Saturday, March 31, 2012

Congress and Obamacare

Finally someone asked him the question! On "ABC-TV" during the "network special on health care" Obama was asked: "Mr. President will you and your family give up your current health care program and join the new 'universal health care program' that the rest of us will be on?" There was a stony silence as Obama ignored the question and chose not to answer it!!! In addition, a number of Senators were asked the same question and their response was, “we will think about it." And they did. It was announced today on the news that the "Kennedy health care bill" was written into the new health care reform initiative ensuring that that congress will be 100% exempt! So, this great new health care plan that is good for you and me, is not good enough for Obama, his family or congress? We (the American public) need to stop this proposed debacle Asap! This is totally wrong! Personally, I can only accept a universal health care overhaul that extends to everyone, not just we lowly citizens, while the Washington "elite" keep right on with their gold-plated health care coverage.
Amendment 28: Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Restoring The Words

Some forty years ago, a team of men was charged with rendering the Latin of the Catholic Novus Ordo Mass into English. They did so, dully and inaccurately, for the common prayers spoken by the people at every Mass. But when they worked just beyond the view of the people, they became different men altogether. Then they felt the fire of zeal. The prayers spoken by the priest—the collects, offertories, prefaces, postcommunions, special blessings, and even the eucharistic prayers—gave them a vast field to ply their talents.
According to their own testimony, the translation they came up with is “faithful but not literal.” That should have made people wary. When one translates poetry, the literal is especially to be attended to, since it is the literal that is the vehicle for whole constellations of meaning. Jesus did not say, “The Kingdom of God has relatively inauspicious beginnings.” He said, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.”
They justified their decisions by appealing, selectively, to instructions from the Vatican. Even the instructions they highlighted are but sensible reminders that translation is an art, not a mechanical application of rules. “The total act of communication must be kept in mind,” as well as the “literary form” proper to the respective languages. Latin words, “succinct and abstract,” must be made concrete, while “pompous and superfluous language must be avoided.”
Thence came the mischief. They ignored the poetry. They severed thought from thought. They rendered concrete words, or abstract words with concrete substrates, as generalities. They eliminated most of the sense of the sacred. They quietly filed words like “grace” down the memory hole. They muffled the word of God. They did not translate. Or if they did, it was not into English. A more obedient reading of the Vatican instructions would not have produced the thin, pedestrian, and often misleading version Catholics have used these last forty years, one that depended, for whatever reasons, upon the destruction of words, and images, and allusions (particularly biblical allusions) and the truths they convey.
In their work, the wonderful dictum of Thomas Aquinas, bonum diffusivum sui, “the good pours itself forth,” was inverted into malum diminuendum alterius, “evil seeks to diminish the other.” Among other things, that meant the petty withholding of words of praise, presumably because they were considered redundant. But is that the mark of love? Is a second smile, or a second kiss, redundant, because there has been a first? And if there has not been a first smile or kiss, are such things unnecessary, because they seem to serve no strictly utilitarian function?
I have searched the 1973 Order of the Mass alone (a mere fraction of all the prayers that have been retranslated) and found thirty instances of such laudatio interrupta. Most of the time an adjective of praise, such as sanctus, gloriosus, beatus, and a few others, simply disappears: sancte Pater becomes Father, dilectissimi Filii tui becomes your son, beatae Mariae becomes Mary, diem sacratissimam, on Christmas and Epiphany and Easter and all those glorious days in the history of salvation, becomes that day. Sometimes, though, a whole phrase is simply dropped as too hopelessly cast in the language of holiness: sanctas ac venerabilis manus, when Jesus blesses the wine in Eucharistic Prayer I, vanishes; so, in the same prayer, does sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam; so also in conspectu maiestatis tuae. No need, apparently, to dwell upon the holy and venerable hands of the Lord, or the sacred sacrifice and immaculate victim we offer in the Eucharist, or the presence of God’s majesty, which we hope one day to enjoy.
I have reviewed hundreds of pages of Latin text, with the first Novus Ordo’s rendering beside me. I defy any English-speaking Catholic in the world to defend the work, on any grounds whatsoever, linguistic, poetic, scriptural, or theological. Eventually, the Vatican, noticing that the liturgy had in fact not been translated into English, ordered that the job be done. Hence every prayer said at every Mass for every day of the year and every purpose for which a Mass may be said has in the last few years been translated, an immense undertaking. With what success? Great. I’ll illustrate by choosing a few texts from the English, placing them beside their counterparts in the first English version of the Novus Ordo. I won’t cherry-pick but will turn to the beginning of the Church year and to a feast somewhere in the middle—the Transfiguration, let’s say.
Here is the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent:
Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
hanc tuis fidelibus voluntatem,
ut, Christo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes,
eius dexterae sociati, regnum mereamur possidere caeleste.
The first thing one notices about the Latin prayers is how rich they are in scriptural resonance. A whole scene from the Gospels may be intimated in the literal meaning of an otherwise figurative word. The word here is occurrentes. Its root suggests running, and its prefix, against or up to. The idea is that we are running forth to meet Christ as he comes along the way—waiting for the long-awaited, the anointed of God. We are meant to consider not only the nativity of the Christ child but the Lord’s coming again in glory, recalling his parable of the wise and the foolish virgins: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1).
The lamps of the wise virgins were filled with oil. We pray then that our lamps too will be filled, with iustis operibus, works of justice, or deeds of righteousness. That is the hinge of the poem, because if we answer the grace of God with obedient zeal, we will have those lamps filled and we will run to meet him. Then we will be numbered among the friends of the bridegroom, bound in love with him and with one another, at his right hand, eius dexterae. So the prayer ends by recalling another parable describing the second coming of Christ, not as bridegroom but as judge. For the sheep shall be set on his right, and the goats on his left, according as they did or did not meet him among the least of their fellows: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).
Here is the prayer in the first version, with some English overtones:
All-powerful God,
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.
Let us notice what is gone. First, there are no verbs of request. The Latin phrase da, quaesumus, with its thoughtful pauses before the name of God, is eliminated. If people never use words like beg, implore, and even pray, they may in time forget how to beg, implore, and even pray.
The works of justice too are gone, replaced by the vague phrase doing good. But words like justice and righteousness call forth all kinds of precise scriptural memories, including those that convict us of sin. Consider the powerful opening of the book of Wisdom: “Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth, think of the Lord with uprightness, and seek him with sincerity of heart.” We seek justice, as we seek God; in ourselves we possess neither. Instead it seems in the first translation that we already possess a strength of will for doing good, and we ask merely that it be increased.
Perhaps that is why the image of running is also gone, and why the echoes of the two parables are smothered. For if we remember that five of the virgins went prepared to meet the bridegroom, we may also remember that the other five were scurrying about looking for oil. And if we remember that the sheep were placed at the right hand of the Lord, we may remember that the goats were placed at the left. Those who are rewarded with love for love are the faithful, and we notice that those words too are missing.
Beyond the muffled meanings, there’s something else missing, hard to describe. Imagine a world of gray: gray skies, gray dress, gray language, gray thoughts, gray feelings, gray prayers. How to describe red and green and gold to someone whose life is enveloped in gray? The language of this collect rather spreads the gray. It avoids imagery and cadence, the soul of poetry. It is, at best, entirely conceptual. We do not see or hear or touch anything.
Here now is the English of the new translation:
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Behold that muscular line, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ. He is coming our way, and we are running forth to meet him. We can see the scene. We can feel the strength of the verbs run and meet, and the tenderness of the possessive adjective, your. For it is the Christ of the Father whom we await, the anointed one of Israel. If we meet him with our lamps filled with righteous deeds, then, in a nice play on words that completes the run of alliteration, we will be gathered at his right hand. Then and only then will we be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom, the one that Jesus says has been prepared for the faithful from of old.
Let us now go to the postcommunion prayer of this same Mass:
Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine, frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia et inhaerere mansuris.
There are four principal elements to this poem, linked in a grammatical rhyme. The first is the frequentata mysteria, the mysteries we have celebrated. The mystery of the Eucharist binds earth from above, that we might be raised up to partake, under the appearances of bread and wine, of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. These mysteries are unlike the second element, the praetereuntia, the things that literally pass us by, things that do not last. We are walking among those things, and yet in the Eucharist we are raised beyond them. We are infused with a God-given love for the third element of the poem, the caelestia, the things of heaven. This love, we pray, will not slip from us but will be firmly planted, so that, instead of walking, we will be cleaving to the fourth and climactic element, the mansuris, the things that do not pass away but are everlasting.
The Latin, again, is steeped in Scripture. One theme is especially prominent. In Advent we recall that all things in our world of time will pass. So says the prophet, after foretelling the first coming of the Messiah: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field” (Isa. 40:6). Knowing this, says St. Peter, who quotes that same passage from Isaiah, we hold fast to the word of the Lord that remains forever, “the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25), “the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” when he comes again (1 Pet. 1:13).
Let’s take the new translation (the one in English) first:
May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated,
profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.
It is a splendid work. The first element, mysteries, dominates the poem, binding the end to the beginning, and earth with heaven. The alliterating hinge, profit us, we pray, is both accurate and profoundly scriptural. For the word of God advises us again and again about things that do not profit: “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (Eccle. 1:3, KJV). The generations come and go, those passing things, the second element in the poem, and therefore God teaches us, even now, even in our earthly walk. Through the Eucharist he instructs us to love the things of heaven, the third element, with its verbal echo of the second, and not only to love them but to hold fast to them, for they are also the fourth and final element of the poem. They, the things of heaven, are what endures. “Seek the things that are above,” says Saint Paul (Col. 3:1).
Here is the poem in the first translation (the Newspeak version):
may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope
guide our way on earth.
It seems pointless to discuss what’s missing. Pretty much everything is missing. But something else is going on. I have suggested that this version’s language is the language of gray. There are two ways to look at that. One is to see how it drains everything of color—of music, of scriptural memories, of reality itself in all its startling and specific glory. This is the language of via negativa. The other is to see how it raises gray as the standard of excellence. This is its via affirmativa. Now, the default for human beings, sinners not given to examining their consciences closely, is a gray self-satisfaction. We like ourselves the way we are. That being the case, unless we are struck with poverty or sickness or some other affliction, we like the things around us the way they are too.
So the prayer inverts the message of Advent. A glorious star will shine in the heavens to herald the first coming of the Messiah. The heavens themselves will be kindled to herald the second. But we’ll just plod along. It is not a heavenly mystery that teaches us but our communion. And sure, we’ll love heaven, whatever that means, but the prayer returns us to earth, where we are going our more or less contented way, guided, again, by that communion of ours.
Let us proceed to the preface for the Feast of the Transfiguration:
Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare,
nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere,
Domine, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus:
per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Qui coram electis testibus suam gloriam revelavit,
et communem illam cum ceteris corporis formam
maximo splendore perfudit,
ut de cordibus discipulorum crucis scandalum tolleretur,
et in totius Ecclesiae corpore declararet implendum
quod eius mirabiliter praefulsit in capite.
Et ideo cum caelorum Virtutibus,
in terris te jugiter celebramus,
maiestati tuae sine fine clamantes:
The first part of the preface does not vary from Mass to Mass. Its purpose is to build upon the prior response of the people, affirming that to give God thanks is right and just. The third part, which admits of some variation, is always meant to unite our prayers with the chorus of the angels. This part often names the angels in a striking way, or balances earth and heaven, or revels in the splendor of God. In the new translation, these parts perform that work. Here they are for the first part of the preface:
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord
And so, with the Powers of heaven,
we worship you constantly on earth,
and before your majesty
without end we acclaim:
This kind of language wouldn’t do for the translators of the first version. It is too precise, and too pious. This is what they did. They severed the preface from the previous prayer, dispensing with the opening adverb vere, truly. They ditched the repetition of right and just. They ditched the elaboration upon those adjectives, aequum et salutare, literally what is owed by rights and what avails for health. They struck the word holy. Why should we trouble ourselves inordinately about the holiness of God? In the third part, they struck the conjunction. They muted the word Powers. We should think of the angels as wispy girls with flutes, and not those sword-bearing intellectual beings like Michael who battle for the Lord. They diluted God’s majesty. They altered the significance of the adverb jugiter, constantly, applying it to our joy rather than to our worship. In the first version:
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . .
In our unending joy we echo on earth
the song of the angels in heaven
as they praise your glory for ever:
Now for the heart of the preface. The Latin poem is a tapestry of Scripture: “And we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The splendor of the Transfiguration is a lightning flash of the glory of Christ to come: “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet. 4:13). But between glory and glory comes the Cross. Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of those electis testibus, the chosen witnesses Peter, James, and John, so that they would see in light of the Transfiguration the suffering he then foretold: “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matt. 17:22–23). Our eyes are bleared, our steps unsteady. The Cross is to us a scandal, or, literally, a stumbling block (1 Cor. 1:23), but through it we attain, as the Body of Christ, to the glory that shone forth in Christ, “the head of the body, the Church” (Col. 1:18).
The English translators have been as faithful as possible, rendering the poem in a complete sentence, balancing thought with thought and image with image, building to the climactic final word capite, head:
For he revealed his glory in the presence of chosen witnesses
and filled with the greatest splendor that bodily form
which he shares with all humanity,
that the scandal of the Cross
might be removed from the hearts of his disciples
and that he might show
how in the body of the whole Church is to be fulfilled
what so wonderfully shone forth first in its Head.
That is just what the Latin says, and how it says it. The translators are not embarrassed by wonder and beauty, so they render the striking phrase maximo splendore perfudit as filled with the greatest splendor, preserving Christ as the subject. He is the one who literally poured that light into the bodily form He shares with us. They are not embarrassed to remind us that Jesus brought to the mountaintop only those chosen witnesses and that they were to proclaim what they had seen, as “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16). They preserve the sense that a scandal is something that obstructs our way. They reflect upon the hearts of the disciples. Most emphatically, they preserve the hierarchical connection between Christ and the Church, for whom he gave himself on the cross: between the eternal Bridegroom and his Bride, between the Head and the Body. But for the first translators, this was too much:
He revealed his glory to the disciples
to strengthen them for the scandal of the cross.
His glory shone from a body like our own,
to show that the Church,
which is the body of Christ,
would one day share his glory.
I am tempted to say that this is true enough. But it is not true enough. The Latin, and the English, deliver a great deal more, and more profoundly. And so on. I could comment in the same way upon every single prayer in a thousand pages of prayers. Those Catholics who grumble about the new translation without looking at the Latin have no idea how much has been lost to us English speakers these last forty years. To call the translation “conservative” and “pre–Vatican II” is nonsense. It is a faithful English translation of prayers composed for the liturgy after Vatican II. That would be much, if it were all. But there is more.
Imagine a young priest rummaging about in a storage room in the church basement. He turns on his flashlight, and there, lying under a pile of newspapers, empty boxes, and dust is a sculpture of Our Lady. He carefully retrieves it from the rubbish. He wipes away the grime. Indeed it is a lovely work. The gold of her hair against the blue of her robe reminds him of the colors of stained- glass windows from centuries ago. He restores it to the church and watches with approval as people pass by and say, “I remember her!”
The prayers of the Mass are not gray. They are colored with all the splendor of truth. Now the color returns. Beauty removes her shroud. The holy word of God is allowed to speak. Who knows why the translators did what they did? When the springtime comes, who cares to remember the winter? Let it pass. For the flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Appeared in First Things Nov. 2011 By Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College and the commentator on the new translation for the Magnificat Roman Missal Companion.

Reflections on Franciscan Prayer

These reflections* are like eye witnesses to an event – each experiencing it in a different way. Each topic explores Franciscan Prayer from a different perspective so I made no effort to tie them together. As a whole they represent a beautiful mosaic of this life of prayer. You will also see that all of these topics encompass St. Clare’s method of prayer as well.
There are many other topics discussed in the book so I highly recommend reading it.


I am, by nature, oriented toward God, even though desire is the compass in my life that directs me to individualism, privatism and selfishness. I am also a person of prayer who seeks the grace to reorient my soul completely toward God. Who cries out from the depths of my heart to the God of compassionate love. Who realizes that prayer opens wide my heart and becomes dangerous, costly and even fatal. It must also be continual, attentive and enriched by loving relationships.
In this life of prayer I uncover another aspect: I uncover something that is precious and glorious within me; namely, my image of God and my image of self. My image of God is crucial to the way my journey of prayer proceeds. Prayer reveals the love of God as it clears away the dross that covers the image of God I maintain. In revealing His love I begin to see what God desires for me by sending His Holy Spirit into my life and drawing me into the fullness of His life. I become centered in Him. I become one with His Spirit.
My image of self undergoes a remarkable transformation. As prayer leads me to a fuller understanding of self, I become free of that self. I sense the manifestation of God within me. And this self-knowledge becomes the basis for my relationship with God. Grace begins to enter in as the Holy Spirit takes root in my heart. Prayer keeps my heart devoted to God, driving away evil, and retaining what is good. Prayer becomes my way to freedom in God.
Because prayer joins my self to the love of God I am also joined to His Son made visible in the crucified Christ. This union transforms me into the image of the crucified Son and leads me in becoming a vessel of God’s compassionate love for others. I am lead to this by becoming an imitator of Christ in renewing the life of Christ by my transformation. As a consequence, I am impelled to see the world with a new vision. The world becomes my cloister, permeated with the goodness of God. And I put on the spirit of martyrdom which leads to happiness and eternal life. Peace can now be achieved as the grace of the Spirit that encompasses my heart is allowed to shine.


God expresses Himself by giving Himself away in love in the Eucharist. He becomes the food that gives me strength to make every stranger beloved. I participate in the Eucharist knowing I am being made its agent; for whatever happens to me must be done by me. As a peacemaker I live the Eucharistic life.


My desire for God is built into the structure of my being. However, the desires of the flesh compete with this desire for God. Because my desires are ambivalent and complex, fear often gets in the way of what I most deeply want/desire. Therefore, I pay attention to my desires to sort out their demands as they are the deepest cravings within me. They kindle within me:
• An outcry of prayer that makes me call aloud in the groaning of my heart.
• Flashes of insight by which I am most directly focused on God.
These desires are the compass of my life, so I learn to name them. I let them become prayer so grace can enter in and the Holy Spirit take root in my heart. My perseverance in prayer deepens my trust in God, and I become more open to grace and abide ever deeper in God’s mercy. Virtue begins to well up and the grip of material desires loosens. I use penance to acquire a single-hearted desire for God; and He distills the desires of my heart so I may live my life more fully. These spiritual desires originate from the experience of His merciful love and my fearful emptiness, so that giving my heart to God kills my self-centered ego and silences my cares, desires and imaginings.
A friendship of mutuality begins to take root as God’s desire for me and my desire for Him grows. Illusions of individualism, privatism and selfishness recede as God’ love is born in me and becomes life-giving. I discover God in my desires more and more, allowing my soul to expand its capacity of embracing Him. My trust in Him begins to flow out of me, touching all those around me, and producing friendships that celebrate the life we share.


God fully communicates the mystery of His overflowing love through the poverty of the Crucified Christ because Divine revelation is the movement of God to poverty. I embrace this poverty as it is expressed in Their language of love. Their poverty opens my heart to the love of the Holy Spirit and I become a person in the truest sense of Their relationship. In this poverty my complete self-abandonment and unreserved surrender is given to the mercy and grace of God that is realized as my heart overflows with His mercy.
Embracing this poverty invites the Spirit into my very being Whose gift frees me to accept both God’s and the crucified Christ’ loving embrace. Through poverty, along with penance, humility, compassion, and reconciliation, I discover that everything is imbued with the goodness of God and I need to overcome my violent self and allow for the appearance of my truly loving self. This poverty leads to the interdependence with my neighbor by not holding back anything of my self. It releases me from my self-concerns and opens a space within me to embrace God and my neighbor. It is through poverty, suffering, and humility that I become more like the image of God as can be seen by gazing upon the Crucified One. Thus I begin imitating God and achieve spiritual transformation.


Since my flesh is weak and can be both an enemy and deceiver, a life of penance becomes the gift of the heart, soul, mind and strength to God and neighbor. Through penance I am led to a single-hearted desire for God; and distill the desires of my heart so as to live fully human. I progressively radiate God’s face to the world and bring Christ to birth within others by example.
Because everything is imbued with the goodness of God, I discover that I grow into the spirit of penance, poverty, humility, compassion, reconciliation and peace. I endure the gestation period of penance to learn to:
• Love family, friends, strangers and enemies
• Maintain kenotic self-denial
• Turn my heart ever toward the crucified Christ
• Overcome inner temptations of violence
• Go from inner war to inner peace
• Disarm my heart
• Become God’s instrument of disarmament
• Recreate me
And in so doing I start:
• Living the gospel life
• Becoming a lover of peace
The Humility, sacrifice, penance and patience I pursue are the prerequisites that grace builds on in order for me to befriend the crucified Christ.

Transformation & Imitation

By accepting my strengths and weaknesses I discover my spirituality/contemplation focuses on:
• Freedom – born of the joy of the Spirit
• Transformation – imitation insofar as the crucified Christ coming alive in my life
The Spirit transforms me in love which ultimately leads to imitation. Prayer transforms me into an image of the crucified Spouse which leads me to become a vessel of God’s compassionate love for others. By dwelling on the crucified Christ – heart, mind and soul – I transform my whole being into the image of the Godhead and thus expose myself to the joys and sorrows of being human. This transformation into an image of Christ assures me of discovering the truth.
Through my gazing on the crucified Christ I am:
• Lifted up to God through compassion
• Transformed into the crucified Christ by self-emptying
• Embracing my neighbor by offering universal reconciliation
• Refashioned to the state of innocence
• Pierced by the nails of the fear of God
• Transfixed by the sword of intimate compassion
• Wounded by the spear of superabundant love
This gazing makes me see the heart of charity hidden in the heart of Christ while feeling and tasting the hidden sweetness of God as I undergo the continuous process of transformation. Meanwhile my mediocrity remains respected and is never encroached upon by God Who continuously invites me to enlarge my capacity for achieving complete transformation. This invitation involves poverty and grace as the keys which lead to achieving this complete transformation and the imitating of the crucified Christ. The transformation forms me into a person of peace, renewing the life of Christ, and allowing the love God to heal with love.


Contemplation is:
• The removal of any disguise that keeps me from discovering my true humanity
• The deep penetrating vision of reality I acquire as I find my center of gravity in God
• Looking into the depths of things and seeing them in their true relation to God
• Seeing God in the crucified Christ with the eyes of the Spirit
• The way my self achieves its true form as image of God
• Not directed toward heaven but toward the fullness of the Incarnation that impels me to love by giving of my self
• The penetrating gaze of my heart on my neighbor as directed by the Spirit
As I contemplate my unworthiness before the overflowing compassionate and merciful love of God, His compassionate love forges me into an image of the crucified Christ. This enables me to embrace God’s love in every aspect of creation. Becoming an image of the crucified Christ allows me to penetrate the truth of the mystery in the community of mankind. I embrace my neighbor as I come to the fullness of who I am.

My Heart

Even though God has already entered into the darkness of my heart and loves me with all my pain and rejection, He often remains hidden behind the wall of my heart. It snatches, too eagerly, perishable things that keep it numb so it neither burns nor glows. And as long as my heart does not surrender to God, neither do I. I must surrender my heart to Him in order to imitate the crucified Christ. With its surrender the Spirit makes me the home and dwelling place of the Trinity where I offer sacrifice by lifting up my heart to Them. This marks the death of my self-centered ego and silences my cares, desires and imaginings. I am no longer able to withdraw. My embrace of the indwelling God progressively gives birth to Christ in the world.
In order to insure that my heart doesn’t succumb to harm from dangerous passions, I practice the reading of Scripture to trap and hold it in the arms of my compassionate Lord. I gaze on the Crucified Christ which allows the Spirit of God’s love to enter in. I dispossess all that I own so I grow rich in the Spirit Who invades my heart with the fire of His love. Thus I receive the life-giving awareness of God Who I come to know and serve. By my total surrender and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I acquire purity of heart, which becomes the proper soil to receive the Word of God; and develop a prayer life that is continual, attentive and enriched by loving relationships.
My heart becomes the hearth of my personhood; the place where the kindling of the Spirit takes place and all creation is allowed to move toward its completion in God. I embrace my neighbors and creation itself with the love in my heart that shines through my life. Peace now becomes a way of being. I acquire a spiritual attitude that accepts the fact that I am just as much apart of the problem as anyone.

* Franciscan Prayer by Ilia Delio, OSF. The only change my reflections made is in the style of the book: I personalized them instead of leaving them in the second and third person plural (we, us, they and them).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Painting the Church

There was a Scottish painter named Smokey Macgregor who was very interested in making a penny where he could, so he often thinned down his paint to make it go a wee bit further.
As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but eventually the Local Church decided to do a big restoration job on the outside of one of their biggest buildings. Smokey put in a bid, and, because his price was so low, he got the job. So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with turpentine.
Well, Smokey was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the church and knocking Smokey clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint. Smokey was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got down on his knees and cried: "Oh, God, Oh God, forgive me; what should I do?"
And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke: "Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

"Blessed are the cracked, for they are the ones who let in the light.

$1 Abortions in ObamaCare

It’s official. The concern pro-life organizations had about the ObamaCare legislation funding abortions has been confirmed, as the Obama administration has issued the final rules on abortion funding governing the controversial health care law.
Nestled within the “individual mandate” in the Obamacare act — that portion of the Act requiring every American to purchase government — approved insurance or pay a penalty — is an “abortion premium mandate.” This mandate requires all persons enrolled in insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage to pay a separate premium from their own pockets to fund abortion. As a result, many pro-life Americans will have to decide between a plan that violates their consciences by funding abortion, or, a plan that may not meet their health needs.
The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule regarding establishment of the state health care exchanges required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a knowledgeable pro-life source on Capitol Hill informed LifeNews, as authorized by Obamacare, “The final rule provides for taxpayer funding of insurance coverage that includes elective abortion” and the change to longstanding law prohibiting virtually all direct taxpayer funding of abortions (the Hyde Amendment) is accomplished through an accounting arrangement described in the Affordable Care Act and reiterated in the final rule issued today.
“To comply with the accounting requirement, plans will collect a $1 abortion surcharge from each premium payer,” the pro-life source informed LifeNews. “The enrollee will make two payments, $1 per month for abortion and another payment for the rest of the services covered. As described in the rule, the surcharge can only be disclosed to the enrollee at the time of enrollment. Furthermore, insurance plans may only advertise the total cost of the premiums without disclosing that enrollees will be charged a $1 per month fee to pay directly subsidized abortions.”
The pro-life advocate told LifeNews that the final HHS rule mentions, but does not address concerns about abortion coverage in “multi-state” plans administered by the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM). “There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act to prevent some OPM (government administered) plans from covering elective abortion, and questions remain about whether OPM multi-state plans will include elective abortion,” the pro-life source said. “If such plans do include abortion, there are concerns that the abortion coverage will even be offered in states that have prohibited abortion coverage in their state exchanges.”
The final rule indicates: “Specific standards for multi-state plans will be described in future rulemaking published by OPM…” Set to go into effect in 2014, the unconstitutional provisions found in Section 1303 of the Obamacare Act compel enrollees in certain health plans to pay a separate abortion premium from their own pocket, without the ability to decline abortion coverage based on religious or moral objection.
That provision was the subject of a legal document that Bioethics Defense Fund’s Dorinda C. Bordlee, lead counsel for the group, submitted to the Supreme Court in February. “This violates the Free Exercise Clause because religious exemptions are made for groups such as the Amish who morally object to purchasing any insurance, but no exemptions are made for Americans who have religious or moral objections to abortion,” Bordlee said.
“President Obama’s healthcare overhaul includes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that blatantly violates the conscience rights and First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans,” AUL president Charmaine Yoest said. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it require Americans to violate their beliefs and pay for abortions.”
ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden says Americans should not be compelled to pay for other people’s elective abortions. “No one should be forced to violate their conscience by paying for abortions, but that’s precisely what ObamaCare does,” he explained. “ObamaCare requires that employees enrolled in certain health plans pay a separate insurance premium specifically to pay for other people’s elective abortions and offers no opt-out for religious or moral reasons. Such a mandate cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.”

BDF president and general counsel Nikolas Nikas said the individual mandate not only forces individuals into private purchases, it also effectively mandates personal payments for surgical abortion coverage, without exemption for an individual’s religious or moral objections. He told LifeNews in an email, “Like a Russian nesting doll, the individual mandate has nestled within it a hidden, but equally unconstitutional scheme that effectively imposes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that violates the free exercise rights of millions of Americans who have religious objections to abortion.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Nun Marking Papers

Can you imagine the nun sitting at her desk grading these papers, all the while trying to keep a straight face and maintain her composure! Pay special attention to the wording and spelling. If you know the bible even a little, you'll find this hilarious! It comes from a catholic primary school test. Children were asked questions about the old and new testaments. The following 25 statements about the bible were written by them. They have not been retouched or corrected. Incorrect spelling has been left in.

1. In the first book of the bible, guinessis. God got tired of creating the world so he took the sabbath off.
2. Adam and eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's wife was joan of ark. Noah built and ark and the animals came on in pears.
3. Lots wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a ball of fire during the night.
4. The jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with unsympathetic genitals.
5. Sampson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a jezebel like delilah.
6. Samson slayed the philistines with the axe of the apostles.
7. Moses led the jews to the red sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients.
8. The egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, moses went up tomount cyanide to get the ten commandments.
9. The first commandments was when eve told adam to eat the apple.
10. The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.
11. Moses died before he ever reached canada then joshua led the hebrews in the battle of geritol.
12. The greatest miricle in the bible is when joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
13. David was a hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. He fought the finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in biblical times.
14. Solomon, one of davids sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
15. When mary heard she was the mother of jesus, she sang the magna carta.
16. When the three wise guys from the east end arrived they found jesus in the manager.
17. Jesus was born because mary had an immaculate contraption.
18. St. John the blacksmith dumped water on his head.
19. Jesus enunciated the golden rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you. He also explained a man doth not live by sweat alone.
20. It was a miricle when jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.
21. The people who followed the lord were called the 12 decibels.
22. The epistels were the wives of the apostles.
23. One of the oppossums was st. Matthew who was also a taximan.
24. St. Paul cavorted to christianity, he preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marraige.
25. Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recall Notice

The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype unit’s code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been identified as "Sub sequential Internal Non-morality," more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed. Some of the symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect. The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required. The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Best Instructions before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus. The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Bible

Did you know that when you:
• Carry the Bible, Satan has a headache
• Open it, he collapses
• Read it, he loses his strength
• Stand on the Word of God, Satan can't hurt you?

This makes me want to leave a Bible lying open in my house all the time! Ruth Graham did.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reflections on the Passover of Jesus

My Rejection*

Through sin I sense that my freedom is being compromised by God’s will, instead of attaining fulfillment by becoming attuned to it. I regard consenting to God’s will as a threat to my freedom against which I rebel. In my rebellion I am open to the temptations of the Evil One that deadens my soul by which the Evil One creates all the injustice and suffering ravaging the earth. I fail to recognize truth, so the rule of pragmatism takes its place and the strong arm of my powerful will becomes the god of my world. My own will imposes itself repeatedly. And my knowledge of functional truth grows, but so does my blindness toward truth itself – that real knowledge of my identity and purpose. Thus this vineyard I cultivate fails to yield for God the noble fruit of justice, which is grounded in love. Instead it yields the sour grapes by being concerned only with my will. And because of this I am faced with a choice:
• Saying yes to God Who works through the power of truth and love
• Build on something tangible and concrete – using violence.

My Transformation

The Lord uses my ignorance as the motive for His plea for forgiveness: He sees it as a door that can open me to conversion. Jesus brings my anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God Himself. He identifies Himself with my suffering, with all I suffer under “God’s darkness”; and takes my cries, my anguish, my helplessness upon Himself- and in so doing He transforms me. Jesus’ cry of extreme anguish is at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation – not only for Jesus Himself, but for me as well. His blood speaks of reconciliation. It is not poured out against me; it is poured out for me. And my human will, as created by God, begins to be aligned with the divine will. I become present within the Son’s obedience and thus I am drawn into the Son ship.
By walking with Jesus my soul’s darkness is gradually illuminated. As the transforming power of Jesus’ Passion begins to flow through me, I receive the fount of purification. And the trials of life slowly burn me clean. My journey with the Lord opens me to the realization that meaning triumphs over the power of destruction and evil. I learn to read the Old & New Testaments afresh. I pray the psalms in a new way, in fellowship with Christ. For in Him the past, present, and future are always united. It is through His obedience to the Father that Jesus draws me into Himself and at the same time wipes away all my disobedience through His love. Jesus elevates my recalcitrant nature to become its real self, and in the process transforms the fullness of my will into the will of the Father.
Thus I am becoming:
• He who is waiting
• He who trusts in God’s promises and waits for their fulfillment
• He who recognizes in the words and deeds of Jesus the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom.

My Response

I am called to bear witness to the truth by:
• Giving priority to God and to His will and not to the interests of the world and its powers.
• Making creation intelligible and its truth accessible from God’s perspective:
o in such a way that it can serve as a criterion and a signpost in this world
o In such a way that the great and the mighty are exposed to the power of truth.
Truth confers light and greatness upon all things. Redemption can only proceed when the truth becomes fully recognizable, when God becomes recognizable in Jesus Christ. The full inauguration of Jesus’ Kingship is centered on this truth and becomes my true liberation; for Jesus is the concrete expression of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is also the image of hope: God on the side of those who suffer, for the hidden God remains present within Jesus, Who remains the image of God even as He is subjected to violence and vilification. His suffering mirrors:
• The inhumanity of worldly power
• The ruthless crushing of the powerless
• The sin in the world.
• My turning my back upon God
• My taking control of the world around me.
And the peace that Christ offers depends upon justice that cannot be established at the expense of truth.

My Lord and my God

God Himself removes the veil and reveals Himself in the crucified Jesus as the One Who loves to the point of death. As the risen Lord, He is now the shepherd Who leads, through death, to the path of life: He offers up His life and He goes before. He experiences the final loneliness, the whole anguish of the human condition. The abyss of sin and evil penetrates deep within His soul, and He becomes the true “liberator” through His love that embraces me. Now I can truly speak to God.
Because Jesus is the Son, He experiences deeply all the horror, filth, and baseness that He must drink from the “chalice” prepared for Him: the vast power of sin and death. All this He must take into Himself, so that it can be disarmed and defeated in Him. At the same time, God becomes manifested as He really is: the God Who, in the unfathomable depth of His self-giving love, sets the true power of good against all the powers of evil. While Jesus draws my natural will away from opposition and toward synergy, and in so doing He restores my true greatness. This transition is accomplished through the sacrifice of obedience; and the Cross becomes God’s glorification, the glory of God made manifest in the obedient love of the Son. On the Cross, Jesus becomes the source of life for Himself and for me. On the Cross, death is conquered.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus has actually achieved a separation of the religious from the political, thereby changing the world: this is what truly marks the essence of His new path. The defense of the “place” and the “nation” is ultimately a religious affair, because it is now concerned with God’s house and me. The “Temple” of the New Covenant with its new style of worship, has come. Jesus dies for me, and the mystery of vicarious atonement shines forth, constituting the most profound content of Jesus’ mission. With the new covenant, punishment, destruction and rejection are not the last words; it leads to healing.
It is the fact of the death/resurrection, that is at first unintelligible, which paves the way for me to obtain a fresh understanding of Scripture. And it is through the discovery of the harmony between the Word and event that I am to embrace the Church. It is to me in loving communion with the Lord that the Church is entrusted. I am asked to take the Church into my life and carry out Jesus’ final instruction.
I am thus called to become the martyr who is drawn fully into the obedience of Christ, into the liturgy of the Cross, and hence into true worship; the true worship in the sense that I become a total answer to God, shaped by God’s healing and transforming Word. The more my whole being is directed toward God, the more I exercise true worship. And it is the Eucharist that purifies and draws me into perfect worship offered by Jesus’ obedience on the Cross.
* Jesus of Nazareth: Part 2 by Pope Benedict XVI 2011 Pgs 145-240. The only change my reflections made is in the style of the book: I personalized them instead of leaving them in the second and third person plural (we, us, they and them).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Lenten Meditation

The Crucified Christ1

The outreach of love is here confronting the intimate presence of rejection and betrayal. But it is not frustrated for Jesus is going from this world (bounded by fear and death) to that place of endless life and communion where His Father dwells. As a consequence, the gift He left me of His body and blood sustains me in the Spirit for this new and endless life. I, who now grow in love’s embrace, am born of God and get to know Him. I learn that the way of love makes me take the lowest place, the role of a servant, that others might be washed and nourished with this truth. I cannot serve God without becoming this servant before my fellow man.
Jesus’ solidarity with the poor and the lost bring about its own consequences. I must be disarmed. I must be cleansed of these age-old encrustations that have worked so effectively at keeping my God at bay. I must be drawn into this movement of divine life embodied by Jesus, and act as He acts. This new life has as its central feature and direction the humble service to others. From it I form a new community of selfless love.
Jesus’ giving of Himself as my food and drink, nourishes my experience of forgiveness and peace that only the Father gives, and transforms me from within. This gift of love pouring itself into me so I get caught up in its outpouring – transforms me into loving others as I am being loved. It is this gift of Christ that brings all the other gifts as well as I share in the bond of this unbreakable love dwelling within the Trinity. I soon realize that this love is very impatient with the way things are and seeks a transformation beyond any human expectation. It’s as if the wine of God’s divine mercy meets my excess of lovelessness so that my sins are forgiven; and this blood shed has the power to bind the heart of God to the fate of my suffering.
God refuses to act in any other way save the way of love; so when I pray it is not to manipulate God, but to let God act in me and in my world. I seek to let all that I am, belong to and long for yield to God’s reign. I take on God’s forgiveness, offering hope and love to all. Mercy becomes the atmosphere that surrounds me as I learn to shed my preoccupation with thoughts centered on my short, timid span of life that clothes me in defeat, fear and faithlessness. In this context God transforms me into my true self, removing my defensive self wrapped in pretension. My patience also grows as it waits for the fullness of God’s kingdom to be unleashed in me.
It is true that the truth Jesus utters in the name of His Father is not a political conspiracy; it is addressed to everyone. It is a Kingdom that owes nothing to violence. It is populated with those who openly live in the realm of mercy, receiving and giving it, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Jesus God is keeping His promise of salvation. And this promise pushes me to look forward and out, into the whole of history and creation, to see that God is much greater. I often fail to grasp the astonishing grace that is at work here, refusing to let God live in me in this new, wonderful, though disconcerting way. And I often become angry with those who challenge me to see and respond to His greater justice that defuses the violence of my own self-promotion and rivalry. Jesus often addresses me on this, but I respond otherwise. What he intends for my salvation I see as undermining my security. I keep reminding myself that I am entering a new world of divine generosity and mercy.
Jesus’ death offers the weak and hopeless victims of this world the promise of unending life. God is revealed as the God of another life, one where I live in communion with Him and with one another. The murderous lovelessness of all mankind is judged in the light of this life. A Life that has no need of a violent defense for its truth comes on its own terms: truth about God, about my relationship with God and with my neighbor. It is an all-inclusive Kingdom, filled with the power of crucified love. For me to allow this life within myself I must embrace the fact that everything that is familiar will be completely transformed and nothing will be the same again. I will be going head to head with the:
• Shady world of distorted justice
• Religious intrigues
• Political oppression
• Foreign occupation
I will be leaving my idols behind as I find my deepest identity loving others and being responsible for the poor. And that will have a political impact. This will incur suffering from the world that does not tolerate such seismic disturbances; and the making of a new social order since faith is never itself unless it is busy about the Kingdom of God. Thus I keep the flame of good from being snuffed out by the oppressive weight of evil.
Jesus’ surrender to the Father for the sake of the world’s salvation is Jesus’ way of serving the cause of His Father and refusing to do anything less than that. Such obedient self-surrender I must acquire in dedicating myself to the causes my heavenly Father requires me to carry out. My plans will be forever interrupted by the dreadful otherness of God’s will and the demands of my suffering neighbors. Once confronted, He will not let me rest or rejoice until I act. And it is through this meeting of Jesus in the least of His brothers and sisters, that His image will be burned within me as I begin to conform to this Christ through His love.
The crucifixion reveals that the excess of my capacity for evil is outwitted by the excess of love on God’s part. The most demonic gestures of my evil are used to dramatize the ecstatic extravagance of His mercy. By unmasking my capacity to destroy that deface my true self; it brings about a great reversal. For, by the cross, a greater good uses this evil for its own loving purposes; and opens the way to turn my sin-encapsulated life to God. His love, which is not of this world, reveals a love that keeps on being love no matter what rejection it encounters. And the greatest darkness I face, the sense of the terrifying absence of God, is put to death. Finally I realize that His Holy Spirit has no other identity other than that of unconditional love.

The Resurrected Christ

Divine forgiveness begins to upset and change the world. With the final act of surrender, the current of divine mercy begins to flow and change my life. Mercy has already begun its work enabling my heart to change and my sins to be forgiven. Jesus’ time of healing love has come. Grace is flowing through my prayers by the very fact that I am praying and through the promise that Jesus brings: the mystery of an all-merciful love that is now being revealed.
The manifestation of love which is given from beyond this world acts within mine to unfold all its light and power. Jesus is drawing all peoples unto Himself. Jesus’ intimacy with His Father is providing a welcoming love to all His fellow believers, and I am no longer alone. The Spirit of truth is never deterred when my love grows cold and filled with sin that perverts my heart as it attempts to reject Jesus, Who continues to give witness. While Jesus gives me to everyone in a new unity of love.
Meeting the gaze of His inexhaustible love that has come and found me, gives itself to me. I am now in the presence of this incomprehensible love that humbles me to the core. Finding my days ever richer, deeper and more complete I begin to:
• Adore this love
• Yield to this love
• Live in this love
• Move and work with this love.
Nothing in the whole of creation can separate me from God’s love as revealed through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the very ecstasy of love and mercy in which God supports the world. With such grace faith adores, surrenders and gives thanks. And I am jolted out of myself as I join with the immense family of those who suffer. I become far more tender, compassionate and generous as the crucified Christ forever troubles my life with the demands for self-giving.
The Father sends His beloved Son to the God-forsaken because nothing can span the distance except the Spirit of love that knows no bounds. Only love survives the most deadly point of death in order to bring about new creation. And Jesus descends into these depths, to bring the compassion of the Father; thus Jesus changes the realm of death into a place of meeting. There is now a fundamental assurance that the peace of His presence will continue, no matter how troubled the times become. His wounds, now raised and present to me, are capable of redemption, despite all my struggle, pain and violence. As I devote my life to a life of peace-making, the peace I have received must be given to others. This peace will not settle for anything less than freedom for all those to whom it is offered. It will not be used as a convenient consolation for me when I come to God on my own terms.
Meanwhile, as the peace and rejoicing sent by the Risen One into the world begins to stir and energize new life; He demands that I confront the world, condemning the violence that rules it, naming its crimes and standing behind its victims. The truth I tell in Christ’s name, promises no peace or joy, but only disturbance and judgment, to those who hide in darkness, away from the light that now shines. Violent relationships based on envy and vengeance are abolished as Christ reveals the vicious circle of all my hatreds. Not only has the merciful love of God broken into my world, but my world has been irrevocably united to Him, breaking through to its ultimate destiny; so that the whole of creation is contained in the risen humanity of Christ. Another energy is at work – the limitless love that nothing in creation can resist or diminish.

1 Behold the Cross: Meditations for the Journey of Faith by Tony Kelly C.Ss.R (Liquori Publications) This book that I have based these reflections on is a perfect Lenten sequel to Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love. The book’s meditations on the death/resurrection of Jesus read as if St. Clare had written them herself. The only change my reflections made is in the style of the book: I personalized them instead of leaving them in the second and third person plural (we, us, they and them).