentally absolved, and that seems to depend upon which saint or mystic one quotes, I still needed to be purified of it.

We look at it in face value and say, “Well, I never testified against somebody in court, so that doesn’t apply to me.”   Yet, as the Catechism warns, we become guilty of it in several ways, beyond lying about someone else, in particular Detraction and Rash judgement. They both seem to come up all the time: with kids and family, with other adults, in parish life and city life, national politics, the hierarchy from the parish office to Rome. Our pastor has been talking a lot about it lately, and it strikes me how people will gossip about his homilies against gossip. I balk myself a bit, but this is definitely a case where it’s sometimes hard to hear hard truths. Like I say, the Rich Young Man’s sadness seems to me to indicate that he, unlike the many who left Jesus’ presence in anger, and the rest of us when we leave angry from hearing God’s message, was acknowledging that Jesus was right. When we condemn ourselves to Hell, we do so in defiant anger that we disagree with how God wants things to be.

“I’m just being honest,” we protest, like a child justifying saying something cruel to another child.  “I’m just telling the truth.”

No, there are times when it is not necessary to divulge a truth, or when it’s more appropriate to remain silent.  When Ahab killed the prophets of the Lord, and Elijah pronounced the drought, the Lord sent him into hiding for “some time” (1 Kings 17:3-7).  Our Lord Himself remained silent for most of the first 30 years of His life on earth.   We must pray for guidance on these matters.  St. John the Baptist was beheaded for denouncing Herod Antipas’s illicit marriage, but when St. Thomas More was executed for essentially the same reason, he had never openly denounced Henry VIII’s sin.  It has always been a constant temptation in public life, particularly in American culture.  We blame the digital media or electronic media in general, or even the printing press, but we can look through history and see examples of the same kinds of “mudslinging” and personal attacks in ancient Greece and Rome and other cultures.  

Rash judgement seems to “You did that *on purpose*!”  “You did that to be mean!”   I know I very often fall into it.  It takes a lot of prayer and grace to resist it.  How many lives have been shattered by rash judgement?  Nations?

Like St. Elijah in confronting Ahab and Jezebel, we must often be silent and patient, waiting on the Lord to tell us when or how to speak or act. If we feel the need to do so, we should follow St. Paul’s advice to speak in ways that build people up. St. John of the Cross says that the one who flees prayer flees everything good. I have often wondered how much better everyone’s lives would be if we all made prayer our default mode of conversation. The next time you’re tempted to gossip or complain, or you hear someone else doing it, why not ask them to join you in a Divine Mercy Chaplet or Rosary? Or the Office?

Pray for me that God will grant me the grace to do the same.

Is it “the Little” Way because it’s Easy or Narrow?

Jen Fitz posted a great reflection on the Feast of St. Therese, entitled, “If it doesn’t cost you everything, you’re not on the little way.” The title pretty much sums up the profound observation. My honorary “name in Carmel” is “John of the Little Way of St. Therese.” There’s a reason for that much deeper than a pious devotion to the Little Flower or even the spiritual connection that the past 18+ years of my life have in a very real way belonged to her.
Anyone with a passing knowledge of Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face knows that, within ten years of her death at 24, before she was even Venerated, much less Canonized, the future St. Pius X declared her “the greatest saint of modern times.” When Pope St. John Paul II declared her the third official female Doctor of the Church, he said that this girl who had very little formal education but wrote one of the greatest spiritual classics of all time “gave the Church a new doctrine” in her “Little Way.”
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who was baptized Agnes but took her name in religion from the Little Flower, got her motto “small things with great love” from Therese, though the latter was really just following teachings found throughout the Discalced Carmelite tradition, through Brother Lawrence’s _Practice of the Presence of God_ all the way back to the “great” Teresa of Jesus of Avila, our Holy Mother.
The message of Fatima is very similar to the Little Way: offer up “small” sacrifices. This can often be trivialized a bit, and a deeper understanding of Therese’s life and journey tell us that there’s a difference between “offering it up” in little things and enduring without comment the despair of, for example, being so emaciated by TB that her bones were protruding from her skin (a fact I just learned the other day).
Some make a big deal of Therese’s struggles with the Office and Rosary, which are certainly encouraging to anyone genuinely trying and struggling, but when she said that saying the Rosary was a “penance,,” we must remember that, in the Little Way, and the Way, period, penances are a good thing. Part of the reason the Rosary was a penance was the famous example of the Sister whose relatively noisy manner of praying was very distracting to Therese, who first dreaded that nun’s presence in chapel but so practiced patience in her regard that she eventually looked forward to seeing her–the same with another Sister who treated her badly, but, as the sister says in the Leonardo de Filipis movie _Therese_, “Every time I see you, you smile!”
In short, when we say, “Small things with great love” we all, myself included, tend to emphasize the first part and not think about what the latter means. It means putting as much love as we possibly can into putting up with that unpleasant person or situation.

The Miraculous Medal Challenge

I want to suggest a new social media “challenge” to pass along to your friends.  You may be familiar with the miraculous conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, co-founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, who was challenged by an acquaintance to wear the Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare twice a day.  I have read several versions, but apparently, he was given the challenge on January 8, 1842, and experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin, and miraculous conversion, on January 20.
If you, gentle reader, are Catholic, get yourself a supply of inexpensive (even free) Miraculous Medals.  Get them blessed.  If you’re *not* Catholic, and are brave enough to try the challenge, get one.  Again, you can request one free from the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.
Then just say this prayer twice a day:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

If, like Alphonse, you or the acquaintance you’re challenging are a skeptic, atheist, secularist, lapsed Catholic, etc., then you’re just wearing a harmless “charm” for a few weeks and taking about 60 seconds out of your day to recite some pretty worms.  It won’t do you any harm and may do some great good.

If you prefer something more Biblical, try reciting Luke 1:28 and 1:42. 🙂

Just give it a try.  Set aside all the arguments and ask Our Lady to help you know her Son better, in the morning and in the evening, all while wearing her medal.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Again Catholic readers, order some Memorare cards to pass out to your friends you “challenge.

Pass on this link to others.  Explain it in your own words. Just do it.  Imagine what we Catholics could accomplish with a little bit of faith and a little bit of courage to ask our friends to do this seemingly simple pair of activities.  It should come as naturally to us as recommending a book or a movie or a TV show, right?

God Comes to Us in the Soft Voice: O Me Of Little Faith!

People like to say, “Jesus will understand.” They talk of their “nice guy,” thumbs of Jesus but then come readings like this week’s. The Apostles are cowering in a boat in a storm. They’re *fishermen* and they’re scared. They see Jesus and think He’s a ghost (when I was a kid, I assumed this was a post-resurrection story). Of all of these twelve chosen men, who have already come back from their first commission and worked miracles on the Lord’s behalf, one has the courage and love to jump out of the boat and run to Jesus. Then he wavers. And what does Our Lord say?
“Oh you of little faith!”
If *that* is “little faith,” imagine what we all should be capable of. If St. Dominic Savio told his former teacher, St. John Bosco, in a dream that he could have saved many more boys if he’d had more faith, what does that say of us?
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

When I had my aortic repair surgery in March 2013, I lost my left vocal cord. The laryngeal nerve was paralyzed: they don’t know whether it was cut or pinched off. After 3 months in the hospital and multiple follow-up surgeries, I had an injection to try and restore some of my speech. The injection was basically Botox, and the goal was to swell the left vocal cord so instead of being permanently open, it was permanently closed. That helped restore my ability to speak enough that I could make a phone call and carry on a conversation.

It was a temporary injection supposed to last a couple months at least but only lasted a little over a month. I didn’t like the side effects, and the surgeon told me the only option was likely to be “reenervation,” when they somehow do a nerve bypass. After doing some research, I decided I didn’t feel comfortable with that path and its risks. I also figured that if Julie Andrews doesn’t have enough money to get the right procedures to get her singing voice back, I might as well pray and wait for a miracle.

A few weeks ago, we were in Virginia visiting my wife’s family and met a couple Facebook friends in person. This one lady (keeping her anonymous so she doesn’t get bombarded) brought along a rosary from the Holy Land. She’s a traditionalist, so I was a bit more open to her claim than I might have been rom a charismatic. She said that the first time she prayed it, her dog was healed of pancreatic cancer. Another time, she touched a lady at church with it, accidentally, and the lady was cured of cancer.

“Do you mind if I touch your throat with it and pray?”

I was like, “Sure, why not?”

I was wavering between doubt and hope, skepticism and faith.

People describe a feeling of warmth with a healing. As I was arguing in my head about whether God would be willing to give me such a wondrous miracle, I felt that sensation, and a bit of a buzz.

I started talking: nowhere near my old voice, but as good as it ever got with the injection. I also felt better. There was a sense of relieved tension. When we got back to my in-laws’, I called my mom, and she understood me. While some family members have been able to understand if they tried really hard, my father in law has barely heard me on the phone. Our conversations the past year have amounted to:
“Hi, John, is Mary around?”
“No, but I . .. . ”
“Ok, I’ll call back later.”

The evening we were driving back to South Carolina, he called and asked how we were doing, whether we were home yet, etc. We actually had a conversation!

I called my sister and one of my brothers that weekend. I have managed to handle several phone calls in the subsequent weeks that my wife would have had to handle for me.

Plus, my energy levels have generally increased. I’m feeling much better, overall, than I have in years. Not quite a “call the Vatican” miracle, but definitely a “healing.”

So, that brings me back to these week’s readings. Hearing Jesus reprimand Peter for his doubt, I thought, “Is He reprimanding me for my doubt? Did He have more in store for me that I failed to accept out of fear?”

Then Father started his homily and addressed the first reading. “God comes to us in the soft whisper,” he said.

God has come to me in the soft whisper. It pains me (literally) to be unable to sing today. Our organist played the Holy Holy and Amen I grew up with. She played “All Creatures of Our God and King” for the recessional. I tried to sing. I managed a bit, but it was painful.

Might I be able to sing now if I’d had a bit more faith in that moment of healing? Or did God give me just what I needed, my daily bread, though He still wants me to learn from my “soft voice”?

Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

Will the real Fatima.please stand up?

It dawned on that, everywhere I look, I see people who need Fatima’s message, yet even most who “promote” it get it wrong.
For many, Fatima is “about Vatican II,” when, if anything, Vatican II was about Fatima.
For many, it was and is about a magical formula for the “consecration of Russia” that will lead to the magical “conversion of Russia,” and in turn to an “era of Peace.” Those prophecies are open to interpretation until they can be seen through the lens of history. Sr. Lucia said St. John Paul fulfilled it. If he didn’t, it’s too late, anyway.
Russia’s errors have spread through the world: not just the Communism that is encroaching on the US thanks to so many money-hungry “Catholics” voting for Obama, but also abortion (the USSR was the first country to legalize it).
The reason we have not seen mass conversions and world peace is not because the Pope failed to say the right words at the right place and time with the right bishops. It’s because laity, priests and religious fail to answer Our Lady’s call to conversion of heart:
sacrifices (in the manner of the Little Way);
true contrition and monthly (at least) Confession;
Frequent, sincere and meditative praying of the Rosary;
Devotion to and respect for the holy Eucharist
Wearing the Scapular or Miraculous Medal.
How many people do these practices at all, much less with the depth and sincerity Our Lady called for.
Francisco didn’t see her the first few times. He was below the age of reason and yet she still said he was guilty of too many sins and needed to say many Rosaries to see her and to avoid Purgatory. Yet we presume we’ll all be instant Saints.
She showed them souls falling into Hell like snowflakes, yet we hold to a watered-down universalism.
She said souls go to Hell mostly for sins of the flesh, which are as disgusting to the Devil as they are to God, and that, “Fashions will be introduced that will offend my Son greatly.” Yet we fall right into the filth with the rest of the Culture of Death.

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Praying the Office Online

I’ve been praying the Office since 1997 or ’98. My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of _Christian Prayer_ for, I believe, my Confirmation. My wife also had a copy she’d received from an uncle. We bought the four volume set (at least two of one). The latter is tricky because despite my best efforts, I always seem to be unable to find the correct volume for the season. The one volume versions have both fallen apart from use.

One of the goals of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible to laity, reducing its complexity, but many people are still intimidated by all the “ribbons,” keeping track of the Psalter, the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, and the various Commons, etc.

It was about 10 years ago that I started thinking how it should be relatively easy to create an interactive version of the Office using HTML, where one could click on a link, bringing up a frame with the appropriate materials, and providing choices for optional memorials, or memorials celebrated as personal Feasts, etc.

So, I created several HTML files in Word, and made it part of my daily prayer to type the relevant sections into the appropriate files.

Then I discovered that others were already deep into similar projects, and I saw little need to recreate their work, though some of the problems still remain, as I will discuss in reviewing and linking each site in this post.

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the oldest prayer forms in the Church, and is used by Catholics, the various Orthodox churches and many “mainline” Protestant denominations. In Roman Catholic (as opposed to Byzantine/Orthodox) theology, the Liturgy of the Hours is “public prayer” or liturgy, an extension of the Mass. To pray the Office is to pray “with the Church,” so it’s important the words be as unified as possible. This is distinguished from “private devotion.” So, in a popular internecine debate among faithful Catholics, 1,000 people saying the Rosary are in “private prayer,” while one person praying the Office under certain circumstances is engaging in “public prayer.” Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), religious (nuns, monks, friars, sisters) and members of secular orders are under canonical obligation to say the Office but also have the grace of praying “publicly” even when we’re “alone,” because in sharing the common texts that others are praying around the world, we are joining with them spiritually. For laity who are not in Third Orders, it’s still a private devotion, unless they’re saying it in community with others. Thus, the “trick” with online adaptations is whether the translations are appropriate.

Even a few years ago, there were not as many options there are now.

One of the first sites providing a daily Breviary online was Universalis, which is based out of England and provides detailed information on the degree to which its texts are approved for various English-speaking countries. It has gotten much more elaborate, of course, since 2005, and it provides apps. For those under obligation, I just discovered that Universalis provides the official Latin translations, so if you’re extra-cautious about whether the translation is official, you can always just use Latin. 🙂

Perhaps the most popular and well-made, and the one I use most regularly, is DIvineOffice.org.
It has all its copyrights in order and uses the canonically approved texts for the US. It also has very well-made podcasts of a group of people praying the Office, with licensed hymns, and the participants (mostly volunteers who, IIRC, started the project as a way of teaching the Office to an RCIA class) alternate methods of communal praying: sometimes chanting the Psalms, sometimes repeating the antiphons, sometimes having one person read or sometimes alternating. You can read the text with no audio, listen to the audio, or read and listen. The audio usually takes about 20-25 minutes for morning prayer and 15-20 minutes for evening prayer, depending upon how much is chanted.

Before Divine Office, I used to use PrayStation Portable from Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s SQPN. I used to also have it on an RSS feed here but found it was unreliable. Sometimes, it seems to update too quickly and you can’t find the actual links for the day. Other times, there was a delay in posting. I hope they’ve fixed those issues, but it’s been a while since I followed it. It’s just Fr. Roderick reading it, not a group of people, and much simpler, but he does include prayer requests that listeners send him as part of the General Intercessions.

Plenty of websites and apps offer the Traditional Breviary, and several sites offer the various offices of Eastern Churches.

The added challenge, which led to my most recent discovery of a treasure trove of sites, is praying “Optional Memorials,” days that are not on the “General Calendar” (such as the Discalced Carmelite Propers), days that are personal/community Feasts or Solemnities, etc.

CatholicCulture.org* has a cool Liturgical Calendar page with the Feast(s) or Saint(s) of the day on both the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form Roman Calendars, Collects, devotional prayer suggestions and other activities. So, if I’m looking for a Collect that’s not in DivineOffice.org, I have been turning to CatholicCulture.

Still, if it’s a day where I want, say, the Common of Doctors or the Common of the Blessed Virgin, and DivineOffice just has the regular Four Week Psalter options, I often find myself searching the Internet, and recently those searches have proven more fruitful:

Liturgy Archive is exactly what I imagined 10 years ago. It is a basic HTML page with links to every option for the entire year: the liturgical seasons, and the collect for every saint on the general calendar. It also has the Commons. So now, when it’s a Carmelite day, I go there for the Commons. I don’t know what their arrangements are with the copyright-enforcing USCCB, but it’s all there for now. Its wider “Archive” has both internal and external links for a variety of liturgical prayers from a number of Christian traditions.

iBreviary is also very good. Indeed, when I heard people say “iBreviary,” I always thought they meant “Divine Office.org”. It is based out of Italy, and defaults to Italian but offers a variety of language options, including both Latin and the official (Grail Psalter) English translations. It is a relatively simple website but is oriented towards tablets.

eBreviary offers everything in PDF format but only offers certain parts for free on its website or App and otherwise requires a subscription because of the copyrights.

More and more, with all these apps available, priests, deacons and religious are finding their confreres praying along in chapel with their phones, tablets and eReaders.

What does it mean to be “Positive”?

“Turn The Radio Up,” the first single from Barry Manilow’s 2001 Here at the Mayflower, was his first top 40 hit on the Billboard A/C charts since 1989’s “Keep Each Other Warm.”
Often compared to “Daybreak,” it’s a catchy tune of the “inspirational” sort, but in the context of recent thoughts, Something occurred to me listening to it yesterday:

turn the radio up
hear the melody
turn reality down
there’s too much talk about blues
to much of the time
turn the radio up
hear the harmony
turn the negative down
turn the radio up
everything will be fine

Primarily an emotion-based message, it works like any platitude in certain contexts. If “listening to the radio” is taken as a metaphor for rather than distraction from prayer, it works.
However,

worryin’ don’t do no good
so throw your cares away
come on people life’s too
short a stay
hey hey
everybody now

Again, a worthy though on its own, but there’s a subtle problem: feeling well is what counts, not being good.

Now the one that struck me, in terms of how words are ambiguated:

don’t give in
no matter what they say
out with the negative
you find the positive way

“Positive” has come to mean, “feels good,” while “negative” is “feels bad,” versus meaning “adds something” or “does something” on the one hand or “takes away something” or “does nothing” on the other. Technically, in one sense of the “negative way,” the essence of Carmelite spirituality, the approach to problems Barry is suggesting–shutting out the world and praying–is the “negative way,” the way of negation.
In a different perspective, though, the sense of “positivity” here, the annoying way of the optimist, the positivity of the person who smiles with not true joy or humor, is a bad negativity: listening to other people fiddle while Rome burns, so to speak.
To be detached for God is as “positive” as it gets. To be detached and not care-whether one’s expression is a frown or a smile-is truly negative.
That is why, when one suggests, “As Catholics, we need to be more positive,” meaning, “We have to do stuff, not just complain,” some people get angrier and think you mean “Shut up and do nothing and post cute cat pictures.”
It’s also why, in “support groups,” if you talk about the actual problems you’re there to get “support” for, people say, “you’re being too negative.”

Two Things I know I need Most

If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that things work better with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
I am a sinner. My worst sins have been hypocrisy, pride, presumption and sacrilege, justifying and excusing my bad habits. I need Confession, even when I don’t “need” it. I need to confess every two weeks, preferably to the same priest, to avoid falling back into my bad habits. While I prefer to kneel and use the veil, for formality, my vocal cord paralysis has necessitated face-to-face. The knowledge that I am going to Confession, and that I am going to have to Confess it to the priest who’s followed my progress, helps me use that pride to my advantage, and I don’t sin as much. Not only do I feel better spiritually and psychologically, but my life works better.
The same goes for Adoration. In combination, weekly Adoration and biweekly Confession are crucial. I say yo my shame that I live in an area where multiple churches have weekly, daily or even perpetual Adoration, and I don’t avail myself of it. There are several reasons, mostly health related, but every day I think about figuring out how we can work it out.
Again, when I’ve been signed up for a Holy Hour and thus obligated, or else just made a point of going after work at night, things have gone a lot better for me and ny family. Add in daily Mass, and it’s amazing.

Why do I stop, then? Inevitably, the Devil attacks, first with the easily dismissed “scare tactics,” and eventually through personal attacks and phenomena that require moving.

Again, at our last move (which will hopefully be our last change of region), We chose an area with a lot of good parishes. We have, cumulatively and at various times, daily Mass, Confession, Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, a Rosary, Confession, Morning Prayer, Vespers (both Roman and Byzantine), and public Novenas. What happened after we moved here? I didn’t get the job I moved for, and I suffered an aortic dissection. I write this in part not only to encourage you, gentle reader, to improve your life by Confession and Adoration, but also for the same reason I need Confession: to shame myself into better behavior.

“We deserve our punishment”

I know a lot of people  who suffer from chronic pain.  Most of my Marfan friends are non-Catholics, and I observe how very differently they approach the question.  Often, “Offer it up” has become such a cliche that it loses meaning.  Even Jesus cried out from the cross, and sometimes that’s what we have to do, but we must always remember to keep focused on the goal.  I constantly have to remind myself of these things:

1.  “Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, . . .”

2.  “We deserve our punishment, but this Man has done no wrong.”

3.  “In my own body, I fill up what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”

4.  Mother Angelica once asked, “Why me, Lord?”  She got a response: “Why Me?”  She never asked again.

5.  A single mortal sin merits eternal suffering.  The worst we can bear here is nothing compared to that.  Imagine enduring *anything* forever.  My mom’s all-time favorite homily was, “You think it’s hot here?!”

C. S. Lewis once responded to someone who said, “It’s hot as Hell,” with “How would you know?”  When I was in CVICU last year, thinking I was dead and in Gell, everything seemed unendurable because ?I thought it was forever.  I was hot (high grade fever and screwed up post op metabolism).  I was thirsty (living off a feeding tube and npo).  I was in pain.  Most of all, I was *bored.*  I couldn’t move or speak.  I was strapped in a bed with tubes all over my body.

The only way to survive such a situation without despair is the Lord’s grace.  The Voice kept telling me to stop waive ring and make a choice.  It kept telling me it was over: I was in Hell or destined for it, that Jesus would never forgive me.  Yet, I thought of Faust, and I prayed, and I used the seemingly endless monotony to pray.  In particular, I thought about “70 times 7 times,” though I confused it as “70×70” and couldn’t remember if I was supposed to ask or grant it, so I kept naming people in my prayers and asking their forgiveness while offering mine.  I prayed the Pater repeatedly, the Publican’s Prayer and St Dismas’s prayer, over and over, 24/7, for at least 2 or 3 days.  My recovery began.

“Lift Up Your Hearts”

Just a thought:
When I was a kid, and the priest would say, “Lift up your hearts,” and everyone said, “We lift them up to the Lord,” so mechanically, it kind of freaked me out a bit.
As I grew older, in addition to understanding the spiritual meaning of it, I also kind of came to appreciate a more literal interpretation.
When I have chest pain at Mass, I lift up my heart.
When I have chest pain at home, I lift up my heart.

Lenten Reminder: He comes like a thief in the night

Reminder: whatever you do, Keep in mind you could be dead tomorrow.

People say, “What would Jesus do?”

They should really ask, “What would Jesus think?”

When you make a decision, consider that “Nothing that is hidden will remain hidden” (Lk 8:17) .  It’s a scary thought that everything that has ever happened will one day be known by everyone who has ever lived.

Remember the man to whom the Lord said, “You fool!  Don’t you know this very night your life will be demanded of you?”(Lk 12:20)  People like to prepare so much for the “future” when the “future” that seems so looming is nothing compared to the true Future that awaits after “death.”  We prepare for “retirement,” and we even prepare “funeral expenses,” but do we really prepare ourselves for Death and Judgement?  Or do we presume on God’s mercy? I know I do far too much of the latter.

One of the Devil’s greatest lies is that we have plenty of time.

Yet we’re told, by the voices of advertising that taunt us to break the 9th and 10th Commandments, that we have lots of time and need to “prepare” (not to store up treasure in Heaven), or that we have no time at all.

Fukushima; ever-impending nuclear war with Russia, Iran, North Korea, China or whomever; Climate change; bee depopulation; GMOs and various -icides: the media, new and old, are constantly telling us of the things that are going to kill us all before we know it, to create panic and get us to but stuff, not to get us to get right with God.  In the meantime, every one of us is a blood pressure spike or clot away from death–some of us are just more keenly aware of that fact.

Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!

Lenten Spirituality: Why do We Fast?

Jesus in the Desert

Jesus fasted completely for 40 Days, and we complain about fasting for 2 and giving up meat on Fridays?


Often, we hear pragmatic explanations of fasting, to try and make it more acceptable to a modern “consciousness,” such as “we fast to save money to give more to the poor.”  While that certainly has some grounding in Tradition, it is not the principle reason for fasting.  Fasting and self-denial are about recognizing that this is not our true home.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. (C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”)

It is about recognizing that we are, ultimately, immortal, and  that we must not become attached to temporary things like electric lighting and seek reward in this life.

[1] Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. [2] Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. [3] But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. [4] That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. [5] And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:1-5, Douay-Rheims).

We deny ourselves to imitate Jesus,

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8, Douay-Rheims)

To imitate Jesus, we must so empty ourselves and take the form of slaves:

[21] Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. [22] And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions. [23] Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. [25] And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? (Matthew 19:21-25, Douay).

This is why prayer is more effective when accompanied by fasting, as Our Lord teaches:

[19] Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.[20] But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:19-20, Douay)

Considering a Light Switch

A Light Switch

The other day, I was contemplating a light switch. It’s an ordinary thing: something we take for granted. We walk into a room, flip it, and the lights go on. We walk out of a room, flip it, and they go off.
Sometimes, we buy ones that look different or have colors to match our decor. Sometimes, when there are two switches to the same circuit, or multiple switches on a panel, we try to make them “match up.” Light switches are what many of us in the First and Second Worlds consider to be a basic necessity.
However, slightly more than 1 in 8 people worldwide lack electricity. The first electric switch was invented in 1884, while the first humans lived approximately 2.5 million years ago. Current estimates are that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, and the universe itself 13.8 billion years old. I read recently that if you reduced the history of the world to a day, the entirety of human history would be less than a minute after 11:59 PM. At the same ratio, the history of the electric light switch would be about .002 seconds of that final minute: an infinitessimal fraction of the total existence of the universe as we understand it, and even of human history.
Then think about how the existence of this universe is a literally nothing compared to sempiternity.  Kind of puts the things we consider “important” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Wisdom of Bishop Myriel: Carmelite Spirituality

He did not attempt to impart to his chasuble the folds of Elijah’s mantle; he projected no ray of future upon the dark groundswell of events; he did not see to condense in flame the light of things; he had nothing of the prophet and nothing of the magician about him. This humble soul loved, and that was all. That he carried prayer to the pitch of a superhuman aspiration is probable: but one can no more pray too much than one can love too much; and if it is a heresy to pray beyond the texts, Saint Theresa and Saint Jerome would be heretics.

Hugo, Victor (2010-12-16). Les Misérables (English language) (p. 54). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that some blasphemous jerk would write a song about you?
Mary, did you know that thousands of ‘Christians’ would curse, deride and doubt you?
Mary did you know that people who claim to follow the Bible literally would completely dismiss the verses about you?

The song asks:
“Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”
Yes, she did know, but He had already delivered her and made her new at the moment of her conception.
Luke 1:28 (how can anyone be “full of grace” who is in sin?); Luke 1:42 (“my spirit rejoices in God my savior”–how can He be her “savior” if she is not already “saved”?); and Luke 1:42 (“blessed are you among women”) tell us this. The sinlessness of the Virgin is recognized in the Orthodox tradition and even in Islam, yet denied by a relatively small group (Protestants) who have co-opted the name “Christian” from Catholics and Orthodox in the past 500 years, such that we now have to prove to them that we are “really” Christians. The only dispute between Catholic and Orthodox theology is the point at which her sin was removed: her immaculate conception having been dogmatically defined by Bl. Pope Pius IX, quoting the arguments of Bl. John Duns Scotus, OFM.
Yes, it was a retroactive action of the salvific grace of the Passion, in a Mystery, just as she is “daughter of her own son,” but I think we can be pretty sure that the intent of an Evangelical song-writer is not to build faith in the Immaculate Conception.

Again, the song asks, “Mary, did you know . . . when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God. . . .
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great [inappropriate use of the English translation of the Tetragrammaton, resulting in the singer’s inadvertent proclamation of himself as God]”
Again, it’s in the Bible:
Luke 1:32 (“He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High”);
Luke 1:43 (“the mother of my LORD,” or “KYRIOS” in Greek, “ADONAI,” in Hebrew, which, of course, means God);
As for the collective question of what Mary “knew,” and if she knew all the great works Jesus would do, just read the Magnificat. Being free from original sin, Mary’s mind was not clouded from understanding the Scriptures the way the rest of our minds are. That is why she accepted Gabriel’s message so readily, knowing that being an unwed mother would put her at risk of stoning, making an act of faith that echoed Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1-19).

Luke 1:45 (“blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”) and 11:28 (Jesus echoes Elizabeth’s words and says that Mary is blessed because she heard the word of God and observed it), Luke 1:48 (“all generations shall call me blessed”), Luke 2:19 and 51 (“Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”), Luke 2:34 (“and you yourself a sword shall pierce”), John 19:26-27 (Mary is our mother, too, and a beloved disciple takes Mary into his home).

Protestants take the few verses that vary on Luke 11:28 and Mk 3:34-35 as indicating that somehow Mary did *not* “hear the word of God and keep it,” yet that is clearly confirmed by the aforementioned verses in Luke 1 & 2. She *did* hear the word of God and keep it in her heart.

Many fundamentalists have tried to argue that the Mother of Jesus somehow strayed away from Him. I have been told that Mary was indeed a great sinner. Yet we see her standing by her Son at the Cross–not even off in the crowd, but near the Cross.

So, yes, Mark Lowry, Mary *did* know. This seemingly pious lyric is really an insult to the Theotokos, a contradiction of the Holy Bible, and a denial of the truth of the Immaculate Conception.

It’s bad enough to hear it on the radio, at the mall, etc., but, what’s worse, this song gets “performed” at many Catholic parishes, even at Mass, and people are offended when anyone points out that it is heretical.

Based upon a post I wrote in 2008.