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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Its free.
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,
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 Sign of Jonas58 by Thomas Merton
read by Bro. Mark
Suffering as Prayer
One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is
offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more
truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he
has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.
-St. Teresa of Avila
For people like us who live with physical and health challenges, saying prayers using the Church’s indulgenced Sacramentals – like the Rosary Beads – or The Psalter, isn’t always something we can do. It may be a day of excessive pain or a night that passed without sleep that prevents it, however much we desired to. And so, instead or in addition to these more formal methods of Prayer, we offer our very sufferings themselves to God as Prayer. Apparently, this was a Practice known to be acceptable in the Church even back in St. Teresa’s time, as the Quote above shows. But, just what is it that makes our suffering something that can help anyone?
Well, I can’t speak to that as a Theologian might, but in my opinion and from what I have observed, every Conscious Act offered to God for the sake of another’s well-being sends out a vibration of Love into the universe that carries with it an energy of pure spirit Pure Spirit not because of our own purity, but because we have offered it to God, who then shows “acceptance”, if you will, by uniting that small offering of ours to His own Holy Spirit, purifying it of all that is less-than and unworthy of His own perfection. If we make these offerings faithfully, daily, or even several times in the same day, how much Love would our Lord shower down upon us all?!
Now I DID say, “every Conscious Act”. So what is a Conscious Act, then? A Conscious Act is one done with Intention and Attention. So many of our daily actions are done by habit or conditioning. To make a truly Conscious Act, I try to focus however much of my attention my pain allows upon Jesus, knowing that all my desires are known to Him. And then I will that this humble desire may be of use to relieve the sufferings of others, according to God’s Will, believing in Faith that such IS also God’s Will. Lastly, I let go and Trust in God to supply all the rest, so that this simple act may be brought to fruition in Him.
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,
Hermits of the Holy Cross