Cardinal Carberry, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

Here s a familiar rhyming prayer that as a child I prayed with my maternal grandmother. Maybe share it with the children you love, so they too could learn it and pray for our priests.

A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.

Keep them, for they are Thine

The priests whose lives burn out before

Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,

Though from the world apart.

When earthly pleasures tempt, allure —

Shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them and comfort them in hours

Of loneliness and pain,

When all their life of sacrifice

For souls seems but in vain.

Keep them and  remember, Lord,

they have no one but Thee.

Yet, they have only human hearts,

With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,

That daily they caress;

Their every thought and word and deed,

Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

~Cardinal John J. Carberry

Image: Roman Catholic Priest, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

 

A Softer Rain

The ground had grown hard from the drought. There had been a few passing rains with less than ¼” falling, but nothing had penetrated the soil enough to reach the roots of withering plants. The lawn was the color of yellow ocher.

The spiritual drought I’d been experiencing had also been prolonged, like the rainfall that was minimal; there were moments of the Holy passing by, but nothing to saturate my roots.

Though my prayers felt hollow, I was encouraged to continue each time I read the quote from St. Teresa of Avila that is taped to the mirror—“Take no notice of the temptation to give up prayer.”

Spiritual droughts are nothing new to most of us; we all experience them now and again. It’s the prolonged ones that test the endurance of our faith—the soundness of our roots, to persist and grow with and beyond the struggle.

I looked at the small ornamental crab in the front yard. For the most part it was fairing well enough. A few of the smaller interior branches showed signs of dying-off with leaves yellowed and fallen. I too know of that small dying to self.

The weather station predicted a thunderstorm for later in the day. It came, but with such force that small limbs of trees and shrubs were broken, and flowers were laid flat with many stripped of petals. It was the complete opposite of a drought; a storm with such force that most of the rain ran in rivulets down the street, it had barely penetrated an inch into the hardened soil.

I recognized a similar thirst in my parched soul; waiting to be refreshed and instead encountering a different storm. I was swinging between extremes—the hardness of depression and the reality of being blessed.

I sought the equilibrium of a steady rain. An all day rain that would reach my roots, cleans my dusty leaves, and swell the shriveling fruit.

Image: Drought, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

Most Holy Trinity, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear the prayers we offer for our Sisters and Nuns. Guide them clearly in the work that You are calling them to do and grant them every grace to answer that call with courage, love, and a lasting dedication to Your will. We ask for Blessed Mother Mary’s intercession on their behalf for perseverance in obedience in the face of trials.

Amen.

Image: Nun at Monastery Work, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

Make the Withered Tree Bloom

This verse from Ezekiel is one of my favorites. On the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time I was reminded of  how differently I reflect upon God’s word as I’ve matured.

God will prune the tenderest part of who I’ve become as I’ve aged—that piece that grew closest to Him and furthest from man—and nurture the cutting. Though I am no longer strong  (only slightly withered  in my mind!) there is still the chance, with His attentive care, to be fruitful and offer comfort.

Thus says the Lord GOD:

I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Ez 17:22-24, NABRE

Image: Cedrus libani var. libani, Cedars of God nature preserve on Mount Lebanon, Lebanon. By Jerzy Strzelecki.By Jerzy Strzelecki [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons. URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cedars02(js).jpg

 

Spiritual Fathers, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

Priest at the Door, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

Most gracious Heavenly Father,

We thank you for our faithful priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the faith of your people.

May our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Saints Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world. May the light of your Truth shine through their lives and their good works.

Assist all spiritual fathers, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Persecution and the Checkered Fritillary Flower

Fritillaria meleagris, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

We are transformed through Christ’s love and given the opportunity of new life in him. In June we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, recognizing his willingness to endure persecution and the passion of the Cross for the sake of all. It is during this month that we give our hearts to him in return.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a localized and private practice when it began in the eleventh century. But after the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675 it became universal. We honor the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday of June.

In giving our heart to him many were, and are still persecuted. In the initial growth of Christianity the campaign to exterminate followers had an adverse affect. The familiar quote by Tertullian gave words to the heart of Jesus’ followers:

We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed.

In the language of flowers, the Checkered Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, represents persecution, and when you see the nodding dark blood-red flower its moniker seems well suited. A spring flowering bulb, it can represent in your garden the persecution that revealed the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the many men and women martyred for our faith.

Fritillari, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

CULTURE:

Fritillaria meleagris, aka checkered lily, is a perennial that is native to flood plains in Europe where it is often seen growing in large colonies in early spring. Plants are somewhat dainty in appearance, featuring solitary drooping, 2” long, bell-shaped flowers that are checkered and veined with reddish-brown, solid purple, or white and gray atop slender stems growing 12-15” tall. Linear, lance-shaped, grass-like green leaves are widely spaced on the stems. In the right environment, it will live long and naturalize well.[i]

Easy to grow in organically rich well drained soil, needs average consistent moisture especially during growing season.

Grow in full sun to part shade—though it prefers sun-dappled or high, open shade.

Plant bulbs in clusters by digging an area 3” deep and randomly placing bulbs 3-4” apart.

Foliage should be allowed to die back naturally—usually done by late spring—as the bulbs go dormant. Companion planting is recommended to cover the bare spot left behind. Because of its shallow depth, I recommend leaving the yellowed leaves as markers and planting annuals in between.

It has no serious disease or insect problems.

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8.

The genus name comes from the Latin word fritillus meaning ‘dice box’, referencing the checkerboard pattern on the petals. It also evokes the Bible verse of dice that were cast for Jesus’ garment.

[i] Missouri Botanical Gardens, Fritillaria meleagris, web accessed 6/9/18.

 

 

 

Give Them Bright Hope, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

Sister in Prayer, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Common

O Jesus, our beloved Lord and Savior, hear our humble prayers on behalf of your Sisters and Nuns. Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will constantly increase throughout the course of their holy life. In their loneliness, comfort them; In their sorrows, strengthen them; In their frustrations, point out to them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified and show them that they are needed by the Church, that they are needed by souls, that they are needed for the work of redemption. Amen.

A Garden Dedicated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

The Saturday following the Corpus Christi is the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Friday preceding it dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine all that Mary’s heart contained. What would Mary have thought and felt as the holy child grew in her womb, as her child marked by God grew into an independent adolescent, as her son walked away from her into the desert? Mary kept the word of God in her heart by thought and by obedience, and she allowed that word to transform her life. There is an unmistakable re-sounding between the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one that that echoes through our lives as well.

I am fond of painting—as a beginner—those two hearts and the Chaste Heart of Joseph, and have included in those paintings plant symbolism from Christina art (Botanical Sacred Hearts).

Creating a garden dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and/or Immaculate Heart of Mary could include plants with symbolic meanings, or any plants of red, yellow, and orange flowers—annuals or perennials—to represent the burning flame of love that existed in both Mary and Jesus’ hearts. Be sure to choose plants by the USDA Hardiness Zone where you live[i].

Here are a few plant selections to get you started, from my book A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac:

Bleeding Heart, Pixabay.com, CCO, creative Commons

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis; eternal love: Grow in moist, humusy soil in part shade. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden. Spring-early summer interest. Can take full sun in reliably moist soil. Prefers neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Protect from wind. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer’s heat, so be sure to choose companion plants so there isn’t an empty space left in the garden. USDA Zones 3-9.

Vinca Minor, Pixabay.com, CCO creative Common

Myrtle, Vinca minor; symbolic of love (and Hebrew symbol for marriage!): Ground cover with glossy evergreen leaves and small periwinkle flowers with a white throat, blooming in early summer. A perennial in USDA Zones 4-8, tolerates full sun to part shade, average soil, and average moisture. Don’t use this, or for that matter most groundcovers in a small, groomed garden space. Myrtle is lovely in a wide, contained edging leading to a garden, or the edge of a tree line.

Fuchsia begonia, Begonia fuchsioides rosea; Mary’s heart, Jesus’ heart: Considered an annual for most of us, it is USDA Zones 9-11, grows in sun to light shade, and repeats blooming uniquely branched drooping pink flowers all summer. Grow it in a container surrounded by Vinca minor, with an icon of the Hearts and your prayer garden is done! (I couldn’t locate an image that wasn’t copyrighted, but it’s easy enough to find  a picture by searching the web.)

Iris sp., Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

Iris, Iris spp., Mary’s sword of sorrows: Iris is a genus of about 300 species, so you’re sure to find one suited to your climate! Its name comes from the Greek word for rainbow—and when you look at the variations in bloom color you’ll know why. This was the first flower I fell in love with as a six-year-old, and when I retired from volunteering as a gardener at a retreat center they gave me a gift of a watercolor painting—unbeknownst to them—of the same irises from sixty-some years ago.

Harebell, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

Harebell, Campanula rotundiflolia; strongly associated with grief and connected to the fourth station of the cross when Jesus meets his mother, and the flame of love burns eternal: You can use any of the blue bell-shaped Campanula sp. interchangeably, here. The Harebell is a native wildflower in many Zones, which translates to, it will spread.

There are two things that must always be meditated on together in the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Christ’s heart of flesh and Christ’s love for us.

[i] USDA Hardiness Zone is defined as a geographically designated area in which a plant is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures with a 50% kill-off and continue to grow the following season.

Walking the Talk, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

On a road overwhelmed by events of great sorrow and despair, the men together walked. The story of the road to Emmaus was over two-thousand years ago. Today, and still, our priests may be journeying with the same heavy hearts. Let us offer this prayer for them in a world  gone mad.

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer for the spiritual renewal of priests. We praise you for giving them their ministry to the Church. In these days renew them with the gifts of your Spirit.

You once opened the Scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Now renew your ordained ministers with the truth and power of your Word.

In the Eucharist you gave the Emmaus disciples renewed life and hope. Nourish priests with your own Body and Blood. Help them to imitate in their lives the death and resurrection they celebrate at your altar.

Give priests enthusiasm for the Gospel, zeal for the salvation of all, courage in leadership, humility in service, fellowship with one another and with all their brothers and sisters in You. For You love them, Lord Jesus, and we love and pray for them in Your name.

Amen

A Garden of Delight

Pixabay.com, CCO

To renew our wearied heart, we often head outdoors to be in a garden or wander a woodland park. If we are fortunate enough to live near an arboretum or commercial greenhouse, we can experience, literally, a breath of fresh air from the oxygen emitted by the hot-house plants.

I’ve been in love with plants since childhood. My first memory is of lying on the grass nose-to-petal with yellow creeping buttercup. My four-year-old hands were trying to pluck a tiny budding stem when I discovered the ground a few inches away moved. Pulling and crawling along, I dug tiny fingers into the soil until I had several chains of little plants.

Father was not pleased by what my curiosity had done to the yard.

Through the fractured and hormonal times of adolescence, I would run to the quiet of nature. There I could find creation’s orderliness un-constricted. It was comforting to know that the trees would continue to grow and seeds continue to sprout.

The art and beauty of landscape architecture nourished in me a desire to create prayer and memorial gardens, places where drawing closer to God was available beyond the pew and allowed an opening for the Holy Spirit to move in the heart of someone longing for Jesus.

It doesn’t matter the season or the latitude we live in, in God’s creation we find an ever-present way to both refresh and ground our spirit.

Our Lord speaks to us in the Bible with parables of nature. It was in The Four Waters[1] that St. Teresa of Avila used gardening analogies and set forth stages of spiritual development by depicting the different stages or grades of a life in prayer in metaphorical terms taken from watering a garden. Her insightful description of spiritual development is that God plants the garden which is irrigated in different ways through prayer.

Pixabay.com, CCO

A favorite quote by St. Teresa offers a way we can attend to our soul. She wrote “A beginner must think of herself as one setting out to make a garden in which her Beloved Lord is to take his delight…[2]” Her words are the theme of this blog.

We read in Isaiah 66:1-2 the Lord asking, what can you build for me as a resting place—I made all things. We can build for Our Lord one thing, a resting place in our souls—a garden pleasing to the Lord.

In creating a garden of the soul, like earthly gardens, we pull out the weeds, keep things pruned, and remove old seed heads so that new flowers come forth. We remove the debris that makes it hard to know what is truly there, and in so doing we allow new seeds to sprout.

Many of the Bible parables speak of nature. There is a godly reason for that; we were created for a garden, we were created agrarian. The imagery is easy for us to understand; it is an experience of love, a memory of paradise.

There is a sense of homing with nature, a restoration of peace in remembering that first garden, created for our delight. I am refreshed often as I encounter the Holy in all the growing spaces; it is a greening, a growing of the soul.

What is encountered to create a garden in my soul, is what I will offer to you. From the seeds planted in the oratory, to their growth in the Adoration chapel, I pray my musings will bear some small fruit for God’s own profit. Here you will read stories and thoughts of finding the Creator in his creation, plants that can be used for spiritually themed gardens and how to grow them, and like a farmer’s almanac little bits of information unearthed from saints and seasons decades ago…and maybe a recipe or two (I love making soups!)

I hope you will visit again and thank you for stopping by.

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