Archive for August, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Minute With Zeal and The Holy Rule

One of my favorite chapters in the Holy Rule:

Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness

which separates from God and leads to hell,

so there is a good zeal

which separates from vices and leads to God

and to life everlasting.

This zeal, therefore, the brothers should practice

with the most fervent love.

Thus they should anticipate one another in honor

(Rom. 12:10);

most patiently endure one another’s infirmities,

whether of body or of character;

vie in paying obedience one to another –

no one following what he considers useful for himself,

but rather what benefits another;

tender the charity of brotherhood chastely;

fear God in love;

love their Abbot with a sincere and humble charity;

prefer nothing whatever to Christ.

And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

—Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have


How do you know if you’ve encountered evil zeal…or if in fact, exhibit it?

“Evil zeal” ought to catch our attention. We tend to think of zeal as more or less good, but it is not in every circumstance. There can be zealous enthusiasm in the service of things other than good, all too often! There can also be evil zeal, even real cruelty done in the name of things which are, in themselves, actually good.

Satan loves to dupe people into wickedness in the name of good.

That’s important to remember.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that only wicked people have wicked zeal. Anyone can, just as anyone can be vain or envious or the victim of their own anger. Vice is no respecter of persons, and its only antidotes are humility and love.

—Brother Jerome OSB

Usually, I can’t put into words…but I can sense it as Brother here describes so well:

Evil zeal divides, holy zeal unites. Whether it be a Church or family or monastery or work place (or e mail list) you can be absolutely certain that a needlessly divisive, partisan zeal is not and cannot be a holy thing. Strong statement? You bet it is. God is One and God is Love. Whatever leads to unnecessary factional disunity and
needlessly broken hearts, hurt feelings or useless upset is just flat out wrong, not of God, big trouble.

Evil zeal presumes to look down from above, but only beckons others downward. Holy zeal looks up from humility and calls all together upward. The call of evil zeal is selective, while that of holy zeal is universal. Evil zeal patronizes with condescension, holy zeal knows better than that. Real sanctity never, ever patronizes.

Every time I read this I run a check on myself ….How do I present my thoughts and passions? Looking down from above or up from humility?

Am I patronizing or condescending?

One of the reasons I think accountability is so important is that I know I’m perfectly capable of having evil zeal and that it can hide somewhere in my blind spot where only the light of Christ can expose it. A faithful friend is one who lovingly brings it to my attention.

Prefer nothing….even what I presume to be good zeal…

to the love of Christ.



Brother Jerome,OSB

St Mary’s Monastery

posted by Caroline  |   1:32 AM  |   4 comments
Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome Home

It’s Monday and I feel like I’ve been in labor since Saturday. The contractions started slowly, like when my sister, who was stationed at the old house waiting for the movers, called to say,

Hurry up and get to the condo mom’s on her way. She didn’t want to be there to see the truck pack it all up.

Together, my mom and I waited at the other end preparing for the truck to show up. We sat on the only two pieces of furniture there were: Two wing back chairs the former owners had left. I knew we had a long day ahead of us.

And the pains kept coming…but no baby yet.

My husband had brought flowers there the night before so they would be the first to greet her when she walked in her new place and say,

Welcome Home…

That’s when her tears came. So, we sat calmed by the the fragrance of honeysuckle and roses …and waited and talked and waited and talked some more…She had already said two rosaries and it was only 8:30 AM.

Hours later, I get a text from my sister…

We’re on our way.

Suddenly, there we were, just the three of us, like old times working together until the rest of the family was off work and could come to help. In the intensity of the labor there was no time to think anymore…Just breathe… and pray..Keep breathing to stay on top of the pain.

We worked non stop until late into the evening wondering if we’d ever see an end to it all …but still no baby.

It wasn’t until after Mass on Sunday when transition finally came. My mom asked us to take her to the house for the last time before closing.

When we opened the front door, it was the last push and I realized …a new life had been born.

I did what Sister Lacy told me to do..walk from room to room thanking and praising God for the miracles He has worked in our lives….and letting go.

Isn’t it so sad though, Lord?

I heard Him say;

Stand here and look again. They are not just empty rooms.

This was the womb from which you labored and grew to a

…new birth. So it will be for the new family moving in; an opportunity for new life.

Pray for them. Pray for the children that will be born in this home–

that they may have peace and joy.

Isn’t that what every opportunity for new life is;

A miracle of grace?

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

—Isaiah 43:18-19

I think I understand empty rooms a little better now, and can even find joy in them. They are wombs, not tombs reminding us that here on earth, even after our baptism, we have many opportunities to be in a sense, born again.

The last labor is death…and yet this too is really the pangs of birth because Christ brought life to the empty tomb by rising out of it Himself.

The tomb is empty….but,

this is how we are birthed into eternal life where finally Jesus will say to us,

Welcome Home.


posted by Caroline  |   7:05 PM  |   4 comments
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hail, Star of the Ocean

Hail Thou Star of the Ocean

Tomorrow is moving day…It’s time to move on. The hurricane isn’t coming to Florida….this time, but I feel as if I’m being tossed on the waves. An era is ending, a new one is beginning and I’m ready to continue on the voyage.

With a hymn composed in the eighth or ninth century, thus for over a thousand years, the Church has greeted Mary, the Mother of God, as “Star of the Sea”: Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Spe-Salvi

Star of the Sea, is one of my favorite titles of the Blessed Mother. She’s been such a comfort to me as she gently guides me in her humble light.

I won’t have much time to write this weekend, but I wanted to leave a prayer for those in the path Hurricane Irene, and to tell you that as I unpack boxes in the harbor of my new port, I will be praying for the safety of yours.

Hail thou star of ocean

Portal of the sky

Ever virgin Mother

Of the Lord Most High

O! by Gabriel’s Ave

Uttered long ago,

Eva’s name reversing,

Established peace below

Break the captives’ fetters,

Light on blindness pour,

All our ills expelling,

Every bliss implore

Show thyself a Mother,

Offer Him our sighs,

Who for us incarnate

Did not thee despise

Virgin of all virgins

To thy shelter take us,

Gentlest of the gentle

Chaste and gentle make us

Still, as on we journey,

Help our weak endeavor,

Till with thee and Jesus

We rejoice forever

Through the highest heaven,

To the almighty Three

Father, Son, and Spirit,

One same glory be.




Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Lake Hopatcong, NJ

You may also like:

Ave Maris Stella

posted by Caroline  |   1:23 AM  |   8 comments
Friday, August 26, 2011

Heroic Catholic Families

What does it mean if you sense the intensity of our times? If you realize that;

You are feeling the weariness of the battle. As my spiritual director often says (who is also a diocesan priest), “Anyone who is trying to be holy today is going through the fire.”

—via~mark mallett

My spiritual director (who has been directing for 20 years) told me the very same thing yesterday when I asked her if she’d like to go to Australia with me.

It means that ordinary Catholic families cannot survive. They must be extraordinary families. They must be, what I do not hesitate to call, heroic Catholic families. Ordinary Catholic families are no match for the devil as he uses the media of communication to secularize and de-sacralize modern society. No less than ordinary individual Catholics can survive, so ordinary Catholic families cannot survive. They have no choice. They must either be holy—which means sanctified—or they will disappear. The only Catholic families that will remain alive and thriving in the twenty-first century are the families of martyrs. Father, mother and children must be willing to die for their God-given convictions…

——The Blessed Virgin and the Sanctification of the Family,

Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

—Mark Mallet

No choice but holiness.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus

Consume us.

Shield us in Your Mercy,

Warm us in the fire of Your love.

Protect us,

Draw us to Your perfect will.


posted by Caroline  |   1:57 AM  |   2 comments
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Me and Alexander

This is one of my favorite children’s books.

And this is basically the kind of day I had.

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Australia”

— Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Today is the one year anniversary of my domain name,” Bell of the Wanderer, ” but guess what met me this morning when I logged in? Server trouble…

that lasted two days. Welcome to initiation in the blogging world. It went downhill after that all to the tune of  ‘menopause malady’ …no I meant melody.

The dear college child who just left the house, what…a week ago …needed money for ….whatever.

I’ll have to pull it from the cookie jar.

My mom needed a place to put all her paintings and stuff  from the house she doesn’t want the movers to take this weekend. The empty room? Not so empty today. Bless her heart.

In preparation for the move we’ve gone through memorabilia in her house from attic to garage hauling off trash and treasures that have been locked away for more than 30 years. My sinuses blew up from all the dust and I’m all teary eyed about handing over the keys to the house on Saturday. We thought the hurricane might shut the whole thing down …but no, it’s not even going to graze Florida.

On the way downstairs the elevator closed on my foot. And while we were waiting for my mom to get the car, Anthony made me fall where it was muddy. And then when I started crying because of the mud, Nick said I was a cry-baby. And while I was punching Nick for saying cry-baby, my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.

—-Alexander continuted

I got a phone call after dinner with news that I just really didn”t want to hear. I’ve been praying about the situation for years and it needs to have a—

But God’ moment.

Well, I’m not a crybaby….but when my husband asked me,

How was your day?

I kind of told him.

My computer is giving me fits, so I don’t know when this will get posted.

Maybe I’ll be in Australia by then.


posted by Caroline  |   2:08 AM  |   2 comments
Monday, August 22, 2011

War With a Bougainvillea…The Difference is More Than an Eyelash

Last year I decided this needed to go:

It’s pretty, I know. But this beauty has an evil side; it has mad thorns that will rip your flesh with one wrong move. It grows like wildfire and you can’t kill it. What began as a small potted gift from a friend had turned into a fiend that was destroying my fence, yard and innocent flowers.

My husband doesn’t let me use electrical tools in the garden because…well, because I’ve given him good reason not to. So– I have been relegated to do whatever I’d like in the garden as long as I don’t sever electrical wires or send myself to the emergency room.

Every summer in the unrelenting Florida heat, I’d trim it back in tiny increments, but the more I trimmed the faster and thicker it grew… until it took over half of the backyard fence.

It was so intricately entwined and out of control that as I stood with my clippers in hand I was at a loss for where to begin. One thing about me … If I have enough determination to begin something, I will finish it…The job will get done, come what may. That’s my mom’s DNA.

So, I began. Piece by piece I made my way known to this work of nature and she made hers known to me. It wasn’t but 10 minutes into the job that my old tee shirt was shredded my arms and legs full of scratches.

You…..are going I muttered while the sweat poured down like rain.

Two hours later as I was still mangled in between the spiked vines, it dawned on me that many times this is how I have felt on my Christian journey:

Overwhelmed in the midst of a spiritual battle, beat up by the enemy’s taunts of failure, feeling alone in the struggle, buffeted and bruised, lost in the tangled web of my own sin or the sin of others, exhausted and on the verge of ….surrender.

But God….

Two of my favorite words in Scripture, they signal a change, a contrast or a clarification of what’s coming next.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good……

—Genesis 50:20

Suddenly, it wasn’t about me anymore.. I saw the thorns on one of the cut branches I had tossed aside, and thought of His Crown;

I saw the scratches on my arms and legs and thought of His bloodied wounds,

And the abandonment He felt on the cross where He won the victory for all mankind.

Who am I that You are mindful of me O Lord?

—see Psalm 8:4

Some of the battles in my life have been outright wars…and the devil was in the details.

It was close; but that’s the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die — and the difference is just an eyelash.

—Gen. Richard Sutherland

But God….is what makes all the difference.

By the way, I won the war with the Bougainvillea. It’s been 2 summers…and it’s never grown back.

We will win our spiritual battles too….by more than just an eyelash.


Thanks to Larry D at actsoftheapostasy

for inspiring this post

posted by Caroline  |   8:46 PM  |   1 comments
Monday, August 22, 2011

The Queenship of Mary

Detail From the Ghent

Watch over us, O Queen of the dwelling-place of our Lord.

Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins.

Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will.

Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee.

With Him, glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever.


—Sermon I on the Dormition

St. John Damascene (b. A.D. 676)


posted by Caroline  |   2:47 PM  |   3 comments
Sunday, August 21, 2011

But What About You?

Who Do You Say That I Am?

You are the Christ….

the Son of the

living God.


posted by Caroline  |   6:39 PM  |   0 comments
Saturday, August 20, 2011

True Authentic Witnesses

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux


Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat;

so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

—see Matthew 23:1-12

Gospel Reading

The Pharisees were frequently criticized and challenged by Jesus. The historians give the details of their faith and failings as a sect, but here in the gospel today, we see the Lord level a charge I hope I never hear said about me.

Basically, they don’t practice what they preach. That’s a big issue today as we keep reading headlines that inform us of church leaders and lay people who claim to be Christians, but suddenly we come to find out;

  • they have a secret life
  • or they claim to be Christians, but they don’t live at all in accordance with the teachings of Christ

In Monday’s gospel we will hear the Lord speak His ‘woes’ against the Pharisees and call them–


Now, none of us live in perfection and that’s not what I’m saying here. We were born into sin and until we hopefully see Jesus in Heaven, we have the grace of forgiveness available to us in the sacrament of reconciliation. We live our lives in a constant state of seeking and giving forgiveness.

That said, we somehow have a cultural inverse going on today that Father identified in Mass this morning as, ‘practical atheism’: Living like an unbeliever, while calling oneself a Christian.

Service of and true authentic witness to the faith, he said,

are necessary for salvation.

This is what Christ demands of those who follow Him.

This is why I love the saints so much. They were like us; battling the flesh every day… I know I repeat it often, but we learn true authentic faith by studying their lives.

All their secrets are laid bare for us to learn from. They lived heroic lives and that’s why they are saints.

Today we celebrate the memorial of one of the great Doctor’s of the church, St Bernard of Clairvaux.

Bernard, the founding abbot of Clairvaux Abbey in Burgundy, was one of the most commanding Church leaders in the first half of the twelfth century as well as one of the greatest spiritual masters of all times and the most powerful propagator of the Cistercian reform.

Read More

From the time he became abbot until his death,

Bernard dominated the religious and political life of Western Europe. His mystical and theological writings,

sermons, letters, treatises and commentaries have had a profound and lasting effect on Catholic spirituality.

When he died all of Europe mourned.

—Living With Christ

That’s the fruit of someone who practiced what they preached.

St Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.


Photot credit:


posted by Caroline  |   3:38 PM  |   4 comments
Friday, August 19, 2011

Do Not Be Ashamed of the Lord

Pope Benedict at World Youth Day:

With all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord”. This is the message that Pope Benedict XVI has brought to Spain and to the young Catholics of the world, resonant of that other great call “do not be afraid” launched by the founder and patron of all World Youth Days, Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict XVI’s generation has found its motto :

do not be ashamed of the Lord.

catholic. net


posted by Caroline  |   3:18 PM  |   0 comments