Friday, June 27, 2014


(Cameron Smith-USA)
Today is the Feast of the SACRED HEART of JESUS but tomorrow is a lesser known feast of the Mother of God.
is a feast in which we commemorate the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues, and above all, her  love for her son Jesus, and as well as her compassionate love for all her children.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is primarily based upon the Sacred Scriptures. In the New Testament, there are two references to the Heart of Mary in the Gospel according to St. Luke: .."Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. " (Lk 2: 19) and " His mother meanwhile kept all these things in her heart. " (Lk 2:51)

While we catch a glimpse of the beginning of this devotion in the 12 Century, through St. Anselm and St. Bernard, St. Gertrude the Great, and St. Mechtilde,  St. Bernardine of Siena (d.1444) has been called the Doctor of the Heart of Mary due to his writings on Mary's heart. He wrote, "from her heart, as from a furnace of Divine Love, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words of the most ardent love."

St. John Eudes (d.1680) helped by his writings to begin a renewal in this devotion. Both Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X called him, "the father, Doctor, and Apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary”.

Inigo Hicks- USA
Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on 22 August, coinciding with the traditional octave day of the Assumption, but in 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the  Saturday, immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

On October 13, 2013, as part of the Marian Day celebration, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Traditionally, the heart is depicted pierced with seven wounds or swords, in homage to the seven sorrows of Mary. Also, roses or another type of flower may be wrapped around the heart.

Stephen B. Whatley- England

Monday, June 23, 2014


The original painting
MARY UNTIER of KNOTS (or Mary Undoer of Knots) is the name of both a Marian devotion and a Baroque painting (German: Wallfahrtsbild or Gnadenbild) which represents that devotion. The painting by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner, of around 1700, is in the Catholic pilgrimage church of St. Peter am Perlach in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany. Pope Francis saw the image while in Germany as a student and promoted her veneration in Latin America.

The concept of Mary untying knots is derived from a work by St. Irenaeus of Lyons "Against Heresies". In Book III, Chapter 22, he presents a parallel between Eve and Mary, describing how "the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith."

I came across this image weeks ago when looking for art for Eastertide.  Amazing!  Who do we turn to when in distress to "bail us out"  but our mother, and how more appropriate to ask our Heavenly Mother to undo our messes!

The painting, executed in the Baroque style  shows the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on the crescent moon surrounded by angels and with the Holy Spirit hovering above her circle of stars as she unties knots into a long strip and at the same time rests her foot on the head of a "knotted" snake.

Below are shown a human figure and his dog accompanying a much smaller angel. This scene is often interpreted as Tobias with his dog and the Archangel Raphael traveling to ask Sara to be his wife. The two small figures have also been interpreted as a representation of Wolfgang Langenmantel, the grandfather of the benefactor, guided in his distress by a guardian angel to Father Jakob Rem, S.J.  in Ingolstadt.  Wolfgang was on the verge of separation from his wife Sophia Rentz  and therefore sought help. Father Rem prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary and said: “In this religious act, I raise the bonds of matrimony, to untie all knots and smoothen them”. Immediately peace was restored between the husband and wife, and the separation did not happen. In the memory of this event, their grandson commissioned the painting of the “Untier of Knots”.

The image of "Mary Undoer of Knots" is especially venerated in Argentina and Brazil.This devotion has grown since Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. (later Pope Francis), brought a postcard of the painting to Argentina in the 1980s after seeing the original while studying in Germany. The devotion reached Brazil near the end of the 20th century.  The Holy Father had this image of Mary engraved on a chalice he presented to Pope Benedict XVI and another chalice bearing her image, the work of the same silversmith, is to be presented to Pope Francis on behalf of the Argentine people.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Procession (Amadeo de Souza Cardoso- Portugal -1913)
Last year at this time I was once again in Piura, Peru, and was able to see the Catholic youth of that city  in Procession for the feast of CORPUS CHRISTI. Each College within the Uni had its own "station" decorated with flowers and set up with an altar where there would be brief Adoration. While it was already summer here, it was winter there so the whole process was by candle light- thousands of candles lighting the darkness. My friend and I who partook of that solemn, lovely night, were most impressed with the devotion of Peru's young  and old.

For centuries after the celebration was extended to the universal Church, the feast was also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession, in which the Sacred Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by. While it is still  celebrated in our monastery, this practice has almost disappeared in recent years in our own country, though some parishes still hold a brief procession around the outside of the parish church.

Corpus Christi Procession (Jack P. Hanlon, Ireland 1943)

The Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, goes back to the 13th century, but it celebrates something far older: the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. While Holy Thursday is also a celebration of this mystery, the solemn nature of Holy Week, and the focus on Christ's Passion on Good Friday, overshadows that aspect of Holy Thursday.

St. Thomas Aquinas composed the Office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast, which is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary. It is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymns "Pange Lingua Gloriosi", "Lauda Sion" and "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum."

Gerald Cassidy (New Mexico-1934)
Jesus, Shepherd mild and meek,
shield the poor, support the weak;
help all who Thy pardon sue,
placing all their trust in You:
fill them with Your healing grace!
Source of all we have or know,
feed and lead us here below.
grant that with Your Saints above,
sitting at the feast of love
we may see You face to face.
Amen. Alleluia. (last verse "Lauda Sion")

Monday, June 16, 2014


Our second Indian saint to be canonized in November is BLESSED EUPHRASIA ELUVATHINGAL who was born in 1877 in the village of Kattoor, in Kerla. Her mother’s deep piety and great devotion to the Mother of God, had a strong influence on little Rose from her childhood. From the stories that her mother told her, especially about St Rose of Lima, she grew with a strong desire to be holy in a quiet, hidden manner.

During her developing years Rose began to detach herself from earthly possessions and pleasure and took a great interest in spiritual matters. This was all the more rooted in her at the age of 9 by means of an apparition of the Blessed Mother, after which the young girl offered herself totally to the Lord.

Her father wanted Rose to marry into a rich family,  but she wanted to become a nun. Her intense prayer life, which included the rosary, fasting and abstinence, as well as the rather sudden death of her younger sister, brought about a change of heart in her father who granted Rose permission to enter the convent. He then personally accompanied her  to the convent of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel at Koonammavu

Even with her desire to be a nun, Rose was often afflicted with various illnesses which caused her intense suffering. Once, during a particularly painful attack, the Sisters were resolved to send her away for ever, but through an apparition of the Holy Family she received a miraculous healing that permitted her to continue following God’s call.

In 1900 she made her perpetual vows  and for almost 48 years she observed a life of prayer and holiness. The local people called her “Praying Mother”, and her Sisters in community referred to her as the “Mobile Tabernacle”, because the divine presence she kept within her radiated to all she encountered.

Bl. Euphrasia gave her love and tenderness to those who sought her help, giving them the comforting words of Jesus’ Gospel. For each little kindness bestowed upon her she would reply, “I will not forget it, not even after death”.

Bl. Euphrasia had a profound sense of Church and she personally felt the sorrows and problems of the Church of her day. She offered her sufferings and penances for the conversion of the schismatics threatening the Church at the time, and asked the novices and children to pray for them. She died in 1952.

After Bl.  Euphrasia’s death many of those who had obtained her help during her lifetime now continued to beseech her help at her tomb. In 2006, she became the fifth Blessed of Kerala, India, and the sixth in India.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A few weeks ago our new Chaplain arrived. He is originally from Jagdalpur, India in the State of Chhattisgarh.  Just this week the Vatican announced that Nov. 23  will be the canonization of the founder of Father Mathew's order.

I love this Blessed- not knowing much about him- as there are some  lovely art portraits of him- surround by BIRDS.

BL. KURIAKOSE ELIAS  CHAVARA, T.O.C.D., was the co-founder and first Prior General of the first congregation for men in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, and of a similar one for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel.

Bl. Kuriakose Elias Chavara a pioneer of education, tried  to do away with the caste distinction in Kerala and make it possible for all the children irrespective of caste creed to sit together and study.

He was born in Kainakary, Kerala, India in 1805. In his childhood, Kuriakose attended the village school studying language and elementary sciences. He entered the seminary at the age of 13  and was ordained in 1829.

Bl. Kuriakose joined with two other priests, Thoma Palackal and Thomas Porukara to lead a monastic life. On December 8, 1855, Father Kuriakose  and ten other priests took vows in the Carmelite tradition. He was nominated as the Prior General of the Monastery. The congregation became affiliated as a Third Order institute of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

Bl. Kuriakose introduced Retreat Preaching for the laity for the first time in the Kerala Church. He popularized devotions and piety exercises such as Rosary, the Way of the Cross and Eucharistic Adoration.

Bl. Kuriakose  was also a social reformer and played a large role in educating the people of the lower ranks of Indian society. He started as school at Mannanam in 1846. He first introduced the system called "A school along with every church" which was successful in making free education available for everyone. He also founded the first printing press of the Indian Catholic Church at Mannanam.

 He believed that intellectual development and the education of women was the first step towards overall social welfare. Hence, he founded the first religious congregation for women in 1866, with the help of an Italian missionary, Father Leopold Beccaro, O.C.D., the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel.

He died in 1871, aged 66, at Koonammavu, of natural causes. Many miraculous favors were reported through the intercession of Bl. Kuriakose.  St Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, F.C.C., who became the first  female saint of India, testified in 1936 that Father Kuriakose had appeared to her twice during her illness and relieved her suffering.

The main work of the Congregation is education aiming at the intellectual, social, economic, moral and spiritual advancement of people, especially women and children. It works today in eight countries with almost 5,000 members.

Bl. Kuriakose will be canonized with another Indian, Bl. Eufrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Iain McKillop- Guildford Cathedral, England

We have finished another Easter Cycle, ending with Pentecost.  Now what?
We need to remember how the Apostles and disciples were after the Holy Spirit came upon them.

After Pentecost, they were different people. No longer did they flee like sheep without a shepherd. Instead, they set out to tell the world about Jesus. They understood what their true calling was and how they were to live.

We call this time after Pentecost, ORDINARY TIME (which for most of us mortals is not ordinary). It is to differentiate the  periods of  Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, the Great Triduum, and the Easter season ending on Pentecost from the rest of the year. These great seasons are called extraordinary time.

Extraordinary time is so designated because its chief purpose is to celebrate the specific historic, supernatural acts of God in history that result in our salvation.  So now rather than moving from season to season, in Ordinary Time we move simply from Sunday to Sunday.

We still have plenty of feasts (Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart coming up) and perhaps more emphasis on the many saints we commemorate, who lived lives following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Kathleen Atkins Wilson-USA
Because of our use of "ordinary", many people think that Ordinary Time refers to the parts of the Church year that are unimportant, when in essence  it is given this name Ordinary Time simply because the weeks are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. Thus, Ordinary Time is in fact the ordered life of the Church.

The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life, with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons, so now  Sunday by Sunday, the Church marks her journey through the year as she processes through time toward eternity.  Ordinary Time, with its emphasis on daily living in the world, is a great opportunity for us to live un-ordinary lives!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Our Lady's Island, Wexford, Ireland

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.                                      Acts 2:2-4


Friday, June 6, 2014


Adam Stalony Dobrzanski- Polish

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we now turn to the gift of  PIETY.  Through this spiritual gift, we experience ever anew, with joy and gratitude, the loving relationship with God our Father which has been granted us in Jesus his Son.  It is this loving relationship which grounds and perfects our authentic worship of God.  The love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit leads us to perceive the Lord’s presence and love in our lives, and moves us to respond joyfully in prayer and adoration.  Piety is not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters, members of God’s family.  Let us ask that, through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we may always be ready to offer a helping hand to others, in the joyful awareness of that solidarity which is born of our communion with God in the unity of Christ’s body, the Church.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Sadao Watanabe (Japan)

“When we speak of  KNOWLEDGE, we immediately think of the human capacity to learn more about the reality that surrounds him and to discover the laws that govern nature and the universe.  The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit, however, is not limited to human knowledge: it is a special gift, which allows us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and His profound relationship with every creature."

“When our eyes are enlightened by the Spirit, they open to the contemplation of God in the beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos, and lead us to discover how everything speaks to us of Him and everything speaks to us of His love.” Before all of this, the Spirit leads us to praise the Lord from the depths of our hearts and recognize, in all that we have and are, a priceless gift from God and a sign of His infinite love for us.”

 “The gift of knowledge places us in profound harmony with the Creator and allows us to participate in the brightness of His gaze and His judgment.”  And it is in this perspective that we can grasp in man and woman the summit of creation, as the fulfillment of a plan of love that is imprinted in each of us and that makes us recognize each other as brothers and sisters.”

"This gift helps Christians avoid two errors in thinking about creation. The first is considering ourselves masters of creation, rather than welcoming it as a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all.” The second is the temptation to limit ourselves to creatures, as if they can provide the answer to all our expectations.”

“Safeguard creation because if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Alexander Sadoyon - Armenia
In recent catechesis, we examined the first three gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding and counsel. Today we think about what the Lord does, He always comes to support us in our weakness with a special gift, the gift of  FORTITUDE .

There is a parable told by Jesus, which helps us to grasp the importance of this gift. A sower goes out to sow; not all the seed he sows, however, bears fruit. What ends up on the street is eaten by birds; what falls on stony ground or among thorns sprouting, but is soon dried by the sun or choked by the thorns. Only what ends up on the good soil can grow and bear fruit (cf. Mk 4.3 to 9 / / Mt 13:3-9 / / Luke 8.4 to 8 ) .

As Jesus himself said to his disciples, the Father is the sower, who sows the seed of His Word abundantly. The seed, however, often clashes with the aridness of our hearts and, even when welcomed, is likely to remain sterile.

Instead, with the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit frees the soil of our heart from torpor, uncertainties and all the fears that can stop it, so that the Word of God can be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful way.

This is a real help, this gift of fortitude it gives us strength and frees us from many obstacles.

There are difficult moments and extreme situations in which the gift of fortitude is manifested in an extraordinary, exemplary way. This is the case of those who are facing particularly harsh and painful experiences, that disrupt their lives and those of their loved ones.

The Church shines with the testimony of so many brothers and sisters who have not hesitated to give their lives, in order to remain faithful to the Lord and His Gospel.

Even today there are numerous Christians in many parts of the world who continue to celebrate and witness to their faith with deep conviction and serenity, and resist even when they know that this can result in them paying a very high price.

All of us know people, people who have experienced difficult situations, so much pain, let us think of those men and women who have a difficult life, who fight for the survival of their family, educate their children.

They do this because the Spirit of fortitude helps them.

How many, many men and women - whose names we do not know - honor our people, honor our Church because they are strong in carrying forward their lives, their work, their family, their faith - these our brothers and sisters are saints!

Every day saints! Hidden saints among us! They have the gift of fortitude in carrying on in their duty as people, mother, father, brother, sister citizen. We have so many - so many.

Let us thank the Lord for these Christians who are the hidden saints among us. It is the Spirit within who carries them forward and it would do us good to think of these people. If they do this, if they can do this then why not me and we ask the Lord to give us the gift of fortitude.

 With this, we must not think that the gift of fortitude is only necessary on some occasions or in certain situations.

This gift must be the base note of our being Christians, in our ordinary everyday lives. As I said we must have fortitude in our everyday life as Christians we need this fortitude to carry on in our lives, our families our faith. Paul, the Apostle Paul, said something that it would do us all good to hear: "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me" (Phil. 4:13).
In our everyday life, in difficult times it would do us good to say this "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me". The Lord always gives us strength, Lord never gives us more than we can handle, "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me".

Dear friends, sometimes we may be tempted to allow ourselves be overtaken by laziness or despondency, especially when faced with the hardships and trials of life. In these cases, do not lose heart, but invoke the Holy Spirit, so that with the gift of fortitude He can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following Jesus.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Continuing his weekly catechesis on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis devoted his May 7 general audience to the gift of COUNSEL.

The gift of counsel helps Christians “understand the proper way to speak and behave and the path to follow,” Pope Francis said. “But how does this work? From the moment we welcome and host Him in our hearts, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to His voice and to direct our thoughts, our feelings and our intentions according to God’s heart.”

“At the same time, He increasingly brings us to turn our inward gaze upon Jesus as a model of how to act and relate with God the Father and our brothers and sisters,” he continued. “Counsel, then, is the gift by which the Holy Spirit makes our conscience capable of making a concrete choice in communion with God, according to the logic of Jesus and of his Gospel.”

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of prayer for the gift of counsel:

    We always return to the same point: prayer. Prayer, praying is so important. Praying those prayers that we all know from childhood but also praying with our words, praying to the Lord: ‘Lord, help me, advise me, what should I do now?’ With prayer we make room for the Spirit to come and help us in that moment, he advises us all on what we must do. Prayer, never forget prayer, never. Nobody notices when we pray on the bus, on the streets, we pray in silence, with our hearts, take advantage of these moments to pray. Pray for the Spirit to give us this gift of counsel.

Monday, June 2, 2014


(Dr. He Qi)

The Holy Spirit’s gift of  UNDERSTANDING allows Christians to obtain “intimacy with God” and helps them understand things as God understands them.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and enlightens our minds, he makes us grow day by day in the understanding of what the Lord has said and accomplished.

One can read the Gospel and understand something, but if we read the Gospel with this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can understand the depths of God’s words.

The Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding differs from human understanding, the “intellectual prowess” that varies from person to person. What a beautiful gift the Lord has given us. It is the gift with which the Holy Spirit introduces us into intimacy with God and makes us sharers in the plan of love which he has for us.

Jesus told his disciples He would send the Holy Spirit to help them understand everything He had taught them. This kind of understanding is a “grace” which “awakens in a Christian the ability to go beyond the outward appearance of reality and to probe the depths of the thoughts of God and his plan of salvation.

This gift does not mean that a Christian can “comprehend all things” and have “full knowledge of the designs of God,but rather, it helps the Christian to “read inwardly” and “understand things as God understands them.

While human understanding and prudence are good, Jesus Christ desired to send the Holy Spirit so that everyone might understand “with the mind of God.
                                                                             Our Holy Father Pope Francis

Sunday, June 1, 2014


In April Our Holy Father started a series of short talks at his general audiences to explain the gifts Jesus would leave to the disciples after He left them.  This week I present these talks as preparation for PENTECOST.

… Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today we begin a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is himself the “gift of God” (cf. Jn 4:10), the presence of God’s love in the Church and in our hearts. Based on a messianic prophecy of Isaiah, the Church has traditionally distinguished seven gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The first of these is WISDOM. As a spiritual gift, this wisdom is an interior light, a grace enabling us to contemplate all things with the eyes of God and a heart docile to the promptings of the Spirit. Born of closeness to God in prayer and loving communion, it helps us to recognize with joyful gratitude his providential plan for all things. Christian wisdom is thus the fruit of a supernatural “taste” for God, an ability to savor his presence, goodness and love all around us. How much our world needs the witness of such wisdom today! Let us pray for this gift, so that, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, we can be true men and women of God, transparently open to his own wisdom and the power of his saving love.