Saturday, March 31, 2018


To You eternal Three in One
Let every living creature laud;
Whom by the Cross Thou did restore,

O guide and govern evermore! Amen.

St. John has just been given the duty to care for Jesus’ Mother as his own. 
In this dramatic, painfilled scene we see Mary swept away with great anguish to the point of transparency, as John holds her up.  It is as if he weeps for her, as well as His beloved friend! 

This is one of those pieces of art that has to be seen in the flesh to appreciate the color, the movement (or lack of) and artistry.

Friday, March 30, 2018


O Cross! all hail! sole hope, abide
With us now in this Passion-tide:
To give fresh merit to the saint
And pardon to the penitent.

Grunewald's dark and harrowing portrayal of the Crucifixion shows a horribly wounded, twisted Christ, nailed to the cross.  Christ's flesh bristles with jagged splinters, as well as the developing sepsis and necrosis.

His nail-pierced hands seem to acquire movement through rigor mortis. The emotional intensity and terrible realism sets our teeth on edge and at first glance keeps us spellbound, while we try to look away!

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Hail wondrous Altar! Victim hail!
Thy Glorious Passion shall avail!
Where death Life's very Self endured,

Yet life by that same Death secured.


At the feet of  St. John the Baptist is a lamb bearing a cross, whose blood flows into a goblet, symbolizing the union between the Old and New Testament as well as the redemption of mankind.

Today we are given His Body and Blood from that great sacrifice so long ago.  He has become our own life blood!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight! (*)
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.

On whose dear arms, so wildly flung
The weight of this world’s ransom hung,
The price of humankind to pay,

And spoil the spoiler of his prey

* clothed

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song, of old:
Admidst the nations, God said he,
Has reigned  and triumphed from the Tree.

In this painting we see the  agonizing stance  Mary Magdalene  as she partakes of her Beloved's suffering and death, not knowing that in a few days she will meet Him in the garden.

Monday, March 26, 2018


Behold! The nails with anguish fierce,
His outstretched arms and vitals pierce:
Here our redemption to obtain,

The Mighty Sacrifice is slain.

Where deep for us, the spear was dyed,
Life's torrent rushing from His side
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled Water flowed, and Blood.

It is thought that Grunewald's intensely realistic imagery and iconography were inspired by the revelations of St Bridget of Sweden, published in a best-selling devotional book during the 14th and 15th centuries.

This is no sanitized version of the Crucifixion. The tortured body of  Jesus conveys the pain and agony of a man close to death, nailed to the cross.  His wounds bleeding from thorns and beatings. The disfigured, twisted body, with hands outstretched to the heavens, expressively lay bare the gruesome reality of His unimaginable suffering. Jesus is depicted as suffering from the same sores, as the patients in the hospital , a sign to them that He shared in their afflictions. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018


VEXILLA REGIS the hymn we sing at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy.

Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

The last two verses which form the concluding doxology are not by Fortunatus, but is rather the work of some later poet.

For Holy Week I offer verses from this poignant hymn along with images of Mathis Grunewald’s Crucifixion from the  Isenheim altarpiece (Colmar, France), to me one of the most beautiful pieces ever painted. The first time I saw it I sat for an hour just gazing on its intense drama.

Sometimes words we have prayed for years, take on a new meaning if we but stop and listen to the Spirit.

The altarpiece was commissioned for the hospital chapel of Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Isenheim, Alsace (then part of Germany), where monks ministered to victims afflicted with the disfiguring skin disease known as Saint Anthony’s Fire. Monks, hospital staff, and patients at St. Anthony’s would have related in a very personal way to the ravaged body of Christ as it appears in the Crucifixion scene. Jesus’s green-hued skin appears covered in lacerations. His body is strained and taut, his limbs twisted and contorted. His presence is at once horrifying and compelling.

 This poignant scene is a paean to our human suffering  as well  as an essay on faith and the hope  the life to come.

The Royal Banner forward goes,
The mystic Cross refulgent glows:
Where He, in Flesh, our flesh who made,
Upon the Tree of pain is laid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


SERVANT of GOD ADELE DIRSYTE was born in 1909 in Lithuania. She was the youngest of six children and her parents were hardworking farmers. Adele spent her childhood working the farm and attending school. Her parents taught her to value hard work.

When she was 19 years old, Adele decided to study Philosophy at University. There she was very involved in Catholic college groups,giving many speeches, lectures and conferences to Catholic Youth organizations. After leaving university, Adele took that passion for her faith and worked for Caritas and a number of other Catholic organizations that took care of the poor and orphans.

With her Mother & brother
She wrote many articles that were published about the need to help others. During the German and Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Adele found a job teaching in a girls school and language academy. Her students shared that Adele took the teaching position as an opportunity to teach the girls about their faith and go to Mass and retreats with them. She organized relief efforts and hid Jewish students in her home when she could.

In 1944, when the Soviets reoccupied her country, she joined a group of activists who sought to bring faith and culture back to Lithuania. Adele worked to strengthening of her people’s religious and national traditions. In 1946, she was arrested for hiding a person who had escaped from the Soviets. She was put on trial before a military tribunal and sentenced to 10 years in a concentration camp.

A year later, she was moved from the concentration camp to a forced labor camp in Russia. Life there was extremely difficult, with excessive physical work being aggravated by poor nutrition, lack of hygiene, and intense cold weather. All these effected AdelÄ—’s health but she was known by the other inmates to be energetic and positive, organizing prayer groups to pray the rosary.

Over a period of two years, Adele was transferred to several other labor camps where she had to cut rocks, build railways and other hard manual labor. She was always a spiritual leader to those in need. In her spare time during these years, she wrote a Prayer Book for girls who were exiled in the Siberian labor camps.

It was a small handwritten book sewn together with cloth covers. The inmates would copy the prayers and make their own prayer book, adding their personal prayer to the next copy. Adele encouraged the women to add their new prayers to their own books and others when they could.

During this time, Adele found out that a priest was passing through a nearby village and she arranged for the Eucharist to be brought to the women secretly. The Soviet guards found out and punished Adele, with daily beatings for weeks. When the other inmates realized that she was being brutally beaten, they tried to comfort her, but she would say that the guards needed her forgiveness and she would pray for them. Finally the Soviets took her to an isolated prison where they spent months trying to break her spirit and faith. They put her in the mentally ill section of the camp. She died there in 1955 when she was 46 years old.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


 This morning at Mass as I heard the words, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” I was reminded that we are looking upon the very same Jesus who suffered  for us, who died and rose again, leaving us His physical presence in the Eucharist.  If He were to come back to us in bodily form and we could see  and hear Him speak at some large venue, how many would flock, as they do to some rock musician? 

Sadao Watanabe

If so many believe as they profess to, why are not our churches overflowing?  His Gift to us is free and as we get closer to Holy Week, we should consider taking advantage of this miracle to us in our daily life, and not wait til the Resurrection!

Reflecting upon the Lord’s Supper, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “At the Last Supper, Jesus entrusts to His disciples the sacrament which makes present His self-sacrifice for the salvation of us all, in obedience to the Father’s will.”

We cannot receive His Body and Blood without being changed if we are open in the deepest recesses of our heart, to this great Sacrifice.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


GABRIELLE BOSSIS was a French Catholic laywoman, actress and mystic, best known for her mystical work Lui et Moi, published in English translation as He and I. The book recounts her dialogues with Jesus, which came to her as an "inner voice" and which she recorded in a series of journals from 1936 to shortly before her death in 1950. (It very clearly smacks of the writings of St. Faustina, in its message, though the language is a bit more modern).

Jesus’ messages to her were short and ones that can be found in the writing of great mystics through the ages:

Express your hope in Me. Come out of yourself. Enter into Me.
Do not fail to give Me your sufferings. They help sinners..
Try to understand My yearning for you, for all My children.

Gabrielle was born in Nantes, France in 1874,  the youngest child of a family of four. As a child in a well to do aristocratic family, she was taught and raised in proper social graces and etiquette, and she grew up to be a graceful, happy and high spirited young woman, but as from her childhood she possessed a strong yearning for God and the things of the Spirit.

She obtained a Degree in Nursing, and enjoyed the fine arts of that time, including sculpting, painting, illuminating and music. Later in life she discovered that she had another talent- that of writing moral plays and also acting. From that point on until two years before her death she traveled extensively in France and abroad, producing her own plays and acting in the principal role. Those who still remember her remark about her infectious laughter and her unfailing charm.

On very rare occasions in her early life, Gabrielle had been surprised by a Mysterious Voice, which she heard and felt with awe, and sometimes anxious questionings, which she perceived to be the Voice of Christ. It was only at the age of 62, however, that this touching dialogue with the "Inner Voice" began in earnest, continuing  until two weeks before her death on June 9, 1950.

While still living, Gabrielle had maintained a strict discretion about her experiences, and although her spiritual director had begun to publish the words she heard from Jesus, her identity was kept a secret. “He and I” became a huge spiritual success and continues to touch hearts up to the present day. The journal  has been published in numerous languages and has become a source of deep inspiration and edification for those who read it.

Amazingly enough her work was not put into print for the public by the French but by a Canadian (Imprimateur also Canadian) Another French mystic Venerable Marthe Robin (foundress of the Foyers of Charity) was instrumental in informing Evelyn Brown, the English translator of "He and I", about Gabrielle  and her writings, thus being the instrument in leading Evelyn to eventually became the one to translate "He and I" into English. I could find nothing about the two mystics connecting or how Evelyn found her way to Marthe.

Saturday, March 10, 2018


The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday, when the Church takes a bit of breather from Lenten practice as we sing  “Rejoice, Jerusalem … be joyful, all who were in mourning!”

We look with expectation to the great Solemnity of Easter for which we have been preparing ourselves  during the Lenten season. By its anticipation of the joy of Easter, Laetare Sunday is meant to give us hope and encouragement as we slowly progress towards the Paschal Feast. The priest  has taken off the purple of Lent and wears pink this day- a sign of joy- reminding us of the new life around us with flowers, lambs, calves.

"Holy Communion is the feast of the soul - that is to say, a source of deepest joys. As bread imparts to the body strength and a feeling of contentment, so does the Bread of Life bring peace and joy to your heart because of the wonderful fruits of grace it produces in your soul."   Fr. Lawrence Lovasik. (d. 1986)

This spiritual joy brought to you in the Eucharist will make you bear the trials and sufferings of life with a more peaceful, con­tented heart. “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)

“Today the liturgy invites us to cheer up, because Easter, the day of Christ’s victory over sin and death, is drawing nearer. Where is the spring of Christian joy but in the Eucharist, which Christ left as a spiritual food, while we are pilgrims on this earth?

This Eucharistic food provides for the faithful of all ages a profound joy, which is at one with love and with peace, and which springs forth from one’s communion with God and with one’s brothers.”  Pope Benedict XV

”During His earthly life, Jesus was ever kind and compassionate. You may hope for everything from Him in Holy Communion, since you take Him into your heart. He will be your best comforter and helper.” Fr. Lovasik

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Someone who appears once in a while in the Magnificat, is a little known mystic- at least in our country.   She is a good example that one does not have to be a religious living in the cloister to become a saint . She gives hope to all who feel that they are too far away from holiness to follow Christ.

LUCIE CHRISTINE (b.1844) was the pseudonym of an upper middle class Frenchwoman, Mathilde Boutle. She married at 21, raised five children, all the while suffering verbal and physical abuse at the hands of an alcoholic husband.

She grew up in a religious home, and even in childhood seems to have been attracted to silent devotion or "mental prayer."

Mathilde was of the leisured class, leading the ordinary life of a person of her type and position. She married in 1865 and at the age of forty-three she became a widow. In 1908, after nineteen years of blindness, she died at the age of sixty-four.

Lucie Christine said her mysticism was "very simple. “My soul lives in God, by a glance of love between Him and myself". Anyone can learn to "be silent before God," she said, "to look at Him, and let Him look at you."

Her time was spent in family and social duties, sometimes in Paris, sometimes in her country home.  She appeared to her neighbors remarkable only for her goodness, gentleness, and love of religion. Nothing could have been more commonplace than her external circumstances.

Her inward life, unsuspected by any but her parish priest, for whom her journal was written, had a richness and originality which entitle her to a place among the Catholic mystics. Her writings show that she was intelligent and also had and an almost psychic gift of premonitions of important and tragic events. This peculiarity, which she disliked and never spoke of, persisted through life.

Her spiritual journal, published in 1912, reveals a sensitive, idealistic, and affectionate woman who was somewhat unpractical, very easily wounded, tempted to irritability, and inclined to worry.
"The excessive wish to be loved, appreciated, admired by those whom I love," was one of the temptations against which, as a young woman, she felt it necessary to pray: another was the longing for enjoyment, for personal happiness. It was only after eight years of intermittent mystical experience that she learned the secret of inward peace: to "lose her own interests in those of God, and receive a share in His interests in exchange."

Her spiritual life developed gradually and evenly, and unlike some mystics, there was no falling off her horse, like St. Paul. One day, when she was meditating on a passage in the Imitation of Christ, she saw and heard within her mind the words  “God alone”.  From this time on she aimed to conquer her natural irritability and dislike for the boredom and unrealities of a prosperous existence, and give her all to Christ in her daily duties as mother and wife.

More and more, as her mystical consciousness grew, the life of contemplation became her delight; and it was plainly a real trial to be distracted from it for trivial purposes. In company, or busied with household duties, she went for hours with "her soul absorbed, its better part rapt in God." She "tried to appear ordinary," and made excuses if her abstraction was observed. (Reminds  me of Raissa Maritain- see Blog  2/15/11).  

Her religious practice certainly centered on the Eucharist, so she is a good “saint” for us to study this Lent. "I am nourished by God's substance."  God, she says, gives Himself to us that we may give Him again through our love of others.

Lucie-Christine makes clear to us, as few mystics have done, the immense transfiguration which can occur even in the most “ordinary life"!    "My one prayer is, that I may not feel joy and grief so vividly: that I may feel only Thee."

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Daniel Bonnell
…if we let ourselves be purified by the sanctifying power that flows from the Eucharist, if we offer ourselves to the Lord in this Sacrifice and receive Him into our innermost souls in Holy Communion, then we cannot but be drawn ever more deeply into the current of His divine life. We shall grow into the mystical Body of Christ, and our heart will be transformed into the likeness of the Divine Heart.
                            St. Benedicta of the Cross

I never know why, when I read what a saint has said, why I bother in my own words to say the same thing. Perhaps it is why they are saints! 

For us, here and now,  after 2000+ years, the Holy Eucharist is  still the source of unity for the Mystical Body of Christ, the 
Church, and the link between the liturgy and  the corporal works of mercy. 

As members of  Christ’s Church, we  are bound together by a supernatural life communicated to us by Jesus Himself through the Eucharist. "We being many are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread"  (I Cor. 17). 

Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with Him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with His Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church  - 1419)