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Living A Life Filled With The Holy Spirit: Spiritual Exercise 05/08/23

Please join us for our upcoming session with Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT. It takes place Monday 05/08/23 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT. Please click the link below for automatic entry. God Bless you.

Click on Zoom:

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. 


Living A Life Filled With the Holy Spirit:

Most of us are baptized. Most of us are confirmed. Most of us have received, therefore, the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet most of us don’t know much, nor do we expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate in us. We do not understand the treasure we possess in the Person of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within the temple of our own souls. We’re like beggars dressed in rags but having one priceless jewel within the lining of our clothes, we don’t know what to do with. So, most times, we forget about it.

When we get earnest about our life with God, we begin to wonder about some of our core beliefs. Why are we not more like the early Church? Why do we not see more of the unity, signs, and wonders that marked the life of believers and which flowed from the Eucharistic life they shared in common?

A friend of mine, a convert, once asked me how long I had been going to daily Mass and daily Communion. My answer at the time was 30-plus years. Her next question was: “Why aren’t you walking on water yet?” Her meaning was clear. We should be doing all the things the early disciples did: healing, casting out demons, teaching, and evangelizing to the four corners of the earth with a zeal that spends its life in the mission of Jesus. So, what’s the problem?

Once, when trying to recruit members of a charismatic prayer group to come to pray in front of an abortuary, the discussion preceding this invitation was revealing. A woman had earnestly exclaimed that she wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but she didn’t know why she wasn’t. She went to Mass, followed the Ten Commandments, prayed regularly, and tried to do the right thing. She did not think issues of unforgiveness were her particular block. Yet she knew she was not filled with the Holy Spirit.

As I got up to speak, I was moved to say something unplanned. I reflected that if the Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life, we cannot be filled with Him if we are closed to life in any way. It was as though somebody set off a bomb in the room. A stunned silence descended and was finally broken by the loud lament of the woman who had been talking: “It’s a lie, it’s all a lie. We bought into a lie and sold that same lie to our daughters!”

She explained that when she and her husband married, they achieved all they wanted, good work, a beautiful home, and two children. Then her husband went and got a vasectomy. But she kept having a recurring dream about a child who would come to her in the night. And she realized then that that child belonged to her but that she and her husband hadn’t been open to that life. Hence the impasse with the Holy Spirit. If you cannot receive one made in the image and likeness of God, how can you receive God in Person within yourself?

It would seem that there is room here for a general examen by the whole Church on our relationship to life because the current state of the world is a direct consequence of our failure as believers to counter the forces of iniquity bent on destroying all life, both temporal and eternal. And we have been ineffective because the strength, determination, and power of the Lord have not been with us to the degree that they should be.

We look first to our own hearts and ask the Lord to uncover anything in us that does not freely receive and rejoice life in all its variety, stages, beauty, and dependence upon our good will for its full flowering. We repent, confident of the Lord’s patience and mercy, and implore the courage necessary to fight for and defend life in all its vulnerabilities, knowing that in this way, we encounter and can assist with His gifts, the Holy Spirit who hovers solicitously over all life.

Questions for silent reflection:

1. Do you think the gift of healing can operate in someone who is suffering or ill themselves?

2. What is your relationship with the Holy Spirit like? How do you relate to Him?

3. What gifts of the Holy Spirit are you particularly attracted to? *

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

“There are different forms of service but the same Lord;

There are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit;

To another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.

But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” 1Cor 12:4

4. We are always receiving grace and impulses to do certain good things from the Holy Spirit. Are you conscious of any moments in your life when you knew you were being moved by the Holy Spirit? Have you ever experienced consequences for not following a prompting by the Holy Spirit?

The Forgotten Intercessors: Spiritual Exercise 04/17/23

Please join us for our upcoming session with Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT. It takes place Monday 04/17/23 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm MDT. Please click the link below for automatic entry. God Bless you.

Click on Zoom:

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. 


Forgotten Intercessors

Perhaps one of the world’s most frequently found sufferings is the grief that comes with miscarriage and/or the death of a young child. Family and friends who could be strong supports often overlook the profound impact the loss of a child has because they are uncomfortable and don’t know what to say, or saints preserve us because they don’t think it’s any big deal. “You can always have another” is like saying, “If your spouse dies, no big deal. You can always find someone else.” This is not the language of love nor of respect for the dignity of another living soul, a person who becomes present at the moment of conception.

St. Zelie Martin, (St. Therese’s mother) who lost 4 little ones, recounted:  “Many persons said to me: ‘It would have been better for you if you had never had them.’ I could not bear that kind of talk. I do not think that the sorrows and the troubles endured could possibly be compared with the eternal happiness of my children with God. Besides, they are not lost to me forever; life is short and filled with crosses, and we shall find them again in Heaven.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Doctor of the Church, said in response to parents asking about the fate of their miscarried child: 

“Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb – were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of Baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.” 

Mother Angelica’s prayer is also a poignant reminder of the personal grief parents wrestle with. The perspective of God here is, at the same time, tremendously consoling. 

“My Lord, my baby is dead! 

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? He will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—he will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?” 

“Why, My child—I will tell you why. 

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind, he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes, he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time, so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom, and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow, and called it forth.” 

I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an eternity. 

-Mother M. Angelica 

St. Therese of Lisieux understood this well. She never met the 4 siblings who died before she was born. Yet she was very conscious of them and prayed for their help when she felt she needed divine assistance. Who knows if her siblings’ prayers before God’s throne didn’t bring down the graces of sanctity that saw St. Therese, St. Zelie and St. Louis (St. Therese’s father) reach a heroic holiness recognized by the official canonization of the Church?

Our greatest joy will be to see God face-to-face in eternal beatitude. And yet, we may anticipate the many secondary joys we will experience, not the least of which will be the meeting, face to face, with our loved ones and with the children that went on ahead and who will perhaps be the ones to welcome us home when our time comes!  May all the Holy Innocents intercede for us and for the salvation of the world!

Mary, Queen, and Mother of us all, pray for us!

Questions for silent reflection.

1. Do you have any “forgotten” intercessors in your own family?

2. Who do you anticipate seeing in heaven? Besides the Most Holy Trinity and family, who would you like to encounter once you enter into eternity?

3. Every time we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist we are in the presence of the whole Heavenly court. Though we don’t see it, our loved ones, the angels and saints, Mary and our Triune God are present. How can we become more connected in the communion of saints, with our “brothers and sisters” (both literal and figurative) who have gone before us?

4. What is your deepest desire for eternal life? If you could arrange the details of your “homecoming” who would you like present?

A Taste Of Heaven/Healing The Senses: Spiritual Exercise 03/13/23

Click on Zoom:

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.


A Taste of Heaven/Healing the Senses

During Lent, we humbly acknowledge that we are broken and need deep healing. The Church gives us remedies to apply with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, concrete exercises of Jesus’ directive to deny ourselves, pick our Cross, and follow Him.

One of the critical focuses in Lent is on the proper use of our senses. We first perceive reality through our senses, through seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing. This then demands a decision regarding how we want to respond to that information. The catechism (#319) says: God created the world to SHOW FORTH AND COMMUNICATE HIS GLORY. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty – this is the glory for which God created them.

Everything that comes to us through the senses then should reveal something about the mystery of God and His creation. In their broken state, the senses do not move at this level. Nor do they do well in a culture that seeks to constantly overstimulate them with imagery both good and bad, with music, noise, incessant babble, touch focused on one kind of pleasure only, fragrances and aromas engineered to be temptations, and an infinite variety of foods and drinks which encourage gluttony and intemperance.

Here’s what should happen when our senses operate the way they’re supposed to. They should serve the spirit in us and lift us to God and thoughts of God. When we are integrated (more and more healed, holy), our senses will move us so that when we see beautiful things:  sunsets, grand mountains, beautiful people, we will recognize God’s love made visible. When we hear beautiful sounds, waves lapping the beach, birds singing, a baby laughing, we will be able to recognize God’s love made audible in those sounds. When we experience the healing or life-giving touch of another, we will recognize God’s love made tangible. When God delights our sense of taste with one of the magnificent foods he’s provided for us, we can go beyond it to experience God’s love made edible. And in the rich aromas and beautiful smells of the created world, we would experience the fragrance of God’s love. 

This comes from the gradual divinization of our senses through prayer, mortification, and the passive purifications God sends to us. St. Francis is an example of this. He understood the mysteries of creation at such a deep level he could even communicate with the animals. St. Anthony is also remembered for preaching to the fish and the birds when people would not listen to him. Their radical practice of mortification and penitential disciplines helped to reform and reset their desires and attractions toward sin and selfishness and redirect them to the greatest good. It enabled them at the same time to penetrate into the deeper mysteries of creation and God’s goodness because their senses did not enslave them to immediate pleasure.

Jesus tells us that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We really do desire more. But when the senses become intoxicated with the earthly, they fail to rise above to the source of that delight. When we practice denying them their pleasures and don’t allow them to indulge themselves as they are inclined to do, our senses normalize over time and become more spiritual and more robust.

A scene from The Wizard of Oz captures this whole dynamic well. As Dorothy and her companions approach the Emerald City, they must walk through a beautiful field of poppies. The wicked witch has poisoned the flowers to drug Dorothy and make her fall asleep indefinitely so that she never arrives at the eternal city.   We, too, are presented with innumerable temptations of the senses for the same reason. We can become drugged by sensory pleasures and, in a very real sense, unable to move forward. It is no accident that the original temptation involved all the senses.  

Interestingly, only the dew of grace (in this case, an out-of-season snow sent by the good witch) is able to rouse Dorothy and the cowardly lion, who also ends up fast asleep. It is the same for us. The grace offered to us during this time has potent capabilities to rouse us from our spiritual torpor, heal our soul-sicknesses, and inspire us to overcome ourselves so we can reach the eternal city God has prepared for those who love Him! Our senses can aid us greatly, but only once they are restored to their original purposes.

Questions for silent reflection:

1.    The purpose of mortification is said to sharpen the heart’s desires and to deepen the longing for God. Have you experienced the special graces that come from mortification or spiritual disciplines or suffering in general?  

2.    Often our illnesses and/or treatments affect our physical senses in various ways. Do you think there is a difference between mortification and the things we suffer when we’re sick?  Or is the end result the same for both? 

3.    Have you had any special experiences of the iconic?  Art, music, architecture, etc., is considered iconic when it lifts you through itself and past itself to God or a consideration of God.

4.    Asking God to open the eyes of our hearts, to open our ears that we may hear Him, to make us instruments of His loving touch and care and love to others, often means consciously trying to redirect our focus.  At the level of our senses, what are some of the distractions that keep you from using your senses in a more fruitful way?

Notoriety And The Love Of God: Spiritual Exercise 02/13/23

Please join us for our upcoming session with Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT. It takes place Monday 02/13/23 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain time. Please click the link below for automatic entry. God Bless you.

Click on Zoom:

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.


Notoriety and the Love of God

It is hard to fathom that today’s world does not want God. It mirrors the fundamental struggle of our individual souls, the battle between being self-centered and being centered in God and His Presence in our lives and the life of the world.

Scott Barry Hoffman reported in the Scientific American that one study of a group of 10–12-year-olds found that being famous was their most popular future goal, above financial success, achievement, and community-centered goals. No mention was even made of spiritual goals. But we don’t have to look far to see what happens when we seek ourselves and our own glory over and above God. Hollywood and the world of sports abound with examples of lives that have been shipwrecked in the shoals of fame and notoriety.

In any case, the glory that we seek, whether in significant ways or smaller ones, can easily rob God of the honor and glory that are rightfully His. We did not give ourselves our gifts, talents, appearance, or physical abilities. We are responsible for developing them in order to put them to the service God intended. But we’re not the origin of the good that exists in us. God is.

A beautiful way to think of our gifts and keep them rooted in the proper perspective is found in the life of Eric Liddle. Eric Liddle was born in China to a Scottish missionary family and subsequently attended schools in London and Edinburgh. He entered the 1924 Paris Olympics as a runner, but being a devout Christian, he refused to run on Sundays. This affected the events he was eligible for and effectively eliminated him from the 100-meter race in which he was favored after having already set a British record that stood for the next 23 years. He trained for and ran instead in the 400-meter race, which he won in a time ( 47.6 seconds) that remained unbeaten for the next 12 years. Right before the race, a team masseur handed him a message which read: “In the old book, it says: ‘He that honors me I will honor.’ Wishing you the best of success always.” It was a reference to 1 Samuel 2:30, which Liddell recognized immediately.

The film, Chariots of Fire, puts these words on the lips of Eric Liddle: 

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” 

As for his purpose, he said: “God made me for China.” He did not find his gift for running incompatible with the mission God gave him, but he did put the gift in its rightful place. He returned to China as a missionary and ended his days in a Japanese internment camp near the end of WWII, expressing in his last words his complete “surrender” to the Lord. 

Without question, one of the greatest obstacles we have to holiness and becoming like Jesus is our own ego. Our spirit has to become like Our Lady’s who magnifies the Lord and not herself. Or like John the Baptist, who understood how necessary it was that he decrease and the Lord increase.

John Newton, Anglican minister and composer of the hymn Amazing Grace illustrated the struggle and the remedy by looking to the angels.  

“If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy, they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home.”

Finally, it is worth remembering that human fame is fleeting. St. John Chrysostom reminds us: 

“If you knew how quickly people in your life would forget about you after your death, you would not seek in your life to please anyone but God.”

Question for silent reflection:

  1. For those who are driven to find notoriety or fame, the most sure-fire way is to become a saint. Ironically, it is the very people who shun fame, who end up being remembered for the great works of love which they perform.  But it is an unintended consequence of the deeper quest for holiness.  What would help the world recognize true greatness so that their aspirations could be purified?
  1. There is a real human need behind the desire for fame, which if met, tames the desperation of those who are driven to be famous.  What do you think the real need is?
  1. How do the dangers of fame apply in the spiritual life?  Are there comparable situations in the spiritual life in which “notoriety” becomes a problem or a danger to faith?  
  1. What is the proper response of a Christian to flattery, to praise, to misdirected attention.  Remember Paul and Barnabas and the predicament they found themselves in when preaching and preforming miracles, they were thought to be Greek gods and worshipped as such.

Our next session takes place on Monday 03/13/23. Lent is God’s invitation to experience His full joy. May your season bear the fruits of God’s will for you.

The Illusion Of Easy Happiness: Spiritual Exercise 01/09/23

Happy New Year! We pray that 2023 is filled with many joyful blessings for you and your loved ones. Please join us Monday 01/09/23 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MST (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EST).

Click on Zoom:

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.


The Illusion Of Easy Happiness

A recent article by Taylor Penley reported on members of Generation Z (born between the late 1990s and 2010 and also known as zoomers) reacting to the recent Dobbs Decision from the Supreme Court, which sent the issue of abortion and abortion restrictions back to the individual states. A young University of South Dakota junior, Lexi McKee-Hemenway, said, “I want to leave the country [after graduating].” I have a lot of mixed feelings: rage, fear, disappointment… Most of all, though, I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that this is the United States now …. It’s a really scary time to live here,” she said.  She probably does not realize that every country in the world, except 2, has more restrictions on abortion than we do. We are not like Sudan and Afghanistan, but rather we are like Russia and China, with our current laws allowing abortion for any reason, up until birth.

Some respondents in the article indicated they would move to other states where abortion was accessible without restrictions. Though Generation Z seems to have fewer unwanted pregnancies and alcohol use and is more concerned with doing well in school and finding good jobs, they are also the first generation to grow up with the internet and digital technology from the time they were little. And they have never known a time when abortion wasn’t legal.

Pope St. John Paul II, speaking to young people, said: “You, dear young people, be brave and free! Do not let yourselves be taken in by the deceptive mirages of an easy happiness. Follow the way of Christ: he is demanding, certainly, but he alone can help you to savor the full meaning of life and enjoy peace of heart.”

It is probably true that almost no one would say that they want the right to kill their babies. They don’t usually speak of abortion that way, even when they call it a right and couch it in health care terms for the mother (certainly not the baby.). But they are saying they want the right to be sexually active without responsibility, responsibility to their partner, and the child they may conceive together. And they are deceived into believing they cannot be happy without this. Rights have become conflated with easy happiness even though for the last 50 years of “legalized” abortion, people have become less happy and more confused. They discover the hard way there is no such thing as free love. “Rights” do not guarantee happiness. And rights without responsibility do not elevate “free” sexual expression to any kind of fulfilling experience. This is a deception that, unfortunately, can lead in the opposite direction to bondages, brokenness, mental health issues, and even deeper unhappiness.

Generation Z can hardly be blamed for its resistance to religion and attachment to ideas that have been fed to them since they were children. They have been wounded by the lies they have been fed. Yet, God is at work with them in their struggles to find the truth. If you are able to view the reactions of a group of “zoomers” as they watch the series “The Chosen,” you see that they have grown up living all the effects of a broken culture that focuses on rights over gifts and responsibilities. Out of 9 in the group, hardly one comes from a stable family. Several have suffered abuse, some from Church elders, and a number have genuine identity and mental health issues and struggles. Yet the group was open, resilient, and so ready to let Jesus touch them where they had resisted before. Looking for the key to happiness and fulfillment and perhaps discovering for the first time that Jesus is the One who can and wants to give it to us is the breakthrough we all need to make.

Questions for silent reflection:

1. In the midst of your own suffering, do you believe that Jesus wants to make you happy? How do you reconcile that with the sufferings and crosses that come into your life?

2. “The Chosen” presents a portrayal of Christ that emphasizes His humanity while also depicting the miracles He worked in exercising His Divinity. The series has been wildly popular. Why do you think people today are finding healing in this kind of portrayal of Jesus?

3. Pope St. John Paul II once said that the youth of today do not need extra penances in their lives because they have a lot of moral and spiritual suffering already from the breakdown of family and the dehumanizing trends in the culture. What other kinds of suffering particularly mark the world we live in and how can we help each other through them?

4. One of the greatest sufferings in the world today is rejection, isolation and loneliness. What do you see as some of the roots to this and how can you witness in hope to God’s intentions for real relationships with and among us?


The Dawn From On High: Spiritual Exercise 12/12/22

Happy Advent and early Merry Christmas to you all. Our next session falls on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and in anticipation of that, we will not hold our regular online meeting. Please rejoice in the following spiritual exercise as we prepare to welcome our Savior Jesus Christ. God Bless you and may you embrace the hearts of Mary, Joseph and the sweet Christ Child into your heart with overwhelming JOY this Christmas season!

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.


The Dawn From On High

From the moment Jesus was conceived and then born into the world on Christmas night, He began repairing the ravages of sin upon humanity. He started by spending nine months in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a mystery from the Heart of God almost wholly unfathomable. There He sanctified His own Mother’s womb in a singular way, along with the wombs of all women who would give this sacred space within their own bodies to new life. At the same time, He made reparation for the millions of women (and men) who would violently reject this life-giving partnership with God.  

The tiny Babe in the Stable also began making up for the sins we so easily commit through our senses. He chose to be born in the cold, in the un-fragrant smells of the earth, in the rough bed of a manger, as a gentle reprimand to the unbridled drift of our nature toward comfort and pleasure, toward materialism and possessiveness, toward indulgence of every kind. As a sign of contradiction from the beginning, He rejected the trappings of honor and power choosing to be born in obscurity, a powerful remedy to the corrupting influence of our own pride and egoism. The profound simplicity of His entrance into our lives was in direct contrast to the superficial complexities we create in service of our own hubris.

This night’s pure angelic joy and glory also stand against the complicated mix of emotions we now build into Christmas, self-centered moods, and feelings that can threaten the blessings of family gatherings, gift-giving, and rightful expectations.  From the beginning, Jesus comes in self-sacrificing service and love. We see the little Babe already at work from the manger, saving the world, reaching to the marginalized first, both the foreigner (the Magi) and the least regarded (the Shepherds), while relying on the alert attention and protection of Joseph and Mary against the so-called powerful of the earth.

The major sufferings of the world today, the destruction of innocence, the fomentation of hate and the explosion of violence, the loneliness, the isolation, the anxiety and fear of our fellow man, the poverty and hopelessness of those who are used as political tools for the power-hungry, the godlessness that destroys the foundations of our communion with one another and leaves structures of sin in its place, are all man-made. But these sufferings have a destiny of encounter with the newly born King of Kings and Prince of Peace.  At the appointed time, the reign of this Child will fill the earth, and the Child Himself, fully grown, will fight and win the ultimate battle against the overarching arrogance that stands against God and blocks our eternal happiness.

Amid the darkness that surrounds us, our souls, like the stable holding the Divine Child, are meant to house heaven within, to be a transit point for the traffic of heaven, and to contain the life-giving food of the Savior Himself where others can come to be fed and filled with hope.  

The key to conquering the sin and suffering in our own hearts is found in the quiet of the Stable, in the silence of our own interior. The key to peace in the world is hidden there, also. 

This Christmas, “Light’s glory is to dispel darkness. Christ has illumined you with wisdom and the fire of his presence. It has been sparked and kindled in you. Let it blaze.” ―( Carryll Houselander) 

Questions for silent reflection:

  1. How would you describe your own soul in light of the Christmas story?  Like the stable?  Like the crowded inns? Like the palace in Jerusalem where the King, surrounded by wealth and finery nonetheless, was anxious about the potential threat to his power? 
  1. What other contrasts do you see between the First Christmas and the way we celebrate it today?
  1. Can you recall Christmases where you can say you experienced the authentic spirit of the first Christmas?
  1. What is the deepest yearning of your heart that you wish to bring to Jesus in the manger this Christmas?

Felicem Natalem Christi from all of us at Facing Our Immortality and Domus Trinitatis

Advent Prayer to be like Mary

Blessed Mother,

Mary, as we reflect on your yes to bring the Savior into the world, we ask that you be with us as we strive to bring Jesus to all those we encounter.

In this season of joyful hope, we turn to you for guidance. May we imitate your loving example, and steadfastly bring peace and justice to our world.

When we are tempted to distance ourselves from another, give us the grace to say yes to charity.

When we are frustrated, let us listen with our hearts to our neighbors.

When we are disappointed, help us seek new solutions as you did when the Inn was full.

Let us embrace our own need for poverty and humility in order to work toward creative solutions for our world as we await the coming of Christ.


Copyright © 2021, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.

Good Directions: Spiritual Exercise 11/14/22

Please join us Monday 11/14/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MST (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EST).

Click on Zoom:

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.


Good Directions

In the past, people used to carry cards in their wallets that read: “I am a Catholic. In case of accident, please call a Priest.” These days it might be wise to re-institute that practice. It may be wise to think about leaving a set of spiritual directives in the same way we leave medical directives for the hospital and for our families to follow.

Recently, while on a home visit, I found that one of our neighbors, growing up, had had a stroke and was placed in hospice. She was like a second Mom to the kids in the neighborhood. Her husband had already passed away, and so her two children were left to attend her. But one was unable to do much because of a long-standing drug problem, and the other only managed to see his Mother once because of anxiety issues and a fear of seeing his Mom “like that.” Neither child thought to call a priest, put a scapular on her, ask people for prayers, or do anything other than wait for her to die. They did not plan a funeral Mass for her but just a simple service at the funeral home, after which she was cremated. I was afraid to ask what they did with the ashes.

I took it upon myself to visit her several times, pray with her, put a scapular on her, call a priest to anoint her, and have Masses said for her. I did for her what I would want people to do for me, especially as one is about to step into eternity. Yet, this scenario is becoming increasingly frequent because grown children are no longer practicing their faith and do not think about the spiritual needs of their dying loved ones. Even those practicing the faith have fallen into the bad habit of neglecting the spiritual needs of both the dying and those who have already died. We put everyone in heaven, not remembering that many souls need the purifying fires of Purgatory. The saints tell us that the holy souls actually place themselves there to be worthy to stand before the purity and goodness of God’s spotless love for us. Once a soul experiences this all-encompassing love, there is nothing else they long for. And it is indeed heartless on our part to fail to help them.

Maria Simma, a mystic who received many visits from the souls in Purgatory, said the biggest complaint of the souls who came to her asking for prayers was that their families, their relatives forgot about them and never had prayers or Masses said for them. Sometimes all they needed was one or two Masses so they could be released and finally be with God in heaven, their one overwhelming and burning desire. Maria felt it was, at the least, neglectful on our part and, at the most, cruel to forget them this way since what they suffer in Purgatory is so much greater than we can imagine, and we can so quickly obtain relief and deliverance for them. They cannot help themselves because the time for meriting is passed. But we can help them from here. And they are so grateful that in turn they do much to assist us in return by obtaining special graces for us.

Do not forget to pray for the Holy Souls who are detained in Purgatory from their final beatitude. And seriously consider leaving instructions for your own passing, for Masses and prayers to be said. Nothing will go to waste. If our relatives or we no longer need prayer, Our Lady will apply them to other needy souls. And they will express their everlasting gratitude by imploring all the graces needed in our own lives.

Remember that arriving promptly and unerringly at a destination often depends on the directions we give and receive. This will apply in eternity just as it does here and now.

Questions for silent reflection:

  1. Do you have a clear idea of what you would like to have in place for your own transition into eternity? Have you written it down and shared it so that it is implemented at the proper time?
  1. How do you think about Purgatory? Do you think you can avoid it? Or do you see it as inevitable?
  1. Praying and offering things up for the Holy Souls is an act of charity for which they are very grateful and will offer assistance in return. Choose at least one prayer or practice to do for them daily.
  1. Do you pray regularly and have Masses said for your own deceased relatives and ancestors?

Some additional prayers that can be used:

  1. When blessing oneself with Holy Water: “By this holy water and Thy Precious Blood, cleanse me of my sins Dear Lord and deliver and relieve the Holy Souls in Purgatory.”
  2. According to tradition, St. Gertrude the Great was told by Our Lord that each time she piously recited the following prayer, it would release 1,000 souls (or a vast number) from their suffering in purgatory
    • “Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home, and in my family. Amen.”

Thank you for visiting us. May God Bless you in abundance.