Friday, June 16, 2017

Let your "Yes" mean "Yes"

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Know that your commitment(though hidden) to the Lord and to your spiritual sons is beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.  You must embrace this hiddenness and not be frightened of it; for even though you are not seen by the world and perhaps cannot at times see the value of this commitment, you are seen by the Lord.  Fix your gaze upon Him and know that He fixes His gaze upon you.  

To embrace such hiddenness means to let go of all preoccupation with yourself and the opinions of others; ego and self-esteem must diminish as you put on the mind of Christ and as you hide yourself more and more in Him.  Consent to be hidden in the tabernacle, to embrace your Lord's Eucharistic life.  Be the presence of love hidden in a world absent of love.  Simplify your life: "withdraw from all that solicits your attention, your energy, and your time."

To each of you the Lord asks: "Do you want this?"  And each of you must answer from your hearts: "Yes, I accept the hidden Eucharistic life to which thou callest me."  Let your "Yes" mean "Yes" daughters and you shall know the Lord's consent.  As with your father St. Philip Neri, the Lord will fill your hearts with a joy not known in this world but invincible and a foretaste of the sweetness of Heaven.  

I am a hidden God
and those whom I call to adore Me
must hide themselves in Me,
becoming hidden from the eyes of the world,
and hidden even from themselves,
having a pure gaze fixed upon Me alone,
even as My pure filial gaze is fixed upon My Father in heaven.
Learn what it means to be hidden:
it is to be free of preoccupations with yourself,
with the opinions of others,
and with what the world may say
of you or of Me.
It is to live for Me alone
even as I live for the Father.
Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the glory of My Father.
Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the bright cloud of the Holy Spirit.
Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the sacred species.
Hide yourself in My Heart
as I am hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
unseen, unknown, and forgotten by men.
I call you to this hidden life
because I am the hidden God
and because My Eucharistic life in your midst is a hidden life.
Those who would be My adorers
must consent to live in My tabernacle hidden with Me
and, at the same time,
loving as I love:
loving the Father as I love Him,
loving souls as I love them,
suffering coldness, rejection, misunderstanding
and abandonment
with Me and for Me.
Understand these things
and you will have begun to understand the Eucharistic life
to which I call you more and more.
Apart from those souls
whom I call to this life of adoration,
such a hiddenness will appear foolish and inhuman,
but it will act as a leaven upon the whole mass of dough
until it rises and becomes a perfect loaf fit for My oblation.
It is a spark of light being kept burning
for a world plunged into darkness.
It is a drop of divine sweetness
in a sea of bitterness and misery.
It is a presence  of Love
in a world from which love is absent.
Love My hiddenness
and hide yourself in Me.
Withdraw from all that solicits your attention,
your energy, and your time
into the secret of My Eucharistic Face.
There I will show  you
how best to do the things I ask you to do.
There I will give you a peace
that no one will perturb or take from you.
There I will use you
for the sanctification of My priests
and for the consolation of My Church.
Do you want this?
Yes, Lord Jesus,
because Thou askest this of Me.
I consent to it with all My heart
and I want all that Thou willest for Me.
Do you accept to be separated from those whom you love,
from those who know you
and from those who love you
in order to lose all save Me and My love?
Yes, Lord Jesus,
I consent to lose all save Thee
for in possessing Thee
I will lose nothing,
and in loving Thee
I will be loved by Thee,
and in that Love find perfect happiness
and the grace to love others
as Thou hast loved Me.
Do you accept to disappear from the eyes of the world
and to live hidden in Me
as I am hidden in My tabernacles?
Yes, Lord Jesus,
I accept the hidden Eucharistic life
to which Thou callest Me
and I desire nothing else.
Know then that today
I accept your “Yes” to My plans for you.
Because you have given your consent to Me,
I give My consent to you.
Live henceforth as My adorer
hidden in Me,
hidden with Me.
Seek no other way of life.
Your life is henceforth hidden with Me
in the Sacrament of My Love
and in the glory of the Father.
I promise you joy in the secret of My Face
and an unending sweetness
that is the taste of the Hidden Manna,
a sweetness not of this world,
but of the next,
a sweetness that I give as a foretaste of heaven
to those who drink the bitter chalice
of My Eucharistic solitudes on earth.
This is the perfection of the life to which I have called you.
The time is short.
Enter into the life I have prepared for you.
Let go of all else.
Our life is one:
your life in Me, and My life in you,
in a mystery of hiddenness
that glorifies My Father
and builds up My Church.

This reflection comes from Dom Kirby's blog Vultus Christi to which the Daughters of St. Philip are deeply indebted.  In particular, the recent publication of In Sinu Jesus has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Holiness through Adoration

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As you have renewed your commitment to daily Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation for the Sanctification of Priests, its seems fitting that we should reflect upon an entry from In Sinu Jesu, The Journal of a Priest. Nowhere is your vocation more clearly expressed than Christ speaking "Cor ad Cor" with those he has drawn to Himself and called to linger long with Him in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout these past years you have seen the nature and demands of your commitment and the path to holiness grow more and more simple: Holiness through Adoration.  Silent and still, you are called to draw close to Christ, gazing upon His Eucharistic Face - loving Him and receiving His love.  You had only to ask for this gift and you have indeed requested it through expressing your commitment.  In the act, in the self-offering, the grace is given.  This is why Christ can say to you "this is not difficult."  Its austerity is found only in that the commitment to come before Him rest upon faith alone. Out of that faith arises a flame of hope set to blaze by a fire that burns within His Eucharistic Heart and which He continues to desire to let loose upon the world.
Fear not this fire Daughters; for it seeks not to annihilate or destroy but purify and transform. Adoration is the furnace and He will forge your hearts anew according to His Divine Love.  Through your commitment to Adoration on behalf of priests, God will purge all impurity and darkness from your hearts and theirs.  God has set you apart for this purpose - to enter into Mary's Spiritual Motherhood - to nurture in your hearts and prayers the renewal of the holy priesthood. 
The practice of adoration is not difficult.
It is a gentle abiding in My presence,
a resting in the radiance of My Eucharistic Face,
a closeness to My Eucharistic Heart.
Words, though sometimes helpful, are not necessary,
nor are thoughts.
What I seek from one who would adore Me in spirit and in truth
is a heart aflame with love,
a heart content to abide in my presence,
silent and still,
engaged only in the act of loving Me
and of receiving My love.
Though this is not difficult,
it is, all the same,
my own gift
to the soul who asks for it.
Ask, then, for the gift of adoration.
Adoration is an austere prayer
because it rests upon faith alone.
Out of faith there rises the pure flame of hope,
and out of the flame of hope,
I enkindle in the soul a great conflagration of charity;
that is, a communication to the soul
of the fire that blazes in My Eucharistic Heart.
The fire of Divine Love does not destroy what I created:
a soul fashioned in My image and likeness.
It purifies that soul
and burns away only what is incompatible with My infinite holiness,
and with the purity of My Essence.
The soul, however, is not annihilated.
The soul remains,
even in the midst of the purifying flames of Divine Love,
fully capable of believing, of hoping, and of loving Me.
Adoration is a furnace and a forge.
The soul called to a life of adoration
must expect to suffer the intensity of the fiery furnace,
and the reshaping of all that is misshapen in her
in the forge of My Divine Will.
For this to happen,
it is enough that the soul offer herself to My love,
and remain humble, peaceful, and quiet
as I purify and transform her in My presence.
If only souls knew the power to purify and to transform
that emanates from My tabernacles!
If only My priests knew this
they would hasten into My presence
and remain there,
waiting for Me to do in them
what, of themselves, they cannot do.
It is the simple prayer of adoration
that renders a priest fit for the sacred ministry
by giving him a pure heart
and by correcting all that is incompatible with My Divine Holiness
and with My Priestly Love in his life.
This way of holiness through adoration
is a secret revealed to My saints in ages past,
and it is a gift that I am offering My priests
in these times of impurity, persecution, and darkness.
For impurity,
I will give them a shining purity
that will blaze before the eyes of the world
as a testimony to Divine Love.
For persecution
I will give them a manly strength and a resoluteness of purpose
that will confound those who plot their downfall.
For darkness
I will give them a clear light by which to order their steps
and see what choices are pleasing to My Heart.
Time spent in My presence is not time wasted.
It is the ground and support
of every word spoken by My priests in the exercise of their ministry;
it is the secret of a priestly action that is supernaturally fruitful,
bearing fruit that will last.
If this is true of the priests whom I have chosen
to labour in the vineyard of My Church,
how much more must it be true of [those]
whom I have chosen and set apart
to live cloistered in the Cenacle
with My Most Holy Mother and with Saint John, My Beloved Disciple.
John was most at home in My Eucharistic presence
and in the company of My Mother.
John understood better
and more than the other Apostles
the mysteries that I instituted in the Cenacle
on the night before I suffered.
John was the first of a long line of Eucharistic priests
called to love Me and abide in My Eucharistic presence,
close to My Heart, and in the radiance of My Face.
This is the particular grace that Saint John would share
with those who, responding to My call,
will find their way to the Cenacle of adoration
that I am bringing to birth
as a living organism within My Church,
enlivened by the Holy Spirit
and formed in the Heart of My Immaculate Mother.
From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Prayer that is the Terror of Demons

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The profundity of the work that God has called you to may seem eclipsed by the work that is emphasized in the world and even within the Church.  Yet, what the Lord calls you to, though a work hidden from the eyes of all, is something that emerges from the desire of His own Heart.  He calls you to participate in His Eucharistic work through inviting you to make reparation through adoration.  He desires that you comfort Him by abiding in His presence and resting close to His Heart; to choose to remain with Him - nay, to prefer to remain with Him above everything.  

What is obtained by coming to Him by night?  Nothing less He tells us than the liberation of souls.  To do battle with the powers of darkness for the world by remaining with Him in prayer late into the night or before daybreak.  "More souls are saved and liberated by adoration made during the night than by any other form of prayer."  It is to come to Him as He went to the Father in prayer at night.  It is to remain with Him even though darkness seems to prevail not only in nature but in the world.  As He poured Himself out to the Father so you can pour yourself out with the same expression of love and ascent of the will.  Such self-emptying adoration conquers the world and heals the wounds inflicted by demons on souls.  Prepare yourselves then daughters - for the demons both fear and hate such love.  Fear not, however, for angels will minister to you as they did to the Lord.

All else is of secondary importance.  What could be of greater importance than to attend to His body broken and His blood poured out for love of the world?  What could you be more anxious to do than to spend your energy and attention consoling unrequited love?  What more precious thing could one pursue than to perpetually abide in His presence?  In what other place could you seek and be filled with greater vitality, joy and peace that will nurture the world?  It is here - in your hearts and through the Love of Christ - that the priesthood will be born anew.  

    A great work of love is being done here, one that proceeds directly from My Eucharistic Heart, to glorify My Father and to redeem the world—for the work of redemption is continued in the Sacrament of My Body and Blood until the end of time. I have chosen you to share in this Eucharistic work of Mine by calling you to this very life of adoration and reparation that you see here. I am here in the Most Blessed Sacrament for you and for the whole world. Take your place here before Me, and abide before My Face, close to My Heart that is all love. It is no little thing for a poor human creature of Mine to prefer My Eucharistic love to an hour of sleep in the night. Only in heaven will you know the worth of an hour so spent. Come to Me, then. Visit Me, and remain with Me by night, and I will work for you, and with you, and through you by day. By nocturnal adoration you will obtain from My Heart things which cannot be obtained from Me in any other way, especially the liberation of souls from the influence and oppression of the powers of darkness. More souls are saved and liberated by adoration made during the night than by any other form of prayer: this is the prayer that unites you most closely to My own nights passed entirely in prayer during My life on earth. Come to Me, then, by night, and you shall experience My power and My presence at your side during the day. Ask of Me whatsoever you will by coming to Me at night, and you will experience My merciful help at break of day. I love with a love of predilection those whom I call to be with Me during the hours of the night. The prayer of adoration at night has the power and efficacy of that prayer made with fasting that I recommended to My apostles as the means of expelling demons from the souls whom they torture and oppress. For this reason, the demons fear and hate adoration made at night, while the angels rejoice over it, and place themselves at the service of the soul who desires to do it. 

Rise earlier. Give Me the first hours of the day. Come to Me before seeking anything or anyone else. I will strengthen you to use well the hours of each day begun in this way. I have called you to be My adorer; all else is secondary. I wait for you in the Sacrament of My love and I am often disappointed because you allow other things to absorb your time and consume your energy. Give Me as much time as you can, and I will give you time and energy to do all that you must do. You will see that by coming to Me first, everything else will appear to you in its just proportions. You will do one thing after another, and all that you do will be marked by serenity and by an inward adoration toward My abiding presence in the tabernacle. I call you to a life of perpetual adoration. Perpetual adoration is a loving attention to My presence. It is a seeking after My Face and a drawing close to My Heart that never ceases and that suffuses every moment of life. This perpetual adoration nonetheless begins with and returns to times of real adoration spent before My Eucharistic Face, during which all other things are left aside. Come, then, to the place apart that I have prepared for you. I wait for you there. Come to My tabernacle and abide in My presence. I will fill you with joy, with serenity, and with wisdom for the demands of the day. Begin always by adoring Me. Do not allow your heart to grow cold towards My Eucharistic presence. I have called you to this life for one thing only: to adore Me for the sake of My beloved priests, your brothers, especially for the sake of those who never come into My sacramental presence to find, close to My Heart, refreshment, light, peace, and, above all else, the love for which I created them and of which I have made them My servants. 

In Sinu Jesu
When Heart Speaks to Heart
A Journal of a priest at prayer

Friday, January 20, 2017

Let hope be liberated in you

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The path to hope is one that we are not willing to take, for it means allowing yourself to live in the unhappiness that so often can feels like it is crushing you.  Things become very simple at those moments and the more your unhappiness crushes you, the more you discover it crushes you against God.  Nothing exist between you and Him when your life the nadir of its sufferings.  

So often we approach life as something we own or as if we are the source of it; but suffering reveals that it is a "gratuitous gift" and not the product of "anxious, personal industry."  When we begin to see this, hope blooms and we realize finally that we had been repressing it.  And so Daughters, entrust yourselves to God rather than seeking to make Him enter your plans.  Let hope be liberated in you.

It is when you are the most unhappy that you will find yourselves the most happy.  Never will you have known greater peace, simplification, and fervor than when you are completely unhappy.  The weight of your unhappiness crushes you, but against God, to the point of not leaving any space between Him and you.  Your powerlessness, your total misery will make your liberation.  You will learn then that existence is a gratuitous gift and not an anxious personal industry.  And the intensity of the hope which will bloom so simply in your heart will reveal to you the violence with which you had repressed it until then.

You will know that nothing was more natural to you than to entrust yourself, whereas you were trying to use even your first move of confidence towards God in order not to entrust yourself truly to him, but to try to make him enter into your plans, like a pawn on your chessboard.  It is only when you accepted to be a pawn in his hand and in his plan, that you liberated hope and his action.

L. Evely

Thursday, January 19, 2017

like a word which one never finishes pronouncing

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

One of the most unfortunate and painful effects of sin is the distance it places between Creator and creature.  A feeling of psychosis washes over us that Evely strains to capture in the reflection below: "like a word which one never finishes pronouncing, eternally suspended and uncertain about its own meaning.  A word which does not hear the voice which pronounces it. . . ."   Our perception and experience of reality changes.  It is as if we are being shaped by a violent force or dark will in which we experience no love.  Conscious alone of this painful and frightening reality, we grow weary and cry out against the one who is responsible for it.  Yet, incapable of expressing ourselves, our cries never seem to communicate this pain or find a path to its relief.  

Only He who created us, He who is meaning itself, can free us from our distress and He must work at the very locus of the pain.  Rest comes to us only when we have be recreated by the loving hands we have grown to fear and sometimes even hate.  We will find rest only when the work of the pierced and loving hands is complete.

There is no worse suffering than to be a creature.  We are like a word which one never finishes pronouncing, eternally suspended and uncertain about its own meaning. A word which does not hear the voice which pronounces it. A word which must be content to let itself be pronounced.

Or else we are like rough-casts which have escaped from the hands of our modeler.

We are sick and tired of being hurt, of blows, scrapings, cuttings, remodeling.  But when we stop in our furious flight, we find ourselves miserable, terribly insufficient, incapable of expressing ourselves and finding our bearings, and we cry with anger and indignation against him who is responsible for it.

There is no rest, for a creature, except in the hands of his Creator.  He alone can complete it, free it from its anxiety and distress.  But the place of its completion is also the place of its pain, the place where God is at work on it.  There is no peace for us except in relying on the place where we are hurt.

L. Evely

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The asceticism of joy

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your patron, Philip, knew well how sadness can cling to the soul.  It is for this reason that he counseled the practice of the Asceticism of Joy.  The fundamental attitude that flows from the virtue of faith is joy in the Lord; being able to see through the tears to the promise of life and love.  However, almost as a defensive measure our minds can begin to cling to our sadness and make the feeling of melancholy a pillow upon which we lay our heads and hearts.  We find that the melancholy that suffering can produce in the soul can be made into a shell -  protecting us from life.  It allows us to remain static while at the same time giving a certain liberty to our angry and aggression toward the world, others, and ultimately God.  There is even a certain power in being a "kill joy"; a satisfaction when there is no joy in the world around us any longer.  Only then will world conform to our internal state and our suffering will be confirmed.  Such a melancholic spirit in the end gives way to despair; but not before having given us long service. 

For such a soul there is no worse detachment, no greater mortification than joy.  Yet without this asceticism, without this practice of true faith, the heart will remain shrouded in darkness.

We must know how to detach ourselves even from suffering.  We must learn to be happy even when we are unhappy.  We must, in a word, work loose from ourselves.  A Father of the Church used to say to himself, "There is only one way of being cured of sadness, and that is to dislike being sad."  It is hard to believe this when we are suffering.  As if we had chosen to be hurt!  Of course not, but what is terrible is that we often choose to keep on suffering, to fan the flames of our pain, to inflame our wounds, to find our only comfort in our very discomfort.  For if we keep our pain, then we also keep our right to complain, our right to withdraw into our shell, our right to hurt others and to kill their joy.  And when there is no joy in the world any longer, then we will be confirmed in our pain.  We have, in the meantime, only one stone to rest our head on, and it is called despair.  This hard pillow will give us long service.

Indeed, nothing would be harder than to stop being unhappy.  There is no worse detachment than joy.

L. Evely

The right cross

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The language of the cross can be bewildering.  We speak of "taking up our cross" and "offering up" our sufferings and inconveniences to God; we know that this is part of the Christian Way.  But, often, both the language and the clarity of faith fail us when confronted with the reality of the cross that we actually receive - when all meaning and understanding elude us.  When we are confined to our bed, checkmated by failure, isolated by a misfortune, annihilated by the feeling of our powerlessness, we must resign ourselves to listen to God's language, to admit a Presence in the pain, to acknowledge His will not in what is elevating but humiliating.

The cross finds entry where we are most defenseless.  We come to see how feebly we carry what has been given to us.  It can never be the right cross for us - for in some way we would seek to maintain the illusion of strength and self-sufficiently.  It must make sense to us or seem to have a higher reason. Yet, it is only the cross the Lord chooses when all we can do is lean into the pain and even then as what, at the time, seems to be a foreign and dark will.     

We all know that a Christian must bear the cross.  We are all disposed, theoretically, to accept one.  But have you noticed that it is never the right cross which comes to us?  The cross we bear (our health, our face, our embarrassment, our wife, our husband, our mother, our child) always seems to us unbearable, petty, humiliating, harmful.  It is always precisely what should not have become our lot, precisely what we can accept for all kinds of obvious reasons which we are always harping on.  All the other crosses seem preferable to us, that of our neighbor, the previous one - that which we have imagined.  Ours is hateful, it destroys us, it hurts us - imagine, it embitters us, and we have a grudge against ourselves and against everybody.  We desperately call for another, for a cross which "fits in," a bearable, spiritual, elevating cross, beneficial to us and to others.

But alas, we must come to recognize that if the cross suited us, it would no longer be a cross; that if we refuse those which hurt, we refuse any cross; and that the cross which God parcels out to us must necessarily always be humiliating and painful, paralyzing and difficult, and must hurt us at the spot where we are the most defenseless.

L. Evely