A Prayer for Christ-Centered Love

He was Obedient to them. . . .( Holy Hill Basilica) © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011. EA photographer

He was Obedient to them. . . .( Holy Hill Basilica) © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA photographer

As the season of Advent heralded the Birth of Christ, and Christmas joy leads to the anticipation of the coming of a New Year, I find myself counting my blessings. At this evening’s Holy Mass, celebrated on the Vigil of the Feast of the Holy Family, my prayer seemed a veritable grocery list of gratitude. I am grateful for the abundance of God’s grace – for my family, and for the multitude of blessings that God has bestowed upon each of us in His goodness. As I reflect upon each of these gifts, the common thread that unites them all is Christ’s Love: for His LOVE is truly all that fundamentally matters.

This morning my spiritual father phoned and read a prayer he had recently penned. His words touched me deeply, and thus, with his permission, I am sharing Father Cyril’s prayer:

Throughout the beautiful season of Advent,

I prayed for each and every one of you,


That the Newborn Christ might touch your heart,

and mind and soul,

with His tiny hands.


May the Newborn Christ touch your heart and mind and soul with His tiny Hands © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

May the Newborn Christ touch your heart and mind and soul with His tiny Hands © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

I prayed that He might open you to His own beauty and

That you might begin to realize

that He needs you in His Mystical Body.


I prayed that you might become more Christ-centered

and less self-centered.

Yes, this was my prayer for you-

That you might become Christ-centered, Love-centered.


Becoming Christ- centered, Love centered © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Becoming Christ- centered, Love centered © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

It is truly a shame to find so many dedicated Christians, who have been chosen by His Love

And then make Christ wait to receive their love.


Yes, I prayed that during the New Year,

You would come to have a greater awareness

of His Love for you.


Love is the Essence © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Love is the Essence © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

As you know, Love is the very essence

of our Religion and our Faith.


Fr. Cyril Guise, OCD December 28, 2013

Perfect Christ-Centered Love © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Perfect Christ-Centered Love © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Fr. Cyril mentioned that the ideal icon depicting this image was that of the Christ Child contained within the Blessed Virgin, the Most Holy Theotokos. For no other individual so perfectly lived Christ-centered Love. Our Lady was aware of His Love for Her, and in turn became a living conduit of Christ’s Love for all humanity. Thus, we too are called to become similar icons – placing Christ and His Love at our very center and essence, and living that love accordingly.

Striving to welcome the tiny hands of the Newborn Christ Child within my heart, mind, and soul. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Blessed Nativity, and Peaceful New Year,

Happy Feast of the Holy Family,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,


Living the Nativity


Like the Magi, we are called to perpetually bring the Gold of charity, the Frankinsence of prayer and the Myrrh of penetential sacrifice. © Salve Mater Dei 2013

Like the Magi, we are called to perpetually bring the Gold of charity, the Frankincense of prayer and the Myrrh of penitential sacrifice. © Salve Mater Dei 2013


“Give to the Lord, you sons of God, Give to the Lord glory and praise, Give to the Lord the glory due His name, adore the Lord in holy attire (Psalm 29:1-2).”

With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord the Liturgical Season of Christmas officially draws to a close and the season of Ordinary Time commences. As the colorful Christmas lights are packed away, and the ornaments find their way back into the attic, we shift spiritual gears from the preparing for the birth of Christ and rejoicing in His Incarnation to the nitty-gritty of daily life. The preparations are over, the thrill of anticipation and the reminiscences of Christmas morning are but memories. The glitz of tinsel and shimmer of Christmas lights have faded into the subdued glow of a cold winter morn.

We are to Challenged to Keep Christmas all the Year- to Become Living Nativities. © Salve Mater Dei 2013

We are to Challenged to Keep Christmas all the Year- to Become Living Nativities. © Salve Mater Dei 2013

Now comes the hard part. We must face the challenge of carrying Christmas – and with it, the Christ-Child – in our hearts all the year through. We are called to be christophers, that is Christ-bearers. With the immortalized Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we are called to vow:

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

Yet the Spirit we are asked to grasp is not illusory, rather we are called to fully welcome the Holy Spirit. We are called to embrace the Christ-Child and never let Him go. We are asked to refrain from packing Him away like the plastic and porcelain replicas from our nativity crèche.

For Unto Us a Child is Born! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

For Unto Us a Child is Born! © Salve Mater Dei 2013

With God’s grace, may we strive each and every day to wrap the newborn Christ Child in a blanket of love, and keep Him warm in the cradle of our hearts. Unlike the inn-keepers from of old, may we welcome the Holy Family. As we shelter Jesus, Mary and Joseph in our hearts, may the Holy Family sanctify our lives and strengthen within us the virtues requisite for authentic family life. Through Our Lady’s maternal love, may we see the face of Christ in all whom we meet. As St. Joseph protected the Blessed Mother and Infant Jesus, through his intercession may our chastity and that of our families remain safe, even in the midst of a licentious pagan culture.

With the Humility of Shepherds, We are called to Glorify God even in Mundane Tasks. © Salve Mater Dei 2013

With the Humility of Shepherds, We are called to Glorify God even in Mundane Tasks. © Salve Mater Dei 2013

With the humility of shepherds, may we respond immediately to His messengers and glorify God even in our most menial of daily duties. May we seek Him with the zeal of the Magi, and perpetually offer the gold of charity, the Frankincense of prayer and the myrrh of penitential sacrifice. Lastly, with the angels may we seek to do His Holy Will and perfectly reflect His goodness so that one day we may join the celestial chorus in praising Him in Paradise for all eternity.


Ad Jesum Per Mariam,


*** Photos taken at the annual Living Nativity at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill on December 16, 2012. Used with Permission.

Striving to Resemble Christ as a Holy Innocent

Weeping for her Children, because they were no more. . .

Weeping for her Children, because they were no more. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more (Jeremiah 31:15).

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents and in so doing we honor the lives of the infants who were slaughtered at the command of King Herod.

Today’s Gospel states:

When the Magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

At The Kings Command These Innocent Babes Were Put to Death. . . .

At The Kings Command These Innocent Babes Were Put to Death. . . .

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more (Matthew 2:13-18).

Christmas Reflects the Joy of Innocence. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Christmas Reflects the Joy of Innocence. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

In the midst of Christmas bliss, our joy is today tinged with sorrow. It is impossible to contemplate the concept of Christmas without simultaneously thinking of children. The Christ Child is integral to the nature of Christmas itself: without the Divine Babe, Christmas itself would not exist. Both religious and secular society recognize the centrality of children to Christmas. From crèche to carolers, cookies to candy canes, our cherished Christmas images reflect the joy of innocence. We treasure memories of our own youthful Christmases past, and strive to allow our progeny to experience cherished traditions with the same delight we held so long ago.

Cherished Memories of Christmas Past. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Cherished Memories of Christmas Past. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

This rhythm of innocence and joy is among the blessings of this sacred season. Fresh are the memories of our youngsters kneeling by the crèche to wish Baby Jesus a “Happy Birthday”, of wee ones enthralled with glittery festive wrap, chubby cheeks sticky with holiday sweets, and angelic choruses singing “Silent Night.” Yet, today, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents we acknowledge that the Cross and the Crib are not all that far apart. If we are to embrace the Babe in the Manager, we must also prepare ourselves accept the Cross as well.

We must be Prepared to Welcome both the Christ in the Crib and One on the Cross.

We must be Prepared to Welcome both the Christ in the Crib and One on the Cross. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Ours is an imperfect, fallen, temporary world. Eternity is forever and in His wisdom, our loving God allows us to unite our suffering with that of His beloved Son. This grace is offered to all, irrespective of age, race, or station in life. The tender babes who we remember as the Holy Innocents achieved the grace to perfectly reflect Christ to a troubled world.

The martyrs whose feast we celebrate were victims of the cruel, irrational jealousy of King Herod. Their innocence and light contrasts his evil darkness. Herod “The Great” is recorded in history as a brutal, maniacal, despot; diabolical shadows are evident throughout his entire reign. Herod was appointed Governor of Galilee by Rome at the age of 25. His cruelty was already known and condemned by high-ranking Jewish officials. He briefly lost his throne in a power struggle with his nephew, Antigonus; upon which Herod swiftly traveled to Rome to politically spar for his precious throne. Evidently he was persuasive and his history of brutal suppression of opposition was thought by Rome to be an asset; the Roman Senate declared Herod “The King of the Jews” c. 39 B.C.

Upon returning to Judea, and securing his throne, Herod promptly married the adolescent niece of Antigonus, Mariamne I, in an effort to ameliorate Jewish discontent at his return. Herod banished his own wife Doris and her children rather than deal with palace squabbles over legitimate heirs to the throne. Actually this fate was kinder than that which was in store for Mariamne and some of her sons. Fueled by jealous rage and paranoia Herod had each of them brutally murdered.

Aware that his subjects despised him, Herod “The Great” devised an elaborate plan to ensure that at his death his subjects would mourn. His final illness was described by the renowned Roman historian Josephus. He recounts details that include visible worms within his flesh, purification, and agony, – his son, Herod Agrippa’s fate included a similarly recorded death. As Herod’s health began to fail, he ordered that many of the most beloved citizens and revered rabbis be imprisoned and that upon his death they be executed. There is however some evidence that Herod’s son Archilaus failed to carry out this diabolical request.

Herod “The Great,” the Roman appointed “King of the Jews,” was an evil man. Darkness and light cannot exist simultaneously. The True Light was coming into the world, and neither Herod, nor the Evil which fueled him, could tolerate that reality. Thus, in an effort to extinguish the Light, Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys two years and under living in the region of Bethlehem. These children died because they resembled our Savior in gender, age, and innocence. Their senseless massacre was mourned in heaven and on earth. Truly one can sense God Himself weeping over their deaths. Two millennia later tears are still shed for their passing and their lives are remembered with great devotion. They have achieved the glory of immortality that eluded their brutal murder.

These babes were martyred because they resembled the Christ-Child. Yet, for those of us who believe, there is no greater grace than to conform perfectly to Our Savior as to be confused for Him. In reality, those of us who bear the name Christian strive daily to become living, breathing images of Christ, such that when one sees us they truly see Him alive within us. The Holy Innocents achieved this monumental task at a tender age.

Become a Living, Breathing, Image of Christ. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Become a Living, Breathing, Image of Christ. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

In our world today there are other holy innocents whose lives speak volumes. Last month a young boy named Andrew succumbed to an aggressive brain cancer. His faith was unwavering, and in his final weeks he was often heard praying and offering his suffering for other children with cancer. He prayed that his family might accept his death, and that they all might one day be reunited in Paradise.

Last year, another young girl prayed that closeness which through her devastating illness had bonded her troubled family would not be shattered upon her death.

A tiny babe recovering from massive surgeries to correct devastating birth anomalies clings to life surrounded by his amazing faith-filled family http://www.dominicpio.com/. (Please pray for little Dominic Pio!)

Each day in the abortion mills throughout this country and the world, thousands of precious, tiny lives are taken. Their light is extinguished by the darkness of ignorance and selfishness.

One has only to look to the recent events in Newtown Connecticut to sense the preciousness of innocent lives, and that fact that dark and disturbed people still exist.

Today, as we remember the Holy Innocents and celebrate their Feast, let us pray that we too achieve the grace to resemble Christ so closely that we might be mistaken for Him. Let us pray for all the innocent children of the world – born and unborn – that they might enjoy freedom to live in health and safety, and come to proclaim the reality of the love of Christ.

May His Light shine through them and through us for all eternity.

Merry Christmas Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.   JMJ

A New Year in December. . . Embarking Upon a Journey of Faith

His Splendor Fills the Earth © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, GM photographer

His Splendor Fills the Earth © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, GM photographer

See the Lord coming from afar; His splendor fills the earth (Antiphon, Evening Prayer Advent Week 1).

Rejoice! The sacred season of Advent has begun! As Holy Mass was celebrated for the First Sunday in Advent, we began a new year. This New Year’s celebration was not heralded with the din of pop-stars bellowing, nor glitzy ball-drops; no noise-makers, champagne, nor party streamers were utilized in celebration. For much of the secular world, this salient transition passed without notice. Yet, for members of the Body of Christ, the initiation of the new Liturgical Year is significant. As the old year passes away, the new begins – pregnant with promise and possibility. The First Reading for Holy Mass on the First Sunday of Advent was from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:

I will Raise Up a Shoot. . ..© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012,  EA Photo

I will Raise Up a Shoot. . ..© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, EA Photo

The days are coming says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the House of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot, he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall be secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice (Jeremiah 33: 14-16).”

Thus, we embark on a journey of faith. Over the next four weeks we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In an authentic manner we are invited to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in two distinct ways; both the arrival of the Infant King, and the return of the Just Judge. For the first two weeks of Advent, we focus upon the Apocryphal coming of Christ, the Parousia, and thus, we prepare our hearts for the ultimate encounter with the Risen King. During the second two weeks, our focus shifts toward the birth of the Incarnate Word, and the salvific power of the Birth of Divine Love.

The Son of Man Will Come with Great Poer and Glory. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, EA Photo

The Son of Man Will Come with Great Power and Glory. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, EA Photo

This week’s Gospel Reading directs our hearts to prepare for the return of Our Savior as Just Judge:

Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, and on the earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.


Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36).

Each and every human person will one day stand before the throne of God. We will be judged. Whether we believe we will one day be held accountable for our lives is truly irrelevant: the judgment will occur whether we believe in it or not. Scripture affirms that there will be a particular judgment at the moment of death, and later – after the second coming of Christ – there will be a Last Judgment. The Book of Life will be opened in the presence of all the assembled nations of the world, and Jesus will separate those whose have embraced His Merciful Love, and whose deeds have permitted them to spend Eternity comprehending the Beatific Vision, from those who have willingly rejected His Love, and who will spend Eternity in the absence of God.

To the Blessed He Will Say, Come Inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You From All Eternity © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, EA Photographer

To the Blessed He Will Say, “Come Inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You From All Eternity.” © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012, EA Photographer

I don’t know about you, but every time I truly contemplate standing before the Throne of Almighty God, I become acutely aware of the deficits in my own character. I experience a keen sense of contrition, and resolve to amend my life. I find it to be a veritable speed bump on the road of life.  Advent offers each of us the opportunity for a “progress check.” We are each invited to contemplate Eternity, and to make the corrections that are necessary. It is as if we switch on a Celestial Global Positions System (CGPS) focused toward Heaven, listen to the directions, and make those U-turns that are indicated.

During this First Week of Advent, we are called to embrace Sunday’s Readings, as well as those of daily Mass. We are invited to take stock of our present situation, and make genuine resolutions that will lead to progress along the path of life, and begin the journey anew.

Safe Travels and Blessed Liturgical New Year,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.   JMJ

The Lord is King, He is Robed in Majesty!

The Lord is King, He is Robed in Majesty © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. EA photo

The Lord is King, He is robed in Majesty; the Lord is robed, girded with might. The world will surely stand in place, never to be moved. Your throne stands firm from of old; You are from everlasting, Lord (Psalm 93: 1-2).

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. On this day, we bow our heads and acknowledge the dominion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Divine authority over everything in this world, and indeed the entire universe. Scripture clearly elucidates Christ’s Kingship. For example, today’s First Reading states:

As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of Man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before Him, the One like a Son of Man received dominion, glory and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, His kingship shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7-13-14).

All Nations Shall Come to Adore Him. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. EA photo

This Solemnity originated as a feast, in response to mounting cultural pressures to succumb to rising tides of secularism. In 1925, Pope Pius XI penned the Encyclical Quas Primas, thus initiating this feast, under the title “D. N. Jesu Christi Regis,” Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.

Earlier that year, the Pontiff was reportedly walking in the Papal Gardens with a cardinal, who noted how dejected the pontiff seemed. In the conversation that ensued, the Holy Father discussed his frustration with the flood of –isms that were spreading darkness throughout the world. He detailed the ramifications of: Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s Nazism, Stalin’s Communism, Freud’s psychological determinism, and the American materialism that was manifest in the roaring twenties. Pope Pius XI explained that Christ and His dominion remain the solitary answer to humanity’s deepest yearning. These other false doctrines fail to satisfy our longing and need for Christ and His Kingship. It is only in submission to Christ as our Sovereign, that the human soul finds fulfillment and peace.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).” © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

This exchange prompted Pope Pius XI to write the encyclical Quas Primas, and initiate the Feast of Christ the King in 1925. The Holy Father envisioned that this Feast could have multiple effects. First, He hoped that the rulers of this world would understand that they are bound to respect Christ (Quas Primas 31). Pope Pius XI also hoped that the nations of the world would accept that the Church has a right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32). Similarly, the Pontiff hoped that The Feast of Christ the King would empower Christians with courage and strength, as we are reminded that Jesus Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, bodies and wills (Quas Primas, 33).

The Alpha and the Omega, Corpus Christi © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.EA photo

As we look at recent threats to religious liberty in this country, most notably the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate requiring Catholic (as well as other) Institutions and employers to provide “health” insurance coverage which will include (without co-pay) contraceptives,abortifacients, and sterilization, we see how the antecedents envisioned by Pope Pius XI have blossomed into real threats to the religious freedom and moral life of the contentious Christian faithful. Those whose religious principles hold that all life is sacred from natural conception to natural death, have been told they will have to either violate their consciences or violate the law of the land. Our religious freedom is rapidly being confined to the 4 walls of our homes, as state sanctioned assaults on religious freedom are more commonplace. Thus, Pope Pius’ objective to urge world leaders to respect the authority of Christ, to protect the religious freedom of Christians, and to empower Christians to remain courageously stalwart while embracing the reign of Christ in our hearts, minds and bodies (Quas Primas 31-33) bears as much significance today as when Quas Primas was penned 87 years ago.

As contemporary Americans, the concept of kingship seems a bit foreign to us. Didn’t we throw that off in 1776? That staunchly independent streak of ours seems to balk at the slightest hint of subservience to royalty. We like to think of Jesus as our friend and brother (as indeed He is), and seek Him as our Merciful Savior; however, when it comes to acknowledging Jesus as our Sovereign King, and submitting ourselves to His Reign, there we find difficulty. This is especially true when it comes to personal moral decisions, those that seem to go against the grain of contemporary society, or expose us to the discomfort of appearing at odds with popular culture.

The Lord Our All-Powerful God is King © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.EA photo

It is precisely here, where that discomfort lies, that drive of autonomous rebellion to His authority begins; at this explicit juncture we must decide whether we are truly loyal Christians, or not. In this political and cultural climate, as threats to conscience and religious liberty escalate, we are in a real way being called to decide to Whom we owe our highest allegiance. Whom do we wish to serve? Will we stand with Jesus Christ? Will we acknowledge and accept His ultimate and legitimate authority over our hearts, minds, and souls? Are we embarrassed or reluctant to admit that His Dominion exists in our everyday lives? Does He reign in our homes – yes, even our bedrooms?  What about at work, in our boardrooms? How about our voting booths? Is He present when we surf the Internet, when we chat on the phone, or when we relax in front of the television? If Jesus Christ is truly our Sovereign King, then we must willingly give Him dominion over every aspect of our lives: private, public, and political.

All Power, Honor, and Glory © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. EA photo

Recall Jesus commands us in Sacred Scripture to: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; but render unto God what is God’s (Mark 12:17).”

Today’s Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is an opportune time to examine our relationship with Jesus, and to recommit ourselves to His service. For whether or not we choose to acknowledge His Sovereignty, it does objectively exist: He is in fact, the Eternal King. Even a casual observer of recent global geo-political history has to admit that earthly rulers and their policies come and go, even geo-political boundaries are subject to change. The map of Eurasia appears vastly different than it did 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago. Our present world is in flux. The powerful of this world are eventually replaced by those who are more powerful; the prosperous by those with more wealth, the attractive and popular by those who are more so. These superficial realities are indeed fleeting, and allegiance to them is fidelity to the transient. However, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).” Ultimately our time on earth is relatively short when compared against the backdrop of eternity. Our choice to submit to His authority has eternal ramifications. If we serve Him in this world, we shall enjoy perpetual peace in His Kingdom for all eternity. If we choose to rebel against His authority – and we have the free will to do just that – then we shall have all eternity to ponder that decision as well.

Lamb of God You take Away the Sins of the World. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

On this Solemnity, let us consider carefully the choice before us. Recall in Revelations 3:16 how Our Lord spoke of those who failed to make a conscious choice to commit themselves to Christ: “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” With that in mind, let us renew our consecration to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Together let us recommit ourselves to serving Him in this world, working for the greatest honor and Glory of God in time and Eternity.


Ad Jesum per Mariam,


Humility and Love

Whoever Receives One Child Such as This Receives Me. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

I remember when each of my children were born, and placed in my arms marveling at the miracle God had rendered in human flesh. The tiny fingers and toes, the delicate complexion, soft lips, and feathery eyelashes simply filled me with awe and gratitude. With each bundle of joy, I also recall pondering the utter vulnerability of the newborn child. Cognizant of the limitations of purposeful fine motor movement, I’d often wonder how it must feel to be so completely dependent upon the goodness of another. When those little arms would flail without apparent rhyme or reason, I’d wonder if my child had an itch he or she desperately wanted to scratch, or some other discomfort that could not be expressed and addressed voluntarily.

Perhaps I was more sensitive to this vulnerability because as I was taking care of my newborns, I was also caring for my Mom throughout her battle with Alzheimer’s Dementia. I recall watching my first-born son, then only a few months old, gaining skill daily while at the same time I was caring for Mom as she was losing her abilities with equal rapidity. As God blessed me with more children, I found myself contemplating the inverse proportional relationship between the rate at which my progeny gained independence and that at which my mother lost hers. I recall feeding Mom spoonsful of aromatic pureed nutrition, while tapping an infant’s seat with my foot, and watching two youngsters quibble over a container of cheerios.

Faith, Hope and Love Remain © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

We all long to feel important and valued– to have our basic needs met with tenderness and consideration. Yet it is paradoxical that as our ability to have those most basic needs met independently is achieved, that our capacity to empathize with the vulnerable diminishes. When we are in the greatest position to help others, we are often blinded to their needs. Yet, we were once as helpless as they, and are an accident, an illness, a natural disaster or an age away from being equally vulnerable again.

Often we spend our lives posturing to distance ourselves from an awareness of our own defenselessness. We wrap ourselves in the false-security blanket of accolades, achievements, and material possessions in an effort to insulate ourselves from any true cognition of our own innate weakness. While we are conscious of the limitations of others, we quell any sense of personal frailty by striving for a sense of superiority over them.

Humility is the antidote for arrogance; meekness the remedy for pride. Our Lord Jesus Christ directs us to “Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29).” He does not say: “Pattern your life after Me for I Am omnipotent and omniscient.” Rather, He directs us to “right-size” our egos, to become fully aware of our littleness, our utter dependence upon God and our fellow human beings.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord offers the Apostles an attitude adjustment, as He compels them to truly follow Him in humility. The disciples are journeying throughout Galilee with Jesus, and He begins to tell them that:

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill Him, and three days after His death, the Son of Man will rise (Mk 9: 31).”

He is explaining to them that His kingship is to be different than they anticipate. He has not come to over-throw the Romans and create a new political order. No, His ascent to glory will come via the cross rather than the crown. The Apostles cannot comprehend Christ’s words. Later, on the road to Capernaum, they engage in that all too human activity of posturing for power. As they enter the house, Our Lord asks them: “What were you discussing on the way?” To their silence and shame, Christ responds:

Unless You Become As A Child, You Shall Not Enter the Kingdom of God. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

“’If anyone one wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting His arms around it, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in My Name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me, but the One Who sent Me (MK 9: 35-37).’”

Like the Apostles we are also called to serve. To do so, we must “right-size” our self-perception, and follow the One Who is meek and humble of heart. From the greatest to the least, our call is to embrace our weakness and allow His Omnipotence to be our strength. As Christians, when we embrace Christ in each other, particularly in the vulnerable and the weak, we conform ourselves to Our Master, and resemble Him in grace. The call is universal, none of us is too great to excuse his or herself from the obligation of charity. Our Holy Father’s official title is “Servus Sevorum Dei” for he is truly the Servant of the Servants of God.

God is Good! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

I struggle in my own personal efforts to “right-size” my ego. Yet, as St. Therese, the Little Flower said, “Humility is the truth (Thoughts of St. Therese, p. 40).” Authentic humility is seeing the reality of our weakness, and offering it to the Almighty to fill with His Greatness. It is only in embracing our frailty and seeking to meet the needs of the vulnerable in our midst that we achieve the greatness to which we are called. In contemporary society, the vulnerable, the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the marginalized, and the weak, are often viewed as unworthy of attention. It is our vocation to address their needs with humble compassion if we are to be worthy of the name Christian.


Ad Jesum per Mariam,


A Double Portion of His Spirit

Carmelite Coat of Arms © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. EA photographer

Sitting in my back yard, watching the sun dip below the swaying trees I feel the magnitude of God’s embrace. It has been a beautiful Summer day. As is our habit, we assisted at morning Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill. This marvelous Shrine, entrusted to the Discalced Carmelites was a fitting place for today’s Mass. Today’s First Reading (2 Kings 2:1, 6-14.) is one of my favorites, and it deals with the glorious departure of the spiritual Father of the Carmelites: the prophet Elijah.

Elijah is about to be taken up into heaven in a whirlwind and Elisha is grieving at the thought of losing his friend and mentor. Elijah the holy prophet whose miraculous works include: defending the one true God against the idol worshipers of Baal, saving the widow of Zarephath and her son from certain death, confronting King Ahab over the murderous theft of the vineyard of Naboth, let alone calling down fire from heaven and raising the dead. Elijah is a pure instrument of God; his love is so deep that his unity with God allows miraculous events to unfold- even in ordinary times and places.

As Elisha and Elijah walk on toward the Jordan, a group of about 50 guild prophets trail behind to watch. As they are crossing the Jordon River to which God had been directing Elijah:

“Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided and both crossed over on dry ground. As they crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha answered, ‘May I receive a double portion of your spirit?’ ‘You have asked something that is not easy,’ Elijah replied, ‘Still, if you see me taken up from you your wish will be granted; otherwise not (2 Kings 2: 8-10) .’”

They crossed over on dry ground. . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. KJ photographer

I can only imagine Elisha’s grief and trepidation as they walked along. Elisha loved God, and knew well how perfectly Elijah conformed himself to God’s grace. He had witnessed firsthand God’s mighty works through this holy prophet. As they miraculously crossed the Jordon on dry land, Elisha had to have known that the most profound moment of his life was about to occur. He realized that as Elijah’s earthly journey was about to end, that a transformation in his own role as prophet and servant was about to occur.

It is thus that he asked Elijah for a “double portion of his spirit.” This was not a self-serving, prideful request to be greater than the master. No, on the contrary, Elisha revered Elijah as a spiritual father, and was requesting the grace to carry on as his heir. In keeping with the inheritance rubrics of the period, Elisha is merely asking to be recognized as the legitimate heir of Elijah. In those days it was the custom that the eldest son, the legal heir, be given a “double portion” of the father’s inheritance. Thus, if a patriarch were to leave behind 3 sons, his estate would be divided into quarters, with the eldest son receiving two portions, and the other sons each receiving one. Here, the estate that Elisha seeks is not a treasury of gold, but rather of grace.

Elijah makes it clear that this is a profound request. Yet, while they are conversing,

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012. KJ photographer

“a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. When Elisha saw what happened, he cried out, ‘My father, my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!’ But when he could no longer see him, Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two (2 Kings 2: 11-12).”

Like his garment, his heart must have been equally rent, yet with the grace from the Spirit of God, he was able to accept his role as heir and move on. He picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him, and walked back to the banks of the Jordon.

“Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah, Elisha struck the water in his turn and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Then Elisha struck the water; it divided and he crossed over (2 Kings 2:14).”

How often we find ourselves in the place of Elisha? God asks us to let go of what is dear, and trust that His grace will be sufficient. He calls us to journey with Him, and to accept the roles He envisions for us, His servants. It is then, that like Elisha, we must seek and call on Him by name, requesting a “double portion” of His Spirit. St. Therese of Lisieux wrote that she asked God for a “double portion” of the spirit of all the saints in heaven, so that she might have the grace to do His will. With the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, we too can have the grace to live as heirs of the Kingdom of God. At times, it is difficult to move past the human emotions that mark the passage of time, yet it is only in so doing that we can become the heirs to the grace and legacy that He has chosen for each of us from the dawn of eternity.


Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

A Mother’s Love ….

© SalveMaterDei.com 2012

My mom was a lovely lady. She was a diligent, no-nonsense type of woman. Mom gave my two siblings and I life, and for this I am eternally grateful.  I grew up in a working-class neighborhood, about a mile from the Detroit City line. There in a 963 square foot cookie-cutter house on a lovely tree-lined street, I spent my youth. Like others of my generation, life revolved around faith, family and school. Mom and Dad worked hard to maintain a stable home environment in the midst of the cultural turmoil of the 70’s. While Dad may have been the king of the castle, Mom was undoubtedly the power behind the throne. She was a strong-willed lady who ran her modest home like Margaret Thatcher ran her country (In fact, the Iron Lady probably could have learned a thing or two from my Mom.)

Christmas Memories © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Mom and Dad both worked full-time to make ends meet, yet, my kaleidoscope of memories are full of warm family moments. I see Mom bent over her sewing machine, stitching my ballet costumes, or Sunday dresses, while Dad rested in a chair listening to the Irish Rovers on cassette tape. There are memories of pleasant summer days, with Mom on her hands and knees, pruning her roses, while Dad flipped burgers and corn-on-the cob on the Hibachi grill. In the winter, Dad would flood and freeze the back yard, and all five of us would don our skates under the star-lit city sky. During warmer weather, Mom and Dad would take turns playing tennis with us in the street, hitting a ball back and forth, careful not to ding the neighbors’ cars.

Faith and Family © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Sundays were my favorite. We would all attend Holy Mass together at St. Agatha, the church attached to the parish school which I attended during the week. We would sit near the front, and I would love to hear Mom and Dad sing those beautiful hymns as we worshipped God together as a family. I loved sitting next to Mom on Mother’s Day. Each year, Dad would get Mom a fragrant corsage. She looked so pretty with its blossom reflecting the joy in her face. Later, even though money was tight,  all five of us would go out for breakfast. Often on Sunday’s we’d enjoy a family drive in the country during which we’d pray a family rosary or again sing beautiful hymns.

Life was good- God blessed our family abundantly. There were stresses to be sure. The economy was precarious, neither Mom nor Dad were ever confident their employment was stable. As my brother headed to a state college in the 70’s the stress seemed to compound. While my Dad was the epitome of meek gentleness, my Mom had fiery temper to match her strawberry blond hair. She was a formidable lady, with an iron will. I’ll let you guess from which side of the gene-pool my tenacious streak and “calm” demeanor emanate. For Mom and I, my years of maturity resembled something like rocks spinning in a tumbler with coarse sand. We certainly grated on each other’s nerves, but the process polished both of us.

The legacy my Mom bequeathed is a rich one indeed; she has instilled gifts beyond measure. Though between the two of them Mom and Dad only took a handful of college courses, they had an abiding love of classical learning. Mom loved literature and history, and she devoured books with a voracious appetite.

History was to be lived, and touched to be made real. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Each year as we would travel to Arkansas to visit my paternal grandfather, Mom and Dad would make sure we stopped at every historical marker possible. They shared the view that history was meant to be lived and touched to be brought into the present. As we would wind from Michigan to Illinois, through the Blue Mountains to Arkansas and back, we experienced history. We explored Mammoth Cave, walked the Appalachian Trail, toured President Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, and vividly gained an appreciation for truth and beauty though the eyes of our wise parents. (They would have loved what we do with homeschooling, as they are the inspiration for so much of it.) Besides passing on an enduring love of literature and learning, Mom and Dad bequeathed an even greater treasure: their faith.

My parents shared an abiding love of God. Their steadfast faith animated who they were and yielded substance to the lives they led. In that kaleidoscope of fond memories are pictures of my Mom with rosary in hand, kneeling beside her bed in prayer each night, scenes of her standing with me in line outside the confessional at a nearby monastery church, and the sound of her sweet voice echoing “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria. . . “

Family Celebration © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

As the years passed, Alzheimer’s jumbled the kaleidoscope of my Mom’s own personal memories. The light in her eyes faded, and she no longer recognized those who held her dear. Cancer and disease made it impossible for Dad to care for Mom safely at home, and thus her last years were passed at a nearby nursing home. Dad would spend hours with Mom, daily bringing her favorite treat: a Culver’s milkshake. The kids and I would visit several times a week and would keep her company in the lovely garden gazebo near her room. My sister Dawn would often bring her family to visit Mom as well. We came to regard many of the wonderful staff as dear friends. Mom’s room was decorated with framed family photos, silk plants, garden knickknacks, festive window-clings. Her new home became our home away from home.

A Mother’s Love Lasts Forever. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

About three years before Mom died, I was visiting her alone. I was pregnant with my third child, and it was a difficult and dangerous pregnancy. We had been diagnosed with complete placenta previa. The placenta’s position not only prevented my daughter’s natural exit, but it also lay right along the line where the C-section to deliver her would occur. To be safe, the kids and I would have to move closer to the hospital for the last months of pregnancy. I would not be able to make the half-hour drive north to visit my Mom for quite a while. Mom had not spoken for over a year at this point. Her contractured body lay in a reclining chair, and her eyes gazed at some spot fixed near the window, as I began to speak to her. I took her hand in mine as I began to relay the situation. I explained: “Mom, I’m having trouble with the baby. I’m going to miss visiting you, but for few months I’m going to have to move to be close to the hospital. Dad will still come every day, but I can’t be here for a while. It’s going to be o.k. I’ll be back, but not for a little bit. I love you Mom.” As I spoke,. Mom began to cry. I was startled; I hadn’t seen any emotion from her in years. I thought I was upsetting her. So I gave her a hug and a kiss, blessed her with holy water, and said, “Mom, I am so sorry I upset you. I’ll go now so you can rest.” I will never forget her response. As I walked to the door- this lovely lady who had not recognized nor spoken to me for years, turned her head, and with every ounce of strength called me by name and said: “I love you too.” With tears streaming I hugged her, and held her, as we both cried.

Life is a Gift. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Those were the last words Mom ever spoke to me, for she would die about two and half years later. After my daughter’s safe delivery, we returned to our schedule of frequent visits. While in the nursing home, Mom held each of my then four children in their Baptismal gowns. There were many, many Culver’s shakes, and walks in the garden. I knew that even if she did not physically respond, the sight and sound of children laughing and warmth of their caress were balm to her aching heart. As it is rooted in the Love of God, a mother’s love is truly eternal. Beginning with the gift of life, my Mom had given me so much. I sought to return her love in the abundance that it had freely been given to me.  Mom remained a part of each family celebration each Christmas, Easter, birthday, anniversary, etc. was spent in joy by her side. Each day is a gift, and a mother’s love is a treasure.

On this Mother’s Day, I pray that now that she is on the other side of eternity and that her joy is complete. I pray that in the love and mercy of God that Mom is truly rewarded for the years of devotion and self-sacrifice. I pray that I can be the kind of mother she was to me. I pray that Mom stands beside Mary, the Queen of Heaven, to whom she was so deeply devoted, in adoration of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that wrapped in His tender embrace, she prays for her loving family, so that one day, we may together enjoy the eternity of Paradise.

May Our Dear Lord, and His beloved Mother bless you and yours with the abundance He has blessed us. Happy Mother’s Day 2012.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,


If I Had the Faith of A Child (reprise)

“Truly I say to you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a child, you shall not enter into it (Luke 18:17).”

Unless You Receive The Kingdom of God As A Child. . . .. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

I love watching the reflection of Easter in the eyes of my children. The purity of their love shines forth. Children have a unique relationship to God. Our Lord chose to enter the world as a helpless, innocent babe, and from the moment of the Incarnation, He became one of them, one of us. As we walk the outdoor Stations of the Cross, and listen to the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, our Lord’s suffering seems to resonate deeply with them. Their piety is genuine; their love is deep. Just as sorrow seems to carve a space within us, so too later that whittled space can brim with joy. Easter through the eyes of a child is a blessing to behold!

Today as we prepare for the great feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, we continue with the sixth day of the novena of chaplets, prayed with ordinary rosary beads. For complete instructions on how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, visit the Divine Mercy website of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php.

Let the Children come to Me © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Today is also the sixth day of the novena dictated by Jesus to St. Maria Faustina. For each day of this novena, Our Lord requested that Sr. Faustina bring a different group of souls into the abyss of His mercy. Today Our Lord directed:

“Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence (1220, p. 439 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

For the complete text of the sixth day of the novena, please visit the Divine Mercy Website of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/sixthday.php.

Our Lord stated:

A Sweet Smelling Bouquet. . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2012.

“These souls send all of Heaven into ecstasy and are the Heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance (1220, p. 439).”

If God Himself takes delight in the souls of children, and the humble souls who resemble them, can we do no less?

In honor of these special souls I am reposting a prayer I penned and posted many months ago.

If I Had The Faith of A Child. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

If I Had the Faith of A Child

If I had the faith of a child, I would welcome each day with delight.

With reckless abandon, I would pursue the task of Life.

If I had the faith of a child, I would treat God as my Father,

With confidence I would speak to Him about little things throughout the day.

If I had the faith of a child, I would view His creation with a sense of wonder.

With gratitude, I would thank Him for the flowers, and snowflakes, and autumn leaves….

With Reckless Abandon, I would Live . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

If I had the faith of a child, I would realize my smallness,

And I would seek shelter in His Magnitude.

If I had the faith of a child, I would not let a sense of time constrain me,

Rather, I would marvel in the timelessness of eternity.

If I had the faith of a child, I would not grow anxious about complex matters,

Instead, I would trust in His Providence to make it all right.

I Would See Miracles Every Day © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

If I had the faith of a child, my prayers would be simple.

With innocence, I would reflect His purity.

If I had the faith of a child, I would tell Him, “I’m sorry,” when need be,

And I would believe in my heart that His Mercy is greater than my weakness.

If I had the faith of a child, I would see miracles every day,

With simplicity, I would accept the incomprehensible.

If I had the faith of a child, I would make God laugh.

He Would Delight in My Littleness © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

He would delight in my littleness, and I in His Omnipotence.

If I had the faith of a child, I would feel His unconditional Love,

He would fill me with His gifts and I would share them.

If I had the faith of a child, I would possess true wisdom,

For, He would reveal the secrets of His Heart.

I Would Hope for Heaven © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

If I had the faith of a child, I would enter the Kingdom of God!

I would hope for Heaven, yet see the Kingdom here around me now.

If I had the faith of a child, I would trust that my every prayer would be answered.

Lord, please, grant me the faith of a child!


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.

Hosanna in the Highest!

Hosanna in the Highest © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2012

Passion Sunday is here, and with it the holiest week of the year has begun. We initiate this day in triumph, though tinged with foreboding sorrow. As the week progresses, the mystery of salvation becomes palpable. We are called to get out of our easy-chairs and to refrain from being mere spectators of the Passion of Christ. Rather, we are called to become active participants in salvific suffering of Our Savior, and in so doing, to take up our cross and follow Him.

This morning’s reading from the Divine Office states:

“Rejoice heartily O daughter Zion,

Shout for joy O daughter Jerusalem!

See your King shall come to you;

A just Savior is He,

Meek, and riding on an ass,

On a colt,

The foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9).”

Yes, today we rejoice with the Lord as He triumphantly enters Jerusalem to shouts of:

Riding on a colt © SalveMaterDei.com 2012


“Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!”

“Hosanna in the Highest (Mark 11:9-10)!”

We are called to be there holding palm branches as He is honored and glorified and the dignity of His Divine mission recognized by mere humanity. Yet, this is only the beginning. Will we also turn away, and betray Him, as did the crowd who greeted Him on Palm Sunday, only to reject Him on Good Friday? No, we are called to go further; to experience His Passion, to live in His Love, and walk beside Him every step of the way.

We will be there as the repentant sinner breaks the alabaster jar or perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard, anointing His body as if in preparation for burial (Mark 14:3). Like her, we are call to repent of our sins, to find a tangible way of expressing our contrition, and live anew.

We will be there at the Last Supper, hearing Our Lord say: “Take and eat, this is My Body (Mark 14:22).” Our Lord’s institution of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist began the night before He died, yet by the miracle of His Grace, we may continue to receive His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, as often as we are prepared. This week, we are invited to realize the significance of this enormous grace.

Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit © SalveMaterDei.com 2012

We are called to participate in His Passion. This week we will witness His betrayal, and in so doing consider those times we have not been faithful to the dignity of our own Baptismal promises. Like Peter, we will regret denying Him with our words and actions. And like Peter, if we turn to Him in sorrow, we will find His unfathomable Mercy.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with those who mock our Lord and cry “Crucify Him,” our hearts will be torn, and our souls ache. We will contemplate the tear-stained face of Our Beloved Mother, Mary, as she beholds her Divine Child. Our hearts will beat in unison with Hers as we share her immeasurable pain.

We will see Him fall, and like Mary, we will be unable to offer physical assistance the strength of our humble prayers will be the only comfort we can provide. As the nails are pounded into His flesh, the blows will resonate within our own.

Standing beneath the cross, we will hear His last words, feel the earth quake, and sense the darkness of the sky. He will give Mary to us as our Mother, just as He gave her to John. With her, we will hear Him take His last breath and surrender His soul to God, His Almighty Father.

Let Me Share Thy Grief. . . . © SalveMaterDei.com 2012

With grief we will contemplate the Virgin tenderly caress the lifeless body of her Divine Son, Jesus. Our tears will mingle with hers, as we help to prepare His corpse for burial. As He is laid in the stone, cold tomb, we will lay aside our former selves as well: knowing that if we have died with Him, we shall also rise with Him. Holding fast to that promise, with Mary, we will silently wait for the joy of the Resurrection.

Have a Blessed and Spiritually Fruitful Holy Week,

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.