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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Urbi et Orbi from Pope Francis

I remember  seeing the painting below a long time ago. I was always struck by how Christ was on the outside, and knocking. No door opened...

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-urbi-et-orbi-message

Pope Francis highlighted the persecution of Christians in the world as well as the many wars today in his address to the city and to the world.

Pray to the Prince of Peace, today, for a world shattered by hated, ignoring the Lord of Lords.

In this snippet, the Pope refers to the facade of peace.


The Prince of Peace by Harry Anderson
True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “faƧade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.

This facade starts with the personal, with the individual soul. One must forgive and truly love those who hate.

Loving the enemy is not merely an intellectual process of forgiving, but it is turning to the will in order to will to love.

The daily commitment for peace among nations will not occur if people are not peaceful in their own lives.

I find it interesting that while the Pope pleads for peace in the world, the world leaders are silent, on vacation, concentrating on their own countries or on themselves.


    If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.
    John 15:18 

The leaders of this world, except for the Pope, ignore suffering, especially the suffering of Christians.

But, so too, the people of Bethlehem ignored the suffering of one small family forced into a cave with animals for the Birth of the Lord, the Messiah, the King.

This year has proved to be a year of violence for many across the world, and in other situations. As you all know, three peace-keepers in South Sudan were killed five days ago. Those who seek peace of any kind, whether political or spiritual, are targets.


    Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
    John 15:20 

But, we all have grace, tremendous grace. Grace leads us to love while surrounded by hate. Can we say "yes" to this challenge today?

Can we learn to find that peace within in order to create peace without? Remember, peace must be based on following Christ and not on ideologies. Without Christ, there is no true peace.





Thoughts on St. John's Poem, continued...



In the Dark Night, God transforms the soul, mind, heart. The person becomes stripped of the ego and 
becomes new.

This newness may feel raw, or even a bit scary, as if one is losing a sense of who one thought one was.

But, God is doing the transforming, through the purgation of the senses and the spirit.

This transformation leads finally to a conviction that no matter what the pain and suffering, no matter what the 
sense of loss, God is there.

St. John experienced love in this darkness, like the love one feels when one is looking at a loved one who is sleeping.

One is wounded by love and the neck, which is the Bible is a symbol of pride, is wounded by God, who is destroying
pride.

The senses are suspended because one is being taken out of the world of the senses into the world of "nada", 
the nothingness of self. One must abandon one's self to God's Will as nothing else is left.

The oblivion may be several things, the first being how one feels when one depends totally on Divine Providence,
and not on one's own efforts, ideas, even prayers.

One leaves all cares to God, as one has been humbled so much that one sees that human efforts are useless.

The result of this complete dependence on God, the complete surrender of memory, understanding and will, can be 
a completely new life in Christ, and should be the very beginnings of the Illuminative State.

The key is abandonment.

The love which is growing in the person in the Dark Night is the love of expectation, of desire.

What are the lilies? In the Bible, and in Solomon's Temple, lilies would have looked like our idea of the lily, the

 Lilium candidum 

When one leaves one's cares among the lilies, this means to me that one is content to let God take over the
purification process, one is relying on grace, not effort. All the effort lies in cooperation. 

When one forgets cares, one is also completely no longer distracted by the cares. Cares fade into desire for
the Beloved.

If one is in love, one forgets everything else
but the beloved, and in this case, the Beloved, Christ Himself.


Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping,
and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand
He wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.


Thanks to Wiki for the photos...

Dark Night, Holy Night

St. John of the Cross experienced nine months in the Dark Night, according to some interpreters of his life.

His Dark Night was not without some comfort, unlike the experience of some of the saints.

Here is his poem, which on this night of the Birth of Christ seems appropriate to examine.

The house at rest, St. John tells us, is the soul waiting in the rest of the darkness of Faith.

The secret ladder could be seen as the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

The main experience of  the Dark Night is that it all happens in secret, without the knowledge of the world, for the most part, unless the person shares the experience.

One works, reads, walks, shops, all in the darkness of living only by Faith and not by sight.

But, slowly, surely, a change takes place, like on a dark night when the stars come out, one by one, and the bright planets create a pattern of light in the darkness.

I remember in the fall of 2012 being in the convent in Cobh and looking at the stars over the sea. The sky seemed darker than most skies, and the stars and planets brighter because of the darkness.

As St. John notes, only what is in the heart is bright-the love of God, the searching and waiting for God, the desire for God.

One begins to love the Dark Night, because one has an underlying sense of resting in God, even though in darkness and this knowledge, that God is leading one brings a comfort, even in the unknown.

Because of faith, one knows that God is transforming one, slowly, painfully, but is that not a blessing and a promise of greater light?

Faith is the light of the Dark Night.


On a dark night

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings
--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest. 
In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised
--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.
In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.
This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he
(well I knew who!) was awaiting me
-- A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined 
Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

I shall continue with the rest of the poem later....

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping,
and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand
He wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

Ave Maria



I heard this sung in Ireland, Malta, and now, America this year. I have been wrapped with this prayer in 2013.

God is good.

Franz Biebl's Ave Maria is truly sublime. I prefer the women's voices to the men's for this piece.

A Holy Blessed Christmas to All My Dear Readers



No merit of ours brought Christ down to earth. No merit of ours caused Mary's humility and Joseph's obedience. No merit of ours led the angels to proclaim the Good News to the weak and lowly.

All blessings of this night are in, through, and from grace.