“True living is not found in one’s self or in things. It is found in Someone else, in the One who created everything that is good, true, and beautiful in the world. True living is found in God and you discover God in the person of Jesus Christ.” ~Bl. John Paul II
“Withdrawal from the world for the sake of leading a more intense life of prayer in solitude is nothing other than a very particular way of living and expressing the paschal mystery of Christ, which is death ordained toward resurrection.” ~Venite Seorsum; issued by The Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes – August 15, 1969
Life goes on at the hermitage in sickness and in health. There is adoration to offer before His Divine Majesty residing Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Tabernacle in the chapel; there is confession to be made for thoughts, words and deeds unbecoming a disciple of Jesus Christ; there is thanksgiving to be offered for prayers answered (and perhaps for some prayers not answered!); and supplication to be made for the Church, the world and those who have sought out our intercession for themselves or a loved one.
Today begins Day #5 of being sick with a chest cold or some such. Please pray for my healing, if that be God’s will. And if it be God’s will that this sickness should hold on a while yet, pray that I may offer it up to His Divine Majesty to use for my ultimate good and the good of others.
Here is a link to a few prayers for the sick: http://www.stfrancisnyc.org/devotions/prayers-for-the-sick/
Pax et Bonum!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the Lord give you peace.
I had a wonderful experience at mass recently I’d like to tell you about. It involves a wonderful man with Down Syndrome. I’ll call him Jimmy.
Being a creature of habit I was seated last Sunday where I usually sit for mass–first pew, center-right as you face the altar. More often than not a family of mom, dad and two young boys sit beside me. Last Sunday the family was missing. This left the pew wide open except for a woman who sat to my right.
About 15 minutes into the liturgy, just as the priest was beginning the homily there was some comotion to my left as two men enter the pew in which I was sitting. The man closest to me was a middle-aged man whom it was evident had Down Syndrome. The man to his left was younger, a 20-something year old man, an aid to Jimmy, the man beside me. Jimmy nodded ‘hello’ to me as he removed his coat. He glanced up at priest standing at the ambo and gave Father a thumbs up. Father smiled, returned Jimmy’s gesture and continued with the homily.
Jimmy was having trouble finding his way through the missal provided by an usher. He turned to me and indicated with a series of hand gestures and hard-for-me-to-understand words that he would like some help. I did the best I could to keep Jimmy on the correct page as the mass proceeded.
Mass was filled with several liturgical anomalies instituted by Jimmy, such as Jimmy elevating the Precious Body (in imitation of the priest at the altar several moments earlier) before consuming it and insisting on a fist bump with the chalice bearer after he received the Precious Blood. None of these liturgical maneuvers is approved by the Church of course. But it is I who am bound by the liturgical norms of the Church, God is not, and I have a suspicion that Jimmy and people like him are in some mysterious way more in touch with the Trinity than I am. In other words, God likely makes exceptions to the rubrics for guys like Jimmy.
Long after the Catholics who fulfill their “Sunday obligation” and leave the building as quickly as possible after receiving Eucharist–why spend one more minute in church than absolutely necessary?–and after the crucifer, acolytes, altar severs and priest processed out of the sanctuary and toward the back of the church, those of us remaining began chatting to one another while putting our coats on in preparation to leave.
Jimmy, however, had other plans. He left the pew and moved into the center aisle. He approached the altar, stopping several feet in front of it where there is positioned a large oriental rug. Jimmy proceeded to lay prostrate on the rug in front of the altar and the tabernacle located directly behind it. He laid there for a minute or so, then stood up, returned to the pew, donned his hat and coat and he and his aid walked down the center aisle and out the door.
I was gob-smacked, as my friends in the U.K. say. Here was a man who seemed to take more seriously than any of the rest of us what had just occurred on that altar. Here was a man who seemed to be very conscious of what or rather Who it was in the tabernacle located directly behind the altar. Oh ye…oh me…, oh we of little faith.
The scene of Jimmy laying facedown before the altar and tabernacle last Sunday has stuck with me. It came to mind this morning while I was reading the transcript of a talk given by Pope Francis on September 22, 2013:
“For the Good Shepherd what is far, what is on the margins, what is lost and unappreciated is the object of greater care, and the Church cannot but make her own this special love and attention. The first in the Church are those who are the most in need, humanly, spirituality, materially.”
Brothers and sisters, let us pray for Jimmy and those like him. And when we have the opportunity let us welcome people like Jimmy into the very heart of our parishes. I can only speak for myself, but I need people like Jimmy in my life to teach me the ways of the Kingdom.
Pax et Bonum!
“I give you thanks, my Jesus, for your decision to become perfect Man, with a Heart which loved and is most loveable; which loved unto death and suffered; which was filled with joy and sorrow; which delighted in the things of men and showed us the way to Heaven; which subjected itself heroically to duty and acted with mercy; which watched over the poor and the rich and cared for sinners and the just. I give you thanks, my Jesus. Give us hearts to measure up to Yours!” ~St. Josemaria Escriva
While traveling in Italy, the French bishop Jacques de Vitry (c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240) came across a group of men engaged in the ministry of what today we might call “street corner evangelization.” These men, early followers of St. Francis of Assisi, were preaching about the love of God, and the need for penance, to anyone who would listen. The bishop was moved by the kindly manner with which the friars engaged the people. Later, as he reflected on the scene, the bishop would write in his diary that “it was like watching one loving heart set another on fire.”
People visit Little Portion Hermitage occasionally. Mostly they come for spiritual direction. They come to leave prayer requests. Some of them come to talk about their joys and their concerns, their successes and their failures. Some come to laugh; some to cry. They even come to join in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, on occasion, when a priest comes by to lead the celebration.
Because Little Portion Hermitage is home to a ministry rooted in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, a tradition rooted in the supreme goodness Who is God, it is hoped that when those who visit depart, they feel their hearts afire with the goodness and love of Christ.
From a Benefactor:
The Need for Secluded Prayer
by Jeffrey Wm. Cotnoir 2014
We all, at times, need seclusion
To replenish our spirit and mind;
Have no distractions or illusions;
And to the world become deaf and blind.
Times of solitude spent in prayer
Are so needed for all of mankind.
For this world needs an advocate here
Praying all of the time.
The Eremitic life some choose
Is where we find such prayer.
But without support, these Brothers we’ll lose.
And we so desperately need them here!
If you would open your heart today
You might meditate on this vocation.
And if the Holy Spirit leads you this way
Would you consider a small donation?
Little Portion Hermitage friends
Need our help, support and prayer.
I pray their service NEVER ends.
And that you might help to keep them there.
I thank the Lord for each one of you
And pray God grant you pause.
Consider the good these Holy people do
May your blessings be shared for this cause.
Friends of Little Portion Hermitage have just begun a fundraising campaign. The initial goal of this fundraising effort is $50,000.
We hope to receive enough donations over the course of time to purchase property somewhere in the Diocese of Portland, Maine where we will establish and maintain a small hermitage for use by our friend Br. Rex Anthony Norris to live out his vocation as a consecrated hermit. It is also our hope to build a second small hermitage on the same property to be used as a retreat for anyone in need of a brief respite from the demands of ministry in the silence of solitude, most especially a priest or an individual in consecrated life.
You will note elsewhere on this site a PayPal link. Please prayerfully consider joining us in supporting consecrated contemplative life in the Church as it is expressed by the vocation of the hermit, a vocation lived for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.
Thank you and may God bless you.
President, Board of Directors
Friends of Little Portion Hermitage
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. ~Matthew 2:12
The words above are taken from the gospel reading assigned for today’s mass. The “they” referred to in the passage are the Wise Men from the East who traveled to Bethlehem to worship the Christ Child. After worshiping the Infant Christ, they were instructed by God in a dream not to return to tell King Herod where the they had found Jesus.
It seems to always happen that way. We have a real encounter with Christ and things are never the same again. We can’t go back the way we came. We are called to a new, more radical way of traveling.
Has it ever happened that after an encounter with Christ, maybe for the first time, maybe for the umpteenth time, you lead to “depart…by another way” than the road you were traveling on? It has happened to me, for sure. This little adventure in gospel living that is my vocation is a much different path than the one I had dreamed up for myself. And yet, God’s Dream for me has been so much more spiritually rich and more satisfying on every level than anything I had ever imagined on my own.
For the Wise Men the new direction of travel started when they met the new born King. It started for me when I said “yes” to a longing for God placed in my heart in March of 1983. When did you begin traveling home by a different way?
My hope for you, dear brother, dear sister, is that you will say “yes” to God’s Dream for you in this new year. If you are unclear what God’s Dream for you is, I encourage you to seek out someone with whom you can discern the path Our Blessed Lord is calling you to walk.
The Lord’s Path for you will not be an easy one to follow. It will involve crosses to bear along the way. As disciples of Jesus we are assured that our personal salvation is worked out with fear and trembling (cf. Philippians 2:12). But the Dream God has for you is a dream worth embracing, even if it means departing from your self-made plans and departing for your heavenly home by another way.
Merry Christmas & Blessed Epiphany to you.
At Catholic youth gatherings in this diocese there is a long standing tradition of a call and response that goes something like this: Someone yells, “There ain’t on party like a Catholic party!” The crowd replies, “‘Cause a Catholic party don’t stop, HUH!”
Here’s praying that you are having a spiritually fruitful and merry Christmas season. The Christmas party ain’t over, remember, until we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord on January 12. And then we just keep right on partying until …. , well, until forever, ’cause Catholic party don’t stop, HUH!
Oh, Happy New Year, too.