A Long Silence

Indeed… It has been a long silence. Not an intentional silence, but rather a silence imposed by a series of circumstances which began on October 1st, and set off a most unfortunate chain of events which greatly impacted my health and well-being. It is not that I am un-acquainted with how the Lord works through what I all too humanly termed, “unfortunate“ events”. In fact, at this point in the journey, events such as these are often necessary for the soul’s growth, in that they compel one to go deeper into the heart of Jesus, abandoning the previous comfort zone one had unconsciously settled into and falling yet again into the darkness of the unknown where God alone abides… Here, The “I” is small and powerless to either advance or retreat. Here, the Spirit within is a silent witness to the carryings-on, complaints, fears and angers of the ego against itself, its world and all of its “unjust” sufferings. I laugh as I say these words knowing them to be true, but still feeling the sting of reality in a body, with the ego ever trying to pretend to learn life‘s lessons while all the while knowing it is only grace that can impart the silent wisdom necessary for the true conversion of the soul.

For today, I ask the grace of humility and surrender and the will to say with all the sincerity of my heart, “Thy will be done“! If YOU find yourself struggling today or suffering deeply or watching someone you love suffer, Know and be assured that I, and All of Us Hermits of the Holy Cross, are praying for YOU! May God impart His wisdom and grace to You. And may you have faith that although you see no answers for yourself and fear that it will be impossible to ever find your way out of this maze of suffering ever again, remember the words of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, “what is impossible for man is not impossible for God“. God Bless You ALL – THERESA 🙏✝️

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Canticle of the Sun

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Litany to the Sacred Heart

I created this Litany many years ago for YouTube so you will see where we use to be called the Hermits of St. Giles. Now, of course we are named Hermits of the Holy Cross which more closely reflects our ministry to our loving Christ Jesus. It’s my prayer that this litany will bring you closer to Jesus in your heart.

Peace to you,
bro.Mark
Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Our Disability Our Cross

Christ Jesus calls the disabled to a very important vocation. The Heavenly Father called His own Son to be obedient even to death on a Cross. Our obedience to God our Father is to become obedient to our disability. To embrace our disability unto death and this is our death on our Cross. We can only accomplish this with the gift of grace.

Grace is our energy our power received as gift from the Blessed Trinity. We become co-heirs with Christ Jesus in the healing of humanity by our very existence in the human family. Our yes welcomes us into this spiritual family. Our disability is our Cross. Is death itself our Crucifixion, the very separation of our soul with our broken body. Is the suffering that we endure in our broken body what brings healing to our broken world. I believe it is.

Have a blessed weekend!
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Mark
Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Journey Toward the Incarnate Christ

I keep looking for ways to try to heal and move forward living with my disability, Proteus Syndrome. But, It’€™s been difficult for me to accept this disability and embrace it, even after 57 years of living. This is my Cross€. I have always tried my hardest to overcome obstacles that seem to stand in my way, and to keep pushing forward, but Proteus Syndrome has a life of its own and It’€™s taking over. I don’€™t like that. It’€™s like I’m at war with it, but since it’s part of who I am, am I at war with myself? I hope this doesn’t sound too nutty. My mind and heart want to walk again but my body says. “No sir, you’re not going to do that”€. It’s challenging. 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 felt so guilty that this disability was beginning to be so expensive, since I had no health insurance due to Proteus Syndrome being a “pre-existing condition”. No health insurance company would take me under their wing. This was my reality in 2000. The burden it placed on my Order became another source of guilt to me back then. In my heart, however, I am still a Capuchin-Franciscan. I pray every day that Christ Jesus will have mercy on the many bad decisions I made back then. 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 in some way but are physically unable to do so. In this ministry, the Hermits of the Holy Cross, we serve spiritually, offering up to God our sufferings that stem from our disabilities. We offer intercessory prayer for our world, our parishes, our families and friends. There are now five Hermits of the Holy Cross. Theresa, Stephanie, Marie, Audrey and myself. We are all living in different parts of the world, in Canada, New York, Texas and California. Our spirits are working together for Christ Jesus, in real time, helping Him heal our broken world. We try to be an inspiration to others. Suffering has meaning. No one suffers in vain. God created us the way we are for His purpose. We are His children. Despite our physical limitations, our suffering offered up or our prayers that ascend to Heaven for others and for ourselves, assist our Christ. So, in closing, I just wanted to reach out to you, my disabled sisters and brothers around the world, to hopefully lift your hearts up with encouragement and hope during this Advent and Christmas Season. We want you to know we are with you in spirit, in the struggles that life brings. Keep climbing the mountain, keep holding on to that cross you carry. Soon it will be traded for a crown. Have a most blessed Christmas from all of us in the Hermits of the Holy Cross.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Suffering, An Ingredient in God’s Grace

“It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent, the day draws near, so let us cast of deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13: 11-12

As the Church, a Community of Believers, we have now entered into the Advent Season in our Calendar. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity made a sacrifice by coming to us as a member of the human family

“that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”

God emptied Himself for all of us that we could share His holiness. God did not have to humble Himself in this way. He could have stayed in His Heaven ordering us all to do this or do that, condemning us for the smallest infraction. Christ, in the depth of His love choose sacrifice, compassion and eternal love for us His children. For those who have raised children, I’m sure you in your compassion and love, you can remember the many times you sacrificed for them. Most parents have desired more for their children than for themselves.

As Hermits of the Holy Cross, our sacrifice to God is our own sufferings that we endure each day because of our physical disabilities. These sufferings can be emotional, psychological, and physical. Society teaches us that our sufferings have no meaning at all and that we should do everything we can to eradicate it. Sufferings are just a nuisance. But we all know through experience we cannot completely eradicate our suffering in our daily lives. Therefore, they cannot be completely removed. But, that’s not to say, that we shouldn’t try to alleviate them. We do try because we want to experience peace in heart and mind. Christ taught us through His own sufferings that they have meaning.

Personally, here’s what I believe, I believe our sufferings, when offered to God through our free will, assist God in the creation of grace. Sounds odd I know. Christ Jesus tells us that we make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the Church.” Col 1:24

Through the suffering, and death of Christ upon the Cross he taught us suffering has purpose. God does not waste it, but uses it. Think of grace as spiritual fuel for our daily lives. Plants and trees need rain, our bodies need food, cars need gasoline, many products need electricity. Our spirit too, needs grace to grow closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Advent and Christmas Season ask God

“to fill you with the knowledge of His will with all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” Col: 1:9 Have you ever seen the painting of Christ Jesus knocking upon the door to be welcomed in but there is no door knob on His side of the door. This reminds us that Christ doesn’t barge in but patiently waits for us to open the door to allow Him in. The spiritual life is a give and take between two lovers. Try giving God your sufferings this, the Season of Incarnation, and ask Him to help you to understand why suffering is in our lives. Grace will be there for you. Through our suffering offered to God we participate in the creation of Gods gift, transforming grace.

Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season.

You are in our prayers each day. If you would like us to pray for any special intention please email bro.Mark at dextraze13@yahoo.com Its free.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

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Hermits of the Holy Cross

I often ponder as I look out my window from this bed I am confined to. I’m not sure if I’ll walk again. I hope to. This ankle ulcer keeps rearing it’s ugly head when I put any amount of weight on my foot. In my head, I’m filled with hope, but that hope gets shattered each time I attempt to walk any little bit. I feel I still have so much to do with my life. What that is I do not know. It will show itself through time. From my experience, the heart/mind soul/spirit desires one thing while the physical body seems to want something completely different. Aging seems to be unforgiving and relentless. I have learned to believe our physical body is in conflict with our spirit/soul because our spirit is infinite while our body is finite. In my mind, I still feel young, but I attempt to put my body into action but it won’t move from this bed. It’s going to take an act of God to get these legs in shape again. My body/spirit interaction strives for reconciliation, and without the help of God’s grace this reconciliation will not take place no matter how hard I try on my own.

“O God, you are my God, for you I long;

for you my soul is thirsting.

My body pines for you

like a dry, weary land without water”. Psalm 63

Why is it some of us seem to be chosen to be disabled, deformed, homebound, or bedridden? One hundred years ago, here in America, not all but many parents placed their disabled child in a “home” or placed them in the cellar or attic of their own home. This is what Martin Luther wrote about a physically disabled child,

“If I were the Prince, I should take this child to the Moldau River which flows near Dessau and drown him.’ The advice was refused. Luther then suggested: ‘Well then, the Christians shall order the Lord’s prayer to be said in church and pray that the dear Lord take the Devil away.’ This was done daily and the ‘changeling’ died in the following year.” Cited in Ted Harrison, Disability Rights and Wrongs (Lion Publishing, Oxford, 1995), p.57.

Some clergy still believe this about the disabled. It’s terrible to experience. However,

this treatment does not negate the fact that in God’s eyes, we’ve still been chosen by Him to be the heart of His Church. Thank God, here in America, society has made positive strides toward the disabled, especially with the passing of the Disability Act in 1995. However, this mission I write about comes from the spiritual side of our humanity. We Hermits of the Holy Cross believe we have been called by God to pray and offer our sufferings to God for all our sisters and our brothers around our world. We are all members of one human family. We all struggle in some way, yet we still believe God draws us to minister in this way through prayer and suffering. St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians:

“I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, the Church.” Colossians 1:24

and

“I want all those who find themselves deep in suffering, that God has called us to be spiritual leaders in the work of salvation, as we become ourselves, perfect through suffering.” Hebrews

I believe there is a reason God uses suffering to bring us to perfection. Suffering is the anthesis of Heavenly wholeness and perfection. Because of our human nature we all hate suffering. Most of us, especially myself, will do everything possible to avoid it and we should do our best to relieve suffering. At the beginning, in Genesis, we were never meant to suffer. We can’t forget this truth. But we also must accept the fact that humanity did fall out of grace with God by attempting to be gods on our own terms. With this pride the human family became broken. Many don’t want to accept this truth and have been running from the suffering since. We must not lose hope however, for God has indeed brought us back into relationship with Himself through the sufferings of Christ Jesus upon the Cross. He has brought the grace of healing and wholeness to each of our eternal souls. Through His Son, He has opened the gate to eternal life.

For we are now

“strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the Saints and members of the household of God.” “in Him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” Ephesians: 2

So, my sisters and brothers who are disabled, or homebound, or just struggling with suffering in some way, let us pray for the gift of hope for

‘The sufferings of this present age are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Yours and my suffering does indeed have meaning. You may be struggling with trying to accept this truth, but we have been called to have faith in Christ Jesus. Rest assured though, for even Christ’s closest Apostles struggled with their faith in Christ. We need only to look at Peter and Thomas to see the struggle. St. Padre Pío used to say often, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry” This has helped me through many a darkened hour.

What God calls each of us to do is to open our hearts, even just a little bit, to let the Holy Spirit come into our hearts and into our lives. We pray God will bring us healing and wholeness, if not in a physical way, we seek healing in our heart and soul too, that we may embrace the suffering that God has called us to endure for His glory. That we may offer our sufferings as a gift to God for the healing and wholeness of our world.

If you are physically disabled, follow the path of our Lord Jesus Christ and believe God is calling you to this ministry of prayer and the offering of your sufferings as a Hermit of the Holy Cross feel free to email me at dextraze13@yahoo.com

May our loving and merciful God fill your heart with grace and have a most blessed week. Peace and Goodness,

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

Please pray for us.

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THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE

Despondency – Introduction from Fr. Tryphon‘s blog from the monastery of All-Merciful Savior which is on Vashon Island, just off the coast of Washington, whose Blog you can visit here:  https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/09/despondency-7

Fr. Tryphon (referenced above) in his morning offering, expressed very clearly his own personal struggles with despondency and how he found encouragement in the writings of St. Seraphim: “Like Saint Anthony the Great, I cry out to God, “where are You?”, all the while floating in a river of grace. I want to be a friend of God, yet often feel like the chick who has been pushed out of the nest by the mother eagle. Yet I am comforted by the counsel of Saint Seraphim, who instructed his spiritual children with the words…”

When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: “What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head.”

How often I must feel despondency, but don’t recognize it until too late, when I am reflecting on it later in prayer. I know why, too. It’s mostly because I automatically find a way to distract myself from it, losing all the grace available through just feeling my inner emptiness and offering it to Christ. I think for hermits, it is the most trying of temptations. The noon day demon is what it was called by the desert fathers. They just had to learn to bare it. And in doing so, came to understand its value.

But in our day and age, we have so many available distractions that we turn to just so we Won’t have to feel that same emptiness that they felt. It wasn’t just for emptiness sake. That would not make much sense. But when the time for prayer came, the Psalms they prayed then ever more deeply reflected their interior state in ways that our reading of the psalms today without that intensity just never seem to. 

I find there is a power in the Psalms if we allow them to penetrate us deeply. They are especially enriched when prayed during The Divine Office. But it takes a certain willingness and vulnerability to live that deeply in the Lord’s presence at all times, in order for them to have their most efficacious and transformative effect on our souls. 

A Blessed Peace, THERESA+ – Hermit of the Holy Cross

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Loneliness Dissipates

Many in our society today are slowly dying, not from something that’s physically discernible yet it has the energy to cause physical scars. loneliness. We are social beings. We are intended to be social. The majority of us have grown up in a family dynamic. Our first steps are usually taken when we’re with others, like our parents. This was the place we learnt about life and how to treat one another and ourselves. We learned to speak our first words in front of our parents or family. Family was the dynamic we learned to trust, not only ourselves but how to trust others. “Remember that ol’ phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child. It’s so true. Many in other Countries still abide by this saying. But here in the West we’ve left it to the “Nuclear Family”. Some grew up in families that believed we were to move out at 18 and begin a new life with our spouse or ourselves. Family is often experienced only at Thanksgiving and Christmas or on other special occasions. During those times we often just put up with each other until everyone went home. We’d breathe a sigh of relieve.

I had the privilege of growing up with a best friend who was from a Hispanic family. I’d often want to stay with them because their family was like the village I spoke of earlier. There was never a dull moment there. They would share and yell, discuss and accept. Reasons or times to be lonely were often not experienced in this dynamic and I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, for I grew up in a very loving and accepting family. My ma and pop were very good to me, but my brother was four years older than me. I have a dear sister that is one year older than me. We are still very close. But there was something to that village dynamic that always spoke to me. They had no concept of what a nuclear family was. There was never a chance to really experience a feeling of inner loneliness because when one felt down the others surrounded them and just shared their ups and downs with each other. They weren’t afraid to express their inner thoughts or their feelings. They knew how to communicate, but if they didn’t they often just tried no matter what the outcome would be. They weren’t afraid to get sloppy with each other because they learned life was often times messy. I believe what’s missing in society today is this type of communication. Often, when I could get out I’d see people communicate on their phones or through social media, but that face to face type of communication was often missing. Being together gives off an energy that we miss when we’re on our phone. This energy comes mostly from the feelings we are experiencing and sharing, while looking at each other, experiencing one another in the present moment. It’s almost impossible to read one another’s body language when we’re not in close physical proximity to one another. This absence of physical contact is what can cause an inner loneliness. If we’re not use to being alone it can become quite frightful. If we believe in a Higher Power, God, we have no one to talk with, to share our inner struggles or even our hopes and dreams. Loneliness can creep in rather quickly when alone. The longing for human contact grows when alone. Feelings get buried within the broken areas of our life. Loneliness can turn into resentment and resentment into hatred. Often times it takes but a smile or a hello when passing each other to change someone’s day. I think we’re often afraid these days to reach out to one another. We’ve built up a fear we might be seen as encroaching into someone’s privacy. We don’t look up in the subway for fear of locking with someone we don’t know. Often we grew up believing that we’re to be rugged individuals. We were taught we were to take care of ourselves. I can climb this mountain by myself and everyone will be so proud of me. But God didn’t seem to desire to want to create us to be alone. God seemed to have created us to be family, to be as village. When we haven’t experienced this we often times can grow-up being fearful of others. This is a tragedy. We grow through exchanges of ideas, when we have the willingness to express feelings when with one another in a safe environment. Feelings, when they bubble up inside of us, don’t seem so daunting to us. When we have others to share our daily lives with love blossoms and a new village is born. We grow within when we grow together as family and village. It may be a village of friends or a village of the like minded. In our brokenness we all desire to be accepted. Loneliness often times dissipates, love can blossom when in a trusting environment where we have the ability to look out for one another. If you know someone who is alone reach out to them. Often a few words of kindness or a wave and hello can go a long way to make one feel they belong to the larger family or village.

Have a most blessed week.

Peace and Goodness,

your brother,

Mark

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A Message for Good Friday

Colossians 1:24  “I make up in my body what was lacking to the sufferings of  Christ for the sake of His body…the Church”

Such were the words of St. Paul over two thousand years ago.  Did you ever wonder if that was a blasphemous statement for him to make?  Was he implying that something could possibly be lacking to all that Jesus suffered on our behalf?  Well, at first glance and without a period of silent prayer following the reading of that statement, one might so conclude.  But, with meditation, one might reflect more deeply (perhaps during a period of Lectio Divina), that the statement can yield a depth of meaning otherwise not so easily evident. 

What can be lacking in the sufferings of the Christ that St. Paul, or any of us for that matter, might need to make up for?  For me, that answer was and is, My Own Participation In those Sufferings.  I can pray for the hungry every day and never have compassion for them until I know something of what it means to be hungry.  I can give money to a charity without ever feeling their need or their lack until I know what it is to be in need.  I can make a visit to a shut in without once having tasted the loneliness they must live with daily.  I’m not saying these actions have no meaning.  But I am saying that sometimes, for some, myself included, good actions were more of an ego boost to one’s self-esteem rather than true acts of kindness done from love of neighbor. 

Until I knew disability, that person in a wheelchair was an object outside myself that I needed to take pity on “in their misfortune”.  How dare I ?  How…dare…I…?  Until I knew suffering, suffering was a “thing” I could manage by an occasional “good deed” to ease my conscience.  Isn’t that what it still is for some?  Perhaps not the readers of this blog because you have come to understand from close-up how spiritually immature such an understanding is.  And how ego-driven.  This is not an attack, please don’t misunderstand. It is only meant to bring to light the shadow side we each have and are reluctant to own as part of ourselves. The sooner we can own it, the sooner God can pour His Mercy out upon us and transform our shadow side, healing the wounds that it concealed. I know It’s hard to look at ourselves as possessing one, but we all do. Yet we need never despair because Jesus already carried even those sins for us We need only believe and receive His healing!

But let me not get away from what I was leading to. God has said, “I am the Lord; there Is No Other”.  Our neighbor is not “other” than ourselves.  Seeing them as anything less than God’s children same as we are is to miss the mark. 

What was lacking to the sufferings of Christ?  Our Participation in it.  We must both invite and allow Jesus to let us “see from within” that All suffering is Our suffering to share in.  That the Cross of human kind is Our Collective Cross to bare. 

As Lent draws to its end, let us be mindful that our penances can transform not only ourselves as individuals, but if we experience them as a Collective Sacrifice for the highest good of All people, they can help to transform suffering Everywhere. 

May the Cross of Christ be a transformative one in all of our lives…AMEN. 

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