Tuesday, February 24, 2015

wednesday wonder: God is today, a poem

God is Today 

God is today. 
He is not yesterday. 
He is not tomorrow.

God is the dawn, wakening earth to life; 
the first morning ever, 
shining with infinite innocence; a revelation 
older than all beginning, younger than youth. 
God is the noon, blinding the eye of the mind 
with the blaze of truth. 
God is the sunset, casting over creation 
a color of glory 
as He withdraws into mysteries of light.

God is today. 
He is not yesterday. 
He is not tomorrow. 
He never is night.

~Jessica Powers, Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit,

To learn more about Jessica Powers and her poetry, go here

beach scenes: Malibu, CA, 2014

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

do tears come when we pray?

Beautiful homily by Pope Francis for today's liturgy of Ash Wednesday -- encouraging all Catholics to ask God for "the gift of tears in order to make our prayer and our journey of conversion more authentic and without hypocrisy."

"Do tears come when we pray?" 
~Pope Francis
The Lenten call to conversion, emphasized Pope Francis, is "a push to return, as did the son of the parable, to the arms of God, the tender and merciful father, to cry in that embrace, to trust him and to entrust ourselves to Him."  

Click here to read the Pope's Ash Wednesday homily.

Let us pray for one another as we begin this Lenten pilgrimage! 

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness
~book of Joel, chapter 2, 12-13

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

happy Fat Tuesday!

photo from Oregonlive.com

My good friend Susan Stabile put together an impressive list of resources for Lent. With her permission, I'm reposting here some of this invaluable collection:
Amy Welborn has made available for free the out of print Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ in Your Life, written by her late husband, Michael Dubruiel, which you can find here. 
Creighton University Online Ministries has a host of Lenten prayer material here. 
The American Catholic website also has a variety of material for Lenten prayer, as well as general information about Lent here. 
The Sacred Space website has has an online Lent Retreat this year on the theme Women of the Passion, which you can find here. 
The Ignatian Spirituality site has Lenten resources here.  More here. 
Loyola Press has daily prayers, thoughts and other inspirations for Lent here.

To read the rest of Susan's list, go to her CREO EN DIOS blog -- or just click here.

Susan's list got me thinking about other sources that I like to tap into during Lent, so I've put together for you a list of Catholic apps that you may find helpful as we begin our Lenten journey.

1.  Confession. A practical app with an examination of conscience based on age, sex and vocation. (iOS, Android)

2.   Mass Explained ($0.99). From the daughters of St. Paul, an app that helps us gain a deeper understanding of what we experience in the Mass.  Lent is a great time to learn more, and to fall deeper in love with the Eucharist. (iPhone, iPad)

3.   The Pope App. Your gateway to the latest news and information on Pope Francis, courtesy of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.  This app may fall under the “news” category—but it also includes Pope Francis’ homilies, speeches, and even @Pontifex tweets!  (iOSAndroid)

4.   CRS Rice Bowl. This app from Catholic Relief Services is a great way to tap into almsgiving during Lent. You can set specific goals and track your progress. It even offers meatless recipes, connected to personal stories of Christians throughout the world.

5.   Laudate. Known as the most popular and most comfrehensivse free Catholic app, it offers a plethora of resources: daily readings, saint of the day, liturgy of the hous, interatrctive Rosary and chaplet of Divine Mercy… Lent is a perfect time to explore this one! (iOS, Android)

6.   Fighter Verse app ($2.99) – Great app for learning Scripture! It even has a Kids section for “Foundation Verses” that include visual flash cards.

and last but not least,

7.   Magnificat Lenten companion ($1.99) – You know what a fan of Magnificat Magazine I am. The print version of this special Lenten companion is sold out, but the app is not! 
By the way, drop me a message on the blog,
Twitter, or Facebook -- for a chance to win a FREE download 
of Magnificat's digital Lenten companion! 

I'll say more on getting started with Lent, hopefully by the end of the week? 

But if you're like me, scrambling to figure out what I'm "doing for Lent," I hope you will find something on these lists helpful!

+   +   +   +   +

Note: Two other online sources that you may like:
+  Have you heard of Catholicapps.com? If not, drop on by . As its name implies, it is full of practical and helpful resources, reviews, and even YouTube videos!
+  Pauline Media – I’ve been a huge fan for years of Pauline Media and the Daughters of St. Paul, the community of sisters who dedicate their lives to be missionaries of the Gospel using every form of communication. This quote says it best:
“The Daughters of St. Paul are not Catholic publishers whose main concern is to produce religious products; instead, we are witnesses to a certain way of living the Faith and proposing it in the world of communication” (Don Sassi, Superior General of the Society of St. Paul, 2007).

Check out their line of beautiful apps – and the rest of their products, while you’re there! For iPhone and iPad apps go here. For Android apps, go here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

martyrs: their blood confesses Christ

winter light in my back yard

I have spent much of the last few weeks editing my latest book, the biography of Father Stanley Rother, the courageous Oklahoma priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981 while ministering the Tz'utujil indigenous community of Santiago Atitlán.

I've written several blogs about Father Stanley before -- read more here and also here. Or check out the article I wrote for Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, here.

The good news is that the manuscript has a publisher--and I am thrilled that it's found such a good home for publication! I'll announce more details on that soon.

Yet as I continue to work on the manuscript edits, I am deeply moved by the powerful and striking reality of martyrdom, dying for one's faith--especially in light of Christians being persecuted and killed for their faith today, like the 21 Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS in Libya this weekend.

"Their blood confesses Christ" -- and challenges me to take the name Christian seriously. Their story, like the story of Father Stanley Rother, becomes a witness and a call to action.

A Vatican commission recently declared that Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was killed in odium fidei, Latin for "in hatred of the faith."

We wait for a similar official announcement regarding the martyrdom of Oklahoma's Father Stanley Rother, who died a year after Archbishop Romero.

As Pope Francis said in relation to Romero's announcement, "What I would like is a clarification about martyrdom in odium fidei, whether it can occur either for having confessed the Creed or for having done the works which Jesus commands with regard to one's neighbor... And this is a task for the theologians."

May it be so -- and may it be soon!

+   +   +   +   +

NOTE: It seems impossible that Lent is two days away. Am I the only one not ready?

Here's something to help you... message me on FB, Twitter, or here on my blog, for a chance to win one of two of Magnificat Magazine's Lenten companion app!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

on this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

On our family’s Jubilee Year pilgrimage throughout Europe, perhaps the most personal encounter took place for me in Lourdes, France, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Our family at the Sanctuary entrance

Because my full name – or as I prefer to say, my REAL name, is María de Lourdes, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes was one of places I most looked forward to visiting.

My parents named me after Our Lady of Lourdes because of an encounter with a French priest ministering them as young adults in their parish--a man very devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes who became their mentor in the Catholic faith and dear friend, at the Cathedral of Pinar del Río, Cuba. 

Growing up as a Cuban refugee in Puerto Rico, it was easy to request (read MAKE) my teachers and friends call me simply "Lourdes." But when I moved to the United States as a teenager, no one could pronounce Lourdes and I became plain “maría.” But that’s a different story!

[For more on the history of Our Lady's 
apparition at the Grotto of Massabielle, 
Lourdes, go here]

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes – and I urge you to remember and pray in a deliberate way today for all the people you know who need healing: all who are ill; who live with a chronic illness or an addiction; all who are recovering from or in need of surgery; the elderly facing diminishment in body, mind, and spirit; those facing imminent death; those mourning someone’s death; all who live with cancer; people with a mental illness; those suffering chronic depression.
Take a moment, and bring their names and faces to your mind… ask Our Lady of Lourdes to be a mother to them, and petition that she remind her Son and Our Lord, that your friends “have no wine” and need the miracle of healing. 
Let us pray for one another.

Nuestra Señora de Lourdes, ¡reza por nosotros! 

[This a repost from February 11, 2013]

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It is Midday: a poem

Amiens, France, 2013
San Diego, CA
"It is Midday"

It is midday. I see the church
open. I must enter.
Mother of Jesus Christ, I do
not come to pray.
I have nothing to ask
and nothing to offer.
I come only, Mother, to look at
To look at you, to cry for joy,
to know that I am your son
and that you are there. Only
for a moment while everything 
stops. Midday!
To be yours, Mary in this
place where you are.
Saying nothing, but looking at
you and letting my heart sing
in its own language....
Because it is midday, because
we are here today, because
you are always there, simply
because you are Mary, simply
because you exist, Mother of
Jesus, be thanked.

                                  ~Jean-Pierre Prévost,
                                                                as published in Magnificat
                                              February 7, 2015

Cane, France, 2013

Guatemala, 2011

San Alfonso Retreat House, NJ


Friday, January 23, 2015

transformed by the love of God

back window, Carmel de Lisieux, France

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

~From the treatise On Spiritual Perfection 
by Diadochus of Photice