To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances;
to seek Him, the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest human achievement.

Saint Augustine

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sparing nothing

I wrote this about a week ago in the Notes on my iPhone. xD I decided it was bloggable and so I typed it up here, editing it a bit. :P


Somehow, even ALL the sin of the entire world -- past, present, and future -- is nothing but a mere drop in the infinite abyss of God's Mercy.

And the tiniest drop -- a finger-prick -- of God's Blood would have been, and is, enough to wash away ALL sin, enough to redeem the entire Cosmos.

Yet, He did not do that. He did not merely prick His finger and call it 'good', redeeming us with minimal effort and pain; He poured out His Blood for us throughout His suffering and Passion, He endured unfathomable pain and suffering -- more than we could ever know -- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. He took the weight of the sins, ALL sin, of the entire world, onto His sinless shoulders. He went so far as to die a bloody, gruesome death for EACH and EVERY one of us. He didn't just prick His finger, He gave us His entire self; He withheld NOTHING.

That is how much He loves us. He could have redeemed us minimally, with the tiniest drop of Blood. No -- He chose to give us His all, to go "all out", to redeem us extravagantly, lavishly, sparing nothing.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15: 13
And we are called to imitate Him. This is how we are to love: giving of ourselves completely, utterly, pouring ourselves out, withholding nothing.

Yet we love in piecemeal, skimping and pinching and offering our crumbs, our least, our smallest. We are cheapskates, only begrudgingly relinquishing our meanest, smallest bit of self in love. We are cold and hard-hearted, small-hearted, closed-hearted misers. We are so lazy we don't even try. We are in a coma of self-indulgence and selfishness and self-centeredness. And we wonder why we feel empty, angry, sick, lonely, despairing, hollow?? We have been lulled into a zombie-like asleep existence. We are laden with chains and weights and shackles -- of sin, of lies, of hurt, of pain. Bitter indeed are your fruits, Satan.

I look at myself and see how far I have to go, how cheap and stingy I am in return to God's infinite lavishness of loving me, and I am humbled. I bewail the teeny, tiny maybe steps of progress, of actual improvement, and realize it will take a lifetime to become a saint. I feel like it will take many lifetimes! xD But this is how God works with us: baby steps, bits at a time. He never takes us beyond where we're ready (though He does challenge us so we will grow), and we should always be at peace knowing He has us where we need to be right now. If we never give up, and always depend on Him, we will grow in holiness. We must say anew every day, as if we never had any days before, "Yes, Lord," joining our voice with Mary's. She will teach us little by little, if we let her.

We were made by Love, out of Love, for Love, to Love. Only in giving ourselves away: to God first and then to others, will we find ourselves; only in dying to our selfishness will we come awake and alive, will we finally begin to truly live; only in emptying ourselves will we find our hearts full; only in hiding in His Wounds, His Heart, will we be stronger and more courageous than anything; only in surrendering completely will we be truly, intoxicatingly, exhilaratingly free.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe

Today was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary! To honor her, I am sharing this extraordinary, beautiful poem. Oh, there are no words for how much I love this poem! It is perfectly exquisite, and I revel in it each time I read it. I love you, my beautiful Mother! Ora pro nobis!

The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe

by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

WILD air, world-mothering air,
Nestling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; goes home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-flixed
Snowflake; that 's fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing's life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life's law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God's infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race --
Mary Immaculate,
Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess's
Was deemèd, dreamèd; who
This one work has to do --
Let all God's glory through,
God's glory which would go
Through her and from her flow
Off, and no way but so.

I say that we are wound
With mercy round and round
As if with air: the same
Is Mary, more by name.
She, wild web, wondrous robe,
Mantles the guilty globe,
Since God has let dispense
Her prayers his providence:
Nay, more than almoner,
The sweet alms' self is her
And men are meant to share
Her life as life does air.

If I have understood,
She holds high motherhood
Towards all our ghostly good
And plays in grace her part
About man's beating heart,
Laying, like air's fine flood,
The deathdance in his blood;
Yet no part but what will
Be Christ our Saviour still.
Of her flesh he took flesh:
He does take fresh and fresh,
Though much the mystery how,
Not flesh but spirit now
And makes, O marvellous!
New Nazareths in us,
Where she shall yet conceive
Him, morning, noon, and eve;
New Bethlems, and he born
There, evening, noon, and morn --
Bethlem or Nazareth,
Men here may draw like breath
More Christ and baffle death;
Who, born so, comes to be
New self and nobler me
In each one and each one
More makes, when all is done,
Both God's and Mary's Son.

Again, look overhead
How air is azurèd;
O how! nay do but stand
Where you can lift your hand
Skywards: rich, rich it laps
Round the four fingergaps.
Yet such a sapphire-shot,
Charged, steepèd sky will not
Stain light. Yea, mark you this:
It does no prejudice.
The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.
Or if there does some soft,
On things aloof, aloft,
Bloom breathe, that one breath more
Earth is the fairer for.
Whereas did air not make
This bath of blue and slake
His fire, the sun would shake,
A blear and blinding ball
With blackness bound, and all
The thick stars round him roll
Flashing like flecks of coal,
Quartz-fret, or sparks of salt,
In grimy vasty vault.

So God was god of old:
A mother came to mould
Those limbs like ours which are
What must make our daystar
Much dearer to mankind;
Whose glory bare would blind
Or less would win man's mind.
Through her we may see him
Made sweeter, not made dim,
And her hand leaves his light
Sifted to suit our sight.

Be thou then, O thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere;
My happier world, wherein
To wend and meet no sin;
Above me, round me lie
Fronting my froward eye
With sweet and scarless sky;
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God's love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.

The Immaculate Conception, by Peter Paul Rubens. 1628.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This strange sanctuary

I wrote this poem a little over a year ago, and since it is November, I thought it was fitting to share it, since I haven't, yet.


We get out of the car,
our feet meeting the faded
stained-glass luster of the
trees’ fallen leaves.

Requiem æternam

The sound of the leaves underfoot
formed a hushed, rustic melody,
a forest’s reverent praise.
With that rich, earthy smell of Autumn
filling the air like incense,
we walked among the lichen-laden gravestones.

dona eis Domine;

I watched Mommy and Daddy for a moment,
quiet as they knelt down
and began to rub charcoal on paper
placed over the stone,
preserving the dies natalis there.

et lux perpetua

I wander off, feeling quite at home
in this strange sanctuary –
dark, yet soft and deep and
aching beneath the earth,
memories and unspoken prayers
hanging in the frosty air
like our own breath.

luceat eis.

Then I find what I seek –
a child is buried here.
A little one, like me.

Requiescant in pace.

Here lies one, just such a one,
with whom I feel a kinship.
A silver thread links us,
a mirror across the years.

“I wonder what she looked like,” I think.
If she loved dressing up, as I do.

A leaf’s touch of sorrow for this young life
brushes against me.

Across the expanse of time,
rolling out like prairie grasses,
a comforting smile is caught,
and shared,
and kept and pondered within my heart.


Requiem æternam dona eis Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

‒ a traditional Catholic prayer for the dead.


Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

*dies natalis – Latin for “day of birth”; in Church use, it refers to one's day of death, that is, birth to eternal life.

*November is the month of the Holy Souls, when we especially remember and pray for the dead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It takes my breath away

{I am not entirely sure what this post is. It all just came to me the night I wrote it, and for some reason I feel like sharing it.}

My journey home to the Church was astonishingly smooth, even easy, once all the gears clicked into place and the movement really began -- God had paved the way for me for years, slowly preparing me for Truth, for Himself. And so many of the common struggles or obstacles to acceptance of the Church's Truth I just did not have. It was all deliciously and mysteriously True; for some things, an answer at long last, for others, an answer I had never sought, but made perfect sense, and awakened a thirst in me that never subsided. On those things that surprised me in my own uneasiness, I never doubted their truth or the Church's wisdom, only knew that there was something in me that needed teaching, healing, or awakening, which continues to this day, and is in the "littler" details of spirituality, for the most part. God always sends just what I need, when I need it and when I am ready for it, to illuminate some aspect of Truth for me that I hadn't seen so clearly before or even avoided facing. So often His Truth and Love lay bare some truth about ourselves we don't want to face or deal with or see. But once the unpleasantness, discomfort, or pain has passed, a peace comes, even delight! Oh yes, even delight as you exult, wonderstruck, in the sweetness and sheer deliciousness of this new-found Truth. Yes, your soul has grown and been transformed just a little bit more in Christ.

My journey into the Church has been and always will be a kind of Dance, learning to follow His lead, to not push or pull away or force my will, or drag my feet -- a dance into the grace and piercing Beauty of God as manifest in His Creation and in His Church. To dance with the rhythm of the Earth's seasons and the Church's seasons, to dance to all the beauty of the treasure chest He's given us, to revel and exult in all therein. Sometimes I feel like it is a perpetual discovery of beauty and loveliness and grace and hope and love. There is always something new to nourish and feed my soul, to heal my wounds, to startle me out of complacency or apathy or laziness. There is never a lack of ways He stirs and awakens the yearning inside me again. I look back to just a few years ago, and marvel at how even then I felt awestruck at all that had been given me, and wondered at how I could possibly go "any deeper" than I already had, to know more beauty than this, to go even deeper into the love of God, to be even closer to Our Lady. Yet I was taken deeper! And how. It takes my breath away even now at the thought that there could possibly be more -- more beauty, more love, more depth to all this, more to wonder at, more than what has already been given to me?! And yet that is the astonishing reality. There will always be more.

He sings a love song to me in my sleep and whispers invitations to trust and holy, wild abandonment. His eyes draw me to Him in longing, but I am driven away by my fear, distrust, and awareness of my sinfulness and weakness. Yet, like the poem, He only draws closer to me, sweetly asking if I need anything. "Who made the eyes but I?" He asks, the infinity of love in His eyes haunting me in my dreams, a gentle Presence throughout the day that begs my attention, to be present to His Presence, too.

Christ asks for a home in your soul, where He can be at rest with you, where He can talk easily to you, where you and He, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another. ~ Caryll Houselander

God desires nearness. He would like to be with you to the end of the world. He is a beggar for your love. ~ Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar

Our Saviour says: "Go into your room and pray," but by 'room' you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you. ~ Saint Ambrose

Sometimes it comes to me, through some echo of the Beauty, some glimpse out of the corner of my eyes, a reflection as in a mirror, when the infinite reverberates inside me, a hint of a Voice that calls my name -- and then this ache, the ache that fills my whole being -- swelling up into tears and trembles and shivers throughout my body. It hits me with a gasp. Ache is so feeble a word for something so intense and deep, extending into the very recesses of my heart and soul, reaching out towards the infinite. It's an ineffable, inexpressible ache, ache, ache, ache! Words are suddenly burdensome and clumsy (though it is often then that a rush of words will descend upon me). There is no earthly way this will be completely translated into human language -- so small, so limited, so narrow -- how could it possibly enclose and express something of the Infinite and Uncontainable? Only with hints and shadows and flickers of the fullness of the reality. It is then that I long for someone, somebody to hold me close to their own heart in my aching, to shelter me in my sudden vulnerability to the expanse of this wide and wonder-full Cosmos --- yet I scarcely ever speak of this to anyone. Yes, in bits and pieces like here, but in those actual moments, I am alone in my humanness. I don't even mention it to my parents, the longing, how could I possibly make myself so painfully vulnerable, even to them whom I know love me so, so much? No, no...I can't even try to explain it to them. Not in full, not when it so evades capture by words. I need someone who already knows and can share the ache with me, and wrapped in embrace together, breathing together, hands pressed together, ache together, not needing words or speech, to be able to weep openly and freely when we have been pierced so deeply with such acute awareness of our exile, for a simple glance into each other's eyes to know that the other knows. Oh yes, they know. And for that to be enough.

This --- oh, this! I long for this, to have a companion in this life, a true companion on my spiritual journey, a fellow pilgrim. Not just a friend, though I cherish dearly all whom I have, and are fellow pilgrims -- brothers, sisters -- in their own beautiful way, but my soulmate, my life's helpmate. Where, oh where, my Lord, is he? Where is the human heart who knows this ache that flows in my blood and dwells deep in my bones, whose heart was made to beat next to mine in this life? He who will help me stand when I stumble or fall, who will love me in my weakness and imperfection, and for whom I can do the same? He my appointed companion on the journey home to You.

For so long have I felt this strange lack, like something is missing, and the separate ache of not having those eyes to look into that reflect a heart that knows and understands. Long have I sojourned in this my desert. I am a perpetual unrequited look of recognition.

Wounded by Beauty. I am irrevocably wounded by Beauty. And oh, what an exquisite pain it is! I need a man who is as intoxicated by Beauty as I am. Who positively craves it and longs to swim in it, drink it in, sinking ever deeper into it, or rather, Him, He who is Beauty -- He who Is. Beauty is Truth is Goodness is Love is Life. I want to dive with him into the Beauty of God's Love and never resurface. To swim with him where the water is sweet and the brightness of the Sun doesn't blind. For our souls to be intertwined and bound together, for thoughts and hopes and pains and heartbeats and breaths and flesh and lips and hands to be woven together -- And twain shall become one flesh. To be joined in communion with him and to learn communion with him. To be drawn out of our isolation into communion, for a glimpse of that ultimate consummation for which we were created. For love to grow betwixt us and within us; love is always creative: to gaze upon our love and learning-love embodied and new and astonishing.

We are like fish on the land, gasping for the water which is our breath, yet so terribly unaware we are even gasping, dying. And so I walk to the shore of His River, the unending abyss of the Sea of His Love, and all the while I had been dying unknowingly, starved for Beauty, starved for Truth, starved for Love, the currents of this sweet Water pull me in, and suddenly I am drowning in Beauty. For so long have we been dying, suffocating little fish on land, that when life floods us, we are bewildered and think then that this is death, and insanely fight to swim to the surface, back to the barren land of death that we had grown so accustomed to. Darkness seemed as light, lies seemed as truth, death seemed as life. But in swimming, in fighting, we suddenly realize we've been plunged into life. As we slowly allow ourselves to become more and more alive, we become drunk on this Water of Life, and beg to be pulled ever deeper into its depths, to sink more and more into its wondrousness and deliciousness. Life, we cry! Awash in the stories redemption sings, we are astonished at the blood now flooding our veins, at our hearts which beat ever stronger. Where we had only bitter emptiness now overflows with grace's fruitful abundance. We thirst with an insatiable thirst for more. The thirst for this Beauty is never fully quenched.
There is always more.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

He is waiting for you

Today was the first official feast day of newly-beatified Pope John Paul II! Deo gratias! Here is just one of my favorite quotes from him. There are so many!

It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness, He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

~ John Paul II, speaking to the young people of the world at World Youth Day 2000

Blessed John Paul the Great, ora pro nobis! We love you, Papa!

Friday, July 15, 2011


{I began this post on the Friday that the very last Harry Potter movie was released in theatres - July 15th. I wrote much of it then, but only finished it up now, the 21st of August, after watching Goblet of Fire at home. Here you will find much rambling thoughts on Harry Potter and what he means to me and my life.}

I am not just a mere fan of Harry Potter. Sure, I might call myself a fan, though you'll never catch me using the silly term 'Potterhead' or whatever. xD No....I am much, much more than just a fan.

I never know where to begin when telling my Harry Potter story, but I suppose it would do to start by saying that at first, I was quite prejudiced against the Harry Potter books. I thought, looking at the books' American covers, that they looked quite silly and uninteresting. So I paid them no attention. Haha. Until one day when I was at a family friend's house for the day, and their little ones, much younger than I, liked HP and wanted to watch the first film, which had recently come out on DVD. This was August 2002. Begrudgingly, I said I would watch it with them. The rest, as they say, is history. The movie was unlike anything I even remotely thought Harry Potter would be like, and I was hooked. In the same way as I had done earlier that summer, when I had loved The Hobbit so much the first time I read it, I promptly read it again upon finishing it, I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a second time that day. Soon, it was time to go home. All I could think about was how much I wanted the books, the 4 which were out at that time. When I finally got my hands on all 4 books, I fell even more deeply into the stories, and it would be a long time before I emerged to even consider breathing anything other than Harry Potter.

That year was my 6th grade year. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say that it was a hard year, a dark year, for me. At 12 years old, I felt utterly alone in the world. Even my parents felt strangely distanced from me. I felt like I was in a room to myself, locked up, and no one, not even me, had the key to get inside. The pain -- I cannot even describe. The Harry Potter books became my solace, my hope, my haven in a world that suddenly felt alien and separated from me. An ache deep inside me was at last awoken in full, when only stirrings had I known before. I cannot even begin to tell you how many tears were shed, each and every night, almost. It was here that I learned how to cry quietly, silently, making no noise as I cried myself to sleep. Inside these books was a place that felt like home beyond what mere words can express, here were friends, true friends who would be like brothers and sisters to me. Words such as yearning, longing, aching came to define my life, and really, still do. At the same time, however, my immersion into Harry Potter carried an unexpected twist -- not only had it become a source of nourishment, a balm to soothe my bleeding soul -- it had become also my poison, the sword that wounded me. For I found that my longing had grown bitter and harsh over time, and no longer bore the sweetness and intoxicating joy and hope it once had. Something had gone wrong, inside of me. So I slowly, slowly made the decision to journey out of this 'land' that I had inhabited those many months, whose music to this day pierces me to my very core...

You see, something interesting and rather unexpected happened when I slowly 'emerged' from my Harry Potter immersion; though he no longer consumed my every waking thought and word that came out of my mouth, over time, he became part of the very foundation of who I am; Harry was absorbed into my very self, the fabric of my being, of what makes me uniquely me. I can no more separate Harry from who I am than I can separate my soul from my body --- which, even in death, is a temporary separation, false, and not meant to be. The body and the soul are to be forever reunited in the end, glorified and made perfect in God. For we are human beings: flesh and spirit. To 'extricate' Harry from myself would leave you with less than me. It would no longer be me, fully me. Only a piece, and incomplete.

Harry is now part and parcel of myself. This is why it hurts so much when he is attacked in some way by others, untruths said about him, slandered, belittled, or when others somehow, bewilderingly, just do not "like" or "enjoy" his Story very much. It is almost, to me, as if I am being attacked, and wounded, as this part of myself closes its doors to others' blindness and even sheer idiocy. I know it is not an actual attack on me personally, but still, it does hurt. As to those who just don't 'respond' to the story....I am not sure what to say, but that I cannot relate....that, in this area, you and I cannot relate, there are no binding threads between us. Perhaps in other ways, there are, but not in all.

I must say that if your soul does not resonate deeply with Harry akin to mine, then there will ever be a part of me that I cannot communicate to you, that is 'dark' to you, a part of me you cannot see or understand. This does not mean we cannot love each other and be friends --of course we can -- just that a very deep and sacred part of who I am remains hidden from you, and there is nothing I can do about that. I am sure, since God uses a myriad of things to reach His children, there are comparable things in your souls, perhaps, that I cannot grasp or understand about you for the same reason.

However, if you do understand what I mean when I speak of love for Harry, in some degree, in a similar way ...then a connection has been made, a bond forged. You know. A communion is shared, a gaze into each other that is rare indeed. And it requires no words, really, to express it. We can try, of course, as I do here, but we will both understand how feeble words are with something like this, when our words are so limited in the realm of the spirit, of the heart.

Years later, I would read a book, How Harry Cast His Spell, by John Granger. It made it crystal-clear to me why Harry meant so much to me when it did, and why it helped me how it did. Harry Potter is truly, like Narnia and Lord of the Rings, spiritual food in a spiritually starving world. I was spiritually starved, to be sure....and in Harry Potter I found such beauty, such Truth, that it filled my heart with a powerful longing for home and belonging and for adventure, magic, enchantment, the existence of things beyond my sight, of things beyond explanation, of epic battles between good and evil. I wanted very much to be able to fight for all that is good and true. I grew tired of cold, harsh, limited, sterile science and longed for Truth over mere physical "facts". (I have since learned that stripping science of its wonder and awe is one of the worst things the so-called "Enlightenment" did for us, though they left us a rather unfortunate legacy anyway, in many areas.)
I did not know for what I yearned with every fiber of my being (little did I know it was more a Who, not a what), though I felt it embodied best in words like home, true friends, beauty, magic, enchantment, adventure. Was this 'home' a place? I felt distant from my parents, whom I felt, at that dark time, did not love me (I know now they most certainly did and do). It took me not quite 4 years for me to find this 'home', but find it I did. :)

No matter what I say or connect it to down the years in my life, I will never be able to fully convey what Harry means to me. He is wrapped up in everything.

A lot of the time, I just feel generally sick, heartsick.

How is it that these songs have wound their way into my skin, flow in my blood and nestle in my bones? What is it that makes my heart leap into my throat and tears well up in my eyes when certain songs are heard, this ache, this ache that is so hard to put to words?! The characters, the people --- you love them, as family. They have, indeed, become family. And loving them like family, you grieve with them, laugh with them, weep and rejoice with them.

What maddeningly brief glimpses of Truth do we see, and make us pant for more? Whispers, hints, and reminders of Eden and our exile is felt all the more painfully. We look in the windows and see far beyond -- and within -- and our heart of hearts cries out for the home we never left, but are too blind as yet to see. Oh! The curse of Uncle Andrew Eyes! (and ears) Its poison seeps through us all. We live in a world of enchantment and wonder but have our heads in the sand, our eyes on the cave wall. Whither has the magic gone? Oh, does it hide in the forest like Old Narnia, beaten back by fear and hate, or does it perish with forgetting, like the gods of old? Or Tinker Bell, when disbelief struck at her beating heart. Or perhaps like Avalon, protected from our finding, and our abuse. With denial comes withdrawal, no longer wanted or respected in any way, and seeking solace in the hidden places. The stars they sing and dance in their courses, but deaf and blind we look away.

What powers and gifts lie within us, lost? Left beneath a tree's dark shade with half-eaten fruit among them. Some linger on, bent and weakened, but most are just a memory. What has our disbelief earned us? The ties that bind us one to each other all tangled and twisted and frayed, how great is our rebellion against the Weaver's hand.

Why does Hogwarts feel like home, unique and distinct from the way that Narnia, too, and Middle-earth, feel like home? Oh, to wrap myself in it and breathe it in deeply into my lungs!

Yes, yes, there is a chapel at Hogwarts, I am sure of it. And Catholic, too -- for Hogwarts was young and forming when England Mary's Dowry was. How did the Reformation -- a schism tearing the Mystical Body apart-- touch the magical community? What were, or are, their views of the crown?

Imagine, the Greatest Miracle ---of Love-- on an altar, in a magical school! The wizard priest whose consecrated hands thus bear Love Incarnate should tremble at the Deeper Magic, and so should all who take It into their flesh and bones. Here, the true Master of Death reigns, He the true bearer of all three Hallows.

It is with Harry that we journey through darkness, pain and strife, with him that we cry and laugh and love, with him that we forge lasting memories of friends and adopted family and school lessons and life lessons, with him that we swallow our fear to fight for what's right, good, true, and beautiful, with him that we learn that we must first die before we can rise from the ashes, and with him that we learn that unconditional, sacrificial love is the greatest, most powerful magic of all.

Oh, I am truly heartsick, and this sickness doth within me dwell for all my days, until I die.

No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. ...So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

~ J.K. Rowling

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blood of Christ, inebriate me!

Jesus with the Eucharist (detail), by Juan de Juanes, 16th century.

Sunday was the feast of Corpus Christi, otherwise called the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is one of my most favorite feasts, though yes, I have many! ;) Of all the supreme gifts of being Catholic, of having the Fullness of Truth, there are two 'things' that top the list: the Eucharist and Our Blessed Mother. I could never be anything else, for it is ever the less, and once you have had Jesus Himself, and even fleetingly known His Presence in the Eucharist, there is no looking back. Nothing else will suffice. Nothing less than Jesus in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity will do. Jesus has given us His All: His very self, on the Cross and ever more in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, in the Eucharist; and His Own Mother, Mary, to be our own Mother! There are no greater gifts He could have given! I can be nothing less than Catholic, not with having known what it is to live without it. Oh! What a poverty to live without Jesus in the Eucharist, and without His Mother! Life seems so far away and unimaginable without them, now. How did I do it? How does anyone do it?

"Could God have been able to give us anything more precious than what He has given us in the Blessed Sacrament? Do you know, dear brethren, what induced Jesus Christ to condescend to be present in our churches day and night? It was that we might be able to come to Him whenever we wanted to…What, dear brethren, is more consoling for a Christian than to feel he adores a God who is really and truly present, body and soul? What is it that makes our churches so sacred and so venerable? Is it not the presence of Jesus Christ? What an immense privilege we Christians enjoy!"
~ Saint Augustine

There must be millions of wonderful, amazing quotes, reflections, meditations, homilies, the list goes on and on....that I could share. The Eucharist is truly a Mystery that is Infinite, for it is Christ Himself; the adoration of Whom we will do for ever in Heaven!! But for my humble, neglected blog, I have chosen to share one of my all-time favorite prayers, author unknown (though frequently mistakenly credited to St. Ignatius Loyola, and once I saw St. Thomas Aquinas), and dates to the 14th century. Here is the Anima Christi prayer. Memorize it. Make it a prayer of your own heart.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me!
Body of Christ, save me!
Blood of Christ, inebriate me!
Water from the side of Christ, wash me!
Passion of Christ, strengthen me!
O good Jesus, hear me,
Within Thy wounds hide me,
Permit me not to be separated from Thee!
From the malignant enemy defend me!
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.

Original Latin:
Anima Christi, sanctifica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inebria me.
Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.
Passio Christi, conforta me.
O bone Jesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.
Ne permittas me separari a te.
Ab hoste maligno defende me.
In hora mortis meae voca me.
Et iube me venire ad te,
Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te.
In saecula saeculorum.

"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart...don't listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love." ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Last Vision of Fatima, artist unknown

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Three in One and One in Three

Sunday was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, belief in Whom is the foundation of our Faith. It was also Father's Day in America, which I think is truly fitting, considering the father of a family should model the love of our Heavenly Father, and together with the mother should model the love that is the Trinity to their children. Indeed, marriage and the family itself is an icon of the Trinity, imaging to the world the Trinitarian communion of love, through the love of husband and wife that is incarnated, embodied, in their children. I posted some excellent links on the day on Facebook, I highly recommend them. One is Fr. Robert Barron offering a stirring homily;
God is Trinity. He is fundamentally a relationship: a lover, a beloved and the love between them. In other words, God is a complete openness and receptivity to the other. He is love. Now, we believe we are made in the image of God. Thus, we become fully alive to the degree that we imitate God.
In another, Deacon Mike Bickerstaff offers an excellent primer, 'The Inner Life of God', on this Mystery of our Faith, including the actual 'definition' of the Trinity, and connects it to each of us as made in His image:
Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God. Although we may lose the likeness of God by sin, we never forfeit the image. Thus, in learning about God and coming to better know who He is through the doctrine of the Trinity, we learn something about ourselves. We were not made to be solitary beings; we were made to be in community. We were created to live and love as God does.
And from the blog The Christocentric Life comes another beautiful meditation on what the Trinity means for us and our lives:
We are born in relationship with the Blessed Trinity. We have the gift of life because the Triune Community of Love breathed life into us. Stop for a minute. Meditate upon the model of perfect love and unity given to us by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This unending union of love, beauty, joy and wisdom is the reason we exist. We are made by, and made for, unity and love. What will happen if we begin to live this Trinitarian vision? Jesus says that if we do then "...they also may be in them, so that the world may believe that You have sent me." We will show Jesus to the world in how we love one another.
Also from the blog Beginning to Pray, we find another post on the Trinity and specifically the thoughts of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and how we ought to approach prayer. Simply, humbly...if you struggle with praying, read this!
...we only become most fully the creature we are predestined to be in Christ through completely entering into this mystery and allowing God to enter into us. The Three in One and One in Three is our true home, the fulfillment of all desire, our inheritance with the saints, the Abyss of Mercy, the Furnace of Love, our heavenly homeland.

I hope you go and read and listen to each one I just shared, but what I want to share with you here is the beautiful prayer that this Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, a French Carmelite nun who died at the young age of 26, composed. It is now beloved and prayed around the world, and we are each invited to make it our own. Some pray it each day; perhaps I should start doing that, too... what graces lie in wait for those who pray and meditate on these words each day, I am sure!

O my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You...even unto death! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to "clothe me with Yourself," to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.
O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.
O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, "come upon me," and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery.
And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; "cover her with Your shadow," seeing in her only the "Beloved in whom You are well pleased."
O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.

And in the original French:

O mon Dieu, Trinité que j'adore, aidez-moi à m'oublier entièrement pour m'établir en vous, immobile et paisible comme si déjà mon âme était dans l'éternité! Que rien ne puisse troubler ma paix ni me faire sortir de Vous, ô mon Immuable, mais que chaque minute m'emporte plus loin dans la profondeur de votre Mystère. Pacifiez mon âme, faites-en votre ciel, votre demeure aimée et le lieu de votre repos; que je ne vous y laisse jamais seul, mais que je sois là tout entière, tout éveillée en ma foi, tout adorante, toute livrée à votre action créatrice.

O mon Christ aimé crucifié par amour, je voudrais être une épouse pour votre cœur; je voudrais vous couvrir de gloire, je voudrais vous aimer...jusqu'à en mourir! Mais je sens mon impuissance et je Vous demande de me revêtir de Vous-même, d'identifier mon âme à tous les mouvements de votre Âme; de me submerger, de m'envahir, de Vous substituer à moi, afin que ma vie ne soit qu'un rayonnement de votre Vie. Venez en moi comme Adorateur, comme Réparateur et comme Sauveur.

O Verbe éternel, parole de mon Dieu, je veux passer ma vie à Vous écouter, je veux me faire tout enseignable afin d'apprendre tout de Vous; puis, à travers toutes les nuits, tous les vides, toutes les impuissances, je veux vous fixer toujours et demeurer sous votre grande lumière. O mon Astre aimé, fascinez-moi pour que je ne puisse plus sortir de votre rayonnement.

O Feu consumant, Esprit d'amour, survenez en moi afin qu'il se fasse en mon âme comme une incarnation du Verbe; que je Lui sois une humanité de surcroît, en laquelle il renouvelle tout son mystère.

Et vous, ô Père, penchez-Vous vers votre pauvre petite créature, ne voyez en elle que le Bien-aimé en lequel Vous avez mis toutes vos complaisances.

O mes Trois, mon Tout, ma Béatitude, Solitude infinie, Immensité où je me perds, je me livre à Vous comme une proie; ensevelissez-vous en moi, pour que je m'ensevelisse en Vous, en attendant d'aller contempler en votre lumière l'abîme de vos grandeurs.

Blessings to everyone on this Father's Day -- may St. Joseph pray and intercede for and protect all fathers, biological and spiritual, today and always; and may the beauty and love of the Holy Trinity -- our Creator, our God, Infinite Love Who Loves us Infinitely -- dwell in your hearts always, leading you ever nearer to communion with and union in Him.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The universe of the other

Pope Benedict recently gave an address to the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. It is absolutely beautiful! So I am excerpting a part of it here, hoping it will get you to read the whole thing. Though I must say it is hard to not just quote all of it! ;)

The body speaks to us of an origin that we did not confer on ourselves. “You knit me together in my mother’s womb,” the Psalmist of the Lord says (Psalm 139:13). We can say that the body, in revealing the Origin to us, bears in itself a filial meaning, because it reminds us of our generation, that derives, through our parents who transmitted life to us, from God the Creator. Only when he recognizes the originary love that gave him life, can man accept himself, can he reconcile himself with nature and the world. Following that of Adam is the creation of Eve. The flesh, received from God, is called to render possible the union of love between man and woman and to transmit life. The bodies of Adam and Eve, before the Fall, appear in perfect harmony. There is a language in them that they did not create, an eros rooted in their nature, that invites them mutually to receive themselves from the Creator, to be able thus to give themselves.

So, we understand that in love man is “re-created.” “Incipit vita nova,” Dante said (“Vita Nuova I, 1) -- “the new life begins” -- the life of the new union of the two in one flesh. The true appeal of sexuality is born from the greatness of this horizon that discloses integral beauty, the universe of the other person and the “we” that is born in the union, the promise of the communion that is hidden there, the new fruitfulness, the path that love opens to God, font of love. The union of one flesh is thus made a union for life so that man and woman also become one spirit. In this way a path is opened in which the body teaches us the value of time, of the slow maturation in love. In this light the virtue of chastity receives a new meaning. It is not a “no” to pleasures and to the joy of life, but the great “yes” to love as profound communication between persons, that requires time and respect, as a journey together toward fullness and as love that becomes able to generate life and generously welcome the new life that is born.

This is just a small taste of the richness of what our Papa Benedetto has said. So go on already and read the whole thing! You won't be disappointed. It is truly a profound and thought-provoking reflection on the goodness and beauty with which our bodies -- with which we ourselves-- have been made, and the meaning it then gives to being human. Deo gratias! There is much to chew on here. I'd love to hear which parts particularly struck you, so feel free to comment! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why We Need Jane Austen

This is so awesome I just had to share it.

Why We Need Jane Austen, or How to be a Gentleman with Examples Good and Bad

A couple quotes to interest you in reading it (it isn't long at all):

I want to suggest that Austen provides something for which young people—even the jaded ones—secretly long. While the world she depicts is in many ways foreign to us, it is only just different enough to bring our own pathologies into clearer relief. In short, Austen reminds us of the largely forgotten categories of the lady and the gentleman. It is her genius to make us aspire to these roles even in a world where such notions are strange and often ridiculed.

Austen teaches her readers the nobility of restraint, the goodness of decorum, and that sexuality is a wonderful mystery within the context of a marriage founded on both love and good sense. That is a lesson every generation ignores at its own peril.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Night that is brighter than day

O night that is brighter than day,
O night more dazzling than the sun,
O night more sparkling than fresh snow,
O night more brilliant than all our lamps!
O night that is sweeter than Paradise,
O night delivered from darkness,
O night that dispels the sleep of sin,
O night that makes us keep vigil with the angels,
O night terrible for the demons,
O night desired by all the year,
O night that leads the bridal Church to her Spouse,
O night that is mother to the baptized!
O night in which the Devil, sleeping, was despoiled,
O night in which the Heir brings the co-heirs to their heritage!

~ hymn by Asterius of Amasea, 4th century.