Giving Thanks in trying times ~ How will you give thanks this year?

New blog post for Thanksgiving Day 2022

Will we take time out on Thanksgiving Day to make it truly a day of Thanksgiving this year? What do you have to be thankful for?

Let’s start with this: President James Madison in 1815 was the one who created the tradition of setting aside a day for the people of the United States to Give Thanks to the Creator for the goodness of our land. It would be good for us to reflect on what the original intent this day was to be as, with so many things in our country we have forgotten who and what we are.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.

No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. [ . . . ] And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.

It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.

Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A. D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth.

JAMES MADISON.

Two items come to mind as I approach this Thanksgiving Day. First, how did we get so far from a President encouraging us to go to our churches to pray on Thanksgiving Day to our secular society declaring it anathema for any kind of mention of God in public speech at all.

Then there’s this: How many families turn off the football games for a moment and actually pause at the Thanksgiving table to have family members reflect on what they’re thankful for and to offer thanks for them?

How ‘bout your family? What are your traditions around the Thanksgiving table? Do you pray? (If you don’t have a ritual of sorts, perhaps you can start one. Take a few minutes and ask folks to write one thing they’re thankful for; then mix them up and have others share them before your apple pie and ice cream. (At the bottom of this post I’ve added an article by a guest columnist in the New York Times entitled “Five ways to exercise your thankfulness muscles.”)

How many of us are really thoughtful about what we have to be thankful for this year as we approach the day. Especially about where our country is this year. We’ve all been through several years of suffering and worry and–near hell actually–dealing with the Pandemic and its continued variants, Some of us have been very sick. Some of us have watched a loved one die of Covid. Yet still others have been in denial and and have refused to take the vaccine and have protested others taking it.

As I look over the past year, I see suffering across our country and throughout the world. I have a sensitive heart, I’m thinking of all those folks particularly.

We’ve been through major hurricanes, as well as, winter storms, and devastating wild fires in the California. And on top of that, we’re dealing with climate deniers who are making it more difficult for those particularly for us to do what must be done to prepare for the future. As Pope Francis has pointed out, the poor are the ones who are hurt the most by Climate Change. And we’ve seen that dramatically in the sufferings of the poor in these natural disasters.

And my heart aches for so many migrants and refugees throughout the world—some of whom are stateless. Then there’s the senseless and insane issue of gun violence.

Are we at prayer as we approach Thanksgiving Day?

Are we truly thankful for what we have in this country?

+ Freedom of Speech. Some don’t want others to have that these days.

+ Freedom of the Press. + Freedom of Assembly. For the right to protest / the right to organize / the right for unions to meet. And some governors are trying to make it a crime to protest.

+ The possibility of work. But not all have it or enough of it or at a living wage.

+ The possibility of a decent education. But again, not all are able to afford it.

+ The possibility of decent health care. Again, who can get it and who cannot?

Is America the bright beacon of a hill it once was? Do other countries look up to us as they once did? As I think about these questions a day before Thanksgiving 2022, I wonder if I feel as proud to be an American as I used to be. I want to be, but it’s hard. I know I have to do my part as a citizen and I try. I feel rather embarrassed for us at times.

These days seem to me more like ancient Israel when they had lost their way and were unfaithful to God.  But we have much for which to be thankful this November after the midterm elections. For example . . . .

  • We can be grateful to voters, who for the third consecutive election, showed there is a majority — even if a narrow one — that rejects authoritarianism, crude appeals to racism and xenophobia, and downright nutty and mean candidates.

  • We can be grateful younger voters are developing a habit of voting in midterms.

  • We can be grateful to the thousands of election officials, workers and volunteers who pulled off another exceptionally efficient and peaceful exercise in democracy.

  • We can be grateful to the lawyers who litigated in defense of voting access and impartial election administration.

  • We can be grateful voters are becoming accustomed to early voting and voting by mail.

  • We can be grateful covid-19 is far less of a threat to people’s lives these days, and that it is no longer a barrier to gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving.

  •  We can be grateful our sober commander in chief has not escalated tensions with Russia, vastly reducing the chances of a hot war between Russia and NATO.

  • We can be grateful for heroic Ukrainians who remind us of the price of freedom and the need to resist authoritarianism.

  • We can be grateful juries continue to convict and judges continue to sentence participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

  • We can be grateful federal, district and circuit courts have generally upheld the rule of law, preventing election subversion.

  • We can be grateful for a phalanx of lawyers, former prosecutors and legal scholars have helped provide the public with lively and profoundly helpful education in constitutional law.

  • We can be grateful to all the candidates who challenged election deniers and MAGA extremists in primaries and general election races, whether they won or lost.

  • We can be grateful Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is on the Supreme Court and that she has held tutorials on honest originalism.

  • We can be grateful to the men and women in the armed services and national security agencies, without whom our democracy would not survive.

  • And we can be grateful that the weary diplomats at COP27 who signed the final documents and will offer some relief to poorer countries suffering the most from Climate Change.

  • And we can be grateful that President Biden met with Xi Jinping to lower the temperature between China and the United States.

(This is an adaptation  of Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin Nov. 20, 2022)

All through my own life’s struggles, I’ve learned to continue to pick myself up and sing: “I’ll go on and praise Him; I’ll go on . . . “

And so, dear friends, so will we! If. . . If we thank God for the gifts He gives us day in and day out, day in and day out. And Praise Him—No. . . Matter . . .  What!

Dear God,

We are living in difficult times.

We do not know what lies ahead of us.

Some of us look forward with confidence;

others are fraught with fear.

But let us remember that if we look to you, O God,

You will be our Strength and even our Joy.

Please be with us in our land today

and bless us.

Bless our President and elected officials

that they would serve all of the people of this land. 

And so, we give you thanks this day for all of the blessings

You have showered upon our country and each of us.

Please bless us most of all with peace among nations

and peace here at home.b To You be all Glory and Honor and Thanksgiving. Amen!  

And now, before you go, here’s the great hymn “Now thank we all our God,” Click here. It’ll give you goosebumps.  Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. And please pray along with the lyrics as you listen! 

And here’s the link to the New York Times article, “Five ways to exercise your thankfulness muscles.” Click here.”


The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe

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                The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ-King of the Universe                                                         Sunday November 20, 2022

Today’s feast is Good News for most of us who are weary (and fed up?) with all that’s gone down with the election and it’s aftermath and the Pandemic too.   I just did a bit of research in the liturgical archives: this feast has gotten an upgrade! Before it was just “The Feast of Christ the King.” Now it’s the Feast (we give it the fancy name of Solemnity) of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe.  That offers us a lot more richness for our spirituality and even our politics as you’ll see in a few moment.

*  *  *  *

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

And as we look forward to Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas—the New Year this feast brings us, not just a sigh of relief from all we’ve been through this past year, for me at least, but an explosion of new hope and wonder as we realize the implications of living in Jesus’ kin-dom here and now!

I was blown away by the insights of famed Franciscan author Father Richard Rohr’s recent book The Universal Christ from which I unabashedly quote extensively here.

I am making the whole of creation new . . .    It will come true . . . It is already done!             I am the Alpha and the Omega, both the Beginning and the End.                                            ~ Revelations 21:5-6

Jesus didn’t normally walk around Judea making “I AM” statements; if he did, he very soon would have ended up being stoned to death. He didn’t normally talk that way. But when we look at the phrase we all love, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” we see a very fair statement that should not offend or threaten anyone. He’s describing the “Way” by which all humans and all religions must allow matter and Spirit to operate as one.

Once we see that the Eternal Christ is the one talking in these passages, Jesus’ words about the nature of God—and those created in the image of God—seem full of deep hope and a broad vision for all of creation.

The leap of faith that the orthodox Christians made from the early period was that the eternal Christ presence was truly speaking through the person of Jesus. Divinity and humanity were somehow able to speak as one, for if the union of God and humankind is “true” in Jesus, there is hope that it might be true in all of us too. That is the big takeaway from having Jesus speak as the Eternal Christ.

He is indeed “the pioneer and perfector of our faith,” as Hebrew puts it (12:2).

As the “Father of Orthodoxy,” St. Athanasius (296—375) wrote when the church had a more social, historical and revolutionary sense of itself: “God was consistent in working through man to reveal himself everywhere, as well as through the other parts of creation, so that nothing was left devoid of his Divinity and self-knowledge . . . so that the whole universe was filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters fill the sea”.

~ Athanasius De Incarnatione Verbe 45           

I have a note in the margin or Rohr’s book at that quote: WOW!!!

Athanasius was writing in the Fourth Century! Think about that when today we’ve seen images of  our blue planet taken from the moon; when scientists are discovering black holes and other solar systems beyond our own.  And mystics like Athanasius are still with us too!   And yet for a Christian—Catholic or otherwise—who clings only to Jesus as their personal savior in a “Jesus and me” kind of faith is much too myopic and narrow-minded, and therefore missing the real depth of their faith.

As a counterpoint, he says, the Eastern church, has a sacred word for this process, which in the West we call “incarnation” or “salvation”.  They call it “divinization (theosis).  If that sounds provocative, Rohr suggests, know that they are building on 2 Peter 1:4 where the author says, “He has given us something very great and wonderful  . . . . you are able to share the divine nature!

Most Catholics and Protestants still think of the incarnation as a one-time and one-person event having to do only with the person of Jesus of Nazareth, instead of a cosmic event that has soaked all of history in the Divine Presence from the very beginning.  Therefore, this implies . . .

+     That God is not an old man on a throne. God is Relationship itself, a dynamism of Infinite Love between Divine Diversity, as the doctrine of the Trinity demonstrates.    

+     That God’s infinite love has always included all that God created from the very beginning (Ephesians 1:3-14). The Torah  (first five books of the Hebrew bible) calls it “covenant love,” an unconditional agreement, both offered and consummated on God’s side (even if we don’t reciprocate)      

+     That the Divine “DNA” of the Creator is therefore held in all creatures.  What we call the “soul” of every creature could easily be seen as the self-knowledge of God in that creature!  It knows who it is and grows into its identity, just like as seed and egg.

Faith at its essential core is accepting that you are accepted! We cannot deeply know ourselves without knowing the One who made us, and cannot fully accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of ourselves. And God’s impossible acceptance of ourselves is easier to grasp if we first recognize the perfect unity of the human Jesus with the divine Christ. Start with Jesus, continue with yourself, and finally expand to everything else. As John says, “From the fullness (pleroma) we have all received grace upon grace “(1:16).

And for my concluding prayer this day, I rely on the wisdom of St. Paul who himself realized the awesome dimensions of Jesus’ reign  .   .  . 

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

(Colossians 1: 12-20)

I will offer my Mass on Sunday for all of you, my readers—for yours and your families’ needs and intentions, Blessings to you this day!

Now before you go, I’m offering you a choice of music.

The first is “Crown Him with Many Crowns with about 3,000 voices. Click here,

The second is “Worthy is the Lamb” by the Australian young people’s group Hilsong.  Clickhere,

And here are the Mass readings for today’s Feast, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

Acknowledgements  . . . .
Richard Rohr The Universal Christ / Convergent Books New York 2019 /pp. 26-29.

Magnificat / November 2022 edition cover art / Odessa Art Museum / Ukraine 

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

 

 

 

 

 

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US! ~ a reflection on our elections!

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This is an old post from 2011 that is just as relevant today.  So here goes .  . .

I was reflecting on and praying about this difficult election season yesterday,  and how upsetting it has been for many of us, and I thought back to another time similar to this — the midterm elections in 2010!  I had written a piece about it at the time that I’ll share with you here (2011) and (2022).

We need a little humor in all this mess of infighting in election season, don’t cha think?  Maybe this will grant you a chuckle or two.

A year ago this October (2010), I visited my good friend Father Dan Coughlin, who was  Chaplain to the U. S. House of Representatives at the time. (We’ve known each other from our work together with the National Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in the Seventies.) We met in his office down in the catacombs of the img_0806House and then made our way up to dining room. The House was in recess (much to my relief) so we had the hallowed dining room to ourselves. I had a wonderful poached salmon with a dill and butter sauce. And spinach salad.

We didn’t talk about politics at all (which I always find quite painful, and I’m sure many of you do as well). We just talked about old times. Dan gave the invocation each day and was available for counsel for the members. (He must have had the patience of a saint!)

Visiting the Capitol made me proud to be an American–but I wonder what I would think and feel or be praying about if I wandered through those once-hallowed, but now desecrated halls, once again.

I wrote in 201l,  in the these midterm elections, there’s just too much anger, too much mudslinging. Too many lies. Too much hatred. Too much incivility for our own good.   Too much rage that could be ignited at any moment. It almost was, by a gunman in California who was “inspired” by the “teaching” of one Glenn Beck a week ago (2011).  On the same topic of guns, Governor DeSantis, this year, blocked state funding for a Tampa Bay Rays baseball facility after the team donated to a gun violence prevention program after the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting.

The problem I have with all of this:  Shouldn’t we be teaching our children  to respect authority?   Isn’t the President due a certain amount of respect simply because he is the president?   Don’t we teach our children to respect their teachers?

When we get into crisis situations we look for other people to blame; we look for a scapegoat. The DEMOCRATS are the problem! Throw the bums out! The REPUBLICANS are the problem! Throw the . . .   Or the illegals. Or the gays. Or the Muslims. Or the (um) Tea Partiers (way back then!)  Now it’s the Never Trumpers! Or the Forever Trumpers!

Or in 2022–The “Woke” folks! (And ya know–after hearing that word bandied about for over a year now–I still haven’t the foggiest (steamiest?) idea what “those people” who use that word are meaning or intending to get across to me or any of us, except (perhaps) (maybe) to confuse us?

WAIT A MINUTE! Let’s stop! Let’s realize that we all have some share of responsibility for the problems we are carrying! And so, since I the humble begins of this blog in March 2006— I have been pleading with you, my dearest readers, to pray with me for the transformation of our country by entering into personal transformation.

Think about this:

As Jesus approached Jerusalem for Passover, and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 13:39-41).  

Perhaps January 6, 2021, was a warning for us. The Jewish people forty years after Jesus’ warning did not heed.  Will we?

 Let’s let Pogo’s illustrious creator, Walt Kelly, who did speak the Queen’s English with great eloquence

have our (almost) last words on the subject.

, and would expostulate in the midst of all–our rage  (You may have to read this–um–erudite comic book illustrator who was prevalent in the Queen’s English, thrice, as I did the first time I read it. I said, “Huh? Let me read this again, “This is amazing!!” He would, laugh and say. “’Twas ever thus . . .”

“Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. 

We need a little of Pogo and Walt Kelly’s arse-kickin’, very subtle humor. (He’s kickin you and me very firmly in the lower regions of our posteriors!)  Take that, Donald Trump! Hillary Clinton! And in 2022–a whole lot of Repooblicans and Demo-crats, and  You! and Me too!

There are a lot of us running around with overstuffed egos and not there are not many humble enough to admit their own mistakes.   To admit they don’t have all the answers.

Let’s stop and have a laugh or two about our mutual insanities!

Some of this stuff on the Internet (again in 2010 midterms) is pretty darn funny:

“I’m tea-baggin’ 4 Jesus!”

  “Americans help us boycott Mexico — Respect Are Country — Speak English”

ReFudiate Obama – November 2” 

No Pubic option — no socialism

 Make English America’s offical language

 We have no idea what we’re talking about.

All voting is loco.

Lately, political anger has become all the rage.

Republican Party

Democratic Party

Pizza Party

Let’s face it. Underneath our anger and rage is fear. There’s a lot of it. Very legitimate fears. And we could use a little comfort, and a good dose of laughter. Let’s take Walt Kelly’s wisdom to heart.

On November 8th, it will be time for some prayer and calm instead. Time to stand down.  It will be time to unite. Let’s hope and pray it happens.  

(An excerpt of Psalm 122. . .  .)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

(Pray for the peace of the United States ofAmerica)

May those who love you prosper!

May peace be within your borders,

     prosperity within your buildings,

Because of my brothers and friends,  

     I will say, “Peace within you!”

Because of the house of the Lord, our God,

     I will pray for your good.  

And now, before you go, here’s the perfect song by Sissel and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: “Slow Down”. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speaker and enter full screen.

AND IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY, BE SURE TO GET OUT AND VOTE!!

St. Teresa of Ávila ~ Woman Mystic for our times!

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My first introduction to the great St. Teresa (beyond the mention she receives in the Divine Office on October 15th each year) was fifteen years ago when I was living in the Baltimore area.

With the Vatican II renewal some Carmelites have moved out from behind the grille, drawing those who join them from the outside to connect with them on the inside at their services. In the last few years as well, they’ve added Zoom meetings on some Saturday afternoons for “Lectio Divina” in which they’d have a scripture scholar offer notes on the (Sunday’s) Gospel and then we would break into smaller discussion groups for the rest of the hour. The sisters would show us a glimpse of their own rooms—as we ourselves would from our own homes.

The Baltimore Carmel includes women who joyfully observe the traditional ways, with the traditional habit and others who connect with the ways of contemporary women and who wear ordinary clothes.  

I would sometimes celebrate a weekday Eucharist in the mornings. It was wonderful to just sit back and listen to their soprano and alto voices as they sing the psalms. They are most always into their prayer! I was sometimes uplifted that I found myself singing in harmony.

Baltimore’s Carmel was founded in 1790 at Port Tobacco in southern Maryland by women from some of the oldest Catholic families in colonial Maryland, so they were celebrating their 225th year in the United States, alongside St. Teresa’s 500th in 2014 (when this story was written.)  They remained there tilling a farm, until 1831 when they moved to Baltimore City. The Carmelite sisters, today as ever, dedicate themselves to the contemplative life. They say, “we have been trying to unveil the mystical prayer tradition of Carmel for ourselves and our people. We want people to understand the thirst for God within them.”

I was invited to a special celebration in October 2000.  Sister Patricia Josephine of the Cross is   an example of the vibrant connection this monastery of nuns have with the world. At age 49 she was to make her solemn profession on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila. Pat, as she introduced herself, was the nun who first invited me to the monastery.

Her vocation story is unusual and, I’d say, amazing.  Originally from Pittsburgh, Pat got a degree in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon and a degree in finance from Loyola College in Baltimore. She worked for Baltimore Gas and Electric for 21 years in engineering and management. Some six years ago she left her well-established position. and came to Carmel to live. With such a successful secular career, her vocation to the contemplative life is all the more wonderful.

And what a celebration! The Liturgy of Solemn Profession exemplified her community’s understanding of the call to holiness, the call to a rich contemplative life.

 Before the Mass, the chapel was bursting with adults and children and babies and priests and a bishop. Sister Leah danced the most beautiful prayer, contemplation in visual form.

The homilist spoke of the Gospel reading that was one of St. Teresa’s favorites—the story of the woman at the well. (“Lord, give me this water.”) Carmelites understand this Scripture as Christ’s invitation to drink deeply of the contemplative life. The homilist also spoke of the Cross, which Pat took as part of her new name. Being joined to the Cross is an essential part of her personal spirituality.

 Pat spoke to us after the homily. She said  . . .

“When I give my life to God today, do I really know what that means? Do any of us know what we are getting into? But the examples of fidelity that surround us are profound manifestations of what it means to be faithful. How many here have over 50 years? 40? 30? Mother Celine (so much the center of the life and reverence of the community) has been 74 years a Carmelite. There are nearly 5000 years of committed living represented at this celebration.”

After the homily and during the great Litany of the Saints, Pat lay prostrate on the floor. Then followed the solemn blessing, proclaimed by Sister Colette, the Prioress of the community.

Sister Patricia Josephine of the Cross so easily said Yes to her solemn vows. She said Yes to her order’s invitation to give herself without reservation to God and the church.

It was amazing! Years ago, I could not have spoken my fidelity with such ease and grace; indeed, mine has been a real struggle at times over the years. What an example she has given to me and to us in her enthusiastic response to God!

These women are holy, as so many of us are holy without naming it as such. Unlike those in a cloister, which have their own unique call to holiness from behind the grille, they draw us in! We are brought close to the circle of their community life. As they love and care for each other and are joined together in prayer, the goodness—the grace—of their common life spills over on us. It is clear that we are invited to the circle, but the circle itself is reserved for the community.

They have given me an opportunity to connect with women of our age and time and an opportunity for me to reflect through the eyes of dedicated women on how Christ is responding to the needs of people today, giving me a more comfortable entre into the women’s movement. It is my understanding that they have been true to their holy mother Teresa, a woman of her times, too, and a visionary of how to live a community life. They embrace both the new in the old and the old in the new.

Here are some themes to ponder in this visit to Carmel:

(1) The joy of commitment unto death and fidelity to that commitment.

(2) The role of women in the church, of women who accept the reality and limitations of women’s roles in the church today and find plenty of room to minister.

 (3) The universal call to holiness; that each of us is called to be holy in our own vocation.

(4) The great gift of contemplative prayer in the church and society; that contemplative life is a joyful and blessed and powerful life.

(5) The ability to celebrate our relationship with God, unabashedly, without reservation and with joyful abandon.

(6) And the invitation to young people to hear and respond to God’s call to them to live a life of service in the church and for the world

I close this reflection with a saying of St. Teresa that Sister Patricia Josephine of the Cross had printed on her holy card:

  “Fix your eyes on the Crucified

     and everything will become

 small for you.” — St. Teresa of Avila

So, let’s turn now to look at this wonderful woman who has called so many others to holiness.

A Brief Biography St. Teresa of Avila

By Tejvan Pettinger (biographyonline)

Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) – Spanish mystic, writer and reformer of the Carmelite order. St Teresa of Avila was an influential and pivotal figure of her generation.

St Teresa (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada) was born in Avila, Spain on March 28,1515. Her parents were both pious Catholics and in some ways inspired their daughter to take up a life of prayer. As a young child Teresa showed signs of a deeply religious nature; she would often retreat into silence for prayer and would enjoy giving alms to the poor. She was close to her mother, who provided a warm counterbalance, to the strictness of her father. Teresa’s mother passed away, when she was a teenager. The young St Teresa tells of her despair and how she turned instinctively to the Virgin Mary for comfort.

I threw myself down in despair before an image of the Mother of God. With many tears, I implored the Holy Virgin to become my mother now. Uttered with the simplicity of a child, this prayer was heard. From that hour on, I never prayed to the Virgin in vain.” (1)

During her later teen years Teresa lost some of her early piety and religious zeal. She recounted how she became interested in worldly matters and enjoyed the company of a wide circle of friends. She had a natural charm and found it easy to make friends. In return she enjoyed the compliments and friendships of others.

However, she was not at peace, considering herself to be a miserable sinner; later she would look back in guilt at her early life. This sense of being a “miserable sinner” was probably the result of a harsh self-judgment, encouraged by her father’s exacting religious standards. When she was 16, her father decided to send Teresa to a convent. This re-ignited in Teresa an interest in following a spiritual life and after some deliberation she resolved to become a nun of the Carmelite Order.  At the time the convent rules were not very strict; it was probably more relaxed than living with her father. At the time the convent accepted many people into the order, often for financial reasons. The convent became overcrowded and people were often judged not on the basis of spiritual intensity but on material possessions. In this climate, Teresa struggled to find time for quiet reflection; although she did start teaching people on the virtues of mental prayer.

Shortly after becoming a nun, Avila experienced a severe illness (malaria), which left her in great pain for a long period. At one point it was feared that her illness was so severe that she would not be able to recover. However, during this period of intense physical pain, she began to increasingly experience divine visions and an inner sense of peace. These inner experiences of joy and peace seemed to transcend the intense physical pain of the body.  She describes in her own words her state of mind during these trials and tribulations.

“I bore these sufferings with great composure, in fact with joy, except at first when the pain was too severe. What followed seemed to hurt less. I was completely surrendered to the will of God even if he intended to burden me like this forever . . . . The other sisters wondered at my God-given patience. Without him I truly could not have borne so much with so much joy.” (2)

When she was a little better, she resumed her prayers with renewed vigor. However, after telling others of her visions and spiritual experiences, she was dissuaded from pursuing them. Certain clergy felt they were just delusions of the devil. As a result, for many years Teresa lost the confidence to pursue her prayers and her spiritual life was almost put on hold. Yet, when Teresa was 41, she met a priest who convinced her to go back to her prayers and implore God to come to her.  Initially, she had some difficulty sitting through prayers. However, in the course of time, she became absorbed in deep contemplation in which she felt an ever-growing sense of oneness with God. At times she felt overwhelmed with divine love.. She was so filled with divine contemplation it is said at times her body would spontaneously levitate. Teresa, however, was not keen on these public displays of “miracles.”             When she felt it happening she would ask other nuns to sit on her to prevent her floating away.

(The Ecstasy of St. Teresa /Bernini / Rome)    Note the arrow in the angel’s hand.)

Teresa was not a just a quiet, placid saint. She had endearing, natural quality; her life energy attracted and inspired many who were close. They admired her for both her outer charm and inner serenity. But at the same time her ecstasies also caused jealousy and suspicion. Unfortunately, she lived at the time  of the Spanish inquisition, and any deviation from orthodox religious experience came under strict observation and scrutiny.

On one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real.

At the age of 43, St Teresa decided she wanted to found a new order recommitting to the values of poverty and simplicity. She wanted to move away from her present convent which made a life of prayer more difficult. Initially her aims were greeted with widespread opposition from within the town of Avila. Yet, with the support of some priests, the opposition waned and she was allowed to set up her first convent. Teresa proved to be an influential leader and founder. She guided the nuns not just through strict disciplines, but also through the power of love and common sense. Her way was not the way of rigid asceticism and self-denial. Although she underwent many tribulations herself, to others she stressed the importance of experiencing God’s love. As she herself says:

You know, I no longer govern in the way I used to. Love does everything. I am not sure if that is because no one gives me cause to reprove her, or because I have discovered that things go better in that way.”       [p.657] (3)

“The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.” (1)

Teresa devoted much of the rest of her life to traveling around Spain setting up new convents based according to the ancient monastic traditions.  Her travels and work were not always greeted with enthusiasm; many resented her reforms and the implied criticism of existing religious orders. She often met with criticism including the papal nuncio who used the rather descriptive phrase “a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor.”

Teresa also frequently contended with difficult living conditions and her frail health. She never let these obstacles dissuade her from her life’s task. She eventually died on October 4, 1582 at the age of 67.

 (This ends the Pettinger bio.)

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic nations were making the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar which required the removal of the dates October 5–14 from the calendar. She died either before midnight of October4 or early in the morning of October 15, which is celebrated as her feast day. Her last words were:

 “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another.(Wikipedia)

HER MYSTICISM

Showing results for her mysticism, in 1622, forty years after her death she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. The papal honor of Doctor of the Church was bestowed upon her and St. Catherine of Siena by Pope Paul VI in 1970 making them the first women to be awarded the distinction. Teresa is revered as the Doctor of Prayer. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, including St. Francis of Sales.   

The kernel of Teresa’s mystical thought throughout all her writings is the ascent of the soul to God in four stages.

The first, or “mental prayer”, is that of devout contemplation or concentration, the withdrawal of the soul from ordinary thoughts and especially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence (Autobiography 11.20).

The second is the “prayer of quiet”. (Autobiography 14.1).

The “devotion of union” is not only a supernatural, but an essentially ecstatic state.

The fourth is the “devotion of ecstasy or rapture.”

Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. The subject awakens from this in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, producing a trance.  Indeed, she was noted having been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion. (Wikipedia)

Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences. Her deep insight and analytical gifts helped her to explain them clearly. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church  . . . .

“Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.

It was Teresa’s superiors who commanded her to write. But she insisted that she had no learning and who wrote her great work on prayer and the mystical life only because she was directed to do so. In fact, when faced with the immensity of God she called herself “stupid.”

And yet, one day, on the eve of Trinity Sunday, Teresa was granted a magnificent vision.  She had been longing to be shown the beauty of a soul in grace; and she had been asked to write a treatise on prayer by the priests who knew that she was far advance in that knowledge than they themselves. A biographer and friend said, God, “showed her a most beautiful crystal globe, made in the shape of a castle and containing seven mansions, in the seventh innermost of which was the King of Glory, in the greatest splendor, illuminating and beautifying them all.” (Anthony Esolen / Magnificat / Oct.15, 2015. p.209.)

ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

We must not end our notes on our beloved Teresa’s life without mentioning St. John of the Cross (1542- 1591). As part of her original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms; she convinced John of the Cross and Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite Brethren in November 1568.

e Mysticism

John of the Cross was also  a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Teresa of Avila as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites (The word “discalced means barefoot or sandaled”). He is also known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.

On a late December night, 1577, a group of Carmelites opposed to reform broke into John’s dwelling in Ávila and took him prisoner. John had received an order from some of his superiors, opposed to reform, ordering him to leave Ávila and return to his original house, but John had refused on the basis that his reform work had been approved by the Spanish nuncio, a higher authority than these superiors. The Carmelites therefore took John captive. He was taken from Ávila to the Carmelite monastery in Toledo where he was brought before a court of friars, accused of disobeying the ordinances of Piacenza. He received a punishment of imprisonment and was jailed in the monastery, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly, and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell measuring ten by six feet, barely large enough for his body. Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole into the adjoining room. He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread and scraps of salt fish. During this imprisonment, he composed a great part of his most famous poem, the Spiritual Canticle, as well as a few shorter poems. The friar who guarded his cell would smuggle in the paper he needed. He managed to escape nine months later, on August 15, 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day.)

After being nursed back to health, first with Teresa’s nuns in Toledo, and then during six weeks at the Hospital of Santa Cruz, John continued with reform. (Wikipedia)

One evening before Christmas in 2004, I sat in the darkened chapel of the Baltimore Carmelite Monastery where I mentioned, I loved to go. Some of my seventeen sisters were coming in for Mass. The darkness enveloped us like a navy-blue blanket. It was the first time I had been alone in the darkness there. Actually, I had been thinking all day of darkness and light as I wanted to write my Advent/Christmas Arise on “coping with darkness.” The darkened chapel prompted a question—even today—how do we cope with the darkness we are experiencing in our world, our nation and our church in 2015 –and today in October 2022—with the violence we experience in our cities and our politics and our world? 

I went into the monastery sacristy to vest for Mass. (Their stoles match a gorgeous wall-hanging and are full of light — metallic colors and textures of wool and silk, satin and corduroy; I love to wear them. (Many priests take pride in the vestments they wear.) When I came out for Mass the sacred space around the altar, with the choir chairs arranged permanently in a circle, was no longer dark but brilliantly illumined. The lesson the chapel reminded me of was that darkness is sometimes pierced by light. And sometimes light is overshadowed by sinister and sometimes evil darkness. Darkness does not remain in this sacred space nor in our hearts if Jesus resides there.

And, now before you go, here’s the a virtual choir of discalced Carmelite nuns from all over the world celebrating their 500 anniversary of their beloved founder Teresa. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

Works of St. Teresa of Avila

WORKS OF ST. TERESA OF AVILA

In 1566 she wrote Camino de perfeccion (Way of Perfection) in about 1566, to tell the nuns how to reach their goal.

In 1580 she wrote what is considered her greatest work; the Castillo interior/ Las moradas (Interior castle /The mansions) this involved describing the various stages of spiritual evolution leading to full prayer; she wrote Las Fundaciones (Foundations) from 1573 to 1582, so they would remember the early history of their order.

 Poetry of St. Teresa Avila

Teresa wrote several volumes of poetry her most popular (4)  [p.33] “God is enough.” > >

Let nothing

  upset you,

let nothing

   startle you.

All things pass;

God does not

   change.

Patience wins

All it seeks.

Whoever has God

lacks nothing:

God alone

   is enough.

 God alone

  is enough!

OO

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1977-3.jpg

With love,

Bob Traupman 2015 

With Love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

Mr. Pettinger’s notes.

Mr. Pettinger is a young economist living in Great Britain who has hundreds of brief biographies on his website of people he believes have changed the world. Check it out!

(1) St Teresa Avila

(2) Our Garden of Carmel – on St Teresa Avila

(3) The letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus; translated and edited by E. Allison Peers from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa. London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne [1950] (2 v.: xii, 1006 p.)

(4) The complete poetry of St. Teresa of Avila: a bilingual edition / Eric W.Vogt; foreword by Jaime L. Sin. New\

On one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real than ordinary.n one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real than ordinary.n onOn one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real than ordinary.e occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real than ordinary.

On one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends”, and with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. S struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner estasi.

On one occasion Teresa complained to God about her mistreatment from so many different people. God replied to her saying “That is how I always treat my friends” with good humor St Teresa replied, “That must be why you have so few friends”. St Teresa struggled because there were few who could understand or appreciate her inner ecstasies. However, on the one hand, she felt these experiences to be more real than ordinary.At the age of 43, St Teresa decided she wanted to found a new section of her order recommitting to the values of poverty and simplicity. She wanted to move away from her present convent which made a life of prayer more difficult. Teresa proved to be an influential leader and founder. She guided the nuns not just through strict disciplines, but also through the power of love and common sense. Her way was not the way of rigid aseticism and self-denial. Although she underwent many tribulations here, hrs se stressed the importance of experiencing God’s love. As she herself says



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 Let nothing

upset you,

let nothing

   startle you.

All things pass;

God does not

   change.

Patience wins

All it seeks.

Whoever has God

lacks nothing:

God alone

   is enough.

Mr. Pettinger is a young economist living in Great Britain who has hundreds of brief biographies on his website of people he believes have changed the world. Check it out!

Footnotes for Pettinger bio:

(1) St Teresa Avila

(2) Our Garden of Carmel – on St Teresa Avila

(3) The letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus; translated and edited by E. Allison Peers from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa. London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne [1950] (2 v.: xii, 1006 p.)

(4) The complete poetry of St. Teresa of Avila: a bilingual edition / Eric W.Vogt; foreword by Jaime L. Sin. New

And, now before you go, here’s the a virtual choir of discalced Carmelite nuns from all over the world

With love,

Bob Traupman 2015 

Contemplative Writer

“I bore these sufferings with great composure, in fact with joy, except at first when the pain was too severe. What followed seemed to hurt less. I was completely surrendered to the will of God even if he intended to burden me like this forever . . . . The other sisters wondered at my God-given patience. Without him I truly could not have borne so much with so much joy.” (2)

The Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

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The Feast of the Archangel

Michael, Gabriel and  Raphael

Thursday September 29, 2022

Nearly everyone is fascinated by angels, whether they are into religion or not. You may recall the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, starring Della Reese, Roma Downey, Toby Keith that ran from 1994- 2003.

Angels have an important role in the Bible and in our history because they’re God’s Pony Express–or in our day–“Break News” and extra beeps on your text messages, saying, “Listen up! Get this! This will change your life.  They are taught as part of our Catholic teaching tradition.

The witness of Scripture is as also clear as it was handed down to us ( tradition). For Jews have always  known  angels in their tradition, both as they lived it and in their Scriptures.. The Old Testament makes numerous references to them. Witness the angel that led Israel’s camp and protected them from Pharaoh.

The same is especially true of Christians. In addition to what is given to us in the Old Testament, almost every book of the New Testament shows us that the angels are a real and active force in our lives. And since in the life of Jesus as man and his eternal existence as God consists of numerous encounters with the angels, you cannot believe in Jesus as Christ without encountering angels.

So what are angels?

St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.

As purely spiritual creatures, angels have superior intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. (CAC, no, 330)

 The more powerful Messenger- Angels can appear in human form and interact with us, but those bodies are only temporary mirages and pass away when their interaction with certain humans ends. As purely spiritual beings, angels  don’t have DNA and those bodies may feel like ordinary bodies to us,  but are not part of the angelic nature and thus vanish after the encounter because they have no use for physical bodies as we do.

The purpose of all of the angels is to serve, and praise God, worship, and pray to God. In the process of serving God, they also protect us, pray for us, inspire us, encourage us, and guide us during our journey on Earth. Some early Christian traditions indicate that even after our death, the angels continue to guide us in our journey to our final place, whether it is to Heaven or to Hell. It is speculative that those who have to go through the final state of purification on the way to Heaven known as Purgatory might also have their guardian angels (Psalm 91:9-12; Matthew 18:1-4,10) with them during their time of purification of sin.

Angels also pray for us. We see in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 that the angels continue to sing and pray to God, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!” We also see in Tobit 12:12 and Revelation 5:8 and 8:3 that along with the Saints who are in Heaven, the angels serve as intercessors for us in prayer to God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:10 not to despise or bring harm to children, “for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

And yes, everyone has a guardian angel.

Our Guardian Angels love us and do everything within God’s Will to protect us from harm. Sometimes though we reject God’s protection, and by consequence their protection too, we have to deal with the consequences of our sins when we don’t ask forgiveness and change our ways. (CAC, no. 336) Their Feast Day for our guardian angels is October 2nd. I’ll post a blog that day (God willin’) and share about them some more.

Angels also pray for us. We see in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 that the angels continue to sing and pray to God, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!” We also see in Tobit 12:12 and Revelation 5:8 and 8:3 that along with the Saints who are in Heaven, the angels serve as intercessors for us in prayer to God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:10 not to despise or bring harm to children, “for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

St. Gregory the Great notes that angels do not have names unless and until they are given a mission from God to announce a message. There are untold millions of angels in heaven, all created as pure spirits, in continual praise and adoration of our God.  Scripture also makes clear that at great events of salvation history, God sends an “archangel” to proclaim a message.

The three Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are three of the seven archangels named in Sacred Scripture and all three have important roles in the history of salvation.

05cd0050104859dcf6be25f90472fa6dSaint Michael is the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” the leader of all the angels. His name is Hebrew for “Who is like God?” and was the battle cry of the good angels against Lucifer and his followers when they rebelled against God. He is mentioned four times in the Bible, in Daniel 10 and 12, in the letter of Jude, and in Revelation.

Michael, whose forces cast down Lucifer and the evil spirits into Hell, is invoked for protection against Satan and all evil. Pope Leo XIII, in 1899, having had a prophetic vision of the evil that would be inflicted upon the Church and the world in the 20th century, instituted a prayer asking for Saint Michael’s protection to be said at the end of every Mass. (I’ll include that prayer at the bottom of this blog, though it was suppressed with the Vatican II changes in the liturgy.)

Christian tradition recognizes four offices of Saint Michael: (i) to fight against Satan (ii) to guard or rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. (iii) to be the champion of God’s people, (iv) to call us away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment. Gabriel is, he who stand before God.” (Luke 1, 19)ea2612aacb0509ab059235e2c081cc6d

Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” is mentioned four times in the Bible. Most significant are Gabriel’s two appearances in the New Testament: to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias, and at Incarnation of the Word when he announces to Mary that she will be the Mother of the Most High . He again appeared to Joseph in a dream and guided them on their way to Egypt to flee from Herod’s clutches.

Christian tradition suggests that it is he who appeared to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15)

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit.  Tobit is the only book in which he is mentioned. His office is generally accepted by tradition to be that of healing and acts of mercy.

cf76990d65f22b418bdf4f6d98239d9bRaphael is also identified with the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

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Labor Day 2022 ~ Remembering the gift of work

LABOR DAY 2022

This Labor Day, I’d like to reflect on the meaning of human work from a spiritual perspective.

Way back in the beginning of the bible you may remember that as God cast out Adam and Eve from the Paradise of the Garden of Eden, he told them . . .

“The ground is cursed because of you.

All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it

It grows thorns and thistles for you,

though you will eat of its grains,

By the sweat of your brow

until you return to the ground

from which you were made.

For you were made from dust,

and to dust you will return.”

Then Israel spent 400 years in hard toil in the flesh pots of Egypt in slavery to the Egyptians until the day came when God had Moses deliver them..

Then came Jesus who was raised in a home at Nazareth at the side of his father Joseph, a carpenter, a skilled tradesman, and Jesus learned that trade and stayed in that home until his adulthood.

St. Paul was also a tradesman, a tentmaker, and prided himself on making his own way as he travelled all over the coasts the Mediterranean.

Fast-forward now to American industry in the late Nineteenth Century. The steelmakers, meet packing, electrical, auto and food industries just gearing up. American workers were, however, not being treated justly or fairly. Events connected with the Industrial Revolution profoundly changed centuries-old societal structures, raising serious problems of justice and posing the first great social question — the labor question — prompted by the conflict between capital and labor. In this context, the Church felt the need to become involved and intervene in a new way . . . .

The Catholic Church’s American bishops had been on their side since so many of them immigrated to the U. S. decades before. Enter Pope Leo XIII and his encyclical Rerum Novarum—(Concerning New Things) on May 15, 1891 –the very first of many Catholic social encyclicals.

(An encyclical is an apostolic letter or document.)

Rerum Novarum lists errors that give rise to social ills, excludes socialism as a remedy and expounds with precision and in contemporary terms “the Catholic doctrine on work, the right to own property, the principle of collaboration instead of class struggle as the fundamental means for social change, the rights of the weak, the dignity of the poor and the obligations of the rich, the perfecting of justice through charity, on the right to form professional associations”. (By the way, listening to President Biden speak this evening as I’m writing this (Thursday, September 1st, 2022, about “the battle for the soul of the nation” in his address in Philadelphia at Independence Hall, well-read Catholic that he is, he pretty much reiterated the message or Rerum Novarum.

Following the Stock Market crash in 1929, Pope Pius XI again addressed the issue. At the beginning of the 1930s, following the grave economic crisis of 1929, Pope Pius XI published the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum. The Pope reread the past in the light of the economic and social situation in which the expansion of the influence of financial groups, both nationally and internationally, was added to the effects of industrialization. It was the post-war period, during which totalitarian regimes were being imposed in Europe even as the class struggle was becoming more bitter. The Encyclical warns about the failure to respect the freedom to form associations and stresses the principles of solidarity and cooperation. The relationships between capital and labor must be characterized by cooperation.

Quadragesimo Anno confirms the principle that salaries should be proportional not only to the needs of the worker but also to those of the worker’s family. The State, in its relations with the private sector, should apply the principle of subsidiarity, a principle that will become a permanent element of the Church’s social doctrine.

The Magisterium recognizes the fundamental role played by labor unions, whose existence is connected with the right to form associations or unions to defend the vital interests of workers employed in the various professions.” Unions “grew up from the struggle of the workers — workers in general but especially the industrial workers — to protect their just rights vis-à-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production”.[667] Such organizations, while pursuing their specific purpose with regard to the common good, are a positive influence for social order and solidarity, and are therefore an indispensable element of social life.”

The Church’s social doctrine recognizes the legitimacy of striking “when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit”,[663] when every other method for the resolution of disputes has been ineffectual.

That relationship between the Church and labor has been ongoing in America today. Richard Trunka the head of the AFL/CIO until his untimely death last year was a devout Catholic.

As we pause this weekend for the last holiday of the summer, may we reflect on the gift of work.

But we do so, conscious of all those suffering the loss of not only their jobs, their paychecks, but also their homes and almost everything dear to them as the result of this pandemic, and the natural disasters that have plagued our country in recent years–some as a result of climate change.

We pray in solidarity with them and reach out to them with love and with whatever support we can offer as we consider our own gift of work. And so, I invite you to pray with me . . . .

Good and gracious God,

the teachers who form our children’s minds.

We thank you, Lord, for the gifts and talents you have given us

We are interdependent in our  laboring, Lord.

We depend on the migrant workers who pick our lettuce and our strawberries,

you told us from the very beginning that we would earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.

the nurses’ aids who take our blood pressure,

that allow us to earn a living and contribute something positive to our world.

We pray, dear Lord, for those who are without work.

Sustain them — us — in your love.

Help us to realize that we have worth as human beings.

But that’s hard to get, Lord.

 Our society preaches to us that our worth comes from success,

of being better than the Jones’.

But our worth comes because You made us.  We are Your children, no matter what,

job or no job.

You love us and you call us to love and support each other.

We pray, Lord, for those who do the dirty work in our lives, Lord,

those who break their backs for us, those who are cheated out of even a minimum wage,

those who don’t have access to health care,

those who cannot afford to send their kids to college.

Help us to bind together, Lord, as a community, as a nation

because we depend on one another — the garbage men,

the police, the folks who stock our grocery stores,

the UPS driver, the airline pilot, the 7/11 clerk, the ticket-taker on the turnpike, 

the plumbers, the accountants, the bank tellers, the landscapers, the lifeguards,

those who clean our houses, the cooks, the waiters, the steel workers, the carpenters,

the scientists, , our doctors and nurses and yes, we, the writers.

Help us to realize this weekend how dependent we are on one another, Lord.

We are ONE!  We are family!  We need each other.

May we give thanks for each other this Labor Day weekend, Lord.

Help us to celebrate and give thanks for each other and appreciate the value, the dignity, the contribution

that each one makes to keep  our country, our cities, our lives going.

And in tough times, help us remember the words of Jesus. . . .

Come to me all you who labor

and are heavily burdened

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you . . .

for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

(Matthew 11:28)

And, finally, this prayer of Cardinal Newman:

O Lord, support us all the day long

until the shadows  lengthen and the evening comes,

and the busy world is hushed,

and the fever of life is over,

and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in thy mercy,

grant us a safe lodging,

a holy rest, and peace at the last.

AMEN!

Finally, may I suggest this weekend that you might think about the people who’s work makes your life go better.

The next time you talk with them, tell them you appreciate them!

Two words have great power:  THANK YOU!

If only we would use them often, we would ease each other’s burden and energize each other.

and we would make trying times just a little bit easier for us all.

We call that: Love!

And before you go, here’s a spirited version of the great Celtic hymn “Lord of all Hopefulness” about the blessing of our work. Click here.Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

  Enjoy.  Have a great weekend! And please be safe!

With Love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Mary as Queen of the Universe

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary–Monday, August 22nd, 2022

He asks why the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity fell so deeply in love with such an ordinary woman. We gave her names like Theotokos,Mother of God,, Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Universe (here in Orlando), Notre Dame, La Virgen of this or that. Unere Liebe Frau, Nuestra Senora, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of just about just about every village or shrine in Europe.

I’m taking this material about Our Lady from Richard Rohr’s outstanding book The Universal Christ and a chapter entitled, “The Feminine Incarnation.” (pp.121-129.)   (I trust he wouldn’t mind me quoting liberally from his book as I don’t have time to ask permission by tomorrow morning.)

A week ago, on the Feast of Mary’s Assumption, at the end of my blog, I mentioned that sometimes I take Mary shopping with me. She found my condo for me in Lauderdale Lakes fifteen years ago, and I signed the papers for it on her feast day. Last week, I said I needed a new car and asked for prayers to help me find the right one. I was searching for a hybrid with all the new safety features that would help prevent an accident—not an easy find on my priest’s pension, as hybrids are selling right now like ice cream at in mid-summer carnival.

Well, the search on several online sites was found on cars.com and led me to the Hyundai store in downtown Orlando. It’s a 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid and it’s spotless inside and out. The color is a dark red with grey leather seats and all the safety features. I am incredibly thankful, which is leading to this follow-up blog on our Lady. I had it blessed after Mass today—Sunday.

And my favorite nearby in St. Augustine, Florida in small chapelOur Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of the Milk—it’s a small statue of Our Lady breastfeeding her child, on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios on the shore of the  Matanzas River. I lived in St. Augustine for two years and I would go there often to pray—sometimes to cry, imagining she was my mom and comforting me on her lap—other times to stand in the back as her priest asking her guidance. The chapel was recently honored as a National Shrine.

The Madonna is still the most painted and sculptured image in Western art (and I think in Eastern art as well.)  Thus, Mary is an archetype*of Sophia or Holy wisdom (see Proverbs 8:1ff:

Carl Jung, whom I quoted in the Assumption blog last week, believed that humans produce in art the inner images the soul needs in order to see itself and to allow its own transformation.

The LORD formed me from the beginning,

before he created anything else.

I was appointed in ages past,

at the very first, before the earth began.

And Wisdom 7:7ff

Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

{ . . . }

10 I loved her more than health and beauty,
and I chose to have her rather than light,

And again, in the book of Revelation (12:1-17) in the cosmic symbol of the woman clothed with the sun and standing on the moon.

There are countless images the world-over of a beautifully dressed Lady offering for your admiration or adoration—and hers—a usually naked baby boy.

She is offering us Jesus, God incarnated into invulnerability and nakedness.

Feminine receptivity handing over her Yes.

And inviting us to offer our own yes.

We liked her because she’s one of us and not God.

Much of the human race can more easily imagine unconditional love coming from the feminine and the maternal more than from a man, especially if you are a Protestant or a Republican. (Please excuse my dig—but is there not some truth here? See footnote.**)

Humans like, need and trust our mothers to give us gifts, to nurture us, and always forgive us, which is what we want from God. (Not my Mom; I found it difficult to love her. She was tough and rough as sandpaper. My image of her as a baby was being washed on a cold kitchen countertop and my head scrubbed with her knuckles. I received my nurturing from my aunt—her sister, instead.) And my relationship with my mother, has caused me to struggle at times with my relationship with Mary, though, outwardly, I have been devoted to her since childhood, always having fresh flowers for her every day, as at the Vladimir icon I have of her high across from my computer desk at this moment.

Father Rohr continues that what humans want and need and like from their mothers is to give us  gifts, to nurture us, and always to forgive us. His years working with men’s groups have convinced him of it. He said he once counted eleven images of Mary in one Catholic Church in Texas—cowboy country.

In the same way, Mary gives women a dominant feminine image “to balance all the males parading around up front.”

Also note. Rohr says, that it’s always Our Lady, Our Father, Our Lord—never my Lady, my Father, my Jesus, my Lord. Liturgical prayer is always communal, lifting up everyone, at least in the historic churches.

And this is hugely important as was mentioned by Carl Jung in last week’s blog who said that the definition by the Church of the doctrine that Mary’s body was taken up into heaven “was the most significant theological development of the twentieth century.

Why? What does this mean for you and me? It means that not only souls go to heaven but our bodies as well! Your body and mine along with Mary’s!

Rohr: The Mary symbol brought together the two disparate worlds of matter and spirit, feminine mother and masculine child, earth and heaven. The unconscious got it. Consciously, many fought it, because much of the world sees Christianity as hopelessly patriarchal, both Catholics and Protestants and most everyone in government in almost every country—some more dictatorial than others. Contrast Russia’s Vladimir Putin with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, for instance. Or Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II. Or former President Trump and now President Biden.

Father Rohr continues to the main point about the relevance of Mary. We like her because she is not God. She hasn’t done anything heroic. Her “big thing” is that she said YES! to God, and has become the model for us to also say yes! to God.

In our world today, we have been searching for “the mature feminine at every level of society. In politics, in business, in our own psyche, on the Internet, our disparate cultures, our patterns of leadership, our theologies.  Rohr says we have become terribly unbalanced and I absolutely agree and have written about this in the past. We have become increasingly violent with mass-shootings, threats of violence around elections, guns carried in churches, school children having nightmares about all this. What’s happening to us?

Here are some of the woman-influencers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (not in any particular order). . .

Malala Yousafzai

Angela Merkel

Jane Goodall

Oprah Winfrey

Christine Lagarde

Sheryl Sandberg

Maria Shriver

Judi Dench

Meghan Markle

Queen Elizabeth II

Ellen Degeneres. ..

Serena Williams

JK Rowling

Michelle Obama

Rachel Maddow

Melinda Gates

Janet Yellen

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Mary Barra

Mother Teresa

Florence Nightingale

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Katharine Hepburn    

Marie Curie

Princess Diana

To sum up, then, “Mary is the Great Yes that humanity forever needs for Christ to be born into the world,” says our author. If Christ and Jesus are the archetype of what God is doing. Mary is the archetype of how to receive what God is doing and hand it on to others.

In Mary, humanity has said our eternal yes to God.

A yes that cannot be undone.

A corporate yes that overrides our many noes.

________

Footnotes:

*Archetypes are universal, inborn models of people, behaviors, and personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior.

** After the sixteenth century when Westerners became more rational and literate, most of us stopped symbolically and allegorically. In doing so, we lost something important in our spiritual, intuitive and nonrational understanding of God and ourselves. We lessened the likelihood of inner religious experience. The Bible became an excuse for Not how literature “works.” Catholics were on symbolic overload; Protestants reacted and became symbolically starved.

Now before you go, here’s a nice hymn to Our Lady. Click Here.

And here are the readings for today’s Mass, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

Richard Rohr The Universal Christ /Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK)

Great Britain 2019 / Copyright Center for Action and Contemplation, Inc. 2019

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer


 

 

 

The Feast of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven ~ The Exaltation of Womanhood

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THE FEAST OF ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

AUGUST 15th, 2022

I rejoice heartily in the Lord,

In my God is the joy of my soul;

for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation,

like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,

  like a bride bedecked with her jewels. (Canticle of Isaiah) 

Through the power of his Resurrection,

Christ has adorned Mary with the robe of his own glory and majesty.

In years past, the image I’ve chosen for Mary on this post was a strong one following her title from Revelations, ” A Woman Clothed with the Sun”, but this year, I’ve selected a softer one that connotes the Eastern Rites’ emphasis on the “Dormition” of our Lady or her “falling asleep”, and then being taken up into heaven.

Here’s a bit about this Feast (or Solemnity, as we call it in the liturgy.)

First of all, it’s a celebration of the body and an exaltation of womanhood.

In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared as a dogma of the church something that we Catholics have believed throughout the church’s history ~ that Mary was taken up into heaven, body and soul,  to sit at her Son’s side for all eternity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven makes clear to us that there is room for our humanity in heaven. Mary’s Assumption assures us that what Jesus accomplished in rising from the dead was not limited to his own Person—even though we are not divine, we too are meant to be in heaven with the Incarnate Son, in his home with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Blessed Mother’s birth into heaven generates in us “ an ever new capacity to await God’s future.” (Saint John Paul II). Just as grace does not destroy but perfects our nature, so the glory of heaven will include our whole humanity, body and soul! “That transformation of our mortal bodies to which we look forward one day has been accomplished—we know it for certain—in her” (Msgr. Ronald Knox).  ~ From the Magnificat liturgical magazine / August 2019 – p. 202.

Everyone was quite startled when the distinguished psychiatrist Carl Jung, who was not a Catholic,  said that this declaration about Mary was “the greatest religious event since the reformation.”  And by the way, Martin Luther believed in the Assumption of the Virgin.

Here’s the entire text of what he had to say.  You ought to read this; what he says is truly amazing coming from a psychiatrist and a non-Catholic!

The promulgation of the new dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary could, in itself, have been sufficient reason for examining the psychological background. It is interesting to note that, among the many articles published in the Catholic and Protestant press on the declaration of the dogma, there was not one, so far as I could see, which laid anything like proper emphasis on what was undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely the popular movement and  the psychological need behind it. Essentially, the writers of the articles were satisfied with learned considerations, dogmatic and historical, which have no bearing on the living religious process. But anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in number over the last few decades, and has taken their psychological significance into account, might have known what was brewing. The fact, especially, that it was largely children who had the visions might have given pause for thought, for in such cases, the collective unconscious is always at work …One could have known for a long time that there was a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the ‘Queen of heaven and Bride at the heavenly court.’ For more than a thousand years it has been taken for granted that the Mother of God dwelt there.

The dogmatizing of the Assumption does not, however, according to the dogmatic view, mean that Mary has attained the status of goddess, although, as mistress of heaven and mediatrix, she is functionally on a par with Christ, the king and mediator. At any rate her position satisfies a renewed hope for the fulfillment of that yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul, and for a resolution of the threatening tension between opposites. Everyone shares this tension and everyone experiences it in his individual form of unrest, the more so the less he sees any possibility of getting rid of it by rational means. It is no wonder, therefore, that the hope, indeed the expectation of divine intervention arises in the collective unconscious and at the same time in the masses. The papal declaration has given comforting expression to that yearning. How could Protestantism so completely miss the point?

I was amazed and thrilled when I discovered this text and again when I’ve just now re-read it.

And I’ve always loved to pray and sing these words from the preface of the Mass of the day:

Today the virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven

as the beginning  and the image

of your Church’s coming to perfection

and a sign of sure of hope and comfort for your people

on their pilgrim way.

Mary is the first disciple of her Son.

She is the one who said Yes!  “Be it done unto me according to Your word.”

Each of us who bear witness to Christ give birth to him in our own way.

May we honor Mary on this wonderful feast day and enjoy this late summer day and exalt the women in our life as well!

On August 22nd, the octave of the Assumption we celebrate a minor feast ~ the Queenship of Mary.  I honor her as my queen.  Now this may sound a bit odd, my friends, but I take her shopping with me.  Right now, I need to find a new car because my beloved shiny red mustang went “caput” and I want to get a Hybrid to help the environment and save gas. And you know what? I’m finding they’re hard to find right now; folks are buying them like hot cakes.  You might say a “Hail Mary” that I find one on my priests’ pension, if you wouldn’t mind.

Now, from ~ and in honor of ~Notre Dame de Paris ~ (may she rise again from her ashes,) here is a the Magnificat sung led by a choir boy with congregation responding.  Click here. And be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative writer

St. John Vianney, simple parish priest, yet patron of all priests.

image

Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney. I’ve always had an affection for him because I grew up in St. John’s Parish in St. Pete Beach, Florida, though I didn’t know much about him until I entered the seminary and we often gathered together for some summer fun around his feast day. We only called the parish “St. John’s” back then—only recently do they call it by the Saint’s full name.

Fr. Vianney is known as the patron of all priests, so this day is also the feast day of all priests.  When I went searching for an image for him on Pinterest.com (a site that creative people go to find images and artwork for almost anything and anyone under the sun), I discovered images of him with many interesting words of wisdom. His story can inspire folks who don’t have much education as he didn’t gain his wisdom from book-learning; he struggled in the seminary and almost wasn’t ordained because of it.

He was born at Dardilly, near Lyons, Frances on May 8th,1786, and was baptized the same day. His parents, Matthieu Vianney and his wife Marie (Belize) had six children, of whom John was the fourth. The Vianneys were devout Catholics who helped the poor. By 1790, the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution forced many loyal priests into hiding from the regime in order to carry out the sacraments in their parish. Even under these dangerous circumstances,  the Vianneys traveled to distant farms to attend Masses celebrated on the run. Realizing that such priests risked their lives day by day, John began to look upon them as heroes.

He received it in a neighbor’s kitchen during a Mass at the age of 13, the windows were covered so that the light of the candles could not be seen from outside.

The Catholic Church was re-established in France in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, resulting in religious peace throughout the country, culminating in a Concordat.  By this time, Vianney was thinking about his future vocation and longed for an education. He was 20 when his father allowed him to leave the farm to be taught at a “presbytery-school” in the neighboring village of Ecully, conducted by the Abbe Balley. The school taught arithmetic, history, geography and Latin. Vianney struggled with school, especially with Latin, since his past education had been interrupted by the French Revolution. Only because of Vianney’s deepest desire to be a priest—and Balley’s patience—did he persevere.

John’s studies were interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon’s armies. He would have been exempt, as an ecclesiastical student, but Napoleon had withdrawn the exemption in certain dioceses because of his need for soldiers in his fight against Spain s.

One day, he went into a church to pray, and when he came out he found that his unit had already departed. A young man offered to help him catch up with his unit, but instead led him to a group of deserters. He wasn’t able to rejoin his group and remained with the deserters for fourteen months during which time he opened a school for village children until an imperial decree granted amnesty for all deserters the following year. He was then legally free to go back to Écully and resum his studies. He was tonsured (a ceremony of cutting of hair signifying one’s entry into the clerical state) in 1811, and in 1812 he went to the minor seminary. In autumn of 1813, he was sent to the major seminary at Lyons.

Considered too slow, he was returned to Balley. However, Balley persuaded the vicar general that Vianney’s piety was great enough to compensate for his ignorance, and the seminarian received minor orders and was subsequently ordained a deacon in June 1815, and ordained priest on August 12, 1815. He said his first Mass the next day, and was appointed the assistant to Balley in Écully. He was 29-years-old when he was ordained. (I was 26.) It seems his schooling from 1810-1815 was six years—at best; today’s seminarians get four years of college and four years of post-college, usually with a Masters’ degree.

In 1818, after the death of Abbe Balley, Father Vianney was made the parish priest of Ars, a village not far from Lyons. It was in exercising the functions of a parish priest in this remote French hamlet that as the “curé d’Ars” he became known throughout France and the Christian world. A few years after he went to Ars, he founded a sort of orphanage for destitute girls. other countries. As early as 1835, his bishops forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of “the souls awaiting him yonder”.

During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. Quite distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy pastor and hearing his daily instruction. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. He used simple language in his instructions, filling them with imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes. He especially breathed his faith  and his love of God and  his own life principle which he infused as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible.

In his article “How does the Church Respond to Suicide?” Shaun McAfee references an incident described in the book Cure of Ars:

“…a woman…told….Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him. She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive,…Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!” The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.[15]

Vianney had a great devotion to St. Philomena. Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine in honor of the saint. During May1843, Fr. Vianney fell so ill he thought that his life was coming to its end. Vianney attributed his cure to her intercession.

A couple of other loose facts: Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853. He was also a champion of the poor as a Franciscan tertiary (associate Franciscan) and he was a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honor.

On August 4, 1859, Vianney died at the age of 73. The bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was buried, Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask.

On 3 October 1874 Pope Pius IX 4 proclaimed him “venerable”; on January 8, 1905, Pope Piux X declared him Blessed and proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925 John Mary Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who in 1929 made him patron saint of parish priests. His feast day is (now) August 4th.

The testimony of his life makes it clear that he always remained devoted to his prayers and that not even the duty of hearing confessions or any other pastoral office could cause him to neglect them. “Even in the midst of tremendous labors, he never let up on his conversation with God.”

Father Vianney composed a simple prayer that reflects his deep religious feelings, which were praised by Pope John XXIII: “The thing that keeps us priests from gaining sanctity”—the Cure of Ars used to say— “is thoughtlessness. It annoys us to turn our minds away from external affairs; we don’t know what we really ought to do. What we need is deep reflection, together with prayer and an intimate union with God. “

The prayer is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

Here are the words of the prayer

I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.

I love You, O my infinitely lovable God,

and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.

I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…

My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,

I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.

As I have spent the day and evening researching and writing this story about this simple yet great priest, I have two thoughts to share.

The first is that I have struggled at times with my studies—especially math. I often joke “I have two masters degrees but can’t add the tip right on my Denny’s check. And I’ve had six years of Latin and four years of Spanish and can hardly remember any of either. So, I feel a bit consoled by Father Vianney’s life and story.

But the point is: You should too! Whatever your skills; how mediocre your faith, it’s Okay. Just think about what he says in the image at the top of this post.

And now, I bring you back to my parish in St. Pete Beach. My father, who’s name is also John was maintenance superintendent for this large parish plant for 25 years who taught himself English by reading the Sunday funnies, could do just about anything electrical, mechanical. Who went to school to learn how to take care of the parish’s extensive air conditioning and supervised all the cleaning of the church, auditorium, cafeteria and school. A very simple man.

So, dear brothers and sisters, and dear brother priests, let’s all do the best we can.

And brother priests: HAPPY FEAST DAY, too! And now, before you go, here’s a song I think Father Vianney would’ve liked if he were with us today–“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”. Click here

Credits: I relied on two sites for my research: Wikipidia.com and the Catholic Encyclopedia, now known as New Advent.com

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

St. John Vianney

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Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, composed his prayer to Jesus in the 19th century. The prayer reflects Vianney’s deep religious feelings, which were praised by Pope John XXIII: “The thing that keeps us priests from gaining sanctity”—the Cure of Ars used to say— “is thoughtlessness. It annoys us to turn our minds away from external affairs; we don’t know what we really ought to do. What we need is deep reflection, together with prayer and an intimate union with God. ” The testimony of his life makes it clear that he always remained devoted to his prayers and that not even the duty of hearing confessions or any other pastoral office could cause  him to neglect them. “Even in the midst of tremendous labors, he never let up on his conversation with God.”

The prayer is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

Here are the words of the prayer

I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.

I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.

I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…

My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.

St. Mary Magdalen ~ Apostle to the Apostle ~ Saint for all of us!

July 22nd has always been her “Memorial Day”, but our dear Pope Francis honored her by elevating this day liturgically to a “Feast Day.” In the introduction to the Mass in my Magnificat prayer magazine the author included a poem written by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, o.c.d. (Jessica Powers):

 “One can surmise she went to Calvary

distraught and weeping, and with loud lament

 clung to the cross and beat upon its wood 

till Christ’s torn veins spread a soft covering 

over her hair and face and colored gown. 

She took her First Communion in his Blood.”

Magdalene’s love enabled her to remain faithful to the very end. And so with the Blessed Virgin she courageously stood at the foot of the cross. Her love for her Lord gave her the strength to remain there that she might witness how great a price was paid for her sins and how unfathomable is God’s love for all of us. She was privileged to accompany the body of the Redeemer to the tomb, and she remained there until all the others had gone. The inconsolable love of Mary Magdalene would not permit her to leave; she remained outside the tomb, weeping. Turning away, she saw someone standing nearby. But distraught with grief and blinded by her tears, she did not recognize him even when he said: Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Mary answered: Sir, if you have removed him, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away. For an answer she heard only one word: Mary! The love with which it was uttered pierced like lightning the dense fog of her grief. Recognizing him, she flung herself in transports of joy at his feet: Rabboni! Master! The risen Savior charged her to go to the apostles and tell them what she had seen. Thus he made her the first official witness to his Resurrection. She became the Apostle to the Apostles–and Saint for all of us!

She heard only one word: Mary! The love with which it was uttered pierced like lightning the dense fog of her (Lk 8:2), Mary Magdalene became one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church. Indeed, excepting the Blessed Virgin, there has been no saint of the Christian Church who for twenty centuries has made so profound an impression on literature, art, and morality as she has done. To those of us who are tempted to discouragement because of our repeated falls, how eloquently does Mary Magdalene speak of the loving-kindness of the Savior; of God’s mercy that is without limits; of the astounding power of divine grace.

Father William R. Bonniwell, o.p.

Father Bonniwell († 1984) was a Dominican priest and a highly regarded preacher and historian.

July 2022 Magnificat pp. 324-5. Used by permission

For my prayer for this Feast Day I offer part of the Preface of the Mass . . . .

He appeared in the garden and revealed himself to Mary Magdalene, who had loved him in life,

witnessed him dying on the Cross, sought him as he lay in the tomb,

and was the first to adore him, newly risen from the dead.

He honored her with the office of being an apostle to the Apostles,

so that the good news of new life might reach the ends of the earth!

Therefore, overcome with paschal joy, every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts, sing together the unending hymn of your glory, as they acclaim: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Host! Heaven and earth are filled with your glory!

Now, before you go, here’s the glorious hymn “For All the Saints” Click here.

And here are the readings for the Feast

Wikipedia has much more on Mary Magdalen that’s very fascinating.

You can check it out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene

With Love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer