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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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Holy Mass

The Real Presence of our Blessed Lord

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Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning, that never fails! 

Therefore, while I may not exhaust the fullness of the fountain or drink to satiety, yet will I put my lips to the mouth of this heavenly stream that from it I may receive at least some small drop to refresh my thirst and not wither away. And if I cannot as yet be all heavenly or as full of fire as the cherubim and seraphim, yet I will try to become more devout and prepare my heart so that I may gather some small spark of divine fire from the humble reception of this life-giving Sacrament.

Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You Who have been pleased to call all unto You, saying: “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you.”

I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations, enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none to help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and Savior, to Whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may protect me and lead me to eternal life. For the honor and glory of Your name receive me, You Who have prepared Your Body and Blood as food and drink for me. Grant, O Lord, my God and Savior, that by approaching Your Mysteries frequently, the zeal of my devotion may increase.

– Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Recently, I have been reflecting on what it means to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament either exposed or hidden in the tabernacle, and what it means to receive Holy Communion. As a Catholic, I believe that the consecrated hosts are literally our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This has really profound implications.

What this means is that our Blessed Lord is literally and physically present in every Church that has a tabernacle that contains consecrated hosts. What this means is that in Eucharistic Adoration, our Blessed Lord is literally and physically exposed to us just a few meters away from us. What this means is that when I receive Holy Communion, I am receiving through my mouth very literally the physical Body and Blood of our Blessed Lord along with His Soul and Divinity.

The more I think about the implications of this doctrine, the more I realise that we can never be too reverent in celebrating Holy Mass, we can never be too reverent in Eucharistic Adoration, we can never be too reverent in receiving Holy Communion, and we can never be too reverent when we step into a Catholic Church that has a tabernacle that contains the consecrated hosts.

All the genuflecting, kneeling, and veiling in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament are forms of showing reverence to our Blessed Lord. At this point then, I am not bothered by what people think about me veiling in the presence of our Blessed Lord in the most Holy Sacrament. Let people think what they want. Meanwhile, I will do everything that I can to show reverence to my Blessed Lord, King of the Universe, the One who Is.

Vanity

St Elizabeth Ann Seton
St Elizabeth Ann Seton

During Mass today I really struggled with vanity. I usually do struggle with vanity but today was particularly difficult for me. I was so devastated that my vanity caused me to not be able to place my mind and heart before God during Mass. I felt sorrow because of this; like the sorrow of being too preoccupied with something else to really engage with my husband in conversation but amplified.

In a way, I am thankful that I had this experience today. It is a really sobering reminder that I can’t place my trust in myself, only in God; that without God, I have no virtues and all my merits come from God.

Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us.

Active, conscious and full participation

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Today I read Peter Kwasniewski’s article ‘How the Traditional Latin Mass Fosters More Active Participation than the Ordinary Form‘. It is a really refreshing read and the best explanation on this topic that I’ve come across.

It is also a pretty wordy (but succinct) article so I made a little summary for myself:

The Extraordinary form of the Mass fosters more active, conscious and full participation than the Ordinary form.

Active/actual participation: The Extraordinary form of the Mass fosters more active participation than the Ordinary form because it, to a greater extent, fosters an environment of active receptivity where the mind and heart are more free to place themselves before God in prayer.

Conscious participation: The Extraordinary form of the Mass fosters more conscious participation than the Ordinary form because it, to a greater extent, is so obviously directed to the adoration of our Blessed Lord in the most Holy Sacrament that lukewarmness is not an option.

Full participation: The Extraordinary form of the Mass fosters a fuller participation than the Ordinary form because it, to a greater extent, throws the worshipers into the worship body and soul.

When I was constructing this summary, my thoughts also turned to how I can participate more actively, consciously and fully in my life.

Active participation: In order to foster a more active participation in life, I can strive to create an environment of active receptivity where my mind and heart are more free to place themselves before our Blessed Lord in prayer.

Conscious participation: In order to foster a more conscious participation in life, I can strive to direct my life to the adoration of our Blessed Lord in a way that makes lukewarmness not an option.

Full participation: In order to foster a fuller participation in life, I can strive to worship our Blessed Lord not only with my soul but with my body as well.

Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us.

The spiritual battle

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The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #2729

I have been noticing that even during Holy Mass, the most powerful prayer available to us, I am distracted. Some days are better than other of course but distraction is usually present. I admit that I have fallen into the ‘trap’ of trying to hunt down these distractions with the intention of getting rid of them on my own. What I have discovered is that this never works. What does work is when I turn my heart back to the Lord and offer Him my heart to be purified. The more I pray, the more I realise that I can do nothing good on my own. Instead I have to rely on the Lord’s strength alone and forget myself on the journey towards sanctification.

How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all things in You…

Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me. This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?

Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

– Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Removing my sandals before the sacred ground of the other

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Christians, as missionary disciples, must practice the ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169

What I have recently found over the past couple of weeks is a growing reverence and love for the Real Prescence of our Lord in the Mass. Flowing from this development is a growing sense of reverence for other people for the sake of my Lord. What I mean is that because the Lord loves every single soul, I also am learning to love them. I love who and what my Lord loves, I want what He wants.

As I notice the Lord working in my soul, I also grow in understanding that any soul that God works in is ‘sacred ground’. Only the Lord knows which souls He is working in. From what I understand about my Lord, He will want to work tenderly and passionately in any soul that allows Him to. So, to me, every person’s soul is ‘sacred ground’.

If I acknowledge every soul as sacred ground, that is where God works, then the natural response is to remove my ‘sandals’ when I am communing with them. I suppose what this means to me is to put my pride aside; to acknowledge that without God, I am nothing and I can do nothing good, and that all my merits are because of God’s grace and tender mercy. When I do this, I become free to love the other as my brother/sister, as someone searching for the same thing as I am, Love itself. I recognise that the other is also, like me, restless until our heart rests in God (St. Augustine). And so, I feel a tender compassion for the other as someone who is in the same boat as me. Most of all, I feel a great joy because I know that the person and me are both loved passionately, tenderly and infinitely by God who is Love itself.

Suffering

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I have been thinking about suffering a lot recently. I’ve been worried about going through suffering in the future; the suffering of infertility and the suffering of being physically separated from my husband.

During Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament today I prayed a lot about the topic of suffering in my life and thought of St. Therese. I will drink from the cup of suffering if my Lord offers it to me because I trust Him.

Finding a hobby

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St. Augustine of Hippo

You have made us for Yourself, oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.

– St. Augustine

For years I have been searching for a hobby that sticks around. Often I’d try something thinking that it would be my new hobby because it’s exciting in the beginning, but after a short while it dies off. The reason why it dies off is because it doesn’t satisfy my restless heart. I’ve tried so many things, reading fiction, writing fiction, knitting, playing the flute, colouring, drawing, cycling, running, sewing, etc.

Finally, I found something that sticks; because it satisfies my restless heart. I guess my hobby is to immerse myself in the rich tradition of the Catholic Church. I love reading the beautiful writings of the saints (my favourite so far is ‘a Story of a Soul’ by St. Therese of Lisieux). I love thinking about God and praying always by imitating Our Lady in pondering things of heaven in my heart. Most of all, I love going to daily Mass. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do this especially since I live a mere 8 Min walk away from my parish and am currently unemployed and on Uni holidays.

My heart is restless until it rests in God.

Praying constantly

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Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (RSV)

This bible verse has long been on my mind. The question I was always unable to answer was, “how am I supposed to pray constantly with life going on?” Like most people, I have many (usually mundane) things to do during my day; lots of content to study, people to serve, chores to do, etc. My understanding of prayer was that I could only pray when I set aside the time to not do anything else but. Because of this I didn’t understand how someone would be able to pray constantly.

After reading ‘A Story of a Soul’ by St. Therese of Lisieux my understanding of what prayer is slowly began to change. I began to understand that to pray is to lift up my heart of the Lord. So in imitating Mother Mary as she kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19 (RSV), I can pray constantly.

The mantilla

Today I read the article ‘Unwrapping A Veil of Mystery: The Mantilla’ and was blown away by the beautiful symbolism of the Mantilla.

I first started thinking about veiling during Mass about 2 years ago when I was on a Catholic retreat with my husband. I saw a 35yo lady wearing a mantilla and it was such a beautiful witness that I had to ask her why she wore it as soon as I had the opportunity to. When she told me that she veils during Mass because women were told to do so in the New Testament, I was intrigued and went to look it up on my own later on.

While there are so many beautiful reasons to veil during Mass, ultimately the reason I want to veil is because women are told to in the New testament. It’s pretty simple I suppose.

As a Catholic who is finally discovering the treasure of Catholicism, I see no reason why I should forgo this rich and beautiful tradition of the Church that women are so privileged to have the opportunity to adopt.

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