Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Venial sin

Divine Intimacy,
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene O.C.D.
#101 Venial Sin

Always be fearful if you do not feel sorry for the faults you commit, for even venial sin ought to fill you with sorrow to the very depths of your soul.... For the love of God, take care not to commit any deliberate venial sin, even the smallest... And can anything be small if it offends God? (St. Teresa of Avila, Way 41).

May His Magesty be pleased to make us fear Him whom we ought to fear and understand that one venial sin can do us greater harm than all the forces of hell combined (Teresa of Avila, Life, 25). Indeed the real evil, the only one I have to fear, is neither temptation, nor trial, nor interior or exterior contradictions, nor the loss of material things or of health, but only what is contrary in any way at all to my union with You, my sovereign Good! O Jesus, through the merits of Your Passion, deliver me from this great evil [...] may my faults serve only to humiliate me, not to offend you.

"Are you not aware that God sees you always? ... O true Sun, enter my soul and give me light; melt the ice of my self-love and kindle in me the fire of Your charity. Peccavi, Domine, miserere mei" (St. Catherine of Siena).

The picture in this post is by Matthew Brooks; His book and online gallery can be seen at Art for the Catholic Restoration

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not out of the woods, cautious optimism about eyesight

This morning's update:

Yesterday Sophia remained pretty much the same, which is good. Not all tests have come back yet. The tests that checked for imbalance of proteins in the blood came back negative, so they are still checking about the cause of the blood clots. The good news is that the ophthalmologist checked her eyes and he said that the eye nerves are the same as they were before the surgery, inflamed but not worse. I thought those were great news. They are thinking of putting a draining tube back to help with the swelling. Hopefully we’ll have more news about the rest of the tests today. Thank you for your continuous prayers!! God bless you, Daniela

Monday, February 26, 2007

Steve Ray: on the lighter side

This is rich:

Tale of a Retired Troublemaker

Working people frequently ask us retired people what they do to make their days interesting. For example, the other day I went downtown and into a shop. I was only there for about 5 minutes and when I came out there was a cop writing out a parking ticket.

I said to him, "Come on, man, how about giving a retired person a break?" He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. I called him a "Nazi." He glared at me and wrote another ticket for having worn tires.

So I called him a "doughnut-eating Gestapo." He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he wrote a third ticket. This went on for about 20-minutes. The more I abused him the more tickets he wrote. Personally, I didn't care. I had come downtown on the bus, and the car that I was standing next to (the one he was putting the tickets on) had a bumper sticker that said "Hillary in '08."

I try to have a little fun each day now that I'm retired. It's important to my health.

Hat tip to Steve Ray

Miraculous image in Columbia

Incredible but true: Our Lady of Las Lajas
Historians and scientists are at a loss to explain this fabulous image on the wall of a South American cave. It may forever remain an enigma.

The child Jesus is in Our Lady’s arms. On one side of Our Lady is Saint Francis; on the other is Saint Dominic. Her delicate and regal features are those of a Latin American, perhaps an Indian. Her abundant black hair covers her like a mantle (The two-dimensional crown is metal and was added by devotees much later on). Her eyes sparkle with a pure and friendly joy. She looks about fourteen years old. The indians had no doubt: this was their queen.

But tests done when the church was built show how stupendous this image actually is. Geologists from Germany bored core samples from several spots in the image. There is no paint, no dye, nor any other pigment on the surface of the rock. The colours are the colours of the rock itself. Even more incredible, the rock is perfectly coloured to a depth of several feet!

Hat tip to The Roving Medievalist
More information in TFP magazing here
YouTube videos, here and here

Joining Christ in the Desert

Joining Christ in the Desert
By Venerable Louis of Granada (circa 1588)

Before the savior began his preaching of the Gospel, he prepared himself by fasting and solitude in the desert so that you would understand how seriously a work is the salvation of souls. That Lord, who is infinitely perfect, had no need of such ascetical practices, but he prepared himself for his apostolate in this way so that those who will fulfill this office will understand how to prepare themselves for the work of salvation of souls. For no one should go forth to the mission of preaching if first he has not exercised himself in secret contemplation…

The primary master of all true preachers, after that of the sciences necessary for such labor, is solitude, where God will speak to the heart the words which will later come forth from the lips and reveal the secrets of wisdom to the humble.

Let us, therefore, love that solitude which the Lord sanctified by his example, for he who is not engaged in conversation with men is almost necessitated to converse with God. O wretchedness of the present world! Men have abandoned the deserts and have given themselves over to a life filled with worldly care and anxiety. And since the roads to the desert are now overgrown with weeds, at least make yourself a spiritual desert by recollecting your senses and entering within yourself, because in that way you will find God. Moses saw the glory of God in the desert; in your spiritual desert God gives himself to be tasted and enjoyed by his friends.

Entering into this desert, you should, like Moses, climb to the summit of the mountain; that is, leave behind the things of earth and raise your heart to the things of heaven. For this you will need two wings: the wing of prayer and that of fasting, which is necessary for prayer itself, because the stomach filled with food is not disposed to ascend to the heights…

But Jesus did not only fast; he prayed and struggled with our adversary. The solitude was for our example, the prayers for our debts and need, and the struggle with the enemy to conquer our adversary.

Therefore, accompany the Lord in all these exercises and labors, for here he is doing your work and paying for your pleasures. Imitate the example of Christ as much as you can. Pray with him; fast with him; struggle with him; join your labors to his so that all of them will be acceptable in God’s sight.

Submitted by Chapter member Bonnie Fitzpatrick O.P.L.


From Divine Intimacy, #99, Conversion
by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

St. Thomas teaches that “in the pursuit of the end, no limits should be set” (IIa IIae, q.184, a.3)

The measure of loving God is to love Him “without measure”; if we should not set a limit to love, neither should we set one to our conversion. The Lord said, “Be converted to Me with all your heart” (Jl 2:12). This is the indispensable condition for loving God with our whole heart. The cases where total conversion is reached in an instant by a very special grace are rare; ordinarily, we do not arrive at it except by a daily progressive conversion. And if, in this conversion-as in the whole work of sanctification-the initiative is always from God who prevents us with His grace, our cooperation is nevertheless required; hence we must strive every day with renewed diligence to “be converted to God with all our heart.” Let this be our program for Lent.

Reading old(er) books is so interesting, when you run across words which are no longer in common (or any) use, or have taken on a meaning quite different from what is intended by the author. Such is the language, and such is the word "prevent."

we all use the word "vent;" and we know what "pre-" as a prefix means, so ... God "prevents" us by opening us to His grace, and act we could not do, had He not "prevented" us. Notice how the usage has done a 180!

Here's some "preventing" we could all use!

Update on Sophia: rough going

This just in:

truly wish I could give you better news today, but Sophia is going through a bump on the road right now. Several specialists saw her yesterday. The hematologist is doing tests, checking her blood for, among other things, any blood condition that may be causing the blood clots. Because of the considerable swelling on her head a blood clot farther down was suspected so the cardiologist did tests to check for that. He didn’t find any, thank goodness!. Another concern was that the spinal fluid showed blood. They are still waiting for results on that test; that will also tell them if there are any infections that may be causing her to have a fever. Another CAT scan was done yesterday, and we were blessed with the news that there were no hemorrhages or a worsening in the blood clots. They are still there but unchanged. They decided to give her the next dose of blood thinning medication. We need to pray that it will work without farther complications, since at this point they are not sure if that may be a reason for the blood in the spinal fluid. Earlier in the afternoon her face was extremely swollen, it was heart wrenching to watch. By last night the swelling had gone down, she still couldn’t open her eyes, but it was much better. As Dr. Nichols said, they were not sure why, but it had gone down. As you can see, there are a lot of un-knowns, waiting for results of tests, etc. The main worry right now are the blood clots. One day at a time, let’s pray that today will be a better one. God bless you all, Daniela

In you, O Lord, we place our trust.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sophia - back in ICU

I just received the following update:

Sophia was moved back to intensive care. There are several blood clots, some quite large. They formed in the last 4 days, but they are not sure why so they’ll do more testing. Her fever keeps going up and down, last night around 103-104. Today they are going to do a spinal tap, where they take out a sample of spinal fluid, to check for infections. Because of the clots, she needs to be well hydrated so she’s back with an IV. That has caused her face to get really swollen, but that is the least of the concerns, as they were told. She is getting thinning medication every 12 hours, and that is supposed to help the blood flow so that it can go through the clot and open up more collateral blood vessels. They were surprised that Sophia hadn’t had symptoms of the blood clots; they think that she must have a good amount of collateral blood vessels that has kept a good supply of blood going through the brain. Please pray that she’ll come out of this new hurdle okay, that they will find a reason for the fever so that they can treat it. Let’s pray that those blood clots will dissolve quickly and that there’s no permanent damage because of it. Please let’s continue praying for wisdom for all the doctors and for the nurses. Please continue praying for Scott, Veronica and Matias. The new obstacles are getting harder to handle under the fatigue and stress. Matias asked his daddy today, if today Sophia was going to pass away, and to please call him if there was something wrong again. He’s very worried and it’s starting to show. Please pray for him also. Thank you. God bless you, Daniela

Lacordaire: Conferences

The following is from the opening of Lacordaire's
"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"



We have proved the divinity of Christian doctrine in a two-fold manner; by its results, in showing that it produces that marvel the Church, to which nothing is comparable and which evidently surpasses all human power; and also by showing that her founder is Jesus Christ, the envoy of God and the Son of God. The effects and source of this doctrine being divine, it is manifestly stamped with the seal of divinity, or, in other words, it is divine. It would seem that our task is ended, and that having drowned that doctrine whose minister we are with the most sacred and certain of all characters, we have but two things to demand from you, or rather to impose upon you, namely, silence and adoration.

But the human mind is so formed, it has been so steeped in light, that even if it saw the very hand of God bearing doctrine to it, it would not be willing to receive that doctrine without receiving therewith the right and power to sound its depths. The road of authority is doubtless a just, a natural road, and necessary for our present state; but it does not suffice for us. For our present state includes the foretaste of the future promised to us, and in regard to that future, nothing will fully satisfy us but light seen by us in the very essence of God himself. We do not desire henceforth to behold that light in its infinite fullness; we understand that limits have been placed to our mental vision and to our horizon; but how feeble so-ever that vision may be, it is that of an intelligent being; how limited so-ever its horizon, it is an horizon traced by the hand of God. Our mind seeks light, and our horizon receives its rays. As soon then as a doctrine is proposed to us, from whatsoever hand it may come, we thirst to fathom it, to scrutinize it from within, to assure ourselves, in fine, that it possesses other marks of truth than merely outward signs, however great they may be. I cannot escape from this law of our being, nor do I desire so to do. I respect it in you as in myself; I recognize therein our origin and our predestination. After having led you then for so many hears through the externals of Christianity, I must now, under the eye of God, pass the threshold of the temple, and without fear as without presumption, contemplate doctrine itself, the daughter of God and the mother of your soul.

I do not promise you its absolute superiority; this can be done only by leaving this present world and reaching the bright shores of the infinite. But I promise you that in comparing it with all the doctrines that have endeavored to explain the mysteries of the world, you shall easily discover in it an unquestionable and a divine superiority. I promise you that a light shall shine from it, which, without always attaining to evidence itself, will form at least a glorious dawn of evidence, and perhaps even at times a blending, as it were, of the reason of man with the reason of God. Your soul, elevated by veiled truths, will see them gradually growing clearer in the dawn of contemplation; in that holy exercise it will become accustomed to flights before unknown to it, and at length wonder at the sublime simplicity of the greatest mysteries.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)

Next reading here

Sophia needs extra prayers: dangerous time

This is the report from Saturday evening.

Veronica just called me with the results of today’s CAT scan, and asked me to send an email and ask you for special prayers. The main artery in the brain is blocked. They explained that it is the artery that takes the blood out of the brain, so with extensive blockage she has the risk of a hemorrhage. The put her on medication to thin the blood but the doctor explained that it takes time, maybe days for that to happen, and in the mean-time it’s dangerous. I was about to start writing to you about today, and how well Sophia was doing. She walked, took a bath, ate, and even talked on the phone with my daughter Karina. This shows us how quickly things can still change. Thank you for your extra prayers! I’ll keep you posted. God bless each and every one of you, Daniela

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Update on Sophia!

This is from late Friday evening:

Veronica told me that Sophia walked today. They held her hands to help her with her balance, but she did the walking J ! When they got her back to bed, she was exhausted, but when they asked her if she wanted to go for a little ride on a wheel chair, she was ready to go again ! She was still hallucinating but at times she was also answering questions. She finally slept today, and Veronica said it was nice to see her more calm and rested. I’ll be able to tell you more tomorrow, since I’ll be with her tonight. I get to “baby-sit” and hopefully Veronica and Scott will get some rest. Talk to you tomorrow. God bless you, Daniela

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mike and Deb Lee had their baby!

From Idaho Hicks in Austria...

Check the Lee family blog; "Zeke" looks just like dad!

Mike, who is taking a break from youth ministry at Holy Apostles, Merridian Idaho, to study here:

Earlier this week Mike writes:

As most of you know, we joyously welcomed Ezekiel into our family February 10th. What most of you probably don't know is we are personally responsible for the expenses related to his birth. For those of you who have lived overseas, you'll understand that health insurance can be an almost impossible commodity to obtain.

We'd like to ask you to prayerfully consider making a one-time donation to help us meet these "new baby" expenses. If you feel you can do that, please:

Make checks payable to: Mike Lee

And mail to:

Friends of the Mike Lee Family
2976 East State Street #120
PMB 33
Eagle , ID 83616

THANK YOU for all you are doing for us with your prayers, thoughts, cards and gifts.

The Idaho Hicks in Austria

Mike, Deb, Felicity, Cody, Zach, Eli, AND EZEKIEL!!

P.S. The hardest thing about being in Austria for us isn't the fact that we are foreigners. It is having to ask folks for money, but, alas, it is part of God's will for us while we are here. Thanks for understanding...

Math test

hat tip to Fr. Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say?

Update on Sophia

Just in:

Sophia was moved from intensive care to the pediatrics area yesterday. Although it’s good to know she’s not longer considered “critical”, it’ll take a little time to get used to not having the constant care she had there, where she had her own nurse watching her and all these machines monitoring everything for you. Yesterday, for example, Sophia had been restless all day and Veronica wanted her to rest and sleep. But as soon as she looked as she was asleep, we felt like waking her up to make sure she was okay :). She’s now only hooked to the feeding tube. The nurse comes every so often to check her vitals and give her the medications. Because she’s been weaned off the steroids, she’s more swollen. And the fever still goes up and down quite a bit, yesterday she had a temperature almost all day. In the morning Sophia did very well with her speech therapist but she wasn’t as cooperative with the physical therapist (her “P.E. teacher” as Scott would tell her).

We still don’t know about her vision, we don’t know if she sees us when we are around her, we don’t know how well and clear she sees anything, we don’t know if she can see from both eyes, we have to wait, and that is hard. When I saw her in the evening she was hallucinating quite a bit, that seems to get worse later during the day. We need to keep reminding ourselves that it’ll take time, we need to keep praying for strength and patience, one day at a time. It’s a miracle that she’s as well as she is, and that she hasn’t had any complications. Let’s keep praying that it will continue being that way and that we can continue seeing improvement. Let’s pray for the swelling of her face, for her vision, for the fever to go down. Let’s continue praying for her doctors, her nurses, and for Veronica, Scott and Matias. THANK YOU !! God bless you and your families, Daniela

"...and through His Wounds we were healed." (Isaias 53:5)


How to Make the Greatest Evil in Our Lives Our Greatest Happiness

by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.

Suffering is the great problem of human life. We all have to suffer. Sometimes small sorrows, sometimes greater ones fall to our share. We shall now tell our readers how to avoid much of this suffering, how to lessen all suffering and how to derive great benefits from every suffering we may have to bear.

The reason why suffering appears so hard is that, first of all, we are not taught what suffering is. Secondly, we are not taught how to bear it. Thirdly, we are not taught the priceless value of suffering.

This is due to the incomprehensible neglect on the part of our teachers.

It is surprising how easily some people bear great sufferings; whereas, others get excited even at the smallest trouble.

The simple reason is that some have been taught all about suffering; others have not.


read the rest here

Sorrowful mysteries

This is the garden of Gethsamani.
The olive tree in the background is over 2000 years old; a mute witness to the night that Jesus prayed here...

Was it not enough, O Pillar, that you bore the Creator and Lord of Life as His life, his blood, was so horridly spilt upon you? By your mute witness, convict us of our sins, that we may stop scourging our Lord.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Grant us, dearest Lord, to take up our daily cross, to unite it to you, as did the good thief to whom you promised paradise.

Lord, you endured the nails... die on the cross...

...and be laid in the tomb.

and what was I whining about?

Get thee to Jerusalem!

My special thanks to Steve Ray, author of Crossing the Tiber - A better Holy Land pilgrimage is not to be had!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The new accomplishment of the Lord

I'm lifting this quote from the blog RORATE CÆLI

The new accomplishment of the Lord

Christianity is as old as the world; for it consists, essentially, in the idea of a God -- Creator, Legislator, and Savior -- and in a life conformable to that idea. Now, God manifested himself to the human race from the beginning under the threefold relation of Creator, Legislator, and Savior, and from the beginning, from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Jesus Christ, there have been men who lived conformably with this idea of God.

Three times before Jesus Christ, God manifested himself to men in this threefold character: by Adam, the first father of the human race; by Noah, the second father of the human race; and by Moses, the lawgiver of a People whose influence and existence have mixed them up with all the destinies of mankind.

There exists, however, a fact not less remarkable, namely, that Christianity only started its reign in the world eighteen hundred years ago, with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ appears to have been the first who brought light into the world. Before him, as Saint John said, "it shined in darkness". But what is the cause of this? How is it that Christianity, vanquished in the world before Jesus Christ, has been victorious in it since his coming? How is it that Christianity, before Jesus Christ, "did not hinder the
nations from following their ways", and that Jesus Christ, on the contrary, was able to pronounce that sentence of eternal victory, "In mundo pressuram habebitits, sed confidite, ego vici mundum"?

What new thing is it then that Jesus Christ has accomplished? Is it the sacrifice on Calvary? The Lamb of God that takes aways the sins of the world "was slain from the beginning of the world". ... Is it the Gospel? The Gospel, after all, is but the Word of God, and that word, after many trials, did not change the world. Is it the sacraments? The sacraments are only the channels of grace, and the grace of God, although less abundant, without doubt had not ceased continually to flow to men before Jesus Christ. What new thing, then, did Jesus Christ accomplish? By what means did he secure the eternal duration of the victory obtained on Calvary? Listen to his own words, he will say them to you: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I
will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her". This is the work which was to subjugate forever hell and the world, which would everyday renew the Sacrifice of the Savior, maintain and diffuse his doctrines, distribute his grace! ... this Church, "the pillar and ground of the truth"...[is] destined to the universal and perpetual instruction of the human race.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
Conférences à Notre-Dame de Paris (1835)

Thursday morning update on Sophia

Sophia's aunt sent the following this morning:

Yesterday Sophia did very well with her physical therapist. She’s a little fighter, follows directions and tries hard. They worked on keeping her head up, on trying to have her sit down by herself and they had her standing up, while holding her, to start building up muscles and strength. One thing Veronica and Scott found out yesterday was that she had been on a high dose of steroids to prevent swelling of the brain and that sometimes that makes patients hallucinate. We are hoping that this was the cause of most of the delusional states and that they will start getting better as she’s weaning off those steroids. The highlight of the day? In the middle of her in and out of reality state, Sophia recited the following: “PROVERBS 20:11 – Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right”. It sure warmed up everyone’s heart, and I know that this is making Mrs. Fritschle’s smile (Sophia’s first grade teacher from Cole Valley Christian that taught her the verse). It was also wonderful to hear her mumbling Christian songs that she knows from listening to KTSY :). Please continue praying for her eye sight. That is one of the areas that we need to wait and see. Scott and Veronica would also appreciate prayers for the hallucinations to get better as the steroids wean off. Let’s also pray that she starts eating better (right now she is on a feeding tube). And as always, for Scott, Veronica and Matias, for their strength and patience to endure the slow and long road ahead, and for the doctors and nurses that are so lovingly taking care of Sophia. Thank you again! God bless each and every one of you. Daniela

P.S. Thank you for all your emails and phone calls. I may not be able to respond individually but I read them all late and night, and the ones to Veronica and Scott I print them and take them to the hospital. If you are waiting for an answer from me, don’t hesitate to write back, I usually get so many emails that I may wait to respond later and maybe forget :(!

If you would like to send an email to the family, I'll forward it. They are putting them in a book for Sophia. It strengthens the family quite a bit to receive these. God bless you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Down to the thousandth generation...

The first reading for Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours is taken from Chapter Seven of Deuteronomy. It ends with:

Understand, then, that the Lord, your God, is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation towards those who love him and keep his commandments.

It is natural to look at this and say, “A thousand generations; that’s about 40 years times 1000; or God keeps his covenant for 40,000 years;” concluding perhaps that we are about a good 35,000 years away from the end of the world and the general judgment.

St. Augustine suggested that we look at it from a spiritual perspective, not carnal, and offered the following. The number 1000 is 10 raised to the third. God’s covenant was given to a people to whom he had given 10 commandments, commandments that are a burden, and without grace, impossible to fulfill; thus the revelation of the Trinity by Jesus Christ is that sign of grace which makes the keeping of the commandments possible; hence to love him and keep his commandments, is the commandments (10) informed by the grace of the Triune God (3), signified by 1000.

Thus, as we are children of Abraham by faith, an imperishable seed, not by the will of man, but of God, so also are the faithful followers of Jesus Christ the inheritors of the covenent. Which generation? The one referred to in Luke:

All generations will call me blessed

A blessed Lent to you.

Update on Sophia - Prayers still needed!

Sophia's aunt sent the following late Tuesday night.

Today was a hard day. Veronica and Scott met with the endocrinologist and found out the kind of life long treatment she’ll need to do the job of the pituitary gland that has to do with the kidneys. That was overwhelming especially for Veronica. The physical therapist worked with Sophia twice today (tried to get her to sit and to stand for a few seconds), and the speech therapist also worked with her. Sophia was restless all night and all day today. I hope I haven misled you by saying that everything has gone great. It has in the sense that the tumor is gone and the surgeries went incredibly well. But that doesn’t mean that we have our old Sophia back yet. She’s still in Pediatrics Intensive Care, we don’t know how much longer she’ll be there. She’s not awake and alert. When she wakes up she has one eye barely opened and the other closed (the left eye was the one more affected). She mumbles words, sometimes she seems to recognize and say a few things that make sense but most of the time she mumbles things that we don’t really understand or that don’t make sense, she imagines things and tries to touch things that are not there. It breaks your heart to watch her. It’s also taking a toll on Veronica, she’s very stressed and worried. The doctors say this “delusional” state is normal, but everyone is different so we just need to wait, they can not say when she’ll come out of it. Since it’s the vision and the functioning of the brain that we need to “wait and see” you can imagine how hard this waiting is. On the other hand, she had times today when she had things to eat and drink, I asked her if she wanted me to read her a book and she said yes, I told her that our lamb had babies last night and she responded “really?”, so those are all great things. Many of you have asked about visiting, so I asked Veronica today. She said that it’ll probably be best to wait a bit, until things get a little better and they are out of intensive care. Right now they are really limiting the people that go into the unit, so you wouldn’t be able to see Sophia, and many times is hard for them to leave her to go meet visitors in the waiting room. You know how much they appreciate all of your care and concern, and you know how much they have depended on your loving prayers, but right now it’s still very stressful there. I’ll be happy to print emails to bring to the hospital for now and I’ll make sure I let you know when it’s okay to go. Please continue praying for Sophia, her doctors and nurses, for Veronica, Scott and Matias. Thank you. God bless each and every one of you, Daniela

Ash Wednesday reflection

Just a short quote from the book "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

#94 Ash Wednesday

"Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return" (Gn 3:19). These words, spoken for the first time by God to Adam after he had committed sin, are repeated today by the Church to every Christian, in order to remind him of two fundamental truths - his nothingness and the reality of death.

Dust, the ashes which the priest puts on our foreheads today, has no substance; the lightest breath will disperse it. It is a good representation of man's nothingness: " O Lord, my substance is as nothing before Thee" (Ps 38:6), exclaims the Psalmist. Our pride, our arrogance, needs to grasp this truth, to realized that everything in us is nothing. Drawn from nothing by the creative power of God, by His infinite loe which willed to communicate His being and His life to us, we cannot - because of sin - be reunited with Him for eternity without passing through the dark reality of death. the consequence and punishment of sin, death is, in itself, bitter and painful; but Jesus, who wanted to be like to us in all things, in submitting to death has given all Christians the strength to accept it out of love. Nevertheless, death exists, and we shouldreflect on it, not in order to distress ourselves, but to arouse ourselves to do good. "In all thy works, remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin (Sir 7:40). The thought of death places before our eyes the vanity of earthly things, the brevity of life - "All things are passing; God alone remains" - and therefore it urges us to detach ourselves from everything, to scorn every earthly satisfaction, and to seek God alone. The thought of death makes us understand that "all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone" (Imitation of Christ).

"Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die . . . then there will be many things about which you care nothing" (St. Teresa of Jesus), that is, you will give up everything that has no eternal value. Only love and fidelity to God are of value for eternity. "In the evening of life, you will be judged on love" (St. John of the Cross).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Here's an update on Sophia that just came in!

Yesterday the results from the MRI came back. This was the follow up test that would tell if the tumor was completely gone, and thanks to our loving God, there’s nothing left ! Everything else looked also normal. Sophia is going to be in anti-seizure medication for a couple of days. The physical therapist started working with her today. The eye doctor saw her this morning but I haven’t been able to get the update on that from Veronica. She’s still asleep most of the time, and when she wakes up she’s delusional, but the doctors say that’s very normal. I think we are all realizing how slow the process is going to be, but as long as everything is moving forward that’s okay !!!! As I said in one of the last emails, there are a lot of “unknowns” at this point. Let’s continue praying for her vision and for the functioning of her brain, that everything continues developing normal. I was thinking that if you want to send Veronica and Scott a message, you can email it to me and I can print them and bring them to the hospital. I’ll be saving all of these emails for her scrapbook, so that she looks back some day and realizes how amazing her family in Christ is. God bless each and everyone of you, Daniela

Lenten preacher for the Curia & Holy Father...

...will be Cardinal Giacomo Biffi.

here is something he wrote two years ago regarding the Antichrist:

The days are coming, and are already here…
by Giacomo Biffi

The Antichrist, says Soloviev, was "a convinced spiritualist." He believed in goodness, and even in God. He was an ascetic, a scholar, a philanthropist. He gave "the greatest possible demonstrations of moderation, disinterest, and active beneficence."

In his early youth, he had distinguished himself as a talented and insightful exegete: one of his extensive works on biblical criticism had brought him an honorary degree from the University of Tübingen.

But the book that had gained for him universal fame and consensus bore the title: "The Open Road to Universal Peace and Prosperity," in which "a noble respect for ancient traditions and symbols was joined with a sweeping, audacious radicalism toward social and political needs and directives. Limitless freedom of thought was united with a profound comprehension of everything mystical; absolute individualism with an ardent dedication to the common good; the most elevated idealism toward guiding principles with the complete precision and viability of practical solutions."

It is true that some men of faith wondered why the name of Christ did not appear even once, but others replied: "If the contents of the book are permeated with the true Christian spirit, with active love and universal benevolence, what more do you want?" Besides, he "was not in principle hostile to Christ." On the contrary, he appreciated his right intentions and lofty teaching.

But three things about Jesus were unacceptable to him.

First of all, his moral preoccupations. "The Christ," he asserted, "has divided men according to good and evil with his moralism, whereas I will unite them with the benefits that both good and evil alike require."

He also did not like Christ's "absolute uniqueness." He was one of many, or even better – he said – he was my precursor, because I am the perfect and definitive savior; I have purified his message of what is unacceptable for the men of today.

Finally, and above all, he could not endure the fact that Christ is alive, so much so that he repeated hysterically: "He is not among the living, and will never be. He is not risen, he is not risen, he is not risen. He rotted, he rotted in the tomb…"

But where Soloviev's presentation shows itself to be particularly original and surprising – and merits greater reflection – is in the attribution to the Antichrist of the qualities of pacifist, environmentalist, ecumenist. […]

Did Soloviev have a particular person in mind when he made this description of the Antichrist? It is undeniable that he alludes above all to the "new Christianity" that Leo Tolstoy was successfully promoting during those years. […]

In his "Gospel," Tolstoy reduces all of Christianity to five rules of conduct which he derives from the Sermon on the Mount:

1. Not only must you not kill, but you must not even become angry with your brother.

2. You must not give in to sensuality, not even to the desire for your own wife.

3. You must never bind yourself by swearing an oath.

4. You must not resist evil, but you must apply the principle of non-violence to the utmost and in every case.

5. Love, help, and serve your enemy.

According to Tolstoy, although these precepts come from Christ, they in no way require the actual existence of the Son of the living God to be valid. [...]

Of course, Soloviev does not specifically identify the great novelist with the figure of the Antichrist. But he intuited with extraordinary clairvoyance that Tolstoy's creed would become during the 20th century the vehicle of the substantial nullification of the gospel message, under the formal exaltation of an ethics and a love for humanity presented as Christian "values." [...]

The days will come, Soloviev tells us – and are already here, we say – in which the salvific meaning of Christianity, which can be received only in a difficult, courageous, concrete, and rational act of faith, will be dissolved into a series of "values" easily sold on the world markets.

The greatest of the Russian philosophers warns us that we must guard against this danger. Even if a Tolstoian Christianity were to make us infinitely more acceptable in the living room, at social and political gatherings, and on television, we cannot and must not renounce the Christianity of Jesus Christ, the Christianity that has at its center the scandal of the cross and the astonishing reality of the Lord's resurrection.

Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, the only savior of mankind, cannot be transformed into a series of worthwhile projects and good inspirations, which are part and parcel of the dominant worldly mentality. Jesus Christ is a "rock," as he said of himself. And one either builds upon this "rock” (by entrusting oneself) or lunges against it (through opposition): "He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him" (Mt. 21:44). [...]

So Soloviev's teaching was simultaneously prophetic and largely ignored. But we want to repropose it in the hope that Christianity will finally catch on to it and pay it a bit of attention.

Hat tip to Simon-Peter

Monday, February 19, 2007

Not out of the woods...

Well, I didn't stay up late enough to get this, which was sent in the wee hours of the morning; ("today" refers to Sunday).

Thank you Amy and Rosa for quickly getting emails out for extra prayers tonight. And thank you Russ for praying with me over the phone as I was driving back to the hospital. And as always, thank you all for all of your generous prayers. Tonight’s seizure was very very scary. Because this morning they had removed the drain-tubes there was a possibility of bleeding. When the seizure occurred tonight, they stopped it and immediately did a CAT scan, and thank God it didn’t show brain swelling or hemorrhage. They think that a drop in her sodium may have caused the seizure. An MRI is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30 AM. This MRI will give them more information on how everything is, and it will also tell them if the tumor is completely gone. Today Sophia was asleep most of the time. There are a lot of “unknowns” at this point about her brain functions, vision, etc. Please continue praying for Sophia, her doctors and nurses and for Scott and Veronica. They are both getting very little sleep; they are very tired and of course worried. Tonight was very very hard for them. Please keep them in your prayers. God bless each and every one of you. Daniela Ysursa

Lord, in your generous and merciful hands we place our trust.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Triumph of the Catholic Church

I haven't received any news today about Sophia, but did meet her aunt Daniela after mass today. Hopefully will have more news to pass along tomorrow.

This chart was tucked inside a book I ordered that just came. I had seen this before in the Catholic Answers reprint of "Winning Converts." Fr. Eric over at Orthometer would like that book: PREACH THE TRUTH wins converts!

The chart (click for a larger view) shows the growth of the church, and all the major offshoots over time.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Update & pictures

I just got back from the hospital. Sophia is doing well, asleep most of the time, and a little confused when she wakes up, but they say that’s normal. The cute story for the day was when she sat down and started taking her robe off because “she had to get dressed and go to school”. These are all normal things and actually good, the nurses loved seeing that kind of interaction and to see the strength she had in her arms and legs as she sat down to do that. This afternoon they started her with her thyroid medication that she will be taking daily. As I was saying before, it’ll be a very slow process, but she’s a little fighter. I’m including a couple of photos that I took this afternoon, the tape that looks like a headband is covering the incision. Please keep those wonderful prayers going her way. God bless you all, Daniela Ysursa

Saturday update

Sophia is at St. Luke’s PICU for the next couple of days, then she’ll be transfer to the Pediatric area.

Dr. Tim Johans stopped by first thing in the morning and when he saw Sophia he told them it was a true miracle that she was in the conditions she was this morning. Not even a bruise (they were expecting her swollen and bruised around the eyes). Sophia woke up this morning, talked to them, same old Sophia, polite, answered “yes please” when asked if she wanted 7Up and Jell-O, and had a little of both. And said “Good morning Samantha” to her doll :) !!! The nurse told her to look at her, and she followed Veronica with her eyes, so today she sees, we don’t know how well and how that will continue during the next critical 48 hours, but it was a good sign. I’ll bring the camera today and send you all a picture tonight. Thank you again for all of your love and prayers. God bless you, Daniela

Surgery update!

We’ve been blessed with the miracle of another successful surgery today! After 11 hours in the surgery room, Sophia is doing great. Both Dr. Cherny and Dr. Johans said “it went very very well”. Dr. Johans was the first one to come talk to us, he said “in our field, these two surgeries were like poetry.” Everything went extremely well, very smoothly, with no complications and the doctors got to remove everything that was left of the tumor. With everything that could have gone wrong, nothing did. Dr. Cherny came out with a skull model and explained what they did. It’s a true miracle, and it’s truly the work of God done thru these very special doctors. The cut this time went from ear to ear, a bigger piece of the cranium was cut and removed, including the eye socket, to get to that area, that is almost behind the nose bridge, in between the eyes, where 2 eye nerves cross. They feel optimistic about the vision, we won’t know for sure for about 48 hours but they think the optical nerves look really good. It was one of the few parts were the tumor wasn’t attached too badly (another miracle!), so they didn’t have to do a lot of scrapping or cutting of blood vessels in that area. The stalk in the pituitary gland was the other concern, being only 1 millimeter long, hidden in such a large tumor, they knew it could be easily missed and removed with the tumor. That’s actually what happened. That stalk regulates most of the functions of the pituitary gland, but with hormone treatments and medication Sophia will get what her body needs for her normal development. The doctors didn’t seem concerned about that, they said they were kind of expecting that to happen. It’ll probably be a slow recovery, but I believe the worse is over. And you never know, when you see that little body, and how incredibly well she endured these 2 dreadful surgeries, it makes you realize what a fighter our little Sophia is. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for her, I just know that she has a special purpose in life!. When I go back to the hospital tomorrow, I’ll be bringing my camera so that I can send you a photo. The nurses braided her hair, put a ribbon on the braids and she looks like an angel :) Well, that’s the update for the day. We are all exhausted but we can breath easier now, I know Veronica and Scott will rest a little better tonight. Let’s continue praying for Sophia’s vision, strength and recovery and in thanksgiving for Dr. Cherny and Dr. Johans and the outcome of the surgery!. God bless each and everyone of you, Daniela Ysursa

Thank you, thank you Lord for being so gracious and loving and for listening to our prayers. Thank you for revealing yourself, your love, and your warmth, through all these loving people, Sophia’s prayer angels, that have been so crucial in our lives during these past couple of weeks.

also, if you would like to receive updates directly, drop me an email and I'll forward it. S-P!!

> Thank you Mark so very much, we have nothing but appreciation for people like you that have so generously showered Sophia with prayers. I'm adding you to my list so that you can get my updates, which I've been trying to do daily.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today's surgery!

This came late last night:

Okay, Prayer Angels, here's the last minute news. Scott just called with the MRI results. Tuesday's surgery was successful, and they know for sure now that they took everything out of that part. Thank you Jesus. But here's the hard part. About tomorrow's surgery, it's more risky. There is a 1.7 cm left of tumor touching the pituitary gland, the optical nerves and the hypothalamus. We need to pray that the tumor is not attached to those very critical parts of the brain, so that it can come out without damaging them. The risks are many, we are talking about her vision and all the production of hormones. Scott said that if the hypothalamus is damaged she could stay like she is now for the rest of her life. Very very scary. The surgery is scheduled for 7:30 AM. Let's ask our Lord to bless her with another miraculous surgery. I'll keep you posted. God bless each and every one of you, Daniela

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Dominican heart...

The first saint of the Americas; Rose of Lima:


True love being always accompanied by zeal, it follows that we cannot love perfectly the Son of God, who takes so great an interest in the salvation of those souls whom He has redeemed with His precious blood, without also being zealous for the eternal welfare of sinner for whom He suffered death. As this was the characteristic of S. Dominic, and as it still inflames the hearts of those among her children whom the Church destines to gain souls, we need not be surprised that S. Rose, his beloved daughter, should have received the spirit of zeal of this great patriarch with the habit of his order, as she showed during her whole life an indefatigable zeal for the conversion of sinners, and never failed one single day to ask of God for them by her prayers, and generally also by her blood, the grace to be restored to His friendship.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Surgery update

The following is a forwarded message from Sophia's aunt:

To all of Sophia’s prayer warriors,

Yesterday, needless to say was a very long day at the hospital. Sophia went into the operating room at 7:30 AM, they put her under right away and started hooking her up for the surgery. At 9:30 AM the light by her name in the screen in the waiting room came on indicating surgery had started. Every hour the nurse came out with “updates”. We would look at her face from the distance looking for a smile, indicating everything was going smoothly. Every time she came out, it was the same thing, “She’s doing great. Doctors are going very slow, taking their time. She’s still under the microscope.” We knew that the whole surgery was “under the microscope” and that when that part was done it would mean “start closing” and that part would take another hour and a half. At 7:15 PM (almost 12 hours after they put her to sleep !!!!) the surgery was over. She was in the recuperating room for an hour before they took her to PICU. Dr. Cherny and Dr. Johans came out and gave us the detail of what they have done. Dr. Cherny said that he was very pleased with how it went. It took longer than what he had expected, he explained that the tumor was very large and it was more attached to the walls than he thought it would be, so he took his time. But they took the largest part of the tumor out, cleaned that area very well (he thinks they removed all of it from that area), and got as close to the pituitary gland as they had plan to get on this first surgery. He was pleased with how the walls of that part of the brain came back together and explained that the brain, without all of that pressure from the tumor would be “more relaxed” for the second surgery. She lost some blood, so she had a transfusion in the middle. Again, everything went as they had planned, and what they found was what they were expecting, a “craniopharyngioma” tumor. Because she had been asleep for 12 hours, they said she would take a while to wake up, but they woke her up enough to make sure she was responding well. She said her name, her age, and moved hands and wiggle toes as directed. When we went in to see her at 9:00 PM she opened her eyes a little, and tried to smile. The nurse tickled her feet to try to wake her up and she moved them and nodded her head when asked if she was ticklish. :) All those little things, as you can imagine, were huge for all of us to see !!. She looked beautiful, like an angel, as usual, nothing swollen or out of the ordinary. The next couple of days, she’ll be in PICU, awaiting the second surgery. They will try to do another MRI today to concentrate on the small piece of tumor left. That is much smaller than what they removed already, but it’s also the part in the pituitary gland and eye nerves. They’ll know more about the surgery after the MRI, but they are expecting it not to be so long.

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your prayers, love and support. Our prayers were heard, our Lord was so incredibly good. Our little Sophia handled the 12 hour surgery like a champ. God worked through Dr. Cherny and Dr. Johans hands, no doubt !!!

Please continue praying for no complications this week or during the other surgery, for strength in Sophia’s body to be ready for another surgery, for the miracle of the tumor to “loosen up” in that area so that it can come out without damaging the gland or nerves. Please continue praying for the doctors, that they can rest and be ready for another long and tedious surgery. And please pray for Veronica and Scott.

I’ll keep you posted. Thank you. God Bless each and everyone of you,


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

First surgery today; please pray!

Surgery will start in a few minutes; it is expected to be 12-14 hours, and the second surgery is scheduled for Friday; there may be a third one as well.

Father in heaven, You Who gave Your only Son, a pure and unblemished lamb, in sacrifice for the salvation of the world, that we who were born as men might be reborn as your children; Your ways are not our ways, but You have taught us to pray, to love one another, and to carry one another's burdens. And so we pour our hearts out to you, dearest Father, for Sophia, for her family, and for her surgeons and team, that if it be your Holy Will, this surgery will find that Jesus the Divine physician has already healed her; that those who do not believe may give You thanks and praise; but if that be not your Will, Father, guide the surgeons' hands, that they may discharge their task successfully. Most importantly, we pray for Sophia and her family, that whatever the outcome You have determined, that the Holy Spirit bring them closer to You, Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Steve Ray cuts to the chase...

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any idiot might give it.

or put otherwise,

A text without a context is a pretext.

read the rest here

Sign of Jonah

In today’s Mass reading, we hear the startling response to the Pharisees:

Mark 8:11-13 The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

Which is a just response, for “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Lk 4:12, Dt 6:16)

However, in a parallel passage in Matthew, we hear that there is a sign for evil and unfaithful, not so much as tempting God gains a response, but in God’s mercy, the path to the narrow door is open to all.

Matthew 12:39-40. He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights."

Having once been of the evil and unfaithful generation, I will bear witness that this sign was made visible to me by St. Augustine. As Fr. Morse Later was fond of saying, “all religions were founded by men, but only one was founded by a man who rose from the dead.”

To take it one step further, the men of Jesus’ own time were able to see this sign, and the sign would be available to be seen until the end of time. And Jesus has insured that this sign has a continuity here, today, among us, for all to see. Hear Him tell you how that sign is linked to Him:

Matthew 17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."

Forever linked is the sign for you, oh evil and perverse generation; and you hate him now, as you hated Him then.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Children of men

John and I recently saw the movie "Children of Men," which is powerful and disturbing. I've had a hard time finding intelligent commentary on it, but it turns out Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley sumed it up on his blog:

The Church is a bastion of defense against the culture of death. In terms of the film Children of Men we are “the human project” — the alternative is the culture of death. As the populations of the Western world age, we will see that the generation of parents that aborted their own children, will be euthanized by the children who survived.

Thanks to Thomas at Ad Jesu per Mariam

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Clear thinking

I received a complimentary copy of "Catholic World News" yesterday. It contained an article about the bishops appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. I was struck by the following quote, taken from the Oct 8, 2006 homily at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, where Bishop Tartaglia, diocese of Paisley, Scottland, speaking out against abortion, homosexual unions, and civil divorce, had this to say:

“Unfortunately, in our times, the minds of many have been so darkened by hubris and by the selfish pursuit of their own gratification that they have lost sight of the natural law which God has written into his creation so that even those who do not believe in him may reach out for the truth and so be disposed, however inchoately, to God’s presence in the world. Even if they cannot be blamed for not having faith, I suspect that God will call them to account for ignoring the promptings of their own right reason. They are fortunate that He is more merciful than they are!”

Entire homily may be read here

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Urgent prayer request

Forwarded by Dr. Roger:

Please pray for little Sophia. This little girl, who goes to St. Joseph's School, Boise, has a brain tumor. She is very small for her age 7 -- caused by the tumor apparently. The tumor was discovered last week by doctors who were trying to figure out a cause for her small stature. The tumor is wrapped around her pituitary gland and her optical nerves. They expect that it will take three surgeries to remove the tumor, and she is probably going to lose some or all of her eyesight. The first surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13. Pass this prayer request on to anyone who is willing to join in prayer for her. Pray for a miracle for Sophia. Pray for her team of surgeons.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stations of the Magdalen

Stations of the Magdalen

Yesterday I created a web site, based on blogger, to display the materials we used for our Mary Magdalene Retreat at the Dominican Chapter House on July 22, 2006, the Feast of Mary Magdalene.

This is an experimental venue for such a thing. I plan to produce a downloadable pamphlet in PDF format to make it easy to use it. Any suggestions on the site are welcome.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Prayer of St. Rose of Lima

“Lord Jesus Christ, God and Man, my Creator and my Savior, I am extremely sorry and sensibly grieved for having offended Thee, because Thou art what Thou art, and Because I love Thee above all things. My God, who art the Spouse of my soul, and all the joy of my heart, I desire, but I desire it with all the powers of my soul, to love Thee with a very perfect love, with a very efficacious love, with a very sincere ineffable love, the greatest that a creature can have for her God, with an incomprehensible love, with a love resolute and invincible in difficulties; in a word, I desire to love Thee in heaven. Even more, O God of my heart, of my life, and all the joy of my soul, I desire to love Thee; as far as I am capable of it, as much as the Blessed Virgin, Thy Mother and my sweet Lady, loves Thee. Oh, Salvation of my soul! I desire to love Thee as Thou lovest Thyself. Oh, my sweet Jesus! May I burn with the fire of Thy divine love! May it consume me, and make of my soul a holocaust to Thy glory.”

From The Life of Saint Rose of Lima, Text from the Fr. Faber translation, Peter F. Cunningham, fourth edition, 1855

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I previously said that I needed to study, meditate, and pray about what is sometimes call deification, or being made like Christ. We who are Catholics recognize implicitly that we do not believe we will become Gods, as held by the LDS, but it can be hard to make the distinction, such that a Mormon would not accuse us of holding their belief.

Simon-Peter suggested I purchase a book, which just arrived; in it I found the following, which seems to explain it rather well.

Christ the Life of the Soul,
by Dom Columba Marmion, OSB
Chapter I, sec IV

God gives us a mysterious share in His Nature which we call "grace": Efficiamini divinae consortes naturae[40]

According to St. Thomas, this grace is a "particiapted similitude" of the Divine nature. Participata similitude divinae naturae.[41]

40, II Pet 1:4 St. Peter does not say that we become participants of the Divine Essence, but of the Divine nature, that is to say, of that activity which constitutes the life of God, and consists in the knowledge and the fruitful, beatifying love of the Divine Persons.
41. St. Thom. III, q. lxii, a. I. This is why it is said in theology that grace is deiform, in order to denote the Divine resemblance it produces in us.

Ps 141 in Evening Prayer I, Week 1, Liturgy of the Hours, reminded me that I needed to post this.

Friday, February 02, 2007


From Father Joe, who writes: Sent to me from a friend who is probably less charitable than I am, these posted pictures will only make sense if you are a Doctor Doctor Who / Science Fiction fan.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.


Jesus loves us so much that He wills to remain with us until the end of time. Therefore, He abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament as the Companion of our earthly pilgrimage, as the Food of our souls, but He also remains with us in the Church as our Guide, our Shepherd, and our Teacher. Jesus formed the first nucleus of the Church by His preaching, by choosing and instructing the Apostles; He gave life to her by dying on the Cross. "The Church," as the Holy Father notes, "came forth from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, Mother of all the living" (Mystici Corporis). Jesus sanctified her by shedding His blood for her. He gave her His power; He made her His spouse and collaborator, continuing through her His work of sanctifying and directing souls. Today Jesus no longer dwells among us as He did nineteen hundred years ago; His Physical Body is gloriously enthroned in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. But He does abide with us in His Mystical Body, the Church, His Spouse and our Mother. Jesus is the living Head of the Church; it is always He who rules her invisibly by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. He sustains and vivifies her unceasingly, gives her life, and distributes graces to each of her members "according to the measure of His giving" (cf. Eph 4:7). The Church lives by Christ alone; she is holy with His holiness; she is the Mother of souls through her union with Him. This union of Christ with the Church is so intimate and vital that the Church can be regarded as a prolongation of Christ. Indeed, Pope Pius XII teaches that "Christ sustains the Church in a divine manner; He lives in her to such a degree that she is, as it were, another Christ" (Mystici Corporis). Even as it is through the Eucharist that we unite ourselves to Jesus and are nourished with His immaculate Flesh, so it is through His Church that guided and ruled by Him, we are vivified by His grace and nourished by His doctrine. And as we cannot become more one with Christ in this life than by uniting ourselves to Him in the Eucharist, so we can have no greater assurance of living according to His Spirit, of being directed and taught by Him, than by uniting ourselves to the Church and following her directives.

To be a "Child of the Church" is the most glorious title for a Christian and second only to that of "child of God." These two titles can never be separated -- one depends upon the other; for as St. Cyprian has said, "He who does not have the Church for a Mother, cannot have God for a Father." Jesus wishes to save and sanctify us, but He wishes to do it by means of the Church. He gave His life and shed His Blood for us; He put His most precious merits at our disposal; He gave us the Holy Eucharist and left us the heritage of His doctrine, but He wished the Church to be the sole depository and dispenser of the inestimable benefits, so that all who wish to enjoy them must have recourse to her. Let us go, then, to the Church with the complete confidence of children, certain to find Jesus in her, Jesus who sanctifies, nourishes, teaches, rules, and directs us by means of His representatives. If the thought of being a Child of the Church does not make our hearts vibrate, if our love for the Church is weak, if our recourse to her is not confident, this indicates a lack of the spirit of faith: we have not sufficiently understood that the Church is Christ, continuing to live in our midst to sanctify and sustain us and to lead us to eternal beatitude. "We can think of nothing more glorious, more noble, and more honorable than membership in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, by which we become members of such a holy Body [the Mystical Body of Christ], are guided by one and so sublime a Head [Jesus Christ], are filled with one divine Spirit [the Holy Spirit], and finally, are nourished in this earthly exile with one doctrine and one same heavenly Bread until we are permitted to share the one eternal beatitude in heaven" (Mystici Corporis). Let us love the Church, "the most perfect Image of Christ" (ibid.); let us love the Church, the most pure Spouse of Christ and our Mother; and as He loved her whom "He hath purchased with His own Blood" (Acts 20:28), so let us love her with a true spirit of obedience and filial devotion, offering ourselves completely to serve, glorify, and defend her.