About M.A.U.

Wife, Mom, Teacher, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Bioethicist, Bookworm- I could be described by many titles. However, the cord that links them all together- the very substance of my being is my Catholic Faith. As a homeschooling mom to 8 effervescent, dynamic kids, I see life as an exquisite journey, full of joy and challenge. I invite you to join me on this sojourn of faith, as I endeavor to reflect and magnify the glory of God, and rejoice in God my Savior. Blessings- M.A. JMJ

The Lord is Risen, Alleluia!

The Joy Continues! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

The Joy Continues! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia! (Divine Office Liturgy of the Office, Easter Octave Antiphon).

He is Risen, He is truly Risen, indeed, Alleluia! The joy continues! For the rest of the world Easter ended at midnight. However, as Catholics we have the grace of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ with the highest solemnity, for eight days. Throughout these eight days, or Octave of Easter, each day is recognized as a sort of mini-Easter. The celebration continues and blessings flow.

He is Truly Risen, Alleluia! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

He is Truly Risen, Alleluia! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

The Gospel Reading from today’s Holy Mass reads:

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful, yet overjoyed and ran to announce the good news to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced His feet, and did Him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then gave a large sum of money to the soldiers telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep. And if this gets to the ears of the Governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. . . . (MT 28: 8-15).

A recurrent theme in this Gospel passage is trepidation. Two groups of people have encountered the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, yet their response is very different. There is a stark contrast between the two paragraphs, while both deal with a response of fear. The women are described as “fearful, yet overjoyed” and they run to announce the Good News of the Resurrection to the equally frightened disciples. While the women experience fear and awe, they are able to move past it. They embrace Our Lord, both His Risen physical body, and embrace the concept of His Resurrection. They do not understand, yet they believe, and accept His exhortation to “Be not afraid,” and proclaim with joy all they have seen. As they move forward, one perceives a sense of Light transcending them.

They Looked on Him Whom They had Pierced © Salve Mater Dei 2013

They Looked on Him Whom They had Pierced © Salve Mater Dei 2013

On the other hand, we have the guards, strong Roman men, battled hardened soldiers, who fell down “as dead men” at the sight of the Resurrection, and quiver in fear as they approach the chief priests and the elders. One wonders which frightened them more – the vision of Christ bursting forth from the tomb or the wrath of Pilate and the Council. Either way, they were terrified. We sense the darkness of their hearts, the darkness of the situation. They were offered bribes to hide the most significant Truth ever witnessed by human eyes, and they capitulate. Likewise, the religious elders and chief priests seem equally shrouded in darkness and fear. They know the truth – they crucified the Messiah, and now He is Risen. If He is strong enough to conquer death, do they really think their secret will last forever? They don’t care. They would rather perpetuate a lie, than embrace the reality of the Resurrection.

We too are faced with a similar choice. The Resurrection is indeed a mystery. Yet we are asked to accept with faith what we cannot explain. It is a choice of the will. The bridge between faith and understanding is the will. When we choose to embrace the Risen Christ, and proclaim the reality of His Resurrection, we too move from darkness to light. The words He spoke to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are meant for us as well: “Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers. . . .”

Jesus I Trust in You! the Divine Mercy Image © Salve Mater Dei 2013

Jesus I Trust in You! the Divine Mercy Image © Salve Mater Dei 2013

Perhaps there is no better way to tell our brothers and sisters about the love of the Risen Christ than to spread the message about Christ’s Divine Mercy. As this glorious week unfolds, we continue our preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday which occurs on the Sunday following Easter. Thus, in preparation we continue our novena of Divine Mercy Chaplets. This chaplet is prayed on ordinary rosary beads. For complete instructions please visit the Divine Mercy website run by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php.

Today we also continue the novena our Lord dictated to St. Maria Faustina for her private use. Each day, Jesus directed St. Faustina to pray for a specific group of souls, immersing them into the abyss of His Mercy, and pleading for them before the throne of the Heavenly Father.

On this the fourth day of the novena, Sr. Faustina was directed by Our Lord to:

“Bring to Me those souls who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know Me. I was also thinking of them during my bitter passion, and their future zeal comforted My heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy (1216, p. 438 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

Today, let us pray as St. Faustina did, immersing the souls of unbelievers in the abyss of Christ’s mercy. Let us recall what courage it takes to have the will to believe. Our own faith is a treasure for which we should express sincere gratitude, as we pray, that like Mary Magdalene and the women at the tomb, these souls “will not persist in their unbelief, but believe!”

Like Sr. Faustina, let us beg the Heavenly Father to “draw them to the light of the Gospel,” that they too may extol the mercy of God for endless ages.

The text for the fourth day of the novena is:

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as of yet do not know You, but are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the Light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen. (Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet Pamphlet [LFMCN], 2012 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.)

The complete text of the fourth day of the novena is also available via the Divine Mercy Website of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/fourthday.php.

Today’s prayer from this morning’s Divine office is appropriate:

Father, You give your Church constant growth by adding new members to your family. Help us to put in action in our lives the Baptism we have received with faith. We ask this through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen (Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours, Monday Morning within the Octave of Easter).

May the Risen Christ bless you and yours abundantly,

Praise the Lord for He is Risen!

Indeed, He is Truly Risen, Alleluia!

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.

** Divine Mercy Celebrations will be held at churches world-wide in accordance with Our Lord’s directive to St. Maria Faustina. Confessions, Holy Mass (often at 3 p.m.) and the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy usually occur at these events. There is a true outpouring of grace at these events.

Contact your local Archdiocesan Office for details and locations of hosting churches.

In Wisconsin,

The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill hosts a beautiful celebration. For more information regarding that celebration visit the site: https://www.holyhill.com/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=741&Itemid=50&year=2013&month=04&day=07&title=sunday-of-divine-mercy-&uid=dfc595f576ed1845fa495278cafe52ea&catids=6|3

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse also will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. For More information visit their site at: http://www.guadalupeshrine.org/events/divine-mercy-sunday

You Will Not Leave My Soul in Hell, Nor Let Your Holy One Experience Corruption

Though sinless, the Lord has been put to death. The world is in mourning as for an only son.  © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Though sinless, the Lord has been put to death. The world is in mourning as for an only son. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“Though sinless, the Lord has been put to death. The world is in mourning as for an only son (Psalmody, Antiphon 1, Divine Office Holy Saturday).”

"Look Well All You Peoples and See My Suffering."  Good Friday Antiphon Divine Office SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“Look Well All You Peoples and See My Suffering.” Good Friday Antiphon Divine Office SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Holy Saturday begins with a mix of emotions. While a growing sense of anticipation is palpable an acute tinge of sorrow remains. Good Friday was physically and emotionally exhausting – and if celebrated deeply, it should be. By Good Friday Night Prayer, our bodies should be feeling the effects of a day of strict fasting, and just as our hearts and souls ache from contemplating the suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As we settle down to slumber with a “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death,” still on our lips from Night Prayer, we entrust body and soul to the compassionate and providential care of Our God.

Lord Open My Lips and My Mouth Will Proclaim Your Praise! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Lord Open My Lips and My Mouth Will Proclaim Your Praise! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Now Holy Saturday has dawned! It was a glorious sunrise! As I stood outside in my pj’s this morning, the dogs played in the snow and mud as the first streaks of golden dawn illuminated the sky. The air was filled with the song of newly nesting cranes and Canada Geese. The pair of trumpeter swans that I had witnessed fly overhead two mornings ago made their voices heard amid the symphony of creation. I literally stood there and thanked God for His goodness – we had crucified Him with our sins, and yet in each generation He continues to lavish the magnificence of His bounty upon each of us and our progeny.

Viva Cristo Rey! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Viva Cristo Rey! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

As I brought my kids to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians for an early morning practice for tonight’s Easter Vigil, the flowers has been lovingly arranged around the main altar and Shrine chapel. The tabernacle remains empty – someone is missing. Yet, the Resurrection is a certainty – it has been promised and our redemption is at hand. Today, as we prepare to celebrate the most sacred Solemnity of the year, let us strive to profoundly adore our Crucified Christ with all of the devotion and love we can possibly offer. By worshipping Him intensely and immersing ourselves in the mystery of salvation, may we be blessed to share fully the Glory of His Resurrection for all Eternity.

Sanctuary at the Bascilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help Of Christians at Holy Hill - Holy Saturday Morning SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Sanctuary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help Of Christians at Holy Hill – Holy Saturday Morning SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

As we prepare for the jubilant celebration of Easter, and the glorious octave that will follow, with gratitude we turn our gaze toward the unfathomable gifts our Lord bestows in His immeasurable love. The greatest of these is His Mercy.

As we prepare for the Feast of Divine Mercy, which occurs exactly one week after Easter, we reflect upon the immeasurable depth of God’s Mercy, and our personal response to that gift.

Regarding the gift of His Divine Mercy Our Lord told St. Maria Faustina:

“My Mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or an angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come from the very depths of my most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity (699, p. 286– Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

We thus continue our preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy, a Feast instituted by Our Lord, on which He tells us that “the very depths of His mercy are open.” In preparation, we continue our novena of chaplets. Remember, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed on ordinary rosary beads. This link to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website gives clear directions for praying the Chaplet of Mercy: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php.

Contemplating His Mercy, Adoring The Crucified Christ SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Contemplating His Mercy, Adoring The Crucified Christ SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Today we also continue the novena dictated by our Lord to St. Maria Faustina. This novena, initiated for her private devotion, offers spiritual fruit for all who pray it faithfully. On each of the nine consecutive days prior to the Feast of Divine Mercy, Jesus requested that St. Faustina immerse a certain group of souls in the ocean of His Mercy. Our Lord would in turn bring those souls into the House of Our Heavenly Father. On the second day of the novena, Sr. Faustina was instructed to pray especially for the souls of the priests and religious.

Our Lord instructed:

“Today bring Me the souls of the priests and religious and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave Me strength to endure My bitter passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon all mankind (1212, p. 436– Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

For the entire text of St. Faustina’s novena Day 2, please visit the Marians of the Immaculate Conception site at: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/secondday.php.

Like St. Maria Faustina, let us endeavor to bring the souls of priests and religious into to abyss of Christ’s mercy. These faithful men and women are consecrated to the service of the Lord. They are the beloved laborers in His vineyard. Without them the channels of grace would close.

Without Priests, There Would Be No Mass, No Sacraments, No One to Baptise Our Children, To Hear Our Confessions. . . SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Without Priests, There Would Be No Mass, No Sacraments, No One to Baptise Our Children, To Hear Our Confessions. . . SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Without priests there would be no Mass. There would be no one to Baptize, washing away the stain of original sin, and bringing the Light of the Holy Spirit to our souls, and those of our children. Without priests there would be no Eucharist to nourish our souls, nor sacrament of penance to reconcile us to God when we had rejected His love. Without priests, we would have no hope of becoming soldiers for Christ, or having our marriages become truly sacramental unions. Without priests, our souls would never have the sacramental grace given as we prepare to leave this life and enter into the next. Our priests are a treasure, one this secular world often despises and rejects.

Who Prays for You? Religious Sisters and Brothers leading Hidden Lives Rich in Grace. SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Who Prays for You? Religious Sisters and Brothers leading Hidden Lives Rich in Grace. SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

So too let us remember the religious sisters and brothers who support the church and the society with prayer, sacrifice, and works of charity. These hidden souls labor perpetually for the salvation of the world, and receive little positive attention for their monumental efforts. Just as the secular world disdains the priests so too it seems to revel in ridiculing the very existence of religious sisters and brothers. In appreciation for the tremendous gift of priests and religious, let us follow Christ’s request, and immerse them in the abyss of His mercy, and present them to the Heavenly Father for His blessing.

Wishing you and yours the joy of a glorious Easter.

Praise the Lord for He is Risen!

Praise the Lord for He is Risen, He is Truly Risen Indeed! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Praise the Lord for He is Risen, He is Truly Risen Indeed! SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Indeed, He is Truly Risen, Alleluia!

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.

** Divine Mercy Celebrations will be held at churches world-wide in accordance with Our Lord’s directive to St. Maria Faustina. Confessions, Holy Mass (often at 3 p.m.) and the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy usually occur at these events. There is a true outpouring of grace at these events.

Contact your local Archdiocesan Office for details and locations of hosting churches.

In Wisconsin,

The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill hosts a beautiful celebration. For more information regarding that celebration visit the site: https://www.holyhill.com/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=741&Itemid=50&year=2013&month=04&day=07&title=sunday-of-divine-mercy-&uid=dfc595f576ed1845fa495278cafe52ea&catids=6|3

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse also will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. For More information visit their site at: http://www.guadalupeshrine.org/events/divine-mercy-sunday

My Servant Shall Prosper, He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted

He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013  EA Photo

He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him- so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of men – so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it (Isaiah 52:13- 15 from the First Reading, Good Friday Liturgy).

The Sacred Paschal Triduum commemorates the holiest days of the Church year. Last night the Triduum commenced with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. At this Holy Mass we celebrated both the institution of the Holy Eucharist and commissioning of the sacred priesthood, while contemplating the night on which our Lord was betrayed.

By Your Own Blood Lord, You Brought Us Back to God © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

By Your Own Blood Lord, You Brought Us Back to God © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Today, on Good Friday, we gaze upon the suffering face of our Lord as we accompany Him along the, Via Crucis; the Via Dolorosa – the Way of the Cross. Around the world many of us walked (literally and figuratively) with our fellow Christians, and commemorated the Sacred Passion of Our Lord by praying the fourteen Stations of the Cross.

So Marred Was His Look Beyond Human Semblance © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

So Marred Was His Look Beyond Human Semblance © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

These photos are from the annual Stations of the Cross with the Milwaukee Archbishop, His Excellency Jerome Listecki, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill.

Annual Good Friday Outdoor Stations of the Cross at The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians At Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Annual Good Friday Outdoor Stations of the Cross at The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians At Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of pilgrims climbed the steep hill praying the words penned by St. Alphonsus Liguori, and echoing the strains of the Stabat Mater.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Later, we gathered in the Basilica for the traditional Good Friday Liturgy, at which the Passion of Our Lord (The Gospel of St. John 18:1- 19:42) was read aloud, and the faithful venerated the Holy Cross before partaking in Holy Communion. Tomorrow a new day dawns, and by evening time the Sacred Triduum will crescendo into a triumphant culmination with the Vigil Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill, with Archbishop Jerome Listecki © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA Photo

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill, with Archbishop Jerome Listecki © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA Photo

Through the celebration of the Good Friday Liturgy, we recall the most pivotal event in the history of human kind: the day on which Our Lord suffered, was crucified, and died to pay the penalty of our sin. On this day we pause and recall our own sins, and the burden our actions have added to Our Lord’s sacred shoulders. While this is a solemn, somber celebration of our Lord’s passion and death, there is also a glimmer of joy; for in His passion and death is the ultimate expression of merciful love. It is no coincidence that today we also begin to prepare for the Feast of Divine Mercy. That preparation begins with the novena of Mercy.

For the next nine days, I will post a brief reflection, a reminder to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the novena requested by our Lord, and the link to the novena which our Lord dictated on Good Friday 1937 to St. Maria Faustina for her private use in preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy.

For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

In Her Diary, St. Maria Faustina relates that our Lord Himself requested the Chaplet of Mercy be recited, beginning on Good Friday, for nine days before the Feast of Divine Mercy. He stated: “By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls (796, p.316 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

The Divine Mercy Chaplet is to be recited on ordinary Rosary Beads. After making the Sign of the Cross, one then recites an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

On the single bead prior to each decade, one prays:

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in Atonement for Our Sins, and for the sins of the whole world (475, p.207 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

On the ten beads of the decade, one prays:

“For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world (476, p.208 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

After all five decades have been prayed, one prays the concluding Doxology:

  

His Mercy Endures © SalveMaterDei.com, -2013.

His Mercy Endures © SalveMaterDei.com, -2013.

                    “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world (476, p.208 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

There is an optional closing prayer:

“Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly on us, and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is Love and Mercy Itself (796, p.370 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

While Our Lord requested this novena of Chaplets not only for St. Maria Faustina, but the whole world, He also gave her a private novena. In this novena, Our Lord invites Sr. Faustina to immerse a particular group of souls into the abyss of His mercy each day, so that in turn He may bring these souls to the Heavenly Father. Over the years, I have found this novena tremendously fruitful.

Our Lord stated to St. Faustina:

“I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the font of My mercy, that they may draw therefrom enough strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need . . . . On each day you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them into this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father (1209, p. 435, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

Our Lord Jesus loves each of us immeasurably. He came into the world to testify to the truth of that love, and to lay down His life in reparation for our sins. It is for sinners that He came into this world, and for sinners that He died and rose again victorious. Therefore, it is fitting that this first day of the novena be dedicated to sinners.

Immerse them in the Ocean of My Mercy © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Immerse them in the Ocean of My Mercy © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Jesus requested of St. Faustina on Day 1:

“Today, bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them into the ocean of My Mercy. In this way, you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me (1210, p. 436, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

For the text of the entire first day of the novena, please visit go to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website at http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/firstday.php.

In this first day, St. Faustina immerses each of us into the abyss of God’s mercy, an abyss so deep that even death could not fill it. As we journey from the Cross to the Resurrection, let us join St. Maria Faustina in immersing all of humankind, but most especially all sinners, in Christ’s Mercy, with the hope that He will in turn eventually bring them home to His Father’s House.

Blessed Triduum,

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.

** Divine Mercy Celebrations will be held at churches world-wide in accordance with Our Lord’s directive to St. Maria Faustina. Confessions, Holy Mass (often at 3 p.m.) and the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy usually occur at these events. There is a true outpouring of grace at these events.

Contact your local Archdiocesan Office for details and locations of hosting churches.

In Wisconsin,

The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill hosts a beautiful celebration. For more information regarding that celebration visit the site: https://www.holyhill.com/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=741&Itemid=50&year=2013&month=04&day=07&title=sunday-of-divine-mercy-&uid=dfc595f576ed1845fa495278cafe52ea&catids=6|3

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse also will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. For More information visit their site at: http://www.guadalupeshrine.org/events/divine-mercy-sunday

Wednesdays Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Solemnity & Inauguration of Pope Francis

The Just Man Shall Blossom Like a Lily © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

The Just Man Shall Blossom Like a Lily © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

The just man shall blossom like the lily (Divine Office, Feast of St. Joseph).

Heaven and earth united in heartfelt joy yesterday, as the Solemnity of St. Joseph was celebrated as never before. On this solemn feast day, set aside to reverence the merits of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis was inaugurated as the 266th man chosen to fill the sandals of St. Peter, and Shepherd the Holy Catholic Church.

The Solemnity of St. Joseph has always been among my favorite feast days. I love St. Joseph, and especially since the death of my own father, have felt deep closeness to this formidable saint. I recognize his presence in my life, and the lives of my family, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the gifts God bestows upon us, through his powerful intercession. As a family with deep ties to Carmelite Spirituality, St. Joseph is a revered patron. Several years ago, one of my sons specifically chose to make his First Holy Communion on the Feast of St. Joseph at Holy Hill Basilica, as a reflection of his devotion to this powerful saint. Celebration of St. Joseph’s feast is also therefore a celebration of that important anniversary in our family history. Thus, here in the middle of winter, and the long penitential weeks of Lent we revel in the joy of this great solemnity. St. Teresa of Avila, the Carmelite Holy Mother, directed that St. Joseph’s Feast be celebrated with the “highest Solemnity” in all of her monasteries, so great was her personal devotion to this beloved intercessor.

Our Prayers as Incense Rise © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Our Prayers as Incense Rise © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Who are we to argue with the Holy Mother? As this special feast was accentuated by the inauguration of our new Papa, Pope Francis, yesterday we celebrated in grand fashion. The older kids, three Labrador Retrievers and I camped on the family room floor in front of the T.V. to watch the Inauguration Mass; it began at 3 a.m. our time. Outside, the wind howled and the thermometer read a balmy 11 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill we were definitely subzero). Our dogs eagerly shared their floor space with the kids and I as we huddled around the television to witness history and to pray for our new supreme pontiff. The Holy Mass was beautiful! We were particularly moved by the scene of our Holy Father praying outside of the tomb of St. Peter, and the long procession of cardinals prior to Mass – an unbroken succession stretching from the tomb of he who had been told by Our Lord: “You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it! (Matthew 16:18)”- through Pope Francis and extending toward the horizon of the future.

Carmelite Community Singing "Salve Regina" at the Basilca of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

Carmelite Community Singing “Salve Regina” at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA photo

Later, we headed to Holy Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill to celebrate with the Carmelite Community. Our prayers rose with incense in the sanctuary at Holy Hill, just as the prayers of 1,000,000 Catholics rose in St. Peter’s square as Pope Francis celebrate Mass there. Truly from sunrise to sunset a perfect offering is made around the world, and Heaven and Earth united in glory, praise and thanksgiving to the one True, Triune God. The mystery of salvation is unfathomable and wondrous to contemplate!

After Holy Mass we headed home and celebrated with a few little treats throughout the day, as we embarked upon our daily tasks – homeschool, chores, and prayer. At meals we chatted eagerly about our new Pope – enumerating his virtues: humility, wisdom, simplicity, poverty of spirit, compassion, zeal. . . . The children and I have been impressed by the manner in which Pope Francis conveys the relevance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The EWTN footage of the Holy Father winding through St. Peters Square yet stopping to greet a disabled gentleman and kiss babies moved us all as profoundly beautiful and relevant. Like St. Joseph, Pope Francis possesses the unique ability to demonstrate the Gospel through actions even in moments of verbal silence. As our family discussed our aspirations for Pope Francis and shared hopes for the renewal of our Church, it became evident that among the Christian community there is a hunger for the authentic Gospel, and even in his first few days as pontiff this Holy Father is truly feeding and leading his sheep as commanded by Christ.

Habemus Papam!

Habemus Papam!

For a taste of the spiritual direction that Pope Francis has already offered his flock, I invite you to read the full text of yesterday’s inaugural homily: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TxSJa5tpCmE/UUiX0aZByRI/AAAAAAAAPLo/ouDCTY_j1l8/s1600/pf1in3.jpg (provided through Whispers in Loggia) and the full text of his Lenten message as Cardinal Bergoglio http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XBNBP3VukYE/UUmB35e6ZXI/AAAAAAAAPME/6HL5faPfS-8/s1600/f1sbi.jpg .

All Creation Gives You Glory, O Lord of Hosts © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

All Creation Gives You Glory, O Lord of Hosts © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Yes, just as St. Teresa of Avila specified, our Feast of St. Joseph was commemorated with the “highest Solemnity”: we witnessed the Inauguration of the Holy Father, assisted at Holy Mass, attended to our daily duties, and celebrated with sweet treats on a cold, blustery March 19th. As twilight turned to night, a herd of nine deer munched seed from the bird feeders on our back porch, we gazed through the window at their serenity as we enjoyed a slice of blackberry cheesecake and chocolate éclairs in honor of the sweetness of the feast day. A single flame glowed in the St. Joseph candle on the kitchen table, as together in gratitude and supplication we prayed:

Celebrating the Sweet Joys of St. Joseph © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Celebrating the Sweet Joys of St. Joseph © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Please, St. Joseph, do assist me with your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, all possible spiritual blessings. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and the child Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.

May the Holy Heart of St. Joseph be a source of blessing and inspiration for each of you and your loved ones. Happy Feast Day!

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

Habemus Papam! Habemus Papam Franciscus! VIVA IL PAPA!!!!

Habemus Papam! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Habemus Papam! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Habemus Papam! Habemus Papam Franciscus!

We have a Papa!!!!! I’ve spent a good portion of the day wishing I could hug the Holy Spirit. Like a billion or so Catholics, my heart is overflowing with gratitude at the election of our new Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Francis.

Having spent the better part of the last few weeks in prayer and speculation regarding who would be ultimately chosen to carry the Keys of the Kingdom, like so many other Catholics, yesterday I finally felt like I could exhale. To say these weeks since the February 11th announment of the pending resignation of our beloved Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI have been tense is an understatement. Rampant mudslinging by the secular press has no doubt heightened an uneasiness that has hung over these weeks like a dark, dense, winter storm cloud.

However, with the billows of white smoke which yesterday poured forth from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, our hopes began to soar. Our day began early. We had a feeling white smoke would appear on the 13th. The 13th of each month has long been significant with regard to Our Lady of Fatima, and since yesterday was also a Wednesday – the day of the week the Holy Church devotes to honoring St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church – many of us felt certain that an election would take place. With that in mind, the kids and I camped out on the family room floor, (with the 3 dogs). We watched twice as dark smoke wafted from the Sistine Chapel chimney around 4 a.m., and later raced back from morning Mass at Holy Hill Basilica to wait anxiously for the result of the afternoon votes. As the white smoke issued forth, the cheers around our kitchen table united with those in St. Peter’s Square and around the world – we glimpsed again that threshold of hope so eloquently ushered in by both Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Viva IL Papa! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Viva IL Papa! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Throughout these weeks the profound humility of Pope Benedict XVI has become evident. In a world dominated by vainglory and pride, the resignation of His Holiness has stood in stark contrast as an ultimate act of humility. His successor meets humility with humility. Tonight’s reading from the Divine Office instructs: “Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and he will raise you on high (James 4:10).” Certainly, both our Holy Father Emeritus and Pope Francis exemplify this scriptural passage.

Pope Francis truly reflects the Gospel – he doesn’t just preach it; he LIVES it. Watching detractors in the liberal press attempt to find fault with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been like watching a celebrity version of the game Twister. No matter how one bends and twists the facts, the virtuous character of His Holiness, Pope Francis shine through any darkness they attempt to spew. It must be a challenge to find fault with the Cardinal who washes and kisses the feet of AIDS victims and impoverished women, who cooks his own meals and regularly takes public transportation to and from his appointed duties, who bowed on the balcony before 100,000+ well wishers and asked for their prayers for God’s blessing before imparting his papal blessing.

You are Peter. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

You are Peter. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus Christ bids us: “Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls (Matthew 11: 29).” Our new Holy Father seems to embody this directive. He has accepted the yoke of Christ, and carries a meek and humble heart.

As Holy Father, Pope Francis continues to move with meekness – paying his hotel bill in person, taking the bus with fellow Cardinals, and slipping in the side door of St. Mary Major Basilica to leave a bouquet of flowers in humble supplication before Our Lady. In so doing, even in his first 24 hours, His Holiness Pope Francis has won the hearts and esteem of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Like St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lord has commissioned Pope Francis with a monumental task: “Rebuild My Church!” Were he merely the CEO of a multi-national corporation with its headquarters in Rome, this task would be insurmountable. However, Pope Francis is not the leader of a purely human enterprise. No, he is not a CEO; he is a Fisherman, a Peter. It is to his capable hands that the unsullied Bride of Christ has been entrusted. God has promised that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18), and HE will empower our new Holy Father with the requisite grace to overcome each and every obstacle in its path. Let us both turn to the Holy Spirit with supplication and thanksgiving for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

For the Holy Spirit has not just spoken, He has THUNDERED!!!!! We have a Papa!!! Habemus Papam! Habemus Papam Franciscus!

VIVA IL PAPA!!!!

Blessings,

Ad Jesum Per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Sacred Silence and Prayer for the Election of the Holy Father

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

As the children and I sit here riveted to the television, watching the Cardinal Electors recite their oath in the Sistine Chapel as they solemnly prepare to elect the new Holy Father, I am overwhelmed by the profundity of this moment in history.

My heart and prayers are with these chosen souls who are entrusted with the immense responsibility of electing the Servant of Servants, the man among them who will fill the shoes of St. Peter, sit in the Cathedra of Peter, and shepherd 1.2 billion Catholics: our Papa!

Opinions and prognostications have flooded forth from both the secular and religious press. It seems everyone has a favorite papabile or at least something to say about the conclave and the election of the new pope.

While the chatter is exciting, the antithesis of all the noise is sacred silence. At this moment in history, perhaps the most meaningful manner we may participate in the election of our new Holy Father is through prayerful sacred silence.

O Guide Our Minds with Thy Blest Light, With Love Our Hearts Inflame. . .  © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

O Guide Our Minds with Thy Blest Light, With Love Our Hearts Inflame. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

It is thus I invite you to join my children and I in ardent supplication for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Cardinal Electors and upon our new Holy Father. Each day my older children and I have been offering a novena of the Veni Creator for this intention. We have also been invoking the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and striving to pray the “St. Michael Prayer” with extra devotion.

As we approach the Solemnity of St. Joseph, we have been praying this lovely 2,000 year old prayer to St. Joseph as a novena. Please consider joining us in prayer.

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Please, St. Joseph, do assist me with your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, all possible spiritual blessings. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and the child Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, please hold our Cardinal electors close to your Holy Heart. Guide and protect them, and intercede for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them as he who will Shepherd your Divine Son’s flock is chosen. Amen.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.     JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: The Litany of St. Joseph

Noble Son of the House of David, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Noble Son of the House of David, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

The Holy Catholic Church dedicates the month of March to St. Joseph, whose feast day is celebrated as a Solemnity on March 19. Throughout the month of March, we are urged to ponder more deeply the role of St. Joseph, not only in the lives of Jesus and Mary two millennia ago, but also his role in our lives and the lives of our loved ones today.

I am certainly cognizant of the impact of St. Joseph as role model, intercessor, and patron, in my own life – and am deeply grateful for his guidance and protection. On a personal level, St. Joseph has been a presence in my life since birth – yep, I was born at a St. Joseph Hospital in Ohio. It is uncanny how at all the major moments in my life – joys and sorrows, I can perceive his gentle support. My husband and children were also born at hospitals dedicated to St. Joseph. When my mom needed hip surgery, after having sheared the head off her femur when she was pushed by another agitated resident of an Alzhiemer’s unit – she was treated at, you guessed it – a St. Joseph’s Hospital. Likewise, week after week as I held my Dad’s frail hands during chemotherapy infusions, the care was provided at a St. Joseph’s hospital. Whether it was the joy of new life, or the misery of illness, the presence of St. Joseph was evident in the care of my loved ones – care provided through St. Joseph’s hospitals in 3 different states, and spanning 40+ years.

Head of the Holy Family, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Head of the Holy Family, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

I can’t even begin to count the numbers of “Josephs” in my life! Family, friends, mentors: there are so many special Josephs in my life! As I contemplate with gratitude these individuals, I can’t help but perceive that God manifests the strength and character of St. Joseph uniquely through each of these cherished relationships. Some of my Josephs have reflected his wisdom, others his paternal charity, while others his diligent work ethic. Through each of these Josephs I have had the grace to glimpse – even for just a moment- the Holy Heart of St. Joseph, and for this I am profoundly grateful.

Protector of the Church, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Protector of the Church, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Lastly, as Catholics, many of us have seen a reflection of the Holy Heart of St. Joseph in our Holy Father Emeritus, who bears as his baptismal name that of the spouse of Mary. In these recent weeks, the humility, courage, and wisdom of our beloved Holy Father have truly been evident. Again, in our Pontiff Emeritus, the Good Lord has chosen to project those saintly virtues upon the canvas of mere human flesh. Like St. Joseph, His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has blessed our lives. Perhaps it is not accidental that the conclave to elect the new pontiff will be initiated during the month dedicated to St. Joseph, the patron of the Universal Church.

The Litany of St. Joseph was approved and promulgated by Pope St. Pius X (who reigned from 1903 to 1914). This magnificent litany can be prayed either individually or in a group. Perhaps this month in particular we might entrust the needs of the Holy Catholic Church to the intercession of St. Joseph.

Please join me as I turn to God with this prayer of praise and thanksgiving for His glorious gift of St. Joseph – and as I seek his intercession for all the Josephs in our lives who reflect the goodness of his Holy Heart.

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy… Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy… Lord have mercy

God our Father in Heaven… have mercy on us

God the Son, Redeemer of the world… have mercy on us

God the Holy Spirit… have mercy on us

Most Holy Trinity, one God… have mercy on us

Holy Mary … pray for us

St. Joseph … pray for us

Noble son of the house of David … pray for us

Light of patriarchs … pray for us

Husband of the Mother of God … pray for us

Guardian of Virgins … pray for us

Foster father of the Son of God … pray for us

Faithful guardian of Christ … pray for us

Head of the Holy Family … pray for us

Joseph, chaste and just … pray for us

Joseph, prudent and brave … pray for us

Joseph, obedient and loyal … pray for us

Pattern of patience … pray for us

Lover of poverty … pray for us

Model of workers … pray for us

Example to parents … pray for us

Guardian of virgins … pray for us

Pillar of family life … pray for us

Comfort of the troubled pray for us

Hope of the sick …  pray for us

Patron of the dying … pray for us

Terror of evil spirits … pray for us

Protector of the Church  … pray for us

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world … have mercy on us

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world … have mercy on us

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world … have mercy on us

V. God made him master of His household.

R. And put him in charge of all that He owned.

Oremus: Let us pray

Almighty God,

In Your infinite wisdom and love, You chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary, the Mother of Your Son. May we enjoy His protection on earth, may we have the help of his prayers in heaven.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen

Holy Heart of St. Joseph, Please Pray for Us!

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.   JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Patron of the Universal Church, Pray for Us!

"On this Rock I will Build My Church." © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“On this Rock I will Build My Church.” © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“On this Rock I will Build my Church (Matthew 16:18).”

Perhaps at no other time in my nearly half-century of life have I felt the need to commend my beloved Holy Catholic Church to the tender care of the Holy Heart of her esteemed patron. In 1870, Blessed Pope Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti ) declared St. Joseph to be the Patron of the Holy Catholic Church.

A brief review of history demonstrates that the late 1800’s were indeed a turbulent time both in secular and ecclesiastic history. During the pontificate of Blessed Pope Pius IX, the longest reigning Holy Father in history (32 years), the First Vatican Council was convened from 1869-1870 to counter-act the rising tide of materialism, rationalism, and liberalism. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared in 1854, and the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was defined as a fruit of the First Vatican Council. Secular global history was marked by revolutions and changing borders. Truly, the intercession of a powerful advocate was necessary.

As tempestuous as history demonstrates that period of history to have been, today we are faced with even greater trials. Faithful Catholics are confronted daily by a myriad challenges – both from the secular world and sadly also from within the community of believers. One has only to glance at the media feeding-frenzy that has taken place since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to witness a vivid example of these assaults to the Faith.

The Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail Against It © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

The Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail Against It © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

While devout Catholics have approached these finals days of his pontificate with both a sense of gratitude for the magnificent blessing Pope Benedict XVI has been in our lives, and ardent prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to guide the Bride of Christ into future, we have had to struggle for a sense of peace amid the bombardment of media distractions and a noisy din of secular speculations, Vegas bookies, and conspiracy theorists.

A dear friend and Carmelite friar offered a sage piece of advice last week. He noted that as Catholics we are invited by the Holy Spirit to approach this time as a mystery to be lived rather than a problem to be solved. As we seek to embrace the mystery implicit in being members of the Mystical Body of Christ, let us together invoke the intercession of the Holy Heart of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Dear St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, we seek your guidance and invoke your powerful aid on this the eve of a decisive moment in the history of our beloved Catholic Church. With deepest gratitude, please thank our Heavenly Father for the abundance grace He has bestowed upon the Church, and especially upon the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Through the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoke a blessing upon the inviolate Bride of Christ, and pray that the fullness of the Holy Spirit will descend upon those charged with the responsibility to choose wisely he who will subsequently hold the Keys of St. Peter. St. Joseph, powerful patron, please cradle the Holy Catholic Church close to your Holy Heart.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

——————————————————————————————————————–

May God bless and reward our cherished Papa, Pope Benedict XVI!

You are Peter! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

You are Peter! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Listening today to Our Holy Father deliver his final audience, I was struck by the simple beauty of his message. Thus, I am reposting the text of the Final General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI here:

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood! Distinguished Authorities! Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church – charity that makes the Church to live in love – and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

 

At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know – all of us know – that the Gospel’s word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy. When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, [2005], I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all, entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

In Our Hearts and Prayers Forever. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

In Our Hearts and Prayers Forever. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support. A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with the father’s heart. I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service.

At this point I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many people throughout the whole world, who, in recent weeks have sent me moving tokens of concern, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone: now I experience this [truth] again in a way so great as to touch my very heart. The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world’s greatest figures – from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline. In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

 

The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.

Let us invoke the Power of the Holy Spirit. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Let us invoke the Power of the Holy Spirit. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.

 

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Final General Audience, 27 February 2013

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Guardian of Virgins, Pray for Us!

Guardian of Innocence Himself, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Guardian of Innocence Himself, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

“Keep thyself chaste (1 Timothy 5: 22).”

God calls us to profound purity. In both the Old and New Testaments scripture is replete with exhortations to “Be Holy as I am Holy (Leviticus 11: 44),” and “Be Holy as your Father in Heaven is Holy (Matthew 5: 48).” Likewise in both Testaments we find examples of deep contrition as sinful human nature is confronted with an invitation to encounter the living God.

Recall, in response to a vision of God, Isaiah cries out:

“Woe is me, I am doomed. For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 6: 3).”

Likewise, as St. Peter is introduced to the power of Christ, he cries out:

“Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man (Luke 5:8).”

Scripture indicates that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and that nothing which is unclean can exist in His presence and enjoy eternal beatitude with Him forever. Thus, to achieve our destiny to love, honor, serve and obey God in this world so that we can perpetually share eternal bliss with Him, we must strive for the profound purity to which He directs our hearts.

Our good and loving God knows well the challenge posed by His call to “be Holy as He is Holy.” He understands and sympathizes with our fallen nature, and sends us an abundance of grace to overcome the temptations of this transient world. In St. Joseph, God offers us an outstanding illustration of personal purity.

God Our Heavenly Father chose the virtuous St. Joseph to be the guardian of the purity of the precious Holy Family. Under the title “Guardian of Virgins,” St. Joseph offers us a shining example of the value of chastity. Through his holy intercession we have a magnificent channel of grace available to aid in overcoming the myriad of obstacles to virtuous living that confront us each day.

Like the Four Arms of the Cross, there are Four Challenges to Purity © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA photo

Like the Four Arms of the Cross, there are Four Challenges to Purity © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA photo

Like the four arms of the cross, there are four particular areas of chastity to which we are called: that of body, mind, heart and spirit. Accepting the challenge of personal purity is a cross we each bear, but is not one that is either unreasonable nor impossible.

(1) “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul (1 Peter 2: 11).” Bodily purity is the most obvious type of chastity to which we are summoned. Perhaps as in no other time in human history are the affronts to personal purity more evident than they are today. Our culture prizes the sensual and scorns the virtuous. Through the media we are bombarded with a constant flow of licentious images. What decades ago would have been condemned as pornographic, today boldly confronts us (and our children) in glossy displays in the checkout aisle at the corner grocery store. This daily barrage of titillating filth can numb us to beauty of modesty. Supernatural help is both necessary and available in this war between the spirit and the flesh. The Blessed Virgin stands ever ready to assist us in overcoming these assaults to morality. God’s mercy is unfathomable, and should we fall He stands ever ready to forgive our failings. Prayer, penance and sacramental confession are effective remedies for the temptations of the flesh.

(2) “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5: 28).” It is often said that the eyes are the window to the soul; yet, like any window the flow of light (or darkness) is bidirectional. Purity of mind is perhaps even more challenging to achieve than purity of body, yet the two are intimately linked. For if one cultivates a garden of impure thoughts, these thorny weeds are rarely content to be contained merely in the mind, and soon one finds them creeping into the realm of the flesh. Scripture offers the following: “I made a covenant with my eyes that I would not so much as think upon a virgin (Job 31:1).” Thus when one consciously decides to spend time in prayer, and reflects with gratitude on the beauty and goodness of God, these fruits too spill over into everyday life. With humility we are each called to tame our eyes and purify our minds.

Reflections of God's Purity Abound © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

Reflections of God’s Purity Abound © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

(3) “Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in His holy place? The innocent in hands and clean of heart (Psalms 24: 3-4).” What does it mean to be clean of heart? We associate the heart with love, thus to be clean of heart can be viewed as loving that which pleasing to God. God is love (1 John 4: 8), and when our hearts are directed to that which is pleasing to God, we share in His Divine love. Yet, when we choose to love those objects which are unworthy, we reject His Love. Through the discipline of this season of Lent we are particularly invited to ask our Lord to create in us a clean heart. As we journey toward the Pascal Mystery, our hearts are being shaped to respond in kind to the Love that is offered for each of us on the cross.

(4) “Blessed are the pure in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3).” An object that is pure is undivided, unsullied. Likewise a pure spirit is one that is undivided: it exists solely for God. In contemplating the life of St. Joseph, we find a man whose love was undivided, at each and every trial he actively sought to do the will of God. We too are called to this level of purity.

St. Joseph, Guardian of Virgins, Pray for My Purity © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

St. Joseph, Guardian of Virgins, Pray for My Purity © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

As we strive to conquer the temptations of the world, let us seek the assistance of the Holy Heart of St. Joseph. A dear friend transcribed this traditional prayer. Please join me in this short, simple supplication to St. Joseph for the virtue of purity:

O Guardian of Virgins and Holy Father Joseph to whose faithful custody Jesus, Innocence Itself and Mary, Virgins of Virgins were committed, may I, with Joseph’s help, continue to serve Jesus and Mary with pure heart and chaste body all the days of my life. Amen.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

Wednesdays: Through the Holy Heart of St. Joseph: Guide us on Our Lenten Journey

Lead us on the way of Your Cross O Lord ©  SalveMaterDei.com  2013

Lead us on the way of Your Cross O Lord © SalveMaterDei.com 2013

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with the weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever (Collect from Ash Wednesday Mass).

Today we are bid to embark upon a 40-day sojourn with Our Lord Jesus Christ: an intense period of repentance, prayer, penance, fasting and alms-giving. As we accompany our Lord along the Way of the Cross, we are invited to deepen our relationship with Him – we are summoned to allow Him the opportunity to exchange our stony hearts for natural hearts. Neither Our Lord – nor His Holy Church – forces us to repent and change our lives – we are merely invited. The decision is ultimately ours; yet should we choose to accept the summons, and spend these brief winter’s days striving to encounter our Lord, our lives will never be the same.

Repent and Believe in the Gospel ©  SalveMaterDei.com  2013 (EA photo)

Repent and Believe in the Gospel © SalveMaterDei.com 2013
(EA photo)

We begin the journey marked with the Sign of the Cross as ashes are placed upon our foreheads. This visible sign is sealed with the verbal challenge to “repent and believe in the Gospel,” and to “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Before the ashes are distributed, they are solemnly blessed by a priest.

With earnest supplication on our behalf, He prays:

Dear brethren, let us humbly ask God Our Father that He be pleased to bless with an abundance of His grace these ashes, which will be put on our heads in penitence.

O God Who are moved by acts of humility and respond with forgiveness to works of penance, lend Your merciful ear to our prayers and in your kindness pour out the grace of Your blessing on Your servants who are marked with these ashes, that as they follow the Lenten observances they may be worthy to come with minds made pure to celebrate the Pascal Mystery of Your Son. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen. (Daily Roman Missal).

Bless These Holy Ashes Which We Place on Our Heads as a Sign of Penance ©  SalveMaterDei.com  2013 (EA photo)

“Be pleased to bless with an abundance of His grace these ashes, which will be put on our heads in penitence.” © SalveMaterDei.com 2013 (EA photo)

The metaphor of a spiritual retreat, a sojourn through a spiritual desert, is often applied to the Lenten journey. Just as Christ spent forty days in the desert engaged in intense prayer and fasting, we too are asked to follow in His footsteps.

This week I have been prayerfully contemplating my own Lenten journey, I concluded that I need the spiritual support of a guide. I need the intercession of one whose Holy Heart has already been perfected, and one whose protection and guidance I may securely rely upon. My thoughts of course turned to St. Joseph. Scripture tells us that St. Joseph was a “just man” (Matthew 1:19). In his compassion, he sought to do what was right and pleasing to the Lord – even in difficult circumstances (Matthew 1: 20-24, Matthew 2:13-14).

St. Joesph, Be My Protector and Guide! © SalveMaterDei.com 2013 (EA photo).

St. Joseph, Be My Protector and Guide! © SalveMaterDei.com 2013 (EA photo).

I too endeavor to do what is right and pleasing to the Lord. While St. Joseph was a righteous and good man, Our Lord sought to stretch the capacity of his already holy heart. Scripture tells us: “For whom the Lord loves, He chastises; and He scourges every son whom He receives (Hebrews 12: 6).”

Like so many other beloved servants, it was through trial and suffering that Our Lord chose to perfect St. Joseph as a smith refines the finest silver. I’ve been told that as a silversmith refines an object of silver, he carefully heats it in a flame. The smith must be careful not to overheat the desired object because silver tends to oxidize, and if he is not careful the piece can be ruined if it is left in the flame too long. Thus, the silversmith must be attentive to the process of perfection: his eyes must always remain on the object he is attempting to refine. When the purification is complete, it shines with brilliance, and smith’s own image is beautifully reflected in it.

Thus it is with God. Just as He refined the Holy Heart of St. Joseph through trial and suffering, He offers to perfect each of our human hearts as well. In submitting to the loving hands of the Master Smith, our hearts will bear the beautiful reflection of His Divine visage.

Let Me not Become Distracted, but Seek and Find The Way, The Truth and the Life © SalveMaterDei.com 2013

Let Me not Become Distracted, but Seek and Find The Way, The Truth and the Life © SalveMaterDei.com 2013

St. Joseph was uniquely qualified for his mission here on earth. He was immediately obedient, accustomed to hard work, chaste, willing to seek the Will of Almighty God in each and every situation. St. Joseph listened more than he spoke, and was ever willing to set aside his own personal plans and in favor of fulfilling the design of God. Scripture tells us that when the Angel of the Lord appears to St. Joseph in a dream and bids him to “Rise, take the Child Jesus and His mother, [and] flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you (Matthew 2: 13),” St. Joseph immediately complies with the command of the angel. Likewise, when the Angel of the Lord reappears in a subsequent dream and announces: “Rise, take the Child Jesus and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the Child’s life are dead (Matthew 2: 20),” again St. Joseph acts immediately and decisively in accordance with the summons of the angelic messenger. Scripture indicates that Joseph again responded to yet another dream and settles with his Holy Family in Nazareth.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years as a result of their disobedience and hard-heartedness (Numbers 32: 11-13).

Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep His commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to your forefathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothing did not fall from you in tatters, nor did your feet swell these forty years. So you must realize that the Lord, your God, disciplines you even as a man disciplines his son (Deuteronomy 8: 1-5).

These forty years of wandering and discipline stand in stark contrast to the journey of St. Joseph and the Holy Family. While that is not to say their journey was at all easy, it certainly didn’t take forty years. For some objects of silver, the Master Smith must refine them in the flame a bit longer than others…. As I embark upon this Lenten journey through the spiritual desert, I am going to consciously chose St. Joseph and invoke his intercession and aid. Cognizant that he traveled with Our Blessed Lord and Lady, I am sure that he will have the grace to protect me through whatever trials the Lord deems necessary to purify my being as I endeavor to reach the Pascal celebration with a pure and holy heart.

St. Joseph Holf My Hand and Guide My Steps Along this Lentern Journey © SalveMaterDei.com 2013 (EA photo)

St. Joseph Hold My Hand and Guide My Steps Along this Lenten Journey © SalveMaterDei.com 2013 (EA photo)

 

Dear St. Joseph,

As I embark upon this Lenten journey, help me to realize that I am not alone. Hold my hand, and guide my steps as you did so long ago for Jesus and Mary. Protect my heart from distractions and dangers as I traverse the sands of time. Teach me to surrender fully to God’s providential care, and to respond immediately to His summons. Help me to repent of the past, and embrace the present in a spirit of prayer and penitence, as we journey toward the Resurrection of your Divine Son. May I learn to embrace Jesus and Mary with love like yours, and may my heart swell to fully reflect the image of the Risen Christ when my journey is complete. St. Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, protector of the Holy Family, be my guide!

Blessed Lenten Journey,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ