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,
Hermits of the Holy 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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
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,
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.
read by Bro. Mark
“How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord God of Hosts!”
“Oh God, be gracious and bless us…”
“Why are you cast down my soul; why groan within me?”
After years of praying the Psalms of the Divine Office (excerpts above), one would think that one’s meditations on words such as these spoken by a Prophet or King David himself would have long come to an end. And they probably would indeed, if one were to remain at the level of Psalmody as Public Proclamation. However, when praying the Office over time and from the more personal perspective of one’s own Contemplative journey, the stage of one’s former discursive reasoning does end, but it is not a bad thing at all. It often happens when one is invited deeper into the mystery. It is said that a person of prayer is then ready to enter the next realm of meaning which for some, such as St. Anthony of the desert, may strike right at their heart and cause them to sell all they have to give to the poor and follow Jesus quite literally. That stage is known as understanding Scripture at the Moral Level. The same words one may have heard in the past a hundred times suddenly have an urgency about them that compels the person to heed them immediately. It happened to St. Francis of Assisi in that same way. Wow, right?! But, Scripture really comes alive when one perseveres in prayer unto the Allegorical Level (or Tropological). A way of understanding that transcends the literal meaning altogether, while not negating it. Then, the “dwelling place” of the Lord spoken of above is not the intended literal Temple being spoken about in the Psalm, but more the spiritual heart within the individual. It is not, however, an intellectual knowledge that makes that understanding available to the person simply by explanations such as I have provided. It is rather an “experience” from within that one awakens to. And, out of that experience, the words become as if one’s own. The fourth stage of this wondrous process of spiritual growth in the prayerful understanding of Scripture is known as the Unitive level (or Anagogical) of understanding. When that same “dwelling place” of the Lord is revealed to one either from within or from On High as the Heavenly Jerusalem itself! When one has been blessed to understand in this way, the Scripture becomes one’s very own story, as its life and aliveness. A truly Living Word which is at one and the same time a history of Salvation in Time and Space and a Timeless and ever-Present Realty that transcends Time by its very NOW-ness.
I have been on my own Monastic journey for over 30 years. It never ceases to amaze me what treasures there are in the Scriptures. New understandings, new awakenings, and ever-new invitations to further conversion and deeper levels of prayer. And on those days when my pain brings down a veil of gloom upon my heart and I can see no further than my own mood, I know that I can recall from my spirit memory the deeper meaning of the words, (as above) “why are you cast down my soul….Hope in God; I will praise Him still!” And I will know that my Hope is well-founded.
So, now may I offer a humble prayer for us all that God in His Mercy continue to “be gracious and bless us”…Amen!
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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross