Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Taking on the Fragrance of Compassion

Passing in the midst of the subtly divine, do not fail to breathe it in. Do not forget to share this breath of fresh air. Opportunities are rare, unless you make the most of them in the present. Paradoxically they grow with the embrace of their scarcity, and the sharing of their beauty unlocks them for the return to them again both as a reusable gift of grace passed forward and also as a fond memory recounted in the heart. When we learn it isn't in the lethargic hoarding of gift for a future that may never be but rather the frantic budding of gifts given... When we realize love meted out as a scarcity does nothing but smother it in jewel-encrusted reliquaries without needed effect... We lose the immediacy, the intimacy, the humanity of our love. We should see this in the everyday, in our homes, and in our everyday places. We must be close to the ones we love, lest we lose their scent, their sweet fragrance of compassion. For to be void of it, we would be without passion with the Other. And I know of no worse death than to be without passion for another.

Let us take on the fragrance of those whom we love... before it is too late. This is the Little Way.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Question of Suffering & The Joy of Life

We ought to realize in the everyday the profound reality that we are faced with a choice of perspective and framing of mind: either God is keeping something from us, or else He is intending something else to transpire before the gift of the secondary comes. Both still must lead to Him in the telos of the endeavor, but we shouldn't discount the real possibility our desires do not have the fullness of His love in mind (thereby missing the mark) or lack the order found in Him who orders all things (timing).

We, especially in Western society, think of it as a zero-sum game. We either get what we desire or we don't. We lose sight of the value of prayer and of certitude with the end game. We try our damnedest to get what we want this moment, in a race of instant gratification, without realizing good things are good not because they are quick but, rather, because they are abiding. The good invariably comes in sequences. We can try to "game" the system, but virtue isn't a magical game. It requires hard work and dedication.

Dedication often takes doing things that aren't natural to our sensibilities or to our patience levels, but then how would virtue grow if not with a bit of resistance? Certainly the satisfaction of something doesn't come from its consumption, for it would mean we would wish to consume nothing more. No, satisfaction comes from the growth of spirit through the tedium and the lengthening of time between desire and its consummation. The larger fire isn't necessarily a flash explosion but a growing fire that burns but doesn't consume. Love, in its purest forms, does purify through this growing fire and not from the scorching explosion of a exploding blast, burning away the impurities but not pushing away the greatest richness found within. This nugget being refined within is the virtue and good works we seek and, in its deepest forms, the insatiable desire for love and to be in communion with the Other.

So it is, timing must come from the understanding that gratification and gift isn't predicated on our readiness of receipt but our willingness to give of ourselves in the service to the Good. Who is the greatest good but Him who made all things and did so in all knowledge of the good works He called us to labor in, under, and in response to His grace?

It is His grace that leads us on, whether it be in outward suffering or in joy contemplated. No matter, joy mustn't remain inward, self-effacing. Joy is always the outward expression of the inward ponderings of a God so great as to give us His Son for expiation of our sins... and for the fulfillment of our deepest longings for Him as One. It is the joy of being filled with His grace.

Ave Maria, gratia plena...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Incarnation of Love

God has been with me through every love enkindled in my heart for another. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. It pains me to remember my faults and choices away from such a deep, abiding, and consoling love. It is a frustration that can only be overcome by grace not of the self. Love must be shown; it must be incubated. It must be taught from youth, from birth. Love must be on the lips, selfless in its gift, at its own transmission. And when that offer of generosity is left on the doorstep and no one answers, remember it is not a gift wasted. For so it is, even those who roam the streets must eat. They must have their fill at Love's Banquet.

What greater image do we have of Heaven and the Church than the image of a wedding feast? There is none. Our minds are longing after a consummation that will last, that will be pervasive and fulfilling. What other consummation can there be besides the longing after the end to which one is made? This is the execution of virtue and, its waiting, the building of endurance.

What man will say one day this power is enough, this control of a moment? Will he reject another given? No! He will add power upon power, moment upon moment until he has day upon day and week upon week. He will always welcome, all other powers and gifts being equal, one day more.

So it is, the gift of Eternity. It is the Evergreen gift, the constant Advent for the next day, satiability without end and engagement without boredom.

As children we may have experienced terrible boredom to great lengths. More often than not, it is a lack of learning of the senses and of experience in creation. Creation itself is without tedium. There is always another gift to recreate.

The Creator, the Father Himself, is the example par excellence of this... He has made us in His own image: in the image of the Trinitarian love exhibited between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He did not shrink from view but rather chose a people for His Himself and willed all may choose to be with Him, thus giving us His very son. This Incarnation is the nexus between every human heart's desire for the Divine to be enfleshed within. Love beckons to build a home sturdy enough to weather the storm and shelter this Incarnation of Love, the very start of an enkindled love that was made manifest over 2,000 years ago in the little town of Bethlehem. Let us never forget to welcome Him in.

May God bless you this Christmas season and continue to bless you with grace unbounded in the New Year to come. Merry Christmas, y'all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Lord of All Sweetness...

O Lord of all sweetness... O Lord of all joy...
Come now and enter, this our humble home...
Abode of simplicity, Place of grace and rest...
Take up thy home in hearts of those whom you have blessed.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Prepare the Way

O Lord, guard my heart.
When love's arrow misses its mark,
guide me back to your Sacred Heart.
When I grow weak to the voices from without,
give me your grace to return and never again depart.

Lead me that I may follow and lead others in your stead:
for those in need of being fed,
of those who have bled,
and for those who believe in all those words you have said.
Lead me to you.

Bring me to the place you have prepared for me,
for the works you have prepared for me to enter into.
Let not my heart's questions quiet the call you have given.
Let me see the splendor you have given for the Church in miniature.
Let me see the splendor!

Prepare the Way. Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Ite Missa Est"

I haven't been able to make it daily Mass much these past two whirlwind weeks, but it is moments like these... these successive moments since... that have pressed me forward, have stretched me, have made me grow in ways not expressible. As I am wont to do, I analyze and theorize the eventual, the plausible, and the possible of the future. I see this as, in part, a dry run not only of future ails but also of future joys.

This is the "ite missa est" of the Mass. It is the going forth that cannot be ignored or encased in a shiny box and disregarded. It is integral to the Christian life.

I still cannot get over the spiritual and mental mementos given to me walking the halls and the streets since, especially on the long walks of the first visitation. It is a surreal state of things that makes me pause and wonder. It also brings me to the chapel and church (if it isn't locked). It makes me wonder and pause as I see the sight out of the window a stone's throw away—the iconic as well as the destitute, the chill of the morning, the dreariness of the fog or rain, the beauty of a bright, sunny day. All of it makes me pause, as though it is pregnant with possibility but also pain.

I suppose it is these moments, these lucid thoughts that are pondered, which in some small way reflect all the things Mary did as it was written that she "kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (cf. Luke 2:19). So it is, as with bated expectation, I must do. I must merely reflect His light, as though a lantern on a cold, dark night, and "with dawn there is rejoicing" (cf. Psalm 30:6).

“Frost and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.

Nights and days, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
- Daniel 3:69, 71

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Better Half

There is a danger to being enlightened, that is, to seeing clearer the strengths and flaws of oneself and others. Both involve a spiritual blindness. The first risk is having greater light to see only the neighbor's imperfections all the clearer and assume one's are fewer and one's own strengths an all encompassing coup de grace for oneself mistakenly. The second is to see one's own faults as so numerous and pernicious and insurmountable to any growth or change that one gives up out of hopelessness, causing one not to help the other improve upon their imperfections for fear of one's own imperfections despite being called to do so out of sweet charity.

Both of them cause a seizing up, a squelching of spirit and, therefore, quenching of light. The first clenches the heart to compassion given, and the second clenches the hand to mercy bestowed. Both must be avoided in the pursuit of one's high calling to holiness and any dispatch away from Love's sweet gifts ignored, for one, like Mary at the feet of of Jesus, "has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away..." (cf. Luke 10:42).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Married Philosopher

A good friend of mine has stated: "Men are either married or philosophers!"

What he fails to remember is that I know one married philosopher, and I very much think that both he and his wife will become saints because of it! 

But seriously... perhaps we ought to pray that they, like all married couples, will both understand better the philosophical beauty of Heaven as marriage consummated with God!

Ah! The objection of being only in the first stage! I am in the first stage still yet, trying to harmonize this philosophy to its proper pitch and timbre, too! But as the great composers know the notes before they are played or put to page, so too do we as lovers of an infinite God know that love must be harmonized both above and below for beauty to exist. And we do know that beauty exists because God exists and has so loved us (cf. 1 John 4:18-19)... So we love and must, therefore, strive to be perfect, "as [our] Heavenly Father is perfect!" (cf. Matthew 5:48)

Strike up the orchestra... Allow Him to show you the composition He has for you so beautiful that it quite literally is something you are willing to die for and offer your life for on behalf of your friends, of which there is no greater love (cf. John 15:13).

We must fight the good fight towards this perfection by God's grace in our lives through this high calling of life towards greater holiness in Him!

It is through all vocations that we are called to love both God and neighbor... selflessly. Marriage is but a focused magnifying glass that beams the light of Christ to another, so also is that vocation directed to compassionate procreation of a Domestic Church with Christ as her Head. It must be both above and below, for the sake of the children born below for Heaven above!

To Him be all honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 21, 2013

In Praise of Grace

Another day done and the rains have begun again...

The flowing waters of new birth, waters upon a thirsty earth.

Thunder rolls in the distance, but Faith below does not recoil...

Facet and fixture, noble and blistered... Your mark is made upon us!

Water from the Side, fill us...
Blood of the Heart of Him Who Is... Save us!

Love has come to rule both the night and the day...
Love has come to rule the day!


"O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my voice." ~ Psalm 86

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Through the Shadowlands

My Beloved can do no wrong.
He brings forth every good thing,
Every blessing of person or place.
His Promise is secure.
His Providence is assured.

What can I ask of my Beloved
That He hasn't already provided?
What love has He given!

Oh, the charity that covers a multitude of sins,
Of the many cuts and little lacerations!
He outpours every good gift,
The choicest gifts for an unworthy servant,
A servant with a past.
But what of the future bright and bountiful?
Where is is this land He has promised as an inheritance?

We are sojourners to be sure
But not to a land in our midst of these Shadowlands—
As we see imperfectly. No!
We are destined for a brighter land,
A Land of Light Himself.

The course is set,
Through the strong gales,
Through the stormy seas.
Our compass set, we traverse and travail In the tempest great.

Love, our compass, directs us onward,
Even when the Fog is great and our way seemingly lost.
Lost are not we!

With thick clouds we still know within our deepest
For what perfection and glory we are made.
We are made for Love!

Lead Kindly Light toward our Home
Through these Shadowlands, these lands not our own.
Lead our compass true toward our home
Not yet seen in this dense cover.

Let our hearts not dismay when blindness overcomes our sight
Or when we fall however briefly;
Remain with us when we lose our sight
Through our self-blinding acts and our closed-shut eyes.

Remain our compass true,
Guiding our hearts to You.
Love has revealed its Beauty.
Let us not close our eyes, our hearts to this.

Let us remain, compass fixed,
Moving toward the place where only Light exists,
Where Light does not cease and Love persists.
Let us follow Him.

Let us follow Him through these Shadowlands.
Let us follow His lead.
Lead on Love, Kindly Light.
Lead on.

Come, Beloved, let us be on our way.
Come, let us travel the Way...
Travel our Way to Him.
Let us be on our way!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Little Way: Joy as a State of Mind

Joy is most certainly a state of mind... It is not a feeling of happiness. If everything is gift and one is not happy because some pleasure or other gift is taken away for whatever reason, how are we to respond but to look to the Giver Himself? If we get locked in on His gifts and not Him, how would you respond if you gave and gave and gave without even the slightest response let alone sight of gratitude? It rains on both the good and the bad, and He gives to both. We should too, not simply the looks of frustration we are oft to give when "enduring" a taxing moment on our senses, but we should also give like the Father gives, sacrifice like the Son has shown us, and be present like the Holy Spirit is in our lives always.

Everything we have is pure gift; our free will is the exercise of that profound gift. We shouldn't feel surprised or discouraged when the Lord trusts us enough to ask for some of those gifts in a specific way that prompts us to say "yes" to Him and not simply His gifts. We shouldn't fear what we cannot change or those things great and small He calls us to be present to throughout our day, whether monumental or minor, because all of it matters. We get the blessed choice to live in the moment spent doing good and forgiving not only one another but ourselves in the little accidents of life that turn into labors of love for the Lord. Choose the joy He wants to give and ignore every temptation to despair that love He gives so freely. Life isn't perfect until we rest in Him.

Lord, forgive our unbelief!

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Do Not Curse the Darkness – Light the Light of Faith"

Encamped in the world surrounding
Is the Darkness found, Darkness engulfing...
What can we do with the blazing fires,
Fires made for blazing pillars, blazing spires?

The Darkness surrounds but cannot overcome,
Cannot overcome the grace given, the grace now begun!
Enkindle in your hearts the fire He wishes to blaze,
Do not run from the Darkness—Engage!

Spirit of Love, light on fire the World,
Light on fire the World to save!
Light the Light of Faith!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

O Division...

O division, why your sting?
Why the separation, the strife, the desolation?
Where is your end, O division of hearts?

Lead us, Lord, to sing with one voice
Where there were once many...
Where as one family we can sing
Of Your peace, of Your Love,
As part of Your Holy Family!
Lead us, O Lord, to sing!

Abba! Father!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fatherhood: Learning to Be a Good Son

Being a good father requires first learning to be a good son. One learns to be a good son through the primary means of learning: discipline. Before trying to discipline, either great or small, one must have the integrity needed to endure discipline: to admit when one is wrong and make amends and to, when one's convictions are solid and true, never waiver from them. Deviation from the principles so clearly and deeply held turns what was once a monument to discipline and healthy relation into a mausoleum of the dead, dry bones of a righteous man turned hypocrite. The principles held so closely then become an alabaster box that no one dares to open, lest the skeleton comes tumbling out in macabre fashion.

It is never too late, if one still has breath to speak, to turn back and ask for forgiveness. Likewise, it is never too late to forgive for past injustices. Our hearts are restless until, in Him, we see both so very clearly and experience both concurrently.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Luminosity of the Higher Things

When one orders one's life in the brilliancy of the higher things, the more luminous things, an interesting thing occurs. Things that once happened in retrograde become ones that move in a more natural course, in a way that gives meaning and governs the movements of everything else in such a profound, moving way.

If one begins the day with such an ordering with our humanity keyed to this central need for belief and to place it upon the bedrock of a Faith not untested but one put through fire and tested, not of clever myths or elaborate ruses, then we see open wide the vistas the same Faith provides: the quiet assurances when even the darkness returns or the bright lights become but a twinkle of the Promise to come. If we but remember it doesn't revolve around us but we to Him, then we are able to see how even the smallest occurrence in the Cosmos has meaning, value, and deep need for redemption in every sense. We cannot do it ourselves, as though we as mere planetary bodies could move the dangers of comets or asteroids in the path of another or fully change the irregular orbits of others not fully seeing His love. However, we must trust from that initial explosion of matter from nothing until we have our time end here and do our part in the order He has given to make the changes in the time He gives us.

If we like planetary bodies realize that the Sun does not revolve around us but us to it, so must we in everything we do. There is Someone always greater than I. Or even to our secondary loves, to our moons in orbit 'round us who also move in concert with us and often born of collisions, if we but recall that they but reflect the light of Him Who Is, who came before us... Even this will give the one who has this beautiful truth greater understanding to work towards the order He has given before our time began.

We are so lost often times in the Secondary Loves... that not until they eclipse with the One True Love do we realize our error. Not until even the Secondary Loves be understood and placed in their proper order and timing does the love of Him begin to make sense to our often aimless understanding.

Yet, with the beauty of all of this, those who put forth this valid and true notion, who give their lives in service to it, can and should be heard. "If we have ears, we ought to hear..."

I am in still in wonder, because of this understanding, why those who see this all but still see Shadows everywhere when it is nothing but the dawn of a New Day where the Sun scatters its dazzling light wherever He wills. I still wonder even more with those in the Church who do not understand Her teachings in a similar way or rejected the ability of the Church to speak of Marriage (its structure, content, or telos—aim)... Have we not been down this path before? ...Or those who have left over some reason or another, whether by birth or choice away from the unitive Banner of Christ. I do not understand it like I would if someone doubted the Sun rising again tomorrow.

Let us believe these things, out of love for Him and for one another. Lead, O Kindly Light...
"Your friends make known, O Lord,
the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.

Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations."
- Psalm 145

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Fullfillment in God's Love

The one thing I have found in spite of all the personal misgivings I may have at any particular lucid moment (those nagging moments of irrational or seemingly insurmountable worry) or the detractions of others against their better selves whether due to their own outlook or loss from another, in spite of all of this, it is so easy to fall into love.

...Fall... in a sense, from the seized moments of clenched hearts and clenched fists. The encompassing willpower to do then what is right and just and necessary. That is often what we have lost, even those familiar with faith and trust.

...in love... because love isn't an absence of reality but the fulfillment of it. "Fulfillment" because "God is love" (cf. 1 John 4:8) and we are not there yet; our hunger remains...

Yet, our hunger does not exist in a vacuum or in a myth. Neither does our faith or our hope... It is and it should always be rightly directed, honed, and poured into the chief telos of our hearts: Communion.

Communion in and with what... or, rather, whom? Communion with Him. However, Communion with Him does not limit communion with others; rather, it extends and exalts it. It purifies every other love one has and transfigures it to the reality of it outside of time and space. He does all of this out of His very own love for us.

We are to love "because He first loved us" (cf. 1 John 4:19). To do so is to love Him with everything we have and love each other as our very selves.

So, although it is "very good that we are here," (cf. Luke 9:33) this mountaintop is not a place we can stop. It is a momentary stop on the journey we each take and we must each choose, as we are called to love and to be love for one another.

Let us not be dissuaded from the truth of love.

"We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."
- 2 Peter 1:16-19

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Speak, O Lord, Your Servant Listens...

"Speak, O Lord, your servant listens..."

May every consolation remind me of the desolation needed to be endured so that I may share in the everlasting crown of all true consolations and rest securely in Him.

When we fail and falter in our good works through Him, again these words are to come: "Jesus, repair what I have done badly; supply for what I have left undone."

May we never depart from Him all the while going out to the Other in need and to those whom we are called to love more deeply. We are called out to the world, not because we are better but because He is greater than us. Love demands nothing short of everything.

Let love be not confined to the churches or the home but sent to every place in between. Let love be not hidden in veiled words or complex settings but found in the direct and the straightforward and simple. Let love be not esoteric but the answer to everything. Let love be the answer to every question and every quest. Let Love be the One to rule day. Let Love be. Oh, let Love be.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catholic Beauty: Living as the Mystical Body of Christ

I recently had a family friend ask me why I was so drawn to the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston and the Ordinariate's Anglican Use Mass of the Latin Rite. I have no specific ties to Anglicanism and am cradle Catholic. However, it is precisely because I am Catholic that I am drawn to all of it, most especially the families wrapped in Our Lady's mantle for it. It is said from medieval times that England was—and still is—Mary's Dowry. To be Catholic is to be drawn in with anything that has that authentic beauty. It is imperative that we seek out authentic beauty and nurture it. Beauty is a compelling thing, but beauty also is most especially a person: Christ with His Mass through the Eucharist, in its varied reverent forms, are a reflection of Him, as His angels and saints are, as are those who show virtue in this life and extol the same.

The beauty of the holy ones and the holy places make all of the counterfeit examples dross in the same brilliant dazzling light. It makes the Mass, the prayers, and the devotionals all the more attractive. It furthers the desire to emulate and be near those who are "very members incorporate" of His Mystical Body, the Church.

Certainly, if I do all the good works He has prepared for me to enter into and avoid those near occasions of sin for the even nearer occasions of grace and endless beauty, I will not prosper for my own glory but His. It is all His after all, even if I am given the smallest amount for my use.

How can I be burdened with worry about what others have then? I speak of this as a projection; I am not even near this slightest perfection. How can I be even worried in the slightest when another is entrusted with something of great beauty or is entrusted with a beautiful love of another? I cannot question the heart of a cheerful giver, most especially the most cheerful of all givers and Father of all givers, the Almighty Himself.

So I cannot question, but I can still behold the beauty. Is this not the definition of a Christian? To behold the Beauty of Christ in all His forms? Love demands to be given, and we must give even when we are weary. The Beloved needs it, and He does not delay in giving us the love we need as our daily bread.

May we see this beauty as the Beloved and seek out to be Lovers in the ways God is generously calling us to be in our day to day movements of grace to one another. Let us not shy away from this Cross we are to bear with Him. Amen.

O the depths of His Presence... and the distance.

"Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ: and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen." - The Post-Communion Prayer in the Anglican Use Liturgy of the Latin Rite

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Presence of the Lord: "Ite Missa Est"

Oh, this Presence! What shall I say of this? This is more than a binding of flesh and blood. It is submission to the greater Mission. It is an outward sign of an inward reality of Love. There is more to this than can be seen by our own eyes.

To be privileged to be given the opportunity to bring the Presence and to not betray Him or His love... It truly is the better portion and is given as a undeserved gift without any reward but His glory. This is Love.

This Presence remains with us even after we leave the Mass. We are "sent forth" ("ite missa est") to bring such a gift, such a pure gift. We become the outward sign of the inward reality. But why? Why do we leave this behind so easily? Why do we forget to love more purely? If we truly loved the Other more than words can describe and want what is ultimately the best for them, why do we hide such a profound gift as though it is a blemish instead of a blush? Is it because we are afraid of that Love's power? It is not without trial and rejection. No, His very love was rejected far worse! Is it that you do not believe because of others' human failures? Do not do this! For have you not seen with your own eyes His divine success?

To love is to be vulnerable, as C.S. Lewis once said, and that love is without question a test in trust. What if the beloved does not love? Love anyways. Love anyways but love in far more inventive ways. If by their rejection out of foolishness it becomes a game of responses out of shrewdness in love, do not be unlike the old widow before the judge and persist in seeking a just judgement. If such an incompetent judge can, out of sheer personal relief, issue a just judgement, how greater is the One who judges justly in Heaven? Love anyways! There are so many little rejections that must take place to say YES to HIM.

Do not grow weary of the endurance required for this Love if it is to be a seal set upon your heart (cf. Song of Songs 8:6). Do not betray the deep consolations He has given you in times of peace during those storms of desolation and half truths. They are greater than the storms we must traverse.

Let us not be like the foolish virgin who on the way ran dry of her oil and snuffed out her lamp waiting on the Bridegroom to pass by. We have all that we need for the way. Remain in Him.

If one loves another deeply with the depths the Lord has uniquely provided each to persist against all sorts of trials that image His trials born because of His love for us (cf. 1 John 4:18-19), then let us as that one do all the good works that He has prepared for us to enter into (cf. Ephesians 2:10) and do so without mental reservation. His sacrifice lacks nothing but our very own participation in it. Let us not stray from our cross but daily carry it after Him.

May He be present to each us and thus through the Church He established for Himself and washed in the water of His word "to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (cf. Ephesians 5:27).

May His love reign supreme.

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
- Ephesians 5:21-33

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

This Is the Eucharist

I do not deserve this. He has placed all the choicest gifts before me, has given me more than I need, has showered me with His mercy. All that I see before me, I do not deserve. He has given me His very self. However, He has given me His very self not to hoard or hide but to share and celebrate. This is when I recall what I saw months ago at Mass during the Eucharist: a father with his son proceeding forward and, before reaching the priest, genuflected in such a way that it echoed what every good father does—He knelt with his children before the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. He offered his son as an unbloody sacrifice. He sacrificed through the sweat and tears of the toil and labor he had to do to provide for his son. And there he was offering it before Him in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. I am not worthy of this. And, yet, these things do not come to me in a whisper of temptation from some loftier goal; rather, this is the loftier goal for me from Him. He is to come under my roof. This is the discernment of spirits: there remains no unease or disquiet from each revisit to this moment, only peace, only holy rapture. He has given me another gem along the Way. I do not deserve this, but He gives it to me ever the same. He has given His Word, and my soul has been healed. This is the Eucharist.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let Man Not Divide

The secret to love is not the falling in love... but the rising. The former is easy and takes little effort. The latter requires the act of will, a "Yes" to mean "Yes" and a "No" to mean "No." The first is easier to counterfeit; the last near impossible to fake. We are lost in the feeling of falling when in reality we were already fallen but raised by Christ. So if it is to be falling, make sure to rise with the morning. Love awaits.

Fidelity is more than saying "yes" to the One; it is saying "no" to everything that is not of the One. This is the secret of Christian marriage in its mirroring of the marriage between God and Man. It is a dying to self and a gift that, from the outside, is incomprehensible but, from the heart of it all, is worth dying for. It is the fait accompli of life... It is reason to offer sacrifice. It is the fatal attraction that unsticks heart from hand and allows the new life of communion as One.

At the same moment it validates the complementary nature of the two different worlds and invalidates every other attempt to merge two worlds too similar for the sacrificial self. Love requires this sacrifice in order to be complete, and Love requires this sacrifice in order to be more than simply a feeling but an honest, sincere act of will to love without end.

Love requires this authentic act of self to remain in fidelity until the end of the bond, one being in the temporal life which ultimately must point to the other one: the Eternal.

Love requires nothing less than everything. Let man not divide. No decision otherwise, whether civil or social, can divide what God has joined together. Amen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Believe in Love: "Ti Voglio Bene"

In everything seek the Lord. Have I? This is, for me, the ever burning question. It is the one that leaves me up at night or up again very early in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep.

Hatred is a terrible sin that hardens the heart, but even greater a sin and more invidious is that of envy. If hatred can be called a sin of wishing ill of another or of destruction of what is good, then envy is the wholesale desire to possess a good inordinately for oneself, a spiritual gluttony that manifests far more easily and passes any censor or filter of the heart. It is not merely a shadow of worry but a constant danger lest we refuse to love as we ought in its proper time and place with the prudence that the heart knows. Envy breaks down the rule of compassion and foists up a ruler whose heart is possession and want. It has no place at Love's table.

So, I believe in Love. But do I believe in the totality of Love? It isn't enough to not have hatred, though this is a sort of proto-love. We must also "wish good unto others." Or as the Italians have a phrase: "ti voglio bene." It is a phrase that comes originally from Latin which means loosely, "I care so much of you that I wish the best for you," or more closely: "I want your good." It is among the many translations for the English, "I love you."

It is of little surprise they use these words for their Beloved. So must I.

So must I, as I read this past weekend's Gospel reading on Saturday: "Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one." (cf. Matthew 5:37) So must I, as I saw others do this weekend in speaking their vows and thus undertaking them, if not yet fully understanding what those vows fully mean. To take courage and say "yes" and truly mean it is far worth every "no" that is meant so as to have another ready to believe in Love and act forthrightly to live it and to "make good to the Lord all that you vow." (cf. Matthew 5:33, Psalm 50:14) So must we believe in Love. Amen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"But for the Grace of God Go I..."

Remembering that you are forgiven is a relieving truth. Even greater is the truth that you have that gift for others. Love is not lost in the loosing act of forgiveness but in the binding of the unforgiving act of a hard heart towards self and others. This is the most debilitating action one can choose; it is a failure to forgive, a détente of false peace when true peace is attainable and promptly accessible if one only acts. It is a failure of proper perspective and self-worth.

But for the grace of God go I... Grace because I could not persist in hope by my affliction alone. Hope because hope sees through the thin veneer of the present. Affliction because the present has not been made the future at once. Love because Love does not count the hours against the Beloved until the words are spoken: "Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Guard jealously the forgiveness you've been given. Do not let it be taken away willingly or in piecemeal to doubt or temptation. You have sought forgiveness, and it has been given to you. Do not let temptation hold its sway to the lies and its progenitor.

You have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Do not sully your bright white garment. Do not sin. His gift is greater than the temptation at hand to fall. Remain close to Him. His grace is sufficient.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Grace Abounds

When dealing with a life bereft with poisonous temptation, as though living in a foggy swamp of noxious fumes, let us not grow weary in prudent combat against despair and malady. This is our great boon. As St. Paul writes: "Where sin is, grace abounds all the more" (cf. Romans 5:20). So it is with us. Grace is not for those who are comfortable; it is for those who are afflicted, bereft, and in need. That is why "the last shall be first" (cf. Mark 10:31).

Grace abounds "all the more" because of need, not because we have earned anything! Our place is with the Lord, no matter if we are the Faithful Son or the Prodigal Son.

Remember this when worried about the appearances of others or oneself. It is better to seek after mercy for oneself or another than it is to be quicker to condemn than our Lord. To "settle on the way" (cf. Matthew 5:25) and, in haste, to return to Him is better than a thousand days of doubt before our Lord. Forgiveness is not first in the judgement but in the asking, and it is in the judgement that, faithful to this command to love one another, we may see not only the grace of Holy Communion in this age, though beset with persecution (cf. Mark 10:30) and temptation to despair, but also Union with him in the Eternal Life to come with Him in the next.

Let us not grow hasty in our understanding of this sublime gift of grace and Holy Communion, and let us not delay in making our holy confession of guilt before Him. Let us not deny His love or refuse to share it fully. This is our "sacrifice of praise" (cf. Psalm 50:23), that He might be glorified in His love for us. Take courage in His love.

"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
- Psalm 50:14, 23

"O God, who provide gifts to be offered to your name
and count our oblation as signs
of our desire to serve you with devotion,
we ask of your mercy
that what you grant as the source of merit
may also help us to attain merit's reward.
Through Christ our Lord."
(Prayer over the Offerings, Tuesday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time)

So much surrounds these words above, which came to me after a weekend at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, "the First Week After Pentecost" (in older usage) or, in the more commonplace, the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time. The Responsorial Psalm of daily Mass that Tuesday was that of a frequently used phrase in the the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, which speaks of vows and devotion. It is used at the end of the period of announcements and blessings (especially birthdays and wedding anniversaries). It speaks so beautifully to the wedding feast that is just then about to commence... that wedding feast where, so beautifully, grace abounds.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Agents of Love

It is because the Beloved is who the Beloved is that one at once becomes more enthralled in the pursuits of the Beloved as it is, in degree, directed towards the One Who Is Infinitely Lovable.

Such a pursuit attaches a portion of the Infinite to the Finite and beauty to what is not yet perfected. Love becomes a journey in the perfection process, not simply for gain of one's self but so also the whole world and all contained therein. It is there that we fill in what was in Christ's afflictions were 'lacking.' (cf. Col. 1:24) His Sacrifice lacks nothing except our participation, as St. Paul says, in the works that the Lord has "prepared for us to enter into." (cf. Eph. 2:10)

One's acceptance of imperfection is one of it being in the past, yet there is a perfection that we are called to in the same Spirit of the One Who Is. We mustn't be discouraged when faced with imperfection or imperfect love but, rather, be patient with the Other as He is patient with us. As the King is to his servant, so must we as his servants be patient to our fellow servants lest we be required to "pay to the last penny." (cf. Mt. 5:26)

This is the secret of love and mercy. We are called to be agents of change in this ineffable love. We are called to be agents of Love; we are called Disciples of Love.

May He be praised.

Monday, April 22, 2013

John Paul II's "Magnificat"


My soul, magnify the glory of the Lord,
Father of great Poetry — and so good.

With wondrous rhythm he fortified my youth,
on an oak anvil he hammered out my song.

Resound, my soul, with the glory of the Lord
who made knowledge of angels, most kindly Maker.

Now at your heavenly banquet, I drain
a chalice with wine overflowing — your servant in prayer:
in gratitude for the angelic glow You lit for my youth
whittling its rough shape from the wood of a linden tree.

You omnipotent, the wondrous woodcarver of saints,
there are many oaks on my road, many birches.
I am a village field, a sunclad flower bed,
A young face jutting from the Tatra rocks.

I bless your sowing with sunrise and sunset;
Sower, I am your soil — widely scatter your grain —
may a field of rye and a castle of spruce
grow from my youth cradled in yearning and pain.

Let happiness magnify You — a great mystery:
with primordial song you have stretched my lungs,
made my face sink into the blue of the sky,
a shower of music falling on my strings —

and in this melody You came as Christ, a vision.
Look ahead, young Slave, look, the solstice fires!
The sacred oak is still in leaf, your king has not withered,
but become for the people a lord and a priest.

Magnify the Lord, oh my soul, for your calm foreboding,
for Gothic yearning in spring’s incarnation,
for youth aflame — wine chalice of elation,
for autumn born in the likeness of heather and stubble.

Magnify Him for poetry, for you and for pain:
the joy in mastering earth, gold, blue skies,
the passion of generations in words incarnate;
You will harvest this ripeness when it falls and dies.

The pain is evening sorrow of things half-uttered,
when beauty overwhelms us, and ecstasy is ours,
God bending to the harp — but on a rocky track
a sunbeam breaks, and words lose their power.

Words fail, and I am like a fallen angel,
a statue on marble pedestal — stone on stone —
but You breathed yearning into the marble arms,
the statue longs to take off — angel again.

And I magnify You also for the haven there is in You,
the reward for each song — day of holy quest,
for the joy that sings the hymn of motherhood,
the quiet word of fulfillment — Eli manifest!

Father, be blessed for the angel’s sorrow
for the song that crushes falsehood, for the soul’s inspired fight.
Break all love of words in us, and destroy
The puffed-up form parading like a fool.

A Slav troubadour, I walk Your roads and play
to maidens at the solstice, to shepherds with their flock,
but, wide as this vale, my song of prayer
I throw for You only, before your throne of oak.

Blessed are you, oh song among songs,
blessed the soul’s sowing and the seeds of light.
Let my soul magnify Him who threw over my shoulders
princely satin, velvet’s soft delight.

Blessed be the Carver-of-saints and prophet and Slav.
have mercy on me, a publican inspired.
Magnify the Lord, oh my soul, in humble love
singing the hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy!

Now the song is one. Poetry, descend!
The seed like the soul yearns, insatiable.
May my road keep to the shade of oaks and birches,
and may my youthful harvest be pleasing to God.

Slav Book of yearning, on the last day resound
like brass, choirs of the resurrection
in virginal holy song, in poetry that bows
with the hymn of humanity — God’s Magnificat.

Karol Wojtyla - Cracow, spring-summer, 1939
Published in Karol Wojtyla's Collected Poems, 1982. Translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Conversion & The Abiding Love of the Father

Faith is not the reason for God's forgiveness. Not even is hope the reason, though it does not disappoint. Even when we are off at a distance and on our way, He comes with haste to meet us and forgive the contrite. Faith is how we see His forgiveness in our lives because it is out of faith and hope that love, and, in it all, conversion comes to those who return Home.

In both the older and the prodigal son, we should see how we could fail. His love does not fail or falter, not even for a moment... His love remains no matter how far we run, but He will not impose the love He holds. Neither to the returning nor the remaining son does He desist in His abiding love. He waits for both sons' conversions. It is there that He reminds us of all the lavishing He wishes to impart on us and how He wishes everything He has to be our own.
"Conversion is where obedience turns into love." - Father David Konderla

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love Does Not Doubt Love

The sacrifice of an immediate joy for a greater and far longer one, though thought in the moment as a folly or farce, is far more fantastic and favorable to one's very self than being gorged on the temporal pleasures or the immediate response of even a great good in its own right. It is often, in the delayed gratification resulting with a gift given of a far greater good than had one hoped first for, that its delayed but not demurred joy is not only larger and more lively a gift but so also more effective, covering every suffering or lack of happiness thus preceding. Love, though never counting the costs nor counting the returns, profits more from the latter one of delay than the former of the moment. Love does not answer always in the most perceptive of ways, but often it is in the quiet wait that its joys and its beautiful installment of what is yet to come is shown as a sweet enveloping light from Heaven, and then we recall that "He so loved the world that He gave us His only Son." (cf. Jn 3:16)

"I know that love strengthens every vocation, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places, because it is eternal." - St. Therese of Lisieux

And in that truth the hope and faith in Love Divine rests. In that Truth Love bears out the hope that is Hope for it was not seen and the Faith of the one who had not yet seen. Love, thus, does not doubt Love, and thus it waits steadfastly for the faith of the Fallen, of the Broken, of the Ones weakened but not lost to sin to then render their hearts and not their hands and thus make known fully how His Love has made their lives' "steadfastness manifest" for Love does all these things for its own sake and because its own property is mercy and truth itself.

"Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path."

Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei

Deo gratias.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Love on the Way: Take Courage!

How easy is it to remain on the mountaintop and pitch the proverbial tent! It is very good to be here... but where is He calling you? Where? Reach into the depths, beyond the fears that remain. How can He do anything with you if you do not first release the fallacious fears of recollection that rest on past failures and past falls. Perfection lies not in the past but in the future.

Ultimately, love is about the future in Communion, not the past of disunion. Make the daily offering to unite all the Little Things to the Lord and His Sacrifice for His union with His bride, and He will show you the way to love without fear, to take courage without despair, and to give, in turn, what you have been given. Love finds His way to His Beloved.

Learn from the Master how He loves His Beloved. Take courage! With Him, He carries His Cross and helps you with yours on the Victory March to Love! Love takes His form with every breath, with every step, with every drop of blood, of sweat. Love finds His way to His Beloved.

His love does not dither to the harshness of the present life, nor does it to the past. Its luminance lasts beyond the night, and it harkens the days to come. His love is grace itself, and it shares with us His Victory March. The battle for Life has already been won. Rejoice in His love and share it with others on the Way, on that Way of Sorrows. Take courage! Rest with Him in His Communion; rest in preparation for the good works ahead He has prepared for you to enter into. Love finds His way to His Beloved.

Beloved, rest in His love. His Wedding Feast awaits!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Requires Communion

Love does not require two people, and yet, at the same time, it cannot be forced or coerced. It must be a gift to be accepted or denied, received or rejected. Love is not a pure emotion, though emotions and passions can drive it, but a willed act. It cannot be as fickle as the winds or the rain, or exacted like a science or weather phenomena. Love cannot be predicted for the simple fact that it requires a free will ready to return that love which has been first given, and thus to be shared with the Other, with each of the ones surrounding. Love requires Communion.

It is there that Love takes on all its properties and all of its varied and diverse forms. It is here in this moment, when it is shared that the seed of faith grows, that hope is renewed, and that Love takes root.

Any setback, any humiliation, any perceived foible or failure possibly seen by others, any heartbreak, any loss of possession, any separation of affection and touch, or even the sense of abject failure need not go unpurposed, unused, or wasted in the pursuit of this Communion of Love. The Spirit of God gives us fruits of grace especially in these humble moments when the consolations dry up and the earthly happiness ceases. The rains of grace shall come again, and the new day shall dawn once more and break from on high. This temporal winter so too shall pass. And even in these dry moments, there Love is.

"Love and truth will meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth will spring from the earth; justice shall look down from heaven." Psalm 85:11-12

And so it is, Love through Communion and Communion through selfless love. It isn't so much that we go wandering the world in search of Love in all the wrong places; it is that we have forgotten that it wasn't we who first loved but that we must realize that we must first be loved before we can learn to speak adequately in the language demanded by Love and of the One who created us. No single response is exactly the same to the demands of love. And those demands, which may seem high and distant at times or number many, distill into each the basic callings that each person receives as the seed to their very "vocation to love," as St. Therese of Lisieux once said.

"In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:17-19

Her struggle to win herself over to her "Little Way" is as legendary as it is simple: to be all things to all, she must first be love for the other in her own distinct, simple, child-like way. She was not everything, and yet through Love's massive expanse she became, through the Communion of Love and through the Faith and Hope she professed, the Love she desired so much. She did not allow the stumbling block of fear to obscure the "lamp upon [her] feet" and "light of [her] path" (cf. Psalm 119:105).

Love has no other ultimate end besides Communion with God, who is Love. And so, while the impostor examples placate in the interim, anything that does not lead us to that ultimate end of Communion with Him—be it trifle or tempest, longing or largesse, silence or speech, climax or desolation, height or depth—we find ourselves unable to be filled, by which we are unable to be in lasting peace, and in the end through which we are unable to have everlasting life itself without this aim. No matter its tried and noble path, if it not end in love, then it would be all dross. Without this Love, supreme of all virtues, we would be nothing, for without Him we are. And with Him, no matter the past, Love conquerors all not by force but by simple unending Truth in Communion with the Creator Blest. "We love because he first loved us." (1 Jn 4:19)

Where else but first at the Sacrifice of the Cross at Calvary in the bloody form and then at the re-presentation at the Altar under the unbloody form of the Eucharist first instituted by Christ himself as a Sacrament of Love? Where else can Love come down to be poured into all the Faithful to both strengthen them and to show them Love's most sublime way of entering into Communion with His bride, the Church? Love has no end, except in Him. Let us return in love by whom all loves so beautifully excel in bringing one another God, in whom we are strengthened for the blessed race still to be run but that has already been won, and through Him we have everlasting life.

"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 47)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sacramental Life: A Fiat to Truth

The moment one forgets that the imperfection isn't an end but merely an illusionary setback, that it isn't an indictment alone but a vindication based upon the One Who Saves, upon His mercy, and upon the grace that flows from Him as a font of every blessing here on Earth below; not until then do we realize that His love, which is mercy and truth itself, is reason enough to strive for perfection in and by, and through His grace. Love has no further end but to beget further love in the deepest recesses and places of the heart of one's beloved and in the heart of whom, who bears Love's origin. It becomes senseless and without meaning, which it is to say life itself, when man forgets that primordial truth which springs from existence itself—that we are loved and that we are called to love within the boundless confines of eternity. Without a fiat to this truth, man cannot love, and if he cannot love then mercy and salvation cannot be fully accepted.

Love has no end until Love is espoused to the Other and in that espousal the Lover becomes fully known to the Beloved and the Beloved becomes fully known in the most intimate of espousals to the Lover.

This is the meaning of the Sacramental Life. That is to say: everything has meaning between the Lover and the Beloved, and the one who is loved—that is, the Beloved—wastes no time in reuniting with the Lover and desires nothing less than Communion, blessed Communion, with the One who loves without any reservation or fear.

We love the Other, not because we are first, but because "He first loved us" and because He first "espoused us."

Friday, January 04, 2013

King of Cotton

As white as Cotton... As bold and bright...
As shining as the light... As loud as thunder and quick as lightning...

This day, my friends, my brothers in arms,
My brothers of Maroon and White... This day shall not be forgotten.

Speed on throughout the land, to all corners, to all who with us stand.
Let the Spirit ring forth, the Spirit of Aggieland!

We are in the Land of, the King of Cotton! Let this not be forgotten!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Love as Vocation

Vocation is an interesting topic. Much is often said about it in Catholic circles, especially for those of "religious" vocations, as though there only some specific religious vocation. Hardly is this the case, but it is quibble of the language to be sure.

Or is it only a failure of the language? Is it only an oddity of the English language as the word is? Is it shackled to conceptions that might be ill-formed or, perhaps, only under-formed? Could it be a lack of blossom in the modern conception of the word of "vocation?" Perhaps.

Vocationally, at least within some very reverent and holy groups of Catholics, the idea of the priesthood as the singular "holy" vocation—that is to say, in a way, religious—has historically been the priesthood or consecrated vocations. However, this might as well be a slighted perspective. Not always has this view been the case, but it has prevailed more often than perhaps is necessary. It belabors the earthly joys that the particular vocations offer up in one way or another. However, all authentic vocations do just this besides, in large or small ways, throughout the history of the Church. As it ought to be in the first case.

Nevertheless, we do hear prayers for the religious vocations to flourish. That those with these internal callings to be supported and rightly so. It is necessary, it is needed, and it is helpful. However, it could be say it is also a hindrance to the larger perspective.

How can we raise society merely from these—pardon the evocative language—"miracle cases?" Where are the ordinary cases of holiness? There lies the basis for each authentic vocation lived out as a testament to the Gospel preached. It is the Gospel preached without words but with actions.

God does work miracles, everyday miracles, and ones of intense conversions. Rightly and beautifully so, He does. However, He also works the smaller miracles, the ordinary miracles as well day in and day out within the Domestic Church. Building the Family into the Holy Family, in parcels or parts, raises the watermark for all subsequent actions. The holiness—the set-apart reality of grace—flows from this consecration of the ordinary, as Blessed John Paul the Great taught with his call for a "universal call to holiness" born out of the Second Vatican Council and one of its Apostolic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, as well as John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" and his Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio."

Certainly each vocation builds upon and supports the others, but it takes an initial spark of the Domestic Church, the "Holy Family," the hidden years of toil and work, to bring foundation for the work of the Vineyard at the summation of each person's vocation.

With regard to one's vocation, the heart should burn for consummation, which is to say: to consume and be consumed and yet remain as ever before, constant and unhindered for eternity, a burning bush that remains unburned as zeal presses on in beauty bright. One's vocation shouldn't be the path of least resistance, to the easy way out. It should be the innermost selfless desire wrapped in the greatest good with one's gift set—nothing more, nothing less. It should bear itself through trial and rejection. It should be peerless in its presence, open to questioning, yet receiving no doubt. In the end, the vocation is Love Itself, so in Love should one wait who is discouraged in the Vocation set, in its timing and its wait that Love so gently begets. Come, O Love Divine. Teach us thy ways to peace. Thy name be blessed.

"The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, it produces Love." - St. Thomas Aquinas

It's been such a blessed time to spend so much of it in reflection at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, which has a re-presentation of the Holy House that Lady Richeldis was instructed by Our Lady to build in model of the Holy House in Nazareth.

There is a great joy to be in the Holy House in Nazareth and contemplate God's inner wisdom, the beauty of Love come down. To be at the prime example of the Domestic Church and thus pray for the whole world.

I was given the view, the quiet peace at the Sunday Mass of the Feast of the Holy Family at Our Lady of Walsingham to see a young family, a young suited man with his wife and their young child who kept smiling through out the High Mass, peering back perhaps at the organist and the choir in the loft. Not a cry or frown came from her. I couldn't help but focus there as the readings went on, as it was the Feast Day of the Holy Family... and I was enthralled with the smile, with the image of them. They were among those who went for a wedding anniversary blessing, which I thought was fitting to the time. The joy and contentment of such an example to reverberate and echo the liveable example of the Holy Family.

It amplified to me such a wonderful reverberation of the following reflection:

"[From the family in Nazareth] we learn silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value...the silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God's inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God." Pope Paul VI, 5 January 1964

Let us live these words with joy for the New Year ahead. Deo gratias, Anno Domini 2013!