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Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality


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Today's Saint Quote


Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, at the Visitation - both are expectant mothers.  Mary is the mother of Jesus and Elizabeth mother of John The Baptist.   This is the beautiful scene from Luke Chapter 1:

(The angel says to Mary at The Annunciation) "And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived  a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren for nothing will be impossible for God."

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord 14 should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed 15 that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said:

(The Magnificat)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever.         


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Scripture: Luke 1:39-45  (alternate reading: John 17:11-19)

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Meditation: Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the "eyes of faith". The word "blessed" [makarios in Greek] literally means "happiness" or "beatitude". It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.

God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those "blessed" by the Lord. Mary was given the "blessedness" of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: "Without God's Son nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed."  To be chosen by God is an amesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises.

Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?

They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born.

The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God's indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All."

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247. Why is the one Mystery of Christ celebrated by the Church according to various liturgical traditions?

The answer is that the unfathomable richness of the mystery of Christ cannot be exhausted by any single liturgical tradition. From the very beginning, therefore, this richness found expression among various peoples and cultures in ways that are characterized by a wonderful diversity and complementarily.

Further reading: CCC 1200-1204, 1207-1209

248. What is the criterion that assures unity in the midst of plurality?

It is fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition, that is, the communion of the faith and in the sacraments received from the apostles, a communion that is both signified and guaranteed by apostolic succession. The Church is Catholic and therefore can integrate into her unity all the authentic riches of cultures.

Further reading: CCC 1209

249. Is everything immutable in the liturgy?

In the liturgy, particularly in that of the sacraments, there are unchangeable elements because they are of divine institution. The Church is the faithful guardian of them. There are also, however, elements subject to change which the Church has the power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of diverse peoples.

Further reading: CCC 1205-1206
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To the individual believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit there is granted the direct impression of the Spirit of God
on the spirit of an individual,
imparting the knowledge of His will in matters of the smallest and greatest importance.
This has to be sought and waited for.
- G. Campbell Morgan
("A Daily Spiritual Seed" - Shalom Place Dominican Sisters of Peace HERE)


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Your faithful prayer in the midst of the struggles and difficulties you are having today

will develop 

the Graced strength and determination, the courage

you will need for your tomorrows

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Daily Reflection

St Vincent de Paul Society

May 31, 2017

“We should assist the poor in every way and do it both by ourselves and by enlisting the help of others…

to do this is to preach the gospel by word and by work.”
– St. Vincent de Paul

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A child asked his father, "How were people born?" So his father said, "Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on."

The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, "We were monkeys then we evolved to become like we are now."

The child ran back to his father and said, "You lied to me!"

His father replied, "No, your mom was talking about her side of the family"



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Teacher: "If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "No, listen carefully... If I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you two apples, and another two apples and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Six.

"Teacher: "Good. Now if I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven!"

"Teacher: "Johnny, where in the heck do you get seven from?!"


Johnny: "Because I've already got a freaking cat!"

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A "cloistered ghetto of pious fantasies" (Thomas Merton)

The above quotation from Thomas Merton is not a sweeping generalisation but it sure has some truth in it in my book and from my experiences.  In the same work as above, Thomas wrote about the necessity of liberating the imagination in the spiritual life.........and he added something very similar to - "and I don't mean by itsy bitsy pious holy pictures either"...........and I know what he means by that too.

Memory tells me "Contemplation in a World of Action" is the book by Merton from which the above quotes are taken

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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Contemplation in a World of Action

"Contemplation in a World of Action"

"The spiritual and psychological insights of these essays were nurtured in a monastic milieu, but their issues are universally human. Thomas Merton lays a foundation for personal growth and transformation through fidelity to -our own truth and inner being.- His main focus is our desire and need to attain -a fully human and personal identity."
My note:  This work was written at a time when religious life was under review and renewal (more or less all up in the air at that time) including in monastic life and Merton was a monastic and advisor to Vatican 2.  Be that as it may, I don't think it takes all that much imagination at all to glean from his writings, including the work above, what is applicable to life in the laity.  What one can tweak a little here and there to embrace Merton's theories wholeheartedly and fully - translating his thoughts for a quite ordinary life in the laity.
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Reading back over this page, it occurred to me that it is the thread of a person worlds away from the realities and horrors that our ambulance people, medical people in general, our police and military for example see and experience.  I felt glum for a little while and a bit ashamed.

But then it occurred to me that each person is fitted for their vocation whatever it might be.  I mean the vocations I mentioned above could read this page and be possibly even revolted by the naivety and simplicity in a complex world of many horrors I imagine and I can understand someone possibly feeling that way - because the author knows nothing whatsoever really of the horrors and sufferings of others as the above vocations do.

The author of these pages (me) has never been gifted with the gifts of the above vocations.  Frankly, suffering and also bloodshed fill me with horror and I could not endure such realities either by sight nor experience - I am not so gifted as others might be.

We all have our gifts and our place in God's Eternal Plan......some gifts are absolutely remarkable and astounding as in the above vocations - other gifts are not readily evident gifted to quite ordinary people - and can pass unnoticed........the greatest and the most minute have a unique, important and invaluable place in God's Eternal Plan.   I give thanks to The Good Giver of All Gifts.  Amen.

The nun who taught me explained it to me something like this:  God's Eternal Plan is like a beautiful tapestry in the process of completion, God is the weaver and we are his tapestry materials - if even one tiny factor is not as it was meant to be, it will spoil the finished work.  It is of course, not precisely like that..... but her basic meaning did click home with me and meaningfully.

All the above is why it is so very important to discern our gifts and to place them at the service of others somehow - from there a very special journey unfolds.

Hope the above makes some sense.


Edited by BarbaraTherese
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I just would like to pray at this moment for those who have no Faith, who do not seek out Him who is first seeking them longingly - and humbly dedicate them to Our Lady Untier of Knots and her prayers. 
For God will not interfere with His Greatest Gift to us :
 free will.

I have known people, astoundingly remarkable and highly gifted people, who would not even speak the word "God", let alone give Him any thought whatsoever.  This really does sadden me because I think The Church on earth is missing out on a quite remarkable person - even perhaps a great saint.   Of course, having said that, in Heaven I am sure we will find (with wondrous places in Heaven) people who never spoke the word "God" nor would have given God a thought.

We need them desperately here with us on earth in The Church Militant.   Amen.

I am reminded of a joke I heard along the way.  An atheist goes to Heaven.  Jesus is showing him around Heaven explaining what each section means.  Next thing they come across a very long high wall and Jesus lapses into silence.  The atheist says to Jesus "Hey Jesus, what's the wall all about?"

Jesus replies in a whisper "Shhhh, that is for the Catholics who think they are the only one's up here".

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Catholic Answers    https://www.catholic.com/qa/can-an-atheist-go-to-heaven

"My question is this: can an atheist go to heaven? Thank you for your time.


If someone does not come to believe in God because of stubbornness or refusal to give up selfish desires, then such a person would be culpable for his lack of belief.

If, however, because of circumstances a sincere person is prevented from coming to belief in God, then his lack of faith is called invincible ignorance, and such a person would not be considered culpable.

As Pope Pius XI noted in Quanto conficiamur moerore:

It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in his supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin."


My note:  We must never forget The Infinite Mercy of God, how could we? As St Paul says: "all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God." (Romans Chapter 3).  The Church never forgets this - that all will pass through those pearly gates humble in truth - through The Infinite Mercy of God.  We are all sinners, none excluded, desperately in need of God's Infinite Mercy.  Moreover, we do not know if the second or so before a person actually dies in truth that they are not given an opportunity to repent.  I am NOT saying that that is so, rather that we do not know.  We can pray that all souls will be saved and I have noticed in the Divine Office that rather regularly The Church prays for the salvation of all mankind.

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Psalm 2:8 "Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession."

Just as an example of The Church praying for ALL who have died, here is the final intercession at Vespers on the Solemnity of The Blessed Trinity:



Father of the living, bring those who have died to share your glory:
  with your Son and the Holy Spirit may they reign eternally with you in heaven.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.


There are many examples in the Divine Office during the Intercessions of praying for all who have died, no person nor group excluded.
It does invite the reflection that once a person has died, repentance is not possible.
Edited by BarbaraTherese
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Today's Saint Quote



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St Vincent de Paul Society




Jun 05, 2017

Live always in God and take care of yourself for His service (VIII:191).



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