Surviving depression w/the saints – St Jean-Marie Vianney

-from the above

Jesus is in the darkness. Help me, Lord.

St. John Vianney, the famous Cure of the tiny French village of Ars, is most popularly known as the holy and humble priest who spent sixteen to eighteen hours a day hearing confessions and giving advice to long processions of people. He practiced extraordinary penances and fasts for the conversion of sinners and was subject to diabolic persecution all his priestly life. It is said that the devil revealed once that if there were but three priests in the world like the Cure of Ars, the devil would lose his kingdom.

What is less known is the overwhelming depression that weighed upon John Vianney’s soul without relief his entire life. Though he was the most sought-after man in all of France, he seemed incapable of seeing the immense amount of good he was doing. Despite the tens of thousands of pilgrims who traveled to Ars each year in the hope of receiving the sacraments or a word of advice from him, he believed himself useless. The priest who had reawakened the faith of a village and set all France aflame through his preaching and holiness felt God so far from him that he was afraid he had no more faith. He believed himself to have no intelligence or gift of discernment. It is as if God drew a veil over his eyes so that he could see nothing of what God was doing through him for others. The Cure feared he was ruining everything and had become an obstacle in God’s way.

The root of John Vianney’s severe depression was his fear of doing badly at every turn, and the thousands who traveled to Ars increased his terror. It never occurred to him that he might have a special grace. Instead, he feared that the long line of penitents to his village church were a sign that he was a hypocrite. He feared facing the judgment with the responsibility for all these people on his conscience. There was not a moment when he felt that God was satisfied with him. A great and profound sadness possessed his soul so powerfully that he eventually could not even imagine relief.

Whenever the tempests of depression seemed to have enough power to drown him in the vision of his own miseries, the Cure would bow his head, throw himself before God like “a dog at the feet of his master,” and allow the storm to pass without changing his resolve to love and serve God if he could. Yet he kept this pain so private that except for a few confidantes, most people saw only tranquility and gentleness in his bearing.

Jesus Is in the Darkness with You

You may discover that the shadows and tempests of depression alter the way you look at God and the way you believe God looks at you. When you pray you may be unable to sit still or to keep your mind focused for more than a few moments. Everything may appear to be a huge gaping hole of silence, all so useless. God may seem to be mocking your attempts to pray. I know people who have gone three, five, ten years without “praying,” though they were faithful to setting time aside for prayer regardless of its seeming uselessness. In the haunting darkness where all communication had gone silent, they found loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger. Nothing. Only pain. Were they praying? Yes.

Recognizing agony in a void that is filled only with darkness and absence calls a depressed person to be present to the Now, even if the Now is darkness. There is a God in that void, the God of Jesus. To be present to this God, to know that Jesus is in the darkness with you and for you as prayer, even were no words or act of love to pass through your heart. God’s abiding love is deep within, never forsaking you in darkness. You are alone in the void with the Son of God-both of you keeping silent. Suffering with you is Jesus, the abandoned Son on the cross. When it is impossible to hold on to a thought or to pray, Jesus is praying and contemplating within the one who is suffering from depression. Day by day, moment by moment, groping in the darkness, you are not alone. Jesus is struggling with you. He is there feeling it all. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him or His Father. Through Jesus’ Spirit Who is in you, you can hope for peace.

St. Gregory Nazianzus wrote these words during a time when he found anxiety and depression crowding out any space for prayer in his soul:
“The breath of life, O Lord, seems spent. My body is tense, my mind filled with anxiety, yet I have no zest, no energy. I am helpless to allay my fears. I am incapable of relaxing my limbs. Dark thoughts constantly invade my head ….Lord, raise up my soul, revive my body.”

Love & His Joy, alone, can save us,
Matthew

The Holy Spirit

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, make me realize Your action in my soul; teach me to recognize it and correspond with it.

MEDITATION

Just as the Holy Spirit dwelt in the most holy soul of Christ in order to bring it to God, so He abides in our souls for the same purpose. In Jesus He found a completely docile will, one that He could control perfectly, whereas in us He often meets resistance, the fruit of human weakness; therefore, He desists from the work of our sanctification because He will not do violence to our liberty. He, the Spirit of love, waits for us to cooperate lovingly in His work, yielding our soul to His sanctifying action freely and ardently. In order to become saints, we must concur in the work of the Holy Spirit; but since effective concurrence is impossible without an understanding of the promoter’s actions, it is necessary for us to learn how the divine Paraclete, the promoter of our sanctification, works in us.

We must realize that the Holy Spirit is ever active in our souls, from the earliest stages of the spiritual life and even from its very beginning, although at that time in a more hidden and imperceptible way. However, His very precious action was there, and it consisted especially in the preparing and encouraging of our first attempts to acquire perfection. By giving us grace, without which we could have done nothing to attain sanctity, the Holy Spirit inaugurated His work in us: He elevated us to the supernatural state. Grace comes from God; it is a gift from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity: a gift created by the Father, merited by the Son in consequence of His Incarnation, Passion, and death, and diffused in our souls by the Holy Spirit. But it is to the latter, to the Spirit of love, that the work of our sanctification is attributed in a very special manner. When we were baptized, we were justified “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”; nevertheless, Sacred Scripture particularly attributes this work of regeneration and divine filiation to the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself pointed out to us that Baptism is a rebirth “of … the Holy Spirit” (John 3:5), and St. Paul stated: “For in one Spirit were we all baptized” and “the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God” (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:16). Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit who has prepared and disposed our souls for the supernatural life by pouring forth grace in us.

COLLOQUY

“O Holy Spirit, divine Guest of our souls, You are the noblest and most worthy of all guests! With the agility of Your goodness and love for us, You fly rapidly to all souls who are disposed to receive You. And who can tell the wonderful effects produced by You when You are welcomed? You speak, but without noise of words, and Your sublime silence is heard everywhere. You are always motionless, yet always in movement, and in Your mobile immobility, You communicate Yourself to all. You are always at rest, yet ever working; and in Your rest You perform the greatest, worthiest, and most admirable works. You are always moving, but You never change Your place. You penetrate, strengthen, and preserve all. Your immense, penetrating omniscience knows all, understands all, penetrates all. Without listening to anything, You hear the least word spoken in the most secret recesses of hearts.

“O Holy Spirit, You stay everywhere unless You are driven out, because You communicate Yourself to everyone, except to sinners who do not want to rise from the mire of their sins; in them You can find no place to rest, nor can You endure the evil emanating from a heart which obstinately persists in wrong-doing. But You remain in the creatures who, by their purity, make themselves receptive to Your gifts. And You rest in me by communication, operation, wisdom, power, liberality, benignity, charity, love, purity; in short, by Your very goodness. Diffusing these graces in Your creature, You Yourself prepare him suitably to receive You” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

Love & Fire!!!,
Matthew

May 15 – St Dymphna, 7th century, depression & the saints

(n.b. in the 2004 Martyrologium Romanum, St Dymphna’s feast day was moved to May 30.)

Dymphna was the only child of a pagan king who is believed to have ruled a section of Ireland in the 7th century. She was the very picture of her attractive young Christian mother.

When the queen died at a very young age, the royal widower’s heart remained beyond reach of comfort. His moody silences pushed him on the verge of mental collapse. His courtiers suggested he consider a second marriage. The king agreed on condition that his new bride should look exactly like his former one.

His envoys went far a field in search of the woman he desired. The quest proved fruitless. Then one of them had a brilliant idea: Why shouldn’t the king marry his daughter, the living likeness of her mother?

Repelled at first, the king then agreed. He broached the topic to his daughter. Dymphna, appalled, stood firm as a rock. “Definitely not.” By the advice of St. Gerebern, her confessor, she eventually fled from home to avoid the danger of her refusal.

A group of four set out across the sea – Father Gerebern, Dymphna, the court jester and his wife. On landing at Antwerp, on the coast of Belgium, they looked around for a residence. In the little village of Gheel, they settled near a shrine dedicated to St. Martin of Tours.

Then spies from her native land arrived in Gheel and paid their inn fees with coins similar to those Dymphna had often handed to the innkeeper. Unaware that the men were spies, he innocently revealed to them where she lived.

The king came at once to Gheel for the final, tragic encounter. Despite his inner fury, he managed to control his anger. Again he coaxed, pleased, made glowing promises of money and prestige. When this approach failed, he tried threats and insults; but these too left Dymphna unmoved. She would rather die than break the vow of virginity she had made with her confessor’s approval.

In his fury, the king ordered his men to kill Father Gerebern and Dymphna. They killed the priest but could not harm the young princess.

The king then leaped from his seat and with his own weapon cut off his daughter’s head. Dymphna fell at his feet. Thus Dymphna, barely aged fifteen, died. Her name appears in the Roman Martyrology, together with St. Gerebern’s on May 15.

In the town of Gheel, in the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, great honor is paid to St. Dymphna, whose body is preserved in a silver reliquary in the church which bears her name. Gheel has long been known as a place of pilgrimage for persons seeking relief of nervous or emotional distresses. In our century, the name of St. Dymphna as the heavenly intercessor for such benefits is increasingly venerated in America.


-“The Beheading of St Dymphna”, by Godfried Maes, 1688, oil on canvas, Height: 337 cm (132.7 in). Width: 225.5 cm (88.8 in), Saint Dymphna Church, Geel, Belgium


-from an article by Michael J. Lichens, a convert from Evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, featured in the Catholic Gentleman

The Catholic Church has dealt with mental illness for quite some time. Long before our modern system of mental health, the hospital at Geel, Belgium was established under the patronage of Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of those suffering from mental illness. A good seven centuries before psychiatrists opened offices, the good nuns in Geel introduced a system to take care of the mentally ill, and some of these patients even found healing through treatment and prayer.

As a convert, this information was quite helpful. While my Evangelical church denied mental illness and only told me to pray against it, I found that medieval nuns had the foresight to start treating those tortured by the mind. Our Catholic Church is still learning, and she offers many great resources.

Some of our finest saints, such as Venerable Francis Mary Paul Libermann and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, suffered great bouts of depression. While they would be struck to the heart with grief, they still found comfort in their faith. Ven Francis Libermann once wrote,

“I never cross a bridge without the thought of throwing myself over the parapet, to put an end to these afflictions. But the sight of my Jesus sustains me and gives me patience.”

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote moving words about his afflictions in the “Terrible Sonnets,” and was especially heartbroken by what seemed like the silence of God in the face of his suffering. One cannot read his poetry and not be moved to compassion for him.

I bring these figures up to show that you are not abnormal; you have intercessors in heaven and on Earth who do know that the mind has many mountains and cliffs. Perhaps it is not always enough, but I know that the loneliness can be the worst part of depression. Knowing that I am indeed among friends in my suffering has been enough for me to keep going and to find hope.

MEDITATE ON CHRIST, ASK HIS SAINTS FOR HELP

I find great comfort in the Incarnation. We as Catholics believe in a God whose love for us is so powerful that he took on our lowly nature in order to redeem it. Christ didn’t become human just to teach us some new lessons; He shows us a whole new way to be human and, ultimately, how to share in His divinity.

In my darkest moments, when I truly was giving in to despair, I found that saying the Jesus Prayer and meditating on the Nativity of Our Lord was enough to let me go on another day and pursue help. In those moments, knowing that Christ was and is among us enabled me to find just enough light and comfort to believe that life was sweeter than death.

Prayer is very hard when you are depressed. I, for one, have nagging doubts when I go through my black dog days. God seems silent and I wonder where He is and what He’s doing. All the same, I do pray, and peace eventually comes. In one case, it took me two years of praying, but peace did come. Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul lasted several years, but she endured. You can find strength in the same faith.

If you are praying and meditating and the words do not come, then sit in silence. Find an icon or an adoration chapel and utter the words, “You are God, I am not. Please help.” If nothing else, your mind will slow down and will shift its focus to God, who sustains all life and is the source of our strength.

I know this is hard, and sometimes you will want to give up. If you can do nothing else, try to take comfort in knowing that Christ didn’t die and rise again just to leave you alone. Find the saints who did suffer from grief and depression and ask them for help. They, more than any other, are eager to come to your aid.

SEEK TO TURN YOUR MIND TO THE GOOD

My MDD is a lifetime condition that is not likely to be cured except by a miracle. While there may be some forces contributing to your depression that are beyond your control, such as growing up in a troubled home or experiencing a difficult period of your life, there are other things that you can control, and it can be helpful to focus on them.

It’s perfectly normal to want to find an outlet for your depression. In my own and my family history, that has included a cocktail of food, sex and booze. I don’t need to tell you why those are bad ideas.

Instead of harmful behavior, seek to find constructive outlets for depression. I know that a walk can be helpful, and exercise has a profound effect on your mood. It not only takes your mind off of things outside of your control, but it elevates your mood and gives you something to work towards. I personally love reading and writing. Perhaps you have a passion and your depression has made you lose interest in it. But I assure you, you will find the fire of passion coming back if you work at it for even an hour. Even if you do something as simple as clean your house or, if your depression quite sever, get up and dress yourself well, it’s a small accomplishment you can take pride in.

As you probably know, your situation has the ability to give you understanding and greater empathy. Reach out to folks to talk about it, especially if they seem to be going through similar frustrations. You will relieve loneliness, a great problem of our isolated age, and also help to build a support network for you and others.

The point of all my suggestions is to not let your grief and depression rule over all your life but to find the small things you can control and do good with them. Believe me, it’s much harder than I’m making it sound, but it can be done.

To go back to prayer, I do firmly believe that offering up your sufferings for the conversion of the world and the souls in purgatory can do great things. You are turning your mind to charity, and doing so will teach your heart to love people in the midst of grief. Christ will use your prayers and tears to bring more souls to Him.

SEEK HELP, IF YOU NEED IT

While mental illness has a stigma in our society, there is no shame in seeking help. Not everyone needs medicine or therapy, but it is there for those who do. In many cases, your priest is not unfamiliar with mental illness and can be a great help. Not all priests can give you full counseling, but they can be men who you can talk to and pray with and who can offer resources for further help. Likewise, I have met many fine nuns whose wisdom has helped through many trials, and there are few weapons as powerful as a nun’s intercession.

In all things, your victory is in perseverance. As I said above, I often can’t even leave my house on particularly bad days and I have no doubt some of you are right there with me. But if we can claim small victories like seeking help and taking steps to finding comfort, then we are on the path to a greater victory.

Finally, let’s pray to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the Joy of all Who Sorrow. Ask her to help you and all who are plagued by grief and depression.

Love & Heaven’s Joy!!!! BEAR YOUR CROSSES!!!! Lk 9:23-24 It is HIS will!! And we do not need to know why, in this life! His will be done!!! PRAY!!! How else will you survive anything??
Matthew

Pentecost – sweet guest of the soul

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, You who deign to dwell in me, help me to open my soul completely to Your action.

MEDITATION

The Encyclical Mystici Corporis states that “the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church.” Because soul means “principle of life,” this statement equivalently says that the divine Paraclete is the One who gives life to the Church. As the soul is the principle of life in the body, so the Holy Spirit is the principle of life in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Divinum Illud Munus).

We have seen that the Holy Spirit was in Christ’s soul to direct Him in the accomplishment of His redemptive mission. Jesus could have carried out this mission alone, but He wished the Church to participate in it. Since the Church continues Christ’s work, she needs the same impetus which guided His soul; she needs the Holy Spirit. Jesus merited His Spirit for us on the Cross; by His death, He atoned for all sin, the chief obstacle to the action of the Holy Spirit, and when He had ascended into heaven, He sent Him to the Apostles, who represented the whole Church. Now, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, He intercedes continually for us, He is always sending the Holy Spirit to the Church, as He promised. The Holy Spirit operates in the Church now, just as He once did in the blessed soul of Christ. He gives her impulse, moves her, and drives her to accomplish God’s will, thus enabling her to fulfill His mission, the continuation down through the ages of the redemptive work of Christ. With reason, then, did the early Fathers call the Holy Spirit the Soul of the Church; the Church herself invokes Him in the Credo: “Dominum et vivificantem!” Lord and life-giver. As the soul vivifies the body, the Holy Spirit vivifies the Church. He is the impulse of love who kindles in her zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls; He gives light and strength to her shepherds, fervor and energy to her apostles, courage and invincible faith to her martyrs.

COLLOQUY

“O Holy Spirit, You formed our Redeemer in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary; You gave life to Jesus, and directed Him in all He thought, said, did, and suffered during His earthly life, and in the sacrifice He Himself offered to the Father for us on the Cross. When Jesus ascended into heaven, You came upon earth to establish the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, and to apply to this Body the fruits of the life, Blood, Passion, and death of Christ. Otherwise, Jesus would have suffered and died in vain. Furthermore, O Holy Spirit, You descended to us at holy baptism to form Jesus Christ in our souls, to incorporate us into Him, to give us birth and life in Him, to apply to us the effects and merits of His Blood and of His death, to animate and inspire us, and to guide and direct us in all that we should think, say, do, and suffer for God. What, then, should our life be? Oh! it should be completely holy, divine, and spiritual, according to the words of Jesus: ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit!’

O Divine Spirit, I give myself entirely to You. Take possession of my soul, direct me in everything, and grant that I may live as a true child of God, as a true member of Jesus Christ; grant that, born of You, I may totally belong to You, be totally possessed, animated, and directed by You” (St. John Eudes).

“O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, fortify me, console me. Tell me what I should do, give me Your orders. I promise to be submissive to all that You ask of me and to accept everything that You permit to happen to me” (Cardinal Mercier).”

Love & Fire!!!
Matthew

May 31 – Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae;
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus,
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam brachio suo;
Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes.
Sucepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semeni ejus in saecula.

“Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” -Lk 1:43

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

(-Lk 1:46-55)

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O my Mother, most holy Virgin Mary, be always my model, my support, and my guide.

MEDITATION

“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judah.”
These words are from today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-47).

Mary, in the exquisite delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help. Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.

If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity. However, she was in no way disturbed: charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says: “Charity seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). How many times, perhaps, have you omitted an act of kindness, not to spare yourself a hard journey, but only to avoid a little trouble. Think how uncharitable you are and how slow to help others. Look at Mary, and see how much you can learn from her!

Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature. Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God. Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more. Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such, even in respect to her neighbor. In your case, perhaps, although you know how to humble yourself before God and recognize your lack of perfection in the secrecy of your heart, it displeases you to appear imperfect before your neighbor, and you quickly resent being treated as such. Are you not anxious to have your dignity, education, and ability recognized, as well as the more or less honorable offices or charges which have been entrusted to you? Your dignity is a mere nothing, and yet you are so jealous of it. Mary’s dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures.

COLLOQUY

“O Mary, how great is your humility when you hasten to serve others! If it is true that he who humbles himself will be exalted, who will be more exalted than you who have humbled yourself so much?

When Elizabeth caught sight of you she was astonished and exclaimed: ‘Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?’ But I am still more astonished to see that you, as well as your Son, came not to be served, but to serve…. It was for this purpose that you went to Elizabeth, you the Queen, to the servant, the Mother of God to the mother of the Precursor, you who would give birth to the Son of God, to her who would bring forth a mere man.

But your profound humility in no way lessened your magnanimity; the greatness of your soul was not opposed to your humility. You, so small in your own eyes, were so magnanimous in your faith, in your hope in the Most High, that you never doubted His promises, and firmly believed that you would become the Mother of the Son of God. Humility did not make you fainthearted; magnanimity did not make you proud, but these two virtues were perfectly combined in you!

O Mary, you cannot give me a share in your great privileges as Mother of God; these belong to you alone! But you want me to share in your virtues, giving me examples of them in yourself. If, then, sincere humility, magnanimous faith, and delicate, sympathetic charity are lacking in me, how can I excuse myself? O Mary, O Mother of mercy, you who are full of grace, nourish us, your poor little ones, with your virtues!” (cf. St. Bernard).”

Love,
Matthew

Life of Love

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Grant, O Lord, that even while I am here on earth, I may love You as I shall love You in heaven.

MEDITATION

If it may be said that by faith “eternal life begins in us” (St. Thomas, Summa, IIa IIae, q.4, a.1, co.), the same may be said–and with greater reason–of charity, which will remain unchanged even in heaven. Eternal life will be essentially a life of love, of love which has reached its greatest height, for when we know God perfectly by the beatific vision, we shall finally be able to fulfill with absolute perfection the precept of loving God with all our strength. On this earth such perfection is possible only relatively; nevertheless, even now we possess the same charity with which we shall love God in heaven. Therefore, we can begin even now that life of love which will flower completely in eternity. Our love in heaven will have the characteristics of completeness and absolute continuity, with the impossibility of its ever failing. We cannot attain this while we are on earth, but we can strive for it by the exercise of a pure, intense love, a love that is, as far as possible, always in action. These, then, are the qualities our love for God should have: purity, intensity, continuity.

Our love for God will be pure when we love Him so much that we seek only His glory and the accomplishment of His will: “Hallowed be Thy name … Thy will be done” (Mt 6:9-10). This is the only real good that we, poor creatures, can wish for our God. All the glory we can possibly give Him consists in saying a wholehearted yes to His holy will, in rivaling the angels and blessed in heaven by carrying out His will here on earth with such great love and completeness: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (ibid.). The purity of our love should consist in seeking God’s glory alone, His will alone, completely forgetting ourself, in being ready to sacrifice every wish, desire, and interest for Him.

Therefore, even in the spiritual life, our first thought should be, not our own perfection, progress, and consolation, but always God’s delight, good pleasure, and glory. It is thus that we will serve our own interests better, for he who gives himself to God, completely forgetting himself, draws down upon himself the fullness of divine love. What greater good could come to us than being loved by Infinite Love?

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, You teach me that without love even the most perfect gifts are as nothing, that charity is the most excellent way, for it leads directly to You. That is why I wish for no science but the science of love, and having given all the substance of my house for love, I count it as nothing. I understand so clearly that love alone can make me pleasing in Your sight, that my sole ambition is to acquire it.

My occupation is to gather flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice, and to offer them to You, my God, to give You pleasure. I wish to labor for Your love alone–with the sole aim of pleasing You, of consoling Your Sacred Heart, and of saving souls who will love You through eternity.” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 13 – Act of Oblation).

“O God, my love for You ought to be total, infinite in desire, because You will not give Yourself entirely to a soul unless it gives itself wholly to You. I must not cling to any attachment, nor admit even a single voluntary imperfection, nor refuse You anything. Grant that I may give myself to You in a continual, uninterrupted donation, moment by moment, seeking in all things Your greater glory, always trying to please You, always wanting Your will alone, doing each action with all my heart and with all my love.

My love for You must be delicate. Help me to reach that exquisiteness and delicacy, that regard for details which You appreciate so much, which delights You.

My love for You should be strong and generous, and prove itself in sacrifice, in seeking sacrifice in the offering and the smiling acceptance of suffering. O God, for love of You, I want to take advantage of the little opportunities so that I may be strong in the big ones.” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD.).

Love,
Matthew

Eucharist to Trinity

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God– O Jesus, lead me to the Trinity; help me to live with the Trinity.

MEDITATION

Jesus came to us from the bosom of the Father to bring us to the Trinity; this was the purpose of the Incarnation and it is also that of the Eucharist, which prolongs the mystery of the Incarnation in time. In the Eucharist Jesus continues to be the Mediator between the three divine Persons and ourselves, holding out His hand to lead us to Them. It is by coming to us in Holy Communion that He continually puts us in more direct contact with the Blessed Trinity; for He then comes in the integrity of His Person as God and Man, humanity and divinity; and as God, as the Word, He is always indissolubly united to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. Jesus can repeat from the From the Eucharist to the Trinity what He once said while He was on earth: “He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone,” and more explicitly: “I am in the Father and the Father [is] in Me” (cf John 8:29 – 14:11). Therefore, when He comes to us in Holy Communion, He does not come alone, but with Him come the Father and the Holy Spirit, because the three divine Persons, although distinct one from another, are inseparable. The presence of the Trinity in our soul is not limited to the moments when Jesus is sacramentally present within us, for the three divine Persons dwell permanently in a soul that is in the state of grace. It is true, however, that the Trinity is present in a very special way in Christ, the Incarnate Word, the one Man personally united to the Trinity and in whom dwells all the fullness of the divinity: “In quo habitat omnis plenitudo divinitatis” (Litany of the Sacred Heart). Hence, it is certain that wherever Christ is—and therefore in our soul at the time of Communion—there the Trinity is also present in a very special way.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus Christ, true God and true Man! My soul rejoices to find You in the Blessed Sacrament, You, the uncreated God Who became man, a creature! In this Sacrament, O Christ, I find both Your humanity and Your divinity; from Your humanity I rise to Your divinity, and from it I go back to Your humanity. I see Your ineffable divinity which contains all the treasures of wisdom, of knowledge, of incorruptible riches. I see the inexhaustible fountain of delights which alone can satisfy our intelligence. I see Your most precious soul, O Jesus, with all the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, a holy and unspotted oblation; I see Your sacred Body, the price of our redemption; I see Your Blood, which purifies and vivifies us; in brief, I find treasures which are so precious and so great that I cannot comprehend them.

This Sacrament really contains You, O my God, You whom the Angels adore, in whose presence the Spirits and mighty Powers tremble. Oh! if we could only see You as clearly as they do, with what reverence would we approach this Sacrament, with what humility would we receive You.

O Most Holy Trinity, You instituted this Sacrament in order to obtain the object of Your love, that is, to attract to Yourself the soul of Your creature, and detaching it from all earthly things, to unite it to Yourself, the uncreated God. In doing this, You make it die to sin and give it spiritual life, eternal life. O Blessed Trinity, this Sacrament was instituted by Your infinite goodness that we might be united to You and You to us; that we might receive You into ourselves and be received by You; that at the same time we might hold You within ourselves and be held by You” (St. Angela of Foligno).

Love,
Matthew

Motive for Hope

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Make me understand well, O Lord, that my hope must be founded on You, on Your infinite merciful love.

MEDITATION

If we had to base our hope on our own merits and on the amount of grace we possess, it would be very insecure, because we cannot be certain that we are in the state of grace, nor can we be certain about our good works which are always so full of defects. But our hope is sure because it is founded, not on ourselves, but on God, on His infinite goodness, on His salvific will which desires “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and on His sanctifying will that wants us not only to be saved, but also to be saints: “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

God wishes the certitude of our hope to rest upon Him alone. Although He demands our cooperation and our good works, He does not want us to base our confidence on them; in fact, after having urged us to do all that is in our power, Jesus added: “When you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: we are unprofitable servants” (Luke 17:10). Souls who are accustomed to depend on their own strength and who delude themselves, thinking they can enter more deeply into the spiritual life by their own personal resources, find this lesson hard to understand. That is why when the Lord wills them to progress, He makes them go through painful states of powerlessness, permitting them to feel the rebellion and repugnance of nature that they may be convinced of the vanity of placing their confidence in themselves. There is here a delicate point: to know how to accept this experience without falling into discouragement. If in the past, we have relied upon ourselves, and now, in certain difficulties and trials of our interior life, we see our strength reduced to nothing, let us thank God. In this way He is detaching us from the too great confidence we had in ourselves, and is forcing us to practice a purer, more supernatural hope, one stripped of every human element and support. If, however we cannot place our hope in ourselves, this is reason for despair; rather, it should impel us to place our hope in God alone and force us to throw ourselves upon Him with full confidence like a child who takes refuge in its mother’s arms with more trust, the weaker and more powerless it feels itself to be.

COLLOQUY

“Almighty, omnipotent Lord, show me my poverty so that I may confess it. I said that I was rich and that I needed nothing; I did not know that I was poor, blind, naked, wretched, and miserable. I believed that I was something and I was nothing. I said, ‘I shall become wise,’ and I became foolish; I thought that I was prudent, but I deceived myself. And I see now that wisdom is Your gift, that without You we can do nothing, for if You, O God, do not keep the city, he watches in vain that keeps it. You taught me this that I might know myself; You abandoned me and you tried me … so that I would know myself. You had hardly gone a short distance from me when I fell. Then I saw and knew that You were guiding me; if I fell, it was my own fault, and if I rose again, it was by Your help.

O my God, I could despair on account of my great sins and my innumerable negligences … but I dare not because I, who was at one time Your enemy, have been reconciled to You by the death of Your Son; and not only reconciled, but I have been saved by Him. That is why all my hope and the certitude of my confidence is in His precious Blood which was shed for us and for our salvation. Living in Him, trusting in Him, I hope to come to You, not because of my justice, but through the justice which comes to me from Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, in the weariness of this struggle, I raise my eyes to You, Lord Jesus. Let the enemy do what he will to me. I shall not fear because You are a strong defender. I have good reason to hope in You, for I shall never be confounded.

Now, as long as I am in the body, I am far from You, since I journey by faith and not by vision. The time will come when I will see that which I now believe without seeing and I shall be happy. Then I shall see the reality which I now hope for. I live content in my hope because You are true to Your promises; nevertheless, because I do not possess You as yet, I groan beneath the weight of desire. Grant that I may persevere in this desire until what You have promised comes to pass; then my groaning will be over and praise alone will resound” (St. Augustine).

Love & never surrender hope in Him. He does not leave us as orphans. Jn 14:18.
Matthew

Solemnity of the Ascension

-The Ascension, by John Singleton Copley, 1775, oil, canvas, 73.66 x 81.28 cm, located Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Jean & Alexander Heard Divinity Library.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, who ascended into heaven, grant that I, too, may live there in spirit.

MEDITATION

The central idea in the liturgy today is the raising of our hearts toward heaven, so that we may begin to dwell in spirit where Jesus has gone before us. “Christ’s Ascension,” says St. Leo, “is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day being where its glorious Head has preceded it” (Roman Breviary). In fact, Our Lord had already said in His discourse after the Last Supper, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself; that where I am, you also may be” (John 14:2,3). The Ascension is, then, a feast of joyful hope, a sweet foretaste of heaven. By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day, and we can even say with St. Leo, “In the person of Christ, we have penetrated the heights of heaven” (Roman Breviary). As in Christ Crucified we die to sin, as in the risen Christ we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. This vital participation in Christ’s mysteries is the essential consequence of our incorporation in Him. He is our Head; we, as His members, are totally dependent upon Him and intimately bound to His destiny. “God, who is rich in mercy,” says St. Paul, “for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us … hath quickened us together in Christ … and hath raised us up … and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Our right to heaven has been given us, our place is ready; it is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it some day. Meanwhile, we must actualize the beautiful prayer which the liturgy puts on our lips: “Grant, O almighty God, that we, too, may dwell in spirit in the heavenly mansions” (Collect). “Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” (Matthew 6:21), Jesus said one day. If Jesus is really our treasure, our heart cannot be anywhere but near Him in heaven. This is the great hope of the Christian soul, so beautifully expressed in the hymn for Vespers: “O Jesus, be the hope of our hearts, our joy in sorrow, the sweet fruit of our life” (Roman Breviary).

COLLOQUY

“O my God, O my Jesus, You are going away and leaving us! Oh! what joy there will be in heaven! But we have to remain here on earth. O eternal Word, what has Your creature done for You, that You should do so much for him and then ascend into heaven to glorify him even more? Tell me, what has he done for You, that You should love him so much? What has he given You? What do You look for in him? You love him so much that You give Yourself to him, You who are all things, and besides whom there is nothing. You want from him his entire will and intellect because when he gives them to You, he gives You all that he has. O infinite Wisdom, O supreme Good, O Love, O Love so little known, little loved, and possessed by so few! Oh! our ingratitude, cause of every evil! O Purity, so little known and so little desired! O my Spouse, now that You are in heaven, seated at the right hand of the eternal Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

“Alas! how long this exile is, O Lord, and how the desire to see You makes it seem longer still! O Lord, what can an imprisoned soul do?… I want to please You. Behold me, Lord! If I have to live longer in order to serve You further, I refuse none of the crosses which may await me on earth. But alas, Lord, alas! These are but words; I am capable of nothing else. Permit my desires, at least, to have some value in Your sight, O my God, and do not regard my lack of merit!

“Ah! my works are poor, my God, even if I could perform many! Then why should I remain in this life, so full of misery? Only to do Your will. Could I do anything better than that? Hope, therefore, my soul, hope. Watch carefully, for you know not the day nor the hour. Everything passes quickly, even though your desire makes a short time seem very long. Remember that the more you struggle, the greater the proofs of love you will be giving to your God, and afterward, the more you will enjoy your Beloved in happiness and felicity without end” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 15).”

Love, Glory, & Victory!!!
Matthew

a heart like His…


-Sacred Heart in baroque oil painting – Museo Nacional del Virreinato – Tepotzotlan – Mexico

The center of human emotion, it hurts right where the organ is, for some reason, known only to God, currently. But, the center of human emotion is meant to be broken, to be given away. It is its raison d’etre, with full knowledge of that most painful risk. Otherwise, what value in the gift? Otherwise, where else would the good come from that comes from broken hearts? Praise Him. His designs are perfect and good.


-by Br Hyacinth Grub, OP

“You’re always hurt most by those closest to you. The sharpest knives are wielded by family, religious brothers, [Ed. those of the Church,] or intimate friends, for they have a particular access to our hearts that is born of the strength of the bond between us. [Ed. They know us so well, they know just where the buttons are, and how to exquisitely push them, often without thought or effort.] Through familial ties, religious profession, or the affection of friendship, we have given our hearts to imperfect men and women. Being imperfect, they will not take care of the hearts given to them—those hearts will bleed because of carelessness or ignorance or malice.

There are, of course, two easy solutions to this hurt. Either jealously guard the heart, refusing to give it away, or harden the heart so that it cannot be hurt. It isn’t difficult to refuse the bonds of family and religion and friendship, or to keep those bonds shallow and superficial. The heart locked in an iron chest is certainly safe from harm. But it is also isolated and alone, and that’s not how man is meant to live; Aristotle wrote that one who can live without society “must be either a beast or a god,” but not a man.

It’s also easy to harden the heart beyond the possibility of hurt. Bitterness and cynicism can drain the vitality out of life. A zealous stoicism can do the same, albeit with a more noble appearance, by denying the reality or importance of pain and hurt in the soul. You’ve heard the advice to simply “let it go”—but it’s impossible to always let go of the hurt without eventually letting go of the heart as well. In the end, a hardened heart is impervious not only to the hurts and evil of life, but to its joys and goodness as well.

We cannot refuse to give our hearts away, nor can we harden our hearts in preemptive defense. Both choices are self-defeating and leave us without the vitality we set out to protect. There is only one path forward—to give our hearts generously to men and women who we know will not take care of them, and to bear the wounds that inevitably follow. In this very action we are made like Christ—for what is the essence of the Sacred Heart except to be pierced by those He loved, and loved until the end? Bleeding and wounded with swords wielded by those whom we love with Christ’s love, to whom we have not hardened our hearts nor refused the gift of ourselves, our hearts become like unto His.”

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville