Sunday, October 31, 2010

Magnify the Lord

On Friday I drove a good Jesuit friend of mine to Denmark, Wisconsin, to the Carmel of the Holy Name of Jesus. I’ve blogged about the Carmelite Sisters there before and it’s always a treat for me to visit them. My Jesuit friend is going to be their chaplain for the next few months during a time when the weather near Green Bay can be very “iffy” and could affect the travel of a visiting priest who comes to celebrate their daily Mass.

On Saturday I had the privilege of celebrating Mass for the Sisters and the visitors who join them for their daily 7 AM Mass. One line in the first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians really caught my attention: “now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body.” It’s a beautiful image: how we magnify the Lord. That’s what the Magnificat of Mary is all about, as one translation has it: “my soul magnifies the Lord.”

Does God need “magnification?” Isn’t God beyond “magnification?” When I was a boy I used to take a magnifying glass and test its power of concentrating the sun’s rays in a way that would burn leaves or paper. Jesus is the Son of God, our Sun, our Light. He loves and respects us so much that He has included us in the great work of salvation. He shines on the world, but our lives—the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of each day—when they are offered to Him become a magnifying glass that concentrates His light and warmth and power so that they reach the world through us.

We see this in the life of Mary, the humble young woman chosen by God to be the Mother of the Son. Through her total surrender, her “yes” to God, the power of God was concentrated in a way that brought the Son to earth. We see this throughout the Gospels. We offer God what seems so little and insignificant, like five loaves and two fish, and His power magnifies the little offering, multiplying it so that it can feed thousands. We see it in the hidden lives of the Carmelite Sisters whose prayers and sacrifices are magnifying God’s grace and working wonders in the world.

With the eyes of faith, we can see this magnification in our lives as well. What may seem very small and insignificant, when offered and united to the perfect offering of Jesus in the Mass, takes on a significance that we can only imagine on this side of eternity, but which we will see fully on the other side of eternity. However, it works both ways. We can magnify the Lord and His grace or we can obstruct Him and His work of salvation. The choice is ours each day, each moment.

May we, like Mary and St. Paul and so many others who have said “yes” to God and offered themselves one day at a time for His will to be done, magnify God in our bodies, in our lives.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Family's Consecration

Yesterday evening, I celebrated Mass at my friend and fellow blogger Anne Bender's house. After my homily her family celebrated the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, using a ceremony that the Apostleship of Prayer has created for this purpose. The tradition of placing an image of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in one's home, gathering as a family, and declaring Jesus to be the King and Center of one's family, goes back especially to the early part of the 20th Century and to Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey who, when asking Pope St. Pius X if he had permission to promote such enthronements, responded: "No, no, my son. I do not permit you, I command you, do you understand? I order you to give your life for this work of salvation. It is a wonderful work; consecrate your entire life to it." His successor, Pope Benedict XV, wrote Fr. Mateo as follows:

"We have read your letter with interest and likewise the documents that accompanied it. From them we have learned of the diligence and zeal with which for many years you have devoted yourself to the work of consecrating families to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in such a way that while His image is installed in the principal place in the home as on a throne, our Divine Savior Jesus Christ is seen to reign at each Catholic hearth. ... Nothing, as a matter of fact, is more suitable to the needs of the present day than your enterprise. ... You do well, then, dear son, while taking up the cause of human society, to arouse and propagate above all things a Christian spirit in the home by setting up in each family the reign of the love of Jesus Christ. And in doing this you are but obeying our Divine Lord Himself, who promised to shower His blessings upon the homes wherein an image of His Heart should be exposed and devoutly honored."

After Communion, each of us recited a personal Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which Anne had copied for us. It's a beautiful prayer that I had never run across. Here it is:

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I consecrate myself to Your Most Sacred Heart. Take possession of my whole being; transform me into Yourself. Make my hands Your hands, my feet Your feet, my heart Your heart. Let me see with Your eyes, listen with Your ears, speak with Your lips, love with Your heart, understand with Your mind, serve with Your will, and be dedicated with my whole being. Make me Your other self. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, send me Your Holy Spirit to teach me to love You and to live through You, with You, in You and for You.

Come, Holy Spirit, make my body Your temple. Come, and abide with me forever. Give me the deepest love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus in order to serve Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Take possession of all my faculties of body and soul. Regulate all my passions: feelings and emotions. Take possession of my intellect, understanding and will; my memory and imagination. O Holy Spirit of Love, give me an abundance of Your efficacious graces. Give me the fullness of all the virtues; enrich my faith, strengthen my hope, increase my trust, and inflame my love. Give me the fullness of Your sevenfold gifts, fruits and beatitudes. Most Holy Trinity, make my soul Your sanctuary. Amen.

I like this prayer because it is very Eucharistic. In consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart, we are asking that we may be one with Him, that we may truly be His Body. We are asking to be transformed so that we may think and feel with the mind and heart of Jesus. This transformation begins at Baptism and continues through the Holy Eucharist. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and so it's natural that in consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart, we ask that the Spirit help us to live that consecration one day at a time. With our own powers we cannot be faithful to our consecration. We need that same Spirit who empowered the early Church at Pentecost to empower us to do this.

After the Eucharistic banquet, where we were fed spiritually, we had a delicious meal for our bodies. I can't help thinking that though Jesus has been present in the Bender family all along, He will be present in an extra special way in the future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"In His Most Sacred Heart"

When I'm not travelling, I try to catch up on reading the various newspapers and periodicals to which I subscribe. Usually I'm weeks or months behind. Having worked in western South Dakota for nine years, I subscribe to the Rapid City Diocese's newspaper "West River Catholic." It's a way that I can keep up with the news of that special piece of God's creation and my friends there.

In the September issue there was a special Vocations Section that included a reflection by a seminarian, Tom Lawrence, entitled "In His Most Sacred Heart." In it he wrote about his experience of the suffering that resulted from a near head-on collision that left him with a broken femur and tibia, three broken ribs, and a ruptured spleen. Here is part of his moving reflection:

"During my recovery, God showed his unfailing presence to me through the love and wisdom of my mother. God also stripped away those things that used to get me through hard times. All that I had left was God himself. I was given the realization that if I tried to push through or ignore the pain or turn inward on myself, simply remaining in my mind, then I was being distracted from seeing Christ who was with me. He gave me the ability to see beyond my fear--the fear that this pain would never end.

"I have come to know--through prayer and experience--that Christ will never abandon me. He is the one who is most intimately present to me now, and he has been intimately present to me throughout my whole life. Christ has given me the faith to embrace him everywhere, especially in his suffering upon the Cross. It is Christ who carries me through my suffering into his most Sacred Heart. I have received this grace by uniting my suffering to his upon the Cross. By resting in Christ's love he deflates our pride, so that the person God has created us to be may 'fit' in his most Sacred Heart--within his infinite embrace of love. This is the beautiful place where Jesus takes us to find rest from our fears and our anxieties. This is the place where we discover our true selves. This is where Jesus brings us to the fullness of life!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sheboygan Gathering

On Saturday I spent the day in Kohler, Wisconsin, where the Catholic parishes of the Sheboygan area hosted a conference on prayer entitled "Conversations with God." On Friday evening Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J. spoke to young people about "Making Prayer Real." Our friends, Mike Mangione and the Union, offered a fantastic concert to close the evening. This local group will be playing in New York today and in Boston tomorrow. What a blessing to have them play during our "Hearts on Fire" events this summer and in Kohler this weekend!

On Saturday afternoon Mark Nimo, a doctoral student in Chicago, who is from Ghana, West Africa, gave a rousing presentation on "Intercession and Spiritual Warfare." His topic flowed naturally into mine--"The Eucharist in Daily Life." While Mark spoke about the power of intercessory prayer and the need for it in our contemporary world, I was able to talk about the most powerful prayer there is--the Eucharist--what the Second Vatican Council and recent Popes have called "the source and summit of the Christian life." I talked about what we believe and how we celebrate the Eucharist, which led into my usual presentation on living a Eucharistic life by making an offering of ourselves and our daily life. Some of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, including their novices and postulants, were there, and Sister Julie Ann wrote about the conference on the Sister's blog. The conference closed, most appropriatetly, with Archbishop Jerome Listecki and the celebration of the Eucharist.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Glorious Mysteries

The special Relevant Radio two day retreat continues today and this afternoon I was on the "On Call" show with Wendy Wiese, talking about the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Rosary was Pope John Paul II's favorite prayer. He said so in his Apostolic Letter, "On the Most Holy Rosary," where he also quoted Pope Paul VI who said: "without contemplation, the Rosary is a soul without a body." Thus, in order for the Rosary to be alive, to breathe life into our prayer lives, we need to reflect on the Mysteries. Such reflection can involve reading a Scripture passage for each Mystery, visualizing the scene described, and applying the Mystery to one's life. Looking at the Glorious Mysteries as a whole, Pope John Paul II said that they help people to "rediscover the reasons for their own faith." They are Mysteries of hope and joy.

The First Glorious Mystery is The Resurrection. According to St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 15, the Resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. If we don't believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus then we are the sorriest of people. Our Christian faith is in vain. Though the Gospel scenes of the Jesus' appearances after His Resurrection are very confusing, one thing is very clear: Jesus comes to console and strengthen people. The apostles, except for John, had abandoned Jesus in His hour of need and were cowering behind locked doors. When Jesus appeared, they were afraid. Was He a ghost? Was He there to condemn them? The first words out of Jesus' mouth were, "Peace be with you."

Do you need peace? Do you need hope? Do you need the Lord's consolation as you struggle with loss and grief. Invite Jesus into the tomb of your heart. He has power over death and He can be with you in your grief to give you hope. Because He died and rose, we too will rise. We were not created to be angels, bodiless spirits, but human beings, body and soul. When death separates our bodies and souls, we know that we continue in existence and that one day, as the Creed we recite at Mass on Sunday says, we will experience a resurrection like that of Jesus. As Jesus' body and soul came together and His body was glorified, so will ours.

The Second Glorious Mystery is The Ascension. For this Mystery we turn to the Acts of the Apostles 1: 8-11. After the Resurrection, Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven. He who is fully divine and fully human, now sits with the Father in glory. Human nature is in glory where God intended it to be from the beginning. Jesus, as St. Paul taught, is the Head and we are members of His Body. The Head is now in heaven. Where the Head has gone the Body will follow.

And so we keep our sights set on our ultimate destination. But this doesn't distract us from the business of life on earth. We are on a journey and like any journey it's important for us to know our destination so that we can follow the best route to get there. Jesus has blazed a trail for us and shown us the way to arrive at our heavenly destination. As we keep our goal in mind, we also watch our steps on earth to make sure that we are on track and headed in the right direction.

The Third Glorious Mystery is The Descent of the Holy Spirit. From Ascension Thursday until Pentecost Sunday was nine days. During that interval Mary and the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room where the Last Supper was held and they prayed for the Holy Spirit to be given to them. This was the first novena or nine days of prayer in history. Though Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit who overshadowed her at the Annunciation, and though the Holy Spirit had been active in the work of creation and the life of Israel--inspiring prophets and anointing kings--Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit in a new and wonderful way. He even said at the Last Supper that it was better for Him to go so that He could send the Holy Spirit from the Father. With Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes not only to guide people through an external influence. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to dwell within people. Now we have not only a destination and a map, but an internal guide to lead us to heaven.

Christians receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism. The presence and power of the Spirit are further confirmed and further enhanced in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul said, and the Spirit dwells within us. God is not far away but very near. As near as our own breath. And just as our breath gives us life, so does the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit, give us spiritual and eternal life.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery is The Assumption of Mary. Though we do not have this event in the Gospels, it is a dogma of the Catholic Church. This Mystery follows upon the preceding three. Jesus has power over life and death. He has risen and ascended and has sent the Holy Spirit to make us Temples. Mary was the purest of Temples because she was preserved from all sin from the very moment of her conception. Her body was a tabernacle in which Jesus was conceived and in which He developed for nine months. Since He has the power, doesn't it make sense that Jesus would preserve His Mother's sinless body from one of the effects of sin, bodily corruption and decay after death?

This Mystery reinforces our hope. Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven is another example of what God intends for all of us--that we shall be body and soul in heaven one day. This Mystery also challenges us to be sinless in our bodies and to use our bodies to give glory to God as Mary did.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery is The Coronation of Mary. Again, we don't have this in the Gospels, but it makes sense that Christ the King would crown His Mother as Queen when she arrived in heaven. She is the Mother of the King, our Queen Mother. She is Queen of heaven and earth. She reigns with Jesus and so is a powerful intercessor for us. As our Queen Mother we turn to her in need and we also offer ourselves in her service.

It shouldn't be so strange to think of Mary as sharing in Christ's royal dignity. We too, through Baptism, share in His royal dignity. In the anointing with sacred chrism at Baptism, we hear that as Jesus was anointed to be a priest, prophet, and king, so are we. We begin to share in this royal dignity and it will reach its fulfillment in heaven when we will share in the glory of Jesus and His Mother Mary. But again we are challenged. In the Our Father we pray that Jesus will reign over us, asking "Thy Kingdom come." Mary surrendered her life to the service of the Kingdom and now she shares fully in the glory. We too must surrender and let Jesus and Mary reign over us so that one day we will share in their glory.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Luminous Mysteries

Relevant Radio is doing a special Marian retreat today and tomorrow. Today I was on "The Morning Air Show" talking about the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

For centuries people have added mysteries to the Rosary's traditional three sets. The Joyful Mysteries end with Jesus at the age of twelve in the Temple and the Sorrowful Mysteries begin with Jesus' Agony in the Garden after the Last Supper. People have filled in the public life of Jesus with reflections on His Parables or Miracles. In his 2002 Apostolic Letter "On the Most Holy Rosary," Pope John Paul II proposed the addition of the "Mysteries of Light" or the "Luminous Mysteries." Why? In #19 of his Letter, the Holy Father wrote: "This addition of these new mysteries ... is meant to give it [the Rosary] fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory."

It is good to consider the meditations that compose the Rosary as "mysteries." They invite us to approach the events of Jesus' life with a humble and open heart, the only way to truly approach a mystery. We don't try to "figure out" the mystery. We try to open ourselves up, in prayer, to what God wants to reveal to us about Himself through the mystery.

The First Luminous Mystery is The Baptism of the Lord. Each of the four Gospels speaks of this event in Jesus' life when He went to the Jordan River and John the Baptist baptized Him. At first John resisted. He was baptizing people as part of a purification ceremony in which people declared their desire to change, to let go of sin. But Jesus is the Sinless One, the completely innocent Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. Why does Jesus submit Himself to this purification rite? He tells John that it is "to fulfill all righteousness." Jesus became human and entered into our sinful world. He took upon Himself the sins of the world. In entering into the darkness of the water, Jesus prefigures what He will do on the Cross. In the words of 2 Corinthians 5: 21, God "made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

What happened at Jesus' Baptism happened to each of us at our Baptism. The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came upon each of us, making us Temples. At Baptism we were filled with Sanctifying Grace; we were made holy as God is holy because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And the Father declared to us, as He declared to Jesus: "You are my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." At our Baptism the Father claimed us as His own beloved children, sons and daughters, pleasing in His sight.

The Second Luminous Mystery is The Wedding Feast at Cana. This comes to us from John's Gospel, Chapter 2 where we read that Jesus and His Mother and His disciples were all invited to a wedding feast. Some people have the idea that if you are holy, you aren't any fun. Jesus shows us that He, the All-Holy Son of God, enjoys a party. He enjoys good wine. He enjoys the legitimate pleasures of life. No doubt this miracle of turning water into abundant and good wine led to the many invitations to the parties with sinners and tax collectors that are so common in the Gospels.

At first Jesus seems to be reluctant to help. After His Mother Mary tells Him that the wine has run out, Jesus says: "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." In John's Gospel the "hour" of Jesus is the time of His suffering, death, and resurrection. By performing this, the first sign of His divine power, Jesus will begin the journey that will lead to the Cross.

Mary tells the servers: "Do whatever he tells you." This is always Mary's role. She points us to Jesus and tells us to obey Him. This is what the servers do and the miracle occurs. Ordinary water is transformed into extraordinary wine. We can apply this to ourselves as well. It's the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer. Every day we offer the moments of our day to God. They are very ordinary moments of prayer and work, joy and sorrow. But when joined to the perfect offering of Jesus on Calvary and in the Mass, they become extraordinary. Like the water turned to wine, our lives are transformed.

The Third Luminous Mystery is The Proclamation of the Kingdom. At the beginning of Mark's Gospel, Chapter 1, verse 15, we read: "Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 'This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'" Jesus comes proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God and calling for repentance so that sins may be forgiven. When he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI said that the message of Fatima is right in line with this message of Jesus.

In the history of Israel there came a time when the people tired of having judges and prophets lead them. They wanted to be like other nations. They wanted to have a king. God said that the people weren't rejecting the judges and prophets but Him. This has been the sad history of humanity: the rejection of God and His lordship. Rather than following the Law which was designed to bring peace and harmony, humans have tended to declare themselves to be kings and lords of their lives. We have rejected God's Law and become laws unto ourselves.

Jesus calls for a conversion from this rebellious attitude. In every "Our Father" that we pray, we accept the kingship of Jesus Christ. We pray that His Kingdom may come, that He may reign over us, that God's will may be done in our lives.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery is The Transfiguration. Three of the Gospels tell how Jesus once took His closest disciples--Peter, James, and John--and went up a mountain where Moses and the Prophet Elijah appeared and Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. The glory of Jesus' divinity shines forth through Him and the Father's voice echoes the words spoken at the Baptism: "This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." This is what Mary told the servers to do at Cana. This is what the Father tells us to do. This is what it means to accept the kingship of Jesus.

This moment of glory was given to the disciples to prepare them for the trial that would come when Jesus would be arrested, spat upon, forced to carry a cross and then nailed to it. But at this moment the disciples don't understand. Peter, it seems, wants to hold on to the glory by building tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.

In our lives we often want to hold on to the moments of glory--the consolations and joys of prayer. God knows us so well and doesn't allow us to become attached to those feelings. He hides them and we enter into darkness and a desert. This is the normal rhythm of the spiritual life: consolation succeeded by desolation succeeded by consolation. In times of desolation, St. Ignatius Loyola taught, God is purifying us and our desires, challenging us: are you seeking the consolations of God or the God of consolations? We are given consolations, little tastes of glory, to strengthen us for the trials that are part of life. They are a little foretaste of our own future glory. They are appetizers of the heavenly banquet.

The Fifth Luminous Mystery is The Institution of the Eucharist. All four Gospels give us an account of the Last Supper that Jesus had with His disciples before going to Gethsemane where He underwent His Agony in the Garden. Pope Benedict has a wonderful reflection on what happened at the Last Supper. It's the Homily he gave at the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany. The Holy Father says that there, at the Last Supper, the "hour" of Jesus arrives. He anticipates what He is going to do the next day on the Cross on Calvary, when He will transform hatred into love, and death into life. He anticipates this change at the Last Supper. As the Holy Father said: "This first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life, brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood."

It is in the Eucharist that we receive a true taste of heaven. At the Eucharist we are given the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus who unites Himself to our flesh so that the two may become one. This is what we were made for--union with God. It begins here on earth most particularly in the Holy Eucharist. This is the greatest gift Jesus could have given us--Himself to always be with us and to be one with us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prayer and Social Justice

Yesterday I gave a talk at Marquette University's Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality. It was entitled "Working for Social Justice: The Unity of Prayer and Action" and here is what I said:

A few years ago I participated in a conference in Denver that brought together Jesuits and their co-workers who labor in the field of social ministries. A number were surprised that I was there. What was the director of the Apostleship of Prayer doing at a conference on social justice? Isn't the Apostleship of Prayer concerned with the Sacred Heart of Jesus? A few of the workshops were about spirituality and prayer, and a theme during the small group sharing was the need for a strong spiritual life for people in social ministries. Without one there is a tendency to burn-out and discouragement.

Isn't that word "discouragement" interesting? It comes from the word "cor" or "heart" and it basically means to lose heart. Clearly a strong prayer life is necessary so that we don't lose heart, but I think it's important to go deeper. I want to talk about three aspects or movements of prayer and with each one we will go deeper.

First, I want to talk about intercessory prayer, a powerful force. Unfortunately, our culture tends to emphasize action over prayer. When problems arise we tend to work harder rather than to pray harder, and then, when our work doesn't accomplish what we hoped for, we pray as a last resort.

There are some other tendencies that go against intercessory prayer and they arise from a lack of faith. I've often heard people say something like this: "What's the point of praying? God knows everything. God knows what we need and God is all-powerful. My prayers don't do anything and are really superfluous given that God knows everything anyway. I'm not informing God of anything He doesn't already know when I pray for others." Another tendency is to think of God as stingy. Like the unjust judge in the Gospel, God answers our prayers only after receiving so many of them that He's tired of hearing from us. He has a certain quota of prayers that He needs to get before He will act. This is not the God in whom we believe and to whom we pray.

God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He loves and respects His creation. He shares His work with us. According to Genesis, God created the world and then invited humanity to be stewards of creation. God invites us to share in His enterprise of caring for the good creation He made. Like a loving parent who really doesn't need the help of the children to bake a cake or plane a piece of wood, God invites us to share in His work because doing so is a sign of love and respect.

Moreover, God did not create human beings to be robots programmed to do the right thing. God created us to be free, like God Himself, and that means we have a choice whether or not to join in God's work. The history of the human race shows that the predominant choice has been to refuse to accept our responsibility to care for creation as God had planned for us.

Because God is Love and respects our freedom, God does not force us. God knows what we need but God wants us to freely choose and ask for what we need. A great example of this is in the Gospel where Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus who has been crying out "Son of David, have pity on me?" What does Jesus do? He first asks: "What do you want me to do for you?" Doesn't it seem like a no-brainer? Here's a blind man crying out for help and Jesus, able to read human hearts, asks him what he wants! Jesus respects him too much to assume what he wants. He wants the man to be in touch with his desires and to ask. In this way Jesus shows him the utmost respect and reverence.

The same is true for us. Through intercessory prayer we first get in touch with our desires. We give thought to the movements and desires of our heart and then we put them into words. In doing this we show our humility and our dependence upon God who, like a loving parent, loves to be asked for help.

Then, when we pray, we become the co-laborers that God created us to be. We become instruments for God's grace to enter the world. It is as though our prayers open up channels for God's grace to enter the world. It's not that God is stingy and waits for so many people to pray before choosing to act. God respects our freedom and invites us to work with Him. The more of us who pray for a particular intention, the more God's grace can enter into the situation for which we are praying.

Prayer is indeed powerful, but it's also a mystery. What about "unanswered prayers?" Some people complain: "I pray and pray and God doesn't hear me." No. God hears and answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is not what we want. God sees the bigger picture. God respects every person. We may pray for the conversion of another, but God will never take people's freedom away or force them to choose a path they do not choose themselves.

Intercessory prayer calls us to humility and faith. It challenges us to go deeper, which brings us to the next movement or element of prayer: it changes the one praying.

My second point is that prayer challenges us to be consistent. We cannot pray and then act in a way that contradicts our prayers. For example, we can't pray, as we do periodically with the Holy Father's monthly intentions, for humanity to care for the environment, and then make choices that disrespect and abuse creation. Our prayers lead us to examine ourselves. If we pray with honesty and integrity, then our behaviors and actions should match our prayers.
Our prayer will also lead us to learn more about the people and issues for which we are praying. It will lead us to action.

But prayer takes us deeper yet. Prayer transforms us. It's not enough to know; we need the power to act on our knowledge.

Anyone who has read the Bible knows that God wants justice and peace for His people. The Law of Moses addresses the needs of orphans and widows, strangers and aliens. The words of the Prophets address social injustice and inequality. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of forgiveness and love, even of our enemies. We know these things. But we do not carry them out. We don't have the power to carry them out.

There are two places in the Book of Ezekiel (Chapters 11 and 36) where God, through the Prophet, makes a big promise. God promises to take from us our stony, hard hearts and give us natural, human hearts. Where was this prophecy ever fulfilled? Only in Jesus. Jesus gives us that new heart, His own Sacred Heart.

In his encyclical "Veritatis Splendor," Pope John Paul II relates the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus what good he needed to do to attain eternal life. Jesus told him that he knew what he needed to do: follow the commandments. But the rich man says that he has done this and asks what more needed to be done. Jesus told him to follow Him. It's not enough to know what we need to do. For centuries humans have known this. We need the power to act on what we know. Pope John Paul II points out that the ethic of Jesus is an impossible one, humanly impossible, that is. Only with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, only with a new heart, can humans do what is right.

St. Paul also makes this clear in his Letter to the Romans, Chapter 7. Remember: this is Paul after his conversion, after he met Jesus face-to-face on the road to Damascus and experienced a radical change. Even after that profound conversion, Paul wrote about his struggle, saying that the things he wanted to do, he didn't do, and the things he didn't want to do, he did. Who, he asks, will save him from this situation of helplessness? Thanks be to God, he says, he and we have a Savior--Jesus Christ.

Jesus comes to us in Word and Sacrament at the Eucharist to transform us. He give us a new heart, His own Heart, in Holy Communion. He speaks to us through the Word which is proclaimed. It's a Word that is living and effective, as Hebrews Chapter 4 says. Through prayer with the Gospels we can enter more deeply into the mind and heart of Jesus and be transformed.

Let's for a moment access our own interiors. Let's get in touch with some of the movements of our own hearts.

What brings you sorrow? What brings a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes? What situations or people lead you to say, "My heart goes out to them?" If you feel this way sometimes, how much more does Jesus? An actor named Bruce Marchiano once played the role of Jesus in a movie of the Gospel of Matthew. A good actor, as we know, can't approach a scene and think: "Now what would Jesus do here? How would Jesus play this scene?" The actor must become the character he is playing. And so it was for Marchiano. But at the last moment, before the first scene, a crowd scene, was about to be filmed, he was desperate. He still didn't feel that after all his prayer and study he had entered into the mind and heart of Jesus, that he had become the character he was about to play. He still didn't have Jesus' point of view, how everything would have looked through Jesus' eyes. And so he prayed a simple prayer: "Lord, show me what it all looks like through your eyes."

He writes about what happened next in a book entitled "In the Footsteps of Jesus." God answered his prayer and he describes what happened this way: "it was as if the wind got knocked out of me; I couldn't breathe, and my heart just broke. It broke on a level I never knew existed, and I just started shaking, and weeping. For the first time in my life, I understood what the word 'compassion' means when it comes to Jesus Christ. I understand that it isn't just a feeling sorry for people; it's a heartbreak so intense, so deep it's like your gut is getting ripped open. It is a heartbreak that screams in utter agony for the needless, pointless pain of people...."

Jesus felt deep sorrow. Through our prayerful reading of the Gospels, entering into Jesus' thoughts and feelings, we will be better able to see others as Jesus sees them.

A second interior movement: anger. What makes you angry, so angry that you get flushed and begin to shake?

Jesus felt anger like this. All four Gospels relate a scene in the Temple when Jesus became so angry he turned over tables and drove people and animals out of the Temple. He was upset not only because God's house of prayer had been turned into a marketplace, but because of the injustice that was being done there. The money-changers took foreign currency, stamped with the image of the Emperor and "unclean," and changed it for coins that were "clean" and could be used to pay the Temple tax. But, commentators tell us, they were doing so at an unfair exchange rate so that people, who only wanted to worship God, were being cheated in the name of religion. Similarly with the animals for sacrifice that people were trying to buy. They were being charged an exorbitant fee for them and people were getting rich from religion. To this situation, Jesus reacted with anger.

You see, anger is the appropriate response to injustice. There are things in the world that ought to make us angry, and that anger should motivate us to right the wrongs. But we always do this as Jesus did. We don't destroy the evil-doers. We don't treat them as somehow less than human, as objects to be disposed of rather than brothers and sisters of our one Heavenly Father. We may confront them with tough words, as Jesus did, but we never hate them. In the end, we are willing to die for them as Jesus did, wanting their conversion and salvation, and praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

A third interior movement: joy. What brings you joy? We're not talking about pleasure, but that deep interior happiness or satisfaction that we call joy.

Jesus felt great joy and it often had to do with the conversion of sinners. He experienced deep joy when sinners asked for mercy and He could forgive them. He felt joy when he saw humans treating one another as God wanted them to act. In our lives, we want to share this joy of Jesus. We want, in our prayer and our actions, to be instruments of God's reconciling love in the world so that we may give to Jesus once again the greatest joy He had when He walked this earth. We are His Body and he told His apostles after He rose from the dead: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

But to be sent by Jesus to continue His work of calling people to conversion and reconciling them, we need to be transformed ourselves. We need to go deeper in our spiritual lives. It's not simply a matter of having the resources to avoid burn-out or discouragement. It's not only about being people of integrity whose prayers and actions are consistent. It's not enough to be channels for God's powerful grace to enter the world. We need to be united to Jesus who said that He is the Vine and we are the branches and that apart from Him we can do nothing. We will only be able to treat others justly, with respect and love, if we are united to Him.

Years ago a musical group called "The Police," with their lead singer "Sting," sang a song "Spirits in the Material World." It had the following line: "There is no political solution." It's true. If we don't go deeper, if our hearts aren't transformed, all the political changes in the world won't change a thing because injustice finds its beginning in the human heart.

That's why I want to conclude with a little addition to the saying of Pope Paul VI that has often appeared on posters and bumper stickers. He said: "If you want peace, work for justice." I would add to this: "And if you want justice, pray!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jars' Concert

Though I like music, I'm not much of a concert-goer. But when Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J., our director of youth and young adult ministry, asked me if I was interested in going to a "Jars of Clay" concert, it didn't take me too long to say "yes." I'm a fan of Contemporary Christian Music, having been introduced to it by a spiritual directee of mine when I worked at the Jesuit Retreat House in Minnesota ten years ago. That's when I first started listening to "Jars of Clay."

So on Saturday, after spending a quiet afternoon in the Kettle Moraine area near Holy Hill, Wisconsin, with the colors just past their peak, but the temperatures up to 70, Fr. Phil and I went to the concert in Hartland. "Jars" have been around now for fifteen years and, in honor of their anniversary, they opened their set with songs from their first, self-titled album. This is not "Worship and Praise" music. It's music in which I find a deep resonance with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "By contemplating the pierced side of Christ, we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: "God is love" (1 John 4: 8). It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move" (#12).

The first song of both the concert and Jars of Clay's first album, "Liquid," leads to this contemplation. Here are the lyrics:

Arms nailed down,
are you tellin me something?
Eyes turned out,
are you looking for someone?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
are you dying for nothing?
Flesh and blood,
is it so elemental?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
He wasn't broken for nothing.
Arms nailed down,
He didn't die for nothing.

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

"Liquid" invites us to see Jesus on the cross suffering and dying for us. How do we respond? I'm reminded of the "Colloquy" that St. Ignatius invites the one who has just made the First Exercise of the First Week of the "Spiritual Exercises" to make. He writes:

Imagine Christ our Lord present before you upon the cross, and begin to speak with him, asking how it is that though He is the Creator, He has stooped to become man, and to pass from eternal life to death here in time, that thus He might die for our sins. I shall also reflect upon myself and ask:
"What have I done for Christ?"

"What am I doing for Christ?"
"What ought I to do for Christ?"
As I behold Christ in this plight, nailed to the cross, I shall ponder upon what presents itself to my mind.

This song also reminds me of St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 3: 7-11. To paraphrase: I consider everything as nothing because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. All I want is to know Christ.

Another of their songs was "Worlds Apart" with the following lyrics:

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icharus I collide

With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love, to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
More deeply than the oceans, more abundant than the tear
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you -- take my world apart
To need you -- I am on my knees
To love you ---take my world apart
To need you -- broken on my knees

Again we are asked to consider both ourselves and the love that was shown us on the cross. And we're faced with the question of our lives: will we "sacrifice" or "become another nail" and "grip the spear"?

Our lives are a response. We either ignore the love of Christ crucified or we respond with love for love.

On the way to the concert Fr. Phil played a CD with a Jars of Clay song from their 2009 album "The Long Fall Back to Earth." The song is "Heart" and the refrain is:

Offer your heart, I've given you mine
Give me your heart, you already have mine

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phoenix Revisited

The Phoenix diocesan newspaper has an article about the recent Rosary Sunday event at which I was the keynote speaker. There are also tons of photos. Here are just a couple....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rosary Sunday

Rosary Sunday in Phoenix is over and I'm savoring the memories. It was a moving experience of the Church in all its richness and diversity.

I arrived at the Phoenix convention center around noon, in time to set up a table in the lobby with Apostleship of Prayer materials. Several local members staffed the table throughout the event and answered questions. Once they were in place, I went to a room where the Sacrament of Reconciliation was being celebrated. It was a good way for me to prepare for my talk, getting my mind off the talk itself and celebrating the mercy of God.

The procession into the hall where six thousand people were gathered was quite long and I took my place on the stage with the other speaker, Fr. Juan Diego Brunetta, a Dominican priest who is the director of the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, CT. Bishop Olmstead and his new auxiliary, Bishop Nevares, stood on the main floor and blessed the various groups from around the diocese that came forward to present roses to Our Lady. There were representatives of parishes and prayer groups, members of the Schoenstatt movement, the Legion of Mary, and Third Order Carmelites. For me the most interesting group were the Matachines who pounded out a rhythm on drums while dancers in native dress danced for Our Lady. Earlier they had led the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her pilgrimage that began at a nearby church, went through the downtown streets of Phoenix, and ended at the convention center.

The Men's Honor Choir of the local Jesuit high school, Brophy College Preparatory, sang before the procession and at different intervals throughout the program.

The youth contingent of the Knights of Columbus, the Squires, presented a Silver Rose to our Blessed Mother. The Rose had made its way from Ontario, Canada to Phoenix on its way to Monterey, Mexico--all part of an event that has been going on since 1960 called "The Running of the Rose."

Both Bishops said a few words and then I spoke about the how Mary has from the beginning come to the help of her children. With His dying breath, Jesus gave His mother to his closest and most loyal friend, John, and in doing so the Church hears Jesus giving her to us as well: "Behold your mother." Thus she has always prayed with us and for us, beginning after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus when Mary prayed with the apostles in the Upper Room where Jesus gave us the Eucharist. In the first novena in history, they prayed for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost.

Throughout history Mary has continued to be the Help of Christians. In 1215 she appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the Rosary, the weapon with which the Abigensian heresy was defeated. Three hundred years later she appeared to a recently baptised Christian in Mexico and told him of her special love and protection. Through this one small individual, St. Juan Diego, millions were converted and the culture of death with its human sacrifice was ended. Forty years later, when the Turkish navy and pirates prevented Christians from going to the Holy Land, kidnapped and enslaved them, and threatened Europe with an invasion of Venice, the Pope asked for help. He called on Christians to gather to meet the threat and he asked that the Rosary be prayed for this intention. The result was the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, on which date we now celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary. One hundred years later when Vienna was threatened by a different Turkish force, King Jonn Sobieski of Poland gathered troops to come to its rescue. After consecrating himself and his army to Mary, he won a resounding victory against overwhelming odds on September 11, 1683. In 1808 Pope Pius VII was arrested by Napolean and taken to France in chains where he was imprisoned for five years. Somehow he smuggled a letter out of prison and asked the Church to pray to the Blessed Mother under her title, Mary Help of Christians. He was eventually released and returned to Rome on May 24 which became the date of Mary's feast under this title. St. John Bosco was very devoted to Mary Help of Christians and in a dream he had on May 14, 1862 he saw the Church as a ship guided by the Pope which was being attacked on all sides. It sailed safely through two pillars, one of which held the Blessed Sacrament and the other an image of Mary Help of Christians.

Lastly, I talked about Fatima and its connection with the Apostleship of Prayer, something I've written about in other blog entries. The words of Pope Benedict who, when he was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote about the mystery of Fatima and the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, ring as true today as ever: "There is no immutable destiny. Faith and prayer are forces which can influence history and in the end prayer is more powerful than bullets and faith more powerful than armies."

I ended by calling on everyone to join in faith and prayer this afternoon. Faith in Jesus' Eucharistic Presence soon to be with us. Faith in His and our Mother's love. Prayer using the the chain of love that binds us to her. Prayer using the weapon that our Mother gave us to defeat evils in every time and place. Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! Viva Maria Auxiliadora!

After Fr. Juan Diego spoke about the Rosary, its importance, and how to pray it well, the Blessed Sacrament was brought into the hall. We prayed the Rosary with the students, staff, and chaplains of various Catholic high schools in the diocese leading the decades. After benediction the Blessed Sacrament was processed out and all of us on the stage also processed out to the words of the song, Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above.

I was privileged to be part of the 35th annual Rosary Sunday in Phoenix and I hope to post some pictures from it in the future. I'll close with the words with which I began my talk, trying to say a few things in Spanish. Que lindo! Y todo para la Madre de Dios y nuestra Madre. How beautiful! And all for the Mother of God and our Mother.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Lord, I'm amazed."

I'm in Phoenix for the 35th annual Rosary Sunday at which I will be the keynote speaker. This evening I'll be at the Cathedral for Mass followed by a holy hour and dinner with the dozens of folks it takes to orchestrate an event like this. It will be good to have such quality time with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament this evening and to meet some of the people to whom I'll be speaking. I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous. I've never spoken to 6,000 people before and when I looked at the convention center room in which we will be praying tomorrow, I was struck by how big it is. Now, perhaps I've spoken to thousands on the radio at any given time, but somehow it feels a lot different imagining that many people right in front of me.

This is another of my "Lord, I'm amazed" moments. The first one occurred on the night after I was ordained a deacon. I lay in bed thinking about the ordination and about the next day, when my parents, who had journeyed from Milwaukee to the Boston area, would be in the front pew of St. Ann's Church in Somerville, MA where I would be preaching at one of the Sunday Masses. I prayed: "Lord, I'm amazed. Is this the same person who less than fifteen years ago was afraid to raise his hand in class during high school and college? I was so shy, and afraid of speaking in front of people. What happened? How is that I am now about to preach in a church filled with people? Yes, it's the same person who was so afraid and isn't your grace amazing?! Aren't You able to work wonders? You certainly have in my case."

So as I prepare for Rosary Sunday in Phoenix, I find myself grateful for God's grace at work in my life. All credit for any good that I do goes to God. I know where I've come from and so I give all glory and honor to God. May the Holy Spirit speak through me tomorrow so that God will receive greater honor and glory. May my words honor our Blessed Mother whose openess to God's grace is an example for all of us. Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

St. Crescent

I visited Costa Catholic School, the area grade school which is named after Fr. Joseph Costa, the founder of Corpus Christi Church where I am giving a parish mission. I met with all the students, divided into three groups: First through Third Grades, Fourth and Fifth, and Sixth through Eighth. As I came to the end of my last presentation the local tornado siren went off for a test. I mentioned to the group that the town probably didn't need the siren and then asked them if they knew why. One sixth grade boy answered: "Because of St. Crescent." He was right.

So what's the story of St. Crescent? Around 1838 the body of a nine or ten year old boy was discovered during excavations of the catacombs of St. Cyriacus in Rome. He suffered martyrdom at that young age around the end of the third century in the persecution of the emperor Diocletian, one of the fiercest persecutions of the early Church. His name "Cresces" (anglicized to "Crescent") was on the marble slab that covered the tomb and next to the body was an urn in which had been placed the blood of the martyr now dried.

The body of St. Crescent was removed and the Holy Father gave it to Blessed Antonio Rosmini, founder of the Institute of Charity or Rosminians. Father Rosmini had the relic taken to Stresa, Italy, where it was placed under the altar of his chapel. In 1887, Rosminian Father Joseph Costa asked his superiors if he could have the relic for the church he had just built in Galesburg, Illinois. His superiors agreed.

St. Crescent's body was enclosed in a case of thin glass and Fr. Costa worried that it wouldn't make the long trip to the U.S. without being damaged. He expressed his concern to his superiors, one of whom told him: "St. Crescent will take care of himself, and you too!" And so it happened. The relic survived intact the railroad trips through Italy, France, England, and from New York to Galesburg, but what was more remarkable was his ocean passage. Fr. Costa planned on crossing the Atlantic on a ship called "Alesia." Either because he suddenly changed his mind or because he missed the departure time, Fr. Costa and St. Cresent missed the boat. But the "Alesia" never completed the voyage; it mysteriously disappeared. Fr. Costa along with St. Crescent, having boarded a different ship, arrived safely.

You can see the body of St. Crescent in a glass case on the right side of Corpus Christi church. The bones are covered with wax except for two wounds through which you can see an arm bone and the skull. You can also see the teeth of the martyr through his partially opened mouth.

On Sunday morning I answered the phone in the rectory. It was a young woman who said she happened to be passing through Galesburg and wondered when would be a good time to view the relic, one of only ten entire bodies of a saint in the U.S.

Tradition has it that St. Crescent has kept Galesburg safe from a tornado to this day and will continue to do so.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Community of St. John

Corpus Christi parish in Galesburg, IL, where I'm giving a parish mission this week, is served by two priests of the Institute of Charity or Rosminians. Today I went with Frs. William Miller and Joseph Presley to Peoria where one of their community houses is located. There we had lunch with five priests of the Peoria diocese, one of whom, Fr. Greg Nelson, I knew because last year at this time I gave a parish mission at St. Paul's in Danville, IL. It was good to see him again and to make some new friends among the local clergy, two of whom graduated from the College of Philosophy and Letters at St. Louis University just as I had.

On our way back to Galesburg we visited the Community of St. John in Princeville, IL. I first heard about this community through their work of promoting Eucharist adoration for children. Fr. Antoine Thomas spearheads that effort speaking around the country, creating videos and a website called "Children of Hope." I've met Fr. Antoine a couple times over the past few years and have always been moved by his simplicity and his deep love for our Eucharistic Lord.

What is the Community of St. John? A brochure I picked up says the following: "The Community of St. John is a religious family founded in 1975 by a French Dominican, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe. Following the example of the beloved disciple St. John, the Brothers and Sisters have chosen to live a contemplative life in service to the Church. They consecrate their lives to God, emphasizing the Eucharist, silent prayer in common, study, and fraternal charity. Like St. John, they receive the Virgin Mary as their Mother and live intimately close to her. The Brothers, especially the priests, are called to give retreats, seminars, and missions. Since 1975, the Community has grown from its original five members to 950 Brothers and Sisters from over 25 countries, serving in about 80 priories (houses) throughout the world. The Community has established several priories in the U.S.: Laredo, Texas; Peoria, Illinois (Newman Center at Bradley University); and Novitiates for the Brothers and Sisters in Princeville, Illinois."

We saw some art work (calligraphy, paintings, and sketches) done by two of the Sisters that was on display in the conference center and we prayed in the chapel where an afternoon of adoration was going on.

As we began to leave, driving down a gravel driveway, whom should we see walking up the road but Fr. Antoine himself. I was happy to have this opportunity to see him again because in a few weeks he will be leaving the U.S. to help found a new priory in Christchurch, New Zealand. His smile radiated the warmth of a personality which has been obviously formed by his contemplative life and mission of teaching children to meet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Like the namesake of his community, he has drawn near to the Heart of Jesus and found there a joy that he cannot keep to himself.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Corpus Christi in Galesburg

I'm in Galesburg, Illinois these days, giving a parish mission at Corpus Christi, a parish run by the Rosminian Fathers. They are named after Blessed Antonio Rosmini (1797-1855), an Italian priest who founded a religious congregation called the Institute of Charity in 1828. Hence his followers have the initials "I.C." after their names. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Fr. Rosmini in 2007.

Galesburg is the birthplace of the poet Carl Sandburg and in 1858 was the site of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Corpus Christi is celebrating its 125th anniversary and the title of my mission is "Living a Eucharistic Life." The church, completed in 1885, has a 150 foot spire and neo-gothic architecture. This parish, part of the Peoria Diocese, has the distinction of being one of only ten churches in the U.S. to have the body of a saint, St. Crescent, a young martyr of the early Church whose relic was removed from the Roman catacombs in 1838. More on that another time....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Feast!

Happy Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux! On October 15, 1885, when she was twelve years old, Therese enrolled in the Apostleship of Prayer and in 2004 she was officially named our co-patron. A good friend, Maureen O'Riordan, has written about this on her web site "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway." This web site is a treasure trove for anyone who is devoted to or even just curious about this young woman whom Pope St. Pius X called "the greatest saint of modern times."

Maureen and I have corresponded for a couple years and last June, while I was in Philadelphia, we met, had dinner, and talked about St. Therese, of course. Maureen wrote an excellent article entitled "Saint Therese and the Sacred Heart of Jesus" for the U.S. Apostleship of Prayer's web site and a Spanish translation of it can be found on her web site where one can also find an article entitled "St. Therese and the Apostleship of Prayer." Maureen's site has loads of pictures and videos as well as articles about St. Therese's parents, Louis and Zellie Martin who were beatified in 2008.

Also, the Catholic Truth Society in Great Britain published an excellent booklet of Maureen's--"Prayer for Priests with St. Therese of Lisieux." It's a Novena that consists of excerpts from St. Therese's letters to priests and seminarians. Information about ordering a copy can be found on the home page of Maureen's web site.

Lastly, my daily YouTube video for today features a reflection on St. Therese, the youngest and most recently named Doctor of the Church.

So, enjoy the feast, and the feast of information you'll find at "Saint Terese of Lisieux: A Gateway."