Latest Posts

The Better Part: Spiritual Exercise 09/12/22

Please join us Monday 09/12/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET).

Click on Zoom:https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

The Better Part

Several years ago, the biography channel ran a number of stories on near-death experiences. One story involved a man, Matthew Botsford, who had traveled to Atlanta for business meetings and was killed in a drive-by shooting outside a restaurant.

After dying, this man found himself closed inside a terrifying darkness, confined to a cell where he couldn’t move to the right or the left and couldn’t move up or down. He heard screams and dreadful noises all around him. He knew he was in hell, and he did not question that he should be there. He understood that love didn’t belong in that place and that he was being kept there and would be there forever. He experienced an “incredible evil pressing in” on him, along with great terror and fear. For Matthew, this was torment. And yet, he was not what the world would consider a bad person. He was a successful businessman. But he understood that he had put success in business, in his projects, in his work, above everything else, above God and his family. He was completely materialistic, and for that, he knew he was where he merited to be.

He explained that at the time, he did not even know the name of Jesus and, therefore, never thought to cry out for help or to express sorrow. 

During his dying experience, he had been rushed to the local ER, and they had worked frantically to bring him back. He had been shot in the head, and after 4 minutes without a heartbeat, his chances of survival were almost zero. But his experience on the other side was one of suddenly seeing an immense hand slowly reach down from above and grab him while he heard a voice “like the roar of mighty waters,” tell him it was not his time. At this point, the doctors were able to restart his heart. But Matthew had gone over 5 minutes with no heartbeat and now had massive brain damage. He was not expected to survive the night. So, the doctors began seeking consent to harvest the organs of this otherwise perfectly healthy 28-year-old.

His wife, who had flown in immediately upon hearing what had happened and seeing his condition, began praying for him, asking God to restore her husband as she knew him. She rightly feared that his survival might be compromised by grave disability from brain damage.  But she refused to terminate life support and promised God she would stay with him. She stayed by his bedside for 27 days when he began to come out of his coma.  

Matthew slowly recovered though he still has the bullet lodged in his brain and suffers certain effects from the shooting. But none is as deep as the realization that hell is real and this life is meant for far more than accumulating wealth and success by the world’s standards. His wife recognizes that God changed Matthew’s heart. He exudes peace and anticipates the life to come now that he knows what the real focus is meant to be. He devotes himself to God, his family, and to helping others understand that every choice here impacts our eternity. He has chronicled his experience in a book called “A Day in Hell” and continues to emphasize we will spend forever in one of two places:  heaven or hell.  

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once lamented the amount of suffering in the world that is wasted because it is not united to the redemptive suffering of Christ. This man discovered that work also can be wasted when we are not working for things that will last. The world may greatly admire us for our energy, industriousness, our successes, and our productivity. But, as Jesus said:  To whom will all your built-up treasure go?  

The “better part” that Jesus spoke of has to be found in each of our lives. And then it has to be embraced as the true treasure that gives us a pledge of heaven and the unimaginable life God has prepared for us. It is profitable to remember that the devil also has a place prepared for us, and where we end up is a consequence of our choices along the way.

Questions for silent reflection:

  1. This story shows the great love and mercy and goodness of God.  In sending Matthew back to his life here, God’s mercy and light extend through Matthew to others here who may be unaware of which direction their own lives are going in.  How has God’s love and mercy come to you and affected your own direction in life?
  1. If we all have to choose the better part, what does the better part look like for someone who has a serious illness or chronic suffering?
  1. How has suffering helped you prioritize what is most important in life?  Are your priorities different now than before you were sick?
  1. Interior peace, peace of soul, (not complacency) even in the midst of struggle, is usually a sign that we are moving in the right direction. Agitation and anxiety often clue us in to areas we need to examine and work on. What is your experience of navigating the challenges of life in the light of eternity? Is there anything right now demanding your attention?

Thank you and God Bless you. We will see you again on Monday, 10/10/22

The Work Of Suffering: Spiritual Exercise 08/08/22

Please join us Monday 08/08/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET).

Click on Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

The Work of Suffering

Is there any real purpose to suffering? Why is there so much of it? What good can possibly come from it? These are questions humanity has asked almost from the beginning of time. No one goes through life without experiencing suffering in one form or other many times over. Sorrow and woe are woven into our existence here whether we like it (and most don’t) or not. But what good is it? Are we meant to do more than endure it? Does it have any power to change things for the better?

One of the newest young people on a path toward beatification, Carlotta Nobile, has a surprising answer to these questions. Carlotta was born in 1988 in Rome and quickly became noticed for her extraordinary musical talent. She was one of the most popular young violinists of her time and became the artistic director of Santa Sophia Academy Chamber Orchestra in Benevento at the age of 21. She won many awards for her music and was involved in many different outreaches and programs for the support of the arts.

At 22, she was unexpectedly diagnosed with melanoma, a cancer that had already metastasized. She endured many treatments and surgeries. During this time, she was deeply touched by a sermon Pope Francis gave to young people in which he told them not to be afraid of the Cross but to embrace it with joy. This is precisely what she strove to do. Her understanding of her illness in the prime of her life, and with so much promise in her future, was recorded in a blog for cancer patients, which she began writing and sharing anonymously. She communicated a remarkable degree of Faith and extraordinary insight into the workings of suffering in her life:

“I don’t even know how many centimeters of surgery scars have been drawn on my body, but I love them all, one by one. Every single centimeter of etched skin which will never be healed! Those are the starting points of my wings. “

“… there’s an Afterwards you’ll never stop fighting for. Because nobody can keep you away from the certainty that – despite all the scars, surgeries, needles in veins, tests, contrast liquids, therapies, and sorrows – there’s a unique happiness waiting for you, there’s your greatest dream which keeps looking at you from the future and can’t wait to reach you. Because you know that all you’re living now will be given back to you.”

Perhaps her most extraordinary understanding is revealed in the following words:

“…in a moment, you understand that the cancer can HEAL YOUR SOUL, restore the balance in your life essence and give you Faith, hope, self abandon, consciousness of finally becoming who you really wanted to be in all your life but never were: a PEACEFUL WOMAN. …in your strengths and weaknesses, it leads you to savour each moment, each smell, each flavour, each perception, each word, each sharing, every little fragment of infinity condensed in a very common and very precious moment. You understand that it’s cancer with its torment and aggressiveness, with its brutality, to bring you the LIGHT in the end. »

Her very last post (she died at the age of 24) witnesses the accomplishment of the work of suffering in her life:

“I’m healed in my soul. In an instant, in an ordinary day, as I awoke from a crisis. I opened my eyes and I found I was a new person. And that’s a miracle. “

— Carlotta Nobile, Il Cancro E Poi_, April 5, 2013

Pope St. John Paul II witnessed the same thing in his own life:

“It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.”

What if we were able to look at suffering in the same way? What if we could understand all that happens or is allowed to happen as a means that God will use to heal our immortal souls and prepare them for eternity? If we can see differently, see in Faith, the Cross will begin to lose its terror and shame and become something to embrace for the sake of the joy that lays before us.

Questions for silent reflection:

1. What do you think of the possibility that illness can heal deeper parts of us in the midst of our suffering?

2. Have you experienced unexpected graces from cancer and your own experience with it?

3. If you could live your life over again without cancer, and without suffering, would you choose that? Why or why not?

4. What wisdom from your own suffering would you want to share with others?

Finding The True Peripheries: Spiritual Exercise 06/13/22

Please join us Monday 06/13/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET).

Click on Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

Finding The True Peripheries

From the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Francis began speaking about the Church’s call to go out to the peripheries in its evangelization efforts. Even before he was elected, Cardinal Bergoglio had said, “The church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents and of all misery.” He noted: “Mercy is the first thing the Catholic Church is called to bring to those peripheries.”

One thing that seems to escape attention in the commentaries is a better definition of terms. Peripheries are defined by their center. To know the peripheries, the center has to be identified first. If, for instance, your center is well-being and prosperity, then all those farthest away from prosperity, the most impoverished and destitute, become the periphery. If your center is security, then the peripheries would be made up of those with the least security, protection, or chance of living in safety. If power is at the center, then the most powerless would make up the peripheries. 

But if we look at the work of evangelization, we see one center. And all the considerations mentioned above would flow from it. That center, of course, is Jesus Christ and the Gospel message. 

If Christ is the center, then the peripheries have to be understood somewhat differently. The fringes then become those farthest away from Christ. This means that a secular city like Seattle, which may have a higher number of affluent people and prosperous businesses, could be more on the peripheries than a similar-sized city in the Philippines where the people though poor, are living a vibrant faith, exercising a living relationship with God amid their daily struggles for survival but closer to Christ overall. This does not dismiss the call we have to exercise charity and justice in relation to the materially needy. But it is not the same as reaching to the peripheries in this sense.

When Christ is at the center, the peripheries cease to be defined geographically or socio-economically. The arena instead becomes the human person. As Pope Francis has reminded us, mission is not a foreign location. It’s the human person. “Today…every dimension of the human being is mission territory, awaiting the announcement of the Gospel.”  We see this clearly with the latest horrific tragedy in Uvalde, TX and the massacre of 19 innocent children and two teachers. There are “peripheries” in this country we are not reaching.  We will go to a foreign country more easily than reaching to the brokenness in people who live right next to us.

We see many dioceses closing Churches because of a lack of vocations. We see attendance numbers dropping significantly. The “nones” (no religious affiliation) are increasing, and the number of those who have become either agnostic or reject religion altogether is startling. “The field of mission seems to expand every day, with men and women in desperate situations…there is need of you, of your missionary courage, your willingness to take to all the Good News that liberates and consoles.” Pope Francis. Oct. 6, 2016

The literally poor and societally marginalized will never be left out. If we are genuinely linked to Christ, the poor and marginalized will be cared for as a central part of the Church’s outreach. Every day, the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters, and educates more people than any other organization in the world. 

At the same time, Jesus died to save everyone, including those who may be fortunate by the world’s standards but poorest by the Lord’s standards. The measure that we use has to be Christ and the Blood He shed for all souls. In trying to reach to the “peripheries” of today, it is necessary to see oneself in a new light:

“I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing, and freeing.” (Evangelii Gaudium).

That may mean that the “peripheries” in your own life are within your own family or even within your own soul. 

1.  Pope Francis echoes a sentiment of Catherine de Houek Dougherty who said:  “today the field of mission is the broken heart of man where no one wants to go.”  What do you think is the biggest wound in the hearts of people today?

2.  What do you think your particular mission is?  Why did God set you into this time?  What do you bring to God’s people?

3.  How does knowing your own brokenness help you reveal Christ to others?

4. Why is it hard to talk about Jesus to people you know or meet? Why does it take courage today to work in the mission of Christ?

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3

Reflections On Kindness: Spiritual Exercise 05/09/22

Please join us Monday 05/09/2022 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Click on Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

Reflections on Kindness

Fr. Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

“Man has considerable powers, considerable enough to leave him, as proprietor of this planet. He has one power in particular, which is not sufficiently dwelt on. It is the power of making the world happy, or, at least, of so greatly diminishing the amount of unhappiness in it as to make it quite a different world from what it is at present. This power is called kindness. 

The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed. We are for the most part unhappy because the world is an unkind world; but the world is only unkind for the lack of kindness in us who compose it. It is plainly worth our while to take some trouble to gain clear and definite notions of kindness. We practice more easily what we already know clearly. 

We must first ask ourselves what kindness is. Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self.

We cannot speak of the virtues without thinking of God. Kindness is the coming to the rescue of others when they need it, and it is in our power to supply what they need, and this is the work of the attributes of God towards His creatures. (God is always doing this with us.)

Kindness is also like Divine grace, for it gives men something which neither self nor Nature can give them. What it gives them is something of which they are in want, or something which only another person can give, such as consolation; and besides this, the manner in which this is given is a true gift in itself, better far than the thing given. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It is kindness which makes life’s capabilities blossom, and paints them with their cheering hues, and endows them with their invigorating fragrance.

See how, turn which way we will, kindness is entangled with the thought of God! Last of all, the secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct which is the noblest part of ourselves, the most undoubted remnant of the image of God which was given us at the first. We must, therefore, never think of kindness as being a common growth of our nature, common in the sense of its being of little value. It is the nobility of man. In all its modifications it reflects a heavenly type. It runs up into eternal mysteries. It is a Divine thing rather than a human one, and it is human because it springs from the soul of man just at the point where the Divine image was graven deepest. 

Each solitary kind action that is done the whole world over is working briskly in its own sphere to restore the balance between right and wrong. The more kindness there is on the earth at any given moment, the greater is the tendency of the balance between right and wrong to correct itself and remain in equilibrium. Nay, this is short of the truth. Kindness allies itself with right to invade the wrong and beat it off the earth.

This dear virtue is forever entering into God’s original dispositions as Creator. He meant the world to be a happy world, and kindness means it also. He gave it the power to be happy, and kindness was a great part of that very power. By His benediction He commanded creation to be happy; kindness, with its usual genial spirit of accommodation, now tries to persuade a world which has dared to disobey a Divine command. Kindness sees less clearly the ruin of God’s original idea than it sees still that first beneficent idea, and it sets to work to cleanse what is defiled and to restore what is defaced. It sorrows over sin, but, like buoyant-hearted men, it finds in its sorrow the best impulse of its activity. It is laboring always in ten thousand places, and the work at which it labors is always the same — to make God’s world more like His original conception of it. 

It is no less energetic and successful in preparing and enlarging His ways as Savior. It is constantly winning strayed souls back to Him, opening hearts that seemed obstinately closed, enlightening minds that had been willfully darkened, skillfully throwing the succors of hope into the strongholds that were on the point of capitulating to despair, lifting endeavor from low to high, from high to higher, from higher to highest. Everywhere kindness is the best pioneer of the Precious Blood. We often begin our own repentance by acts of kindness, or through them. Probably the majority of repentances have begun in the reception of acts of kindness, which, if not unexpected, touched men by the sense of their being so undeserved. Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning; and these three last have never converted anyone unless they were kind also.

What does kindness do for those to whom we show it? What we note first as of great consequence, is the immense power of kindness in bringing out the good points of the characters of others. Almost all men have more goodness in them than the ordinary intercourse of the world enables us to discover. Indeed, most men, from the glimpses we now and then obtain, carry with them to the grave much undeveloped nobility. Who has not seen how disagreeable and faulty characters will expand under kindness. It is wonderful what capabilities grace can find in the most unpromising character. 

Another work which our kindness does in the hearts of others is to encourage them in their efforts after good. We all of us need encouragement to do good. The path of virtue, even when it is not uphill, is rough and stony, and each day’s journey is a little longer than our strength admits of, only there are no means of shortening it. How many noble hearts have sunk under this not ignoble weariness! How many plans for God’s glory have fallen to the ground, which a bright look or a kind eye would have propped up. Oh, what a wretched thing it is to be unkind! 

I think, with the thought of the Precious Blood, I can better face my sins at the last judgment than my unkindness, with all its miserable fertility of evil consequences. But if we have no notion of the far-reaching mischief which unkindness does, so neither can we rightly estimate the good which kindness may do.

Moreover, kindness is infectious. No kind action ever stopped with itself. One kind action leads to another. By one we commit ourselves to more than one. Our example is followed. The single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make fresh trees.

  1. Do you have an experience of kindness that radically changed your life or made a life-changing difference?
  2. Listen for Fr. Flanagan’s story of Calvary and Kindness. What is the nature of the kindness Jesus shows on Calvary?
  3. What is your experience of seeing the impact of your own kindness on others.
  4. Stop and think of instances where you have experienced kindness from others. What are some of the effects it had on you interiorly? How did it make you feel?  How did it affect your responses and reactions both immediately and long-term?
  5. What’s the difference between kindness and “niceness?”

Please join us Monday 06/13/2022 for our next session. 

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

A Vision Of Victory: Spiritual Exercise 04/11/22

Please join us Monday 04/11/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

A Vision Of Victory

After His Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth with his disciples for forty days.  For Forty days the disciples got to see and experience Jesus in His resurrected body. It is likely that without this glimpse of things to come it would have been near impossible for the apostles to have died the same kinds of death Jesus did.  The promise of glory needed to be seen concretely as a reality of the life to come after living and suffering in this valley of tears.  

In Resurrection Jesus shows His disciples how His death has conquered the world, the flesh, the devil, sin and death.  But He particularly shows them the transformations of the body that will set us free from its current corruptibility.  He manifests to His disciples four gifts in particular of the resurrected body: clearness, agility, subtility, and impassibility.  These gifts will be eternal, never to be taken from us once we have them.

Clearness refers to the body’s increase in light, which will exceed even the sunlight.  The light is part of the glory of the resurrected body.

Agility is the quality Jesus shows in moving from place to place extremely quickly.  It appears He need only think of where He wants to be and He is there.

Subtility involves the body’s ability to pass through obstacles. (Jesus walked through the locked doors of the Cenacle on Easter Sunday.)

Impassability means a body that will be unchanging, never again able to suffer or die, incapable of being acted upon by an outside force.  It means a body that is 33 years, in the prime of life and will live forever.

The devil tries to make us forgetful of the definitive victories the Lord has won over the flesh, the world, sin, death, and the devil himself.  But that battle and those victories have to be fought and won directly in our own lives.  Then Easter becomes a living celebration for us.  

Jesus shows us in Resurrection the transformation of all earthly realities of suffering, brokenness, disharmony, death, disillusionment, etc.  The glories He reveals in Resurrection, in Victory, should motivate us to do the hard work that needs to be done, the dying to ourselves we resist so deeply but without which we cannot come to the new, transcendent life Jesus died to give us.

1. Our life here is meant to prepare us for the life we will live for all eternity. Do you see any prefigurements of the gift of clearness, subtility, agility and impassibility already in the culture?

2. We will live forever in our resurrected body.  The time we struggle with our corruptible body here is very limited by comparison.  St. Paul says he considers the sufferings of the present as nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.  Do you spend time thinking about what is to come in glory? Why or why not?

3. As we enter into the season of Easter, Jesus appears suddenly at times to those who are speaking of Him, as well as those locked away in fear.  Are you expecting to “see” Jesus during this time?  What can you do to be more sensitive to His presence in Resurrection?

4. What is your favorite Resurrection story and why?

May all that is of His great and glorious goodness be revealed to you as we celebrate the upcoming season of His most Holy and miraculous resurrection.

Facing The Cross In Our Lives: Spiritual Exercise 03/14/22

Thank you most devout friends in Christ for your prayers in the healing of Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT ❤️

Please join us Monday 03/14/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

Facing The Cross In Our Lives

Nobody has come into this world with more courage than Our Lord Jesus Christ. The two things we fear the most, and spend our lives trying to avoid, suffering and death, Jesus embraces from the beginning, as a fundamental part of His mission.

There is no life in God without the Cross and the power that flows from it. Holiness and ultimate happiness are impossible without this wellspring of every grace we need for our journey back to the Father. The Cross is about infinitely more than suffering and death.

In this light, the most important ongoing work of the spiritual life is identifying sin, (facing its poisonous effects in our lives,) and then taking that sin and its venom to the Cross for forgiveness and Redemptive healing. This is prefigured in the Old Testament story of the Saraph Serpents in the desert.

The Israelites are in exodus from Egypt. God is in the process of liberating them. But, because the journey is arduous and difficult, they rebel and begin complaining against the Lord and against Moses. To show them the true nature of their sin, God sends Saraph serpents among them so that many are bitten and die.

This is a mysterious story. One curious question which raises itself is why the word Saraph is used. It is a word that typically describes angelic beings of the highest order (seraphim), not snakes. Satan or Lucifer, is traditionally held to have been a fallen seraphim. His manifest sin of course was rebellion. Once one enters into rebellion it opens the door to every other kind of vile and evil thing, multiplying as it were the poison of sin in our lives. Could it be that the snakes thus described, also represent the deadly bite of sin, the sting of satan, which the people had exposed themselves to by rebelling?

As the people realize the consequences of their sin, Moses intervenes for them before God, and God instructs Moses regarding the remedy. He is to fashion a bronze image of the serpent and to pin it or mount it on a pole so that any who are bitten and look upon it can be saved.

Jewish teaching offers the idea that the elevated serpent reminds the people of their sin but also redirects their thoughts to God Who is our supreme healer.

Equally mysteriously, we know Jesus tells the disciples that like the serpent in the desert, He must be lifted up so that all who look upon Him and believe may have eternal life. -Jn. 3: 14-15 Jesus, though sinless, takes sin upon Himself and nails it to the Cross so that it can be vanquished, annihilated in our lives.

Years ago, a Priest from New Mexico who worked in the healing ministry shared that when he was a boy, he heard the story of Moses and the mounting of the serpent on a pole for the healing of those bitten. It translated in his child’s mind to his father’s alcoholism. He took a beer can and mounted it on a pole and placed it out in the desert/Mesa where he had a little fort. And he would look at it in the same way the Israelites did who wanted healing, forgiveness, courage, redemption. God was already forming His future Priest to the power of the Cross at that early age.

Still, it is hard to face the Cross. It involves pain, sometimes the deepest pain we can imagine as we recognize our complicity in crucifying Our sweet Lord in all His goodness. And yet, the very thing that we are guilty of and which wounds us and others, must be faced so that the power of Christ can come to rest on us, redeem us and heal us.

Lent is a graced time to identify the sin in our lives and to mount it on the wood of the Cross so that Jesus can drain its power right out of our lives. The bite of sin does not have to kill us, but unless the sin in our lives meets the saving power of Christ, it will.

1. The suffering of the Cross comes to us in different ways. Sometimes the source of suffering in our lives comes from the effects of original sin; sometimes it is the effect of our own personal sin. And sometimes, it comes from the sins of others against us. If you had to symbolize the suffering in your life right now, what would that symbol be? What would you take to the Cross for healing?

2. All sin and all suffering has to be taken to the Cross for healing, Redemption and restoration. Is there anything in your life you hold onto and have failed to give over to the Lord? Anything you are ashamed of that you hold onto? Story of St. Jerome and Our Lord.

3. The idea that rebellion is a mother to other sins is easy to understand. Pride works this way as well. Unrepented sin spawns more sin. Do you have experience of this in your own life?

4. What is your experience of healing and liberation in Christ? What far-reaching effects has it had on your relationships and your life in general?

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace.

Amen

We look forward to hearing your beautiful voices April 11, 2022.

Modern Malady, Ancient Remedy: Spiritual Exercise 02/15/22

❤️❤️❤️ Please join us Tuesday 02/15/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ❤️❤️❤️

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to 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

Modern Malady: Ancient Remedy

If you travel in Europe, especially on pilgrimage, you often find that the residents of various cities and towns are very proud of their canonized saints. Siena boasts St. Catherine. Assisi boasts St. Francis and St. Clare. Lourdes gives us St. Bernadette, etc. Spain, France, Germany all have many such places that vaunt well-known saints.

A question arises, though: Why only one or two recognized saints in a given area, in centuries of time? Why, for that matter, are there not more recognizable saints among us in the present age? Granted, certain saints are chosen for universal recognition because their lives are particularly inspiring and encouraging. But still, if the Faith and its transformative potential is so powerful, why don’t we see more holiness than we seem to?

Holiness of course is not always dramatically visible. Jesus spent 30 years in a hidden life of unparalleled holiness with Mary and Joseph and for the most part seems to have gone unnoticed until He began His public ministry. But nonetheless, where are the faithful disciples passionate enough to make a difference in the world we live in? Mother Angelica said that if every Catholic lived as they should the world would be changed overnight.

Every age has its particular challenges and Jesus tells us the way is narrow. In the early Church, persecution and heresy, the threat of torture and death, the poison of false theology, suppression and other opposition tested the courage of believers, but at the same time, mysteriously spawned more living faith and conversion.

In our day, in the West, one of the greatest challenges to our faith comes from the deadening influence of materialism and the constant overstimulation of our senses. Our lives become centered in gratifying ourselves in every way possible. Witness the number of food channels on cable, the multi-billion dollar fragrance, fashion and cosmetic industry, the incredible, life-altering reach of the music business into the lives especially of young people. And note the impact “image” has on determining crucial decisions in our lives.

We are led around by our senses but find ourselves lost in a kind of bewildering jumble of meaning, unable to discern truth and direction, unable to see properly, tossed about by the feelings and desires we let drive us. This overstimulation takes on a life of its own and smothers our spirit along with any taste for spiritual things.

The spiritual masters tell us that this “overstimulation and noise in our lives kills our receptivity to God.” (Fr. T. Dubay, OP). We slowly lose interest in our spiritual lives and anything related to it. We go through the motions of what we think we should do but are in great part disconnected from why we do what we do.

The remedy always comes from the Lord and in this case, it is the Lord’s simple prescription that we need. “Everyday, deny yourself, pick up your Cross and follow Me.”

Start to fast, to mortify yourself, to pray more, to practice silence so that the Lord, who speaks in the silence can make Himself felt in your life, and so that your spirit can be freed from earth-bound weights. (Note: some mortification is not appropriate for those who are sick. But others can be substituted, especially interior mortifications.)

Do we like to deny ourselves? No. Yet, it is vital. If we exercise some “violence” toward ourselves, our spirit begins to awaken and we experience some of the deeper touches of the Lord in sweetness, light and peace. And this in turn becomes soul-saving. “Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of men and women, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul.” Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

This is the battle the disciple has to engage in. This is the battle he has to win. The question comes to every believer: do I really want to follow the Lord or do I just want to appear to be in His company?

Please reflect in silence for 5 minutes on these questions:

1. What “noise” do you see in your own life? What things affect your spirit in a negative way?

2. What increases your own sensitivity to grace and to the Lord’s presence? What dampens your sensitivity?

3. How does suffering impact your relationship with the Lord? What positive things come from self-denial?

4. What kinds of mortification are appropriate for those who are sick?

5. What is the deeper healing mortification effects in us? Do you have experience of that in your own life?

In the Heart of Our Blessed Mother,

Sr. Anne Marie