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Sunday, December 23, 2012

What is the origin of the Nativity Scene (creche)?

St. Francis of Asissi

The story of the origin of the Christmas creche (also known to the Filipinos as "Belen") rests with the very holy man, St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order.

In the year 1223, St. Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Greccio to celebrate Christmas. Greccio was a small town built on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful valley. The people had cultivated the fertile area with vineyards. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass. So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar. However, this Midnight Mass would be very special, unlike any other Midnight Mass.
 
St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his Life of St. Francis of Assisi tells the story the best: “It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Greccio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvelously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles”.

Although the story is long old, the message is clear for us. Our own Nativity scenes which rest under our Christmas trees are a visible reminder of that night when our Savior was born. May we never forget to see in our hearts the little Babe of Bethlehem, who came to save us from sin. We must never forget that the wood of the manger that held Him so securely would one day give way to the wood of the cross. May we too embrace Him with all of our love as did St. Francis. To all of the readers of “Straight Answers,” I wish you a very holy Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Franciscan Christmas


"The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib..."


"The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world. 
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks. 
Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity."
- St. Padre Pio

"Death & Purgatory" Father Benedict Groeschel CFR


In Defense of the Virgin Birth - Nativity Movie Correction


Fr Angelo Mary Geiger F.I. explains the Dogma of the Virgin Birth-http://airmaria.com/2006/12/01/new-line-cinemas-the-nativity-story-and-the-vi...

The Annunciation - Pope Benedict

"It is fitting, during these last days of Advent, to consider the faith of Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel greets Mary with an invitation to rejoice because the Lord is with her. This joy is that of the messianic hope of God’s people, the daughter of Zion, now being fulfilled in her. It is also the fruit of the grace which fills Mary’s heart and shapes her obedience to God’s word. Mary’s faith, like that of Abraham, combines complete trust in the Lord’s promises with a certain “unknowing”. In her life Mary knew, as we do, that God’s will can seem at times obscure and far from our expectations; it involves embracing the mystery of the Cross. It is significant that at the Annunciation Mary ponders in her heart the meaning of the Angel’s message. Her example reminds us that faith, while fully obedient to the Lord’s will, also must seek daily to discern, understand and accept that will."
-Pope Benedict XVI (12/19/12)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

St. Padre Pio Quote

"Let us look at ourselves in Jesus, my dear, as our mirror, in Jesus who led a hidden life. All His infinite majesty was hidden in the shadows and silence of that modest little workshop in Nazareth. So let us, too, make every effort to lead a completely interior life, hidden in God." 
- St. Padre Pio

Monday, December 17, 2012

St. Padre Pio on Hell

Padre Pio was asked what he thought about modern people who didn’t believe in hell.
“They’ll believe in hell when they get there.” he replied.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

St. Padre PIo and Obedience

In the life of St Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) we discover that his Bishop, Archbishop Gagliardi, falsely accused Padre Pio of various wrongdoings, and had unjust sanctions imposed upon him. When people would speak against the Bishop concerning these unjust sanctions, St. Pio would quickly respond “The will of the Bishop is the will of God.” Conscious of the importance of obedience, Padre Pio was always showing an example of true religious obedience and respect to his superiors. For him, the superior was the image of Christ, and obeying him was obeying Christ. But it happened that God used Padre Pio's superiors as instruments for him to suffer from the Church, and for the Church. And so we see that even if the Bishop may be wrong in his judgment, we are always doing God's will by obeying him.

St. Padre Pio Quote

"You must cultivate this well-formed heart, carefully, and spare nothing which could be useful to its happiness. Even though in every season-that is, at every age-you can and must do this, your present age is most suitable." St. Padre Pio

Third Sunday of Advent


THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT.


Oh it is beautiful, this happy day.

With happiness we await His return.


O' Antiphons, December 17- Wisdom /O Sapientia


"O'Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!"--O Sapientia, quƦ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiƦ

Saturday, December 15, 2012

St. Padre Pio's Quote About Our Lady


St. Padre Pio Quote


"To Fear losing yourself in the arms of divine Goodness, is stranger than the fear of an infant held tightly in its mother's arms." St. Padre Pio

Thursday, December 13, 2012

He's Coming!

Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of the Redeemer)

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

Marian Antiphon Traditionally Said from Advent to Candlemas

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

St. Padre Pio's Christmas Meditations

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.
There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.
Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.
He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.
PPInfantJesus.jpg (17808 bytes)
So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savior, who would come into the world with human renown and power. 

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
Padre_Pio_a_Natale.jpg (68654 bytes)
The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks. 

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

St. Padre Pio's Love for Christmas

It was a well-known fact that every year, Padre Pio looked forward to the holy feast of Christmas with great anticipation. As a child, he loved to sculpture little clay figures of Joseph, Mary, and the Infant Jesus in the manger. Throughout his life he had a tender devotion to the Nativity of the Lord.

Long before Christmas, if anyone asked Padre Pio how many days there were until the feast, he could always answer immediately and with accuracy. He counted the days until Christmas with a childlike expectancy. He loved the Christmas Carols, the special devotions, the beautiful gold priestly vestments, the Nativity scenes, and all of the festive preparations. He once wrote, “Christmas has a gentleness, a childlike tenderness that captures my heart.”

Traditionally, during the Christmas Mass, Padre Pio would carry a statue of the Baby Jesus in procession from the choir loft of the church through the cloister of the monastery and then down the corridors and halls. In the darkened church, the friars held candles and sang hymns of praise. Padre Pio finally made his way to the altar and from the altar to the Christmas crib where he placed the little statue of Jesus. Softly glowing candles illuminated the rustic 16the century church of Our Lady of Grace and added to the solemnity of the holy celebration.

At Our Lady of Grace monastery, the statue of the Baby Jesus would remain in the crib throughout the octave of Christmas. Padre Pio had the crib placed where he could see it from the confessional and would often look at it throughout the day. Padre Pio used to say, “Stay very close to the crib of this most beautiful Child.”

On December 24, 1922, Lucia Iandanza, one of the residents of San Giovanni Rotondo, was to witness a Christmas Eve like none before. She arrived at the church early in order to attend Padre Pio’s midnight Mass and on that particular night, the church was so cold that the Capuchins brought a stove into the sacristy hoping to take the chill off. Lucia along with three other women, sat beside the stove to warm themselves.

Lucia’s three companions soon fell asleep but Lucia remained awake and was praying the Rosary. When Padre Pio came down the stairs that led to the sacristy, Lucia saw that he was holding a baby in his arms. It was not the little statue that was used each year at the Christmas Mass. It was a real baby, very much alive. It was the real Infant Jesus. A halo of light encircled the Infant and Padre Pio’s face was shining with a beautiful radiance.

Lucia stared wide eyed in astonishment. It was then that Padre Pio noticed that she was staring at him. As he walked toward her, the halo of golden light and the Infant Jesus suddenly disappeared. So too did the radiance on Padre Pio’s face.

Padre Pio asked Lucia what she had seen. “I saw you holding the Baby Jesus surrounded by a halo of light,” she replied. “Lucia, you must never tell anyone what you saw. Do you understand? Never!” It was always Padre Pio’s desire to keep the many graces that God had given him hidden from others.

From: Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio

"Come, Lord Jesus" by Mother Mary Francis, PCC



"Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting"

This is a fantastic book by Mother Mary Francis, PCC written for everyday of Advent plus the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe (maybe others that fall during Advent but haven't read the book yet!).

The book is as collection of talks she gave her nuns over the years during Advent.  It is sectioned off for each Sunday of Advent and each day (Mon-Fri) during each week and a few feast days so you read a few pages a day.  

Despite today being Wednesday in the second week of Advent, everyone should get this book now and read several pages (days) to catch up to the current day as this book is THIS good!  So filled with wonderful teachings on Our Lord and Our Lady for Advent, the coming of Little Jesus that it is not just for nuns!

You can buy the book at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Come-Lord-Jesus-Meditations-Waiting/dp/1586174800

or at Ignatius Press, the publisher of the book, at: http://www.ignatius.com/Products/CLJ-P/come-lord-jesus.aspx

Book description:

These Advent reflections by the abbess of a Poor Clare monastery, an accomplished spiritual writer, focus our attention on the coming of Jesus into our lives. There is a double movement to this coming; both our active preparation to be ready for him and our patient waiting for the Lord to arrive in his own good time. There is also an art to this simultaneous preparation and waiting, and no one knows better than the beloved Mother Mary Francis how to encourage us in our attempts to master this art. 

Meditating on passages from Scripture about the coming of the Messiah into the world and our hearts, Mother challenges us to persevere in overcoming our faults and keeping our eyes on the Lord who has called us to himself-for it is he, through the gifts of his grace, who will complete in us the work of sanctification which he has begun.


Though written for Advent, the wisdom of Mother Mary Francis collected by her sisters is profitable at any time because a Christian life is one of constant growth into the very likeness of God.

"But it is a wonderful thing that we are not happy with ourselves, because the most terrible thing would be that we are at peace with our faults, absorbed in ourselves, blaming our faults on other people...the tenderness, the sweetness of Advent is wedded to that great mystery which begins with the call: Now is the time. Now is the hour. Wake up and be made perfect in holiness."
- Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.

"In these meditations, Mother Mary Francis teaches us that the liturgy keeps offering us precious insights that most of us do not perceive as precious jewels, for we have not learned the art of listening to the Divine voice speaking to us through the liturgy. All this is sketched with the powerful hand of someone who has lived it."
- Alice von Hildebrand
 
"The Poor Clare Abbess opens her precious sanctuary, the inner life of her vocation, disclosing the simplicity of the Franciscan gifts for a life of prayer by artfully sharing meditations on the weeks of Advent preparing for Christmas. With wit and sometimes deft humor, she redefines perennial values through contemporary analogies. Anyone needing to be re-established in the essential goodness of our Catholic traditions will find these meditations healing and consoling. You will certainly have found a new friend in the Franciscan cloth-as a Benedictine nun, I did!"
- Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B. Prioress, Abbey of Regina Laudis

Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., (1921-2006) was for more than forty years the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico. She became recognized as an authoritative voice for the renewal of religious life through her many books, including A Right to Be Merry, But I Have Called You Friends, and Anima Christi.

Read Holy Books - St. Padre Pio


"Don't consider me too demanding if I ask you once again to set great store by holy books (beginning of course, with Holy Scripture!) and read them as much as you can. This spiritual reading is as necessary to you as the air you breathe."
- St. Padre Pio

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

St. Francis


"To those who have experienced it knowledge is given, not to those who have not experienced it. Thus, filled with a glowing fervor of spirit and his whole appearance and his whole soul melted, St. Francis dwelt already in the highest realms of the heavenly kingdom." 

- Saint Francis of Assisi (Celano, Second Life)
F.L.A. (Franciscan Lay Apostolate) shared this quote . . .

"To those who have experienced it knowledge is given, not to those who have not experienced it. Thus, filled with a glowing fervor of spirit and his whole appearance and his whole soul melted, St. Francis dwelt already in the highest realms of the heavenly kingdom." 
Saint Francis of Assisi (Celano, Second Life)

Jesus and St. Pio - beautiful!


"The field of battle between God and Satan is the human soul. This is where it takes place every moment of our lives. The soul must give free access to our Lord and be completely fortified by Him with every kind of weapon. His light must illuminate it to fight the darkness of error. He must put on Jesus Christ, His truth and justice, the shield of faith, the word of God to overcome such powerful enemies. To put on Jesus Christ we must die to ourselves."
- St. Padre Pio

Mother of the Eternal Word


"No sooner had Mary consented to be the Mother of the Eternal Word, than she merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and of all creatures!"
St. Bernadine of Siena, Order Friars Minor - Franciscan

Monday, December 10, 2012

Poor Clare Colettines - "Special Vocations Issue" by Mother Mary Francis, PCC



St. Padre Pio Quote

"Thank God and gently kiss his hand which strikes you; it is always the hand of a Father who strikes because He loves you." St. Padre Pio

On the renewal of Religious Vows - poem, Mother Mary Francis, PCC


Apocalypse

On the renewal of Religious Vows


I saw the mists of sorrow lift like hands
And the gates of vigil melt like smiles.

And I heard a Voice like many waters say:
"No sparrow falls to the earth
Without a sigh in heaven.
And no dream dies."

Then I saw Your promises ride home like knights,
And I saw the floes of hate weep in the flames of Your love,
And the great hands of desire grow feeble
With the burgeon of Your poorness;
And I saw the masks of bitterness drop like weak tears
At the songs of Your surrender.

And then with a sound of opening blossoms
I heard a Voice say:
"The very sighs of your heart are numbered."

And I understood like a shout.

The mysteries of sorrow grew simple as fire
And the white throat of despair
Blushed with a psalm.

And the Seraphim came and warmed themselves at Your chastity.
And the Dominations waved palms before Your acquiescence.
And the Thrones veiled their faces before Your refusals.
Then I heard a Voice full of stars say:
"I have numbered your tears.
And no dream fell to the earth
Without my knowing."

I saw You open Your arms like eternity.

Then the mists settled on my heart again.

- Mother Mary Francis, PCC

"Broken Cisterns" - poem by Mother Mary Francis, PCC



Mother Mary Francis, PCC said, "God only knows the amount of suffering he allows His contemplatives to undergo." It's also perfectly Franciscan (and more so Catholic) to count all personal suffering as perfect joy:

"Broken Cisterns"

He is as zephyred winds upon the soul,
They said,
And cloudless cloister skies
Yawn over the galeless haven of the heart.

Strange, no one said His love would be
A vague unrest in all my deepest peace...

They spoke with sighs of flowery cloister ways
And of His smile
Like satin songs of evening.

But not a word was ever said of how
His gentle eyes would flog away repose,
And no one ever mentioned how His voice would thunder
Down my cool-seated caverns of compromise

My hands, according to their counsel sheltered
For quiet prayer, they never told would bleed
With steep ascents' crag clinging, and the feet
They set to flower bordered ways
They never said would know
Of black rocks' tearing, torturous paths
Among forbidden trees

No, no on even hinted at the swords of His demand
That part the flesh from bone and leave the heart
Riven with a wild and white desire.
And no one knows except He once has heard
That loud, imperious call in His own heart
And left all padded satisfaction for the climb
That knows no peak. But this is all of joy.


- Mother Mary Francis, PCC

Another of Mother of Mary Francis' Poems


Whom God Loves, He Chastises


"Whom God loves, He chastises; and He
scourges every son whom He receives."
-Heb 12:6

Reciprocally suds-splashed, skirts colliding
In narrow cloisters, or invoking gravely
The Trinity's Third Person on
Our shelling of the peas,
We laced the communal months with strings of days
Lifted from shared profundities, together,
Investigated midnight with our psalms,
Summoned the dawn with antiphons, and pondered
With hymns the twilight mysteries, together,

Not braced for flat of hand on cheek of life,
On fragile pulse of heart, till sunlight was
Shadow-invaded, shade-infested, stricken
With sudden spectres.

                                                  Tilting soul on soul
Came God to write the great good news of love
Deeper, deeper in the cauterized hearts.


(Mother Mary Francis, PCC)

Poem by Mother Mary Francis, PCC



Concerning Affluence

I am the richest one in town
Although they may not know it
Who count their funds and lay aside
Good portions against winter.

I am the richest one on earth,
Unshod I walk to tell it.
All silvered stars are my small coins
For sudden need arising.

I am the richest in the world
Or in the heavens either,
Owning a greater need than all
For God to come and fill it.


(Mother Mary Francis, PCC)

An Open Letter to a Young Woman on the Threshold of the Poor Clare Colettine Cloister


Dear Mary,

So now you have taken all the preliminary steps toward answering those insistent questions in your heart. Is God calling you to a life of worshipful love in the cloister? Are you invited to be a Franciscan penitent giving to all the people of God an example of joyous penitence, as Vatican II described the life of contemplative nuns in its document on religious life? Are you finding yourself drawn to make the same conclusion that Saint Therese of Lisieux did regarding the service of all mankind: “In the heart of my Mother the Church, I will be love!”?

You want to know – for sure, you say. I can appreciate that. But, Mary, remember that what we really want to be sure about is less exactly where we are going or exactly how we are going to get there than who it is we are following. I am thinking about the Scriptural response to vocation.

If you read Matthew 4:18-20, you will see that vocation and response are quite a bit more starkly simple than some counselors would have it. Peter and Andrew were busy and successful fishermen. They were educated and equipped to catch fish. They seemed happy enough. But then Christ walked along the shore – of the lake and of their hearts. And He looked at them. They looked back. He said: “Follow me.” They got up and followed Him. You will notice that they did not say: “Follow you, where?” Nor: “We are fishermen, not preachers.” Not: “What are your plans, and how is everything going to turn out?” Still less did they question Him about how their personalities were going to be fulfilled if they followed Him.

You see, Mary, when you really are looking at Christ, you do not think about questions like that. Not any more than a girl in love with the man who is making her a proposal of marriage replies with considerations about life insurance policies and color TVs, or tells him that he is very attractive but she does not want to leave home. His love will be her fulfillment. Any woman knows that to be chosen and cherished is her best security. And you strike me as a live young woman.

And do read Matthew 9:9. Here is the classicism of a Greek drama but with the briefest script ever written. It takes one verse of Scripture to describe one of the most dramatic calls and responses ever known. When you experience that feeling of “Oh, it could never be for me!“, remember that it is not just likely that many of us would have selected a tax collector as a bright prospect for Jesus’ first novitiate. You know, Mary, Matthew was living a comfortable life. His job was specifically lucrative. Security. Ease. Does it strike you that Matthew does not say a single word about all that he is giving up to follow Christ, that he doesn’t even heave a single sigh?

It saddens me when a girl talks just too much about what she might have to give up. Again, I say, that is not the language of love. And following Christ is a matter of love. When you are in love, you want only to be with the loved one and share whatever lot is his. If I am back to love again, it is because that is the whole explanation of what is stirring in your heart. Oh, yes, there is pain in partings, pinch of material surrenders, but that is merely incidental to the wonder of being loved. We do not love our parents less for leaving them to enter the cloister any more than a bride of man does in leaving her family perhaps to live at the other end of the world because that is where her husband is. “For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and cling to his wife,” we are reminded in Genesis concerning earthly marriage. And to cling to God if He calls us into His cloistering love, we have to do the same. In Matthew 4:21-22, we are notified that James and John got up and “left their father and their nets.” Family, present concerns. Christ had looked at them. And they looked back. They got up and followed Him. That’s what a religious vocation is, Mary.

But, back to Matthew himself. He knew better than some of us do, what is an appropriate response to being called by Christ to follow Him in a highly specialized and demanding way of life. He didn’t grumble. He celebrated. He arranged a party. (Mt 9:10)

Do I hear you saying: “But they knew they were called. Our Lord stood right there and looked at them.” Yes, He did, Mary. But there is no guarantee that those He looks at will respond to His summons. Like any normal girl, you would like Christ to stand right in front of you and say: “Follow me into the cloister. I am inviting you, – I myself.” You think there would be no possibility of a mistake then.

Do you remember the rich young man? (Mk 10:17-23)  He had just what you muse on. Christ stood there, physically, before the boy. It was Jesus’ own human voice that said: “Come follow me.” No doubt about that vocation. But the rich young man chose not to follow. God has elected to circumscribe His own omnipotence with our free will. And each of us can say either yes! or no! to God when He calls. Just as the rich young man turned away because he thought it was too much of a sacrifice to “give up all that he possessed,” so James and John might have protested that they could not leave their father. Or Peter and Andrew explained that they were not suited for the life of itinerant preaching.

Your yes! or your no! are yours, Mary. I am not going to make your decisions for you now, be sure. And if we do receive you to enter, I am not going to make them for you later on, either. I’ll pray for you, help you, answer your questions, and love you. But your life is your own. Our possible receiving of you now to enter or later to become a novice and then a professed junior sister and finally a perpetually vowed nun would amount only to agreeing with a decision you would already have made. Sometimes I have to disagree with the decision a girl makes. Some have wanted to enter, but I could not agree that they were called to our way of life. A few others I have felt were called, but they could not bring themselves to a firm decision. And I was not about to make it for them.

Without doubt, some people are asking you questions, too. Why you? Why waste your life in the cloister? Why bury your talents? Are others worrying that you won’t “be fulfilled?” I touched on that above; and it does make me smile, Mary. The saints were the most fulfilled persons in history. Imagine St. Francis or St. Clare worrying about whether their personalities were being fulfilled! I can hear you laugh. And I love the sound of it!

Ours is no easy life, Mary. But for one who is called to it, it is a marvelously rewarding life. Take it from one who knows. And you impress me as a girl wanting a challenge, not an easy chair. We can offer you a poor little room, plain food, long hours and no vacations. There is no TV. There is air-conditioning if the wind blows. And I am serious even as I smile.

So, Mary, pray and ponder yet a while. If Christ is looking at you and saying: “Come, follow me into the cloister,” you can always look away; but you cannot pretend that you don’t feel His eyes upon you. May you lock eyes with Him, Mary. God bless you.

Devotedly yours in Jesus and Mary,

Mother Abbess

(Written by Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Roswell, NM)

The Flowers of the Earth


FLOWERS OF THE EARTH

“I breathed the fragrance of their virtue, and drew them to myself to form the heart of my Mother.”

THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE CROSS


HERE IS THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE CROSS

Faith enlightens us,
Hope supports us,
Love draws us.

Glory in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ


We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.

The Pieta - “Selfless Love's witness”



“Selfless Love's witness”

I looketh around whence all art silent but thy groans of Love so loud. In thy apex of dark uponst this mount Thy Love so clear. In Thine eyes wherest all couldst be no lower yet they chooseth to looketh downst upon me. In thy pupils speakest to thee calm amidst this restlessness. Here therest art no words but everything audible; wherest Thy Sacred Heart speakest razor sharp unto thy hearts of men. 
Beneath Thy Sacrifice, beneath Thy Cross wherest I kneel but until now I knowest not why. For it is in thy utter darkness wherest His Sacred Heart art most clearly seen wherest hearts drawest unto Thine as One. Amidst this macabre scene art thy sights of sacrilege and art thy smoldering smells of sin and self uponst Thee. Yet, in thy same, cometh thy sweet Odor of sanctification, thy sweet fragrance of submission from our Lady that floweth from thy feet who to I kneelest besides. 
In all thy wounds uponst Thy Sacred Flesh I seest all thy gaping wounds of thy hearts of men, torn open, and bleeding seeking Thoust relief. And thy Heart who wouldst refuseth none who come into thy One fold didst healeth thy stripes of self that men so didst inflict uponst thy own self and thence uponst Thee. For Thine Heart seekest to remedy thy disordered, thy discord, thy dysfunctional heart. 
Yea, amidst thy dark pale colors of Selfless Love's Sacrifice I seest Thy vibrant colors of Thy Life of Your Heart. Uponst thy dirt beneath thee wherest men do dwelleth thy Living Waters from Thy Side didst drip and falleth to quencheth. Throughst thy violent winds art heard thy shrieks and howls of hell that crieth out all aroundst Thee, yet, it is only thy silent steady sound of Selfless Love from Thy Sacred Heart that I hearest. 
O' who am I, to sitteth beneath Thee, in this Sanctuary of Thine Tears whichst now must becometh mine, in this Day of all days to receiveth Thy Heart, Thy Body and Blood. Yea, I am consoled and called to sitteth uponst thy Lap of Our Lady for it twas Her Lap, His Throne, that He resteth wherest in Whom both seemingly looketh both dead and lifeless unto thy world but in Truth art nevermore alive at Heart in Selfless Love's witness.

The Reefs Avoided

The Reefs Avoided

"My child, watch with me ...
One must watch and pray without ceasing."

My God! my God! I desire to love Thee! I desire to love Thee! I desire to love Thee!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Franciscus Christificatus" by Francis Thompson


"Franciscus Christificatus"
by
Francis Thompson


Thief that has leaped Heaven's star-spiked wall!
Christ's exultant bacchanal!
Wine-smears on thy hand and foot
Of the Vine that struck its root
Deep in Virgin soul, and was
Trained against the reared Cross:
Nay, thy very side its stain
Hath, to make it redly plain
How in the wassail quaffed full part
That flown vintager, thy heart.
Christ in blood stamps Himself afresh
On thy Veronical-veil of flesh.

Lovers, looking with amaze on
Each other, would be that they gaze on:
So for man's love God would be
Man, and man for His love He:
What God in Christ, man has in thee.
God gazed on man and grew embodied,
Thou, on Him gazing, turn'st engodded!
But though he held thy brow-spread tent
His little Heaven above Him bent,
Thy scept'ring reed suffices thee,
Which smote Him into sovereignty.

Thou who thoughtest thee too low
For His priest, thou shalt not so
'Scape Him and unpriested go!
In thy hand thou wouldst not hold Him,
In thy flesh thou shalt enfold Him;
Bread wouldst not change into Him...ah see!
How He doth change Himself to thee!

St. Padre Pio Quote

"Blasphemy calls down malediction on your home; and, as the proverb says, it destroys even the ashes in the fireplace."
 
- St Padre Pio
Blasphemy calls down malediction on your home; and, as the proverb says, it destroys even the ashes in the fireplace. St Padre Pio

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Original Rule of St. Francis


(Photo of the actual Original Rule of the Third Order dated 1221 A.D. and stored in the Vatican)

While visiting Bologna, Brother Bernard put his hand in his bosom and brought out the Rule of St. Francis, which he bore in his heart and practised in his deeds, and gave it to a learned judge to read.

And when that judge had read it through, reflecting on its lofty state of perfection, he was utterly amazed, for he was an intelligent man. And turning to his companions, he said with the greatest surprise and admiration: "This certainly is the highest form of religious life I have ever heard of! And therefore this man and his companions are some of the holiest men in the world. So those who insult him are committing a very great sin, for he should be given the highest honors rather than insults, as he is a great and true friend of God!"

- Little Flowers of St. Francis

Friday, December 7, 2012

St. Francis on the Eucharist





‘Everyday, Jesus humbles Himself just as He did when He came from His Heavenly Throne in the Virgins womb; everyday He comes to us and lets us see Him in Abjection, when He decends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the Priest at the altar!’
St. Francis Of Assisi

The Sheperd and a sheperd


"A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard.  During the night, someone came across this.  An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort.  No one had the heart to send him away so he was there all night.

We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus' lap from time to time.  This is too sweet not to share.  No one mentioned that the dog breed is a 'shepherd!'"

- from the Facebook page of "Mary's Miraculous Medal Family"

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you

If He can calm the waters, he can take care of your troubles today. Hand them over to God and His Mother to take care of and Believe.

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." ♥

St. Francis' Love of the Christ Child



(Photo of the Creche located next to the Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville)



"Francis observed the birthday of the Child Jesus with inexpressible eagerness over all other feasts, saying that it was the feast of feasts, on which God, having become a tiny infant, clung to human breasts. Pictures of those infant members he kissed with thoughts filled with yearning, and his compassion for the Child flooded his heart and made in stammer words of sweetness after the manner of infants."

"Saint Francis of Assisi"
by Thomas of Celano, Second Life

The Poverello ("little poor man") - St. Francis


"It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn't give to someone in greater need than we are!"

"I should be accounted a thief by the great Almsgiver were I to withhold that which I wear from him who has greater need of it than I!"
- St. Francis of Assisi

The Poverello (little poor man) always looked dishevelled. This was because, though he had no money (refused to have it for the love of God!) he did have the clothes on his back. Nearly every day some poor person - so poor they didn't have clothes! - would come and beg from him and so he would give him his clothes or, at least, tear off part of his clothes so that the poor person might have something. He was so generous, never turned anyone away, that everyone knew they could get at least something from him! This kept St. Francis always in rags but also drew him closer to poor Jesus - He who became poor for love of us, giving us His all. Thanks be to God!
Kathleen Ann Lewis shared these quotes . . .

"It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn't give to someone in greater need than we are!" 

"I should be accounted a thief by the great Almsgiver were I to withhold that which I wear from him who has greater need of it than I!" 
St. Francis of Assisi     

The Poverello (little poor man) always looked disheveled.  This was because, though he had no money (refused to have it for the love of God!) he did have the clothes on his back.  Nearly every day some poor person - so poor they didn't have clothes! - would come and beg from him and so he would give him his clothes or, at least, tear off part of his clothes so that the poor person might have something.  He was so generous, never turned anyone away, that everyone knew they could get at least something from him!  This kept St. Francis always in rags but also drew him closer to poor Jesus - He who became poor for love of us, giving us His all.  Thanks be to God!
Like · · · 2 hours ago ·

St. Pio - A true story

True Story:

A lady came to San Giovanni Rotondo from England to have her confession heard by Padre Pio. She went to his confessional but Padre Pio closed the window saying : "I am not available to you." The woman stayed for several weeks and during this time, daily returned to his confessional and daily was turned away. Finally, Padre Pio consented to hear her confession. She asked the Padre why he made her wait so long to be heard. Padre Pio answered : "And You?" "How long have you made Our Lord wait!? You should wonder how Jesus could welcome you after you committed so many sacrileges. You have delayed your judgment for years, besides sinning against your husband and your mother you have received Holy Communion in mortal sin!' The woman was stunned and reformed. She cried when she received absolution.  She returned to England a few days later, very happy.

Thoughts for Your Meditation on the Life of Christ

There is one thing I desire from you above everything else: that your normal meditation be, if possible, around the Life, Passion and Death, and also the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can then meditate on His birth, His flight into Egypt and His life there, His return and His hidden life in the workshop of Nazareth up to the age of thirty, His humility in His desire to be baptized by His precursor St. John. You can meditate on His public life, His most painful Passion and Death, the institution of the most Holy Sacrament, the very evening men were preparing the most atrocious sufferings. You can meditate again on Jesus praying in the Garden of Olives, sweating blood knowing what sufferings men were preparing for Him and the ingratitude of men who would not make use of His merits. You can meditate also on Jesus being dragged and led to the tribunal, flagellated and crowned with thorns, the course He climbed to Calvary laden with the cross, His crucifixion and finally His death on the cross with all the suffering of seeing His most sorrowful mother.
There is one thing I desire from you above everything else: that your normal meditation be, if possible, around the Life, Passion and Death, and also the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can then meditate on His birth, His flight into Egypt and His life there, His return and His hidden life in the workshop of Nazareth up to the age of thirty, His humility in His desire to be baptized by His precursor St. John. You can meditate on His public life, His most painful Passion and Death, the institution of the most Holy Sacrament, the very evening men were preparing the most atrocious sufferings. You can meditate again on Jesus praying in the Garden of Olives, sweating blood knowing what sufferings men were preparing for Him and the ingratitude of men who would not make use of His merits. You can meditate also on Jesus being dragged and led to the tribunal, flagellated and crowned with thorns, the course He climbed to Calvary laden with the cross, His crucifixion and finally His death on the cross with all the suffering of seeing His most sorrowful mother.

Anima Christi Prayer


The Anima Christi is a prayer from around the 14th century. It is still widely used after receiving the body and blood of Our Lord,
Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.

"Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
Amen."

Come, Little Lord Jesus!


My Jesus! thou hast given thyself to me: in return, I give myself to thee.

Jesus mercy, Mary help!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

St. Colette of Corbie Quote and Short Bio

"Praise, praise all the time, praise without end, and love the Father, the Son and the  Holy Spirit; and the most humble Virgin who bore Jesus Christ..."
St. Colette


March 6th feast of St. Colette

Nicollete Boilet was born at Corbie, Picardy, in France and was named in honor of St. Nicholas of Myra. Her loving parents, who were almost sixty years old when she was born, nicknamed her Colette from the time she was a baby.

Colette's father was a carpenter at an abbey in Picardy. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a big help to her mother with the housework. Her parents noticed how their daughter liked to pray and her sensitive, loving nature.

When Colette was seventeen, both her parents died and the young woman was placed under the care of the abbot at the monastery where her father had worked. She asked for and received a hut built next to the abbey church, where she lived.

She spent her time praying and sacrificing for Jesus' Church. More and more people found out about this holy young woman. They went to see her and asked her advice about important problems. They knew that she was wise because she lived close to God. She received everybody with gentle kindness. After each visit, she would pray that her visitors would find peace of soul.

Colette was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis called the Secular Franciscan Order. She knew that the religious order of women who followed St. Francis' lifestyle are the Poor Clares. They are named after St. Clare, who as a follower of St. Francis started the order. During Colette's time, the Poor Clares strayed from their mission and needed to go back to the original purpose of their order.

St. Francis of Assisi appeared to Colette and asked her to make the necessary changes. She was surprised and afraid of such a difficult task. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign, and trusting in God's grace traveled to the Poor Clare convents. As an example, she walked barefoot to Nice, dressed in a habit (gown worn by nuns) that was all patched up. She helped the nuns become more poor and prayerful.


The Poor Clares were inspired by St. Colette's life. She had a great devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. She also spent time frequently fasting and meditating on the passion and death of Jesus. She loved Jesus and her religious life very much.

Her prayer was, "We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen."

She was very fond of animals and took good care of them. Colette knew exactly when and where she was going to die. She died in one of her convents in Ghent, Flanders, in 1447 at the age of sixty-seven.


Prayer of St. Colette
Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
God and Man was born.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
by whom he was conceived.
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
of whom the Incarnate Word was born.

St. Colette ~ Ora Pro Nobis

Epitaph - the ideals of St. Francis

(More from Emmaberry:  Mother Mary Francis, PCC?  Must ask her!)  This is another beautiful poem:)




 EPITAPH
 
Here lies the ideals of Saint Francis,
Pressed in the folds of earth, the little plant,
Drooped to a smile of meager flesh and bone.

Here lies the triumph of the little poor man,
The lovely, wasted witness to his dream.
Bring no polite compassion to her coffin
And stay the pitying upward flight of brow
For Francis and his dream without a haven,
His mad impossible schemes. Here lies the proof
His dream was wholly possible to her heart.

Here lies the refutation for crawling cautions;
Sweet, mute rebuttal to any compromise.
Her crypt is full of flower talk, and gladly
The stars come swimming down to kiss her face
Caught in its quiet splendor. Be still! Be still!
The place is full of angel talk or song.

Here lies the fragile flower of Saint Francis
Stronger than armies! here, the unswerving gaze
Shuttered at last on earth, and turned on Godhead.

Here lies the testimony to Saint Francis:
Clare of Assisi.



Who weeps, weep but for joy.