54 Day Rosary Novena for Peace in Ukraine

Icon of Our Lady of Ostrabrama © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2014

Icon of Our Lady of Ostrabrama © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2014

In light of the present Ukrainian crisis, and realizing that there really are no advantageous “human solutions” to the current disturbing situation, I believe it is imperative that we take advantage of our only effectual means of solving this calamity – prayer. Therefore, I am inviting you all to join me in a 54 Day Rosary Novena for peace in Ukraine. Magnified by the fasting and coupled with the intense graces associated with the Sacred Season of Lent, these prayers are truly our only hope and they are effective, even if we never see or recognize the results.

In the Roman Rite, we have a tradition of reciting a 54 Day Rosary Novena (also known as the “Irresistible Novena”). This Novena consists of praying 5 decades of the Holy Rosary each day for 27 days in petition; followed immediately by praying 5 decades again for 27 days in thanksgiving, whether or not the request has been granted.

Please join me for the next 54 days in praying a rosary each day and the following Novena Prayer for “peace in Ukraine and that God’s will, whatever it may be, may be accomplished in peace.”

NOVENA PRAYER:

“Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, accept this Holy Rosary which I offer you to show my love for you and my firm confidence in your powerful intercession. I offer it as an act of faith in the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption, as an act of thanksgiving to God for all His love for me and all mankind, as an act of atonement for sins of the world, especially my own, and as an act of petition to God through your intercession for all the needs of God’s people on earth, but especially for this earnest request. (Mention your request – “for peace in Ukraine and that God’s will, whatever it may be, may be accomplished in peace.”) I beg you, dear Mother of God, present my petition to Jesus, your Son. I know that you want me to seek God’s will in my request. If what I ask for should not be God’s will, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit for my soul. I put all my confidence in you. Amen”

- (Prayer taken from “My Little Prayer Book, p. 35)

Jesus Christ, Sovereign King of the World – have mercy on us and grant us peace!

Most Holy Theotokos – save us!

Our Lady, Queen of Peace – pray for us!

Thank you for joining me in praying this Novena. Please share it with your friends and invite them to unite in prayer.

Just to let everyone know, this is for prayers ONLY – no comments on the politics please!!!!! I know that this topic has the potential to evoke strong emotions. However, for the sake of the peace that we are trying to promote and prayerful attitude we are trying to maintain, just prayers please – any comments of a political nature will be promptly deleted. I am deeply grateful that no such problems have arisen so far. Please continue to pray.

Posted in In Honor of Our Blessed Mother, Personal Reflections, Discernment, and Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Why We March………”

March for Life - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

March for Life – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

One week ago today, I was arriving in Washington D.C. with my group from the great state of Wisconsin to participate in the 41st. annual March for Life. It was a tremendous blessing and honor to again attend this event. As a Catholic Christian, I prayed for an end to the scourges of abortion, euthanasia and the countless other abuses of the human being’s right to life with dignity which the legalization Roe vs. Wade has facilitated. As an American Citizen, I exercised my right to“peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” guaranteed under the 1st. Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The March for Life is far more than simply “another anti-abortion protest.” No, The March for Life is a “pilgrimage. “As we work to end the grave injustices of abortion, euthanasia and other infringements on the human being’s right to life with dignity, we realize that we are fighting an uphill battle and that we are pitted not only against other men, but against the very fallen angels and powers themselves. On the morning of the March, I attended Holy Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. During his Homily, the priest drove home the point that if we are going to put an end to these evils, we must not lose sight of the goal. He  reminded us that if we forget the fundamental significance of prayer and most especially the Holy Mass while on The March, then we simply become noisy, obnoxious protesters – ineffective in procuring lasting change. Thus, it is vital to the mission of The March to always maintain the sense of “pilgrimage” – with prayer as the life-blood and acts of charity as the fruit.

This is the second March for Life in a row in which I have participated. Although I attended nearly all of the same scheduled events in which I partook last year, I came back with a similar, but different and deeper impression of the overall experience of this “pilgrimage.”

After The March, the staff member in charge of development and outreach for Pro-Life Wisconsin asked me to do a little video interview. The question was: “Why do you march?” As I have spent the past week reflecting on the overall experience of this “pilgrimage,” I believe that my answer for the interview sums up the whole experience quite well.

“I came to be a “martyr” – in the original sense of the word. Our English word ‘martyr’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘μαρτυρία (martyría)’ which translated means something to the effect of ‘witness or witnessing.’ I came to the March for Life to be a ‘witness’ to the sanctity of all human life – from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death – and to pray for a greater respect for life.”

I wish to sincerely thank everyone who joined us in pilgrimage at the March for Life. Thank you for standing up, standing out and being witnesses to the sanctity of life. May God bless us and hear our prayers for the end of abortion, euthanasia and every injustice which inhibits our brethren from living life with human dignity.

Everyone who is involved with the March for Life knows well that after the March ends, the “scavenger hunt” begins for any coverage that may have somehow been reported in American mainstream media outlets. It is sad that, in my humble opinion, one night at the Grammy Awards receives more attention by mainstream media outlets then the past 10 Marches put together. Conscious of this fact, I would like to share some of my photos. I hope that these photos give some sense of the “experience” to those who were unable to attend. Thank you for praying with us and for marching with us in spirit. To those naysayers who either claim that the Pro-Life movement is irrelevant to young people and dying or who wish to silence its message by refusing even to give it national, balanced and unbiased coverage – I hope these photos show that we are alive and well! Although we have one daunting battle ahead of us, Jesus Christ has already won the war through His Sacrifice on the Cross. Our final and sure victory will come at His appointed time!

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley delivering the Homily at the Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley delivering the Homily at the Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

Vigil Mass for Life in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – 2014. © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March for Life - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

March for Life – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

March for Life - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

March for Life – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

March for Life - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

March for Life – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

March for Life - 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

March for Life – 2014 © GodAloneSufficeth.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Personal Reflections, Discernment, and Prayer | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!”

Holy Mary - the Immaculate Conception © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2011

Holy Mary – the Immaculate Conception © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2011

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As Catholics, we believe that Mary, the Holy Mother of God, was preserved, by the grace of God, before-hand from all stain of original sin. Pope Pius IX so beautifully said, in his infallible statement of 1854 concerning this dogma:

 “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the very first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin (Saint of the Day p. 339).”

Mary was not just free from sin from the moment of her conception, she is “full of Grace (Luke 1:28).” Mary is the Mother of Jesus and His purest temple. In order for her to be worthy to carry the Son of God within her very body – for His flesh to be drawn from her flesh and His embryonic blood to be pumped through her maternal heart – she necessarily had to be undefiled by the contagion of sin. However, it was not simply essential the she be merely free from sin in order for her to be the Mother of God; no, it was required that Mary be “full of Grace.” The Grace, which was necessary for her salvation and for her soul to be Immaculate and remain “full of Grace” came from Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. “Nothing is impossible with God,” and He is outside of space and time (Luke 1:37). Thus, by a “singular grace and privilege,” God applied the Grace and merits of Jesus’ Eternal Sacrifice, before this event happened in time, to Mary at her conception, that she might be both sinless and “full of Grace” – thus, Immaculately Conceived.

On this occasion, I would like to share a prayer composed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for this Solemnity:

 “Holy and Immaculate Virgin,
to You, who are the honor of our people
and the solicitous custodian of our city,
we turn with confidence and love.
You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!
Sin is not in You.
Awaken in all of us a renewed desire of holiness:
may the splendor of truth shine in our word,
may the song of charity resound in our works,
may purity and chastity inhabit our body and our heart,
may all the beauty of the Gospel be present in our life.
You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!
The Word of God was made flesh in You.
Help us to remain in attentive listening to the voice of the Lord:
may the cry of the poor not leave us indifferent,
may the suffering of the sick and of those in need not find us distracted,
may the loneliness of the elderly and the fragility of children move us,
may every human life be always loved and venerated by us all.
You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!
In You is the full joy of the blessed life with God.
Makes us not lose the meaning of our earthly journey:
may the gentle light of faith illumine our days,
may the consoling strength of hope orientate our steps,
may the infectious warmth of love animate our heart,
may the eyes of all of us remain well fixed there, in God, where true joy is.
You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!
Hear our prayer, answer our supplication:
may the beauty of the merciful love of God in Jesus be in us,
may this divine beauty save us, our city, the whole world.
Amen.”

- Pope Francis, 2013

The United States is dedicated to the patronage of Mary and her Immaculate Conception. The power of Mary’s intercession is so evident in this land. We have enjoyed abundant blessings of peace and prosperity. Yes, there are many poor and disillusioned in our country, although compared with many other nations our lot does not seem so bad. We are truly a “great” country, yet that greatness derives from the appreciation that we are “One Nation under God.” As we exclude God, and His beloved Mother from  our daily lives, we reject an abundance of grace.  The  gratitude we show our Mother for her constant intercession is unfortunately appalling. As a nation, we legalize the killing of unborn children through abortion, we redefine “Marriage,”  and we threaten to trample upon the moral convictions and religious rights of our citizens.

Let us, on this day, resolve to thank Mary for her intercession and for the staying of her Son’s hand. Let us continue to seek mercy from the King, through the Queen Mother. Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States of America – Pray for Us!!!

Posted in Feasts, Solemnities, Memorials, and other Great Celebrations, In Honor of Our Blessed Mother | Tagged , , , ,

Novena to St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila embracing the Child Jesus © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2012

St. Teresa of Avila embracing the Child Jesus © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2012

Hello everybody! As you all know, the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila is coming up on October 15th. St. Teresa is the Foundress – the “Holy Mother” – of the Discalced Carmelite Order. She is a great saint, Mystic and Doctor of the Church. St. Teresa of Avila is also one of my favorite saints and this is quickly noticed by anyone who visits my blog. The closing words “God Alone Sufficeth,” from St. Teresa’s famous poem: Lines Written in Her Breviary are my inspiration for this blog. As I discern my Call, can there be anyone greater to turn to for guidance and wisdom than the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites – the very Order to which I am drawn?

So please join me in praying this novena (which I composed) honoring this great saint:

Novena in Honor of St. Teresa of Avila.

O God, Thy crowning glory is the glory of Thy saints. Help us to follow the example of Thy loyal spouse Teresa and grant unto us, we beseech Thee, the same gifts which Thou so deemed to lavish upon her. Grant us Wisdom! Grant us Perseverance! Grant us Knowledge! Grant us Piety! Grant us Joy in Prayer! Grant us Love! O Holy Spirit, just as it pleased Thee to set her being ablaze in Zeal for Thee, so too, let Thy burning fire fall upon us and confirm us in our Faith.

O St. Teresa thou art our sister and our mother. Just as thou reformed the Order of Carmel, so too, reform our secularized, modernized, paganized culture and society. And just as thou led thy sisters through this life and into the Beatific Vision; so too, guide us – the Church Militant – in our Battle on earth and into Eternal Glory. O St. Teresa, help us to truly grasp the meaning of and live the words: “God Alone Sufficeth.” Amen.

Thank you so much for praying with me. Please join me at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill for the Triduum of Masses being celebrated in honor of St. Teresa of Avila. The Masses will be celebrated on Oct. 13th, 14th and 15th at 11:00 A.M. For more information please Click Here or visit https://holyhill.com. Thank you and May God Bless You!

Posted in Great Carmelite Saints and Feast Days, Personal Reflections, Discernment, and Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face!

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2011-2013

Statue of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face at Holy Name of Mary Parish in Maplewood WI © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2011-2013

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of a remarkable woman. Pope Saint Pius X acclaimed her to be the “Greatest Saint of Modern Times.” Yet in her life she was a simple, humble Carmelite Nun; unknown to everyone except her family, her Carmel and a few people with whom she had been in correspondence. She is Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. By her “Little Way” she shows us that God treasures and exults all of the flowers in His garden – whether they be “great roses” or “humble wood violets.” St. Thérèse is proof of Our Lord’s promises in the Gospels that: “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the land (Matthew 5:5)” and “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these (Luke 12:27).”

I believe that St. Thérèse best sums up her spirituality and, in short, her whole life with the following quote:

“My God, ‘I choose all!” I don’t want to be a saint by halves, I‘m not afraid to suffer for You, I fear only one thing: to keep my own will; so take it, for ‘I choose all’ that You will (Story of a Soul, translated by John Clarke, O.C.D. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1976)!”

How beautiful, yet how difficult it is to surrender one’s own will to God’s will.

In today’s Gospel, we hear that:

“The disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ He called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18: 1-4).”

It was just this humble, childlike surrender that St. Thérèse sought to accomplish. It is for this reason that she is known as the “Greatest Saint of Modern Times.” Let us together seek the powerful intercession of  St.Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, on this her special feast day! St. Thérèse – Pray for Us!

“O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Collect for the Holy Mass for St. Thérèse).”

Posted in Feasts, Solemnities, Memorials, and other Great Celebrations, Great Carmelite Saints and Feast Days | Tagged , , ,

Mary, Mother and Queen of the Apostles–Be With Us!

Russian Icon of The Ascension of Our Lord © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2013

Russian Icon of The Ascension of Our Lord © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2013

“Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Amen.”

With these words, Pope Francis concluded his homily at World Youth Day’s closing Mass. He reiterates Our Lord’s call to “make disciples”. By being sent out to fulfill this call, we literally become “apostles” (which comes from the Koine Greek word meaning to “send”) to the world. This is a daunting task but, as the Pope also reminds us, we are not alone! If we become “apostles of prayer” to the world that means that Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Queen of Apostles is also our Mother and Queen.

This thought animates and encourages us as we go forward as “apostles of prayer” in our lives of Christian discipleship.

In conjunction with Pope Francis’ words let us also reflect on the words of St. Ambrose, who better explains Mary’s role as the model and mother of “apostles of prayer.” St. Ambrose says:

“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving a son; Mary was filled before. ‘You are blessed,’ said Elizabeth, ‘because you have believed.’

You too are blessed because you have heard and believed. The soul of every believer conceives and brings forth the Word of God and recognizes His works. Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to glorify the Lord. Let her spirit be in each one of you to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one Mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ by faith. Every soul free from contamination of sin and inviolate in it’s purity can receive the Word of God.”

Christian discipleship is not easy but it does not have to be hopelessly difficult. One can become and “apostle of prayer” and still live a “normal” life. Consider following the “little way” of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and offer up “little things” to the glory of God. Or follow the wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi – “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words.” Sometimes silent witnesses are the most eloquent. Whatever you do, always keep a clean and pure heart for the Incarnate Word to be conceived and born in each and every day. Always follow our Mother and Queen’s example and strive to make her soul your soul. “Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you!

Posted in In Honor of Our Blessed Mother, Personal Reflections, Discernment, and Prayer, Saturday devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , ,

Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Mother and Sister!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Pray for us! © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2013

Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Pray for us! © GodAloneSufficeth.com, 2013

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel! Wow! What a beautiful day for rejoicing (and perhaps for giving my poor abandoned blog some new life)! Today we celebrate, with all of the Carmelites worldwide and with everyone who faithfully wears the Brown Scapular, the Fruitful Vine and the Splendor of Heaven – the Blessed Mother of God!

I’m not sure if you experience this problem but in my own spiritual life, I sometimes find that my devotion to Our Lord and to His Blessed Mother becomes ever so abstract. That is not to say that I lose devotion all together but I must admit that I feel like the things of Heaven are so distant and immaterial as compared to the things of this earth which are tangible and right in front of my face. Such times may be compared to a “spiritual jungle,” you feel so alone and stuck. Still if you want to get out, you need to stagger forward, even blindly if necessary, and rely all the more on the love and mercy of Our Lord and the intercession of His Mother.

The Carmelite spirituality has a very beautiful answer this problem and it was adopted by the very first hermits when they first started living on Mount Carmel in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These early Carmelites developed a deep and abiding devotion to Our Lady. Indeed, the Gospel that was proclaimed for today’s feast (John 19:25-27) teaches us:

‘”Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple He said , “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.”

As Carmelites, we are called with the rest of humanity to accept Jesus’ gift of His Mother, and to welcome her into our home and heart. Furthermore, Carmelites look to Mary not exclusively as a mother but as a sister as well. This is significant to understanding how to move forward when we feel lost in the spiritual life. While as a mother propels us forward  by gently beckoning and drawing us toward herself,  a sister takes a slightly different approach. A sister is one who will stand at our side, either with a hand on our shoulder or  a finger in our back. Still one must realize that neither approach will move us forward in the least if we are not first willing to take the step. Thus in Carmel, when we feel lost in the spiritual life, we can confidently call upon Mary in our need. In exercising her roles as both mother and sister, if we resign ourselves totally to her, Mary will lead us to Our Lord.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Pray for us!!!

Posted in Feasts, Solemnities, Memorials, and other Great Celebrations, Great Carmelite Saints and Feast Days, In Honor of Our Blessed Mother | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments