The Divine Image
by William Blake (1757-1827)To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and LoveAll pray in their distress;And to these virtues of delightReturn their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and LoveIs God, our father dear,And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and LoveIs Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,Pity a human face,And Love, the human form divine,And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,That prays in his distress,Prays to the human form divine,Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,In heathen, Turk, or Jew;Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwellThere God is dwelling too.
by Mary Coleridge
There, in that other world, what waits for me?
What shall I find after that other birth?
No stormy, tossing, foaming, smiling sea,
But a new earth.
No sun to mark the changing of the days,
No slow, soft falling of the alternate night,
No moon, no star, no light upon my ways,
Only the Light.
No gray cathedral, wide and wondrous fair,
That I may tread where all my fathers trod,
Nay, nay, my soul, no house of God is there,
But only God.
“The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the preaching and prayer of the apostles, on the authority that was entrusted to them by Christ himself. St Paul writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “You are no longer strangers or sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone” (Eph 2: 19-20); that is, he compares Christians to living stones that form an edifice that is the Church, and this edifice is founded on the apostles, who are like columns, and the cornerstone that carries it all is Jesus himself. Without Jesus the Church cannot exist! Jesus is the foundation of the Church — the foundation! The apostles lived with Jesus, they listened to his words, they shared his life; above all they were witnesses of his death and resurrection. Our faith, the Church that Christ willed, is not based on an idea; it is not based on a philosophy. It is based on Christ himself.”
General Audience, October 16, 2013.
“[P]rayer is in many ways the criterion of Christian life. Prayer requires that we stand in God’s presence… proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. This is difficult in a climate where the predominate counsel is “Do your best and God will do the rest.” When life is divided into “our best” and “God’s rest,” we have turned to prayer as a last resort to be used only when all our own resources are depleted. Then even the Lord has become the victim of our impatience. Discipleship does not mean to use God when we no longer function ourselves. On the contrary, it means to recognize that we can do nothing at all, but that God can do everything through us. As disciples, we find not some but all of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence in God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.”
Seeds of Hope
…Christ came, not only because of our need as a fallen race to be redeemed, but as the firstborn of all creation to teach us how to live. One cannot teach life except by getting a wounded heart, a wounded spirit, not without being bruised…
We must study to learn how to identify … the bruises of the heart and the spirit with the Passion of Christ., who did not love us without getting bruised in the process. We have those soul-shaking lines from Holy Scripture, almost too exquisitely acute to bear: “With his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53: 5). His wounds have not healed us of our need of being wounded but of the wound of our self-centeredness. His woulds have called us to come our of self, to be made strong in suffering. This is to identify with the Passion of Christ.
…[and] the responsibility that the Passion of Christ enjoins upon us. We dare not underestimate the strength we have once we have been redeemed in love by Jesus. When we make promises to God, we can disavow the power put into us to observe them faithfully. When we are given by God any circumstance, any work to do, any suffering to sustain, we are also given the power and the strength to do or to suffer it. So when remembering and focusing in our identification with the Passion of the Christ, we need also to make active his own mandate through the inspired word of his apostle, that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24). What is lacking in Christ’s Passion in me? It is my own bruises of body, of heart, of spirit, bruises of disappointment, bruises of frustration, bruises of misunderstanding, bruises of ingratitude, bruises perhaps of rejection. Aware of this, remembering, focused, identified, we can truly pray, “Passion of Christ, make me strong!” We dare not pray it unless we are prepared to accept the responsibility of having the strength of the Passion of Jesus given to us.
… [we] identify our own bruises as making up what is wanting in his Passion. We begin to join our own hesitant refrain to his great theme: “What is not necessary that I suffer this?” Was it not ordained that I should suffer for all the world? Was it not ordained that I suffer for the benefactors who befriend us and for those who think our life a waste? “Passion of Christ, make me strong!” Yes, it is a dangerous prayer. For if I ask to be made strong in this weay, I will be made strong and have to abdicate any further right to say “I can’t.” In this prayer I deliver up to Christ my former right to say “I cannot do it.”
Mother Mary Francis, PCC
The 13th of October, 1917
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.
“What do you want of me?”
I want to tell you that chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
“I have many things to ask you: to cure some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…”
Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask for forgiveness for their sins.
Looking very sad, Our Lady said:
Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.
Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared and blessed the world in the same manner as St Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
Sister Mary Lucia of the Immaculate Heart*
*Lucia was one of the original three seers who witnessed the events and miracles at Fatima in 1917. She later entered religious life. This section from her memoirs accounts the events of the “Miracle of the Sun”.
The Message of Fatima is that of the Gospel which emphasizes the following points:
- permanent conversion
- prayer, namely the Rosary
- the sense of collective responsibility, and the practice of reparation.
Learn more here.
As Catholics… we believe that original sin isn’t something committed, it’s something contracted. We recognize that we have received from Adam and Eve a human nature devoid of the divine nature God originally entrusted to them. As such, we don’t so much see original sin as a “thing,” as we do a lack of a “thing” — that “thing” being sanctifying grace. And sanctifying grace isn’t just religious rhetoric for something special. It is the Holy Trinity dwelling within the soul.
What that means for us is that we receive a human nature from the moment of our conception. But because we receive a human nature without a divine nature, we’re spiritually dead from the start. That’s our inheritance from our first parents: spiritual death. We’re physically alive but spiritually dead because God’s life does not dwell in us.
Baptism changes that.
Sometimes we talk about Baptism as “wiping away the stain of original sin.” But that’s a flawed metaphor. It inadvertently suggests that something is there before Baptism that isn’t there afterward — almost as if we could perform a spiritual x-ray of our soul, before and after Baptism, showing first a dirty soul, which is later made shiny and new. But again, it’s not the presence of something before Baptism that’s the problem. It’s the absence, the absence of divine life.
That divine life is what baptism restores. It gives us back the divine life that Adam and Eve lost.
Years ago I saw a poster that said: “One person with a belief is equal in force to ninety0nine people who merely have an interest.” When we believe in our faith, rather than merely have an interest in it, we become a witness and a source of strength to others. You might be the only person in your office who refuses to curse and who won’t participate in things that aren’t right. You may be criticized. You may be shunned. But gradually some will begin to respect you and even in some cases imitate you because you are willing to be a sign. At any rate, your sacrifices will count for much in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged.
Christ said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Is the power of Satan stronger than the power of Christ? Not at all, so don’t be afraid. Be faithful in prayer for others and offer sacrifices for them.
Often, when I think of the redemptive nature of suffering, I recall the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand with the five loveaves and two fish that a boy in the crowd offered. Such a meager food supply seems unlikely to do much good. Yet Jesus in a real sense made Himself dependent on this boy who gave so generously; Jesus multiplied the food and fed that immense group. That is what He also does with our prayers and sufferings. They seem very little in the face of the needs of the world, yet joined to His own sufferings, they take on that redemptive quality. Jesus uses them to redeem the world. This is redemptive suffering.
Jesus needs our suffering to use in redeeming souls. We need our suffering so that we can share with Him in the co-redemptive mission. The world need it that none may be lost eternally from God’s love.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR
Walk Humbly With Your God
God, in giving us life, gives each of us a mission to accomplish and a role to fulfill in his eternal plan. The most important thing, then, is to recognize this particular mission, to discern the divine will in our life, and then to work to make of our entire life and death a means of salvation for ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
We are the good God’s humble workers, the laborers of the Father, and when night falls, we must be able to say confidently that the harvest is ready and that the living Sun may now cause the seeds we have sown to grow.
“Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7: 16, 20)
God knows us in all our depths; he is aware of our least desire, the least impulse of our hearts, and the least movement of our will. But others see only what we show on the outside. That is why our actions and words and even our bearing must be the harmonious and truth expression of our interior depths. Others will judge our depths, or what is more important, God will judge them on the basis of the fruits he produces in us and the works he inspires us to do.
Grant me, O Lord,
an ever-watchful heart that no alien thought can lure away from you;
a noble heart that no base love can sully;
an upright heart that no perverse intention
can lead astray;
an invincible heart that no distress can overcome;
an unfettered heart that no impetuous desires can enchain.
Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.
-St Thomas Aquinas-