Wednesday, April 19, 2017

MOTHER WHO LOVED THE EUCHARIST


In the next few BLOGS I will present some women who had a great devotion to the Eucharist and spent their lives promoting adoration and reparation.

VENERABLE CONCEPCION  (“CONCHITA”) CABRERA de ARMIDA was born on December 8, 1862 in San Luis PotosíMexico. She was a mystic and writer, whose writings were widely distributed and inspired the establishment of the five apostolates of the 'Works of the Cross' in Mexico. ( 'Apostolate of the Cross' founded in 1895, 'Congregation of Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' founded in 1897, 'Covenant of Love with the Heart of Jesus' founded in 1909, 'The Priestly Fraternity' founded in 1912, and 'The Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit' founded in 1914). These apostolates continue to this day.

She was born to Octaviano Cabrera Lacaveux and Clara Arias Rivera who had a respectable, but not lavish family life. She had a simple, happy and playful childhood. Although she recalled to have often disobeyed her parents as a child, she showed a special love for the Holy Eucharist from an early age.

In 1884 she married Francisco Armida and had nine children between 1885 and 1899. In 1901, when she was 39 years old, her husband died and she had to care for her children, the youngest of whom was two years old. Her life as a widow was not made any easier by the fact that the Mexican Revolution raged from 1910 to 1921 and took the lives of 900,000 of Mexico's population of 15 million. Yet her writings reflect an amazing tranquility, amid the chaos that surrounded her.

Conchita with her Family

 
As a mystic, she reported that she heard God telling her: "Ask me for a long suffering life and to write a lot... That's your mission on earth". She never claimed direct visions of Jesus and Mary but spoke of Jesus through her prayers and meditations.

Her spiritual life started before the death of her husband. In 1894 she took "spiritual nuptials" and in 1896 wrote in her diary:
In truth, after I touched God and had an imperfect notion of His Being, I wanted to prostrate myself, my forehead and my heart, in the dust and never get up again.

During her life her writings were examined by the Catholic Church in Mexico and even during her pilgrimage to Rome in 1913 where she had an audience with Pope Pius X. In all cases, Church authorities looked favorably on her writings.

Her children report that they hardly ever saw her writing, but her religious writings and meditations total over 60,000 handwritten pages. The length of her religious writings thus approaches that of Saint Thomas Aquinas.


As a lay woman, she  aimed to show her readers how to love the Church. She wrote:
To love the Church is not to criticize her, not to destroy her, not to try to change her essential structures, not to reduce her to humanism, horizontalism and to the simple service of a human liberation. To love the Church is to cooperate with the work of Redemption by the Cross and in this way obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit come to renew the face of this poor earth, conducting it to its consummation in the design of the Father's immense love.

Her book  "I Am: Eucharistic Meditations on the Gospel", was the result of meditations during Eucharistic adoration. It aims to clarify the words with which Jesus defines Who He is in a variety of statements beginning with the words: "I am".    


In "Seasons of the Soul" she viewed the maturation of spiritual life as an ongoing process through the various seasons until the soul has fulfilled its purpose on earth. It discusses how the Holy Spirit is at work gradually transforming the soul through its seasons in the image and likeness of Jesus.

"A Mother's Letters" reflects the fact that she was not a cloistered mystic but a busy mother with nine children and a widow during a turbulent time in Mexico's political history. The letters provide a glimpse of her warm, human side as she communicates with her family.

Venerable Conchita’s life is characterized by many facets.  She fulfilled all the vocations of a woman: wife, mother, widow, grandmother, and even, by a special indulgence of Pius X, without being deprived of her family status, died canonically as a religious in the arms of her children.


She addresses herself to all categories of the People of God, to lay and to married people, to priests and to bishops, to religious and to all consecrated lives. Her profound writings can be compared to  those of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila.


Conchita died on March 3, 1937, at the age of 75 and is buried at the Church of San José del Altillo in Mexico City. She had lived a multi-faceted life, being a mother, a widow, a mystic and a writer. Of herself she wrote:
I carry within me three lives, all very strong: family life with its multiple sorrows of a thousand kinds, that is, the life of a mother; the life of the Works of the Cross with all its sorrows and weight, which at times crushes me until I have no strength left; and the life of the spirit or interior life, which is the heaviest of all, with its highs and lows, its tempests and struggles, its light and darkness. Blessed be God for everything!


Her canonization process was started in 1959 by the Archbishop of Mexico City, at which time about 200 volumes of her writings were submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Pope John Paul II declared her venerable on December 20, 1999 and she is currently in the process of beatification.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

EASTER WITNESS- FEAR NOT

Mary Magdalene -  Nikola Saric
All four Gospel accounts note the empty tomb was first discovered by women. This is significant in two ways. First of all it highlights the fear of the male disciples. Rather than visiting the tomb, they were gathered together in a locked home. Did they love the Lord any less than the women? Fear does strange things, paralyzing us when we should have faith in our love, moving us forward- even into the unknown! 

Also remember, in ancient times the testimony of a woman counted less than that of a man. If the story of the empty tomb had been fabricated by the women, men would have certainly been the first ones noted as uncovering the truth. Four men wrote the Gospels, basically telling the same story, so why would they give us some far-fetched yarn, made up by women, if it was not the truth?
Jesus told them :I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. The women were the first to understand this!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

ADORATION OF THE CROSS- GOOD FRIDAY





Nicola Saric- Germany


On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. At this time, we try to understand at what cost Jesus has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the 'Reproaches', in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.


In kneeling before the crucifix and kissing it we are paying the highest honor to the our Lord's cross as the instrument of our salvation. Because the Cross is inseparable from His sacrifice, in reverencing His Cross we are, in effect, adoring Christ. Thus we affirm: 'We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.

Friday, April 14, 2017

GOOD FRIDAY



The Church's life is a life of the cross, a continual dying... With her hands outstretched in prayer, wholly one with her Lord, she is herself the cross; of which it should be said until the end of time, "Through the cross joy entered the entire world."

                                    Sister Aemiliana Lohr, OSB - German Benedictine nun (d. 1972)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

FRIEND of the EUCHARISTIC JESUS

Although Mother Yvonne-Aimée is not yet recognized by the Church as a saint, her story suggests that she likewise found that, through her own wounds, she was able to draw closer to the wounded and resurrected Christ. She is thus a good  model for us to reflect upon in Holy Week.

SERVANT of GOD MOTHER YVONNE-AIMEE de JESUS (Yvonne Beauvais) was an Augustinian Canoness, Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, of the Monastery of Malestroit in Brittany, France. Born in 1901, Mother Yvonne-Aimée died, after a life of extraordinary love and extraordinary suffering, 49 years old in February of 1951.

Her father died when she was three and she went to stay with her maternal grandmother. She returned to live with her mother the following year, staying at boarding schools where her mother was director. At the age of twenty, she joined with the Association of the Children of Mary Immaculate in serving the poor. 

She fell ill the following year with typhoid fever and was treated at a small hospital at Malestroit run by the Augustinian Sisters of Mercy. In March 1927, she entered the convent at Malestroit as a postulant. In 1935, she was elected mother superior for the community.

She helped Allied soldiers and French resistance fighters during World War II by sheltering them at the hospital and aiding their escape. She is said to have disguised some Allied airmen as nuns. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor by General Charles de Gaulle.

General Audibert, chief of the Western Resistance, was the witness and one of the beneficiaries of the hospitality which she offered to the wounded parachutists or men of the Maquis during the occupation. Surprised by her courage and her presence of mind in the enormous danger and risks that she took in the name of this Christian hospitality, he greeted her with a smile and these two words: “My General.” And, when he heard of her death, he wrote painfully: “When someone with this clarity, this power, this grandeur disappears, it seems that the sky is darkened for us.”

 
Accepting Medal from General de Gaulle
In 1946, she established the Federation of the Augustinian monasteries and became its first Superior General. In early 1951, she was planning to visit nuns of the order in Natal, South Africa. However, she died in February before her departure at the age of 49 from a cerebral hemorrhage.

It is all to the credit of her spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, that, after more than fifty years of silence, he chose to reveal one of the most painful secrets of her life. On 10 August 1925, three men ambushed Yvonne Beauvais, then twenty-four years old, in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The three men beat Yvonne, and tortured her. One of the three was a depraved priest, whom she had previously tried to help by addressing to him a warning from Our Lord. The reprobate priest later repented of his crime and was converted. Father Labutte chose to write of this episode in the life of Yvonne-Aimée, believing that victims of similar crimes would take comfort in seeking the intercession of one with a personal experience of their suffering.

The Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Germain Cozien (1921-1959), observed that Mother Yvonne-Aimée was marked by “the sense of prayer, of liturgical beauty, of praising God, in the school of the Church.” And he added: “All the life of Mother Yvonne-Aimée was under the influence of God.”



During her life, Mother Yvonne-Aimée had a particular mission to priests. She was sensitive to priests in moral distress and in temptation. She readily took on the sufferings of priests. She calmed many a troubled conscience, dispensed wise motherly advice, and communicated joy and hope to priests haunted by depression and tempted to despair. Only those who were very close to her know to what point she suffered, in a great spirit of Redemption, most especially for priests. She was a mystic in the true sense of the word.

“I am all weakness, he will be my strength. I am not afraid of the cross he has presented me. I will suffer with all my heart for the intention you recommended to me: for priests!”



Sunday, April 9, 2017

SEATTLE'S NEW BISHOP

Bishop Eusebio, Archbishop Peter & Bishop Elect Daniel


After celebrating Mass on March 26 at his parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg saw he’d missed a call from an unknown number. He almost didn’t check the message, figuring it was a telemarketer.Actually the call was from the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, who told him to sit down: Pope Francis had appointed him an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Seattle.

“I was very surprised, but also “filled with a sense of … enthusiasm and excitement”, he later said.  “I am humbled by Pope Francis’ appointment to serve as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Seattle. “These recent days have been filled with prayer both in gratitude for the Holy Father’s decision and in petition for the strength and grace to fulfill the duties of this ministry.”

“It is with deep joy that I share this good news,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said “His warmth and affability, coupled with his pastoral experience and competence, will be great gifts to the Archdiocese of Seattle.” Archbishop Sartain has known Msgr. Mueggenborg since his time as bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas, next door to Tulsa.


 Msgr Mueggenborg, 55, was born in Okarche, OK on April 15, 1962. Growing up he participated in Boy Scouts of America, eventually receiving the Eagle Scout Award.

One early event in his life, which impacted him greatly, he said, was meeting Bl. Stanley Rother, a native of Oklahoma who was martyred while working as a missionary in Guatemala, and is scheduled to be beatified in Oklahoma City in September. (See BLOG March 15, 2017)

During his first year of college in 1981, Msgr. Daniel was asked to serve at Mass for the anniversary celebration of an aunt and uncle, which he agreed to, but only “reluctantly.” The priest saying Mass turned out to be Stanley Rother. Though he did not know who he was at the time, “it turned out to be one of the most pivotal decisions of my life,” he said.

“I was captivated by the deep spiritual presence that surrounded” Father Rother. There was a spirit of profound peace and love that filled the room when he entered. He possessed the qualities of character that I desired most yet had not found in my secular pursuits of college life. As a result of that Mass I began allowing myself to once again consider the possibility of becoming a priest.”


Msgr. Daniel graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Geology from Oklahoma State University in 1984, then entered St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana. After one year, he was appointed by his bishop to continue his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Other adventures during his college and seminary years included two missionary trips, one to Tanzania in Africa, where he had the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

After his ordination to the diaconate, Pope  (St.) John Paul II invited the new transitional deacons from the North American College, with their parents, to an audience with him at the Vatican - a moment he will never forget.

 
With Pope John Paul II


During his time in Rome, he  became very involved with the Missionaries of Charity, where he met St. Teresa of Calcutta. Though it started as just a weekly commitment of one hour at their soup kitchen, his time volunteering with them eventually increased to much more.

After his ordination to the priesthood on June 14, 1989, he was asked to serve as a chaplain for their small convent at San Gregorio in Rome. Mother Teresa was present at three of the Masses that year. After one of the Masses, she came to the sacristy and then joined the newly ordained priest and a classmate for breakfast.

“It was a remarkable experience to be in the presence of a woman who radiated the very presence of Christ,” he said.

Father Daniel received a License in Biblical Theology in 1990 and returned to Tulsa. He served as parochial vicar and pastor at various parishes in the diocese, as well as chaplain of Bishop Kelly High School and Saint Philip Neri Newman Center at the University of Tulsa.

In 2005 he returned to Rome to serve as the Assistant Director of Formation at the Pontifical North American College, and then as Vice Rector of the college, from 2006-2011.

Since 2011 he has been pastor of Christ the King Parish in Tulsa.  In addition to English, he speaks Spanish and Italian.  He will be ordained a bishop at St. James Cathedral during a 2 p.m. Mass on May 31. Oklahoma's loss is our gain!




ADORATION FOR HOLY WEEK

As a devotion, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, and meditation are more than merely looking at the Blessed Host, but are a continuation of what was celebrated in the Eucharist


Meditation performed in the presence of the Eucharist outside of Mass is called Eucharistic meditation. It has been practiced by Sts. Peter Julian EymardJean Vianney (Cure of Ars), Thérèse of Lisieux and many others.  Authors such as the Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida and Blessed Maria Candida of the Eucharist have produced large volumes of text based on their Eucharistic meditations.

When the exposure and adoration of the Eucharist is constant (twenty-four hours a day), it is called Perpetual adoration. In a monastery or convent, it is done by the monks or nuns and, in a parish, by volunteer parishioners.

In the opening prayer of the Perpetual chapel in St. Peter Basilica, St.John Paul II prayed for a perpetual adoration chapel in every parish in the world. Pope Benedict XVI instituted perpetual adoration for the laity in each of the five sectors of the diocese of Rome.

Mother Mectilde ponders God's choice of children of Saint Benedict to become in the Church perpetual adorers and guardians of the adorable mystery of the Eucharist that proclaims the death of the Lord and makes present His Sacrifice from age to age. "For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall proclaim the death of the Lord, until He come" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Mother Mectilde  identifies the Most Holy Eucharist as the portion and heritage of the children of Saint Benedict. "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup." (Psalm 15:5) She attributes this divine election of the children of Saint Benedict to an affinity with the Most Holy Sacrament that pertains to their very state of life.


But this inheritance is for all, and perhaps why more and more parishes are presenting the gift of adoration to the people, in gratitude for His Body given for us and in atonement for a world seemingly gone amok.

 This Holy Thursday (feast to celebrate the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us His Body & Blood) we have much to be thankful for.