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Garments Of Grace: Spiritual Exercise 07/20/20

Facing Our Immortality Support Group Call

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT)

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

Opening Prayer:

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.

Garments of Grace   

In the classic fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a vain ruler is tricked by two weavers into believing he has a set of new clothes.  He parades before the people for their admiration.  The people are afraid to say anything until a child blurts out: “But he’s naked!”

There is a similar deceptive force at work that tries to reclothe believers, and therefore the Church, in unbecoming ways.  Here is one example:

Some circles hold that the Church has become feminized and that is the reason more men don’t participate.  Pope St. John Paul II would surely be surprised by that assessment.  He spent a great part of his pontificate trying to bring the authentic gifts of women more fully into the Church and the world.  His call for the “feminine genius” was as much a call to women to wake up and recognize their real gifts, as it was to men to accept them.  In a word, live the Marian dimension in the Church more deeply and it will go a long way toward sanctifying her.  The call to men is similar.  Live the Christ life heroically and the Church will flourish in a powerful and beautiful way.

The Church is neither patriarchal nor feminized in the negative sense of those words. What we struggle with today is secularism. Secularism wants to tell us who we are by clothing us in its own garments and dividing us from each other. It would reclothe the Church in rags before the masses who are dying for even a glimpse of the stunningly beautiful Garments of Grace that are her incomparable treasures.

“All of us who were baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:26-28.  

Our authentic shared identity is as brothers and sisters in Christ, beloved children of the Father!  We cannot let the world “clothe” us in any other way.  If we live out our identity in Christ our relationships become familial, not based in race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic levels, education, etc., but rather in “graced friendships” which should form the basis of all our interactions with each other.

There will always be attempts to refashion the Church. But the garb of Christ who is poor and glorious at the same time is our true raiment.  We must remember that so we do not end up exchanging our eternal beauty for the glitter of false gold!

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are the treasures, riches, jewels the Church offers that the world cannot give?
  1. One example is given in the reflection.  What are some other ways the world tries to “reclothe” the Church, or believers?  
  1. What is the meaning of worldly and what is the motivating vision of those who are worldly?  And what is the motivating vision of those who follow Christ?  How does one move in this world without becoming worldly?
  1. We are called to see every person in the goodness of the Father.  This will ultimately heal the divisions we have between ourselves, between peoples and nations, and between generations.  How do we concretely live that?
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IMMACULATE HEART OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

IMMACULATE HEART OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Source: iBreviary

The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon’s prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations: the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she cooperated through charity”, as St. Augustine says, “in the work of our redemption”.

It is only in the twelfth, or towards the end of the eleventh century, that slight indications of a regular devotion are perceived in a sermon by St. Bernard (De duodecim stellis).

Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard; and also in the large book De laudibus B. Mariae Virginis (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent.

In St. Mechtilde (d. 1298) and St. Gertrude (d. 1302) the devotion had two earnest adherents. A little earlier it had been included by St. Thomas Becket in the devotion to the joys and sorrows of Mary, by Blessed Hermann (d.1245), one of the first spiritual children of St. Dominic, in his other devotions to Mary, and somewhat later it appeared in St. Bridget’s Book of Revelations.

St. Ambrose perceived in her the model of a virginal soul. St. Bernardine of Siena (d.1444) was more absorbed in the contemplation of the virginal heart, and it is from him that the Church has borrowed the lessons of the Second Nocturn for the feast of the Heart of Mary. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the perfections of this heart, the model of love for God, and dedicated to it his Theotimus.

In the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, ascetic authors dwelt upon this devotion at greater length. It was, however, reserved to St. Jean Eudes (d. 1681) to propagate the devotion, to make it public, and to have a feast celebrated in honor of the Heart of Mary, first at Autun in 1648 and afterwards in a number of French dioceses.

In 1799 Pius VI, then in captivity at Florence, granted the Bishop of Palermo the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary for some of the churches in his diocese. In 1805 Pius VII made a new concession, thanks to which the feast was soon widely observed. Such was the existing condition when a twofold movement, started in Paris, gave fresh impetus to the devotion. The two factors of this movement were first of all the revelation of the “miraculous medal” in 1830 and all the prodigies that followed, and then the establishment at Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, which spread rapidly throughout the world and was the source of numberless graces. On 21 July 1855, the Congregation of Rites finally approved the Office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary without, however, imposing them upon the Universal Church.

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Easter In A Time Of Pandemic – “No Coward Soul Is Mine” 04/12/20

Matthew 28:6 “He is not here; for he has risen”

Facing Our Immortality Support Group

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT)

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

Opening Prayer:

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.

Easter in a Time of Pandemic – “No Coward Soul is Mine”

It’s hard to overstate the crushing trauma and demoralization, the numbing shock, and the paralyzing fear, the apostles experienced as they watched the sufferings and death of Jesus unfold before them in a quick succession of sudden and violent events. Once the betrayal was set in motion, their entire understanding and expectations were brutally assaulted and swiftly destroyed in a matter of hours. So overwhelming was the Paschal Mystery for the closest friends of Jesus that they could not stay with Him as He went through it. St. John, the beloved disciple managed, not on his own, but by relying on the only one who had any courage and faith left: Our Blessed Mother, who had also gathered a handful of grieving women around her.


As the events played out, darkness descended and stalked the followers of the Nazarene, now dead and locked inside a dark tomb behind a monstrous, immovable stone with Soldiers assigned to keep it sealed. An eerie stillness, a strange, suffocating breathlessness, unlike anything anyone had ever known, blanketed the whole earth and penetrated their own hearts, so there was no escape from it. Hope and faith beat feebly in the spirits and souls of those, (save one Woman), closest to the horrific Death of the Anointed One, the Messiah who was going to save the Chosen People. The whole world groaned, “Foundations once destroyed, what can the just man do?” Ps11


Jesus’ followers, who had known oppression, persecution, and exile in their history as a people, who had been separated from the temple and the worship of the One True God, were not ready. They were shocked by these events which had been foretold. And they were afraid. Though Jesus had tried to warn and prepare them, they did not understand Him deeply enough to hold onto the center of His entire message. We don’t understand either. We, too, have difficulty holding onto the truth about the Cross in our lives.


Despite this, the Resurrection of Jesus takes place. In the midst of trauma, fear, isolation, grave uncertainty, and a feeling of profound abandonment on the part of the disciples/apostles, Jesus rises. He definitively conquers death and wins for us freedom from sin, and the glory of everlasting life.


This Easter will be like that first Easter in many ways: we will be locked behind our doors, afraid, protecting ourselves, stupefied by what has so suddenly happened, mourning the loss of Our Lord Who has been taken away and sealed in a tomb whose entrance is barred to us.


This year there will be no public witness to the sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. Easter will not be communally celebrated with processions of light, incense, resounding notes of alleluia, flowers and bells ringing in the colors of spring and newness of life. Yet, Jesus, Who rose in an instant in the darkness of the night giving way to the dawn, will walk right through the barricades of fear, of unbelief, and unfaithfulness by first walking through our material protections: tombs, doors, and the roads we take away from the “awful” events of our lives.


He will do this for us this year just as He did on the very first Easter. We will not have the joy of physically celebrating together the most beautiful liturgy of the whole year, nor of receiving Jesus sacramentally. But this will not stop Jesus. There will be nothing to disguise or distract us from His presence if we have the hope of Easter in our eyes, and are truly yearning to see Him as the holy women did on Easter morning.


Jesus will spend the next forty days, strengthening us in our faith, just as He did, starting with Mary Magdalene, who didn’t recognize Him because she was not expecting to see Him. Peter, and the rest of the Apostles, assailed by shame and doubts will also need direct evidence before their faith is strengthened. But what joy then engulfs them when their eyes are opened, and they see beyond the limited appearances and understanding of this world.


This crisis can deepen our faith in the same way. Jesus has no barriers and is held back by nothing. He wants fearless warriors who charge right into the face of evil to conquer it in the name of the Risen One Who lives forever, no more to die. This is what the apostles became. This is what we too can become if we trust.

Emily Bronte expresses something of this in her poem: “No Coward Soul Is Mine” “There is no room for death, Nor atom that his might could render void; Thou – Thou art Being and Breath, And what Thou art may never be destroyed.”

Knowing God does not abandon His people ever, in exile, in suffering, in death and dying, we believe Our Risen Lord is always with us and promises us His glory if we persevere. Only one other person has walked through these kinds of times without faltering, and no others have done it without her. We ask Mary to attend us, teach us and keep us safe both in faith and from the invisible enemy looking for entry. We pray this virus die a timely death and forge us into great saints in the meantime in the midst of our hurt, our sorrows, fears and grief.


May we experience this Easter what St. Augustine so beautifully exclaims: “In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it dazzled me.”


Questions for Reflection:

  1. We are much like the original disciples. Who do you identify with? St. Peter? St. John? St. Thomas? The Holy Women?
  2. How has your faith been challenged during this time of pandemic?
  3. What is the real message of the Resurrection and how are you going to live it?
  4. What is your greatest sorrow at this time? What do you hope for and look forward to?

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Updates

Emotions And Truth: Spiritual Exercise 03/09/20

Facing Our Immortality Support Group

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT)

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

Opening Prayer:

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.

Emotions and Truth

Before the first-ever State visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain in September of 2010, the British media voiced opposition to the visit with increasing hostility, indirectly encouraging petition protests and civil dissent among the people. Pope Benedict had been known as Ratzinger the Rottweiler during his tenure as Head of the Congregation for Faith and Doctrine in the Vatican, because of his firm stand on the traditional teachings of the Church. Rottweilers, of course, summon all sorts of connotations in the minds of ordinary people: stubborn, dominant, aggressive, territorial, bullying, strong, loyal, etc. All together off-putting to say the least.

An amazing thing happened though once the media, and the country, came into direct contact with the man they had conceptualized and labeled a Rottweiler. He “turned out to be a shy, warm and frail 83-year-old who perked up every time his security detail allowed him to greet people, especially youngsters and his own generation.” Outspoken journalists who had vehemently opposed the visit were completely won over by the Pope and gushed: “Ratzinger the rottweiler transformed into Benny the bunny,” “We all want to cuddle up to him and get him to bless our babies.” (AFP News Wires, Sept. 2010) The real man won out over the fabricated image that had triggered such powerful emotions nationwide.

This illustrates an area that is particularly dangerous today. It is the tendency to conflate strong emotion with the truth. If I feel strongly about something, it must be true. The trend toward gauging truth by how one feels or has been made to feel about something and not by an objective consideration of facts or evidence produces all sorts of crazy, irrational judgments, and behavior, which once would have been self-evident but today seem lost on those formed under a hierarchy of values that places feelings at the top. Feelings become more important than truth or considerations of right and wrong. Various elements of society are keenly aware of this and intentionally manipulate people by deliberately inciting certain emotions. They understand emotions can be very contagious, and if they can move even a small group toward a certain goal, it will spread incredibly quickly.

A prominent example of this is found in the way emotion was used to change people’s views of and opinions regarding abortion. Before it’s legalization in the US in December of 1971, any doctor who practiced such procedures was ostracized by the mainstream medical community. Abortion was known, at the level of conscience, universally, to be the destruction of a human baby. The affirmation of science (which is there), was not needed. The issue of the humanity of the baby was not in question. Yet, that became lost because of a genius strategy on the part of those working to legalize it.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was one of these key players and who later converted to Catholicism and worked the rest of his life to undo the legalization of abortion which he had fostered, explained it this way. He said they used three main tactics in their work and the third tactic was by far the one that accelerated them to their goal the fastest.

The first tactic was to falsify statistics. So, they simply inflated the numbers for back-alley abortions to make it seem that this was a national crisis that had to be addressed. Second, they set out to discredit the Catholic Church as patriarchal, sexist and old-fashioned because they knew that is where their main opposition would come from. But the third, and most masterful strategy, according to Nathanson, was to couch abortion in terms of women’s rights. Once you talked about abortion as a woman’s right, you could easily incite indignation if any opposition to a “woman’s right to choose” was expressed. Rational debate was no longer possible because once the emotions were running high, thinking things through clearly and calmly debating them, failed. Feelings ruled out facts. And the immediate stance of those emotionally swayed to favor abortion became accusatory: You are waging a war on women! You are violating our freedom and our right to choose what to do with our own bodies, etc. It became all about “me” and not about the little life entrusted so intimately to the woman.

Dr. Nathanson himself was finally converted when he deliberately filmed, via ultrasound, an abortion. The image of the little baby trying to escape from the instruments dismembering him, the shocking encounter with the truth of what he was doing, was enough to make him stop on the spot and to spend the rest of his life trying to make restitution for what he had done.

The crucial point to understand is, discovering truth is not the goal of the emotions. They were not given to us for that purpose. Our intellect and our powers of reason and understanding were given to us for that purpose. Our emotions are meant to be informed by and to serve the truth as forces that move us to the good or away from evil. And until that right order is re-established in each of us, we will continue to see an increase in chaos and the culture of death around us.

Emotions are powerful forces that are a deep part of what makes us human. They can move us in ways that are strong and decisive, as when we need to take action in the face of injustice or danger, but also in ways that are delicate and sensitive as when we need to attend to a small child in distress. In the right order, emotions help us to go beyond ourselves in deeds, behavior, and relationships for the sake of a greater good. However, in their disorder, they can overpower reason and practical wisdom. They can blind us to the truth and take on a life of their own which manifests in excess and the domination of self-interest or self-absorption over all else.

Questions For Reflection (after 5-10 minutes of silence):

  1. Am I aware of what kinds of things trigger me emotionally?
  2. Which emotions are most easily triggered in me? Anger? Sympathy? Love? Compassion? Sadness? Joy? Fear? Disgust? Trust? Anxiety? Etc.
  3. Do I sometimes make decisions with my emotions? Do I have a habit of acting impulsively from emotion?
  4. In my life experience, what have been some of the effects of making decisions with my emotions? What would I do differently now?

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Updates

Podcast Presentation By Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT

Click for Christine Rossi’s website, and to see the previous interview with Sr. Ann Marie Walsh*

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh was interviewed by Christine Rossi on “Radio Maria” during the Program “A Light In The World USA” on January 22, 2020.

From Christine Rossi: “Sr Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT, is a Sister of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity praying and working together with other SOLT Sisters, Priests and Laity in the New Evangelization in the modern world, in areas of deepest apostolic need. She blogs at Musing of a Missionary in the Modern World while serving elderly members of Bosque, NM, and conducting Healing of Family study groups and retreats She has a book that has just been released on Amazon! “The Blessing Voice” that was inspired during a first visitation to the SOLT missions in Thailand.”

Update! Our Next Monthly Call Is On Feb 17, 2020 at 6:30 pm MT (not the 10th). Sr. Anne is hosting a retreat on the 10th. Thank you for your understanding.

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