“Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.” ~St. Ambrose of Milan
After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
“He who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps.” ~Pope Gregory the Great in a letter to St. Augustine of Canterbury
“This attitude of always and everywhere opening one’s heart to the other requires spiritual warfare. We must fight against all that is not of God in us. This is the kenosis I have talked about, the emptying of oneself in order to be filled with God. This is true poverty, but it is very simple. When you touch God, you serve others, and you are crucified. What can you hold on to? Nothing. Not even your will. That is poverty! The things of God are so simple—we are complex.” ~Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Soul of my Soul: Reflections from a Life of Prayer, p. 89)
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ~Anne Lamott
Pride makes us hate our equals because they are our equals; our inferiors from fear that they may equal us; our superiors because they are above us.” ~St. John Vianney
Note from the Chair:
Chris Stefanick is an extraordinarily gifted individual whose work is helping to transform hearts across the country and beyond. I was honored to meet Chris in person for the first time last week, and was grateful to find in him the same warmth and good humor that characterizes his public apostolate. Here Chris provides us with some inspiration from the life of Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun.
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Servant of God Fr. Kapaun, Pray for Us
The Korean war was one of the most brutal conflicts in human history. Millions lost their lives in a three year span, many of them from the bitter cold. When the war ended in 1953, a group of American POW’s emerged from the darkness of a prison camp bearing an almost four foot high crucifix made from firewood, with a crown of thorns woven from radio wire. They wouldn’t leave the hell they’d survived without it. It was made by a Jewish POW in honor of the Catholic chaplain that men of every faith loved: Fr. Emil Kapaun.
Fr. Kapaun grew up in rural Kansas. He was baptized at the parish his parents were married in and eventually served as pastor there, but he felt the call to leave the comforts of home to become a military chaplain.
As a chaplain he was known for his intense devotion to the soldiers who he called, “my boys.” He traveled thousands of miles celebrating masses for them, often using the hood of his jeep as the altar.
On November 2, 1950, Fr. Kapaun was among a few thousand US soldiers overrun by 20,000 Chinese Communist soldiers. In the ensuring chaos he ran among fox holes, past the front lines, and into no man’s land to drag the injured to safety, comfort the wounded, and anoint the dying. He continued his work even after the call to evacuate.
He came upon one wounded soldier, Sgt. Herbert Miller, with an enemy soldier standing over him, aiming his rifle and about to pull the trigger. Fr. Kapaun pushed the soldier aside and picked Sgt. Miller off the ground. The communist soldier could have killed them both but stood there, stunned by the courage of the unarmed chaplain.
After the fighting ceased the captured soldiers were sent on a death march to a prison camp. Any person straggling or too wounded to continue was shot. For about 40 miles, he alternated between helping Sgt. Miller walk and carrying him. He also helped other men complete the march, picking them up when they fell and encouraging them to press on.
At the prison Camp Fr. Kapaun offered his clothes to the cold. He risked his life, somehow managing to sneak out to nearby villages for extra food for the men who were on starvation rations. He made a bowl to boil water to save them from dysentery, washed their clothes, and tended their wounds. It’s not just big stuff like starting a movement that makes someone a Saint. Sometimes it’s small acts of kindness in extreme circumstances.
He prayed Mass when he could and led the men in prayer services. On Easter he celebrated a prayer service and led the POW’s in songs of praise that erupted throughout the whole camp.
The guards hated him for the hope he brought to the prisoners. They tortured him, made him stand naked in the freezing cold, and “educated” him for hours on end about communism. When Fr. Kapaun got sick the guards seized their chance to be rid of him. They took him to a place the prisoners referred to as the “death house” to end his life. No one ever came back alive.
The prisoners were in tears as they carted him off, but he comforted them saying, “I”m going to where I’ve always wanted to go, and when I get there I’ll say a prayer for all of you.” The last image they have of him is Fr. Kapaun blessing the guards as he was taken to his death and praying out loud, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Fr. Kapaun is the most highly decorated chaplain in US military history. Nine of the men he had helped survive that prison camp were present when he was finally awarded the medal of honor in 2013, including Sgt. Miller, who he had carried through that 40-mile death march 63 years before.
No doubt, there are many stories like Fr. Kapaun’s that we’ll never learn of on this side of eternity: men who died far from home, who laid down their lives for their friends in the course of war. But when the story of human history is done, death, darkness, and evil don’t get the final word. The love of God does. That love burns bright in the hearts of the saints, illuminating even the darkest of places.
This article was originally published at RealLifeCatholic.com
“We say that knowledge is not mere talk, but a certain divine knowledge, that light which is kindled in the soul as a result of obedience to the commandments, and which reveals all that is in a state of becoming, enables man to know himself and teaches him to become possessed of God.” ~St. Clement of Alexandria
“Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.” ~St. Ambrose of Milan
Since the life God has given me is built around Eucharistic Adoration and intercessory prayer, I was particularly blessed to read this inspirational reflection from The Anchoress today.