Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This is the topic of the cover story in the August 23, 2007 issue of TIME MAGAZINE. One wonders not only at the profound mystery of God's work in the soul of such a servant as Teresa but also at the respectful and lengthy consideration of such revelations in the secular press.
This great woman who ministered to the most abandoned languishing in the streets of India has now become REAL to me, and her reality is both consolation and encouragement for all who struggle at the depths of the human condition - weakness, lack of courage, depression, and the struggle to maintain energy for perseverance in the journey.
With the help of one of a long line of spiritual advisers, Mother Teresa came finally to see that this stark and painful reality was the answer to the sincere desire she uttered in prayer, "I want to give all." With nothing material left to give and spending all of her energy on God's "little ones", the last gift she had to give was the consolation found in certainty. In another sense, as she experienced greater and greater success in her mission she was provided with the corrective to any tendency to cater to the ego.
With this in mind, I now experience Mother Teresa as a flesh and blood figure, no longer a one dimensional caricature of the perpetually joyous and perpetually certain. Out of this revelation of her truth she emerges as an even more heroic figure yet, at the same time, also more accessible. Is a fearless soldier ever truly brave? He has no inner struggle to conquer before stepping into the line of fire. How much greater the the bravery and achievement of the one who must acknowledge and overcome paralyzing fear and revulsion in the gut in order to enter into battle?
Mother Teresa, we now know, overcame more than we ever imagined and persevered in spite of harsh interior desolation. How much more heroic she appears in a three-dimensional portrait!
How does this news hit you?
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Sr. Maria Paz of Jesus and her hermit vocation has been welcomed by the People of God in Prince George. For more pictures of Maria, her Bishop Gerald Weisner, OMI and her profession at regular Sunday 11am Mass in Sacred Heart Cathedral click on to this link to the diocesan website. http://pgdiocese.bc.ca/events/SrMaria.htm. May the Diocese be blessed in all its ministries to the poor and most abandoned. And may Sr. Maria receive every grace necessary to persevere in her vocation.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
August 14 - St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Long before the word "holocaust" came into popular use as reference to the Nazi killing machine which practically eradicated Eastern European Jewry and assorted "undesirable" others, the reality of that horror was known to me. The area of Brooklyn, New York in which I grew up was shared by Italian Catholics and Jews of mostly Russian or Eastern European heritage. While the former came to this country largely to escape poverty in the Mezzogiorno of southern Italy and Sicily, the later had come to escape military service in the army of the Russian tsar or lethal pogroms periodically declared to clear the countryside of a Jewish presence.
The Saints Teresa Benedicta and Maximilian Kolbe are our Holocaust reminders in August of each year. Yes, we have the moving Diary of Anne Frank and the film Schindler's List to remind us. But as Catholics following the liturgical year these names and their stories come before us year after year to bring to our eyes the inhumanity of which we are capable. But they also speak of the heights of courage, fortitude and generosity of which human beings are still capable.
With such memories in mind, I thought today of the 'holocausts' of our own days in the streets of Baghdad, on the parched earth of Darfur in the Sudan, in the wee hours of the morning as four young people are gunned down execution style in Newark, New Jersey.
Receive the tears of the world, in the drop of water in the Chalice; receive the tears of old mothers who weep in the ruins of their homes, rifled nests of the little birds that were once their sons; receive the tears of frightened children, of homesick children. Receive the privileged tears of those who can weep for contrition; receive the tears that are not shed, that are hard as salt-water frozen in hearts that can weep no more; that ache in the throats of those who have no more tears to shed. Receive, O God, from my hands, who am not worthy to breathe the air He breaths, the tears of Christ in the Chalice of our salvation, the tears of the Infant in Bethlehem, the tears of the little foreign Child in Egypt, the tears shed over Jerusalem, the tears shed over Lazarus...O God, we offer Thee the tears of Christ in the tears of the world: "We offer Thee the Chalice of Salvation, humbly begging Thy mercy that it may ascend to Thee for our salvation and for that of the whole world."
Monday, August 13, 2007
6:30am Lauds, morning prayer, followed by Eucharist
12:15am Sext, midday prayer
5:40pm Vespers, evening prayer
7:40pm Compline, night prayer
Years ago I visited the Abbey and was so moved by the blessing at the end of Compline. The monks approached the Abbot two by two and received his blessing in dismissal as they entered into the Great Silence of the Night which ends at 8:00am in the morning. After all the monks were gone, the Abbot came to the visitors' section and solemnly blessed each of us. Here, in our monastery, we also receive this customary blessing from the prioress at the end of night prayer: May the Lord bless us, protect from all evil and lead us to everlasting life. Amen.
Protect us Lord, as we stay awake, watch over us as we sleep
that awake we make keep watch with Christ
and asleep rest in His peace.
Antiphon for the canticle said every night during Compline, the Nunc Dimitis (Simeon's Prayer)
Here is the Blessing for Travelers we used today. You may want to adapt it for use in your family or parish.
Leader: May the Lord turn His face toward us and guide our feet into the way of peace, now and for ever.
Response: Blessed by God for ever.
Leader: Let us entrust our Sisters to the hand of the Lord. Let us pray that He will give them a prosperous journey and that as they travel, they will praise Him in all His creatures; that they will experience God's own goodness in the hospitality they receive and bring the Good News of salvation to all they meet; that they will be courteous toward all; that they will greet the poor and afflicted with kindness and know how to comfort and hep them.
All: All powerful and merciful God; you led the children of Israel on dry land, parting the waters of the sea; you guided the Magi to your Son by a star. Help our Sisters and give them a safe journey. Under your protection let them reach their destination and come at last to the eternal haven of salvation. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Blessing by the Prioress with holy water: In the paths of peace may the Lord guide you, and may He send His holy angel Raphael to accompany you on your way: that safe and sound, in peace and joy, you may return to those who love you. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The Liturgy of the Hours, especially the 'hinge' hours of Morning and Evening Prayer, ideally provide the setting for daily participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The prayers of the Hours are both preparation for reception of the Eucharist and thanksgiving afterward. For contemplative nuns and any monastic, the Liturgy of the Hours along with the time of Mass provide the horarium or daily schedule around which everything else must center. In our monastery we pray the Office of Readings along with Morning Prayer at 7am; Midday Prayer at 11:40am; Evening Prayer or Vespers at 6pm; and Night Prayer or Compline at 8:15pm. During the summer our daily Mass is at 8am while during the rest of the year it is at 5pm. Some orders like the Trappists and the Carthusians rise at around 1 or 2am for a sung or recited Office in the middle of the night. Each monastery follows the Church's official design or rubrics for the Offices but variations will appear from place to place. At one time this community sang every Office, that is, they chanted the psalms. Today we chant the Offices from Saturday evening to Sunday night and on feasts or solemnities. On other days they are recited. But there is singing at every Office for the opening hymn and the gospel canticle (Benedictus at Morning Prayer, Magnificat at Evening Prayer and Nunc Dimitis at Night Prayer).
As a lay woman I found that private reading of Morning and Evening Prayer helped me to settle down, to put myself at a remove from the activities of the day, and then enter into a more contemplative mode of prayer. As a contemplative nun, these times of prayer with my community are very precious and very beautiful. They are not to become routine and automatic. At these times we stand together before the throne of God praying for the world, for the intentions coming to us constantly, and for our own great need and desire to remain faithful and persevere.
The illustration above is a page from a medieval Book of Hours, an illuminated manuscript of the psalms and prayers for the Liturgy of the Hours. This is King David, commonly thought of as the author of the Book of Psalms. Such lavishly illustrated prayer books hold honored places in many museum collections.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Today my parents are celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary. Being true blue, faithful, loving and each other's best friend is their specialty. Although when asked what was the key to their successful marriage, my father responded, "Patience." They live in the house my father designed over thirty-five years ago and ;maintain it without any outside help - even to snow blowing and painting the eaves!
These days their generation is being called "the greatest generation." In the last installment of "my story" (July 2), I gave account of their childhoods during the Great Depression. Within a year of their marriage, my father learned that he would be going overseas. At that news my mother joined him in places like Coffeeville, Kansas and Meridian, Mississippi. When I was born in New York City in 1945, my father was serving on Guam in the Pacific Theater of World War II. We did not meet until I was eight months old.
I am not able to be with them today but have promised to celebrate with them on their 65th. May God continue to bless them with good health and reward them for their model of faithfulness.