Wednesday, December 13, 2017


The Expectant Madonna with St. Joseph- Natl. Gallery

Thomas Merton remarked that life is a perpetual ADVENT. He sensed that in that waiting, trust began to grow. Trust in God, trust in the Holy One who is beyond all that is created and is the source of all things, seen and unseen. Trusting and waiting allow the loving-kindness that is the essence of God’s own Life to grow in us, and to bear fruit that we never expected.

I love this painting of a very serene Mother, waiting for her Child, who is to be our Savior.  And of St. Joseph
who has been told by the angel to wait in patience and to trust...that all will be well!  A message we all need to take to heart this year when there seems to be so much turmoil around us.

Our Advent silence, if done with an attitude of prayer, will open our hearts with joy, to  His coming- which is expected! .

Maurice Zundel, in Our Lady of Wisdom:

 'Be still and know that I am God.' God comes in the silence; on the gentle breeze; on the quiet altar of adoration; and, in the flesh, even as a vulnerable little baby in a manger. That is truly a 'response of love' worth waiting for, especially in silence

Monday, December 11, 2017


Pope Emeritus  Benedict XVI was ever conscious of the necessity of silence in our lives, especially in Advent. “Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God. In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.” (2005 )

 And again in 2009 Advent: " this powerful liturgical season, invites us to pause in silence to understand a presence. It is an invitation to understand that the individual events of the day are hints that God is giving us, signs of the attention he has for each one of us."

Waiting in silence, opening our hearts, we are full of expectation and hope,  trusting in new life not yet fully known.

Madonna- Liebieghaus, Germany

Saturday, December 9, 2017


 I consider our Seattle Archbishop, J. Peter Sartain, to be a very holy man, who treasures the Eucharist and knows the importance of prayer in our daily lives.  He has written a small book entitled An Advent Pilgrimage: Preparing Our Hearts for Jesus  (available at Amazon on Kindle or paperback), which I look forward to each Advent.

"Advent is a time for encounter between the old and the new, between promise and fulfillment, between our insufficiency and God's fullness. It's the season for recalling the perfect fit made possible as God poured forth His love in Jesus Christ.  It's the opportunity for joyfully rediscovering our need for salvation."

Only in silence, and I don’t mean just the absence of noise, can our hearts be open to the Word. The Lord makes it very clear to us, in the Gospels, through many messages  to the saints throughout history, that He is with us and will always be with us, if we are open to Him. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Just before Advent, a fiery Pope Francis chastised those who spend Mass talking to others, looking at their phone or even taking pictures during papal liturgies, saying these are distractions that take focus away from the “heart of the Church,” which is the Eucharist. (I would add not only for the user, but those sitting next to them.)
“The Mass is not a show: it is to go to meet the passion and resurrection of the Lord. The Lord is here with us, present. Many times we go there, we look at things and chat among ourselves while the priest celebrates the Eucharist... But it is the Lord!”
In particular, Pope Francis condemned the use of cell phones to take photos at papal Masses. At one point during the Mass the priest says, “we lift up our hearts,” he said. “He does not say, ‘We lift up our phones to take photographs!’”
“It’s a bad thing! And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the Piazza or Basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops.”
Pope Francis said the Eucharist would be the new focus of his weekly catechesis for the year, because “it is fundamental for us Christians to understand well the value and meaning of the Holy Mass to live more and more fully our relationship with God.”
In the Eucharist we rediscover, through our senses, what is essential, he said. Just as the Apostle Thomas asked to see and touch the wounds of Jesus after His resurrection, we need the same thing: “to see Him and touch Him to be able to recognize Him.”

In this way, the Sacraments meet this very "human need" of ours, he said. And in the Eucharist, in particular, we find a privileged way to meet God and his love.
He prays everyone will rediscover the beauty "hidden in the Eucharistic celebration, and which, when revealed, gives a full meaning to the life of everyone.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Jesus Christ- Blessed Silence (Mother Anastas

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence!  Bring people to silence!”

How those words apply even more to our modern world! ADVENT, in the midst of winter, is a good time to ponder the mystery of silence and the effect it has on our souls. Think of the trees now dormant, the various animals who have sought refuge in a burrow to gather strength for the new year.  In the winter darkness we become more aware of the silence and stillness that are a part of creation.  All seems to go into its own period of waiting.  If nature has its "time off" to prepare for new life, so must we. 

The Word of God cannot be heard in the stress-filled, noisy world of today. As contemplatives we know there can be no real meeting with Christ Jesus, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear Him. Only in this listening will we find a way to speak to a world .

A new book I would recommend to anyone seeking to find moments of silence in their life is The Power of Silence by the African Cardinal Robert Sarah. It is a wonderful ADVENT preparation for the coming of the Lord.

Silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine. Within the hushed and hallowed walls of the famous Carthusian monastery, the La Grande Chartreux, in the French Alps, Cardinal Sarah asks: Can those who do not know silence ever attain truth, beauty, or love?  Do not wisdom, artistic vision, and devotion spring from silence, where the voice of God is heard in the depths of the human heart?

In a time when technology penetrates our lives in so many ways and materialism exerts such a powerful influence over us, Cardinal  Sarah presents a bold book about the strength of silence. The modern world generates so much noise, he says, that seeking moments of silence has become both harder and more necessary than ever before. I know from experience that even one day off our quiet island onto the mainland disturbs the silence I daily seek.

"Silence is more important than any other human work," he says, "for it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence; it leads us toward God and others so as to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service."

This book is both a call to seek God and a guide for finding Him. It is a call to seek quiet and to be quiet, for only then can silence and God be found. Deeply spiritual, it is for those who are serious about their spiritual growth.  There is no better  way to prepare for His coming, than in silence!

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Amazing how working on the life of one saint leads us to another. Sometimes I think they gather in Heaven discussing who needs to be noticed next!  Another woman who devoted her life to the sanctification of priests was BLESSED MARIA TERESA CASINI, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

She was born in Frascati  (Italy) among the area's aristocracyin 1864. A contemplative and apostolic soul who was favored by profound mystical experiences, she understood the plea of the Heart of Jesus to offer her life as an oblation of prayer and reparation to support priests.

On the day Teresa had made her First Communion, she was in the family chapel of her home when she looked at the crucified Jesus on the cross and was moved to tears thinking about the suffering and abandonment He had suffered. The wounded Heart of Jesus pierced by a thorn flooded her mind. That memory defined the thrust of her life from that day on, and she was driven by her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

She traveled to Rome for her studies at the Santa Rufina boarding school that the nuns of the Madams of the Sacred Heart conducted.  Due to a period of ill health, she had to leave school and return home for recuperation.

Shortly after she turned eighteen, she responded to her vocation and met Father Arsenio Pellegrini who became her guide and her spiritual director and who served as the Abbot of the Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata. Despite entering the convent, ill health forced her to leave, though she attempted to enter once again yet failed due to the death of the foundress after which the institute she joined ceased to exist.

In due time, she became a nun after entering the monastery of Sepolte Vive in Rome on 2 February 1885. She only started to live in Grottaferrata with fellow entrants in 1892. In 1894, she founded the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the purpose of praying for holiness for priests, assisting them in their ministry and promoting new vocations.

It was not until 1925 that she started the special work of the "Little Friends of Jesus" in order to promote and to cultivate the vocations of prospective priests  As time went on, the Oblates responded to requests from pastors in parishes to help them in their rectories and schools of religion. This led to filling the urgent need for homes for priests recuperating from serious illnesses, for retired priests and for those working outside the parish.

Throughout her life, she offered "the oblation of herself, in faithful response to the Love that overflows from the open Heart of the Savior, and which she imparted to so many daughters and priests". This even earned the praise of Pope (St.) Pius X in 1904 who wrote: "In order to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ, nothing is more necessary than the sanctity of the clergy. God bless these sisters for their selfless love for these men of God, for through them, through the sacraments, we are fortified and purified for the journey".

Bl. Maria Teresa suffered a stroke in 1925, and a more severe one two years later. She remained bedridden for the rest of her life, while directing the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from her bedside. She went to her eternal reward in the early morning of April 3, 1937, in Grottaferrata. 

Her final words were: "I am peaceful. I feel God is near me".She was beatified in 2015.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Another holy woman, who lived long ago,  and gave her life for the sanctification of priests was  BLESSED AGNES of JESUS (Agnes de Langeac). She was the daughter of Pierre Galand, a knife-maker, and his wife Guillemette Massiote a lace-maker. She was the third of seven children, born in 1602  in Puy-en-Velay, France . 

At the age of 7, Agnes gave herself entirely to the Blessed Virgin praying: " Holy Virgin, since you deign to want me to be yours, from this moment I offer you all that I am and I promise to serve you all my life as a slave . "

Shortly afterwards she made her First Communion, taking a vow of virginity.  Agnes used to give alms to all the poor she met in the streets of Le Puy. In her teens she taught catechism and took special care of pregnant women. 

She is known as a helper for difficult pregnancies and for couples who want a child. It was in 1952 in Langeac, through her intercession that a mother gave birth, while her life and that of the baby were in danger. The miracle was recognized and made way for the beatification of Agnes in Rome in 1994.

In 1623  she left the Le Puy to go to the Dominican monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in Langeac . She made profession there on 2 February 1625 and in 1627
was named prioress. She was noted for her  kindness and love of her sisters.

Through her prayers and counsels she led Jean-Jacques Olier towards the foundation of the first Seminaries of Saint Sulpice.
Agnes of Jesus bore the stigmata without being visible externally.

She died on 19 October 1634 , leaving her daughters as a spiritual charge to pray for priests and priestly vocations.

Agnes of Jesus was beatified on 20 November 1994 by  (St.) Pope John Paul II . This beatification may seem surprising because of the sometimes confusing mystical language of Mother Agnes; however, the great simplicity of her faith, her vocation to pray for priestly vocations and her devotion to the Holy Spirit were seen as models by Pope John Paul II.