I am Nazarene

I am NazareneI had not planned on writing a blog post for a couple of weeks since I am on vacation with my husband and some of our children. But after watching and reading the news coverage of the genocide in northern Iraq, and realizing that we whom Divine Providence has placed in safety and privilege have a responsibility to our persecuted brethren, I wrote an article at Catholic Insight. I invite you to read it here.



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Divine beauty and the providence of sin

Posted at Catholic Insight

800px-MAULBERTSCH,_Franz_Anton_-_Christ_and_God_the_Father Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. begins The Evidential Power of Beauty with this sentence: “Every human person is drawn to beauty.” We are stirred by all manifestations of beauty: a majestic piece of music, breathtaking scenery, a beautiful face, exquisite artwork. There is beauty in the order of creation as well as in the magnificence of nature.

There is also personal beauty which is reflected best by the saints. In them we see the beauty of “personal splendor” that is arrived at when a person lives the theological and moral virtues to the highest degree. These virtues are “the qualities, traits, and characteristics that make a man or woman true, good, and beautiful as a person.”

Finally, there is beauty which is the Creator – divine beauty – which Fr. Dubay describes this way:

“Divine beauty is so vastly superior to the very best of created splendors that we cannot come close to conceiving it. This is true of every divine perfection. God is not only the fullness of joy. He is the very essence of joy, purest ecstasy, delight without limit, supereminently. So also He is purest loveliness, purest wisdom, purest love, all with no end whatever. This is why seeing the Blessed Trinity face to face in the beatific vision casts the blessed into their eternal ecstasy, which is heaven.”

In The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty, John Saward writes that “Christ is beauty, and His style, the way He acts in His human nature, is beautiful…. At the beginning of His earthly life as at the end, He preserves integrity, the wholeness which is the hallmark of beauty.”

Truth, goodness, beauty, which is God exists, but by God’s Providence, He has allowed the ugliness of sin which is Satan.  In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, our Lord told us that beauty and evil will co-exist until the final judgment. The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the Angels.(Mt. 13: 37-39)

In his homily, a friend who is a priest explained that our sinfulness, which originates from original sin, is in God’s plan for salvation. “The fall of our first parents occasioned the coming of God in human form to suffer and to die for the redemption of a sinful world. The sin of our first parents was the providential foundation for the Incarnation. God  became man because man had sinned. Sin then, must have a most important place in the Providence of God.”

At times, the ugliness of sin can be overwhelming and beauty seems to be lost, the weeds choking the wheat. Where is beauty in Mosul and other parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted and killed? Where is the beauty in a passenger airline that is shot down and innocent lives are destroyed? Where is it in an abortion mill or when someone decides that euthanasia and assisted suicide are preferable to living? How do we find beauty when the ugliness and horror of sin are everywhere?

Bombarded by a constant stream of evil news in recent days, I felt a profound sadness. I craved beauty and the goodness and simplicity of life lived harmoniously and with love. Reaching for Fr. Dubay’s book, I reread the sections that would calm my soul and help me to glimpse the beauty that I could not see. At one point, I wondered if I was running away from the harsh reality of life but upon reflection, I realized I was actually going towards the source of life.

In yearning for beauty, what I really desired was God who is Beauty and Truth. I wasn’t reading Fr. Dubay’s book so much as praying for grace and mercy which Divine Beauty wishes to give us. With God’s Providential care, I responded to the sinfulness around me and to my own sins by going to the Father in heartfelt, simple, imperfect prayer and it was the existence of sin that drove me to do it. I realized that there is much beauty in the simple act of turning to God when the darkness overwhelms.

We may not be able to physically help the people of Mosul or the victims and families of the airplane tragedy but we can pray for them and for all those responsible. We can pray for all who are persecuted and for their persecutors. We can pray to end abortion and euthanasia and for the conversion of souls, including our own. We can pray because we know that by the providence of God, even our imperfect prayer will lead ourselves and many others to Truth and Beauty who is  God.

Dubay, T. (1999). The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Saward, J. (1997). The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Frescoe: Christ and God the Father  by Franz Anton Mualbertsch. This work is in the public domain.







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Short shorts and midriffs: dressing our daughters

Posted at Catholic Insight

Brigit 2According to webmed.com, girls begin a growth spurt around the age of 9 or 10, with the fastest growth at around 11 or 12 years of age. Typically, girls grow about three inches per year during this period. That’s what happened to my youngest child this past year.

At the beginning of summer, it became obvious that my daughter needed new clothing. At the age of eleven, she is at the tail end of a long line of six brothers and a sister who is thirteen years older. She isn’t familiar with the time-honoured tradition of hand-me-downs. For her, a trip to the mall is a necessary, sometimes expensive occasion.

Have you shopped for an eleven year old girl lately? Have you, like I, wondered why it has become acceptable to dress our daughters in clothing that is too short, too tight, too revealing, too adult? Our daughters (and sons)  are constantly subjected to overtly sexualized images and ideas and clothing selections reinforce this disturbing way of thinking.

Brigit 3In the spirit of turning of all things into good, what could have been a disastrous shopping experience became a lesson in modesty and self-respect, thanks to a reasonable eleven-year old girl and maternal determination. As we rejected more and more pieces of barely there clothing, we talked about how our clothing choices can convey the wrong message of who we are and the type of people we want to attract. We discussed how clothing can enhance our appearance in a dignified, modest way and how our over-all appearance is important to our self-image.

Two days and two malls later, we had enough outfits to satisfy her budding, tasteful fashion sense and my always vigilant mom-meter. Thanks to the availability of young women’s size zero and extra small in some of the retail chains, we bought stylish skirts that end at a decent but fashionable length, shorts that don’t look like underwear, jeans that don’t cut off circulation, and tops that actually cover her midriff. Admittedly, she hasn’t yet reached adult height and that’s why the clothing fit her appropriately. I’m not looking forward to clothes shopping when she’s a fully grown teenager.

Brigit 4It seems to me that sending letters of complaint to clothing manufacturers and retail stores will not change what they sell, and learning how to sew an entire wardrobe isn’t realistic for most of us. But with some common sense and determination, we can use a potentially bad shopping incident to teach our young daughters that their self-worth isn’t measured by how much skin they flaunt. It isn’t determined by how closely they resemble the clothing and actions of barely clad women in music videos; nor is it measured by an undue focus on physical appearance.

Along with training them to develop an eye for stylish yet appropriate clothing, a day at the mall can teach our daughters that dignity and attractiveness starts inside of themselves and that the charitable disposition of  their heart and mind is the most important element of beauty. We can explain that people will discover how beautiful they are if they aren’t focused on an overly sexualized appearance. We can urge them to treat themselves well because they are loved and valued. And we can remind them that the gift of being a cherished daughter of God is mirrored in the beautifully appropriate way they present themselves to the world.


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The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

Carmelite martyrs of compeigneToday marks the 220th anniversary of the martyrdom of sixteen French Carmelite Sisters who were executed because they would not renounce the Catholic Church during the French Revolution. They remain powerful witnesses and models of  heroic virtue and faith as Christians all over the world are increasingly persecuted and killed for steadfast belief in a Triune God.

Last year, I wrote an article about the heroic martyrs of Compeigne. I invite you to read it at Catholic Insight – Remembering the Martyrs of Compiegne.



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Soils and Grounds

parable of soils and grounds“The parable of the sower or of the soils and grounds in essence, affirms the truth that it is possible to say either yes or no to the gift of salvation, or even to be indifferent to it” Fr. Marco Testa is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Here is his homily for the Fifteenth Sunday Per Annum (A).

Then the disciples came and asked Jesus, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’ (Mt. 13:11).

Our Lord’s answer to the disciples’ question may seem harsh and perhaps even unfair at first hearing. They are evidently concerned that many in the crowd do not understand what He is saying. Our Lord however, quotes the Prophet Isiah and asserts that this prophecy is fulfilled in those listening as it was in Isiah’s own day: You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes. (Mt. 13:14-15) What we are given here is an image of persons completely opposed or indifferent to what is being said. Sadly, this prophecy will continue to be fulfilled while people only listen to what they want to hear or what they think Jesus should be saying.

In the Gospels the word mystery is found precisely three times (Mt. 13:11; Mk. 4:11; Lk. 8:10), one of which is in our Gospel text today; and in each instance it refers to the mystery of the kingdom which is only revealed to the disciples. Our text translates the Greek for mysteries (μυστήριά) as secrets but the meaning is obvious. Though undefined, the mystery of the kingdom is generally understood to refer to the present reality of the kingdom in the person of Jesus, which is recognized only by divine revelation (J. McKenzie, s. j., Dictionary of the Bible, p. 597). Simply expressed, Jesus is the Kingdom. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many Prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see… and to hear what you hear (Mt. 13:16-17). We share in this blessedness because we recognise the present reality of the kingdom in the person of Jesus and we have opened our hearts to the truth of His word. This blessedness is the consequence of the act of faith that we have made and continue to make in Christ our Lord. The Epistle to the Hebrews defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (11:1). The parable that we have just heard invites us to see and hear beyond the obvious meaning of the text and perceive in these words the hidden Reality that is God Himself.

the-four-soilsThe parable of the sower is no less the parable of the soils or grounds since in the explanation of the parable our Lord seems to focus on four different soils. Evidently, the dispositions or attitudes of those who receive God’s word bring about different results. This speaks to the reality of our free will and to the absolute necessity of the act of faith that each one us can only make himself or herself. It is always a personal act: I believe in One God….We who have undertaken the path of discipleship and who recognise in Jesus the reality of God’s kingdom understand that whatever fruits we may bear, it is only God who gives the growth (1Cor. 3:7).

In the Sundays to come we will continue to read this collection of parables of our Lord and so deepen our understanding of God who has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus, our Lord. The Gospel of St. Matthew which we are reading this year, contains two collections of parables: eight parables depicting the present character of the Kingdom of God (13:1-52), and an equal number of end-time Kingdom parables (24:32-25:46). Our Lord’s method of preaching was such that His parables are meant to lead gradually to the hidden reality that can be truly discovered only through discipleship (Pope Benedict XVI). As such, we might say of this approach that it was akin to inductive reasoning, where we begin with specific observations, begin to detect patterns and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories. The lesson of this parable is very clear: But what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit (Mt. 13: 23). Yet, chances are that at different times in our lives most of us have stood on or perhaps even lived of these different kinds of soil in relation to God and the things of God: perhaps we have been as a person who has no root or distracted by the cares of the world and the lure of wealth or because of our inability to understand we allowed the evil
one to come and snatch away what was sown in our heart. It may also be that people who are very close to us and whom we love very much stand on such soil.

Though I know very little of farming, I well understand that the farmer must be patient. There are times when a field is fallow; while ploughed, it remains unseeded not that it may be abandoned but that it may regain fertility. Our Lord does not speak of such soil in our Gospel but this metaphor also allows us to understand that there are times in life when all we can do is prepare and wait and imitate the patience of God. St. Peter reminds us that our Lord’s patience means salvation (2 Pt. 3:15). Though we may have resolved long ago to follow our Lord along the path of discipleship, the path of devout humility, the truth is that always we begin again. Today we have listened to this familiar parable, this saving word in a time like no other. Perhaps more than at any other time in human history, in this world of ours we face a barrage of words from a variety of sources: television, radio, internet, phones, texts, tweets – exhausting! All these words can in fact compete and even drown out the word of the kingdom. The world is filled with noises and many words but we have come to know and to believe that the word of the Lord abides forever (1 Pt. 1:25). It is in the firm foundation of the Word of God [that] is living and active (Heb. 4:12) that we seek to be grounded so that we may hear the Word, understand it and bear its fruit.

The parable of the sower or of the soils and grounds in essence, affirms the truth that it is possible to say either yes or no to the gift of salvation, or even to be indifferent to it. The parable however also helps us to understand that in the response we give to the word of God the mercy of God is such that it allows for our imperfect response and even our indifference. The parables of our Lord affirm and reveal that God is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4). Mercy is love coping with evil. Mercy is love that loves though it has not been loved. Mercy is love given to those who have stolen love from us. The fruit that we must all bear is mercy. God wants from us what we want from Him. So as we begin again and listen to and receive the Word of Christ our Saviour, we do well to heed the opening words of the Rule of St. Benedict (one of the most influential books in history): Listen carefully, my son, to the Master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. Many are the lessons that can be drawn from our Lord’s parables. If we offer Him a welcome in our mind he will reveal to us the mysteries of the kingdom. However, if we wish to dwell in the tent of His kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds (The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue, v. 22).

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Journey to the Heart of God

To lead every individual with Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Marco Testa is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Here is his homily for the Fourteenth Sunday per annum.

To Jesus through MaryCome to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Mt. 11:30).

With these words our Lord is inviting us to conform ourselves to His Sacred Heart and in so doing, this simple invitation tells us everything we need to know about God and about ourselves. Our Lord reveals Himself as a Teacher whom we can imitate; and by consequence, we are disciples who can indeed learn from Him. This divine initiative, since it comes from God, affirms our human nature for at the natural level, it is necessary for us to learn skills to survive and prosper. This is a self-evident truth. At the supernatural level, that is to say, in relation to the soul or what we commonly term the spiritual life, the very same is true. We learn to pray, to practice the virtues; we grow in the spiritual life just as we endeavour to grow and mature intellectually and morally. Having just celebrated the end of the academic year and perhaps attended the graduation of a relative or friend, it is always so uplifting to celebrate these achievements. If we have known these graduates as
children, there is a particular joy in seeing how they have grown and become so accomplished. It certainly engenders hope and in some cases, real surprise. Those whom we knew as sworn enemies of school when they first went to school are now preparing to enter university or college.

To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often. These are the wise words of Blessed John Henry Newman, whose own spiritual journey to the fullness of the truth and to the Heart of Jesus was like our own spiritual journey, a passage from shadows and images to the truth. Where do we learn these saving truths? Principally at the celebration of the sacred liturgy which is both the school and feast of faith. We understand this word liturgy in a very specific manner. In the New Testament the word ‘liturgy’ refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also the proclamation of the Gospel and to active
charity. In all of these situations it is a question of the service of God and neighbour. In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one ‘leitourgos’; she shares in Christ’s priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity) (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1070). Year in and
year out we celebrate the Mystery of Christ; Sunday after Sunday and on the great Feasts of the Church we submit to the Mystery of God not in bondage but in a transformative communion that brings about our growth in holiness or Christian perfection. Our Lord assures us: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (Jn.15:15). It is here, in the encounter with the Living God that He reveals everything to us: the truth about Himself, the truth about the human person and our purpose. Our Lord also said, But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him (Jn.4:23). This is the eternal present in which we participate whenever we gather to worship in spirit in truth.

I am grateful to Divine Providence for having led me to this beautiful parish in such a beautiful part of our country. My role as your parish priest will be principally though not exclusively liturgical. For all of us, the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays, on the great Feasts of our Faith and daily even, this is the source and summit of our Christian life. The unity of faith and life, or what may be termed integrity or integration of life is our goal, no matter how old or young. We reverence the elders among us for their example of perseverance and we encourage the young people in our midst to strive for the higher things. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him (Jn.4:23). True theology, that is to say, a correct understanding of the nature of God, is both the cause and the sign of human sanity. If we contradict divine revelation and the Church’s tradition we end up in sheer insanity and risk losing our eternal salvation. Almost forty years ago, Pope, St. John Paul II, then Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow in Poland, spoke these words at the Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia (1976): We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…. For this reason, none of us can ever say that we can learn no more. The way of Christian discipleship which we have undertaken to follow individually and collectively with the support of the Christian community is a journey to the Heart of God.

Our Lord issues His invitation in the Gospel today: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. In a treatise on Christian perfection St Gregory of Nyssa observes: Our life is stamped with the beauty of His thought….The mind of Christ is the controlling influence that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behaviour. As I see it, Christian perfection consists in this: sharing in the titles which express the meaning of Christ’s name, we bring out this meaning in our minds, our prayers and our way of life (The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. III, p. 396). We share in the titles which express the meaning of Christ’s name by receiving the gift of salvation which the Father lavishes on us in Christ. Anointed for service, and sharing in His mission as Priest, Prophet and King, we actively cooperate in the work of salvation, our own and that of the whole world. What a privilege it is for us to be one with Christ our Lord in His saving work. What a grace it is for us to enjoy the loving protection of the Mother of God; our Lady who is for us both a model for discipleship and our teacher of the spiritual life. St. Maximillian Kolbe, the priest and martyr so profoundly devoted
to the Immaculate Virgin and the Mystery of her Immaculate Conception summarizes for us what I hope will guide our every effort in our parish: To lead every individual with Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May our devout and reverent reception of the Holy Eucharist draw us ever more intimately into our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart: that we may learn from Him who is gentle and humble in heart, and day by day bring our conduct closer to the life of heaven (Prayer over the Offerings, 14th Sunday Per Annum, The Roman Missal).

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Giving it all to Jesus through Mary

Posted at Catholic Insight

To Jesus through MaryEarlier this year I made the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I had known about the Total Consecration for a few years through friends who had completed it. I even had the book, Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Christ Through Mary, that someone had given me. But I put the idea out of my mind. I was not interested.

Why did I need to consecrate myself? I had a daily prayer life, prayed the  rosary on most evenings with my family, went to Eucharistic Adoration regularly, and tried to get to Holy Mass on Saturday morning as well as on Sunday. Wasn’t that enough? But there was a longing and a restlessness inside me that I just couldn’t satisfy.

One day as I was looking for something at home, I came upon the total consecration book. Curious, I picked it up and started skimming through the pages. I became so engrossed in it that I forgot what I was looking for in the first place.

“I think I’d like to make a total consecration to Jesus through Mary,” I announced to my spiritual director.

“Wonderful,” he replied. “I think it will be good for you.”

But I was still hesitant. Consecrating my life to Jesus through Mary meant entrusting Our Blessed Mother with my life and through her, abandoning myself to the Will of Our Lord. It was a scary prospect since I didn’t want to let go of whatever control I thought I had. Where would Jesus take me? What would He ask of me? What would happen to my plans?

Despite my trepidation, I felt compelled to begin. After checking in with my spiritual director for some final instructions and words of encouragement, I opened the book and began the month-long preparation for total consecration.

It was a beautiful experience. As each day began and ended, I eagerly completed the prayers and devoured the pages of instruction, inspiration, and catechesis. The restlessness and longing that had gnawed at me for so many months vanished.

“It is certain that growth in holiness is your vocation,” wrote St. Louis de Montfort and I wanted it all: “the life of holiness to which we are called as a result of our belonging completely to Jesus Christ.”

When I had finished the month – long preparation and finally made my total consecration, it was almost anti-climactic. I imagined that the final Act of Total Consecration would feel like there were fireworks going off inside me. In fact, I prayed The Act of Total Consecration of Oneself one evening after Holy Mass and noticed how quiet the church was and how calm I was. It made sense. Like Mary, we are called to live our lives quietly in the Holy Spirit, seeking only the Will of the Father. There are no fireworks, and no grand excitement, but instead there is a deep conviction to grow in holiness and sanctity by God’s grace and the care of our Mother. Our lives, like our Blessed Mother, ought to consist of constant prayer and good deeds and to do whatever God asks of us in whatever place and time He has placed us.

Does total consecration make you a living saint? Most definitely not. Abandoning yourself to Jesus through Mary does not guarantee a life that is free from temptations and sinfulness; but “in turning to Our Lady and entrusting ourselves into her care we will find that we have already begun to act according to the spirit of Jesus Christ, the first to have trusted Himself into the care of Our Lady.”

When we make the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, what we are promising to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother is this: take my life and everything about it. Take my plans, my possessions, all that I love, all that I hate, all that I dream of, all that I have accomplished, all that I have failed. You are in control. I am nothing. You are everything. Do whatever You want with me. I know that in the good times and the bad, Your hand will guide, Your hand will save, Your Will be done.

“Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. I am all yours, and all that I have is Yours, O my dear Jesus, through Mary, Your holy Mother.”

Source: Gillespie, H. (2011). Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Christ Through Mary According to St. Louis de Montfort. New York: Montfort Publications.

Picture: photobucket.com





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Fasting and prayer for WorldPride

Charity, clarity, chastityIn many major cities, Pride parades and festivities are making their annual appearance. The proper Christian response to these events must be one of love, prayer, and reparation for this offence to Our Lord. While we must always be charitable towards our brothers and sisters who live with same-sex attraction, we do not accept the homosexual lifestyle.

I had the privilege of writing about a prayerful event organized by Courage and EnCourage Toronto: Charity, Clarity, Chastity: Prayer in Reparation for WorldPride 2014.  To learn more about it and to participate, please visit my blog at Catholicinsight.com

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Eucharistic Love; Eucharistic life

Fr. Marco Testa is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Here is his homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me (Jn. 6:51).

eucharist1As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi as it is traditionally known, we celebrate the Church’s greatest treasure, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. Today’s celebration, incidentally the 750th anniversary of the establishment of this Feast, teaches us everything we need to know for the pilgrimage of faith which leads to the eternal vision of the living God. In the Gospel of the Mass, Our Lord speaks of the reality of His presence in the Holy Eucharist and of the mutual indwelling (perichoresis) of God and man that is effected through what we logically call Holy Communion. In our first reading, the great gift of the Eucharist is prefigured in the manna which sustained the Israelites in the desert. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:3). A food unknown; the very same could be said of the living Bread that is the Eucharist. Our Gospel reading is taken from our Lord’s Eucharistic discourse, in which He makes known the truth of Eucharist. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (Jn. 6:51). At the Last Supper, which our second reading recalls, our Lord connects the Eucharist to the Sacrifice of the Cross. For this is my Body which will be given up for you…For this is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant. Through the ages, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this food unknown becomes known and loved and adored and cherished; so much so that those  who receive it with discernment are transformed into our Lord’s likeness. Their lives become profoundly Eucharistic. It may be said that in the Eucharist a twofold knowledge is conferred, knowledge of God and knowledge of self; God who is self-giving Love gives Himself to me, a creature created to share this love. In the Eucharistic Mystery these words of the Apostle are already partially fulfilled: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12). Yes, this Sacrament, the Most Blessed Sacrament tells us everything we need to know about God and about man.

The Church is Eucharistic in her very essence because Eucharistic Love is no less God’s nature, fully revealed in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All our efforts, at every level serve this Mystery. As your priests, our desire is that you, each one of you, lead a profoundly Eucharistic life; a life of generous love and service, of piety and reverence; a life that already here shares in the divine life that God bestows on us through grace and which He sustains and nourishes through the precious Body and Blood of Christ. When this Mystery of God here and truly substantially present in the Eucharist becomes our deepest conviction, then everything changes and every detail surrounding this Mystery
has meaning. Indeed, no honour is too great for this Mystery for God is truly here.

Pope Francis communion on the tongueOn this Feast that celebrates the greatest treasure that the Church possesses, I would like to share with you the insights of a holy Bishop from Kazakhstan. In an interview recently given in England, Bishop Athanasius Schneider observed that the Church today is living through a tremendous crisis over doctrine and liturgy; in his estimation, the fourth great crisis in the Church’s history. Of this crisis he says that the deepest wound in the actual crisis of the Church is the Eucharistic wound, the abuses of the Blessed Sacrament. I quote: There is also the question of the objectively irreverent reception of Holy Communion. The so-called new, modern manner of receiving Holy Communion directly into the hand is very serious because it exposes Christ to an enormous banality…. Here is at stake the most holy, the most divine and concrete on Earth. Of course there are people who receive Holy Communion in the hand with much devotion and faith, but they are in a minority. The vast mass, though, are losing the faith through this very banal manner of taking Holy Communion like common food, like a chip or a cake. Such a manner to receive the most Holy here on earth is not sacred, and it destroys by time the deep awareness and the Catholic faith in the real presence and in the transubstantiation. As disturbing as this is, these are symptoms of a deeper problem also articulated by this saintly bishop. The real crisis of the Church is anthropocentrism, forgetting the Christocentrism. Indeed, this is the deepest evil, when man or the clergy are putting themselves in the centre when they are celebrating liturgy and when they are changing the revealed truth of God, e.g. concerning the Sixth Commandment and human sexuality. The crisis reveals itself also in the manner in which the Eucharistic Lord is treated. The Eucharist is at the heart of the Church. When the heart is weak, the whole body is weak. So when the practice around the Eucharist is weak, then the heart and the life of the Church is weak. And when people have no more supernatural vision of God in the Eucharist then they will start the worship of man, and then also doctrine will change to the desire of man. (rorate-caeli.blogspot.com)

mother teresa receives EucharistThis crisis places us in a position not unlike that of the Church in the earliest centuries, when the majority of society was pagan and Christians were discriminated and persecuted. The Catholic Church has been and continues to be the greatest servant of humanity but the Church has always proclaimed the primacy of God. Our first duty as human beings however, is to adore God as we do at Holy Mass, in Eucharistic adoration or in visiting the Blessed Sacrament. From a true adoration and love of God grows our love for the poor and our neighbour. The consequence of Eucharistic piety and reverence is service of and reverence also for the poor. This is how we can renew our world so afflicted with so much violence, both physical as we see it happening if the Middle East and the moral and spiritual violence that threatens our own society. The time has come for us to reconsider some of our practices and policies. Evidently, the mass apostasy that our times have witnessed is not without its dire consequences. We pray as we live because we live as we pray (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2725). These words which you have heard so often summarize the ancient Christian adage: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: the norm of praying is the norm of believing is the norm of living. The Mass teaches us that man has been created to share God’s own life which is foreshadowed in the present age by our reception of [our Lord’s] precious Body and Blood (Prayer after Communion, Corpus Christi, The Roman Missal). Each and every time that we receive our Lord worthily, whenever we adore Him present in the most Blessed Sacrament our union with Him deepens and He transforms and transfigures our lives; such that they become truly Eucharistic – that is to say, godly. This can only happen through adoration which is profound love; but our love has grown cold, and consequently, so have our lives. Perhaps the most disturbing development of all is the banal indifference that so many have to life.
The renewal of our own lives can only take place through the gift of transforming grace and that grace requires of us a willingness to become what we receive. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life – to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life, our hearts by loving,
and our hands by serving. In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God. The Christian faith quite simply, is Eucharistic. The Eucharist affirms the truth of the Incarnation; indeed, it makes this Mystery present in our midst; in the Tabernacle, Jesus is truly God with us – physically present. Are we sufficiently aware of this truth?

869_Francis_Ad_Orientem_previewIn the pilgrimage of faith that is our life it is not difficult to lose one’s way; but it is not impossible to find it again or to remain steadfast on the path of discipleship. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacred liturgy, this is the source and the summit of our life. Here we learn again and again, and please God, always in a deeper and more meaningful manner, that our call to discipleship is a call to holiness, to perfection. Our Lord says, You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48). In the Eucharist, the food for our journey (viaticum) our Lord provides us with both the path and the purpose of this journey; and the purpose is our transformation in Christ. On this Feast of Corpus Christi, may our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament obtain for us a true love and devotion for our Eucharistic Lord; so that we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, [may be] changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).


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What – Why – How I Write #MyWritingProcess

Last month, author and blogger,  Connie Rossini at Contemplative Homeschool tagged me in a post about her writing process. Connie is one of the bloggers involved in an ongoing blog tour where bloggers talk about what, why, and how they write.Thanks, Connie!  Connie passed on the baton to me so now it’s my turn to answer the following questions:

What are you working on?

At the moment, I’m happy just to blog for Catholic Insight, CatholicMom.com, and for my blog. I just finished writing an article called “The Witness of Large Catholic Families” for the print edition of Catholic Insight Magazine where I write and have a weekly blog.  I have a few ideas for articles simmering away in my brain but they will have to wait until our short-lived summer is over.

What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?

As far as I know, I’m the only Catholic mom with 8 children and a running a small business who blogs and writes for a Canadian Catholic publication. Everything I write is influenced by the circumstances of my life as a Catholic, a wife, and a working mom. In that way, I am different from others in the same genre because the experiences and reflections I write about are my own.

Why do you write what you do?

That’s a good question. Some days I ask myself the same thing. Our Lord speaks to us in every event and circumstance, in every moment of our lives.In our own way, we are called to evangelize and share our encounters with Him. I believe that one of the ways in which I am called to spread the Good News is by blogging and writing here and at Catholic Insight and CatholicMom.com .

Writing about my journey of faith helps me in my spiritual growth. I hope that my reflections and articles somehow help other people as they work out their salvation.

How does your writing process work?

My writing is influenced by many things: family life, professional experiences, books I am reading, the world around me. When an idea for a future blog post or article pops into my head, I scribble it down in my ideas journal. When I am ready to write about it, I pen it in long-hand in my writing journal, usually in one sitting, or at the most, over a two-day period. I write in the evening when the day’s work is finished.

Once I am satisfied with my handwritten draft, I type it into my blog and continue with the editing process. I ask my husband and some of my older children to read it for clarity of thought, grammar, punctuation, and interest. Since most of what I blog appears first at Catholic Insight, I copy and paste the same post into my Catholic Insight blog where the on-line editor gets it ready to print on the website.

Sometimes I write a new article for my monthly column at  CatholicMom.com. At other times, I post a previously written piece.

Writing for Catholic Insight Magazine needs a different process because our articles are longer and require more thought and research. Usually, it takes two months for me to finish an article.  The article on large Catholic families is based on an interview I conducted over the winter with five big Catholic families as well as the experiences of my family. When I write for the magazine, I am even more scrupulous about editing and following print guidelines. It’s more work but I love doing it!

Whether I’m writing a blog post or an article, I first pray for guidance and inspiration. My writing is consecrated to Our Lady and I trust her to use whatever writing talent I have for the glory of God.

I also keep in mind two quotes from the great Flannery O’Connor:

  1.  You do not write the best you can for the sake of art, but for the sake of returning your talent increased to the invisible God to use or not use as He sees fit.
  2. Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story-just like the typewriter was mine.

One of the many blessings of blogging and writing is meeting  (even if only online) some wonderful people who are also called to use their God-given writing talent. I am very excited to tag two wonderful friends whose blogs I thoroughly enjoy:

Annabelle writes at Written by the Finger of God and she is a contributor blogger at Catholic Stand.

Mary is an author of many books and blogs at Midwest Mary and Saint Theodora/Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Insight Magazine, Catholic woman, faith, large family, large family blog, working mom | Tagged , | 10 Comments