ASH WEDNESDAY – 2021

Ash Wednesday 2021 – Much has happened since the last post made by our dear Bro. Mark. In his humble way and because of his most sincere love of God, neighbor and country, his posts were always so uplifting and served to inspire whomever might read them. He never was concerned with whether or not his Blog had a tremendous following. It only mattered that his words gave hope to the suffering, Suffering he, himself, was well acquainted with.

Bro. Mark had a rare illness called Proteus Syndrome. We lost him to it a few months ago. His loss has been felt deeply; by his family and by his Lay Contemplative Community who shared his Spiritual Vision; The Hermits of The Holy Cross.

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A Podcast for the Homebound

In the past, I had only used podcasts for background noise to help me fall sleep. But I recently discovered one that I actually use for its content. And as a person with many limitations and physical challenges, I would like to recommend it to all of you who share in the frustrations of being unable to manage the holding of a heavy Bible or the small print of a lighter one. Or even just the inability to sit up in your bed to read one.

Ascension Press has a Catholic Podcast available for FREE now, so we can listen to the Bible read to us, chronologically, for only 15 to 20 minutes a day. And after the Readings conclude, there is even a 5 or 10 minute lesson on why the passages read are important for us. It is offered by Fr. Mike Schmitz and available through many podcast sources; for iPhones, iTunes and on the Website directly.

You can also print out a Free Copy of the Reading Plan for the Entire Year so you will know what each day’s Readings will be ahead of time.

I know it has been something I look very forward to each day and I do hope you will find it helpful.

God Love and Bless you today and always!

Please Pray for Us Hermits of the Holy Cross. Thank You!

Blessings,

Theresa – HHC

The Election of an American President

This week was unprecedented in ways never before experienced by the American people. The Election of a President during a period of time when our Nation was inundated and overwhelmed by unrest, unemployment, a world-wide pandemic of proportions previously never even imagined by most Americans, shortages of food and necessary supplies, fear, isolation, anger and displays of violence everywhere. Threats from other Countries interference in our election process also added to the insecurities of a large part of our population.

How many I wonder; how many ran towards God and sought God’s help believing in Faith that God would somehow get them through? How many prayed entrusting their lives, livelihoods and families to God? And how many had to offer their total heartbreak in light of the loss of a loved one to the fatal effect of Covid 19? Some may be experiencing tremendous joy today, now that the Election results have been announced. And for many who ask why their loved ones had to die because so many refused to wear masks, they might feel a kind of bitter-sweet relief in hopes that the new Administration will act more quickly and decisively now to put an end to this nightmare that has touched all of our lives in some way or other. Still for others, the loss of their preferred Candidate might be impacting their lives in entirely different ways, but through their own eyes just as painfully. I think we can all attest to the stark reality we have witnessed of the division of our own beloved Country today more than ever.

When God broke my heart open with His Grace and let my bitterness and selfishness drain out, and then filled it with His own Love, I never suspected at the time that it would change my entire egocentric way of acting and reacting. I personally can no longer see in anyone an enemy. I can no longer judge my neighbor as if I have a true understanding of who they are in God’s eyes. Instead I can feel in my soul the heartbreak when I see the harm caused by those who do not love their neighbor as God has loved them. And I can pray for them. I can feel the suffering of those on the receiving end, as well as on those who are responsible for its cause, since they have not allowed the Grace of God to enter their lives and are thusly suffering as well. And I pray for them, too. Observe, Judge not, Act with Love and Pray! This is what I offer today for all Americans who, in light of the Results of America’s choice for our next President, might be feeling the temptation to physically or verbally act against some one or side without first discerning God’s Will. Pray, Love, and do Not judge. Praise God and always be grateful for His life of Love alive within you! The true Kingdom of God IS within!

Blessings,

Theresa HHC

Praying The Stations for the Suffering

I was recently made aware of this small but inspiring booklet perfect for the Fridays of Lent.  It is called, “Praying the Stations of the Cross for the Suffering, Ill and Disabled”. The meditations on each Station and then the connection made to how all who suffer chronic or terminal illness might feel when in those same situations brings to life the reality of God suffering with us in His Christ, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, amply reflected in each of these Stations. Also applicable for the sufferings of those who love them and their caregivers.

And in these present days, one might even apply these Stations to those with the Coronavirus and their families.

This booklet is available for $3.00 or even less, depending on where you buy it on the internet. May God bless you through its devout use

+Theresa – HHC!

Eucharistic Adoration – Responding To A Great Need

OIPEUCHARISTIC ADORATION – For over a Century and a Half, the good Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration kept faithfully to the promise of their Foundress; to practice Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, which means to also practice through the night hours.  Only recently did they have to alter that promise as they themselves could no longer continue with it.

But they did Not abandon it. No; instead they invited Prayer Partners and Others to take up the practice themselves.  Prayer Partners were each asked to choose a single hour in the Night to worship the Eucharist and co-ordinate with other Prayer Partners to see that no hour of the Night was left without someone in prayerful adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Like the Sisters, I believe that this Practice of Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament needs to be a part of Every Christian’s Life again.  And so I invite you all to visit this Live Feed of Perpetual Adoration on line and spend some time in prayer there every day.

Thank You and God Be With You!

Theresa – HHC

LINK to the LIVE FEED below,,,,

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=perpetual+adoration+live&view=detail&mid=8D9217D12BF9654489C28D9217D12BF9654489C2&FORM=VIRE

For Information on the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration or to read about their recent decision to change the form of their commitment, see below…..

https://www.fspa.org/   FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF PERPETUAL ADORATION

“We started adoration in 1878 after Mother Antonia Herb’s promise to begin the 24/7 practice came to fruition,” Sister Eileen said. “In 1997, prayer partners were invited to help continue the promise, primarily taking daytime hours while sisters living at St. Rose Convent continued the night hours. As demographics continued changing in the early 2000s, we began studying the future of the practice and growing in our understanding of how we can move forward tending to the spirit of perpetual adoration while recognizing it becoming necessary to discontinue night hours.”

The sisters and prayer partners now prepare to enter into the next phase of perpetual adoration. “We’re inviting all Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, our current partners in mission and future partners, to pray and live in adoration from any location at any time,” Sister Eileen said.

Complaining or Easing Another’s Burden

First Sunday of LENT: This morning as I reflected on the depth of my Faith to my commitment to offer all of my personal sufferings, physical, mental and spiritual, to God for all the sufferings souls in our world, it occurred to me to examine the WHY of my Blog Posts. Some of them may seem dark and may leave the Reader perplexed as to how to respond. Perhaps this is a good time to discuss this with all of you.

If I speak of an especially dark period of Faith I might be experiencing, it is not intended as either complaining or trying to display some false humility to elicit pity in any way. I do hope I have not conveyed such. If I have, may God forgive me. And may You forgive me.

No, what I intend in speaking so is to open my heart to the pain of whomever reads my posts. I hope that through my posts, someone may resonate with the feelings I share and find relief for their own wounded and hidden depths as they journey. It is not easy to discuss our darkness’s. Often, we think we should not feel these darkness’s if we are really spiritual. It is much easier to teach lessons about how we “should” do this or that or how we “should” behave or feel when tried in life’s most difficult and challenging ways. To me, this only serves to keep our dark places hidden from ourselves.

If you see yourself in any of my or any of our posts or need prayer to get through some difficult spiritual or physical challenge in your Own lives, please write us and share your pain. To bare one another’s burdens is the Gospel message. It is not complaining. It is becoming vulnerable of heart that Grace may have a wide open place to enter into.

Blessings and God’s Peace to ALL,

Theresa

 

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 🙏✝️

 

 

 

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

 

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. 

THE TRIP

Up until the time I was 30 years old, I loved to travel. Jumping on a jet with a suitcase was as natural as a ride in my car. Packing was a cinch. And I could fall asleep easily on any mattress anywhere. Even the excitement anticipating the day I would depart was a thrill. Knowing I would be horse-back riding, renting motorcycles, and going to Clubs to dance the nights away, was all part of that excitement.

By the time I was 35, I was disabled by an acutely misdiagnosed Back vertebrae fracture that was made worse with every attempt a doctor or physical therapist would make to help heal it.  I wound up bedridden for 5 years in chronic and crippling pain and spasms. And what followed upon that resembled in no way all that had come before.  Every part of my life and identity as an independent, strong, free-spirited female was gone.  Gone were my days of teaching and practicing Yoga, too.  All fashion, style and whatever else had contributed to my self-image, obliterated. Friends whom I thought were friends, no where to be found. Just the Pain…and all the Time in the world to suffer it.

Fast-forwarding to today, over 35 years later, and for the First Time since those golden days of youth, I am planning A Trip.  Yes, I have to call and make special arrangements for a mattress to somewhat accommodate my Back pain.  I will need to carefully select what foods I can eat.  And, I will probably need a small suitcase just for my meds.  But, apart from these obvious differences, there is this One which is worth far more than all I have known of travel before.  I will experience things as I have Never done before!!  Since that altered course so many years ago, God has given me a new way of “See-ing” His Universe.  A way that takes it All in; every speck of beauty, whether there is rain in the sky or a brilliant sun blessing the Earth with its warming rays.  And with this kind of See-ing, there is also a deeply profound Gratitude for everything I See and will See . And for every person that I will meet.  If I’m thinking of anything in anticipation of this Trip, it will be thoughts like these that will fill my heart.  And, Praise…always Praise for God who offered me His World in place of the one I had lost, and helped me to become a better, more human person than I even knew I could be. 

So, this Trip…with all these new moments, people and experiences it will bring…this Trip will be a thing of Wonder!  A thing I believe has been ordained by God for my life exactly now.  I could never have even consented to consider it if God had not fortified my Soul with Grace. That’s how much fear I had been holding on to.  But here we are…and here we go!!  Praise God!!!