"Young Religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus" - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar for Rome

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You did not choose me. I chose you.

"If we accept everything from God, our life will become the first verse of an eternal hymn, the dawn of happiness which will never end. Place yourself in the hands of God; see the hand of God in everything; resign yourself entirely to God." - Cardinal Merry Del Val

When I was in kindergarten, I remember looking around the classroom and wondering who was going to be my friend.  You know, not just a friend, but a best friend, a kindred soul.  I remember that moment distinctly.  Because I struggled with shyness, making friends didn't come easy.  But even as a 5 year old, it was very important to me. 

For me, a 'kindred spirit' friendship didn't blossom until 2nd grade.  It was well worth the wait.  I met Daria - and we soon became the best of all best friends.  Our friendship began in my mom's car, when she was driving us to First Holy Communion rehearsal.  In the course of that 10 minute car-ride I realized that this girl was zany and funny and talkative and anything but shy!  And the rest is history.  Now, over 25 years later, we still keep in touch and share a special bond.  From endless phone conversations, to sleep-overs, to the "that's what friends are for" song, for many years to come our friendship encompassed every facet of life.  

How did it happen?  I mean, how did we become best friends.  Of all those other kids in class, why was it that Daria and I became such chums?  Did she choose me, or did i choose her?  Or was it something beyond both of us.  

Well, since that blessed day in 2nd grade, my understanding of friendship has deepened and matured.  But still I wonder about the genesis of friendships and the providence that marks such love from the get-go.  I do wonder about it in my natural relationships, but even more so in my supernatural friendships with the saints.  

Da mihi animas, coetera tolle.”
Give me souls, take away all else.
Have you ever thought of that? Is it something in the saint that attracts us, or is it the other way around.  Do the saints choose us? Were you to have asked me this question years back, I would have said: "We choose which saints we are devoted to."  But ask me today, and I think I would have to answer differently.  

Let me explain by way of example: Years ago, I prayed the Litany of Humility and was given such tremendous opportunities to practice humility that I thought I would NEVER pray that prayer again.  Really, it was miserable.  And I wondered who in the world would have EVER dare to write such a prayer (you can imagine my horror to learn that the author prayed it each day after receiving Holy Communion, Oi!).  

So I looked up the author: Cardinal Merry del Val.  He was the secretary of state of Pope Pius X, died on February 26, 1930.  Soon I read a book about him.   It wasn't long before I felt as if I knew him as well as I knew my dearest friends.  I began to experience his spiritual closeness in difficult moments.  Inevitably, during trying times, someone would randomly bring him up, visit his tomb in the Vatican on my behalf, give me a book about him, paint me his portrait (seen above, marvelously painted by Br. Francis, CFR), etc., etc.  I was given one of his 'buttons' with his coat of arms on it.  I began listening to some of his musical compositions - and the beauty was mysteriously familiar to me.   He seemed to take particular delight in befriending me, expressing his care for me, and walking with me as I journey to heaven.  Did I choose Merry del Val (to use Pope Pius X expression: "my own Merry")?  No, I think it was the other way around.

This Lent, let us rekindle our spiritual friendships with the Saints and with those holy men and women who went before us.  Let us look to their example as we journey to Jerusalem, knowing that this is journey that they have already trod.  Let us entrust ourselves to their care and allow them to become a part of every facet of our life!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Run Nun, Run!

Yes, everybody...in case you forgot: NUN RUN 2012 is less than 3 weeks away.  Mark your calendars, register now: MARCH 10, 2012!!!!  Click here to REGISTER!

Our registrations are down a bit this year.  So for the sake of Sr. John-Mark's morale (smile, smile), please sign up TODAY!  She heads up the Nun Run down to the last smallest detail - and does so with amazing precision and grace. 

Same deal as the last 2 years:
Onsite participants: Register before Feb. 25th for the discounted registration fee

Shadow participants: Register before Feb. 23rd to guarantee that your shirt will arrive in time for the race. (we will still try to get race shirts out in time for the race to shadow participants who register after the 23rd.  We just can't guarantee it after that date!)

A SHOUT OUT TO ALL YOU OUT OF STATE RUNNERS: for the last 2 years we have had shadow participants from nearly (if not all) of the 50 States.  This year, - according to online registrations - we only have 26 states participating and 3 countries (Wales, Australia, Zambia).  So let's get going people!  :)  We want all 50 states represented again!

To all you ASU and NAU Students: The Chaplains Challenge is in full swing!  Be sure - when you register - to mark your school in the Team Captain section of the registration form.  School with the most participants will be awarded the CHAPLAINs CHALLENGE Trophy to be kept at the respective school until next year's Nun Run.  Fr. Matt Lowry (NAU) and Fr. John Muir (ASU) will be racing in the 5K for the coveted Chaplains Challenge plaque!  So come out to cheer on your Priests and participate in the run while you're at it!!!

Click here to check out Sr. John-Mark's Nun Run Blog! 
She is on my top 10 list for most ingenious and funniest people!  
She updates the blog every day (except Sunday).  So bookmark it and check it out each and every day till March 10th!
Way to go, Sr. John-Mark Maria!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Legacy Will You Leave?

“Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects Him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom?...How are you using the gifts you have been given, the “power” which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?”
(Pope Benedict XVI’s closing Mass at World Youth Day, Sydney, Australia, July 19, 2008. Read full homily at Zenit.)

This past week we were blessed to have visits from St. Mary's Highschool as well as from St. John Vianney Youth Group (photos included).  Being with these young women brought to mind the words of Pope Benedict, as quoted above.  These young people are committed to leaving the next generation with a Christ-centered legacy!  They are committed to making a difference.  

In the course of both of these Come And See Days, I witnessed these young women asking candid questions about the nitty gritty of growing in their love for the Lord.  They asked questions about prayer, about how to live a truly Christian life, about how to truly discern God's Call! Questions like these rise from hearts that are in love with Christ.  Their integrity and zeal and JOY were witness to me of the Holy Spirit! 

Blessed John Paul II, the great friend of youth, understood the greatness of their desires.  And he told them to never sell their dreams cheaply (see full quote below).  Having the great advantage of glimpsing into the richness of these dreams over the course of the last week, I understand on a deeper level JPII's exhortation: REFUSE TO SELL YOUR DREAMS CHEAPLY.  


Dear young people, do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals!  Do not let yourselves be dispirited by those who are disillusioned with life and have grown deaf to the deepest and most authentic desires of the heart.  The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living.  Refuse to sell your dreams cheaply.  Watch out for the dangerous ways that lead to passing joys and satisfaction.  Deepen your relationship with God through prayer.  Prayer spreads Divine energy.  It makes us live in a new way and gives rise to a revolutionary evangelical style. - Blessed John Paul II

May Mary, "Eucharistic woman" and Mother of Wisdom, support you along the way, enlighten your decisions, and teach you to love what is true, good and beautiful. May she lead you all to her Son, who alone can satisfy the innermost yearnings of the human mind and heart. - Blessed John Paul II

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Son's Healing Rays

"Beloved souls, in suffering and in joy,
go to Jesus hidden in the Sacred Host
and let the sweetness
of His loving gaze fill you.
Like the sick who expose their diseased bodies to the healing rays of the sun, expose miseries, no matter what they are, to the beams of light streaming forth from the Sacred Host."
 - from "The Holy Eucharist", by Jose Guadalupe Trevino

On February 11th, 2012, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick, we had a beautiful day here at Our Lady of Solitude.  Fr. Fred Adamson offered Mass, heard Confessions, offered the Anointing of the Sick to those able to receive this Sacrament. Then Father led us in a Eucharistic Holy Hour/Healing Service.  It was an amazing and grace-filled day.  I will let the photos speak for themselves!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stewing Over Some Things

"If you have to be employed in domestic duties, as for instance in the kitchen, remember that the Lord goes about among the pots and pans, helping you in all things."
+ St. Teresa of Avila
Perhaps you didn't know that my mom is world famous for soup making - at least she is a famous soup maker in my world.  As I am currently serving as 'cook' for our community, I often pull out one or the other of mom's tried and true soup recipes.

When I heard that a large group of Dominican novices would be coming to stay a few days with their Novice Master (and our dear friend), Fr. Anthony, I knew what recipe to turn to: Mom's Beef Vegetable Soup.  

"First throw in the chuck roast with some water and fennel and get a good broth going."  Yes, that's step one.  This is what I did, letting it cook for sometime.  Next came the odd directions to (and this is a direct quote): Skim the scum off.  Sure enough, after about an hour, the 'scum' appeared.  Ick.  Skim, skim, skim. 

Next I was advised to pull out the meat and chop it up, then put in the hard vegetables that needed more cooking time.  Then season with salt and pepper.  Then, after awhile, put in the soft vegetables, then cook some more. 

Needless to say, making this soup got to be an all day affair - between the peeling, the chopping, the seasoning, the adding this and adding that.   It gave me quite a bit of time to think and pray.  Peeling the carrots, chopping the parsnips and onions and cabbage and celery...yes, I had lots of time to think.  

And what came to me?  Making soup is a lot like the Novitiate...or even more broadly, it is a lot like the life of grace.  There's the raw material of who we are that we bring to the Lord.  "Throw in the chuck roast..."  And we are put in the pot...and the water starts boiling.  And, sure enough, the scum comes to the surface.  (Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Confession!)  Then there is a lot of peeling and chopping. "Cut away here, burn away there - all that is within me that is not Thine." - Cardinal Merry del Val.  

Then the things within that are most resistant to change are thrown into the water (This is only right, as we know, indeed, that it will take longer to soften them).  Perhaps we did not even know what these 'hard vegetables' were: the parsnip of pride, the turnip of temper, the fennel bulb of infidelity, the corn cob of crankiness, the carrot of uncaring, and the celery stalk of selfishness! Sometimes the water has to boil for some time before any softening occurs.  But when it does, we find that the broth is all the tastier, the flavors more vivid and unique!  

Then comes the seasoning.  Add just a little salt and pepper, mom would say.  You don't need any artificial anything.  No bouillon cubes.  No MSG.  No facades.  Just salt and pepper.  The seasoning of good humor!  No artificial anything.

Then there comes a time in every soup making experience, in every life experience, when you just have to put the lid on it and let it simmer.  The work of transforming those vegetables and meat into nourishing meal is not ours.  The heat, the cook, the pot, the lid, the water, the vegetables, the meat and the seasoning - each has a roll to play.  So it is in our life of grace.  It's not for us to control our own transformation.  We simply allow the Lord to turn up the heat now and again, to let our scum be skimmed, to be receptive to the peeling, the chopping, the combining, the boiling, the softening, the melding, and the seasoning.  We allow the great Chef to cook.  We allow time for the process without expecting immediate results.  It's the work of a day for a good pot of soup.  There's no rushing it.  Nor is there rushing the Lord of glory.  Let Him do His work.  Just simmer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

"We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less."- BishopOlmsted

In Bishop Olmsted's letter, which was read at all the parishes in the Diocese last weekend, he explained in depth the serious state of affairs regarding the HHS Birth Control Mandate.  Click here to read the Bishop's letter in full.

In short, he asked that the faithful to do 2 things.
  1. "Commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored."  Very specifically he asked that we pray the Rosary, "asking Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our Nation, to intercede for us.  Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible."
  2. The Bishop recommends visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn about this severe assault on religious liberty.  
Here is a link to send an email to Congress to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.

Let us pray, as in generations past, the Church will, in fact, be able to "count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties".