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!!!


A Rule of Peace

I read an article this morning from and on-line website called, Truth and Charity Forum. As a Benedictine Oblate, I was moved by the Author’s insights into The Rule of St. Benedict regarding Peace. Everything about the Rule speaks to Peace and a harmonious way of life for everyone who resides in the Monastery. But for those of us following the Rule while still living in the world, sometimes the stability and regular rhythms of the Monastery can be lacking in our less than consistent daily routines. So, I thought to re-copy the article’s most relevant points for finding Peace in our lives and post it here for all of us to consider, if we are so inclined. I hope it speaks kindly and gently to our hearts…

2014 Rule of Peace By Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D.

Christopher Derrick’s The Rule of Peace draws from the wisdom of St. Benedict’s famous Rule for monastic life to teach the art of how to be at peace in the world as well as in the monastery. According to St. Benedict, four steps are needed to master the art of peace. First, a person must learn to be peace with his environment and learn to be at home in that part of the country or world where he lives and works; second, a person needs to be at peace with himself with his particular strengths and weaknesses; third, everyone must strive to be at peace with his neighbor. One cannot love God without first loving one’s neighbor. All of these forms of peace, then, prepare a person to be at peace with God. To be at peace with God, however, is not the world’s idea of living without difficulty or stress.

To be peace with one’s environment means, according to Derrick, “living gently and at peace with one’s natural surroundings” in the way a monk resigns himself to a life of stability instead of constant travel. Also, the monk who lives in tune with nature lives simply and economically. This Benedictine way of life opposes

the restlessness of wanderlust and the quest for ceaseless diversion. St. Benedict’s Rule teaches the art of staying at home and finding contentment in the regularity and rhythm of daily life with its balance of work and rest, the active life and the contemplative life. To enjoy being at home and enjoying one’s surroundings instead of always seeking new places and thrills develops a sense of belonging or rootedness essential for happiness. For many, however, the environment in which they are born, live, and work is not entirely in their control. But to be at peace, a person cannot be daydreaming or fantasizing about new sensations or faraway places that he imagines to be more perfect.

To be at peace with one’s self means to accept one’s male or female nature, one’s unique temperament and individuality, and one’s particular gifts and inclinations as God-given. It means acquiescence to one’s ethnic identity, family background, and history. A person at peace with himself is not jealous of another person’s good fortune or special talents. Every person must accept his lot and the crosses of his life rather than making invidious comparisons with others who appear more prosperous or gifted. A true monk, in Derrick’s words, is filled with an “inner serenity and joy” because he accepts sufferings and difficulties as a fact of human life and learns to overcome anxiety and fear by an abandonment to God’s Providence. The monk knows that Christ’s words “Peace be with you” mean that man needs to live without anxiety, trust in God, and not be ruled by tension and stress—one of the reasons God created the Sabbath as a day of rest. This peace with one’s self never requires drugs, alcohol, or escape from life’s duties.

To be at peace with one’s neighbor also requires the same effort and skill as learning to accept one’s environment and one’s human nature because a person does not always choose his relatives, neighbors, or colleagues, but simply finds them present by accident. This aspect of peace demands patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and charity. Monks do not shout, slam doors, welcome loud noise, or speak with loose tongues, always practicing the virtue of courtesy because “ceremony is the friend of peace.” Monks know that the Devil wants persons to have arguments, lose their tempers, and not live in friendship and charity. Monastic life “includes all the family virtues of love and loyalty known to the ancient Romans as piety.” Just as the abbot rules in the monastery with both authority and gentleness—not as a autocrat—parents too must govern their families with both justice and mercy and children honor their parents with respect. With gentle authority and glad obedience men can live together in peace and avoid the many useless, trivial arguments produced by prideful egotism. Monastic life teaches the discipline of the tongue and recognizes that “too much talk is the enemy of the soul.” So often peace with one’s neighbor is destroyed “when somebody said something which never really needed to be said”— insensitive, offensive, or tactless words.

All the various kinds of restlessness—the pursuit of excitement, novelty, or diversion in the form of entertainment, travel, and endless change– result from failure to live in tune with the environment, family, and person that God created. To be at peace according to the Rule of Saint Benedict is to be centered and have a still point rather than being fragmented and divided by the centrifugal forces of the world that rend asunder the unity that dwells in the soul that knows peace. The Benedictine vow of stability centers a monk in the one place he will live and reside for a lifetime. The home centers a person in the society of the family he is bound to for life. The vocation a person chooses gives special priority to this one form of service that shapes the future.

A Vocation to Embrace Suffering

A Vocation to Embrace Suffering – How can such a Calling possibly be Realized, Fully Accepted, and Lived Out by Anyone who is of Sound Mind and is in a state of basic Psychological wholeness and Emotional wellness? This is the astounding if not even somewhat mystical revelation of the Mystery of the Cross for the Hermits of the Holy Cross that I hope to be able to address in this Post.

Are we delusional?   Are we simply making the best of our crummy lot in life, hoping to find an excuse, however poor, for meaning, relevance or purpose in this world? Is it some irrational imagining to escape the reality of our chronic pain and sickness?

Some might wonder.   We, ourselves, at times, might even wonder. But, to linger in such thoughts would be, for us who experience this Genuine Calling, a definite Temptation against our Vocation. How do we know? We Know because the Grace to Understand what it is we “Know” in our deepest center to be True is part of our Vocation.

We do not need to imagine.   We do not need to escape. Nor do we need to romanticize what is the True Nature of our Calling in order to make it more palatable. On the contrary. What every Hermit of The Holy Cross Knows to be True is already contained in this mysterious Grace that is given to us, in order that we may embrace the Responsibility of the Call; to hold our place quietly, humbly, and in a hidden manner, according to God’s Plan and Purpose. We can thus share the burdens of humankind in silence, in union with our Lord, Jesus Christ, as we offer our sufferings for the Salvation of All the suffering souls in this World, both living and deceased, in Faith that God will bless and accept these offerings through Christ, our Lord, AMEN.

Blessings and Peace,

+ Theresa (HHC)

Calendar Religion or Religion of the Spirit?

April will be a month of Catholic Holy Days starting with Palm Sunday.  Catholics and Christians everywhere will be planning which Holy Day Services they will be attending, and who will be coming over for Easter Dinner. In my meditation this morning, I pondered about our kind of Calendar Religion. It’s good in some ways, of course, but it does tend to keep people thinking in terms of Religious vs Secular-type divisions in our minds. Like, Sunday is special because it’s Church, but Monday is just my ordinary life again. 

If I think about what Jesus showed us regarding such practices, I see something different. I see Him rebuking those who tried to censure His freedom of the Spirit at every moment, by quoting “the Rules of Religion” at Him. But it was in fact His ordinary life that was the place of many of His greatest miracles and parables. He lived His Spirituality every moment of every day, not just on the Sabbath day.  Why?  Because He was always Awake and Aware of His connection to The Divine!  Attentive and Centered within Himself, He clearly understood that His Union with the Father was a very Present Reality; one that was ever-active, regardless of what the Calendar said. 

He had respect for the proper Services of His Faith, but He was not limited by them.  He participated in Synagogue Services, but He would also wake up early in the morning to go apart by Himself to pray. He wanted no divides between people.  He wanted them to understand Truth from their hearts.  But for that to happen, they would have to wake-up to their actual lives and step out of their automatic conditioned behaviors. Jesus knew that would not be an easy thing for them.  Thanks be to God, He had a plan! 

Jesus did not leave us the New Testament. That came years later, after having been handed down and finally written down, and then after having been filtered through a Greek translation. He did not leave us a Religion of the Calendar. Or a structured Church system.  Jesus did leave us something of much greater value to our eternal destiny.  His Holy Spirit!  When His message was preached everywhere to whomever would listen from their hearts, those people would receive the Holy Spirit. That Free Gift of the Holy Spirit changed their reality! They did wake-up! And their ordinary, everyday lives were transformed from within!

TODAY – I Am Awake to the Presence of God in my Ordinary Life. I am grateful! I am loved! I am blessed!