Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pope Francis,'..That Nuclear Weapons are Banned Once and For All' Dec. 7, 2014

  THE WAY OF THE LAMB    
   Winter 2014-15  Newsletter of The Lamb Catholic Worker

  By Monica Siemer
    We at The Lamb Catholic Worker (Columbus, Ohio) are giving top priority of our winter newsletter to the peace message of Pope Francis on December 7, 2014 to the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.  The text in its entirety is below, the transcript from Vatican Radio (search: "news.va" and look for the Vatican seal to view what our beloved Pope has to teach- you sometimes will not find the "harder lessons" in some of the national or local Catholic papers).  This message would be fitting to publish across the land on January 1st, World Peace Day in the Catholic Church as well as Queenship of Mary, (Queen of Peace).
       "Nuclear weapons are a global problem affecting all nations and impacting future generations and the planet that is our home. A global ethic is needed if we are to reduce the threat and work towards nuclear disarmament. Now, more than ever, technological, social and political interdependence urgently calls for ethic of solidarity (cf John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38), which encourages people to work together for a more secure world, and a future that is increasingly rooted in moral values and responsibility on a global scale."
        "The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons' potential for mass killing, more attention must be given to the “unnecessary suffering” brought on by their use Military codes and international law, among others, have long banned peoples from inflicting unnecessary suffering. If such suffering is banned in the waging of conventional war, then it should all the more be banned in nuclear conflict. There are those among us who are victims of these weapons [Hibakusha – Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII], as well as other victims of nuclear weapons testing who are present at this meeting. I encourage them all to be prophetic voices, calling the human family to a deeper appreciation of beauty, love, cooperation and fraternity, while reminding the world of the risks of nuclear weapons which have the potential to destroy us and civilization."
        "Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethic of fr aternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. Then youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more. They deserve a peaceful world order based on the unity of the human family, grounded in respect, cooperation, solidarity and compassion. Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethics of responsibility, and so foster climate of trust and sincere dialogue."
        "Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of the nations. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price."
        "The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It is rooted in the Creator who makes all people members of the one human family. This desire can never be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Peace cannot 'be reduced solely to maintain a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship' (Gaudium et Spes, 78). Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples. Pope Paul VI stated this succinctly in his encyclical, Populorum Progressio: 'Development is the new name for peace' (76). It is incumbent on us to adopt concrete actions which promote peace and security, while remaining always aware of the limitation of short-sighted approaches to problems of national and international security. We must be profoundly committed to strengthening mutual trust, for only through such trust can true and lasting peace among nations be established (cf John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 113)."
        "In the context of this conference, I wish to encourage sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states. This dialogue must be inclusive, involving international organizations, religious communities and civil society, and oriented towards the common good and not the protection of vested interests. 'A world without nuclear weapons' is a goal shared by all nationals and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality."
        "I am convinced that the desire for peace and for paternity deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home. The security of our own future depends on guaranteeing the peaceful security of others, for if peace, security and stability are not established globally, they will not be enjoyed at all. Individually and collectively, we are responsible for the present and future well-being of our brothers and sisters. It is my great hope that this responsibility will inform our efforts in favor of nuclear disarmament, for a world without nuclear weapons is truly possible."
"From the Vatican December 7, 2014
Francis"
       It has been said that the greatest act of God is not in suffering so horrific and torturous a death for our sins and salvation, but the most profound act of all was in coming down from His glorious throne to become a human.  It is like one of us choosing to become a stinkbug, living among the others, attacking each other at times, and going off to live solitary lives alone in our aimless instinctive ways, ruled by our emotions and wants. In this great season commemorating our sweet Savior in His infancy, may we appreciate the great act this was, of our tender amazing Creator taking on our human form and becoming one with us!
"Incarnation"  by Fritz Eichenberg, Catholic Worker Artist
       Many of our advent daily mass readings involve expectant waiting and being alert, being awake to His surprise coming at any moment of any day.  Fr. Sylvester said that in this period of expectant waiting we love ourselves, we love our neighbor, and we love our God. To do this we have to forgive ourselves, our neighbor, and even our God at times, when we are perplexed about the happenings in our lives and our relationship with Him. We then begin to be reconciled with ourselves, our neighbor, and our God.  How do we do this and allow God to work on our hearts - through prayer!  Saint Padre Pio said that "Prayer is oxygen to the soul!" Keep searching, experimenting, and being open in ways you never have been, and giving different forms of prayer a good shot.  So many of our saints prayed in such an array of differing ways with different devotions that fed them!  That is the dazzling beauty of the Catholic Church!  "Catholic" means universal and there are so many multi-faceted approaches to the same Catholic faith, different spiritualities contributing to this most exquisite Bride of Christ (as He called her).
        I was able to see this most clearly at the Thomas Merton conference October 24 and 25 called, "Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest - 1964-2014."  It was in commemoration of Merton's famous retreat at Gethsemani that he organized of many spiritual giants from several religions to help address the growing violence in the country and at the hands of our country (Vietnam War).  Merton himself was quite a conglomerate and paradox of maintaining the roots of the traditional and opening up to the Holy Spirit's new movings - as Christ had modeled in His time on Earth. There were people from all over the United States from several different religions who knew "truth" when they were beaconed toward it (in coming).  Fr. Robert Barron, in his 10 CD "Catholicism" series builds one CD around who Thomas Merton was, or Brother Louis, and then which saint impacted him the most, and so on.
       Here was Merton's spirit on entering the Trappist monastery at Gethsemani: "...as soon as Merton stepped into the halls of the monastery it was clear where he had arrived. 'I felt the deep, deep silence of the night,' he wrote, 'and of peace, and of holiness enfold me like love, like safety."  "... the embrace of it, the silence!  I had entered into a solitude that was an impregnable fortress.  And the silence that enfolded me, spoke to me, and spoke louder and more eloquently than any voice, ...in the middle of the quiet, clean-smelling room, with the noon pouring its peacefulness in through the open window, with the warm night air, I realized truly whose house that was, O glorious Mother of God!"  Yes, Merton had an extremely close relationship with Mary, or who he called "Lady" many times.
Fr. Daniel Berrigan and Thomas Merton (Brother Louis) 
        One person at that retreat 50 years ago, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, was recently asked what one thing he is most proud of in His life, over which he has no regrets.  His answer to the interviewer without skipping a beat was, "My Jesuit priesthood."  As many people associate pacifist peace activists with lawlessness and rebellion, these two pillars of the Catholic peace movement, in addition to another Jesuit, Richard T. McSorley, have more than shown and proven their love and dedication to Christ and to His most beloved Bride, the Roman Catholic Church, unbroken in its chain of direction from Christ to St. Peter's all the way to Pope Francis. On that note, here are two last gifts to you, for this Christmas season.  The first is my favorite prayer that Thomas Merton wrote, and the second is one from St. Nicholas Flue.
Grounds of the Abbey at Gethsemani on my silent retreat




At the grave site of Thomas Merton, Brother Louis


My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. 
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will
end.  Nor do I really know myself, and
the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually
doing so.  But I believe that the desire 
please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I
am doing.  I hope that I will never do any-
thing apart from that desire.  And I know 
that if I do this you will lead me by the
right road, though I may know nothing
about it.  Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and
in the shadow of death.  I will not fear,
for you are ever with me, and you will
never leave me to face my perils alone."
                                       -Thomas Merton

"My Lord and My God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and My God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and My God, detach me from myself to give my all to you. Amen."                  - St. Nicholas of Flue

        We have no news to tell at The Lamb Catholic Worker in terms of our mission and service to the poor, besides being at around 25,000 views online, which is a very good thing.  The word is getting out and the interest is definitely there, especially among people I see.  I have had priests want me to come and give a talk, but I say that I have nothing to talk about yet - it is coming though!  We are in dire need of workers, of funds, and of support - especially becoming a "Sick and Suffering Co-Catholic Worker" willing to offer your suffering up for those of us trying hard to begin this Catholic Worker.  We do wait though in joyful, expectant hope, the central message of Advent season!  Our spirits are not daunted even if this will take longer. We wait in expectant, eager hope for this mission and vision to begin.  We will wait on the Lord.  He "does not delay."  His timing is perfect. Please pray for us.  Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, please pray for us.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

 The Lamb Catholic Worker
Fall 2014 Newsletter

"We Want Peace! We Want Peace!" 
             -An Iraqi-American Catholic woman at the Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio August 14, the Vigil of Feast of the Assumption of Mary
                                                                   By Monica Siemer

       
Chaldean Masses (about 10 in one day) at Our Lady
of Consolation Shrine in Carey
Beautiful "halo" around Fr. John Stowe and My Friend,
not seen through the lense, but appeared in the picture
     I had the priviledge of accompanying a dear Syrian Muslim friend who has lived in the United States for 20 years (and was my former instructional assistant in my ESL classroom) to the Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio on the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, August 14.  This was a very special day, a day of the "Chaldean masses," about 10 masses in the upper and lower chapels, to celebrate this special Marian feast day vigil for the Iraqi and other middle-eastern Catholics that live in several states nearest to this most holy shrine to Mary.  They have a special love and affinity for our Lady and I am amazed at the outpouring of love that the Franciscans there extend to this most beloved community, especially in light of the heavy persecution going on in parts of Iraq right now. 
       I took my friend because she is a walking miracle, attributed to the heavy-duty intercessory prayers of Mary, or "Mariam" to the Muslim world, Jesus' mother, Dorothy Day, and Peter Maurin. She was told two years ago, August of 2012, by Mt. Carmel doctors (a Catholic hospital) that she could have no more chemo and radiation and to make her [final] arrangements.  Previously, at about 35,  she had had breast cancer, surgery, radiation, and chemo, and went to Haj at Mecca (because her case was so serious).  Approximately 1 and a half to two years passed where she felt she had been healed. 
      In late 2012 though, it had come back with a vengeance, to her brain (paralyzing half of her face so that she could not consciously shut her left eye nor smile with the left side of her face), her bones, her liver and her thyroid glands.  This was very late stages cancer, and once it gains in the soft tissue of critical areas, it grows quickly.  At this time I asked her to ask Mariam, or Mother Mary, for help to bring it before God (our Catechism teaches that it is the same God as Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.  Also, "Allah" is simply the word for "God"), and to ask for Dorothy Day's prayers as well, to help attain her canonization.  I asked her to go to Carey then, but she had switched doctors to Ohio State University cancer hospitals and was given new chemo (even though they said the same thing). 
Coworkers from Cranbrook Elementary at chemo
Dec. 2012,  Face half paralyzed, I am at right
      Finally, by December of 2012 when she could not go to Carey after repeated attempts, I went in proxy for her and Fr. John Stowe prayed over my body in place of hers for her healing, and involved the other Franciscans in praying heavily for her, asking Mary and Dorothy Day's intercessory prayers.  They have a lot of time to pray (seven times a day!).  I also obtained the amazing holy water from Carey too.  She used it every day, and in five months, she was still alive, her liver cancer had shrunk in half, and her face was no longer paralyzed.  She could shut both eyes at will and with effort, smile, although the paralysis had caused some permanent damage so it was with difficulty.
  
      Satan had continued to bite at her heals, as he has all along (to mine as well), and a spinal tumor grew and paralyzed her whole leg in June of 2013.   She and I had lulled a little in daily pleading her case to Mary and Dorothy, and she had run out of holy water and did not tell me.  I raced to get more holy water (this time from Christ the King), and we asked Peter Maurin's intercessory prayers as well.  Msgr. Mottet, overseeing this community, has always prayed that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, co-founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, would be canonized together.  Dorothy always said that Peter founded the Catholic Worker, not her, and that it was his vision, his ideas, his everything.  He only lived to see it take off for 15 years while she did for almost 50 (and as a prolific writer).  People attribute the Catholic Worker solely to her, but both need to be honored for their holiness.
       The doctors have been saying for that past year or so that my friend still has the cancer but that she is a "Mystery," a "Mystery..."  Why will this woman not die, really!  I said, "You are another "M" word; you are a MIRACLE!"  
       The beauty in all of this is that while she is a practicing Muslim, Our Lady, "Mariam," has looked down upon her with great love just as she is, as she does to all in the world.  All can come to this most amazing vessel of love and motherliness.  In fact, Fr. Emmanuel Bertrand, a Dominican missionary to Pakistan (for over 40 years) in community with the Dominicans at St. Patrick and St. Thomas Aquinas in Zanesville has visited nearly all the mosques in Pakistan and said that 100% of them have a statue to "Mariam," or Jesus' mother.  They honor and revere her sometimes more than Catholics do!  It is also moving that Mary chose to visit, or God chose to send her, to a city named after a very holy Muslim woman, one of Mohommed's daughters, Fatima.  Interestingly, Mother Mary was once quoted at Medjugorie as stating: "The holiest woman in this city is a Muslim.  She gets down on her knees every day in humility, ...." Finally, it is exquisite that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, genuine peacemakers who TRULY believe in the sacredness of ALL human life and lives are to be possibly canonized in part by a miracle of a practicing Muslim woman.  It is beautiful, then that my friend wants to tell people about "this place."
       The first thing greeting my friend as we approached the actual basilica was the most, most beloved Fr. John Stowe who has prayed for her ceaselessly.  
           
      While she did not want to go into the upper church during a mass, she wanted to go into the basement to see evidence of the many, many miracles that have happened through Mary's intercession.  When I was a child, the large basement was overflowing with these, but they  have limited them to a few cases.


          Outside, she witnessed gentle, holy older Franciscans, mostly with grey beards, hearing confessions and giving council to people in numerous stations around the lawn.  She rested on the bench outside, having undergone hours of chemo that morning, to the powerful and booming voices through the windows, of the Chaldean Catholics inside singing praises.  She witnessed another religion not her own, that also ministered and guided people.  
           We had been approached at one point, in the midst of the Arabic being spoken all around her from approx. 20 van lines of out-of-state middle-eastern Catholics, by an Arabic-speaking woman.  She stated emphatically and almost woefully, "We want peace!  We want peace!" It was probably the fervent prayer inside as well. I am thinking this may be because the U.S. is sending more troops into Iraq and planning to bomb certain places.  She seemed desperate to say not to have that war mentality again that desecrated their home country once.
          Her desperation reminded me of a conversation my father, Tom Siemer, had with Archbishop Oscar Romero less than a year before he was assassinated. We were at a synod of all of the cardinals and bishops of the world in Mexico City, I believe it was in 1979 when I was 16 yrs old (and I was there but standing away from him). We were appealing to Pope John Paul II for Catholics to be told to have no part in weapons of mass destruction (manufacturing, potential use, etc).       Archbishop Romero thought my father was from the press (with his "Press" badge) and begged and begged him to go back and tell the president (Carter at the time, who gave $5 million per year in "military aid") to stop funding the government with military money, which was being used against the people. 
       He explained that the money went into armaments and training of the soldiers in the military and in the juntas of the oligarchy who were terrorizing the campesinos, killing and mutilating many of them with multiple forms of torture, intimidation and guerilla warfare through funding and training at the hands of the U.S. Green Berets at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia]. 
        My father called over both Roy Larson, of the Chicago Sun and Ken Briggs of the New York Times to talk with him.  Ken told my father later that Romero would not live long by talking like that, and my father replied, "They would never kill an archbishop!"  Our government not only did not listen, but when President Ronald Reagan shortly became president, he quintupled the funding, giving a huge green light to those committing atrocities.  Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred within a year. The U.N. reports that over 75,000 people, many poor women and children, were killed over the course of the next decade or so in El Salvador.   
In front of the Synod, Mexico City, 1979, with a group of protesting mothers of the "Disappeared" in El Salvador.  I am at the right and my mother, Dorothy Siemer, at the far right in red pants.

Salvadorean mothers of the "disappeared," those whose tortured bodies were never found.  I am on far right, with literature for the Pope, cardinals, bishops, and press against weapons of mass destruction
Mothers of the "disappeared" (sons, husbands, brothers, etc) desperate for help from the Church.

My father, Tom Siemer, and I in Mexico City, 1979
         During this time, Jean Kirkepatrick, a former Georgetown University professor who was a campaign advisor to President Reagan then cabinet member blamed the murders (Dec. 2, 1980) of the three religious sisters and an American lay worker on themselves: Jean Donovan, Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr. Ita Ford ,  and Sr. Dorothy Kazel.  Kirkpatrick believed that, according to Noam Chomsky, "traditional authoritarian governments are less repressive than revolutionary autocracies," and so her views were put into practice "most clearly in Central America, by supporting the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, and the military juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador, all of which perpetrated massive human rights violations while countering a perceived communist threat." (Chomsky, Turning the Tide, 1985).  She was not too thrilled when the United Nations Security Council came down on the United States and talked of withdrawing much of the monetary support to the U.N., as well as to withdraw completely. This would have been quite a role model of genuine virtue, Christian values, and peace to the world.
       I witnessed firsthand large graphic close-up pictures being sent to the Center for Peace Studies at Georgetown University (that I helped Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. run in the 80's) from El Salvador.  Neutral brave witnesses and groups were trying hard to document the atrocities and sent these pictures to several places as documentation, including to ours.  Prior to the Reagan Administration, the bodies of the dead at the hands of the military and juntas had one form of killing done to them (besides the women always having been raped).  
       When he became president, and particularly after the "anti-communist counterinsurgency training," or terrorist/guerilla warfare training ("terrorist" in the true sense of the word) at Ft. Benning of "Latin American personnel" from El Salvador at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), things drastically changed.  To describe,  murdered victims appeared with three or four forms of torture performed, acid in the eyes being one of the favorites.  This spilled over to Honduras and Nicaragua as well, sadly. 
        Many Americans turned a blind eye to all of this because of the fear whipped up by those who would even sell their soul to the devil against the "Communist scare."  The same whipping up of hate and suspicion, and angst has been set in our country against African Americans after the Civil War, Irish Catholics in the early 1800's, and now, against Muslims both living in our country and beyond. You cannot compare it to something like Hitler and the state of the entire country, because Communism was not even the country's stance or political structure at all.  
       Most of the refugees at our Catholic Worker in D.C. witnessed much of this firsthand, and yes, it was the country's military doing much of it. Huge Carlos witnessed a savage group murder from a corn field, and when he tried to run, they caught a visual of him and hunted him down.  He and his wife Maria (pregnant) got their six other children to another part of the country and ran to the U.S. where they were the first Salvadoreans to be granted political asylum.  Their baby Leonardo was baptized with my first son, Shamus at our Catholic Worker, St. Francis Catholic Worker, in Washington, D.C. (now the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker), in a Catholic worker soup pot.  It had been the former mother house of the Trinitarian order, and they had a fully functioning chapel in the basement.
     Very sadly in parts of Iraq right now Christians being severely persecuted.  They are "marked" on their doors or gates as Christian and are given time to convert to Islam or be forced to leave, or even killed.  More than 500 have been killed so far. Many must take only what they can carry or what they are wearing.  The following is a recent prayer written by Lous Rafael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, and read last Sunday across the United States according to directions from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops :
"Lord, the plight of our country is deep
and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.
Spare our lives and grant us patience and courage 
to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will
enable us to live with each other ... with 
dignity and joy.  
Glory be to you forever."
     At the Lamb Catholic Worker, our prayers are for the Christians and for the Muslims of Iraq, both at great danger right now, for the love and peace of God to reign in their hearts as brothers and sisters of one God.  We pray for the persecutors, for their salvation and for an open heart to respect and love those of another religion who nevertheless are as made in God's image and likeness as they are. May all of us intervene in our prayers and in moral responses, pleasing to the Lord.  May we, as Pope Francis has preached so passionately about, not be a part of two great evils in the world today:  "the culture of indifference and the culture of distraction."  May we set aside our computers and cell phones for much more time spent in prayer and meditation.  They say, "Satan doesn't make you bad, he makes you busy." 
      I pray that we not ignore the pleas for peace of this desperate Iraqi-American Catholic woman, who could possibly have Christian relatives still there, yet who knows the sick and hideous bloodiness of bombings and war.  She is more worried about the U.S. response than even the persecution by extremists in a remote pocket of Iraq. I pray that we listen to this pleading, holy woman at Carey.  Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us and for Iraqi people of all kinds!  Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and Archbishop Oscar Romero, please pray for them!   
My Father, Tom Siemer, and Dom Helder Camara, 1978
OUR NEEDS:
  • Our greatest need is prayer and thankfulness for the more than 22,000 views on this site from over 80 countries.  Interestingly, the highest numbers are coming from the Ukraine right now.  God be with them all.  Please read our article about becoming a "sick and suffering co-Catholic Worker."  We need that level of prayer and sacrifice to get this off of the ground, like Blessed Mother Teresa whose ministry could not start without those valiant ones who offered up their physical, psychological or emotional suffering for her and her ministry.  Please consider this! :)  We will in turn pray for you as well.
  • We need workers in the field, those who feel they are at a point in their lives to make a life change completely, to throw off their old life and live as the early Church in "profound poverty, profound joy," and solely being instruments of God's love and peace to the world.  Eventually we will have community members of varying degrees of commitment, but for now, we need full-time ones
  • We also need funds to buy the properties in order to help us get started.  This is a huge task.  Any way that you could help us would be greatly appreciated, even simply praying and spreading the word!  We have a fully approved 501c3 nonprofit number if you feel you need this.  Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin encouraged all giving though to be a full sacrifice with no strings attached for the giver.  It is still a sacrifice though, even if part can lower ones taxes a little.  
     One last note is that we have a potential "relic" given to us by Dorothy Day's grandaughter, Martha Hennessy.  It is a part of a blue blanket she had crocheted for a grandson.  Martha placed it inside a seashell, which is touching because Dorothy so loved and meditated while on the beach.  Dorothy and Peter, please continue to pray for us. 

   One final note is that Bishop Richard Pate of Des Moines, Iowa and a contingent of 11 other bishops are going to the Holy Lands to pray and be a presence for peace in the Middle East.  This is soon to be announced nationally.  Pray for them!  Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for peace, for these most dear peacemakers, and for all peoples of Iraq.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Farewell to the Franciscan Brothers, Faithful Sons of Mary

       By Monica Siemer, The Lamb Catholic Worker

      It is with sorrow that we bid farewell to the Franciscan Brothers Minor who have graced Columbus with their presence for the past few years.  They are moving back to Indiana, and our hope is that their quiet yet powerful and cataclysmic model of living the life of St. Francis will return here some day!

Brother Crispin Mary

      Whether seen on the icy or blazing hot pavements in their bare feet, or witnessing their humble prayerful voices alongside them at an abortion mill, or enjoying their contagious beard-lined smiles at dinner, they brought warmth to the heart and the spirit.
      Our community has had the pleasure of fellowship with 8-10 of them here, followed with a talk by Brother Crispin on living the life of poverty.  He eloquently gifted all of us with his knowledge and substantiation, from sacred Scriptures and Church teaching, on embracing a life of poverty.  When I find his notes he gave me I will better relay his wisdom (!)
       To be honest, more than any words could sound, his power and lesson came from he and his companions' way of life -- exuding Christ, His Apostles, and the early Church communities who were often spoken about as having great love, profound poverty, and profound joy.  In these they are all very rich.  These virtues are stated loudly and clearly in their coarse, patched, heavy, brown, hooded robes worn all year, their rough rope belts, nearly shaven heads and bare feet, and in other aspects and habits of their lives.
       They wear long rosaries that dangle and remind them to pray.  They never touch money and only eat what is donated to them, clearing the entire refrigerator each night, sharing it with those around them.  Knowing this last part, I kept pushing second or third helpings on many of them, but they would not take much.  It had become a way of life for them.  I was very moved.
       They are true sons of Mary, as Jesus said to John at the foot of the cross:  "Woman behold your son. John, behold your mother."  All of their middle chosen names are "Mary." Her prayers are special indeed for all, but especially for those who live a consecrated life, which has encouraged me to finally undergo a 33-day "total consecration to Jesus through Mary," as St. Louis Montfort promoted. I had never done this before. Single people and even married ones can make this consecration.  Two people within a year have suggested it for me, and on July 13, I will begin so that I finish on a Marian feast day (a requirement): the Assumption.
       There is a shortened version that is less complicated and allows for far more time to "ponder things in your heart," as Mary did.  Her prayers, those of the woman conceived of by God, or contemplated in advance, even before being conceived, are taken directly to her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, and to her most beloved Son, Jesus.  A person once challenged me that we Catholics worship Mary, and I answered the following: "Do you believe that Jesus had a mother?  (Give long wait time for them to think about and answer yes or no, which is quite a profound role of a human being).  Do you believe that Jesus wants us to honor His mother?"
        St. Louis de Montfort and Fr. Michael Gaitley put it most eloquently:  "'When Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38),' we can see most clearly that she's the spouse of the Holy Spirit for at that moment, she gave the Holy Spirit permission to conceive Christ in her womb.  Thus, at that moment, the already unfathomably deep bond between Mary and the Holy Spirit that had begun at the first moment of her Immaculate Conception [when she herself had been conceived in an immaculate manner, planned in advance by God] was revealed as nothing less than a two-become-one marital union... As a result of that union [unique to no other human being but Mary], the Holy Spirit is pleased to work and act through his spouse, Mary,..." (Booklet: "33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 5).
        Another thought-provoking message of Fr. Gaitley in this booklet was that even God entrusted Himself  to Mary.  That Jesus, who existed before the world was even made, came down from His heavenly glory to become a human being - of a few extremely fragile cells - entrusting  Himself to her body, her soul, her very being to nurture Him and put into motion His plan for salvation.  Fr. Gaitley put it this way:  "We should give ourselves to Mary in imitation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  After all, didn't Jesus give himself to Mary from the moment of the Incarnation?  Yes he did" (p. 9). If God entrusted Himself to Mary to that degree, we can trust in her intercessory action as well.
       Msgr. Reuf gave a stirring homily on Mary recently and explained how Mary freely decided to conform her will to God's will, and so began God's transformation in her that continued her whole life.  Mary also pondered things at length in her heart, a worthy trait and virtue for us all.
Mary Mother of the Eucharist
      Today I had to wait in line for an hour and a half at the BMV where there seemed to be not a single adult without one or more gadgets that monopolized their time, continuously.  These had complete power over them, keeping their minds and attention occupied (captive) the entire time.  It seems at the level of an alarming addiction now in society, with people having grown up with cell phones and somewhat with smartphones.  It appears to be almost a Satanic grip on all of society, choking up any hint of time for pondering and reflecting, or even conversing face-to-face with people beside them.

       Social networking online at the home computer and with a cell phone (Facebook, etc), and especially the feedback from others, can have a powerful effect on young minds too.  I have heard that it sometimes feels as though one's popularity and "worth" are directly tied to how many responses one gets to one's posts.  I am wondering if it contributed to a recent suicide of a mid-20's handsome, college grad here who posted his new picture 2 days before he killed himself.  One Catholic Worker supporter said that he had to get off of Facebook altogether because it was affecting his self-esteem somewhat.  Good for him.  He cut himself free.  I have even had to pull away from this website some, because, even though we are above 21,000 viewers, I will think that it should be much higher, and doubts creep in at times.  It is only the Evil One trying to pull downward.  It is good though, to step back from gadgets, even ones used for good intentions, and take a spiritual and psychological pulse.
       So, does this radical (meaning going back to one's roots) and counter-cultural Franciscan lifestyle look primitive and boring?  Talk about an adventure when one does not know if he will eat the very next day or not!  How exciting when God comes through for them, when Mary's prayers for them are answered!  What a thrill, each day, on how the prayer will be answered, who the Holy Spirit will place in their paths, and for what reason.  Every day would be unpredictable and quite a new adventure, but the greatest aspect of all seems to be the grace that comes with it in the joys, trials, and even sorrows.  What a brotherhood of support!  This is also very Catholic Worker, in the spirit of trust and adventure one must have to take up the call to live radically poor.
       On this feast of St. Benedict (who began monasticism), I can vouch for even those holed up in an abbey, whose entire life is dedicated to prayer - seven evenly-spaced scheduled chapel times per day, in addition to other prayers and reading!  When I had to end my 3-week silent retreat two years ago - the last 8 days being at Thomas Merton's Trappist abbey, Gethsemane, in Kentucky - I was so sad and could have gone for 4 more months.  It was exhilarating!! So much went on in my spirit, in my soul!
        I believe my spiritual life raised to such a higher level (hopefully) because of that very aspect of removing oneself from society, like the desert fathers.  There is little to distract you and to hold your time and attention captive - except for God and a rhythm of prayer and openness and listening constantly.  You can pick up that still small voice, that is God, in that wisp of communication here and there that would normally be very hard to catch.  Msgr. Mottet said that most of his active early priesthood he would take a whole day retreat every month just for listening to the voice of God all day, in a quiet, removed retreat to think and pray over all the typically social justice-oriented projects and people in his life.  He always says that he went in with questions and came out with answers.
       Most profound was an intimacy with God that I had not experienced since my youth.  I had focused mainly on the Carmelite spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila (Interior Castles) and St. John of the Cross with The Ascent to Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, which could be summarized with the first reading on the very last day of all three weeks (a recent reading as well):  "I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert where I will speak to her heart... On that day, says the Lord, she shall call me 'My husband,' ..."I will espouse you to me forever ..." (Hosea 2:17-21).
       It was actually quite a honeymoon in nearly every modality, not just interiorly too.  Strange and beautiful songs kept being put into my heart like the refrain of the Moody Blues song, "Knights in White Satin," that goes, "yes I love youuuu, ohhhhhh how I love you..." The other two main songs in my heart were:  "I Have Loved You With an Everlasting Love," and "Shepherd Me O God." It was a very touching time with the ultimate Bridegroom.  Even the details or special touch of awe-inspiring European castle-looking architecture and windows of the massive Our Lady of Consolation Shrine and Basilica in Carey, Ohio (the first week of the 3-week retreat) late at night with its changing lights - it is open all night - was almost too much. At one point there, I was the only one in the church and the organ started playing, "Shepherd Me O God," without me ever having noticed or heard anyone come in (which obviously they did).  When they finished the song, they left (so it wasn't organ practice).
       The exact same can be told of constantly meditating along the medieval-looking monastery and many high stone walls of the Abbey of Gethesemane, where I felt placed back in the time of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.  This was exhilarating since they fought hard to reform the Carmelite order back to its roots, back to holiness, back to its Bridegroom, which may also be in the works for the Catholic Worker movement.
      Even action-packed physical adventure was part of this retreat, beginning on day 1 at the Abbey of Gethsemane with the death of the most beloved Trappist, Brother Ambrose.  He had quite a large crowd of Kentucky locals come to pay tribute to the man from Mexico who could fix any of their tractors, knew and helped constantly on their farms, and was always there in other ways for their families.  The many stories reminded me so much of Peter Maurin, especially the monks' stories about him being so talkative (which was ironic!).  Retreatants at that time were able to join in for the funeral in a part of the chapel no outsiders were ever normally allowed to go. Later, I helped with shovel to bury him deep in the ground on a bed of Juniper (yes, it is true!), getting to further know the personalities of the monks and brothers.  This life for Christ is not boring!  I conversed with and asked Brother Ambrose's prayers for our Catholic Worker, as I sat at his gravesite many hours, having made a small flower bed on the tall pile of dirt that will eventually sink down even with the ground.  I did the same at the gravesite of Thomas Merton (Brother Louis), where I placed many natural, beautiful things.
       As Columbus has lost quite a witness to living the life of radical poverty in these austere Franciscans leaving, I pray that the Catholic Worker community here will take up that baton valiantly, even to a World Cup level, or even, to the early Church level, of living out the call to embrace "Lady Poverty." I pray that, like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, those drawn to this life become truly consecrated to Jesus, to Truth itself, through the intercession of Mary and her simple, immaculate heart.  I am certain that these Franciscans have had a lasting effect everywhere, especially to other seminarians and faculty at the Josephenum.  It is a call to all in living more simply in this world, and to solely be channels of love and of peace, as St. Francis preached and lived.  They are a great inspiration for other Franciscans too, I am sure.
     The shorter version of total consecration to Jesus through Mary is in a booklet called, "33 Days to Morning Glory," a "Do It Yourself Retreat."  There is also a bestseller book (same title) explaining it in full depth, but for those who feel nudged by the Holy Spirit to do this and wonder when they will have enough free time to read a whole book, this large booklet makes it accessible to everyone right now. It is also for those who cannot give up 33 days at a retreat center.  In addition, it's also for those who do not have a great deal of time figuring out the flipping back and forth with daily, building prayers, given the complexity of their lives in de Montfort's book (which I also have as a resource and plan to read fully), but who still feel very called to undergo this.  You can call and order the booklet at 1-800-462-7426 or online at ShopMercy.org. You must begin in 33 days before a Marian feast day, and some start dates to come are: start on August 6 - with Fr. Schalk - to end on Sept. 8, the Nativity of Mary; start on August 13 to end on the September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The cover is the Mary picture above (although she was probably dark-haired and dark-skinned).
     *For those who are pacifists, like the Christ-followers of our Church for its first 300 years, the comments on the first day can be disturbing, with the analogy of having the zeal of nearly crazed, slashing, passionate Celtic warriors.  I see it more as the even higher passion and zeal of the Apostles who gave all, their very lives, passionately, to be martyred brutally as Christ had been.  That one sits much better in this world that justifies participation by Christ-followers in modern war killing - the ending of another sacred human life (even children), for whatever reason the secular government at hand orders, even if it is against our Pope (as in the Iraqi War).  
       One can also see it more along the lines of the disciplined, self-sacrificing passion of a Brazilian soccer player, or those rugby players in the movie, "Forever Strong."  Pushing oneself in an over-the-top strenuous manner, in body, mind, virtue and soul, is always a good thing from time to time.  The harder one strikes out for God, the harder Satan strikes back at him or her.  One needs spiritual readiness, preparedness, for what comes his way in his personal life and in the world, putting on the armor of love and self-sacrifice. 
       Mother Mary and St. Francis, pray for us!  Brother Ambrose, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, we need your prayers too!

Shepherd Me O God
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5a1M9OxOZI

Here you go: Refrain 
Shepherd me, O God, 
beyond my wants, 
beyond my fears, 
from death into life. 

1. God is my shepherd, 
so nothing shall I want, 
I rest in the meadows 
of faithfulness and love, 
I walk by the quiet waters of peace. 

2. Gently you raise me 
and heal my weary soul, 
you lead me by pathways 
of righteousness and truth, 
my spirit shall sing 
the music of your Name. 

3. Though I should wander 
the valley of death, 
I fear no evil, 
for you are at my side, 
your rod and your staff, 
my comfort and my hope. 

4. You have set me a banquet of love 
in the face of hatred, 
crowning me with love 
beyond my pow’r to hold. 

5. Surely your kindness and mercy 
follow me all the days of my life; 
I will dwell in the house of my God 
forevermore.

I Have Loved You With an Everlasting Love
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine

seek the face of the lord and long for him
he will bring you his light and his peace

I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine

seek the face of the lord and long for him
he will bring you his joy and his hope

I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you, and you are mine

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Join the Franciscan Brothers Minor in Their Talk on Living the Life of Poverty, April 5

     Come join us on April 5th at The Lamb Catholic Worker, 531 Brookside Drive, for a humble dinner and talk on "Living the Life of Poverty" given by the Franciscan Brothers Minor.  RSVP for planning, please.  Reservations are not required though, and dinner will be at 5:30, not 5:00 - correction from "Happenings" in the Catholic Times.  Brother Chrispin will lead the talk on "Living the Life of Poverty."
      Also, celebrate with us our new ministry of lunches for family breadwinners who live in the two major East side trailor parks.  Sr. Nary of the Missionary Servants of the Word gives Bible studies in both parks, and now she has something else to offer as well, along with us.  Our hope is to go to most of these Bible studies to learn Spanish and to get to know the Hispanic communities in these.  Hopefully this trust and relationship will flower and we will have communication available for those being battered and abused, if this happens.  If you would like to help or donate just email us at: thelambcatholicworker@gmail.com.  Celebrate with us over 19,000 viewers on this site.  All of you, please pray for us!

Walk the Stations of the Cross with Jesus on Good Friday

The Lamb Catholic Worker, Columbus, Ohio
     Lucky for we Christ the King parishioners, Deacon Pete leads a varying and exquisite meditation of the Stations of the Cross every Friday of Lent.  If you have never done this, or are not Catholic, it is one of the most powerful and life-changing prayers possible.  We at the Lamb Catholic Worker encourage all Christ-followers to find a great publication as a tool to undergoing this most profound "pilgrimage" on Good Friday.  Be sure to include in this Good Friday pilgrimage the first day of the (9 day) novena toward the Feast of Divine Mercy, the Sunday after Easter!
     The traditional 14 Stations of the Cross are as follows (and you can typically find them along the walls of any Catholic Church):
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus takes His cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His mother
5. Simon helps Jesus carry the cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus speaks with the women 
9. Jesus Falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His clothing
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of His mother
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
     My favorite so far is a new publication, "The Challenge of the Cross," by Alfred McBride, O.PRAEM., by St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Here are excerpts from some of the stations to give you a sense of this beautiful meditation.  All the words are quotes, and those in quotation marks are from Scripture, quoted from this book as well.
     Jesus is Condemned to Death - They spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head (Matthew 27:3).  When I look at the unfair judgments endured by Jesus... I think of the judgments I have made ... I mistreat innocent people and sometimes, sadly, those closest to me.  I rush to judgment when patience is needed.  Even my own relationship with Jesus is marred by unjust thoughts... I need spiritual purification. I have also been hurt by false judgments made against me.  I have survived, but always need spiritual purification.  Standing beside Jesus when He bore my sinfulness  in silence, I experience a mix of regrets and a power flowing from Him into my soul.... I excuse myself too easily, forgive me, Lord. 
Jesus Takes the Cross - Jesus often spoke of the cross.  In effect He said, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).  What He preached, he practiced.  St. Paul writes: "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). St. Paul often preached the cross, as he does again to the Corinthians: "When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)... like St. Paul's advice about our crosses: "I appeal to you ... to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1).  Facing my pain, disappointments, losses, betrayals, dreams unattained, I need to live my own version of Christ's Passion.  St. Paul says, "I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13).  I do not suffer alone.  Jesus is with me in those who stand by my side.
Jesus Falls the First Time - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)." Jesus is now on His journey to Calvary.  In stumbling and falling, He identifies with our difficulties in reaching our destiny...  I won't forget that Jesus arose after each fall.  He is my secret power to do so.
Jesus Meets His Mother - Mary and Jesus exchange glances of forgiveness to those who created their sorrow, I see too that neither Mary nor Jesus shows the least sign of resentment or bitterness.  Both display mercy as the true road to the future.. Mercy is just what I want and need to give others... Lord, don't let Your love grow cold in me because of hurts I feel.  Jesus, help me give true love to those who harmed me... Through meditating on the gentleness of Your humanity, may I expand my capacity to love.
Simon Helps Carry the Cross - Simon would be the first man to carry the cross of Jesus, who had taught, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; ... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30)... I know times when I have been asked to give care to a loved one, a neighbor, a coworker, a stranger.  This role of caregiver can drain me in many ways -- straining my finances, patience, time, and energy.  I find sometimes that I want to say "no" when asked to give care, but soon I say "yes," [like Simon] and get on with doing what is needed.  I try to see the image of Simon .. [who] made it possible for Jesus to accomplish the final act of salvation at Calvary..."Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galations 6:2)... Lord, give me the courage to be a caregiver.  Jesus, show me the wisdom of the cross in being a caregiver... Lord, I pray for the graces I need to serve the poor, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the elderly, the dying.  Open me to accept the challenges of the cross You wish me to carry.  Forgive me for my reluctance to bear your cross. Grant me the joy that comes from loving service to You in the needs of others.
Jesus Falls a Second Time - I am slow to recognize Jesus' humility in becoming human, so see Him in the midst of His self-emptying.  In our natural world, what goes up must come down.  In our supernatural world, what does down [humility] should go up... Jesus fell and got up for me.  I know love made Him do this.  Infinite love will do the unthinkable... That's why He experienced falls -- so that He could win for me my risings to carry on with my life... May I see in Your falls Your willingness to endure more self-emptying, even to the end of this life.  Open my eyes of faith and help me to identify the love that made it possible for you to rise after every fall.
Jesus Speaks with the Daughters of Jerusalem - "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children" (Luke 23:27-28). As always, Jesus thinks of others before His own needs.  He worries about the future of these women and their children. 
Jesus Falls the Third Time - "We boast of our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (St. Paul to the Romans 5:3-4).  Paul did endure, as he later wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  In heading for His destiny, Jesus encountered a devastating fall that challenged Him to rise and move on... I remember Christ's last thrust to Calvary when the apostle James wrote, "My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3).  I tend to focus on the pain and find it difficult to notice the joy that James mentions.  I pray that I may imitate the attitude of Peter and his companions who faced persecution joyfully for proclaiming Christ.  Having just been flogged, "as they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name [of Jesus]" (Acts 5:41)... St. Gregory of Nyssa: "We must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, ... imitating His passion by our sufferings, and honoring His blood by shedding our own.  We must be ready to be crucified."
Jesus is Stripped of His Clothing - ... Now He identified with the poorest of the poor who barely have anything to wear.  His self-emptying reached yet another level as human beings tried to rob Him of His last shred of dignity... He is vulnerable, a word taken from the Latin vulnus, meaning "wound"... Why does Jesus allow Himself to be so vulnerable?  Because He intends to heal the hurters. I often strike back with insults, betrayals, and slights.  When I hurt Christ, He forgets the wounds and tries to heal me, the hurter.  To Jesus the real wound is in the one inflicting the pain.  Jesus assumes the difficulties of the hurter and offers healing by the therapy of forgiveness and love... Jesus welcomes me as a sinner into the chambers of His heart and lets me thrash about with my unruly passions.  Then He offers me the love that would cure me of irrational evil... Jesus was not completely silent ["...like a sheep lead before the shearers silent" (Isaiah 53:5,7)], that He spoke a few words: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34)... For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corrinthians 1:18)... Lord, teach us the wisdom you witnessed as a wounded healer... for the gift of healing those who hurt me, Lord hear my prayer.  For the wisdom to love my enemies, Lord hear my prayer.  For the courage not to strike back when I am wounded, Lord hear my prayer... Lord, engrave on my heart the promise of happiness so I may live the words of Jesus, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" (Matthew 5:11-12).
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross - To think of the pain caused by the nails in Christ's hands and feet is almost too much to bear... Poor, sick, oppressed, and crushed people find comfort in the Passion of Christ... I hear and sing of the Passion of Jesus in the spirituals of the African slaves.  The pain of Christ symbolized the slaves' own sufferings. Jesus could understand their despised condition in an unfriendly and inhuman world...They were there with Jesus.  The slaves sang, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  They sang their own reply, "Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble"... The most distant object I can see on a clear day is the sun.  But on a dark night I can see the stars millions of miles farther away.  Darkness has its spiritual value.  I think of that in my own times of trouble, when I tremble, tremble, tremble... I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)... Let us pray to meet the challenge of the cross. Lord, deepen my faith in the power of the cross in my life...for patience in times of personal pain..
Jesus Dies on the Cross - As the ninth hour approached on Good Friday afternoon, the sacrifice of the Passover lambs at the Temple concluded.  The high priest in Hebrew said,"Kalah" ("It is finished."). At that moment, Jesus the Lamb of God, said, "Kalah" ("It is finished") (John 19:30a). Jesus bowed His head and rested it on the cross.  A  great silence enfolded that moment, the silence of the Lamb of God.  In His death Jesus completed the perfect sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of all the sins of those who repent and seek His divine mercy.... When I think of Christ's death, I linger on my own future death.  I will not be able to choose the time and place of my death, but I can choose my way of life... My death will ratify the kind of life I have lived and the choices I have made.  If I have lived with love, that is how I shall die.  If not, that will be a tragedy.  As He was dying, Jesus gave His life calmly and lovingly to God, for that was how He lived.  He didn't leave any money.  He left an incomparable testament: divine mercy, future life, and sustaining hope... "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps .." When he was abused, He did not return abuse; when He suffered, He did not threaten;... He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21, 23-24).
Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross (and layed in the arms of His mother) - He placed a grown man in a woman's lap [we cannot picture the sword to Mary's heart as she holds her baby boy for the last time, seeing and touching up close, the immensity of His suffering that took place right before her eyes]. Blessed John XXIII [formerly Pope John XIII] was fond of quoting an old Italian proverb, "Sotto la neve c'e il pane" ("Beneath the snow there is bread").  Rural wisdom remembers that the seed under the winter snow will rise in the springtime.  Blessed John XXIII applied the saying to those overwhelmed by sorrow and unable to see beyond the pain. Using his picture I see the snow.  I do not see the bread of love growing quietly underneath the white blanket... For the gift of consoling those who mourn lost ones, Lord hear our prayer... Console me when I will need to grieve the death of a loved one while I retain belief in eternal life.

Two other great Stations of the Cross meditation publications are:  "The Franciscan Way of the Cross," by Teresa V. Baker, S.F.O., St. Anthony Messenger Press, and "Mary's Way of the Cross" by Richard G. Furey, C.Ss.R., Twenty-Third Publications.