Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Reflection...

I've been trying to write this all day but never found the time. Here we are on the eve of Holy Thursday and I have the same unfinished feeling I had last year; All of Lent has come and gone (well, almost gone) and I don't know if I'm any closer to my imaginary pre-Lent goal now as I was when Lent began. Last year and this year my hope was to slow my life, well, not my secular life, (I've almost given up on slowing that down,) but my spiritual life, that's what I really intended to do. The thing is, more spiritual stuff goes on during these 40 days than usual, more gatherings for Evening Prayer, an extra Mass during the week, Stations, Choir rehearsals, so by the time the weekend is here one is worn out from just the commuting. I'm not complaining but I know I am. I love the 2 nights a week for Evening Prayer, the extra Mass, I love all of it! It's just that at times I feel it might be too much, too much being offered. During confession last week Fr. D. said to find more quiet time to listen to the Lord. I haven't found that time yet, and although I try to stay in constant prayer it's very hard to do at work. Even as I type I listen, but I know I'm not there, my deepness is not deep enough. At times God seems so elusive, and in the quiet moments all I seem to hear is the hum of the world. I'm thinking that in this hum is where I'll catch a glimpse of Him, feel Him as he reaches down with finger or utters inside me a single word. Oh, God, I yearn for that moment! At times in this cushy life the daily world rails against me but I know I'm so much better off than most. But at times the desert stretches out forever, and they do pluck my beard. I try to be like Paul, someone for everyone but that pulls me so thin, and I can only stretch so far.
In these next few days I'm hoping to find some of that quiet time I crave, to be with you, Lord, during these most Holy of Days. Let us all pray for that slowing down, that time to deepen our knowledge of the Mysteries of Our Lord and God.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Thursday evening, at the end of Adoration, right before Father D Reposed Our Lord, something very beautiful took place; Father asked that we say The Divine Praises, which is on the back page of our missals. Let me tell you, this is a first. Usually our priest, whichever one it is, holds up the Monstrance and presents it to the congregation, kneels, then take the host out and places Him into the tabernacle. So for this to happen took us by surprise. My wife prays for more reverence in the church and I'm sad to say that at times our parish priests do disappoint me. Sometimes the 'spirit of Francis' can get in the way of things. I do think Fr. D has a different way of looking at things and the Reposing of Our Lord is one of them. As Father was walking towards the Tabernacle my wife Helen broke into "Holy God, we praise thy name; Lord of all, we bow before thee; All on earth thy scepter claim..." well, you know the rest. I immediately joined her, and I did hear another voice following along back behind us. I'll have to say it sounded beautiful and a fitting end (I think!) to Adoration. As these events unfolded before us Our Lord became a real tangible presence in our church. It was like in showing more reverence to Our Lord and Savior he in turn showered graces on us who were in his real presence. It's hard to explain, you really had to be there. And that's just part of the story of a long day of, in reflection, torture and attacks by satan, culminating in my going to Adoration and then our evening Reconciliation Service immediately following Adoration. The darkness and deep physical pain that I had all day Thursday was monumental; I've never felt so messed up, ever. And then this morning, and the rest of the day, nothing. Just a feeling of peace, which is rare on a fast day. I'm long on this post and rambling, but I'd like to thank all who reply here with your kind words and if you disagree with anything please feel free with your replies. At times God blesses me with moments of insight, a quick flash of understanding, which usually turns into a post. Today yesterday was revealed a bit for me, and so I wrote. Peace.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Annunciation...

This day started as the kind of day one just doesn't want to start. I woke up stiff and sore, even more stiff and sore than usual. Half my head filled with sinus stuff, which throws my balance off as I maneuvered in the dark around the bedroom. A splitting headache to go along with the whole mess, but I still managed to say my consecration prayer to Jesus through Mary. That is a given. And what a beautiful given it is, with no real thought of mine, a gift given from above that lets me praise Him and Her first thing in the morning!
And here's my point; That even though mornings come when we really don't want to get out of bed, never mind go to work, when we want to give in to a little inconvenience that you know will go away after a cup of coffee or a hot shower, even though we don't want to we do move about and start our day, and get to work, no matter what that work is. We say yes to something that is much more than just me, or us. We say yes as Our Lady said yes, we put our fate into the hand of God just as Mary did and we declare our obedience to God to do the right thing, unknowingly and selflessly as our Mother did so long ago. Today as I celebrate The Annunciation Of Our Lord help me Blessed Mother to understand more fully the mystery of your yes!, and in understanding more enable me to give more, give more unreservedly to my God.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grace before lunch, Wednesday

Oh Lord, I thank you for this meal, this bread before me.

I thank you for my job, and all the work you have provided us

and I thank you and pray to you for my co-workers,

past and present, keep us safe on the job and on our way home.

Watch over my family, Lord as they go through the day.

Bless us o Lord, for these thy gifts...

Monday, March 22, 2010

A note from the field...

So much is happening, inside of me and outside, that's it's hard to digest it all. For starters, about three weeks ago my car died, the transmission gave out and with 249,000 miles on a car with a bad front end it just wasn't feasible to get it fixed. My son has one car, which he needs to get to work, my daughter has another (work and college) so my wife and I share hers. I drive it some days and other days I get a ride into work and catch a ride home with one of my co-workers. Things have worked out, mostly, and let me tell you, it is a humbling experience to ask others for a ride. So Franciscan! Almost like asking for alms. I wish we had better public transportation, I'd forgo another car altogether. H and I had grandiose ideas of re-financing our home and getting a newer used car that way but even going that route would have cost us a ton of money we don't have. So down one car has been a two sided coin; inconvenient in some ways but eye-opening in others. H and I talk about cutting back and in our semi poverty existence we're forced to not have much. My paycheck is pulled in many different directions, spread like the last of butter on many pieces of toast. But we were called to be Secular Franciscans and by the grace of God we will act like one in prayer, thought and actions.
Also, I'm finding that the noise of the world is unsettling at times, and I'm not sure if it's only because of Lent or God has manifested Himself in me in another new way. Mostly, though, I believe it has to do a lot with reading Sacred Scripture, which lately what I've been reading has really clicked in me. God and his works are to me a tremendous mystery that I'll never even begin to understand. God's ways are not our ways and to understand them completly is, for me, not important. I believe that the more we contemplate our God and His ways he will enlighten us as he sees fit. Keep the Cross ever before you. Yes, keep the Cross before you and put the secular world behind you, and that's what I've been trying very hard to do this Lenten season. Focus, keep focused by attending Mass as often as possible and while there delve deep into the Mystery of the Mass, the mystery of the Eucharist. My Lord and my God! He is there when we call Him, we just have to call him without the heart of stone. Oh, this time of penance, this time of Passion! Lord, help me to learn about you more and more during this season of Lent, and to stay more fixed on that narrow path until my time on earth is through.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lenten Journey

I will be with you Lord, today as I fast.
It is a way for me to stay with You
for just one hour.
Wednesdays' fast prepares me for Fridays'
and I keep Your Cross before me,
for without the Cross I'd let slip away
the gifts I receive
when I fast for You.

Oh Blessed Mother!
These days are dark but filled with light.
I ask for Your strength, to help me on this Journey.
I'm following Him but the road is rough,
I'm pulled from side to side.
Narrow is the path He walks
but He is bright and lights the way.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Gift

Our Lord has a way of doing things which I can't even begin to fathom. This morning brought one of those moments that, when they happen to me (which is few and very far between), just stop me literally, in my tracks. I've always had a problem with people telling me what to do, well, not really that but how and when to do something. I always feel that I know best, the "Don't tell me how to do my job" sort of thing. Since taking my vows as a Secular Franciscan I've been trying to live by the rule of humility and humbleness, and most of the time I do, (sort of) but when someone rubs me the wrong way I have a hard time accepting what they say. And if there is any criticism along with whatever else they are saying, forget it. I'm usually steaming for hours after. This morning though, I don't know what He did, He didn't even say anything that I know of, it was more like a turning of one's head a bit or lifting a veil. All of a sudden I knew that I wasn't in charge, I knew that in order to really walk with Christ I must submit totally to my humility, not every once in a while but always, that in doing so I would find something, some insight, some way to make the Journey easier. A tremendous weight lifted from me, not instantly, but little by little as the full scope of the gift He'd just given me sunk in. And with that came the tears and I had to quickly head to the men's room (funny now, not so then. My co-workers wouldn't understand.) After a couple of minutes I walked out of that men's room a different person. And of course I was immediately thrust into a situation where, before I probably would of had an issue with. For once I was able to respond as a true follower of Francis, a follower of Christ. Even as I write this I feel this inner glow, that's the best way for me to describe it. A valuable lesson, given freely from Our God today, taken with thankfulness and, of course, humility. Praise Him forever.

from 'The Little Black Book'

I will meet the Lord in a lot of people today.
Will I recognize him?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Getting through the day...

Lately it's been hard to find a quiet time, that hour or so when, during Lent especially, we can slow ourselves down and at least try to hear the Voice. For me, and I'm sure for many who work long hours during the week quality reflective time is almost non-existent. At night, after supper, shower, Evening Prayer, with the idea to calm down and try to let Our Lord in, to speak with Him, to pray, unfortunately most of the time in less than ten minutes I'm asleep wherever I am. How bad! We have a friend who's retired, a single man, who is always going on retreats because he can't even find quiet, meditative time. And during work, I find myself forgetting about Our Lord. The events of the day become too important (not really, but they trick me!) and that makes me sad. So I try very hard to keep Him in front of me, constantly in some sort of prayer, either to Our Lord, or the Blessed Virgin or Our God Himself. it's the only way I can get through the day.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Our God has blessed us with shining sun and temp's that are climbing into the 50's here in CT. Our day started as we woke at 2:15am to make our Nocturnal Adoration hour from 3-4am. What a gift to be able to spend that time with Our Lord! H and I did Morning Prayer together, our morning offering in the wee hours. Then, silence.
Our Homily today by Fr. Dan on today's Prodigal Son Gospel was centered squarely on sin and its consequences. How when one gets trapped in sin how it's so hard to escape from continuing to sin, sinning over and over. And then when one decides to renounce sin, and after the sacrament of reconciliation, how a person is still very weak, how one's soul has been damaged by sin and even though our sins have been forgiven, it still takes time, sometimes a long time for the graces from God to work, to truly change the soul. Oh, the consequences of sin! Fr. Dan also spoke of our contemplation of our sin and the direct effects it has on us and God. It was an eye-opening look at sin, no sugar coating, just an old school Homily from a Priest that is so very kind, but pulls no punches. God is good.

Getting ready to head over to the church hall for our Pasta Dinner to benefit St. Mary's-Above-Rocks Mission in Jamaica. St. Mary's is run by Franciscans and our church tries to hold a benefit once a year with all proceeds going to them. I'm the pasta maker so wish me luck. Al Dente'!