Tag Archives: Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

On the Calendar: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

IHM and Child Jesus

“Mary, my dearest Mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility, that I may receive Jesus as you did and go in haste to give Him to others.”

– Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Today is my “liturgical anniversary,” the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so it seemed like a good a day as any to resume my regular blogging about my vocation as a consecrated virgin – a Bride of Christ! What a year it’s been! The demands of my new teaching job (which I love!) unfortunately made it  impossible to blog regularly during the school year, but I know that I need to be writing, so I have plans to resume (and possibly redesign!) By Love Alone this summer.

I am calling today my “liturgical anniversary” since the actual date of my Consecration was June 16 (not June 8) – however, the Immaculate Heart will always be my special feast, and after today I’ll share it with FOUR – that’s right, four! – friends who were ordained to the priesthood for my diocese this morning. My heart is so full! I honestly don’t have words to express my gratitude for the friendship of these young men and for all the work our good Lord has done in our hearts as we were formed for our vocations. My prayer for those dear friends (and for myself) today is that we might always be generous with our God so that He can bring this work to completion, according to His will and in His time.

Please continue to pray for me! And look for more posts (and perhaps a new look?) sometime soon.

Charity

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Filed under About the Author, On the Calendar, Quotes

Bride of the Crucified

St. Teresa of Avila and the Cross

St. Teresa of Ávila, bride of the Crucified

In a Holy Hour earlier this week, I was reflecting on Mother Teresa’s intimate, personal response to the question posed by Our Lord in Matthew 16:15 – “Who do you say that I am?” – written while she was hospitalized after a fall. The prayer is arrestingly straightforward, and powerful in its simplicity (just like Mother herself, I suppose). I’d read it many times before, but yesterday it was the end of it that really struck me:

Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus I love with my whole heart, with my whole being. I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love. Now and for life, I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse. Amen.

I had to keep reading that phrase over and over again:

“I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.”

The bride of the Crucified. Of all the titles I will assume when I am consecrated by my bishop this June, I can admit that this is the one I am most reluctant to own. To be the “bride of Christ” can sound like such a romantic, picture-perfect, sunshine-and-roses thing. What a life, to be married to Jesus!

But being the bride of Christ means marrying all of Him, His whole Person. In this way, it means being the bride of the Crucified One, and not only that! Not only is the bride of Christ asked to accept her Spouse’s suffering – she’s asked to share it. She must allow her uniquely sensitive, feminine heart to be conformed to all of the dispositions of Christ’s Sacred Heart. Which, of course, doesn’t sound intimidating in the least.

I’ll be honest – sometimes when I try to think about what that could mean, I’m frightened. “Bride of the Crucified?” A life full of sufferings yet unknown to me? Doesn’t seem like something to look forward to. Doesn’t seem very natural or very human to desire such a thing. Doesn’t sound consoling in the least. The prayer of my heart this Lent has been: I am not very good at suffering, Lord! How can I learn love the Cross?

That phrase – “spouse of my Crucified Spouse” – kept resounding in my mind throughout the Holy Hour, and I kept trying to get away from it because I didn’t know what it meant, and didn’t really want to know. I was still thinking about it when I walked out of church and ran into some ladies from the parish. We’d just started chatting when we were approached by an elderly priest who I’d been hoping to meet for some time. (He has such a reputation for sanctity that I’d been hoping for a chance to be near him and hopefully “soak up” some of his holiness and wisdom.)

When I introduced myself and briefly explained that I was in formation to become a consecrated virgin, Father’s face lit up, and he took my hand, saying: “Oh, God bless you, dear!” And then, without missing a beat: “You know, there is nothing greater, no power greater than the power of the Cross. When things get hard, when you’re tempted, just remember that: the Cross. Make the Sign of the Cross and the devil will have to flee.” With that, he grinned, gave me his blessing, and left.

I was speechless. Not only had I been praying for weeks for guidance to help me overcome a particular temptation (the Sign of the Cross – I feel pretty foolish for not having thought of that!), but I had also been asking the Lord to use this Lent to teach me how (and why?) I am supposed to love the Cross. Then this little priest came out of nowhere and spoke straight to my heart.

The reading for Evening Prayer that night had been from the Letter of James – Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you (James 4:7-8) – and when I remembered that, I had an epiphany.

Becoming the “bride of the Crucified” shouldn’t frighten me, because that’s really just another way to talk about drawing near to Jesus. Love the Crucified One, love the Cross. So long as I cling to the Cross, none can touch me. So long as remember the Cross, the devil will flee. And when I embrace Christ Crucified, He will be nearer to me than I am to myself – and that is a very consoling thought, indeed.

“Yes, I love the Cross… I love it because I always see it behind Jesus’ shoulders.”

– Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

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A few addenda to yesterday’s Potpourri post

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. John Paul II (photo credit: Gianni Giansanti/Corbis)

Two of my heroes: Bl. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. John Paul II (photo credit: Gianni Giansanti/Corbis)

I posted yesterday about the world needing heroes, and wouldn’t you know, four more links came my way this morning that fit that theme so well, I just had to share them:

First, this sweet post about fatherhood from Catholic blogger Matthew Archbold: Some Things Moms Can’t Do. For me, this is one of the simplest answers to the question: Why no women priests? Priests are men because they are fathers, and only men can be fathers. (Of course, that answer doesn’t satisfy people who no longer recognize authentic fatherhood…)

Speaking of fatherhood, I’ve been meaning to recommend my friend Fr. Jeff’s new blog about his day-to-day experiences as a joyful young priest determined to find God in the “little things”: A Priest Life. (Here’s one of my favorite posts of his.) Fr. Jeff is a fantastic writer and more importantly, a wonderful priest who deeply loves Our Lord and His Church. His reflections inspire me to live my own vocation with greater dedication every day! You should also check out his recent interview with CatholicMom.com’s Lisa Hendey. I just loved what he had to say about his vocation story:

“I’m a ‘kindergarten vocation,’ so to speak. One of my earliest memories is wanting to be a priest. Well, that and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. In my baby book, my mom kept little facts about us: favorite food – pizza; favorite color – blue; favorite sport – soccer; what [Jeff] wants to be when he grows up – priest. That desire never left.”

I feel like I know more than a few priests who wanted to be Ninja Turtles or superheroes when they grew up. The world needs heroes, right?

And while we’re on the topic of priesthood, I also wanted to point out another article about the chaplain on the sinking Costa Concordia cruise ship. There are heroes among us, but we don’t always hear about them in the mainstream media.

For example, I’ve been meaning to “introduce” you guys to one of my personal heroes (well, heroines): my high-school classmate Megan, who moved to Haiti last year to work full-time in a non-denominational missionary apostolate called Respire Haiti (which she founded). Her blog, Blessed with a Burden, continually calls me to be more authentically committed to loving Christ in His poor.

I continue to be inspired daily by the people in my life who live out their vocations with such humility, passion and joy: my married friends, who are such beautiful examples of the Father’s totally selfless love for His children; my friends in formation for priesthood and religious life, who have gone out of their way to support and encourage me with their kind words and prayers; my single friends, who help me to be authentic as they ask the tough questions and work out their own vocations (sometimes with more than a little fear and trembling). Most of all, I’m thankful for my parents and my little brothers and the priests who have taken it upon themselves to “father” my soul and my vocation. How very good our good Lord is to those who love Him, whom He calls to do His will (c.f. Romans 8:28).

Who are your heroes? Who in your life has inspired you to pursue your vocation and live it to the full?

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Filed under Other Blogs, Potpourri, Videos, Vocation Stories

Novena for the Pope and for Priests: Day 1

I am sure that by now all of you have heard the distressing news about Fr. Corapi leaving the priesthood. He has been on my mind and heart all week, and I’ve gone back and forth a thousand times about whether I wanted to say anything about him on the blog. Today I realized that the only thing I want to say is this: guys, we have to pray for our priests.

And by “pray for our priests” I don’t just mean “mention them in our prayers every now and then, when we happen to remember to pray for them or when Fr. So-and-So looks like he’s having a particularly rough day.” I’m talking about a personal commitment to intercede for them daily, by name, with the particular intention of praying for their holiness, their perseverance, and their protection from the enemy.

I have long felt that spiritual motherhood for priests was an important part of my vocation (more about that in another post!), and for years I have prayed for the priests in my life as best I knew how – but now it seems as though the Lord is inviting me to do more for them. From now on, I want to be more fervent in my prayers, more generous with my sacrifices, and more willing to suffer for their sakes. The whole sad situation surrounding Fr. Corapi has left me more convinced than ever of the tremendous need priests have of our prayers – particularly those priests who struggle most to be faithful to their vocation, those who suffer most (physically, emotionally, spiritually), those who are most tempted, those who are trapped in patterns of sin, those who are persecuted, those who have no one to support or encourage them, those who are closest to death, and most of all, those who have left the priesthood.

I read on Zenit.org this week that the Congregation for the Clergy is encouraging Catholics to participate in prayer vigils for Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares to celebrate his 60th anniversary of ordination on June 29. We are being asked to pray not only for the Holy Father, but for all of the clergy:

In addition to praying for the Pope’s life, health, happiness and protection from every evil, the faithful are asked to pray for bishops, priests, deacons and all ministers of the Gospel, that they may be faithful to their vocation and their self-giving, and to remember the Church, vocations, the laity and deceased priests.

The “prayer campaign” is set to conclude next Friday, July 1, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was designated by Pope John Paul II in 2002 as a special day of prayer for priests.

I’ve decided that over these next nine days, I will post a “novena” of my favorite prayers for priests – a different prayer each day. (Obviously this is not a novena in the traditional sense, but I really wanted to share all of these beautiful prayers with you, not just one!) Please join me in praying for the Holy Father, for Fr. Corapi, and for all priests.


This first prayer is my favorite prayer for priests. I keep a copy of it in my breviary and pray it each night after Compline.

Mother Teresa’s Prayer for Priests

Mother Teresa praying

Mary, Mother of Jesus, throw your mantle of purity over our priests. Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart. Be a Mother to them, especially in times of discouragement and loneliness. Love them, and keep them belonging completely to Jesus. Like Jesus, they too are your sons, so keep their hearts pure and virginal. Keep their minds filled with Jesus, and put Jesus always on their lips, so that He is the One they offer to sinners and to all they meet.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, loving them and bringing them joy. Take special care of sick and dying priests and the ones most tempted. Remember how they spent their youth and old age, their entire lives serving and giving all to Jesus.

Mary, bless them and keep a special place for them in your heart. Give them a piece of your heart, so beautiful and pure and immaculate, so full of love and humility, so that they too can grow in the likeness of Christ. Mary, make them humble like you and holy like Jesus. Amen.

Lord, give us priests! Give us holy priests! Give us many holy priests!

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us!

St. Joseph, Guardian of Vocations, pray for us!

All you angels and saints of God, pray for us!

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