Friday, April 18, 2014

He descendeth


An Ancient Homily 

{Office of Readings~Holy Saturday}

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parents, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

{Art: The Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino}

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reflections on silence




He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

{Isaiah 53:7}

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reflections on silence



"That serene silence is the hallmark of Christ. He speaks only to impart God's message and only to fulfill his mission by words of consolation, encouragement, and enlightenment. Jesus breaks His silence and speaks only to utter words charges with the brilliant light of eternity.  He never speaks merely to spread gossip or to satisfy curiosity. For God is totally silent. Indeed, the Lord clothes himself in silence.

"God is eternal silence; God dwells in silence. He is eternal silence because He is the One who has totally realized his own being, because He says all and possesses all. He infinite happiness and infinite life. All God's works are marked by this characteristic. Contemplate the Incarnation; it was accomplished in the silence of the Virgin Mary's chamber at a time when she was in prolonged silence, her door closed. Our Lord's birth came during the night, while all things were enveloped in silence.  That is how the Word of God appeared on earth, and only Mary and Joseph were silently with Him. They did not overwhelm him with their questions, for they were accustomed to guarding their innermost thoughts.

"The works of God are marked with silence. It is in the silence of prayer and retreat, in the silence of desert and the forest, that great souls receive their message from God.  Silence is the great master.  It speaks to the human heart. Silence is not an empty void; God dwells therein.

"Whoever embraces silence, welcomes God and whoever relishes silence, hears God speak. Silence is the echo of God's eternity and the foundation of the rich teaching of St. John of the Cross. That teaching in all its richness derives from his prison cell at Toledo. During the months of his solitary confinement there, he accepted isolation and embraced silence. He became imbued with silence. In turn, that silence revealed to him the true value of suffering, which is at the heart of his teaching concerning the ascent to God. Without this treasured silence, John of the Cross would never have become the great mystical Doctor of the Church that he is."

~ Pere Jacques OCD
"Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Pere Jacques"


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflections on silence


"Our exterior silence, the silence of our tongue, will be an authentic silence if it proceeds from a silent and mortified soul. Our soul will be silent if we bring to silence our senses, our passions, and all the faculties of our soul.

"If our silence proceeds from a silent soul, if it is from a mortified soul, it will not be an empty silence. If Christ really becomes the life of our soul, our silence as well as our speaking will be filled with the spirit of God.  Then there will be nothing artificial or pharisaical, only simplicity and naturalness. 

"The action of the Holy Spirit, in purifying our soul and making it Christ-like, will enable us to be united with God, and tell us when we should speak, as well as when to keep silence.

"Everything within us, as well as our senses, should be brought to silence in order to listen to the Holy Spirit and to become more and more united with Christ."

~ A Camaldolese Hermit
"Silence"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Carmel is the Desert



"Inner restlessness is part of the human condition. When our body gives us a warning signal we do something about it. When Christ signals us from within, we should give Him our attention.

"The Spirit within us yearns to return to its source, our Father. Many people are confused by these inner longings and try to escape through constant noise and activity. People do not often realize that their anguish is in the spirit, and that the death of the body will not eliminate their suffering, because the spirit, like God, is infinite...the deepest part of ourselves is reserved for God alone.

"Carmel teaches us not to run from these stirrings, but rather to go in the 'desert' and face them. A desert place is where we leave all non essentials behind and spend time in silence and solitude with our divine friend within. Through daily mediation, our friendship with Christ develops into love. All love relationships, if they are to grow, need time to devoted entirely to each other.

"We then strive to carry the spirit of the desert, the interior silence and solitude, the sense of the presence of God, throughout our busy days.

"Carmel is a way of life that fosters an ever-increasing awareness of being united with God in the depths of our being while leading ordinary lives in the world. "

Excerpt from "Welcome to Carmel"

Photo credit: 

Desert 3083 by Peter Holme III on 500px


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reflections on silence


"The Rule of St. Benedict encourages us to have an 'esteem for silence', so that at times even 'good words are to be left unsaid.' Why is it that silence must be so esteemed and cultivated? As is so often in spiritual writings, silence is to be sought for the purpose of listening; and in Benedictine life this listening is to be directed especially to discerning the saving presence and loving call of God in every situation. We are to ask, 'How is God here, and what is He asking of me?' instead of , 'What am I to get out of this?' or 'How can I glorify myself in this situation?'  

"Some outer silence is necessary in every Christian life to make way for some inner silence, or stillness, that enables us to be in touch with God, beyond our noisy, impulsive reactions and even in and through them. With inner silence, we can enjoy Christ's gift of peace even when there is much turmoil around us. In fact, only with some silence can we truly pray.

"With that silence we can speak to others 'with the warmth of love.' With that silence we can accept a task that we prefer not to do 'with complete gentleness and obedience'. Perhaps most importantly, with silence we can accept our weakness and poverty without becoming discouraged or defensive."


~Donald Raila OSB
Lessons from St. Benedict

* We need to nurture this spirit of silence so that it will help us to embrace our poverty as God's gift...and to accept our weaknesses and imperfections as stepping stones that will hasten us on the journey to be united to Christ this Lent and Easter!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Daily Fidelity of St. Joseph


{The Dream of St. Joseph by Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-1779}


"Fidelity in our daily duties produces the wonder of serenity, contancy and deep inner peace.

"Sometimes our work is difficult, strenuous or wearisome, but grace transforms it into something beautiful for our families, our society, the earth; into something beautiful for God."

"Saint Joseph, you once labored upon this earth with a workman's fidelity; loyal and conscientious in the sight of the Lord. In the honest trade of a carpenter, you dedicated your strength and faithfulness to your daily duty.

"Teach us, as you once taught Jesus, the ways of humble devotion to God's will. Help us to understand that the tasks He has place before us enable us, day by day, to fulfill our vocation in life.

"Take care of our families, as you once cared for Jesus and Mary by your patient work and constant virtue. Be a rock of strength for all those who appeal to you in their needs, and a gentle father to us all. Amen."



Photo: Wiki commons
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