Holding On To Christ

I keep looking for ways to try to heal and move forward living with my disability, Proteus Syndrome. It still remains difficult for me to accept this disability and embrace it. This is my Cross€. I have always tried my hardest to overcome obstacles that stand in my way, to keep pushing forward, but the Proteus Syndrome has a life of its own and It’€™s taking over. I don’€™t like that, you know. It’€™s like I’m at war with it and I don’€™t want it to win. I hope this doesn’€™t sound too nutty. My mind and heart want to walk again but my body says. “No sir, your not going to do that”€. It’s quite the challenge. I am always thinking of new ways to overcome these obstacles I face, but now the Proteus has got me homebound. This is really difficult to accept because I loved being with people and being a brother to everyone. I was a Capuchin-Franciscan for 12 years. I took my Solemn Vows in 1996. I had to leave though. I blame my disability. The burden it placed on my Order. The friars didn’t have health insurance back then and my disability is quite expensive. I am still a Capuchin in my heart though and I pray every day to Christ Jesus that He will not reject me because of that decision I made those many years ago. My heart will always remain with my Capuchin brothers. I still have a deep desire to help save souls for Christ, so I began the Hermits of the Holy Cross from home. It’s a ministry in the Church for the physically disabled who still want to serve the Church in some way. We serve spiritually, offering up to God our sufferings that stem from our disabilities. Our second gift we offer is intercessory prayer for our world, our parishes, our families and friends. We pray for those who even hurt us and reject us. So far, for me, I’ve only been laughed at and ridiculed. No one has ever tried to physically hurt me, thanks be to God. There are now five Hermits of the Holy Cross. One of our members recently passed away. May your soul rest in peace dear brother Charles. We live in different parts of the world, in Canada, New York, Texas and California. Our spirits are working together to help heal the world. We, with physical disabilities, have a gift to give the world. You too have a gift to give. Your heart for prayer and your sufferings offered for souls. Please, never forget this. God created us the way we are for His purposes. We are His children. We have gifts to share. These gifts might be spiritual like our suffering offered up or our prayers for others and for ourselves. So, in closing, I just wanted to reach out to you, my sisters and brothers, to help lift your hearts with encouragement. I want you to know I am with you in the struggle and that there are other Hermits praying for you. Keep climbing the mountain, keep holding on, in hope and love, to that cross you carry. Soon it will be traded for a crown. Have a most blessed week

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton

Episode 4 Read by Bro. Mark

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The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton

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Episode 3

read by Bro. Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton

Episode 1

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The Cross: the antithesis of pleasure

A life of prayer is none other than a life lived in relationship. God in His infinite wisdom invites each of us into this relationship through the acceptance of suffering. Christ Jesus said to us, ‘To be My disciple you must pick up your Cross and follow Me”. The mystery of why He chose suffering as the main way to follow Him is actually quite simple to understand. Accepting suffering is daily life’s biggest challenge. It’s leaning over the abyss of a volcano or the climbing of the tallest mountain while being out of shape. We find our life full of ways in which we seek to avoid it. The “world” teaches us we are to avoid suffering at all cost. The world teaches suffering has no redeeming qualities. Yet, once we embrace the mystery of suffering and learn of its transformative properties, we begin to enter this relationship with an open loving God full of compassion and mercy. The mystery we enter becomes a delight and we learn, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Christ Jesus uses an analogy of a “yoke”. This instrument is designed to be used in relationship. When we are “yoked” together, we work together and the fields we plow are plowed together. Christ Jesus works with us to till the soil, a metaphor for our daily life. The yoke becomes more than just a symbol of relationship between creation with Creator, it becomes a union between Lover and the Beloved. Christ assures us that we do not walk through the difficulties of life alone. Christ is “yoked” to us in which the two of us have now become one. The contemplative life is not a one stop shop, living life becomes now an experience lived in union with the Divine. It is in our saying “yes” to this relationship each day that we enter into the darkness of Faith. A complete trust in our invisible God as He begins to gently reveal Himself through the action of our suffering. God willingly enters into the dirt and the muck we deal with each day as He transforms all of it much like a diamond is transformed in the earth. God walks right by our side carrying the Holy Cross right here with us. God is not afraid to step in the mud with us, to get dirty with us. But He waits to be invited. God does not force us into relationship, yet without Him life with all its struggles becomes nearly impossible. The weight of our Cross becomes an object that has the potential to crush us under itself. With or without Him, we must understand that daily suffering continues to exist. Suffering is buried deep into the very fabric of our life, as part of our very marrow. We learn this at a very early age, yet God continues to quietly and patiently reach His hand out toward us, inviting us into intimate Union where two hearts begin to beat as one. Thus, reminding us we never, ever have to walk alone. Have a most blessed day.

Love and Prayers,

Bro.Mark

Hermit of the Holy Cross

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A helper close at hand in times of distress

“And when Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic, “Child your sins are forgiven.”

(Mark 2:5)

I at times reflect about how I see my role in the Church which is the family of God and what it is I can offer to God and for my fellow sisters and brothers in this catholic family. I am using the small “c” and not the “C” for its meaning is “universal” And I wish to embrace everyone in the world no matter what religion or what country or what culture he/she might belong to. I seek to be all embracing. As a disabled person, now home bound, I find that the possibilities of carrying on an active ministry in the Church has become quite limited, so when I read this one line from the New Testament, it moved me deeply. This paralytic did absolutely nothing to get cured but also to get his/her sins forgiven. His/Her friends did everything for him/her. They provided the heavy lifting, they provided the heavy labor of removing the roof on the house and they lowered him/her down. They provided the faith. They provided the hope. They provided the question posed to Christ Jesus, which was, “Will you, Lord, heal our friend?” Perhaps they didn’t even bother to ask Jesus if He could heal their friend since their faith was so deep, so strong, so powerful that they just lowered him/her right down upon the Christ, the Anointed One while simultaneously destroying the roof of the Master’s house. Another thing too, we don’t even know if the paralytic wanted the miracle. We assume he/she did. However, what is most emphasized in this exchange is the fact that as brothers and sisters to one another, as friends to one another, we can intercede for one another. We can carry each other’s burdens. Offer them up to God for one another. Our life, as Hermits of the Holy Cross, even though we are disabled and no longer can participate in an active ministry is a ministry of intercession and offering to God the suffering we endure for the good of others. Our loving God takes both our suffering and our intercessory prayers and transforms them into grace. He heals our broken body, He binds up all our wounds and He purifies our souls together. Notice the family/friends all work together with Christ Jesus assisting each other in this transformative process. Even when we perhaps have no faith left in our heart, struggle with the virtue of hope, perhaps even contemplate giving up all together. Perhaps we are paralyzed in some way and are now in need of assistance from others, family and friends. (This can be a time of great struggle for us since we were so use to doing everything for ourself and did not have a need to rely on others to get our needs met) We now find that others can lead the way for us, if we only allow them to do so. The paralytic had to have a great deal of humility because it’s not easy to be so vulnerable being paraded around in front of so many people. They could have asked Jesus if He could take a couple of minutes to come visit their friend or family member instead of putting this person through such an ordeal. I’m sure Jesus would have obliged and gone to their house. But instead, they paraded him/her in front of everyone. It was all part of the process. Personally, if that were me lying on that mat, I would have been grateful, but at the same time embarrassed by the whole situation, especially laying there exposed for all the world to see so to speak, while the others were ripping the roof off the house. It’s so wonderful to see how we as members of the family of God can intercede for one another and God will hear our prayers and listen to our petitions for one another. What a tremendous gift this is. God is eager to restore us in both spirit and body when we work together to bring about His kingdom. Even if we are no longer able to have an active ministry we can intercede for one another. We can offer our suffering for the good of another. This gives us great meaning to our life. Even if we are paralyzed, our life continues to have meaning, we are just as important as the person who is actively participating in the work of God for we assist others in the corporal works of mercy by allowing them to help us who might be disabled. They are making their way to Heaven with help from us. They intercede for us and we intercede for them. Working in harmony opens the door to great healing for our souls and even at times healing for our body’s. May we continue to care for one another, to respect one another and to intercede for one another all the days of our life. Please continue to pray for the Hermits of the Holy Cross, that we may grow more deeply in love with the Heart of Christ Jesus. We will be praying for you. Let us always strive to accept every person for we all belong to the family of God. Let us be patient with one another, continue to hope and pray God will bring to each of us the healing we need and the forgiveness we need that we may all be united in that Heavenly Kingdom that our gracious God has in store for us in Eternity.

Peace and Goodness,

Your brother in Christ,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Trusting In God’s Mercy

I want to write to you about all the craziness that is going on in our world today. There are so many problems with the weather going on around our world. Some don’t believe it’s anything out of the ordinary. Some believe, myself included, that the concept of Climate Change has a lot to do with the many powerful storms on the planet these days. I can’t understand how some will not question the possibility that the fossil fuel industry and humanity’s pollution is not contributing to climate change. Many of the world’s top scientists believe we do indeed contribute to the power found in these latest storms. The modification of the weather has been well documented for years now as well. Research “weather modification” and decide. One major problem is the main stream media news outlets are not reporting on any of it. They are barely even mentioning the topic of climate change. It’s as if they too are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps they are. They certainly are in the pockets of the military industrial complex. They practically cheer whenever our military makes a move against another country. Personally, I am a Catholic Christian and these events around our world truly frighten me, but I believe in Christ Jesus and I trust in His plan for the human family. The Holy Spirit is in charge of this path for humanity. He created each of us and will never let go of His children. Christ Jesus died for all humanity. No one knows who will be in Heaven or not. No one knows when the end of God’s plan for humanity will be either, not even the Son of Man knows when the end will be. At least, if we trust in the Gospels. There are many false prophets out there claiming the end is upon us. Do not listen to them. Remember, not even Jesus the Christ knows when this will all end. So, please for the love of God do not listen to those who claim to know the world is ending. We are called to trust in God’s plan wherever it may lead. Do what you can to fight for a clean and healthy planet. Fight for the rights and for justice for everyone. Every human being on this planet is a child of God. We are not called to judge them, but to love them as we love ourselves. Fight for the voiceless, the poor, the outcasts, the forgotten. Fight for the injustices that we see every day in the news and on the internet. Make sure what you are being exposed to is true. There is a great deal of “fake news” out there groups and individuals with their own agenda’s. Make good choices that reflect Christ’s teachings. “Do not judge lest you be judged” “Love as God has loved you” and above all trust in His mercy. Be prepared and continue to walk in the light, knowing that God has us all in the palm of His hand.Pray for the Hermits of the Holy Cross. We will continue to keep each of you in our prayers.

Peace and Goodness,

broMark

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Carrying Our Cross

What’s the point to all this suffering I endure, that any of us endure, especially on a daily basis? Do you ever ask yourself or ask others this question? I, like you, get frustrated at times, overwhelmed at times, angry at times, envious of others at times, and resentful at times. It’s human nature to break down at times. Life can at times be pretty overwhelming. I personally believe that that is alright. I often see others around this world suffering at a depth far greater than I. I see that I am not alone in this mystery. For those of us who are followers of Christ Jesus, we have been shown that what we are doing when we accept our suffering is called “carrying our cross”. He gives suffering a job description. Christ Jesus showed us how it’s done by carrying His own cross. One thing I did notice, Jesus never said we had to be crucified on that cross. He told us only to carry the cross. Some of course, have died carrying their cross. Why didn’t Christ help us with understanding this mystery of “carrying our cross” so it would be easier to accept it?St. Paul, as well, desired to be free from his cross, his affliction. In fact, he asked Jesus three separate times if he could be freed from his suffering, but Jesus told Paul “My grace is sufficient for you”. (2 Cor. 7-10) What does this, “My grace is sufficient for you” really mean? I know how this could be taken as Jesus brushing Paul off but it’s actually a pretty profound statement. Christ teaches St. Paul and us that suffering is inevitable, there is no getting around it because of humanity’s fall. However, from now on since the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus we won’t ever be alone with carrying our cross. My Holy Spirit, My grace will be with you. In the Greek language, the language the New Testament was originally written in, the word used for the Holy Spirit is Άγιο πνευμα which means breath or wind. Christ Jesus literally breathes within us, the grace the Holy Spirit flows through us, helps us up when we stumble, carries us when we are too weak to move forward on the journey. Our spirit, therefore, is in union with the Holy Spirit. The highest level of the spiritual journey according to the Mystical Doctors of the Church St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross is called the Mystical Union or the Mystical Marriage. How amazing is this. This is such a profound hope for us. The eternal Christ rose from the dead so we too will be eternal. The journey, our journey, must include this cross, the acceptance of our suffering, for it is the most profound command given to us being followers of Christ Jesus. With Christ, our suffering is transformed into healing for others and for our world, for ourselves. Christ even stated, “if you don’t carry your cross you cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27) So my sisters and brothers, remain strong with the suffering you endure each day. Carrying the cross has meaning and Heaven awaits us, peace in our heart will be with us knowing we’ve accepted His command. It is a command that will bring us into mystical union with the Divine. Have a most blessed day.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Reflections On the Spiritual Journey

Reflections on the spiritual journey

by: bro.Mark
I have not written a personal blog in quite some time. I am sorry for this. I have not felt very good for a very long time because of my disability. I thought about what I could write that would be inspirational and lift your spirit. I did not want to write something that would bum you out so I kept procrastinating. I thought to myself, I could write about how when my energy gets low and I don’t feel good I don’t want to do anything. I thought maybe you could relate to this. It’s much like when you work and work and play and play, your always on the go, then boom, you get the flu. Your body just automatically shuts down. Your brain doesn’t work so quickly when your body feels down. You don’t want to do anything other than lay on the couch in front of the TV as your body begins the healing process. But with permanent disability, my disability, and the limitations my body finds itself dealing with, the healing process is not coming to me as quickly as I had hoped. I find this to be extremely frustrating. I use to be such an active person. I loved going out, driving, visiting others. Now, I am alone a lot of the day. Not many come to visit me. I did consecrate myself to the eremitical life, so I have no right to complain about how many come to visit me. I chalk it up to another one of my many frustrations. The constant physical pain that drains my energy, that makes me want to lay on this bed of mine and move as little as possible is something I cannot escape from. At times, I feel in prisoned in my own skin. Pain makes my body feel terrible then that feeling brings me down psychologically. So, then, I feel that depressing cloud floating over my head and this becomes, as well, a piece of the war puzzle I find myself battling. I pray and pray that God will take this cross from me but to no avail. I attempt to offer up my suffering for others instead, with the hope that it will help heal our world in some small way. I want it to help the world in a big way, but I don’t want to get to cocky with my efforts. I should be grateful and trusting my efforts will be accepted by God at all. I have learned through the years of studying and living my spiritual life that prayer is not just reciting a plethora of words or incantations. Prayer to me is a relationship between two people in love. Me and Christ Jesus. Two hearts growing into one, my heart will melt or fuse into the very Heart of Christ Jesus. I pray that each and every day I will be gifted with the energy to become the very best person God has created me to be. That I will become the very best hermit I can be. To be the best brother, son, and friend to others in my life and a friend to those who may one day come into my life. The daily degradation of my physical body is a reality I must continue to face and embrace. The limitations that this physical degradation impose upon me must also be embraced, along with the many frustrations that will come along with them. I can view these new physical limitations can either be viewed as a cloud floating over my head or can be viewed as inspirational to me. This outlook is something I can control. This outlook gives me hope to continue to be open to growth and branch out no matter what obstacles spring up in my life. I have chosen to let every day become a new adventure and a new challenge. I am trusting God will gift me with the grace I need to carry this cross, growing more deeply in the spiritual life. I understand that growth is never easy, for the many years of living my life with physical disability, I have experienced this truth. Yet, not every difficult experience will teach me something. Or will they? Perhaps so. What matters is that I remain open to new possibilities. I have made it my life’s work to be a positive vessel for God’s healing in our world. I pray for more sisters and brothers to aid me in this journey where ever on this earth you may be living. I will continue to pray the Holy Spirit will guide others to offer their lives to the healing of our world. Please pray for me and for each of the Hermits of the Holy Cross.

You are loved,

b.Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Feeling Overwhelmed

Have you ever felt yourself being overwhelmed because of the weight of your cross? You don’t want to find yourself upset with God, but gee wiz there’s only so much you can take. Sometimes you need a break from the weight. I feel this almost on a daily basis and I let God know this isn’t working for me anymore. I’m trying my best, but I keep stumbling and falling. God seems silent. Even though my heart knows He’s not. I often find myself asking for help from His Mom, Our Blessed Mother, Mary. Mom’s usually have that compassion and care we all desire. I also find myself asking all the Saints for help as well. And of course we can’t forget the angels, most especially, our Guardian  Angel. I named my Guardian Angel years ago.  I think it was 1987 when that happened. His name is Jeremiah. I chose that name because I wanted my own child to have that name. However, I never did have kids of my own mostly because it wasn’t in God’s plan for me. The reason I bring all this up is because there are many individuals in our life that are willing to help us, especially those we believe are now in Heaven.  By the way, we can even ask help from those we may believe are still in Purgatory. If you believe in Purgatory that is. Personally, I’m Roman Catholic so I believe there is a place we can go to finish up our purification if we have not done so completely while on Earth. I am now 54 years old and reflecting on how fast the years have gone by, purgatory seems like an added gift to me. Especially, when compared to eternity and what that really means. The weight of my cross doesn’t seem so heavy after I reflect on eternity and the many people I know are helping me with carrying my cross.  I invite you to reflect on who your favorite Saints are and ask them to intercede for you. They will be more than happy to assist you. They’ve made it to Heaven. Reflect on the fact you have a Guardian Angel. Name your Angel. Begin a personal relationship with them. They are there for you to assist you and protect you. Invite our Blessed Mother to comfort you. I often ask Her to keep me protected under Her mantle. She does. There have been to many times in life that I just believed I could no longer make it through, but when I seek their help the grace of God has always been there for me. I believe it will be there for you as well. And if you find yourself being overwhelmed with frustration and hopelessness, call out, God’s grace will indeed flow through you. You will experience the strength of God working in you and through you. Keep the faith, hold tight to the cross and muster through. Even though life is messy at times, God sees your heart and your intention. When we are trying our best God never asks any more from us. Please know too, that there are others with very heavy crosses all around the world. You are not alone when it comes to suffering. Just watching one hour of nightly news will reveal this to you. Be patient and know God loves you. I love you too. Let’s pray for each other as we move forward through life.Have yourself a blessed day.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

Posted in Christianity, Contemplation, Prayer, Spirituality, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | 3 Comments