Sunday, April 24, 2022

Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy by Kazimirowski, 1934

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in AD 2000. I find it fascinating that particular devotions arise when they are most needed. I've only read excerpts of St. Faustina's diary but these words of our Lord Jesus to St. Faustina fill me with great hope and so I share them with you:

I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: "Jesus, I trust in You." Diary 327 

Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice.Diary 848

Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity… tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.Diary 965

He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice... Diary 1146

And this last one is scary, no? Who wants to face His Justice? I know I deserve hell for what I've done. It is precisely because hell exists that we need Divine Mercy. I love that the final prayers are the same as the ones in the Reproaches that we sing on Good Friday: Sanctus Deus. Sanctus Fortis. Sanctus Immolatus, miserere nobis.  For I am washed clean in His Blood. He reached into the pit of sin and drew me out of it...and though I sin again and again, He is patient with me, absolving me, strengthening me. And with His Grace, I am able to conquer some of my sins. And I am confident that what He has begun in me He will perfect, so that I can be the person He created me to be. So, run, run to Jesus! Fling yourself into His Arms and tell Him you trust in His Merciful Love. I love 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Gaitley because it gives me so much confidence and trust in our Lord. He uses the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux. She's one of my favorite companions.


Unlike the Rosary, which has Mysteries attached, and one can picture them, the Divine Mercy chaplet has none, making it far too easy to be thinking about dinner—what is it about the 3 o’clock hour that makes one so distracted? Meggie Daly comes to the rescue with a book that allows you to focus on our Lord’s Passion. In her signature fashion, she has Sacred Art for each decade and a line from the Passion narrative for each bead allowing you to walk with Christ. Her organization is brilliant—three sequences of five each from the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. John, and St. Luke, another set of three sequences of five using Stations of the Cross with her own original prayers, and finally combining both the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. On any particular day, we can choose what elements of the Passion we’d like to focus on. And with practice, we might begin to do this mentally by ourselves.
Just like Ms. Daly composed a Scriptural Rosary book, which I also have, she has now composed one for the Divine Mercy chaplet, the only book of its kind. Thank you, Meggie, for writing this most necessary book. I pray this chaplet more often now thanks to this book.

There is no other book like FOR THE SAKE OF HIS SORROWFUL PASSION. It’s a most necessary and useful aid to praying the Divine Mercy chaplet with several options of entering the Passion narrative. Part confession, part history, part prayer book—I love it all.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Happy Easter

Resurrection by Fra Angelico AD 1440

A Happy Easter to one and all. St. Paul reminds us, "And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." 1 Cor. 15:14. Indeed, He is risen, just as He said. Alleluia!!! Our pastor preached on how this reality impressed him when he went to Jerusalem as a seminarian. He had the opportunity to spend one night in prayer in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is the largest church in Jerusalem encompassing the sites of both the Crucifixion and Burial and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. This isn't just a story, but real. All that we profess in the Nicene Creed really happened. And if that's the case, then nothing else is more important. Our lives must take the shape of the Cross in Imitation of Christ. The saints point the way. How blessed are we to have these companions on our journey to heaven! Deo gratias!

I love what Ven. Ap. Fulton Sheen says about the Resurrection in Archbishop Fulton Sheen on St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story"We are guilty of the death of Christ and when Christ is raised from the dead gloriously on Easter Sunday, we who are guilty of His death can say, “See? See? He’s alive! I’m free!” That’s the complete transference of guilt to Himself and the conquest of it by His Resurrection." This is the heart and soul of Christianity. More on this book in my post A Writing Retreat with Ap. Fulton Sheen and St. Therese. I leave you with this iris that bloomed just for Easter, pictures from the Holy Sacrifice of Mass (the sanctuary smelled of incense and lilies), and this beautiful hymn: I know that my Redeemer lives


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pondering with Mary this Holy Saturday

Saturday is traditionally devoted to honoring our Lady. And I learned that it's because she alone kept the faith when all seemed lost--God is dead. Even though our Lord had prepared His Apostles and told them He would rise from the dead, it is such an incredulous thing, they didn't actually believe. There's a beautiful essay on this--perfect for pondering salvation history with our Mother Mary.

Easter Vigil is so powerful--I'm surprised that more people don't attend because you get to experience the darkness until the Paschal candle is lit and from it, the candles of the Altar servers, who share it with us in the pews, until candlelight spreads throughout the church. I love the Exultet and all the readings and psalms and the renewal of our baptismal promises and celebrating those who are received into the Church and who finally get to make their first Holy Communion. Christ Jesus is our Passover Lamb, whose Precious Body and Blood washes us clean of sin and guilt, restores lost innocence, brings us peace and heavenly joy. 

Behold, I make all things new! Rev. 21:5     

Twelve years ago, on our first anniversary of reception into the Church, Dagny and I were given the privilege of stripping the Altar after Maundy Thursday service. The Altar stone is Christ and I felt like one of the soldiers stripping our Lord. He'd been so horribly tortured during the scourging (Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ brought it to life in all its savage reality) that the garments adhered to His torn Flesh and in removing them roughly, some of His Skin came off. O Agony and Dying! O Love to sinners free! Jesus all grace supplying, O turn Thy Face on me...we sing in the Passion Chorale.  Until I read ART+FAITH by Makoto Fujimura, I hadn't considered that the only earthly thing Christ took with Him to the Cross was the aromatic nard that Mary of Bethany had so lovingly poured over Him. I have always loved this story that we read Monday of Holy Week and written a reflection on it a few years ago, but every year, it continues to help me grow in love.

Today is Pope Benedict XVI's 95th birthday! I love this man for his clear teaching. It so happens, that he was born and baptized on Holy Saturday. May God bless him and keep him and shine His Face upon him.   

I decided to try a bit of advertising in the Washington Review of Books, not that Ten Easter Eggs needs any help (it's sold over 100,000 copies) but my self-published titles do. Yes, I know--worldly aspirations. And so I pray: Lord Jesus, strip me of all things that do not belong to You. Make me love You above all things. Amen.

Pictures are from Max in DC; Palm Sunday at home; Dagny in Ave Maria. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Paschal Triduum

The three holiest days of the year: Maundy Thursday when our Lord Jesus Christ instituted both the Eucharist and the priesthood; Good Friday, when He endured His Passion and died, victorious--God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have everlasting life; and Easter, when He rose from the dead, manifesting His victory over sin and death. The story isn't over because He will come again in glory! Come Lord Jesus! Blessings to all. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Reading

I discovered an amazing author/illustrator: Lauren Redniss. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: a Tale of Love and Fallout is the story of the Curies told in a completely unique manner. Part history, part science, part love-story, part art-book, Redniss stitches together their story, their passion, the political climate, and the fallout at the end. The book is so beautifully designed with notes on how the art was made, why she chose the font she did, etc.  I loved how she captured the glow of radioactive elements. I remember my brother having one of those glow-in-the-dark watches. We had no idea that it was dangerous. The Curies didn't either. 


Her book on Thunder and Lightning: Weather, Past, Present, and Future is another gorgeous book. It is like no other weather book. I learned so many interesting bits of history I knew nothing about. I think this is the way all subjects should be taught--the science, literature, folklore, with beautiful art to set your imagination soaring. I had to restrain myself from sharing more pages of both these books. Go get a copy for yourself like I did.  





Our Lady's Bug by Michelle Shahid is an original retelling of the Legend of the Ladybug. In the Middle Ages, crops were being ravaged by aphids. When the farmers prayed to our Lady to intercede, she did and so this beautiful little beetle is named for her. Beautifully written and accompanied with classic artwork, this is a story children will enjoy for many years. I am so proud of Michelle for sticking with this project because finding art in the public domain was no easy task, especially to fit the story. I share some of my favorite pages and Michelle's storytelling voice fits perfectly with the art. This was a family project as well with two of Michelle's children making some of the art. Gabriel made the cover and Eva some of the interior spot art. One talented family! 




Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller and Patrice Barton is a joyful book celebrating the uniqueness of each child. This is something we all know, yet I find it amazing that there are still people who continue to promote abortion and even infanticide. I wish all those people could read this book and lament over all the unique children that never got to live. 



Watercress by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin was such a lovely story about children born of immigrant parents. It's never easy being different than everybody else but with acceptance comes new appreciation of their heritage. I especially appreciated having a couple of scenes showing the painful parts that caused the parents to leave their homeland. And we say, never again, in this beautiful land. God bless America!



The Fox and Chick books by Sergio Ruzzier are such a delight. They reminded me of myself as a child and my very patient older friends. So were the picture books by Corey Tabor. Mel Fell occurs in the space of a few seconds, whereas Snail Crossing, as you can imagine, takes forever. I loved the layout of Mel Fell (sometimes you might fall down, down, down before you learn to fly up, up, up...) but in both these books, the illustrations capture so much humor. 





The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA by Rajani LaRocca and Steven Salerno is such a jaunty little book with rhyming text, beautiful illustrations, and excellent backmatter. You can learn to extract DNA from a banana :) Again, the issue of how unique each of us is comes up. 

Force of Habit: the complete series by James Scott Bell was highly entertaining. We sure could use Sister Justicia in the Vatican. That last story totally showed how ridiculous the govt. mandates were during Covid.  

The Prophetic Voice of God: Learning to recognize the language of the Holy Spirit by Lana Vawser was a beautiful meditation on her own journey into prophecy and how to be more open and recognize His Voice and not be afraid to act upon it. I've always had a strong intuition and gut feelings about situations and over the years I've been able to recognize what's from God, what's just my own ego, and what's from the evil one. By the way, a wonderful companion to this book is Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living by Fr. Timothy Gallagher. 

4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman was quite different than any other book on productivity because it asks you to recognize and accept your limitations. It was really a beautiful meditation on time itself and our relationship with it. It dovetailed beautifully with my faith, because how much I want to spend the remainder of my life doing God's will. I love "wasting" time with our dear Lord Jesus the same way I used to waste time with Michael when we were getting to know one another. When you love someone, time disappears. Anyway, since I'm pushing 60, I probably only have a thousand weeks left, if that. Life is short. It's a reminder to stay in a state of grace. Here's a quote from St. Augustine: If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well. And that's my goal. 

What About the Baby? Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction by Alice McDermott was a master class on writing. You must write what compels you with sincerity and honesty. Put your whole heart into it. There was advice on the mechanics but more importantly, examples from her own work and that of others to show what makes a compelling story. She recounts a little story about an old man and a dog, and how I want to tell it to everybody too! 

Art and Faith: A Theology of Making by Makoto Fujimura is a meditation on why we have a need to create, to make. It is because we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is wildly creative. His thoughts on "Jesus wept" is so powerful along with His Body broken for our sake--to save us, redeem us, renew us. It fits so well with the Japanese concept of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is made even more beautiful repaired with gold. Christ's Tears are like that gold. It's been a perfect little book for this Lenten journey.  


And that's all folks. What are some of the good books you've been reading?